CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Hertfordshire Life today CLICK HERE

Pet Paradise

PUBLISHED: 09:35 27 October 2015 | UPDATED: 16:38 10 November 2015

Dog grooming, Pedigrees n' Pooches

Dog grooming, Pedigrees n' Pooches

(C) Maija Astikainen

With the UK pet industry worth a booming £4.5bn annually, our willingness to spend on our animals has rocketed. Fancy a massage and a Mohawk, Rover?

Raye Lowe photographyRaye Lowe photography

Life has never been so good for Hertfordshire’s four-legged friends. All over the county, animal lovers are turning their pet passions into professional ventures and there are a growing number of luxury products and services on offer. From spas and hotels to makeovers and massage, if there’s a service for humans, you can bet there’s an animal version for Fido and Fluffy.

Spa sessions

Animal lover Sarah Allen set up her grooming spa in September 2013 and her salon on Buntingford High Street is a hit with locals who often just pop in to chat about their furry friends.

‘My door is always open,’ Allen says, and this friendly outlook is reflected in her treatment styles, which have a caring, stress-free approach, working around each pet’s individual needs. As well as grooming, she offers pedicures and flea treatment and her aromatherapy massage is one of her most popular services. ‘We use calming lavender oils – the dogs are often so relaxed they lay down in the bath!’

Allen says solving pet problems can be very rewarding work: ‘I’ve helped to find the right shampoo for the fur of dogs with skin issues and even worked with an owner to help calm her dog so the pet could be groomed without sedation.’

A full groom starts from £25, see

Raye Lowe pet photographyRaye Lowe pet photography


Raye Lowe Studios in Cheshunt has offered a pet photography service for years, but in the past five the company has seen a spike in popularity with pets being included in family shoots as well as having their own one-on-one sessions. ‘Cats and dogs are the most popular, but we’ve recently photographed rats, ferrets and parrots,’ studio manager Kristy Hester-Lowe says.

Of course, working with animals has its obstacles, but the photographers give them plenty of time to relax and explore their surroundings, as well as tempting them with treats as incentives to co-operate. Every session is different, Hester-Lowe says. ‘The family often bring accessories like bow ties and jumpers and we recently had 10 dogs to photograph at once, which was a challenge. Pets really are a part of the family now – more so than ever. Sometimes a customer comes to us because the pet is ill. Hard though these shoots are, we help to capture their pet’s personality in photos they can treasure forever.’

Give them a makeover

Just the usual cut please at Pedigree and PoochesJust the usual cut please at Pedigree and Pooches

Regular grooming is important for keeping a dog’s coat clean and healthy, but husband-and-wife team Vikki and Trevor Pearman from Hatfield really go the extra mile with their creative dog grooming service, Pedigrees ’n’ Pooches.

They are well-known for their dog-friendly fur dyes, feather extensions and even diamante ‘fur-jazzles’. Both the Pearmans are highly experienced, and they’re normally booked up weeks in advance, but they admit not everyone is a fan. ‘Creative grooming can be controversial, but we would never jeopardise an animal’s comfort or safety,’ they explain. ‘We only groom dogs that are healthy, well-socialised and happy with the attention they’ll inevitably receive. All of our products are made for dogs and we even test them on ourselves.’

There are glowing reviews on the company Facebook page and customers keep coming back, say the Pearmans. ‘One of our most fun clients is a little crossbreed who comes in regularly for a Mohawk down his back, and every time we dye it a different colour. We’ve also had a couple request colouring a pet’s ears as a way of announcing the sex of their baby!’

Luxury hotel break

Welwyn cat lover Abi Purser opened Longcroft, her first luxury cat hotel, in 2010 after failing to find a premium cattery for her own cat, Norman. ‘Demand for our suites quickly exceeded supply. During our first Christmas we turned away hundreds of bookings,’ she says.

Wrought iron cat beds at Longcroft cat hotelWrought iron cat beds at Longcroft cat hotel

This led to the start of a franchise, which stands at eight hotels with several more on the way. The hotels have hundreds of rave reviews, multiple awards and provide a five-star service.

‘Our aim is for our guests to have a better holiday than their owners,’ Purser explains. And with heated rooms, wrought iron beds, round-the-clock care, a cat treat ‘minibar’, regular cuddles, play sessions, spa treatments and an ‘A La Cat’ menu served on bone china, this is a distinct possibility.

The hotels are happy to fulfil the most luxurious of requests, from providing only Evian water to serving organic asparagus for dinner, and staff send daily photos to the owners. Says Purser, ‘It can be stressful leaving a beloved pet and often people have had bad experiences in other catteries. It provides great peace of mind to know your cat is having a great holiday too.’

Birthday cakes and treats

Sawbridgeworth-based Jackie Burns started her handmade dog treats business, Aunty Jacks, only in August last year, but the company has already received orders from as far away as Poland.

It was Burns’ Labrador Charlie’s sensitive stomach that inspired her to start making her own healthy treats. ‘I began to research which foods are beneficial to dogs and there’s loads,’ she says. ‘For example, apples and carrots are high in fibre, ginger can prevent travel sickness and carob powder (a cocoa powder alternative) produces a dog-friendly chocolate.’

Among Burns’ bestsellers are cheesy Marmite ‘love bones’ and ‘Mutteasers’ made with natural peanut butter, banana and honey. Her dog-friendly gingerbread was a sell-out at Christmas markets last year, and she even makes doggy birthday cakes ‘so dogs can enjoy a yappy birthday’.

See for details

Top dog-friendly pubs

The Swan, Wheathampstead
A warm welcome for people and pets and a big jar of doggy treats on the bar.

The Strathmore Arms, St Pauls Warden. 
The landlord says, ‘We welcome well-behaved children on leads, and dogs - I think I’ve got that right.’ A great area for country walks too.

The Catherine Wheel, Albury. 
Free treats for doggy patrons and it’s a short drive away from the dog agility course at Southern Country Park.

Dog-friendly hotels

Hanbury Manor, Ware 
Doggy guests are welcome in the drawing room and lobby and there are 22 acres of parkland for walks.

Luton Hoo, nr Harpenden
Dog guests get pampered with their own basket, blanket, bowls and a chew toy.

The Three Tuns, Ashwell 
A dog-friendly garden and the pub has even hosted a doggy birthday party.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hertfordshire visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hertfordshire staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hertfordshire account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Yesterday, 10:10

Don’t miss the December issue – everything you need for a fabulous Herts Christmas!

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

We quiz author Kevin Exley about his new book that takes the reader on the trail of fascinating stories, new and old, around Berkhamsted

Read more
October 2018
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Don’t miss the November issue of Hertfordshire Life - out now!

Read more
Monday, October 29, 2018

Hertfordshire is a county with a vast, fascinating and sometimes dark and bloody history that has reportedly lead to more than a few angry ghosts sticking around to wreak havoc and take revenge on the living. We have gathered 10 of the most haunted places in the county

Read more
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Make the most out of autumn with these eight walking routes that take in a variety of Hertfordshire’s terrains and - most importantly – have a cosy pub along the way

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

We've selected a variety of spooky activities in the county that are sure to delight the kids

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Christmas isn’t complete without a trip to a festive fair. From German-style food stalls to vintage fetes, Hertfordshire’s Christmas markets have it all

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust’s Charlotte Hussey explores the fascinating world of bats and new projects in the county to help conserve these remarkable creatures

Read more
October 2018
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The People’s Trust for Endangered Species is asking the public to look out for mammals on Hertfordshire’s roads as part of a citizen science project

Read more
September 2018
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

From stately homes to skateparks, we have selected some of the best ideas for things to do in Hertfordshire

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search