LOS ANGELES — Sugarplum went into the salon as a reddish-blonde dachshund mix and came out with pink and green ears, a rainbow tail and a bow in her fur.
“It’s like having a little unicorn creature,” said Sasha Sinnott, an attorney from Pasadena who was nearly giddy about her dog’s makeover.
For some dog owners, simple bathing and combing is not enough. So they pay groomers to turn fur into an artist’s canvas, where vibrant sweeps of chalk and paint transform pooches into fantasy fur balls that draw both compliments and strange looks. For an extra 10 or 15 minutes at the groomer, the everyday dog can get an outlandish redesign with a temporary paint tattoo, Mohawk, feather extension or glued-on jewels.
Then there are the “extreme groomers,” who turn their own pets into elaborate creations like zombies, flowers or even whole jungle scenes, transformations that can take months as hair grows, paint is applied, fur is braided or extended, and shapes are sculpted.
But there are limits to the makeover mania, which is blossoming in an unregulated industry that can leave pets open to risks. Experts say products should be toxic-free and there should be no pain involved — absolutely no piercings or real tattoos. If dogs enjoy being groomed, they shouldn’t mind the extra primping, experts added, though one veterinarian said, “It’s just something I would not do.”
But many pet owners and industry professionals say it’s a fun activity that helps person and pooch bond.
“For me, it is about a closer connection with my pets. People are now showering their pets with the amenities and affections that they would like themselves,” said Lauren L. Darr, founder of the International Association of Pet Fashion Professionals.
And grooming products are getting more mainstream every day, added Darr, author of the Pet Fashion 2014 Almanac.