Garanimals Blog

February 29th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Pet Trends

Like all areas of life, there are trends in the pet industry. Some are worth exploring, while others are just hype, passing fancies, or even dangerous. I asked my resident pet specialist (and husband) about the trends he’s seeing.

Green/Natural

Are you surprised by this one? I wasn’t either. But what do these claims mean, exactly? Just because a product claims to be “green”, doesn’t mean it is. Just because it says “natural”, doesn’t mean it’s best for your pet.

You can, however, reduce your pet’s carbon paw print. To make the most of this trend, look for products that will make a real environmental impact, not those looking for eco-friendly spin. Here are a few tips:

  • “Recycled” means at least part of the product is made from recycled materials. Several companies offer pet bedding and litter made of recycled materials.
  • “Recyclable” only means that the container or contents may be recyclable in your community, depending on local guidelines.
  • Look for the USDA Organic Seal on pet-product labels.
  • Buy toys and dishes that are BPA-free.

Animal Enrichment

Obesity is rampant in America, in people and pets. One key for keeping pets healthy is to keep them busy. Well-designed toys that engage your pets and make them work for their treats are hot, hot, hot in the pet industry. There are lots of food-puzzle toys available for most animals that require animals to use their natural instincts and energy to reach the reward inside.

Of course, nothing beats exercise. Play with your pet, provide a variety of toys, and rotate them frequently. Keeping your pet busy will help keep them healthy mentally and physically (with the added bonus that they will be less likely to look for trouble).

Complete Nutrition

There is a lot of talk in the about “raw” food for pets. Simply feeding your pet people food is not the answer. A quality, well-balanced diet is essential, especially to combat obesity. High-end pet-food manufacturers are stepping up to the challenge and creating balanced, pelleted food for animals.

It started in the avian industry, because birds are expert at picking out high-fat, tasty seeds and leaving the healthier foods behind. (Sounds like a few toddlers I know!) So manufacturers started using the meat from the seeds and combining them with other, healthier foods to create a complete, balanced diet. The movement has spread from birds to reptiles to all areas of the pet food industry. Talk to your vet about the best nutrition choice for your pet.

The One Trend to Avoid

Look out for trendy pets. Remember when Paris Hilton carried around her little Chihuahua? Whenever a hot movie comes out featuring some cute critter, unscrupulous breeders try to cash in, and overbreed or inbreed the animals to meet demand. Avoid these trends at all costs. Think about your family needs and talk to your local pet expert to find the animal that will be the best fit.

Related Picture Books

Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy by Jane O’Connor
The Lorax by Dr. Suess

photo credit: Fancy Sucre Dog by Hanumann via Creative Commons License.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.

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