From March 22 – 24, 2017 the Global Pet Expo took place at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. This annual show is put on by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) in collaboration with the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA) and is one of the largest in the pet industry. In fact, the show sold out this year even after expanding to add an extra exhibit hall! This year the show floor was a whopping 343,700 square feet – nearly 24,000 feet larger than in 2016!
Unfortunately this is a professional show, which means it is not open to the public. The purpose of the show is to connect pet product brands with potential buyers and distributors, so you can find the best and newest products online or in a store near you! Buyers from 79 different countries came in the thousands – 6,761 to be exact – to visit the 3,437 booths (from 1,130 different companies) that dotted the show floor.
My favorite part of the Global Pet Expo is the new products and new brands. Luckily there were 270 first time exhibitors at the show. It also had nearly 1,000 entries in the New Products Showcase and more than 3,000 new product launches. You can learn even more about the Global Pet Expo here.
This was my fourth year attending the Global Pet Expo (Want to look back? Check out 2015 and 2014) and it must have been particularly exhausting because it’s taken me nearly a month to comb through all my photos and notes to report back on what I saw. But, it’s finally here! So without further ado, here are my favorite products with some top pet industry trends for 2017.
Top Pet Industry Trends for 2017
Licensing is common in most industries and is definitely new to the pet world, but it did seem to pop up quite a bit more this year as I walked around the show. And, I think it makes sense. Pet lovers often also love pop culture, movie characters, and celebrities. Instead of having all these companies start making pet products, they look to existing companies that already really know what pets and pet parents want.
So what were some of the biggest licensed product lines? Emojis were definitely a big one. Many booths had some kind of emoji toy, pillow, or accessory, but BH Pet Gear actually is licensing the images from Emoji Nation. I personally loved their hilarious poop bags and emoji toys.
Rubie’s Costume Company is also a big player when it comes to licensed products. How else could you dress your pet up as your favorite movie character? This year they added quite a few new pet costumes including ones from My Little Pony.
My favorite licensed product has to be a dog version of the Pendleton sweater seen in the cult classic, The Big Lebowski, but well, that’s just, like, my opinion, man. It comes with a hefty price tag of $49, but oh man how I would love for Ralph to sport one. My boyfriend wouldn’t mind either.
On top of those, I saw products with licensing from Disney, WWE, various Marvel or DC Comic characters, and even Grumpy Cat. I also have to give a shout out to Einstein Pets and their new Wagalongs. Though it’s not quite a license, it is a punny play on words. Get your box from your nearest pupscout!
It seemed like everywhere I turned around there was some kind of calming product for pets. Petmate had a big launch for a product called Calmz, which was developed in collaboration with Dr. Jeff Weber. It was so popular that I couldn’t even get into the room where it was being demoed to take a photo. However, I did get the low-down on how it worked. Essentially it is an adjustable vest with an acupressure device inside. The electronic device helps treat anxiety without medication by utilizing both audible and tactile stimulations of music, tones, and vibrations over specific acupressure points on the dog’s spine.
For the first time, I also saw two different types of dog toys that were infused essential oils to give a calming effect while they were played with. Multipet launched their line of Aromadog soft squeak toys which releases a calming blend of lavender essential oils as they are played with. At the show they had a giant one out front which caught my attention as did the calming scent. PetSafe also had two different food dispensing and calming toys. They took two of their customer favorite Busy Buddy toys – Squirrel Dude and Barnacle – and infused them with chamomile to help with pet anxiety.
Aromatherapy is definitely a growing part of the pet industry. 21st Century Animal HealthCare launched a new line called Calm Paws to make “the cone” a less stressful experience for all parties involved. The line features a cone with a special pocket for gel patches infused with calming essential oils. Calm Paws also offers a calming disk and collar that are also infused with the essential oils, but allow you to utilize your existing cone or inflatable collar.
I also had the pleasure of chatting with the woman behind Earth Heart, Inc. Earth Heart features several products that can help soothe common pet ailments naturally. Canine Calm is the flagship product, which can help reduce pet anxiety again through the benefits of essential oils. It is available as a topical spray and brand new wipes!
The Pet Tech category is a definitely still a growing trend. However, I have seen numerous companies go out of business or close up shop because they weren’t quite getting it right. It seems especially challenging in the smart collar category where companies like Voyce are no longer.
Second to smart collars are smart feeders. PetNet jumped into the competition a few years back with their SmartFeeder and newer SmartBowl which connect to an app on your smart phone and help fight pet obesity. This year PetSafe also launched their own smart automatic feeder. Stay tuned as I’ll be reviewing the PetNet SmartFeeder within the next month!
I have to say that Bissell stepped up with probably the most innovative pet tech item at the show this year. BarkBath is a portable dog grooming system, which is based on the same design as the SpotBot. In fact, if you already have a SpotBot you can just buy an attachment for it! I tried to stump them with tons of questions about the design and they truly seemed to think through everything, but I won’t know for sure how I like it until I can give it a try with Ralph and Luna.
Sometimes I get super jealous of how cute dog toys are and steal them to put on my desk. They are way too pretty to be destuffed after all! This year I had a few favorites, but P.L.A.Y. had to bring home the prize with their adorable food related toys. Can we talk about how cute that sushi is?
Petmate Heggies also made a comeback. This year with a little fall feel and I just loved it. That one in the back is a hedgehog dressed as a corn after all.
Later this year GoDog Toys will be coming out with Sugar Skull toys. I’ve always been obsessed with these and am shocked no one came up with the idea sooner!
Tried & True Treats
Food and treats still make up the majority of sales in the pet industry. After all your pets will always have to eat, right? Luckily for us pet parents, companies are still pushing the limits to make edible products better and cooler than ever.
Our friends at The Honest Kitchen launched Single Serve Cups of their dehydrated food, which remind me a lot of to-go oatmeal. They seem perfect for road trips or even car camping.
Full Moon is at it again with new training treats! We are working on a review of these tasty morsels, so more to come on them.
Beer and wine for dogs? Crazy, right? Not according to the Pet Winery who offers Bark Beer and Dög Pérignon in their fully stocked Dog Bar.
My one cat related shout out has to go to Cat Sushi. I just loved the branding of this product and hope it is just as tasty for our kitty friends. I’m still waiting for them to make Dog Sushi, but at least we have those cute toys from P.L.A.Y. for now.
Pets & Luxury
Perhaps its that people view pets more and more as part of the family and our willingness to splurge has increased, but I saw more luxury pet products this year than any time in the past. Though we love a good bargain here, we aren’t opposed to spending a little more if the quality and product is worth it. Personally I love pet products that have a purpose and still help decorate a home or at least aren’t an eye sore.
Tall Tails is one of my favorite brands and I was super impressed with their new additions this year. On top of multiple new dog toys, they added new Designer Wooden Bowls and Braided Collars and Leashes. Both are visually beautiful and made with high quality materials. I’d be happy to have either of these in my home.
Angel Pet Supplies is another brand to look for when you are ready to splurge on a quality made and beautiful dog collar. I just wish they made these collars a little bit smaller, so I could get one for Ralph or Luna!
Our go to dog food bowls come from Loving Pets, but they just released a new line that may make me reevaluate the ones we are using and go buy a few new ones. The “Le Bol” line are supposed to remind you of French cookware and are made of extremely durable, stainless steel. Plus, look at those beautiful bright colors!
If you are really looking to splurge and unite your home decorating with your dog’s crate or bed, then you might want to check out Sauder Pet. But, be careful you might not be able to tell yourself no!
Beautiful dog beds also dotted the rows of the Global Pet Expo this year for much of the same reason. I loved these from PM&J – Kenwood & Co.
Even poop bags are getting a designer upgrade. Metro Paws Poopy Packs feature numerous attractive designs in the color scheme of your choosing!
Stimulation and Interactive Feeders
Any pet parent who has a food hound or a pet that suffers from separation anxiety certainly knows the importance of mental stimulation for your dog as well as the blessings that are interactive feeders. I was happy to see that more innovation is still coming out in this category!
Planet Dog Links may look a lot like small animal tubing, but it is actually a fun interactive feeder. You can change the shape if you have more than one and link a few sets together. Then fill it up with a few treats or kibble and your dog will play with it until they get everything out the small holes.
West Paw Design actually won Best in Show under the Dog Category with their new interactive treat toy. The Quizl can be stuffed with a bully stick, peanut butter, kibble, and more. The best part is that it will extend the time it takes your dog to chew up the bully stick!
Though this product has been around for a while, Petmate made some improvements to their Diggin’ Diner. I can’t believe I have never had one of these for Luna who LOVES to dig and also could use some help with slowing down when she eats.
The Klimb is a bit different as it isn’t related to eating, but it is still a great tool for stimulation and training. It provides a home base that dogs will understand is just for them. You can build training routines and even exercises around it. They actually have kits available with tons of ideas for what to do!
Listening to Millennial Pet Parents
Some other major trends included focusing more on millennial pet parents. I don’t know how many times I heard the word “Millennial” while I was at the Global Pet Expo. Since last year, millennials now own the most pets for a generation, surpassing Baby Boomers who held the title previously. It’s interesting to see how some companies are paying attention and changing their marketing strategy or improving their products. As a millennial myself, it is also interesting to see those that haven’t quite gotten the message yet.
Cooling products also made a big impression at this year’s show, but I somehow forgot to take a photo of any of them! From cooling pads, cool or breathable pet clothing, and hydration it is clear that pets are family. Thanks to Synergy Labs (maker of pet grooming products) for clearly stating the theme of the entire show!
Our friends at Sleepypod launched a big new product this year, the Clickit Terrain dog harness. However, I was almost more impressed with the tiny innovation they added based on customer feedback. The S-Clip allows you to lock your seatbelt in the right place each time you need to strap your dog into the car. It didn’t take much, but it definitely makes the process of loading your dog into the care a whole lot easier!
Simple Solution’s Orange Oxy Charged Stain & Odor Remover is by no means a newcomer this year, but it is a life saver. A few months back, Ralph became so sick he was making messes all over the carpet in our apartment. It was stressful because my poor baby wasn’t feeling well, but oh wow did it also smell! I got up as much as I could by hand, then saturated the carpet with this godsend. Not only when I came back a few minutes later was the stain no longer visible, but the smell had been replaced with the scent of oranges.
Kurgo was probably one of the first brands that I really became familiar with after I adopted Luna. I still have and regularly use my very first Kurgo car backseat cover, so I love seeing what they come up with each year. The Baxter Dog Backpack (in red below) and the Heather Half Dog Hammock both made quite an impression!
Another one of my all time favorite brands has to be Dog Is Good. There really isn’t another brand that can compete on Dog Mom (and Dad) pride. Their new addition of a “Dog Hair Don’t Care” t-shirt was perfect. I hope I can add one to my t-shirt collection soon.
Tell Us! What 2017 Pet Industry Trend are you most excited about?
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Disclaimer: I received no compensation or additional benefits for mentioning the products in this post. The opinions and ideas in this post are my own and are uninfluenced by any other person or business.