Let’s face it, our fur-babies are important family members. We want the best for them.  Their health and well-being go hand-in-hand (or paw-in-paw). We do what we can to keep them healthy and happy in whatever capacity we can. Local Canadian small business Dandylion is on a mission to created better for your pet care products.

It’s no surprise that the consumer interest in products for pets in the marketplace continues to grow.  In a recent MarketWatch article (September 2023), our American counterparts spent $136.8 billion on their pets in 2022, up from $123.6 billion in 2021, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA). They also expect pet spending to keep its year-over-year increase, projected to hit $143.6 billion in 2023.

Everything from mind- stimulating toys to healthier food to skin sensitivities and pet insurance all comes to discussions even on Facebook groups. Heck even, household appliance brands are designing tools specifically  with pets in mind.

Consumers are becoming more educated and searching better products for their pets too. It’s not just about pulling on heartstrings with puppy dog eyes. We want to know the ingredients or the materials are used. Fur parents want to assurance in safety and efficacy just as much as what we want for ourselves.

Canadian pet care brand Dandylion is a brand that takes this seriously. We had a chance to chat with founder Carolyn Chen, to learn what inspired her to start this journey in the industry and creating the product Clean Paws No-Rinse Cleaning Foam – the easiest way to clean dirty paws that is now available  at Indigo.

How did you get here? What made you decide to turn your attention to the dog industry?

Carolyn: My dog Mocha has incredibly itchy skin and I spent countless visits to the vet, diet changes and at-home remedies, but nothing worked. My background is in launching better-for-you beauty brands and while routine bathing is a great way of removing contact irritants and managing the itchy skin issue at-home, I discovered that most products on the market were formulated with harsh and irritating ingredients, so I decided to shift my energy to create better-for-you, irritant-free dog grooming products, formulated to soothe itchy skin issues.

I was shocked to learn that, unlike human beauty products, ingredient transparency is not a requirement, which means many products on the market have incomplete ingredient information, making it tough for dog parents with itchy dogs to evaluate whether a product is the best fit for their dog. I was also shocked by how many products are the market are filled with harsh and irritating ingredients like, sulfates, artificial fragrances and dyes, drying alcohols and essential oils.

There are so many human beauty brands on the market focused on sensitive skin which exclude these ingredients but I couldn’t find anything on the market that excluded these ingredients for dogs, so I worked with a vet dermatologist, human skin care chemist and interviewed over 100 dog parents to bring the product and brand to life.

Tell us about your latest pet product ‘Clean Paws No-Rinse Foaming Cleanser’?

Carolyn: Our goal is the make dog care easy and enjoyable for dog parents and the Clean Paws No-Rinse Foaming Cleanser product makes it easier than ever for dog parents to take better care of their dog’s paws.

Our innovative Clean Paws No-Rinse Foaming Paw Cleanser solves a clear need in the market by offering an easier and more effective way of cleaning the paws and is different from any other paw cleaning option on the market.

We are bringing human skincare standards to the dog care industry with our skin-first approach to dog grooming.

Our strong connection with the dog parent community sets us apart, involving them in our brand-building journey and valuing their feedback.

It takes a lot of research and commitment to get a product to the consumer. What have you learned from this experience?

Carolyn: Throughout the experience, I’ve learned the importance of talking and listening to the consumers and having a strong focus on our ‘why’.

It’s risky to launch a business and invest all this time and money into it but talking to the consumer more, you better understand the way they think, and the problems they have and it gives you more confidence that you are building a product that people need. By focusing on the “why” of building a business, a strong foundation is established, rooted in purpose and resonance with the consumer, creating a lasting connection that transcends transactions.

Pet Care - Dandylion

What do you wish people would know about running a small business?

Carolyn: I wish people understood the hidden struggles that often go unnoticed in the realm of running a small business. These challenges include navigating near-failures and overcoming numerous hurdles that can be both financially and emotionally draining. For instance, we invested in a chemist who disappeared unexpectedly, underscoring the unpredictability of such ventures. It’s essential for others to recognize that the journey of a small business is paved with setbacks and close calls, often overshadowed by the eventual success or launch that garners attention.

What ingredients are in this particular  product?

Carolyn: Our goal is to create products that help manage itchy, sensitive and easily irritated issues by formulating with soothing & nourishing plant ingredients and excluding harsh & irritating ingredients.

Our product is formulated with:

  • Coconut-based cleanser to gentle cleanse
  • Aloe vera juice to soothe the skin
  • Pomegranate extract for anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Broccoli seed oil to moisturize and calm the skin
  • Coconut oil to hydrate and soften

Our products EXCLUDES harsh & irritating ingredients commonly found in other dog grooming products, such as: sulfates, drying alcohols, artificial fragrances and dyes, and essential oils.

All products are developed together with a vet dermatologist, and human skin care chemist and pH-balanced specifically for dog skin.

Pet Care - Dandylion

Your latest product has been picked up by Indigo stores across the country, congrats! How did that happen?

Carolyn: We have built a strong community on social media and one day, an Indigo buyer with a dog reached out to us and said that she loved our product and would love to introduce our brand and product to the right buyer for the category. From there, we had conversations with the team and it felt like the right fit on both sides to have our Dandylion Clean Paws No-Rinse Foaming cleanser available across Indigo stores. We’re so excited to be launching into 89 stores across the country in September! This is an absolute dream for us as Indigo is personally one of my favourite retailers to shop at and discover new products.

Pet Care - Dandylion

Any tips for pawrents on how to wash squirmy or sensitive puppy paws?

Carolyn: Gradual desensitization is key!

  • Begin by gently touching and massaging their paws during play or cuddle time.
  • Reward positive behavior with treats or praise to create positive associations.
  • Gradually introduce the product during play time without the foam, rewarding calm behaviour, and then slowly introduce the foam
  • Keep sessions short initially and gradually extend them as your pup becomes more comfortable.
  • Patience and consistency are vital for helping your pup become accustomed to paw handling and washing.

To learn more about Dandylion’s line of exceptional pet care products visit their site here.