We hear a lot about innovation, creativity and ingenuity being essential to industry developments, leadership and expansion. Well, if you want to be inspired check out the pet industry.
Yes, the pet industry might be giving electronics and automation a run for their money particularly in the department of ‘I never thought of that.’
One visit to SuperZoo, an annual pet industry trade show in Las Vegas each year, and you’ll be floored by the number of new food, toys, equipment and products that solve problems, many I didn’t even know I had. Worse, some I assumed I’d just have to live with like rattling dog tags and expensive regular urine test monitoring.
Want to know what you need but don’t know it?
Read on. Here are some of my favourite innovative ideas I unearthed walking the trade show floor. (Now, if only they had a solution to trade show exhaustion).
1. Home Lab Innovation: CheckUp – At Home Wellness Test for Dogs (and Cats)
If you’ve ever marveled at the cost of basic monitoring tests at the Vet, you aren’t alone. Check Up might be the answer.
CheckUp is a kit in a box that helps pet parents be their own lab. The kit allows you to do at home analysis of the four most common conditions in cats and dogs: high glucose, kidney disease, UTI and blood in urine.
Simply gather the dog or cat pee, the same way you would to take it to the Vet or use the cup in the dog kit or the special kitty litter in the cat kit then use the two test strips in each kit like the litmus test we learned in high school. Compare the first three readings to a colour-coded scale on the box within 30 seconds and the last reading a minute later.
The colours will tell you what levels are normal and what you might be concerned about.
CheckUp is not intended to replace Vet tests, but reduce the number (and cost) performed for basic monitoring. Each kit costs $14.95 US on Amazon (tests at my Vet are about $80) and contain the same test strips professionals use. The idea came to company when they noticed customers buying test strips separately, so they decided to combine all elements together in one easy to follow kit.
How easy is it? I’ll tell you soon after I give the package a trial run on my little terrier later this month. Stay tuned for review.
2. On Trend: Tall Tails New Dandy for Dogs and Perfect for Puppy Gift Sets
Tall Tails started in 1933 as a textile company making baby products. Four years ago, the company branched into the pet industry as the next logical expansion. “If it’s good enough for a baby, it’s good enough for pet,” Tall Tails V.P. Richard White says.
“The pet industry and the baby product industry have a lot in common,” he adds. “Both are products where the end user has no say in the purchase.”
Add excited new parents to the commonalities.
New to the market is Tall Tails Gift Sets for taking to doggie showers. Yes, capitalizing on a trend that sees urbanites hosting parties celebrating the acquisition of a new fur baby, Tall Tails has two gift sets in two colours: New Dandy for Dogs and Perfect for Puppy. Each contain a 30” x 40” fleece plaid blanket, a Waterwoof Pad and a soft bone chew toy.
Kits retail for $29.99 to 39.99 US and even if the pet isn’t new, giving pet owners holiday gifts for their pets rather than themselves has its appeal. After all, we have enough candles, but Fido can never have enough fleece cuddlies – in Hounds Tooth or Hunter Plaid Red.
3. Third World Inspiration: Barkworthies Root Chews
Barkworthies Root Chews are toothbrushes for dogs. Well, actually they’re sort of toothbrushes for people. Root Chews are 100 per cent organic dog dental chews crafted from branches of the East Indies Arrack tree. Rural people in Pakistan and India have used these branches for decades. The plant releases an antibiotic that helps suppress bacterial and plague growth.
Now your dog can get the same benefit. Bill Chilian, Barkworthies Marketing V.P. says, as the dog chews the bark peels off in layers and the fibres inside the twigs fray and cleans teeth. As the end is worn, cut if off until the entire chew is used up. All parts are digestible.
4. Build the Better Wheelchair: Solvit Dog Mobility Charts
Solvit, whose slogan is ‘no pet left behind,’ specializes making sure we can take our dogs with us, whether in the car on in a trailer behind the bike. Now that includes mobility challenged dogs because two things are happening: we are no longer giving up on injured or paralyzed animals and our dogs are living long, and slowing down.
Solvit is developing a dog wheel chair for dogs paralyzed, elderly or recovering from surgery. What’s new is two advantages: the three sizes are each adjustable both in length and height allowing for perfect fitting for a variety of sizes up to about 90 pounds, according to General Manager Patrick Hoffman, and price.
Made with lightweight material the price is about $200 to $250 less than some of their competitors. There’s even ‘bootie slings’ that can hold weak or useless back legs keeping them off the ground. The details are all too often the differentiator.
5. Old Tag; New Tricks: SiliDog Silent PetTag
When SiliDog founder Michael Lickstein rescued an abandoned dog, now named Bently, he regretted only one thing: the new metal dog tags clanged all night when the dog scratched. “There’s got to be a better way,” he thought.
So after some careful research and a Kickstarter campaign, he founded SiliDog – rubber dog tags that can be customized with any information you want (the innovation is the giant print machine) – that make no noise. Available in five colours and three shapes, the company says they don’t wear, don’t fade, can get wet and now glow in the dark. Order on line for $19.95 US
Because the words and numbers are cut into the flexible plastic material, they are less likely to disappear. My dog’s metal tag must be replaced every 8 months to stay readable, so I’m looking forward to getting my quiet lightweight Sili Dog Tag any day now. I’ll do a six-month trial test and let you know. Stay tuned.