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Every Season Demands Paw Health Protection with Tim Petsch

Special Guests

Tim Petsch

Tim Petsch is the Executive VP of marketing and sales for Pawz Dog Boots, LLC, a company that specializes in pawcentric consumables. PawZ is the largest manufacturer and marketer of dog boots in the world. PawZ boots are disposable, reusable and waterproof, and are available in over 12,000 pet store locations throughout the world. Tim possesses a wealth of experience in the pet retail industry, having previously led the "Furminator" from a small business to market category leader within the pet industry.

Joe Zuccarello interviews Tim Petsch of Pawz Dog Boots about proper paw care throughout the year. Paw health greatly affects both pets and their owners – especially with current public health concerns.

  • Should I use dog boots year-round?
  • Can I use human hand sanitizer on dogs?
  • How much bacteria do dogs carry with them?
  • Why do dogs lick their paws more in the spring and summer?

Tune in to find out.

Announcer: Welcome to the Hey Joe, a podcast answering questions asked by our listeners, created by pet professionals for pet professionals. And now, your host, Hey, Joe’s very own Joe Zuccarello.

Joe Zuccarello: What’s up, everyone? Joe Zuccarello here, and welcome to Hey Joe, a podcast brought to you by Paragon School of Pet Grooming. Check out our site at paragonpetschool.com for lots of really cool information on a variety of programs, products, and to connect to educational resources such as webinars, podcasts, current events, special news, certifications, and lots of other helpful information to help you grow yourself, your team, and, of course, your business. Let’s get started with this week’s episode.

Joe Zuccarello: Hey everyone, this is Joe Zuccarello, your host of the Hey Joe podcast, and we have, like we often do, we have a return guest on with us today. It is my good buddy Tim Petsch. Tim is the vice president of Pawz Dog Boots, and we are going to kind of cover a little bit of what we talked about before with Tim about paw protection and such, but we’re going to take a little bit of a new term because there’s some new innovations out there and actually some new awareness that all of you who are our pet professionals out there, all of the Hey Joe listeners really need to listen in.

Joe Zuccarello: So this is one of those that you have to stay tuned and listen all the way through this podcast because I think it’s going to be really helpful to you in how much you can help your clientele, both the pets and the people. Tim, thanks for joining us again today.

Tim Petsch: Hey, Joe, thanks for having me here. Good to talk to you again.

Joe Zuccarello: Tim, tell us briefly because we’ve got a lot of content to cover. Tell us a little bit about you and a little bit about your company.

Tim Petsch: All right. Again, my name is Tim Petsch, Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Pawz Rubber Dog Boots, and our company mission is to be a paw-centric company where we are concerned … And it’s in our tagline that we have is, your dog’s good health starts with clean paws, clean, healthy paws. As we look to keeping our dogs healthy these days, we’re giving them better foods, better treats. We’re giving them supplements, or, even, CBD is a real popular item to help with their anxiety and different things.

Tim Petsch: One of the very under-developed categories we don’t think about, the health of the paw. We almost look at it as, hey, we’re concerned with our own foot, our own footwear, but it’s something that’s been dramatically overlooked. What is outside? What touches the ground more? What is more important other than maybe the food that they eat every day than the health of their paws?

Joe Zuccarello: Right. Right. That’s the thing too, Tim. Folks, before I met Tim, I didn’t really pay much attention to paws other than, obviously, the nails need to be trimmed and/or filed. The hair needs to be trimmed and those types of things. Sometimes you get a cracked paw or an injured paw, or something like that, or a cracked paw pad.

Joe Zuccarello: But when I first started hanging with Tim and learning a little bit more, not only about his product solutions but just the awareness. So to the Hey Joe listener audience [inaudible 00:03:24], this is a topic that I’m really excited to bring you today because just take a moment to think about where your dog’s paws go. What are they stepping in? What are they carrying inside? Not only to their own health and wellbeing to help prevent injury, which we’re going to talk a little bit about, but also to help prevent spreadable illnesses.

Joe Zuccarello: A very timely topic, there’s a lot of things going on out there right now in the public about viruses and bacteria and illnesses and spreading, and yet, we have something that we need to be paying attention to, and that is where our dogs are traveling. Let’s first, Tim, if it’s okay with you …

Joe Zuccarello: When I first met Tim, real quick, I immediately picked up on that he is very concerned with footwear and foot care for pets, and he taught me healthy paws equal a healthy pet and clean home. So that’s what we’re going to camp out on a little bit today. The very first thing is, let’s talk about seasons. When you talk about dog boots, from my years of retailing and being in the industry, when I hear dog boots, I immediately think boots. I think wet weather, or, certainly, snow and ice and maybe even ice melt, the chemicals that are used.

Joe Zuccarello: Tim, you are really big into every season is paw protection season. Originally, I thought of maybe it’s winter, but here we’re getting into spring and moving then into summer. What are some of the areas where dog boots really … And, again, for your pet professionals out there, these are things that you can educate your customers about because you need to be their hero. It’s your job to help them stay safe as well, so we’re going to bring this information to you today.

Joe Zuccarello: What are some of the things we need to be concerned with as we move into the other seasons outside of winter, where we think, maybe, that’s the biggest use of your product? But you’re here to tell us no, it’s way beyond that.

Tim Petsch: You’re right, Joe, and, like you said, it’s easy to think of boots in just winter where the snow, the ice, the chemicals that are put in the street that really erode our dog’s paws, but, as you said, we should think of this as a seasonal problem. Again, the other side of the dichotomy of the fence is is summer, the hot pavement, the sand, the beaches. Think about, Joe, when you’re out in the yard on a hot summer day here in Saint Louis stepping on that hot concrete or that hot patio or hot beach while you’re on vacation, how did that hurt your paws? It’s the same thing for the dog.

Tim Petsch: We have the pictures of how it burns those paws, how the paw peels. And once that gets damaged, it’s hard for our pet to recover because they’re always on their feet, and you’re always going to have constant problems. Also, in the summer, besides the hot pavement and sand, you’ve also got other things that are unique to the summer. You got the allergens. A lot of allergens here coming up in the spring and the summer where they get in the paws, and the dog starts licking the paws incessantly, and also, ingesting those allergens that is affecting their health overall.

Tim Petsch: How many times, Joe, do you see a dog licking their paw, and we don’t know the reason? That’s because it has on those allergens. And worse yet, during the summer, [inaudible 00:06:55] of us put fertilizers in the yard, put chemicals in the yard that our dog is walking through. Who knows what they’re walking through when they’re going through a public park or dog park. You know those things have chemicals and allergens in it, but we allow them to walk through that. Again, they’re licking it, ingesting it.

Tim Petsch: I would say that’s the two big dichotomies of winter and summer, but just as much in the spring and the fall. Think about when you’re going out, and it’s muddy. It’s mucky. The things that are in that, walking on a trail in the spring or fall. Really our point is, think about your dog’s health year-round. Again, not just winter, not just the other dichotomy summer, but getting out in those elements year-round and not just for their health, but bringing those particular things into your home.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, and two, Tim, maybe it’s an old wives tale out there, an urban legend, but I’ve always heard, even growing up as a kid, “Well, your dog has its own shoes. It’s the pads of its feet.” The pads of the dog’s paws are built to be like shoes, like the sole of the shoe. But I’ve seen some of the pictures you’ve shown me. I know our pet professionals out there, all of you out there in the Hey Joe listener audience out there, you’ve seen this as well. You’ve seen an injured dog paw, or you’ve seen splitting or cracking paws and such.

Joe Zuccarello: So there’s a lot more attention because we’re smarter now, right? It used to be we don’t have to bathe our dogs. Well, sure we do, right? We don’t have to clean their ears. Well, sure we do, right? So, we’re all getting smarter, so are we getting smarter also in knowing that we need to protect their paws?

Tim Petsch: Absolutely. I think one of the biggest things, Joe, over the changes over the last five, 10, 15 years, and more recently is our pets go where we go. They’re getting in the car and driving to anywhere from stores to airports to dog parks. That’s just a small list, but basically, they go with us wherever we go, and they’re being exposed to a lot more potential dangerous situations with their paws, but also dirty, germ-related type places as they get out more and more outside of their own environment of their home.

Joe Zuccarello: Let’s just talk about dirt for just a moment because I know we’re going to move into a really sensitive topic next, but I just want to talk about dirt and just protecting feet and protecting their feet like we protect ours. I don’t know about you, but we try to enter and exit through … Let’s say we come in through our garage or wherever your main entrance is into your residence. Many times, we’re encouraging, myself, my family, to take our shoes off before go kind of trompsing through the house.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, if a dog really does have their own shoes and they come walking inside … Again, let’s just focus on dirt and debris. They’re carrying that all the way through your house. They’re not able to take off their own shoes at the door, so they’re able to live sort of by a different set of rules, which is a little bit counter-intuitive.

Tim Petsch: You’re right, Joe. You talked about maybe the obvious ones we think about just, I’ll call, clean dirt. That doesn’t sound so bad, but what things do our dogs do once they go out? Pardon my French, but they’re stepping in their own urine and their feces. You know how when they go, it’s in a general area, and they’re walking in and out of it. Not just there’s, but also other dogs who are in that place or other dogs in a dog park where it is just literally littered with those types of things.

Tim Petsch: Gosh, you almost hate to see one of those blacklights in a dog park or anywhere you go, how much stuff is out there like that that even, is more likely to carry the bacteria, the E. coli, and the fungus that are breeding in their paws.

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah. Again, the dog boots, they’re great. They’re disposable. They’re affordable. They’re not your grandpa’s dog boots. These aren’t the same thing as what we might imagine dog boots to be because they’re also a lot more comfortable, but they serve more of a utility.

Joe Zuccarello: Again, for the Hey Joe listener audience out there, we’re talking to Tim Petsch with Pawz Dog Boots, and Tim is sharing with us one of the very first things we want to talk to about is how can you help your customers, the pets themselves, how can you help them keep their pets safe through proper attention to their paw health. Again, healthy paws equal a healthy pet and clean home, so let’s talk next, Tim, about the clean home aspect.

Joe Zuccarello: It’s almost like we can’t help ourselves but start to kind of lean in that direction in our conversation because we started to talk about, yeah, of course, the injuries and things that happen with chemicals and ice melt and just snow or hot pavement and those types of things, that that barrier can help protect them against, but let’s now talk a little bit beyond dirt. Dirt’s bad enough, or, to your point, some of the dirty dirt like the poo and other things that they might carry in on their paws or the hair of their paws.

Joe Zuccarello: Let’s start to kind of also talk, Tim, about spreading germs and bacteria. Tim, you provided a link to a video that I would love to be able to make available to the Hey Joe listener audience out there. There was actually a study done by our friends at Inside Edition, actually, did a study on the amount of germs and bacteria on the paws of dogs. Oh, my gosh, Tim! This thing was eye-opening. We always probably suspected that that was the case, but this brings it front and center. It’s undeniable, right?

Tim Petsch: Yeah, Joe, what you said. It’s something that you kind of want to ignore. It’s that elephant in the room, on the right side that you don’t want to talk about, but, as you said, that video link just really tells the story very, very, clean. Like I said, when the dogs are out stepping in the list of things I talked about, they develop on their paws a breeding ground for bacteria, E. coli, fungus. And they also get that little odory smell.

Tim Petsch: I don’t know if you’ve ever smelled your dog’s paws, but we always say it’s kind of like popcorn, Frito Lay smell. That’s the sign of some fungus. In this particular video, and I really encourage everyone to watch because it really opened my eyes, it’s a woman on the streets doing a swab test on these paws. Everyone had something. They get their results, and innocent little Buffy has three bacteria, E. coli, and fungus.

Tim Petsch: They also put a little blacklight liquid on their paws to see where they all step in in the house. Of course, they step on the carpet, on the bed, on the pillow. You see literally thousands of tracks throughout the day in what they all touch in your home, especially with the high sensitivity right now in our market of viruses going around, Joe asked, “What can the community out there do to help?”

Tim Petsch: I think the biggest thing is creating awareness, creating awareness of things we just talked about, of what is on the paws and how they need to be protected with the boots from bringing it in, but also sanitizing the paws once they’re in the house just like you would do if you’re going to a grocery store and using the Purell in the little stand right now. Think about it, the same situation from the dog paw of what they step in.

Joe Zuccarello: Tim, let’s talk about the tracks that these dogs made. Again, for all of you Hey Joe listener audience out there, here’s something that’s really easy to do. Just ask your pet parent clientele where the dog and the pet parents spend time together. You’re most likely going to get, well, obviously, they’re probably bringing their pet to you, so they’re certainly in the car. They’re in the vehicle.

Joe Zuccarello: I can attest that my little dog, Vinny, he will … Goodness, 15 minutes ago, right before this podcast recording, I let him outside. I let him back in, and I’m looking at him right now, and he’s on a blanket that we would cover up with, that my wife will probably come home tonight and cover up with on our sofa.

Tim Petsch: Unknowingly.

Joe Zuccarello: Did I do anything to treat his paws when he came in? No, but would I necessarily have done something if it was my feet or my hands if I were out there? You talk about that blacklight study that they did in this video. There were thousands of paw prints everywhere throughout the house. Most remarkably, it was on places that were common areas, especially in the bed.

Joe Zuccarello: Again, we’re in a very sensitive time right now, and we’re really aware of trying to cut down on the spread of germs and bacteria. What I like about that study is it does bring it to light, and what I really like, Tim, about what it is that you’re doing is that this is something you’ve been talking about for a long time. You’ve been talking about healthy paws equal a healthy pet and such.

Joe Zuccarello: So for all of our pet parents out there, for all of our pet professionals out there, how do we jump in and how do we contribute to that conversation with the pet parents? As we’re doing that, we need to start educating the pet parents on the importance of staying safe and trying to keep this. To your point, Tim, the pets, the dogs that come in from the outside, even if you cannot, some of the viruses, they can’t be transmitted between species, thus between human and dog and vice versa. The dogs can certainly, at least, be carriers.

Tim Petsch: Absolutely.

Joe Zuccarello: Tim, let’s talk briefly about how do we address injury and illness. We talked about injury by way of maybe using the dog boots, but you’ve got some new innovations out right now that are perfect timing actually, but we’re told that in order not to spread disease and viruses and bacteria and such, we’re supposed to hand sanitize, and we’re supposed to wash our hands for a minimum of 20 seconds. Well, what if I just wash my dog’s paws? Can I just use hand sanitizer? Does that work?

Tim Petsch: No, and actually, Joe, this new product you’ve been talking about, we’ve been working on these for a long time. The point is to make these specific for a dog’s needs. Like I said, we all go to any grocery store, airport, you look anywhere these days, you do have those Purell dispensers, but it’s just not as easy as taking a human product and correlating it to a dog’s paw. The Purell has alcohol. It has other ingredients in it that aren’t good or safe for dogs.

Tim Petsch: We don’t want alcohol on our dog’s paws that dries them out. It has that scent that will make the lickable, and it can’t have any other dangerous problems. They can’t have any chemicals, of course, because they need to lick and ingest them potentially as we put that liquid on their paws.

Joe Zuccarello: The best way to address this, and, really, how likely is it? Okay, you could wash your dog’s paws every time they come in from outside, but, really, how likely is that going to be the case? You’re not going to have a bucket of water there and some nice shampoo, and let alone anything that is anti-bacterial.

Joe Zuccarello: One thing that was in that video that you shared … And we’re going to share that link, guys with you out there. All of you pet professionals, we’re going to have that link. So you’re going to go to paragonpetschool.com and be able to see that link to this Inside Edition study that was done, this bacteria study.

Joe Zuccarello: Tim, there was, not only, I think, the least amount that little Buffy had was six bacteria and E. coli, and there was even some even more dramatic bugs, if you would, that the pet was bringing in.

Tim Petsch: If you think about it, Joe, again, I’ll go back to the hands. We’re all concerned about our hands as a carrier. The amount of what a dog’s paw touches and exposed to dwarfs how many germs and things that can be in a dog’s paw because they’re literally on the ground. If you think about it, if we were going to the grocery store, walking on our hands throughout the store, what would get on it, or to an airport? I know it’s a little bit of a harsh scene, but it’s true.

Tim Petsch: Another point of it is, once we put the Purell on our hands, we rub it in together. Well, dogs don’t have that luxury of rubbing something in. They can’t rub their paw pads together, so these are products that are also designed to be absorbed and kill the germs on contact.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, and Tim, with the Hey Joe podcast, we try really to reduce the commercial aspect of this particular education piece for pet professionals out there. Education is great, but in this particular case, I just feel so compelled to bring a product solution front and center to our pet professionals to be able to recommend out there such as your liquid products and your wipe products that we’re going to talk about here in just a second.

Joe Zuccarello: Because education is great, but unless we offer a solution, we’re only helping our customers halfway, and that’s not a really great way for our pet professionals out there to be a hero for the pets and the people. So let’s talk about you’ve got a couple of new innovations. Again, I normally don’t talk about product-specific, but, in this case, I just feel really compelled to do so. You have a daily paw sanitizing, a couple of products. You’ve got some wipes and some spray that you’ve just launched. Can you tell us briefly a little bit about those?

Tim Petsch: I will, Joe. Yeah, we decided to make these in two different carriers. There’s a spray and a wipe. We saw a lot of different customers prefer the different delivery vehicles, but, basically, the premise was it is to basically eliminate bacteria, virus, fungus, and odor on the paws, but, even more importantly, in a safe way. These are 100% safe for daily use.

Tim Petsch: When I say daily, every time they go out. They come in. They’re just like our hands after using them, washing them on a regular basis, and using every day. They’re alcohol-free and non-toxic. They’re lickable, unscented. They’re hypo, and, again, the whole first priority is the safety of the dog while cleaning the germs, dirt, and odors.

Tim Petsch: Regarding the spray that we have, it comes in a nice little eight-ounce bottle with a trigger spray on it. You can just spray it on. Let it absorb. You don’t have to wipe it off. Within two minutes, it will kill the bacteria and germs. There no other spray on the marketplace right out there.

Tim Petsch: Joe also mentioned a wipe. Yeah, we all use wipes out there. There’s a lot of wipes for dogs, for the coat, for the ears, for the whatever. A lot of us even use the baby wipes out there that are used for babies. Again, it doesn’t relate to the paw. All those have alcohol. They have some very other unsafe chemicals in it that are not good for the paw, which could lend itself to licking or absorbing into the paw. And they’re not safe.

Tim Petsch: Again, it’s two different delivery vehicles. It’s the spray. It’s the wipes. Both are designed to safely kill those bacteria, virus, fungus, and odor that’s the carrier on the dog paw.

Joe Zuccarello: Now, Tim, you just told us that these products are fairly new to the market. Obviously, I know you. You’ve done all of your testing and all of your research to make sure that these are safe and, not only effective, but also safe. You’re starting to get a lot of retail traction out there. Do they go to your website to find out where they can buy this, or call their local pet supply stores, or how do they find the Sanipawz spray and the wipes from Pawz?

Tim Petsch: Yeah, like I said, Joe, these are brand new, but they’re hitting the shelves quickly. I think that shows the point of how relevant these products are in today’s time and relevant. What I would do is go to our website, www.pawzdogboots.com. That’s Pawz with a Z. Go to our store locator and just type in your zip code. You can see all the stores that are in your area.

Tim Petsch: It is brand new out, so it may not have trickled down to those particular stores yet, but certainly, you can call and ask them to get it in. You can also, if you like, Joe, I’m more and happy to provide them with my email address, and they can email me directly. I can give them some more specific ways to find the product.

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah, why don’t you go ahead and do that, Tim? We’ll go ahead and give you a couple seconds. Go ahead and provide that email address. Then, I do have another recommendation for them. Go ahead and give them that contact information while there might be … Guys, listen, if you’re listening to this and you’re driving, please don’t try to do this while you’re driving. Go to paragonpetschool.com, and we’re going to have all of this information on this particular episode page on our website as well.

Joe Zuccarello: But Tim, what is the email address that they can reach out to you at?

Tim Petsch: Yeah, simply Tim, T-I-M, @pawzdogboots.com. That’s P-A-W-Z dogboots.com.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, it doesn’t get any easier than that.

Tim Petsch: No.

Joe Zuccarello: Again, we’re going to provide all of that at paragonpetschool.com, so that all of the Hey Joe listener audience out there can go directly to the website and see that. Also, we’re going to share that link to that video that Tim provided that is a must-see for all of our pet professionals out there because it is, it’s just literally enlightening with a blacklight enlightening.

Joe Zuccarello: One of the things too, and obviously, Tim, we’re talking to a lot of pet professionals out there, so these are folks that are professional groomers or other pet care service providers, and many of them also carry a limited amount of retail. Or some of them are some of our big retailers as well that are avid fans of the Hey Joe podcast. If you want to retail these products, you can reach out to Tim and find out how you go about getting the opportunity to start retailing these products.

Joe Zuccarello: Let’s kind of draw this all together. When we’re talking about proper paw care, and healthy paws equals healthy pet and clean home, we talked about the seasonality issue, and it’s not just winter anymore. Why should you, the pet professional, be teaching all of your customers out there and be providing education on proper paw care. Not only because of injury avoidance, but also now, really focusing on illness protection. That’s reducing, at least, the spreading of germs and bacteria because where the pet goes, the people go. And where the pet goes, the paws go.

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah, I think we’re going to be changing our habit here in the Zuccarello household with Vinny, and we’re going to be treating his paws so that I can just imagine … He sleeps in our bed, and some people say that that’s great to do, some people don’t, but I’m a pet parent first. Yeah, he has a place right at the foot of our bed. Yeah, now I’m questioning it. You kind of gave me the oo factor, and I’m going to go do some laundry.

Joe Zuccarello: Tim, thank you so much. We appreciate all the time. You’re a good buddy of mine, and you’ve got such a great company, but also a great line of solutions. What you have more than anything is the desire to help pets and people stay safe and healthy. We appreciate everything you do, and thanks again for being a guest.

Tim Petsch: Hey, Joe. Thanks for the time, and we’ll be seeing you soon.

Joe Zuccarello: Take care.

Inside Edition: This is How Many Germs Your Dog Carries When it Sleeps in Your Bed

Learn more about how dirty your dog’s paws get in the video below.

About Joe

Joe Zuccarello is VP of the Paragon School of Pet Grooming, leaders in grooming education on campus and online. He possesses more than three decades of experience in the pet grooming, product development and pet business consulting disciplines.

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