From luxury resorts and day-care centres to canine paddling pools and glamorous grooming salons, Dubai is awash with pet pampering services.
Dubai’s pampered pets
Originally founded as a mobile grooming service, Shampooch continues to offer pampering on wheels in its trademark pink and yellow Shampooch vans, while now also offering an upscale salon experience.
Makeovers are completed with a spritz of canine fragrance, and four-legged clients are welcome to model for ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots against Shampooch’s bright pink photo wall.
In addition, doggy day-care and overnight “boutique hotel” boarding is offered in the heart of affluent residential neighbourhood, Jumeirah.
“At Shampooch, we get a lot of different types of clientele, we get people from all different nationalities like Dubai. It's a real melting pot of different cultures. It's the same with dogs, so we get all the different types of dogs,” says Managing Partner Shaheen Shahani. “We've got clients who come to us to get their dogs groomed and we have a lot of busy professionals who go off to work in the morning leaving their dogs in our day-care facility.
“Dogs spend the day here, which is like coming into school. They run around, they make friends, they chase balls, they go out in the garden. They have a great day. They go home tired, happy and content, which is great for the owners as well.”
Another popular canine retreat, My Second Home in Dubai Investment Park, houses indoor and outdoor canine swimming pools, an indoor air-conditioned park and a range of suites for overnight stays.
“We've got just about everything that you can imagine for dogs,” says My Second Home Director and General Manager Sean Parker. “We've got overnight boarding, we've got day-care and schooling for dogs, grooming services, a dog park and our pet limousine service as well. We have a number of different suites, from standard suites to deluxe suites, and each suite, regardless of whether it's a standard or a presidential suite, comes with a webcam, so very concerned parents can watch their pups while they sleep at night.”
'Raise the Woof'
For stays that also accommodate humans, Dubai is home to several pet-friendly hotels that welcome travellers and their four-legged friends, but only one is designed both inside and out by the late legendary designer Dame Zaha Hadid - ME Dubai in Business Bay.
ME Dubai’s ‘Pooch by ME’ package includes a dog bed and blanket, complimentary poop bags, dog brush and shampoo, and dog bowls. ME Dubai’s Executive Chef James Knight-Pacheco has also created a pets’ room service menu.
“It was a huge challenge to do a pet menu,” says Knight-Pacheco. “Normally I'm cooking for humans, so this time around I actually had to do a lot of research into what goes into dog food, or cat food. And, of course, we had to have the design twist as we were here within the Zaha Hadid building.
“On the menu itself, there are things for puppies, dogs and cats. They have different names, like Raise the Woof and Notorious D.O.G. and are always protein-based with little bit of carbohydrates and zero seasoning as you have to be super careful with dogs’ digestive systems.”
Pet-friendly restaurants are also increasingly popular in Dubai. Reform Social & Grill Dubai in The Lakes is one restaurant that has pet snacks on the menu - though most pets seem just as happy with leftovers from the venue’s decadent roast dinners.
For an entirely different petting experience, there’s Dubai’s only indoor rainforest, Green Planet at City Walk, which offers a variety of animal encounters. Visitors are welcome to handle bugs and snakes, sugar gliders and sloths. Animal Care Supervisor Erik Rohrkaste is part of the team overseeing encounters.
“The sugar glider encounter is around 15 to 20 minutes long. Guests will get to meet the sugar glider family and give them some of their favourite foods, such as super worms or grapes,” says Rohrkaste. “Another of our animal encounters is a sloth encounter. It happens at 1.30pm every day and lasts around to 20 to 30 minutes. Liam the sloth will be on the perch in our encounter space. Visitors will be able to give him some of his favourite vegetables, such as carrots, or some fruits, like plum and grapes, and learn about these interesting animals. They're very docile. They sleep for 12 to 18 hours every day. All the energy they have goes into digesting their food. They don't move around much; they'll sleep, eat and sleep. That's it.”