Organic pet food

It’s early spring… which means I’m exhausted. Convention weary, in particular. To make matters worse, I’m still suffering an aircraft-induced upper respiratory infection. Winter can be so brutal for those of us who attend the annual flurry of pet- and vet-themed conferences that populate the early months of the year. Good thing I’ve got some solid pet-trend insight to show for it!

Which is the point, after all. Not only do veterinarians attend conferences to help cram in the continuing education credits we need to keep our licenses in good standing, we attend to celebrate the myriad needs and niceties due our pets in the service of their health.

What’s especially entertaining is that every year those desirable particulars take on a unique dimension that reflects where we are, as a culture, with respect to animals and their health care. And it’s these big picture takeaways that keep me coming back, year after year –– despite the minor risks afforded by modern air travel.

This year has been no different. Indeed, there’s been much to marvel over, not least of which revolves around the fact that the pet industry continues to expand. With that in mind, I offer you 2013’s top five pet trends:


It’s not my favorite trend, but there you have it. The rise in the baby-fication of pets may have its creepy side, but its significant not only because it means more people are willing to treat pets as family (in a very good way), but, where the industry is concerned, because it fuels sales in all sectors.

Whether we’re talking about increased health-care spending or more little pink dresses, the notion of pets as children has some serious legs. Which has its implications for animal welfare, too, of course.

Keeping Tabs on Tabby

Pet cams, GPS devices, even pet pedometers and activity trackers. They’ve been on offer for both dogs and cats for a while now. 2013, however, is shaping up to be their breakout year!

Feeding Fluffy Right

Lots and lots of pet foods made debuts this year. Indeed, the trends in pet nutrition alone merit their own post, but let me see if I can summarize in a few brief bullet points:

  • More companies. More formulas.
  • “Grain-free” seems to be the buzz-term of 2013.
  • Calorie counts are more likely to be on the bag or can.
  • Raw diets are still on the rise.
  • “Natural” everything –– even if it doesn’t always mean what you think it does.
  • Ingredient source is a big thing. Stay tuned for “sustainable” foods.
  • Obesity management foods (and even apps!) are making headway.
  • Nutritionists are making themselves more available for individual pet consultations –– a trend I especially like.

Flea and Tick Products Go Retro

After a decade during which products migrated slowly toward oral medications to prevent fleas, ticks and more, some big names in pet health care are looking to the past for solutions to the bugs that infest our pets.

Not only were more topical parasiticides introduced this year (those drops that come in little ampules), one big-name company actually launched a flea and tick collar! Seems plastics have come a long way; so far, in fact, that we now discuss them with the words, “novel polymer technology.”

Financing Fido’s Healthcare

Pets are pricey. Very. And increasingly so when it comes to their health care. Why else would pet insurance companies be duking it out to prove their new pet health-care financing product works better, reimburses faster, makes pet owners happier and saves more pet lives?

Not since the explosion of pet health insurance companies 10 to 15 years ago have I seen such movement in this industry. To my mind, it means we’re reaching a critical point where pet owners are finally beginning to recognize that (a) pet health-care expenses are too big to ignore, and that (b) pet insurance is an indisputable requirement for responsible pet care.