Every year, I go to Global Pet Expo, the industry’s largest trade show. Every year, I think it can’t possibly have anything new and that spending on pets can’t possibly continue to rise. And every year, I am wrong.
At the annual show in Orlando, Fla., last month, over 3,000 new products debuted to an audience of more than 5,300 pet-product buyers from around the world. That’s just astounding. Even more astounding are the pet-related spending statistics.
Bob Vetere, president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association, says that last year, overall spending came in at more than $55.7 billion, up 4.5 percent from 2012. People spent the most on food, followed by veterinary care.
Something I think is really interesting is the projected growth in pet insurance. Spending is expected to grow from $650 million currently to more than $870 million by next year.
Vetere attributes the continued growth in spending on pets to a recovering economy, increasing knowledge about the positive effects pets have on human health and, most important, concern for pets’ well-being. I have no doubt that the growth in spending is also related to the inventiveness of pet-product manufacturers
As my team and I made our way through the show hall, we kept our eyes out for innovative new products that help dog and cat owners solve problems and offer good value.
We’re all seasoned veterinarians and pet professionals, so it’s tough to impress us, but we found a number of products that met those criteria for our fifth-annual Becker’s Best awards: the top 10 most interesting and useful products we see.
We’re sharing five with you this week. You can read more about the products and see photos of them on Vetstreet.com. Let me know what you think!PetSafe AutoTrainer: Dexas H-Duo Collapsible Companion Cup:
Choice for pet care
is a personal one
Eighteen years ago, our greyhound, Savanna, was diagnosed with bone cancer. The recommended treatment was amputation of her right rear leg, followed by chemotherapy. We were unsure that putting a 101/2-year-old dog through that was the right thing to do, but Savanna was otherwise healthy and we wanted to do all we could for her.
I know a lot of people probably wondered why we would “put our dog through that,” but the results spoke for themselves. After a few weeks of a rocky recovery, Savanna was back to her old self and got around just fine on three legs, including going up and down our stairs. She lived another two and a half years, dying at 13 of old age.
I know lots of people are asked, “Why would you put a pet through that?” when their animals are facing cancer or other diseases or injuries that require surgery or other treatments that can have long or uncomfortable recovery periods. The best answer I ever heard, from an owner telling her dog’s story at a conference of veterinary specialists, was “To save her life, pure and simple, and what a life she has. She has an awesome life.”
Many dogs and cats come through treatment very well and enjoy a wonderful quality of life. There’s nothing wrong with giving your dog the benefit of advances in veterinary medicine if you think that’s the right thing to do for her.
When dogs encounter the scent of a familiar person, it activates an area of the brain associated with reward, more so than the scents of other people or of familiar dogs, say researchers at Emory University’s Center for Neuropolicy. The results of a brain-imaging study of dogs responding to biological odors, led by neuroscientist Gregory Berns, appeared in the journal Behavioural Processes.
“In our experiment,” Berns writes, “the scent donors were not physically present. That means the canine brain responses were triggered by something distant in space and time. It shows that dogs’ brains have mental representations of us that persist when we’re not there.”
The disease affects multiple animal species as well as humans. Animals who spend a lot of time outdoors, especially in areas frequented by wildlife, are most at risk and should be seen by a veterinarian if they become lethargic, depressed, lose their appetite, vomit, have abdominal pain or fever, or urinate more frequently.