Pamper your pet this winter

by Mat Cohen

According to the American Kennel Club, dogs need 30 minutes to two hours of exercise a day, depending on size and breed. Although they don’t say much about pampering, our best friends could use some luxury as well.

When it’s dark at 5 p.m. and below freezing in the middle of the Chicago winter, luxury pet services providers are there for your pooch.

When people get away to warmer places, dog resort Paradise 4 Paws has locations next to O’Hare and Midway. It offers massage therapy, a spa, grooming and 20,000 square feet of space.

There’s also A La Carte Services to spoil your furry friend. For example, its Taste of Paradise package offers peanut butter and frozen treats. The Let’s Play package includes an outdoor hike and the Heavenly Pampering package offers personal cuddle time.

Paradise 4 Paws works with Pooch Hotel, which has locations in the South Loop, Lincoln Park and West Loop. Morgan Fontes, general manager of the West Loop location, said demand for their services increases during the winter.

“We see a big increase for the majority of our services offered, but generally our highest margin is within our grooming services,” she said. “Most of our parents have more family visits over the winter due to (the holidays) and they all want clean dogs to have at home.”

Streeterville dog walker, Jennifer Jakubiak, has a strategy to brave the winter months.

“Proper gear,” she said. “I have down jackets, boots, everything you can possibly imagine to truck in this weather. It’s hard though.”

Jakubiak uses a dog-walking app called Rover and has four dogs to entertain everyday in the cold.

“It takes a lot to have a dog in the city just because it is a lot of responsibility,” she said. “But they love me and I love it.”

Dog owners who don’t have access to an extreme, cold-weather walker can use daycares, winter coats and booties, all feeding the pet industry. The American Pet Products Association estimated the industry to be worth $75.3 billion in 2019.

Dan Rubenstein, CEO and founder of Pups Pet Club, said the winter months are just as hard on dogs as on humans.

“If you’re cold, imagine what your dog is feeling,” he said. “You have layers of sweaters, and jackets, and gloves and your dog is completely exposed.”

Pups Pet Club, which opened a Streeterville location at 316 W. Illinois St. last spring, gets an influx of participants in the winter. Rubenstein has advice for dog owners.

“Use your apartment hallways without destroying them,” he said. “But ultimately, your dog still needs an hour and half of exercise per day.”

As winter lingers, the dogs coming into Pups Pet Club are about ready to burst, just like humans, Rubenstein said.

“In the winter months we kind of hibernate, so when we have an opportunity to get out to the gym or on vacation somewhere warm, we really explode with all this energy and enthusiasm.” 

City Pets, at 432 E. Grand Ave., offers grooming, daycare and winter products. Owner Lisa Harper sells Saltsox Winter Boots to help protect paws.

“We’ve tried all different brands and we like those because they’re durable and they stay on the best,” she said.

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