In 2018, consumers spent roughly $72.56 billion on their pets, according to the American Pet Products Association, and 2019 has shaped up to be no different. This year has seen a growth in technology, alternative therapies and food options for your furry friend.
Technology for Pet Owners
Smart home pet devices
Now, you don’t have to be worried about your dog misbehaving while you’re away from home. In fact, you can even reward them from afar. Devices like the Furbo Dog Camera allow you to see, talk and give treats to your dog remotely. Or, you can choose to invest in the Wuf Smart Dog Collar, which retails for $200, to GPS track your dog. The device also lets pet owners set virtual fences, and listen and talk to their animal, all while collecting data on their health.
Some owners opt for the PetSafe Electronic Smartdoor, which “gives your pet a key to the house so he can come and go as he pleases.” The door detects when your pet is near, thanks to the electronic collar, in order to unlock and lock the door. It also keeps stray animals from entering your home. With this device, you don’t have to rush home early from work or wake up in the middle of the night to make sure your pet relieves itself in the appropriate place.
According to a recent study by Michelson Found Animals, 56% of pet parents say their home is equipped with special technology for their pet. When it comes to smart pet devices, the options are practically unlimited, so you can choose your devices based upon your dog’s needs and behaviors.
Pet health and fitness trackers
Does your dog need to be more active or get more sleep? Now, you can track your dog’s physical activity and rest levels 24/7 with devices like FitBark, which clips to your dog’s collar and sends data to an app. With FitBark, you can monitor the number of calories burned, distance traveled and overall health of your pet. It also allows you to compare your pet's activity to other dogs of the same breed, and share the report with your vet.
Similar devices like Link AKC and PetPace also notify you if an environment’s temperature is too hot, and Whistle 3 offers a medication tracking feature, where you can make a food log or take notes of your dog’s health day-to-day.
Mobile vet clinics
Instead of searching your dog’s symptoms on WebMD before deciding to make the trip to the clinic, now you can have the vet come to you. Companies such as Vetted, which is located in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, offer at-home on-demand appointments for your pet. The company sends local vets to your home to evaluate your pet so you don’t have to deal with the hastle of transporting your cat and dog to the veterinarian's office. What’s more, the cost is comparable to an in-office visit. According to Tudino, a typical house call costs about $99.
Alternative Therapies for Pets
Stress and anxiety reducing supplements
According to the Michelson study "Furred Line: Pet Trends 2019," 68% of pet parents are using alternative therapies, such as CBD oil, physical therapy and acupuncture, to cure their pets’ medical or behavioral conditions.
Pet parents with breeds predisposed to intervertebral disc disease (IIVD), or a "slipped disk," such as Corgis or Labradors, have started using acupuncture to relieve their dogs’ pain, according to The Bark.
Owners have also turned to CBD oil, the non-intoxicating cannabis compound, to provide relief to their four-legged friends for everything from anxiety to pain and seizures, CNBC reported. A 2018 survey by Michelson found that CBD- and hemp-based products are a growing trend among humans. Of those who have used these alternatives for themselves, 74% have given them to their pets as well.
If your dog has trouble traveling, or is scared of lighting and thunder, putting a few drops under its tongue may be the answer.
And while the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved cannabis products for human or animal consumption, and cautions against giving it pets, that hasn't stopped CBD from becoming a huge trend — and a big business.
The American Veterinary Medical Association, meanwhile, doesn’t have a position directly related to marijuana products for pets, spokesman Michael San Filippo said in an email to CNBC.
Reiki and hydrotherapy are among the popular therapies being used on dogs today.
Reiki, which originated in Japan, is based on spiritual energy. According to The International Association of Reiki Professionals (IARP), “the practice of Reiki involves energy traveling through the hands of a practitioner through a subject’s energy pathways and centers, then through the whole body.” Sessions for dogs typically last between 15 and 30 minutes, and do not require physical contact. This therapy carries many benefits, including increasing the pet-owner bond, relieving pain and providing comfort in sickness or after surgery, and enhancing their overall wellbeing. In one instance, a sick 15-year-old cat struggling from calicivirus reportedly ate food for the first time in days after allegedly participating in a Reiki treatment, the IARP reported.
Hydrotherapy is beneficial to pets in a variety of areas, according to Dr. Jonathan Block, DVM, of Water4Dogs Canine Rehabilitation Center in New York, and can it be performed either by the owner or a trained professional. Water therapy helps dogs stay in shape and lose weight, ease their arthritic pain, and get back on their feet after surgery, Block told PetMd. Aquatic exercises for dogs include underwater treadmills and hydrotherapy pools where pets can learn to swim, do laps, or retrieve balls.
And if your dog doesn’t need any of these supplemental therapies, you can always pamper them with a massage. Professional pet massages have been shown to increase dogs’ energy concentration and alertness, ease emotional traumas, and improve their flexibility and range of motion, according to Kneaded Pets, a Dallas, Texas-based canine massage spa.
Pet Delivery Services
Just as Blue Apron, GrubHub and UberEats deliver nearly everywhere across the United States, pet food companies are now stepping up their game. Delivery services like Chewy.com offer a wide range of brands for food, treats and supplies that can be ordered straight to your doorstep. You can also customize your shopping experience by filtering products by your type of pet.
Almost four in 10 pet owners with a food subscription service say they have also signed up for a pet subscription service, Michelson Found's survey reported.
Eating Like Their Humans
Do pets eat healthier than their owners? According to a survey conducted by Michelson Found Animals, 52% of participants believe they feed their pets better than they feed themselves. The study found that, of the 45% of individuals who follow a diet, 70% of them admitted to putting their pet on a special diet, too. For example, nearly half of pet parents who ate organic also fed their pet organic food.
"As people's growing awareness of food's effect on health and wellness leads them to try new diets and eating plans, this trend is expected to continue to extend to their pets as well," Michelson Found Animals said in a news release about the Furred Lines study.
By December, American pet owners are predicted to have spent a record high $75.38 billion on their dog, with $31.68 billion of that amount going towards food, according to the American Pet Products Association.