How far would you go to make your pet look more interesting? A pet salon in Yekaterinburg, Russia offers extreme makeovers and styling for pets, for those pet owners who are bored with how their pets look. Using bright, colourful dyes and styling fur into specific shapes, salon owner Daria Gotz has made it possible to make your cat look like a dragon (see above picture). Harmless fun? Can it really be 100% safe for your beloved animal companion to be subjected to this kind of extreme styling?
According to one dog owner, Ekaterina Aidimirova, her dog looked “… boring so we decided to make our dog bright, summery, adorable, and dyed her hair like a bee – a colourful look.” There can definitely be questions raised as to whether this is a responsible and loving attitude to have towards one’s pet. Does this owner think her dog is an ornament that needs to look exciting and interesting to be of value? It is hard to judge a person from a single quote, of course, but a general point regarding that type of attitude can still be made.

Pets are more than just consumer objects we own simply because we paid money for them. Our pets are living creatures, capable of feeling and emotion, and the one emotion pertinent here is love. Our pets love us, and with this love comes trust; trust that we will look after them, care for them, and most importantly love them back. Should we really be subjecting our loved ones to extreme makeovers simply because we ourselves want them to look better or different?

We need to keep in mind here just how extreme these procedures are compared to your standard salon trip. To achieve these highly specific styles, the animal needs to be restrained and forced to keep still to a much greater extent than a normal haircut. No matter how skilled or experienced at animal handling they are, there is no way the salon can perform these makeovers without having to forcibly restrain the animals. Being restrained is extremely stressful, especially for animals who do not understand the reasons for it.

There is also the issue of the extensive use of dyes in order to achieve these bizarre patterns and colours. The salon owner claims that the dyes are derived from “natural botanic extracts” and they may have a beneficial effect on coat health. A spokesman for the RSPCA however, emphasised the stressful experience of being restrained for the dyeing process, as well as the fact that cats groom themselves extensively and would likely ingest large amounts of dye. The dye also remains on the animals’ coats for long periods – several months – until the fur grows out. This exposes them to the risk of absorption through their skin. Until extensive and regulated testing is performed to ensure the dyes are completely harmful at this level of exposure, there is clearly a high danger to your pet’s health.