Sunday, May 26

Pet Care Industry Continues to Grow Amid Pandemic

For many industries, travel, and hospitality to name a few, the pandemic has been extremely detrimental to sales. The list of businesses that can say the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 have been beneficial is short. While the focus has mostly been on eCommerce and remote tech, which individuals and businesses have relied on as we shift to a digital world, one industry that has been quietly making steady growth is pet care.

The demand for pet care, from food to veterinary services, rose over the course of the pandemic. One surprising and heart-warming reason for it is the growth in the number of people adopting and fostering pets. In the US, Wired reports that animal shelters have run out of pets that are available for adoption a remarkable problem to have in a country that’s overrun with millions of stray animals.

Fostering is up by 90% in a few cities too, according to Kitty Block who runs the Humane Society of the United States. Block explains that this trend is accelerated by the changes brought about by the pandemic, particularly the rise of remote work. More prospective pet owners now have the time to take care of cats, dogs, and other domestic animals, which is why they’ve committed to adopting or fostering them. The need to worry about who will take care of a puppy during work hours has diminished, now that one’s home also doubles as their place of business.

Pets can also be instrumental in combatting isolation brought about by social distancing and shelter-in-place orders. Wired also spoke with Iris Smolkovic, a psychologist who works with the UK-based assistance dog charity Dogs for Good. Smolkovic explains that interactions with animals come with a number of health benefits, such as reduced heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol, which is also known as the stress hormone. At the same time, being around animals produces feel-good hormones that can regulate our mood.

The happiness animals bring is one of the reasons they are so beloved in households all over the world. The UK, for example, is considered a nation of pet lovers. A survey by Gala Bingo revealed that 82% of the respondents turn to their pets to cheer them up even on a particularly gloomy day. What’s more, 34% of pet owners interviewed like to splurge on their pets by buying them presents on top of their essential needs. The Brits’ love for animals is evident in the sheer number of pet technology that has come out of the country. Some of these pet tech gadgets include dog activity trackers, which is similar to the FitBit watches humans wear, automatic ball launchers for constant entertainment, and HD pet cameras with built in treat dispensers.

But the UK is not the only nation that has noticed the pain points of pet owners. Pre-pandemic, there were already a number of pet tech startups innovating to provide solutions to pet owners everywhere. They were clearly promising as startups received more than $500 million in funding in 2018 alone. Some of the most successful pet tech names are Wag, which is described as the “Uber for dog walkers”, and its competitor, Rover. Startups are also hoping to jump aboard the Internet of Things trend GPS-enabled trackers and smart food bowls are just the start of high-tech solutions to pet care.

For more startup and industry news, browse our blog here.