dog in rain coat and boots

We love keeping our eyes on the latest trends in the pet industry, and when it comes to finding the newest, hottest pet products, there’s no better place to be than Global Pet Expo in Orlando. We covered the show floor from end-to-end (which was no small feat — there were miles of aisles to explore) to identify three of the biggest trends of the year: on the go, technology and bonding.

These trends directly reflect the bigger overall tendency for pet parents to pamper their pets more than generations past, which makes sense given the findings of a recent survey. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) determined that more than 10 percent of current pet owners are new pet owners (that’s nearly eight million new pet owners within the past year!), and the majority of them are Gen Y and Gen X. And the number of current pet owners overall has drastically increased to 79.7 million pet-owning households — a 50 percent gain over the past two decades.

And, as it turns out, this increase in pet ownership could be good for our health. Another finding from this survey, along with research conducted by the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation, supported in part by the APPA, finds that doctors are agreeing with pet owners in that pets truly help us feel better. According to a survey of 1,000 family doctors and general practitioners, 97 percent of doctors polled believe in the health benefits of pet ownership, and 60 percent would recommend a pet to improve overall health. That’s one prescription we’d be happy to fill!

A few products representing these trends are below (and, unless otherwise noted, will be available this spring and summer), but keep your eyes peeled — more will be hitting shelves in the near future.

Simple Solutions for Pets On the Go

Loads of products were geared toward making it easier to pack up and get out with your pets. From innovative beds to small, travel-friendly grooming products and more, the companies here are very aware that our favorite travel friends have four legs.

While it’s not a brand-new concept, we dug the Petmate Memory Foam Kennel Mats. These soft, comfy mats can function as an everyday kennel mat, but what we loved was the fact that they roll up into a small package fastened with a strap, making it a piece of cake to grab and go.

We were also drawn in by the Kat Pak, a disposable (but fairly durable) litter house. Although the company claims you never have to scoop again, we advise scooping daily. Popware for Pets Snack-DuO with Collapsible Companion Cup allows you to transport water and pet food in an easy-to-carry bottle (similar to the H-DuO). Jelly Wellies from BH Pet Gear were another adorable option — the matching rain jackets and booties mean rainy weather doesn’t have to be a reason to leave your stylish pup at home.

Exciting New Technology

dog with tech collar

Tech is everywhere — in collars and feeders, on doors and floors. While there’s nothing wrong with keeping it old school when it comes to everything dog and cat, going high-tech is certainly on trend. However, one note of caution, particularly with wearables: Always make sure your pet isn’t chewing on or ingesting pieces of the device!

PetChatz (available now) definitely falls into the tech category, with a heavy emphasis on bonding. It’s a two-way device that lets you check on, treat and even video chat with your pet.

The TRIXIE Dog Activity Memory Trainer takes the food puzzle up a notch with two separate parts — a button and a food dispenser. The dispenser itself has multiple levels of difficulty! And, there were loads of options for collars that track your dog’s activity… and then some. We saw the StarWalk (available now), which focuses on activity and fitness, and more new products like the Motorola SCOUT5000 and Voyce, which offer additional features like tracking vital signs, giving bark alerts, keeping tabs with GPS and more.

Bonding With Your Pet

cat scratching maze

Tons of products across all categories were designed to offer new and fun ways to bond with your pet. Think about it — those on-the-go products allow you to spend more time with your pets, and technology allows you to connect with them in new ways.

Katris, a modern, cardboard cat scratcher/climber (available now), drew a lot of admiring looks for its clean lines and attractive design. We loved the product’s focus on bringing kitty’s favorite things out into the areas where her people live, and other companies like Sauder are offering some flat-out stunning options for pet-friendly furnishings.

Grooming products also put a major focus on making the experience a time to bond rather than a chore. Groomie, a product soon to hit the market from Hagen, is a soft, silicone brush that makes it easy to incorporate a quick brushing anywhere, and Dry Buddies is a towel designed to turn messy post-bath time into a snuggle session.

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