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Pet Pampering: How Pet Care is Crossing Over into Personal Care

Pet Pampering: How Pet Care is Crossing Over into Personal Care

There has been quite a notable shift in how we view our furry friends these last few years. Now integral parts of our family, even being referred to as our “children,” pets are considered loving companions that are deserving of the same level of care and attention as their human counterparts. Because of this, the pet care industry is booming and is often referred to as the “Humanization of Pets.” Consumers everywhere have started to focus on pampering their furry friends, ranging from gourmet treats to designer outfits and luxury grooming services. As pet owners are continuously seeking new ways to enrich the lives of their “children,” the boundaries between pet care and personal care have gotten a little bit blurry. Pampering pets has evolved from a mere indulgence to a reflection of a deep emotional connection and commitment to their well-being. This movement has been the driving force of innovation within the pet grooming industry.

The younger demographic, such as millennials and Gen Z, have had the most influence on the personal care industry by driving trends, pushing for transparency and sustainability, and promoting inclusivity. As millennials make up the largest percentage of current pet owners in the U.S. [1] it only makes sense that these same trends are showing up in the pet care industry as well. A common theme driven by this demographic, and one that is an undeniable staple in personal care, is sustainability. It is a known fact that consumers are increasingly prioritizing sustainability when it comes to their own products; therefore, it is no surprise it is also a deciding factor when purchasing their pet’s products. The awareness of the ecological footprint of pet care products has prompted a shift towards sustainable alternatives. Sustainable grooming products are not only better for consumers’ furry friends, but they also align with the holistic approach many pet owners take towards their pet’s well-being. By using eco-friendly options, consumers can minimize their pet’s exposure to potentially harmful chemicals and reduce their contribution to pollution and waste. Furthermore, the use of natural and organic ingredients is much gentler on pets’ skin and is less likely to cause irritation or allergic reactions. According to Euromonitor International’s Global Lifestyles Survey data, sustainability and ecological worries are higher among pet owners than those without pets [2]. Globally, around 70% of pet owners express concern around climate change and are actively trying to positively influence the environment through everyday sustainable choices [2]. What are the odds choosing sustainable pet care is part of those “everyday sustainable choices?”

While pet care may sound like a niche industry category, according to the 2021-2022 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 70% of U.S. households own a pet [3]. Therefore, when considering that two out of three U.S. households have furry friends, the magnitude of the pet care industry starts to become clear. According to Global Market Insights, the pet care market was valued at USD 280 billion in 2022, and an estimated 7% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is expected from 2023 to 2032 [4]. However, while there is clearly exponential growth happening within the pet care industry, it is important for consumers to be aware that their own personal care products are not interchangeable for pet use. Consumers cannot just decide to use their face wash or shampoo on their pets if they are in dire need of a bath or a quick refresh. Because the pet grooming industry is growing, it opens an important window of opportunity to educate both personal care formulators and pet owners when it comes to our favorite animals, including how to pamper them properly.

While we all know there can be harmful chemicals in human personal care products, the same goes for our beloved pet’s grooming products as well. However, unlike humans, animals groom themselves by licking their coat and paws frequently. Whatever products pet care owners are using will ultimately encounter their pet’s digestive system and even come into contact with their internal organs. Additionally, dogs and cats, which tend to be the most common household pets, are much more sensitive to these harmful substances than humans are. A few ingredients to avoid when formulating for furry friends are sulfates, artificial fragrances, artificial dyes, mineral oils, parabens, and isothiazolinones [5]. Most of these ingredients have the potential to be harsh on the skin, create allergies and breakouts, and worst-case scenario, lead to tumors. It is highly recommended that pet owners carefully check the labels of the products they are using to groom their pets.

But, something pets have in common with humans is that their skin is also the largest organ of their body. The skin of a canine, for example, makes up around 12 to 24% of its body weight. While they also have three layers to their skin (epidermis: outermost layer, dermis: middle layer, and subcutis: innermost layer), other important parts of a pet’s skin include their appendages, or their fur and claws [6]. Continuing with the example of canines, while they do have fur or a coat, this does not necessarily correlate to their skin being thicker than that of a human. Quite the opposite, as the epidermis of a dog is three to five cells thick while a human’s epidermis is at least ten to fifteen cells thick. Additionally, a canine’s epidermis has a faster turnover rate of twenty days, while human skin’s turnover rate is around twenty-eight days [7]. Each of these factors contributes to animal skin being much more sensitive than human skin.

However, arguably the most important factor to consider when formulating grooming products for pets versus humans is understanding the fundamental differences in skin pH. In human dermatology, skin surface pH is important when relating to the microflora environment and skin irritation. Typically on the more acidic side, human skin pH ranges from around 4.5 to 5.5. In comparison, the typical pH of animal skin, such as dogs, tends to be more neutral, ranging from 5.5 to 7.5 [8]. This information is vital because it concludes that human skin care products are too acidic for pets and will irritate their skin and disrupt their natural balance. Formulating grooming pet care products while carefully considering their skin’s pH range will ensure optimal effectiveness and safety while also maintaining the health and integrity of their skin and coat.

Pet care enthusiasts spare no expense when it comes to spoiling their beloved companions, and formulating for furry friends can be quite unique based on their biological characteristics, allergenicity of certain ingredients, and environmental impact. From organic shampoos infused with exotic botanicals to specialized spa treatments, the market for upscale pet care is expanding. This growing trend directly correlates to a cultural shift towards viewing pets as cherished family members and, as a result, businesses and grooming products catering to this not-so-niche market have flourished. However, it’s crucial to remember that formulating for pets differs significantly from creating products for humans. While pampering pets with luxurious grooming treatments is undoubtedly a testament to the deep emotional bonds consumers share with them, it’s essential to exercise caution and choose products specifically tailored to their needs.


Meet the Author

Morgan Drohan

Technical Marketing Specialist at Active Concepts

With a solid foundation in chemistry, Morgan Drohan graduated Magna Cum Laude from Appalachian State University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry along with a certification in Forensic Science. Boasting her previous years of instrumentation and analytical industry experience in the metal finishing field, Morgan’s transition to the cosmetic industry was a natural progression, driven by an unwavering passion for both cosmetics and science.  As a dynamic professional, Morgan is at the forefront of innovation, constantly researching and staying ahead of market trends. Her expertise extends to presenting to formulators, product development teams, and multinational brands alike. She effectively communicates the benefits of efficacious personal care ingredients and is continuing to expand her knowledge on powerful cutting-edge cosmetic solutions.



1. Megna, Michelle. “Pet Ownership Statistics 2024.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 29 Feb. 2024, insurance/pet-ownership-statistics/.

2. Mitzner, Dennis. “Pet Care Companies Bank on Sustainability as Consumer Trends Shift.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 9 Aug. 2023, shift/.

3. Rivera, Julia. “Appa Releases Newest Edition of National Pet Owners Survey.” Pet Age, 23 June 2021,

4. “Pet Care Market Trends: Forecasts Report (2032).” Global Market Insights Inc., analysis/pet-care-market. Accessed 15 Feb. 2024.

5. Taft, Jill. “6 Ingredients to Avoid in Your Dog Grooming Products.” Logic Products, Logic Products, 10 Oct. 2018,

6. Structure of the Skin in Dogs - Dog Owners - Merck Veterinary Manual, disorders-of-dogs/structure-of-the-skin-in-dogs. Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

7. DevAccount. “Skin - the Difference between Canine and Human Skin.” Vetwest Veterinary Clinics, 8 Sept. 2022,

8. Oh, Tae-Ho, and Seong-Jun Park. "The comparison of various shampoos on skin pH in normal dogs." 한국임상수의학회지18.4 (2001): 363-367

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