Editor's Picks: Making A Purr-fect Connection

 

There’s never been a better time to be man’s best friend. With dog-friendly resorts, hotels and restaurants, these pampered pups can go just about anywhere. Large companies like Google and Ticketmaster have  joined other companies that allow employees to bring their dogs to work. Thirty-one percent of pet industry consumers are Millennials and managers see the benefit of allowing dogs in the office, according to The Conversation. Google’s code of conduct even states that “affection for our canine friends is an integral facet of our corporate culture.” The Guardian named pet dogs as the new “must-have accessory” in a smart office. With this welcoming attitude in public spaces, pet ownership has steadily risen. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 67 percent of U.S. households own a pet, a two-percent increase from 2017.

Pets can thank social media for today’s puppy love. From the heartwarming to the hilarious, social media has become the place to share a pet’s most adorable antics, ushering in what one writer called “the era of the pet.” In 2012, Grumpy Cat, or Tardar Sauce, her real name, became an instant celebrity when her unimpressed glare was shared on Reddit. Many social media users thought, with her dwarfism and underbite, that Grumpy Cat was Photoshopped until her owner posted videos to YouTube of her eternally grumpy face in action. Although Grumpy Cat passed away in 2019, she continues to have 2.5 million followers on Instagram, a trademark, merchandise and countless memes. More animals have found a home on social media with millions of followers keeping up with their humanlike Instagram accounts. The animals that get the most attention stand out from the rest and typically, many of them have disabilities, like Grumpy Cat. 

With 1.7 million Instagram followers, Marnie the Dog was the internet’s most popular rescue dog. With a permanent head tilt and a big, floppy tongue, Marnie the Dog was rescued at 10 when she was nearly blind and lived a good life until she passed away last year.  For rescue pets like Marnie the Dog, social media platforms are perfect for animal advocacy. Animal rights groups use social media to garner support, share information and collect donations. Social media has also made it easier to find and punish those who harm animals. In 2019, the Netflix true crime docuseries Don't F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer, followed the events of a crowd-sourced amateur investigation after a graphic video of animal brutality was posted online in 2010. Two weeks after its release, the docuseries became one of Netflix’s top five most-watched documentaries of 2019. 

With social media, there’s a new culture of respect for animals. From highly-trained service dogs to lazy, cuddly companions, pets simply help people get through the day. Three out of four pet owners say that spending time with a dog, cat or another animal helped reduce their stress and increases their sense of well-being during COVID-19. In its latest “COVID-19 Pulse Study,” APPA found that more than 11 million U.S. households adopted a new pet during the pandemic. According to the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention, there are many health benefits of owning a pet. Pets can increase opportunities to exercise, get outside and socialize. Regularly walking or playing with pets can decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels. With companionship, pets can also help manage loneliness and feelings of depression. But, according to National Geographic, owning a pet is the consequence of a healthy lifestyle, not the cause of it. Those who keep pets can afford to do so financially, easily fitting them into their lives. 

According to APPA, it’s estimated that the U.S. pet industry reached $99 billion in 2020. From 2019 to 2020, the pet industry grew by $1.5 billion with pet owners splurging on everything from pet food and treats to toys. In 2020, services outside of veterinary care like boarding, pet sitting and dog walking took the biggest hit as most people spent more time at home. The global pet market is expected to reach $350 billion by 2027. According to Global Newswire, the growth can be attributed to smart technologies that make pet owners' lives easier such as GPS pet collars, pet cameras and smart feeders. 

For 2021, it estimated that $109.6 billion will be spent on pets in the U.S. and the rise in pet adoptions is driving this growth. Last year, despite escalating cases of COVID-19, unemployment and financial hardship, pet adoptions rose. According to Shelter Animals Count, which runs a database that tracks the activity of 500 organizations, there were 26,000 more pet adoptions in 2020 than in 2019—a rise of about 15 percent. In April 2020, near the beginning of the pandemic, the national pet adoption rate jumped 34 percent over the same time a year earlier, according to the group’s COVID-19 Impact Report. 

The pet food market remains strong and continues to grow, according to Packaged Facts, thanks to coronavirus-driven stockpiling and increases in new pet adoptions. Despite financial hardships in some families, U.S. pet owners are spending the same amount on food and treats as they did before the pandemic, sacrificing spending on high-quality pet food only as a last resort. As a result, the pet food and treats segment of the pet industry remains the largest, bringing in $42 billion in 2020. According to a survey conducted by Packaged Facts in April and May 2020, just 16 percent of dog and cat owners agreed they are spending less on pet food while only five percent strongly agreeing with the statement. Twenty-five percent disagreed with the statement, and 36 percent strongly disagreed. In APPA’s latest “COVID-19 Pulse Study,” 72 percent of pet owners said their pet’s diet is “very important to them” and that they “do not plan to make any changes to it regardless of their financial situation.”

Because most consumers live with a pet at home, promotional pet products are a fun and thoughtful way to make a meaningful connection. Vets, animal hospitals, pet stores, shelters and organizations that support these furry friends can get their brand or logo seen every time someone stops to greet or play with a pet. Clients outside of the pet market can also use pet-related promotions to differentiate themselves from the competition, reach new customers and retain valued employees. 

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In March, New York State lawmakers finalized a deal to legalize recreational marijuana, opening the door for a potential $4.2 billion industry. As a growing number of states legalize marijuana, more pet owners are becoming interested in CBD oil for pets. According to Petpedia.co, one in four dog and cat owners have given their pet CBD oil-infused products as a health supplement, and two out of three dog owners and three in four cat owners say they would also do it again. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in hemp and cannabis. According to the American Kennel Club, CBD oil does not contain THC, the compound that gives marijuana its psychoactive properties. Most CBD products are actually derived from hemp and not from cannabis. CBD can be used because of its anti-inflammatory properties, cardiac benefits, anti-nausea effects, appetite stimulation, anti-anxiety impact and for possible anti-cancer benefits. Based on anecdotal evidence from dog owners, CBD can treat pain, especially neuropathic pain, as well as helping to control seizures. 

However, there have been no formal studies on how CBD affects pets. Scientists do know that cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid receptors located in the central and peripheral nervous systems, like humans, which help maintain balance in the body. To minimize any potential side effects, American Kennel Club suggests starting off with low doses, buying CBD organic and as a liquid. Although there are few studies on the effects of CBD on pets, CBD is seen as natural and 69 percent of Millennials say they will opt for the organic option. 

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A great way to advertise grooming shops and veterinarian clinics, this sublimated dog leash works for any pet-themed promotion. This high-quality polyester leash has a heavy-duty P clip and is 60 inches long.

BamBams  /  PPAI 255565, S9  /  www.bambams.com

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For a paw-sitive promotion for any business, an exclusive custom-made pet toy offers high visibility for a brand. These high-quality pet toys are constructed for durability and performance with reinforced seams and robust fabrics, providing hours of fun. Whether it’s a completely unique custom-designed item or just adding a logo to an existing design, this pet toy will help a company stand out from the crowd.

Soft Stuff Creations, Inc.  /  PPAI 413041, S2  /  www.softstuffpromo.com

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Bring your brand instant attention with this Furever Friends calendar. This 10-by-18-inch stapled, 12-month wall calendar is printed in black and red on glossy paper. It features photos of adorable dogs and cats, and includes American holidays, moon phases, Julian dates and the last sheet features two years on a page. There is also a hole at top for easy hanging in the home, office or classroom. This is the perfect giveaway for a charity, local veterinary clinic or animal shelter to keep their name, logo and contact information handy.  

Drum-Line  /  PPAI 102565, S7  /  www.drum-line.com

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As pets age, they can experience discomfort from an array of conditions. CBD is effective in treating pain as well as anxiety and hyperactivity. This CBD Isolate Pet Tincture undergoes a proprietary purification process to produce a 99-percent pure CBD crystalline powder that ensures optimum bio availability with each THC-free serving. This tincture treats arthritis, joint problems, pain, immobility, stress, anxiety and lack of appetite. Available for cats and dogs. 

 

Incentive Concepts  /  PPAI 212912, S10  /  www.incentiveconcepts.com

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Bring out your client’s playful side with the Toss-N-Float. This easy-to-throw dog toy will keep a brand visible with its fun and memorable shape. This toy will float on water, making it perfect for a day at the park or pool.

Ariel Premium Supply, Inc.  /  PPAI 161650, S10  /  www.arielpremium.com

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This paw bank is the purr-fect item to collect spare change for humane societies or animal shelters. The exclusive design features a coin slot on the top and a twist-off plug on the bottom. 

Evans Manufacturing  /  PPAI 110747, S10  /  www.evans-mfg.com

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Turn a small four-legged friend into a walking billboard with a pet triangle. Not only can groomers and pet hospitals hand out these pet-sized bandanas, but pet-friendly restaurants and hotels can as well. This 100-percent cotton bandana will be the first thing people see when stopping to pet a pup. Choose from 12 colors. 

CARO-LINE/Bandanna Promotions  /  PPAI 113413 , S6   /  www.bandannapromotions.com

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For hikes and camping trips, pack this pet kit with all the essentials to keep pets safe when away from home. In addition to first-aid supplies, the kit includes a leash, heat-reflective blanket, tick/splinter remover and an all-in-one reference guide with pet first-aid tips. The durable dry bag protects the contents from the elements and is customizable with a logo or custom message, printable in up to two spot colors.

Ready 4 Kits  /  PPAI 213724, S6  /  www.ready4kits.com

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Perfect for any pet owner, serve and store your pet’s dry food with the Scoop n Clip. Use the scoop to measure the appropriate amount of food for each meal and then it doubles as a clip to keep the bag securely shut. Markings on the scoop indicate quarter, half-cup and three-fourths cup measurements. 

Tekweld  /  PPAI 266346, S4  /  www.tekweld.com

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The game of fetch just got a little easier with this tennis ball with thrower. Ideal for pet centers, parks and fundraisers, this tennis ball thrower saves shoulder strain and keeps a pup’s tail wagging. The brand logo and message can be printed on the handle in a choice of three colors.

Tekweld  /  PPAI 266346, S4  /  www.tekweld.com

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Keep your pet hydrated or fed on the go with the collapsible pet bowl. With a four-inch diameter across the rim, this soft, flexible silicone bowl has an eight-ounce capacity when expanded and collapses flat for easy carring and storage. Easily attach the bowl to a leash, belt loop or backpack with carabiner. A one-color imprint is available on the bottom of the bowl. This pet bowl is FDA-tested and pet friendly for food and water contact.

Evans Manufacturing  /  PPAI 110747, S10  /  www.evans-mfg.com

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Kristina Valdez is associate editor of PPB.

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