Caring for a dog can get expensive, especially for those who love to spoil their pets. 2017 saw the highest amount reached yet in pet industry products and pet care by Americans: 69.51 billion dollars. While there's still no official data to tell if Americans came in short, matched, or surpassed 2017’s statistic in 2018 ($73+ billion estimated – source), the amount spent on pets has seen nothing but annual growth since the mid 1990’s.
According to recent surveys (1), families in the U.S. will spend an average of $1,200 to $1,500 on their dog per year. Given these facts, it’s no wonder that the pet care industry is one of the fastest growing in the nation. As more and more owners come to treat their domesticated animals as family members rather than pets, the products available to the average pet owner expand.
We see pet industry trends reflected in this “dog mom” culture, with products and services specializing in improving the dog’s quality of life, allowing for merchandise that not only pampers but protects (2). Here are pet industry trends and products to look out for in 2019, and something you may get excited about.
1. Safety, Feeding and Entertainment for Lonely Pets
Seven out of ten American millennials own a pet, and more than half of that ratio are dog owners (3, 4, 5). Because millennials are known as the tech-savvy generation, many of these young pet owners who are responsible for coining the popular phrase “dog mom” have jobs and lifestyles that have them away from home.
The love they feel and care they provide for their pet combined with their familiarity with smart gadgets has the 2019 pet industry market flooded with new tech and devices designed for the busy dog parent.
Treat dispensers which can be operated remotely from anywhere, through its partnered smartphone application, allow you to interact with your pet even when you can’t be home with them.They have been all the rage in 2018, and their popularity is expected to rise this year.
There’s also a call for revolutionary tech accessories that cater to dogs, such as televisions and sound machines, which aim to keep them entertained as well as soothed while they're left alone.
2. Apps for Dogs (and Their Humans)
The advancement of cell phones has led to the average American walking around with a computer in their pocket or bag, which gives a number of companies the opportunity to create smartphone apps. Today, you can do so much with your phone and a decent data plan: play a multitude of games with people from all around the world, apply for a job, travel cross-country with confidence that the map guiding you won’t lead you astray. But going into 2019, you’ll now have several even more pet-centric apps available to you as well (5).
2018 saw some successful, popular apps geared towards dog owners, such as one that allowed you to watch your dog while away from home, track their activity as well as location throughout the day, as well as monitor their diet through recipe and nutrition resources.
As being a dog parent becomes more of an identity for Americans, more people hope to make connections with others who feel the same about their pets as they do. Dating applications and local organizations created by and for dog owners are on the rise. Other phone applications will make it easier for someone new to town to make connections with local dog owners, gain tips on the best parks and walking trails, as well as trade training tips and secrets.
3. Advanced Litter Boxes
The year of the dog has come and gone, and while most American pet owners have canines, cat owners aren’t far behind. The future pet industry will see an increase in market space for luxury pet accessories, such as kitty litter boxes. Among the many benefits cat lovers share for owning a cat – not having to walk it, not having to give it constant attention or exercise – most won’t admit to being happy about spending time and money on kitty litter. The unattractive boxes can ruin a dojo either with its stench or lack of aesthetic.
While litter box enclosures have sought to at least alleviate the unappealing appearance of litter boxes and devices that work with your own toilet to flush out cat mess from the box have been around for the past several years, we will see further developments on these past designs. 2019 will release sleek, modern litter boxes that won’t upset the décor of a well-curated living room or kitchen while also offering tech-savvy features (6, 7).
Many of these futuristic litter boxes feature helpful technologies and designs which seek to do more than “look good” but to make your life, as a cat owner, easier. These smart designs offer lips and lids that keep litter in, multiple entry points, filters for fresher air, built-in liners, and mobile apps which allow you to monitor use. And who knows, maybe even dog owners will get an update to doggy litter boxes and have these items gain popularity?
4. DTC (direct-to-consumer) Memberships
While the hassle-free shipments straight to your door isn’t necessarily new, it’s success in recent years keeps the services changing, growing, and advancing. For the busy dog owner, pet food and accessories mailed directly to their front porch is not only convenient, it’s ideal. No need to journey to the store, pick up a multi-pound bag of dog food, and haul the bulky bag back home and up a flight of steps.
In 2019, pet owners can expect to see the expansion of dog food delivery services and exclusive offers, automatic as well as free shipping, and/or discounts for those who choose to opt into online memberships to a variety of pet-centric websites.
We can also expect to see these boxes to cater more specifically to certain dogs or specific breeds. Quizzes taken online by dog parents will reveal toys, treats, and accessories selected specifically for their dog based on their answers to certain questions. Algorithms built into these sites will make recommendations based on previous orders. Overall, the direct-to-consumer experience will become more personable and trained to treat each member as an individual consumer rather than a member of a market.
5. Human-grade Meals
Studies show that there are many dog owners more apt to feed their dog meals strikingly like their own. With this, we see diet and lifestyle fads that take the human public by storm also impact the pet food industry. With this, we’ve seen a rise of homemade dog foods as well as more transparency with ingredients in store-bought foods (8).
As dog owners come to expect transparency in the products they consume, they hope to get the same for Fido. In 2019, expect to see interest in Keto for canines as well as more interest in feeding dogs protein alternatives as the consumption of meat and the meat industry’s impact on our degrading environment come more to the forefront.
6. Cannabidiol (CBD) Treatments
Alternative health methods and holistic medicine has been on the rise in Western culture for at least the past 10 years. Much of this may be connected to the popularization of Eastern practices, such as yoga and acupuncture, to not only a healthier body, but a healthier mind. With the growing and evolving open-mindedness of the country, particularly in Generations X, Y, and Z (born 1966-2012), it’s no wonder that within the alternative health movement, cannabis has taken a controversial leap (9, 10, 11).
As we discussed earlier, the modern pet owner is likely to share their lifestyle with their pet, which means more and more companies are falling into the trend of treating both physical ailments and behavioral issues in dogs with cannabidiol, or more commonly coined, CBD, which have a number of scientifically proven benefits.
Today’s pet owner knows that CBD does not contain the psychoactive THC properties that cannabis is known for nor the toxic elements that may cause symptoms of being poisoned in dogs. Unlike cannabis, CBD within the correct dosage is completely safe for dogs. As more and more states begin to decriminalize and/or legalize marijuana use either for medical or recreational reasons, the more canine-friendly CBD products are being demanded by and created for the market (12).
7. Birthday and Adoptaversary Celebrations
Owners love their dogs and so they enjoy marking major milestones in their lives just as any parent does with their child. Doggie birthday parties aren’t complete without a cake. And if you're not up to making your own dog-friendly cake, look out for bakeries offering doggie celebration cakes, complete with candles and dog-safe whip cream.
Additionally, the nomenclature “Adoptaversary” made famous by social media trends on Twitter and Instagram, will become a household word for Americans (13). The day is also commemorated by the phrase “Gotcha Day”. As the “Adopt, Don’t Shop” movement has made significant grounds within the past five years, Adoptaversary celebrations are likely to become more prominent and not just part of a sub-culture’s inclusive language, but part of a shared vocabulary (as in, “I can’t go that weekend, we’re going on a trip to celebrate Winston’s Adoptaversary.”)
This will likely result in the market creating more products and accessories pet owners may deem necessary in order to celebrate a major life anniversary, be it the date the dog was adopted, or the date he or she was born. As is the case with any fad, companies and business owners will find a way to provide consumers with items they didn’t know they could have or needed (such as a picture frame with the date of the Adoptaversary etched on it or dog-themed party accessories).
8. Dog DNA Testing
In the past three years, at-home DNA tests have become extremely popular, with sites offering the convenient service of mailing the results directly to one’s home. As we wonder of our own origins, it’s only given that we wonder about our pets, especially if we came to own them later in their lives.
As more dog parents consciously choose to find their companions at the local shelter rather than the pet shop, more and more “mutts” are being taken to their forever-home. Many owners who adopt dogs who aren’t puppies wonder about their pet’s origin: Where did they come from? What were they like? Were they treated well? Which breed were the mother and father?
Companies have already begun to offer DNA services for canines years ago, and despite their cost ($70-$200), they’re on the rise and getting better and more accurate, to the point that even vets use and recommend them.
Modern pet owners know that in addition to learning more about their dog, the results of the testing also allow them to anticipate potentially inherited health conditions. Threatening diseases or breed susceptibilities (Pugs – cataracts and breathing issues; Labrador Retrievers – hip dysplasia and arthritis) can then be acknowledged and preventative care can begin.
9. Doggie “Etiquette Classes”
As owning pets is on the rise – since the late ‘80’s there’s been a 12% increase in pet-ownership – so too has the pet-friendliness of public parks and establishments. Many restaurants, breweries, and even pubs now allow patrons to enjoy a meal or refreshing beer while accompanied by their furry friend.
In particularly dog-friendly cities, such as Austin or Seattle, there are even restaurants that allow dogs inside the establishment rather than solely on the patio. The rise in public spaces that boast “dog-friendliness” without having to see an Emotional Support or Service Animal certification has led to a trend of dog training businesses offering “etiquette” classes, the most popular being AKC's Canine Good Citizen.
These classes focus on giving the owner the necessary tools to gain the respect and obedience of their pet even given the multiple distractions that come with dining in public (14). The classes teach the dog basic manners, with lessons similar to what a parent would share with a child: don’t run around, don’t encroach on other people’s person space, don’t beg others for their food, don’t make too much noise as it disrupts others.
Once graduating from these classes, which may come in the form of multiple lessons or just one evening, owners know how to train their pet to be more considerate when sharing spaces with other people and dogs they don’t know.
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