We live in an age where pet parents love to spoil their furry, household companions. We buy gourmet treats, spend cash on luxurious spa treatments and serve up the finest food. And there’s no sign of the first-class treatment slowing down.
In 2018, it’s estimated that consumers will spend $72.13 billion on their pets, according to the American Pet Products Association. That’s a lot of bones! As we look forward to 2019, new technologies, innovative products and exciting veterinary advancements continue to make the pet space an exciting one to watch.
We’ve asked veterinarians what they think are the biggest pet products and trends to keep an eye on in 2019. Here’s what they had to say:
We fill our homes with Nest thermostats and Google Homes, many veterinarians see the use of smart-home devices for pets as a trend that will continue to grow.
“Convenience and technology are the new key words when it comes to the pet industry,” says Dr. Lisa Lippman, lead veterinarian at Fuzzy Pet Health in New York City. “Smart home cameras and GPS devices, particularly those that are associated with dog walking services, offer pet parents peace of mind that their pet is safe and being taken care of when they’re not at home.”
Lippman also says to watch for an increase in automatic feedertechnology, where pet parents can control a pet’s dinner time via an app on their smartphones.
Advancements in veterinary medicine have helped to propel genetic testing for our pets to the forefront of the industry. Dr. Travis Arndt, assistant medical director at the Animal Medical Center of Mid-America sees genetic testing as a game-changing opportunity to treat pets.
“Blood is drawn in your veterinarian’s office and is sent to a lab to be analyzed. Not only does the test help you determine your dog’s breed mix, it can also test for predisposed genetic conditions,” he says. “Knowing if your dog may be more likely to have certain conditions or diseases, your veterinarian can create a customized health plan with that in mind.”
3D Printing in Veterinary Care
Another veterinary technology growing by leaps and bounds is 3D printing. Dr. Stephanie Liff, owner of Pure Paws Veterinary Care in New York City, sees it becoming more mainstream in 2019.
“This is really the wave of the future, as far as I am concerned,” she says. “With 3D printing, prosthetics and surgical models are progressing quickly. For more advanced surgeries, the surgical team can create a model that mimics the actual surgery to prepare for minimally invasive approaches and also to practice.”
Arndt agrees that 3D printing for pets will continue to advance. “3D printing in veterinary medicine holds a lot of promise to improve patients’ quality of life and should continue to trend upward,” he says.
The Fear Free movement in veterinary clinics is becoming increasingly popular within the pet industry, and more pet health practitioners are developing fear-free models of care.
“Pet parents find that veterinary clinics that utilize fear-free tactics make a big difference for their pets,” says Arndt. “And it’s not just the veterinarians who are using fear-free techniques as a way to make veterinary visits less stressful. Veterinary technicians, clinic assistants and practice managers are all using fear-free methods.”
Some aspects that make a clinic fear free include separate dog and cat waiting rooms, cats-only exam rooms, the use of calming pheromones to alleviate anxiety, positive reinforcement with tasty treats and encouragement of non-medical visits to the veterinary clinic.
In addition to smart-home technologies for pets growing in popularity, the use of personal fitness trackers and apps for pets is also something veterinarians see as a trend to watch.
“I think trackers are really interesting, especially for older pets that may be slowing down, but where the ‘slow down’ might not be perceptible,” says Liff. “I think these trackers can be a huge asset to vets, as they can more specifically target when their patients are slowing down and maybe intervene to help these issues.”
“Telemedicine, home visits and mobile vets are absolutely going to increase in popularity. And it’s really no surprise,” says Lippman. “They all help alleviate some of the issues that currently affect pet parents and their ability to get veterinary care for their pets, such as scheduling issues and pet anxiety.”
In the age of Blue Apron, Grubhub and Uber Eats, hungry humans expect food to show up on their doorsteps with the touch of a button. And they’re also starting to expect the same level of service from pet food companies.
“With healthy and nutritious at-home delivery services becoming more and more popular for human food, I foresee a similar trend with pet nutrition as well,” says Lippman. “While it’s easy enough to get kibble delivered to your door, many pet parents are looking into fresher and simpler options for their four-legged friends.”
Lippman says that start-up pet food companies are poised to make waves in 2019. “The food is fresh, contains no preservatives, and is tailor made for each dog,” she says. “This—coupled with the convenience of home delivery—is going to be a very appealing option for pet parents who may not have the time to research and make food from scratch.”
Another pet-food trend that may tick upward in 2019 is the design of formulas to help reduce stress and anxiety in pets.
“In 2019 Nestle Purina will launch Calming Care Canine Probiotic, a supplement that has been shown to help dogs maintain calm behavior, cope with stress and have positive cardiac activity during high-stress times,” says Arnt. “We are seeing more diets and products aimed at reducing stress in pets, and the promise that this holds for pet owners is exciting.”
These are just a handful of trends to be on the lookout for in the coming new year. The other ideas and products that we will see is exciting to think about, especially in the coming years.