HUMANE SOCIETY: Pet products that have purpose, value |

HUMANE SOCIETY: Pet products that have purpose, value

As reported in the January 2011 edition of Pet Business magazine, the Pet Market Outlook 2010-1011 report indicates that the retail pet product industry is weathering the recession in good shape with a growth rate of 20 percent. Part of the reason is that pet owners have become more sophisticated about pet health and pet products. Pet guardians are reading, learning, and demanding more quality and value.

Best selling books such as “Animals in Translation” by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson, “Inside a Dog” by Alexandra Horowitz, and “Parenting Your Dog for the 50+ Dog Owner” by Trish King focus on growing knowledge of what a pet needs for mental and physical health. In addition, continuing pet food recalls which include top American brands are fueling increased consumer scrutiny of pet food labels to find products actually manufactured in the USA.

The popular behavior and training books listed above are fascinating reads in themselves. They reveal that stable mental health and good temperament require pets to act out natural instinctive behaviors. Cats need to go through the motions to hunt, pounce, climb and hide. Dogs need to hunt, forage, and play. Birds, especially super-intelligent parrots, need to partner with other birds and people for comfort and stimulating play. Pocket pets need exercise and toys to enhance brain growth. When these opportunities are denied, frustration, loneliness, depression, and “bad” behaviors become sorry substitutes.

For the pet left home alone, the pet product industry is responding with food puzzle toys and treat pocket chews which require the cat or dog to think and “hunt” for a measured amount of food over time. Preventative health products include easy to use sprays and gels which can increase the time between veterinary dental appointments.

Holistic shampoos incorporate skin-care ingredients. Holistic foods have little or no grain and include vegetables among other nutritious ingredients. Grains can bring on the most common pet allergies with licking, chewing, and scratching symptoms.

All of the newly developed pet products seem more expensive until you do the math. Just as with people, preventative health measures and lifelong mental stimulation keep pets out of the vet clinic except for routine wellness exams and vaccinations. Healthy animal companions help save on human medical bills, too. It’s long been proven that lower blood pressure and emotional wellness can be linked to sharing life with a loving, trusting pet.

According to the PMO report, general veterinary costs are expected to go up about nine percent again this year. These increases come from increased veterinary product costs as well as increased overhead expenses. An aging pet population which requires more skilled care also is a contributor to overall pet owner spending.

Pet product oversight is limited. Terms like “organic”, “natural”, and “holistic” can be applied generally. However, with a little care and consultation with a veterinarian it is easier than ever to maintain a healthy pet who is calm, social, and happy.

The human-animal bond is stronger than ever and the desire to lengthen the quality time we have with each pet is a great motivator to provide the best environment and care possible.

– Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals to help “Keep Tahoe Kind.” Dawn Armstrong is the executive director of the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA.

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