Primal diets, millennial dog owners, online shopping and designer dogs — that’s what’s trending in the pet industry.
Lori Burks, co-owner of Natural Paws in Reno, along with her husband, Rob, said the biggest change she’s seeing in the industry is a push toward more natural food for pets.
“The trend is moving more toward natural and grain-free food,” said Burks, whose store carries brands with and without grains.
Burks said many are moving toward a grain-free diet for their dogs, since they believe it’s what pets are supposed to eat in the wild. The philosophy is since dogs are derived from wolves, they do best on raw meat and vegetables.
“It’s really, really good for them,” Burks said.
Millennial dog owners
Millennials — those roughly age 18 to 34 — are helping to fuel that trend. Burks said that generation tends to be more socially conscious and spends more on their pet’s food than they do on their own.
“Millennials have changed the industry, and part of that reason is because they are going all-natural,” she said, adding that millennials also tend to own dogs younger — 18, 19, 21 — than their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts.
“And now that they have kids and dogs and families, they want to support local businesses,” Burks said. “We see a lot of millennials coming in.”
Another recent trend — that Burks admits she doesn’t love — is that more and more people are shopping online. However, she cautioned that when you buy online the inventory might not be fresh.
“Second, you don’t get to talk to anyone and ask questions,” Burks said. “You are going to put your dog on something that might not be the best. Also, we can figure out what gets you more bang for the buck and we can fit your budget.”
Still trending after a few years are so-called designer dogs, which are sometimes intentionally bred for desirable traits, including less shedding for their allergy suffering owners.
“A designer dog is a cross between two purebred dogs — like breeding a poodle with a Labrador to create a “labradoodle,” she said. “A lot of people have allergies, so the industry has kind of exploded over the past few years. The downside is that there are a lot of mixed breeds in the shelter, but people are buying the mixed breeds somewhere else.”
According to the Humane Society of America, which encourages adoption first, there are breed-specific rescue groups for every breed of dog, including designer dogs or “hybrids” like labradoodles and puggles (a cross between a beagle and a pug).
What will be the next hot thing? It could come down to what trends millennials drive next.
“As they get older, the industry will only change more and more,” Burks said.