Pets Prepared for the Wider World
As pets become more a part of the family, their safety and well-being at home and while out and about for fun and adventure becomes paramount.
Like many other categories, dog health and safety products group has grown significantly as a result of the humanization of pets. As dog owners increasingly are treating their pets as part of the family, the expectation and desire to give them long, healthy lives has risen.
“People want the very best for [their pets],” said Heather Anderson, store manager of Urban Tails Pet Supply in Minneapolis. “As our pets become more a part of our daily lives, they’re also exposed to more danger. Twenty years ago, dogs never left the home. Now people are taking them out into the world, and, as a result, the need for products that protect them is more prevalent.”
For Anderson, that has translated into an increase in dog boot sales—even in the warmer months. Anderson said she’s in an urban area, and during the cold season, pet owners want to protect their dogs’ feet from salted sidewalks and ice. In spring and summer, they want to protect them from hot pavement.
Gary Roberts, owner of Pet World in Lakewood, Colo., also reported increased boot sales. In his region, they are more for outdoor hiking and trail walking, he said, adding that boots probably are the most popular safety product he sells.
In general, retailers reported increased consumer interest in any product that will help their pets stay safe. For Mark Dunn, owner of Nature’s Pet Market in Eugene, Ore., that has meant more focus on reflective collars and leashes. He said that in an age of “distracted driving,” those who walk their dogs at night are more concerned about safety.
As pets are out and about more and more, Barbara Denzer, vice president of marketing for Cardinal Laboratories in Azusa, Calif., said there’s been more interest in products that help solve itching problems.
“Dogs who are spending more time outdoors might have issues due to insect bites or allergens in the air,” Denzer said.
Hemp-based health products are transitioning from the human market to the pet market, said Fritz Goodnow, COO and partner at Rush Direct Inc. Pet Products in Wood Dale, Ill.
“Pet parents are looking for great products that they can share with their pets containing ingredients such as hemp-derived cannabidiol in pet-safe supplements,” Goodnow said. “These consumers are bright and inquisitive, so the products they are seeking must be very clear as to precisely what they are delivering in each supplement.”
New Health and Safety Products
There are several new products and product expansions in the health and safety category. Among them are four unscented wellness essences from North Canton, Ohio-based Calm My Pet: Calm My Focus, Calm My Arthritis, Calm My Senior and Calm My Rescue. The essences, which debuted in January, aim to meet a growing need for anxiety-related products, said Pamela Fisher, DVM, founder of the company.
“Calm My Pet wellness products help owners address the subtle emotional and physical needs of pets,” Dr. Fisher said. “Health-conscious owners visit my holistic vet practice daily looking for all-natural calming and health-promoting options for their pets.”
New York-based PawFlex Inc., maker of the first disposable, nonadhesive bandage system for pets, recently launched a brand at Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Fla., called I Love You Naturally, said Jennifer DiGrazia, CEO. The new brand is comprised of several product lines.
“Our Wickedly Potent! line is an all-natural line of shampoos that solve problematic issues,” DiGrazia said. “The issue is in the name. We have a Smelly Dog, Achy Dog, Itchy Dog and quite a few more. We encourage our buyers to read labels thoroughly knowing that you really don’t need any chemicals, additives or colors to make the best shampoos.”
Rush Direct Inc. Pet Products in Wood Dale, Ill., recently launched CaniBits, “munchies for your dog” mini bites that come in three grain-free flavors, Pumpkin Sweet Potato Hearts, Cheese & Bacon With Quinoa and Peanut Butter With Quinoa, said Fritz Goodnow, COO and partner. The 4-ounce cups contain at least 40 mini bites per package and are made with 1 milligram of hemp-pressed cannabidiol oil per piece, Goodnow said.
Envision Industries in Wichita, Kan., is working on expanding its PetNV product line to include smaller collars and leashes for smaller dogs and cats. PetNV is an extension of Envision’s Visi-belt line of reflective belts for people to wear in the dark.
Los Angeles-based Innovet Pet Products’ latest first aid tool, the STAT! Syringe, is designed to help dog owners when their pet eats something it shouldn’t.
“This first aid tool is designed specifically for the end user in mind by its simplicity—calibrate in pounds of dog to be used with three percent hydrogen peroxide only,” said David Louvet, director of sales and marketing for the company. “It takes the stress and anxiety out of the situation, as the pet parent must prepare the proper amount of hydrogen peroxide after a dog eats something toxic and must [ensure the dog] throws it up safely. This product literally saved my 6-year-old bulldog’s life after he ate two pounds of chocolate.”
Health and Safety Product Education
Because health and safety is such a large and all-encompassing category, educating the consumer is extremely important. David Louvet, director of sales and marketing for Innovet Pet Products in Los Angeles, suggests weekly or monthly health seminars on a Saturday or Sunday to keep consumers informed of the latest products and their purpose.
“Going over basic health subjects on pet lifestyle can make a huge impact on not only the pet’s life but the pet owner’s life in terms of prolonging life and saving money with preventive maintenance,” Louvet added.
Even outside of seminars, spending time talking to consumers about this category is important.
“Simply asking your customers what kind of product they’re looking for can really help,” said Jennifer DiGrazia, CEO of New York-based PawFlex Inc. “What do they need the product to do? I love it when the stores who carry our product call me on the phone and ask if I can help their customer pick the right bandage for their needs.”
Display Tips for Health and Safety Products
When it comes to displaying dog health and safety products, Pat Barnett, senior director of strategic business development for Envision Industries in Wichita, Kan., said that colors and images are the best way to draw customers in.
“When the customer is at your display, information is what keeps them there and interested,” Barnett said. “Endcap displays are always an eye catcher, and Envision has developed an endcap header with a monitor that loops a short video, which not only educates on the product but displays the product’s effectiveness. Otherwise it is a challenge to show the benefits of our reflective product in a lighted setting.”
Many products in this category are difficult to understand on the shelf without some sort of video or photo explanation. Ann Price, president of Puppy Bumpers Inc. in Richmond, Va., makes a product that resembles a life preserver in appearance. The product actually is designed to go around a dog’s neck and prevent even the tiniest of pups from escaping through the gaps between fence posts and balcony railings.
“The consumer really needs to see a photo of a happy dog sticking their head through the fence before they understand the product’s purpose,” Price said. “Then they say ‘I get it now!’ But without the visual, the product is completely misunderstood.”
This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Pet Product News.