While we were at Global Pet Expo this week, we picked up on a few of the newest trends for pets that we believe we'll be seeing a lot of in 2013. Here they are from my perspective.
1. Crash-testing Standards & More Pets on the Road
We learned that efforts are underway to coordinate and standardize testing requirements for all pet travel items. This is a brilliant initiative and we are excited to be a part of this project. It's important to keep pets secured during travel, something we have been trying to get the message out about for years - first with our initiative as pet product specialists and pet safety consultants for Toyota, and then on our own with a host of suppliers of pet travel carriers and transportation consultants. Now more than ever, we need an industry that understands how serious pet parents are about this idea. Expandable carriers are the new thing and groups like PetMate, QPG, Sturdi products and dozens of others are focused on bringing comfort and security, coupled with safety and style, to your pets travel experience.
2. Tents, Shades and pet patio furniture
This is the year we noticed a marked increase in the creation of pet tents and pet patio furniture. Why not? After all, sitting on the patio is now as popular with people as it has been for years with pets. We predict we will be seeing some amazing utility patents on new patio furniture designs for pets, lots of new camping equipment designed for easy travel with pets, and even a new pup tent that allows us to provide shade for our four-legged friends while on the beach or even in the backyard. These easily folded and lightweight items are perfect for a trip to the beach or over to your friends house so your pets can warm up after a day in the pool.
3. Re-purposed, Environmentally Responsible Products
Collars and leashes are now being made from recycled and re-purposed material. One of our favorites is the new collar from Cycle Dog, who is making beautiful, sturdy collars out of recycled bicycle tires. And for years, WorldWise has been leading the pack with this trend as a focus on beds made from remnants of mattresses, toys made from water bottles, and beds made from recycled, crushed plastic has become the new affordable way to give to your pet and give back to your environment. Petsafe just developed a line of toys that can be stuffed with your own old clothes for a toy that smells just like you. Gallo en Fuego developed a line of products made from decommissioned fire hoses and part of the proceeds from those products benefit the National Fallen Firefighters.
It's moving into other markets, including skincare for pets and pet foods. For example, DERMagic plants a tree for every ten 'Spoo bars sold. Honest Pet Products uses all-natural hemp to fashion every toy they create and works with the Snow Leopard Foundation. ZanyZak works with the Embera Tribe. We predict we'll be seeing a lot more of these innovative and environmentally responsible products in the years to come - and we expect that we will see some equally creative programs that benefit the environment and animal care. After all, statistically speaking, it is pet lovers who are the most caring about the environment.
Humans have been raising chickens for years, but for the last five years or so, we have noticed a marked increase in the number of people who keep chickens in an urban setting. What started as a rise in preppers keeping poultry for survival purposes, has now become a statement by the general populace that we demand high-quality, safe food supplies. Whether you keep chickens as pets or as egg-layers, the fact that you have control over a critical food source shows that we are taking responsibility for our own fates. That is a good thing and is evidenced in the number of chicken-related products at the Expo.
This increase in keeping chickens as pets will continue to grow over the years to come, and PetsWeekly plans to offer an entire section devoted to chicken-keeping in the upcoming months. If you're going to keep chickens, you must learn to keep them responsibly and today's pet industry not only understands, but supports you in doing so with thousands of products to make chickens happy.
5. Innovative beds
This year, we saw a marked rise in specialty pet beds. From orthopedic mattresses to recycled remnants of therapeutic memory mattresses; and cooling beds to heated beds, our pets are going to be more comfortable than ever. PetsWeekly's focus will be on selecting the right beds for each pet and making sure the humans aren't lost in the process.
6. Color Coordinating and Stylish Design
Literally thousands of items can now be color and pattern-coordinated, which helps us make sure our pets are as stylish and individualized as their parents. You will now be able to purchase a wide selection of patterns for your pets collars, leashes, beds, bowls, waterers, and clothing. The boutique pet shop is alive and well and parents will be looking for your expertise and fashion sense to make everything come together.
7. Automation, Smart Toys, and Smart Products
With dozens of new pet fountains on the market, accompanied by our favorite automatic feeder (and many others), the Tagg GPS tracker and full home automation (article coming soon), we will soon be able to manage our pets care through our cell phones. The tools are all in place for full automation. The way I see it, it is my job as a pet lifestyle specialist, to make sure parents are still spending plenty of time at home with their pets rather than managing them from afar. Technology is fantastic when it's used for good, but it's too easy to get caught up in the ease of feeding your pets with the push of a button rather than being at home to spend the much-needed quality time with them that they deserve.
8. All-Natural, Organic, Made in USA
There is a huge movement to high-quality, all-natural, organic pet foods and treats. Even the big names in pet food are making a move to natural pet foods. This week, Hills announce their new brand of pet food called Ideal Balance and at SuperZoo 2012, Science Diet announced a new line of pet foods called Nature's Best.
We predict a number of other companies will be following suit as pet parents realize the value of raw, freeze-dried, and dehydrated foods for their pet. This is something that companies like The Honest Kitchen, Merrick and Stella & Chewy's have been doing for years. But, as we all know, it takes time for the big boys to implement change. The Made in the USA logo will increase in importance as more pet owners refuse to support companies who manufacture in China and other locales, and instead prefer to support the local economy with their hard-earned money - even if it does cost a bit more.
9. Supplements and Neutraceuticles Replace Modern Medicine
Organic Supplements and Nutraceuticals (a portmanteau of the words “nutrition” and “pharmaceutical”), are products that provide health and medical benefits to both people and pets. They are all-natural, usually organic, and pet parents around the world are seeing a huge change in their pets when these supplements are used correctly.
We predict that there will be an even greater rise in the way we treat our pets for medical conditions, a large increase in the number of animal nutrition specialists, and a lot of holistic veterinarians entering the scene. As larger companies join this race and pet parents see improvements in their pets when treated with all-natural remedies, we hope that this will force the AVMA to reevaluate their stance against both raw food diets and supplements for treating pets.
10. New proteins
During the Expo we noticed dozens of new food protein sources in food, treats and toys that ranged from alligator and crawfish to kangaroo and llama. These alternatives prove that there is not only a market for the products, but that the new products will take center stage as people seek out ways to keep their pets healthy and attempt to avoid the avalanche of recalls we've seen this year. As protein sources change, so do the ways we manufacture remnants into toys and treats. We predict that we will see lots more toys and training items fashioned from the hide or shells of animals like alligator, bison, crab, crawfish, and many more.