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10 Things I Loved at Global Pet Expo

Global Pet Expo, which took place in Orlando, Fla., March 16-18, offered lots to see and do. Below are 10 of my favorite things about the 2016 show.

  1. The New Products Showcase, held on Thursday, featured the best of the best in new products, from the Jellyfish Cylinder Nano by Jellyfish Art to Bark-N-Cat cat furniture from Ware Manufacturing. The awards covered nine product types and offered attendees the chance to see favorite new products that could be found on the show floor.
  2. I had the opportunity to learn about the Dr. Catsby bowl at Global Pet Expo. Inventor Loren Kulesus described how his cat tended to eat kibble only from the center of his bowl. Eventually, Kulesus discovered that the cat was suffering from whisker fatigue because his sensitive whiskers touched the sides of the food bowl. After taking several measurements, Kulesus used a 3-D printer to create a bowl that would not stress his cat’s whiskers. The bowl worked on the first try, and Dr. Catsby was born. I love stories like this because they show how much our industry is dedicated to making pets happy.
  3. At a media luncheon on Thursday, Bayer announced it has expanded its support for K9s For Warriors—a nonprofit organization that pairs specially trained shelter dogs with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or traumatic brain injury. With Operation K9 Care, Bayer is connecting K9s For Warriors alumni with veterinary clinics and pet retailers across the country that agree to provide free health and wellness goods and services for each veteran’s service dog.
    Merrick Pet Care also announced it is expanding its partnership with K9s For Warriors. Merrick now will offer its Hero’s Banquet canned recipe year round and donate a portion of the item’s proceeds to underwrite research on how pairing specially trained rescue dogs with veterans suffering from PTSD and/or traumatic brain injury helps veterans readjust to civilian life. The research will be conducted by Purdue University’s Center for the Human-Animal Bond.
  4. The Fifth Annual Global Pet Expo Retailer Excellence Awards honored outstanding independent pet stores in 10 categories. Pet supply retailers are some of the most hardworking individuals I know, and singling them out for their accomplishments—from customer service to community involvement and store design—is a great way for the industry to show how much it values their contributions.
  5. For the first time, complimentary shuttle service was provided between the Orange County Convention Center and several area hotels. The buses made it easy to get to and from the show, and they gave me the opportunity to chat with some retailers and manufacturers along the way. I also took the $15 express shuttle to the airport.
  6. Forget people watching. Global Pet Expo is the perfect place for pet watching—from booth residents to myriad small dogs, many of which cruised the show in their own strollers. Apparently, there was even a pig in a stroller. Favorites I spotted included Ricky the cat, who was giving high fives at the Lucy Pet Products booth, and a pug named Momo, the inspiration behind P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle And You) products. 
  7. Special sections at Global Pet Expo included Natural Pet, The Boutique, Everything Aquatic, What’s New! and the International Pavilion. These areas made it easy for attendees to find just what they were looking for. The Everything Aquatic section was especially exciting with its displays of colorful live fish.
  8. Attendees on the hunt for a cuddle or even a new pet could find just that at the various puppy pens throughout the show floor. Florida animal-rescue organizations set up and minded these pens full of adorable adoptable puppies.
  9. Now, it seems, has never been a better time to be a cat that is picky about going potty. Many companies offered exciting new products in this category, with innovations in both litter and the litterbox. Lucy Pet Products’ Cats Incredible and Ultra Pet Co.’s Neon Litter turned a lot of heads, and OurPet’s Co., the PetSafe brand and Automated Pet Care Products all showcased automated litterboxes that make cleanup easy.
  10. The pet industry seems to continue to get bigger and better every year. Bob Vetere, president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association (APPA), announced that overall spending in the pet industry for 2015 came in at a record $60.28 billion, and the APPA estimates that 2016 spending will reach $62.75 billion.

Carrie Brenner is senior editor for Pet Product News International. She has spent several years researching new products with the help of her cat, Amelia.

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