Despite a worldwide recession, spending on pet products and services is predicted to rise nearly 5 percent this year.
"If anything, people are becoming more attached to their pets in times of uncertainty and stress," says Bob Vetere, president of the American Pet Products Association (APPA). "We are rewarding our pets for their unconditional love and companionship in human terms rather than pet terms."
More than 750 pet product manufacturers will be selling the latest dog toys, care and health products, and more at the APPA's Global Pet Expo, March 25-27, in Orlando, Fla. The show is not open to the public, but pet product buyers from around the world attend.
- Efforts to Humanize Our Pups
"When we have someone we can come home to who loves us unconditionally, never complains or has a bad thing to say, we want to say thank you," explains Vetere. These days, we often say thanks with new toys, innovative pet care products and the latest gadgetry.
Here are some of the canine products that might make your list in 2010:
- Rubber balls that talk What if your dog could hear your voice while you're away simply by playing with a rubber ball? And what if that rubber ball could also give your furry bud treats? Talk to Me Pet Products has developed the new Talk to Me Rubber Treatball, which serves this dual purpose. The balls, priced from $13.99 to $17.99, are great for soothing separation anxiety, says Mike Sachtleben, the company's sales manager. "You can record a 12-second message and fill them with your dog's favorite treats," he explains. "When they play with it, it replays the message back to your dog and gives them treats."
- Sunburn soother Since more dogs are considered members of the family, it's only natural that they should have their own skin care products. Vet's Best now makes Sun Relief Spray with a mix of aloe vera, titanium dioxide, willow herb extract, boswellia herb and other ingredients. The line of natural products, developed by Dr. Dawn Curie Thomas, a veterinarian, not only protects your pup from sunburn while you're out in the sun, but also helps to ease the discomfort and itching that comes with overexposure, according to the company.
- Diapers for your pooch Dog owners who are suffering through housebreaking or live with an incontinent adult dog might like Pup'sters Disposable Diapers from Simple Solution, featuring an adjustable elastic tail hole, re-sealable closures and a comfortable fit around the leg. The diapers are available in a range of sizes and patterns, including pink gingham and polka dot.
- Skeet shooting for pups Kurgo, a manufacturer of pet products for those with an active lifestyle, has a new toy called Winga, which can launch a disc 200 feet away for your pet to chase outside. The 3-inch-wide rubber discs float through the air and even float on water, if your pup is a swimmer. The starter pack, which includes one disc thrower and two discs, sells for $19.99.
- Air purifier for rover Six years ago, Annette Uda's 3-year-old shih tzu, Tasha, was diagnosed with allergies. Annette and her husband, Mike, spent $1,500 a year on veterinary visits, medications, shampoos and more. Nothing worked until Mike, an indoor air quality control industry professional, used medical-grade ultraviolet light technology and allergen filters. The combination worked so well that they started a business, Petairpy, that makes portable and stationary HVAC systems. They start at $395.
Since we view our pets in a more human way, it's no longer enough to just give them a treat. "We are human and think like a human, so we look to thank our pets in a way that is meaningful to us in human terms," concludes Vetere. "That is reflected in the things we buy our pets."