Pet Care: The Rise In All-Natural Food & Treats

    Like the movement towards all-natural ingredients in human food, there is a trend forming towards commercial pet food made to optimize pet health, too. The COVID-19 pandemic has given people incentive to take care of their health. This has also spilled over into care for the diet of their beloved pets. In the US, 63% of pet owners consider their pets to be members of the family. The natural pet food market in the USA has nearly doubled in a few years, from $2 billion in 2008 to $22.8 billion in 2020. 

    There is some debate around what constitutes a “natural” pet food. However, there is a range of human-grade, vet-formulated meals available. This food is made with meats, fruits, and veggies, and without artificial preservatives, flavors or colors. Meals can be calorie-based and flash-frozen. Even vegan, plant-powered dry food and treats are available that minimize pet food’s environmental footprint and animal farming impact.

    Domestic cats need a macronutrient profile similar to the diet of wild cats. Domesticated dogs have evolved differently in how they metabolize carbohydrates, and need a diet lower in protein than wild wolves. Whole food ingredients included in natural pet food take instinctual and ancestral diets into account.

    This growing demand for natural pet food has led to some brands using eastern food therapy and Ayurveda philosophies. Owners can create customized meals for pets with a range of different dietary requirements.

    Healthy natural treats for dogs, alongside the store-bought chewies, include fruit and vegetables. Examples include apples, green peas and beans, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Healthy treats for cats include many packets in the range of commercial products. They can also eat small bits of cheese or cooked tuna, chicken, fish, or liver.

    Pet Supplements

    The increase in spending on pet care and adoption across the world sees the pet supplements market valued at 1.47 billion USD in 2020. Experts anticipate it will rise at an annual growth rate of 5.9% from 2021 to 2028.

    Millennials make up the majority of pet owners. They treat their animals like children, adding dietary supplements to their daily regimen. Weight management formulas are rising in popularity, as 59% of cats and 54% of dogs in the US are overweight or obese. In 2020, 63.4 million US households owned a dog. Owners generally spend an average of $58 per year on dog vitamins.

    At the beginning of the pandemic, lockdowns prompted panic-buying of pet dietary supplements, nutraceutical foods (foods containing healthful additives and having medicinal benefits), as well as traditional pet food. Pet care supplements aid in the management of conditions like itchy skin, oral health, digestive health, allergies, obesity, etc. Since the pandemic began, global dog ownership levels have risen and there has been a consumer buying trend towards pet dietary supplements. There is also a steady rise in health issues for pets, such as dental diseases, diabetes, and obesity.

    Pet-Friendly Cleaning Products

    Many disinfectants and cleaning brands contain chemicals which can irritate pets or make them very ill should they swallow or lick some of the solution. There is a range of pet-friendly cleaning products on the market to give you peace of mind.

    There are antimicrobial wipes for dogs’ feet post-walk to prevent dirt and germs coming inside your home. Apple-cider vinegar is useful, too. Good grooming is the first step to eliminate shedding on your furniture. Brushes and combs are available online and in your pet store. Laundry detergents, surface sanitizers, and floor cleaners are all available as pet-friendly products.

    Natural Pet Toys

    When it comes to pet care, it is surprising to learn that there are no safety regulations in the US. There are toys made from chemical-laden plastics and petro-chemical-based, man-made fabrics. However, there is also a range of eco-friendly and non-toxic pet toys on the market for dogs and cats. These are often made from sustainable materials, like hemp, jute and leather. 

    Pet Insurance

    Your pet insurance coverage will vary depending on the policy, the breed and age of your pet, and your location. The average cost for US pet owners is between $20 and $60 per month. The monthly payment for pet insurance saves you money in the long run on costly, unexpected vet bills. Wellness plans are usually an add-on that cover some of the costs of routine care, though pre-existing conditions, vaccinations, and neutering may not be covered.

    Virtual Pet Care Services

    Telehealth and telemedicine exist for both humans and pets. Vet clinics, like medical practices, have offered virtual services since before the beginning of the pandemic. The professionals can take a medical history and answer questions, but it is obviously impossible to diagnosis and monitor chronic health problems or treat a major emergency online. Virtual vets provide 24/7 access to pet care professionals from your home via Zoom, WhatsApp, or Skype, and at a fraction of the fee charged for an in-person vet. By law, telehealth vets can’t diagnose, treat, or prescribe medication, but they can educate, advise, and guide.  

    CBD And Pet Care

    CBD is a popular choice when it comes to helping people, but for pets, the story is a little different. Pet owners use the cannabis-derived compound cannabidiol, or CBD, to ease pet ailments. This occurs with or without the advice of their veterinarian. Laws do not allow vets to prescribe or recommend CBD to pet owners, as CBD remains classed as a Schedule I controlled substance at a federal level, the same as heroin. Since 2018, however, 47 states have legalized CBD for human use, and consumers can buy it for themselves or their pets with no formal advice necessary. Only California has passed a law that allows vets to discuss cannabis with clients.

    According to one survey, CBD is becoming more popular with pet owners, with two-thirds of them asking their vets about CBD. Conditions that CBD possibly relieves are: anxiety, pain, arthritis, seizures, and other health problems. Tinctures, oils, shampoos, capsules, and chew treats have been made to meet consumer demand, even though the formal scientific evidence for CBD effectiveness for pets is still scant. The use of CBD for pets is at the beginning of study and research, so if you would like to use it on your pet, check out what your vet and the medical experts have to say first. There are a range of pet companies producing CBD that claim veterinary expertise, so do your research and be careful with dosage and monitoring of your dear pet.

    The COVID-19 situation we all face has had a considerable impact on the pet industry.  Animal adoptions are rising as we seek their company in lockdown, and we will see the effects on the pet industry for years. Board games and baking products also rose in sales under stay-at-home orders, but pet adoptions are a long-term commitment. These trends in the pet industry will continue to give pet owners new ways to care for their furry companions.

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