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Reigning Cats and Dogs: the Rise of Pet Tech



Reigning Cats and Dogs: the Rise of Pet Tech

Americans’ love for pets is increasing in leaps and bounds. As more consumers – especially Boomers and millennials – add four-legged family members, they are spending at a fur-ocious pace. More than $100B was spent on pets in 2017, and this number is estimated to increase by more than 50 percent over the next five years (Euromonitor International)!  And, we’re not just talking about kibble and chew toys – pet parents are investing in smart, tech solutions that make pet ownership easier, safer and healthier. Given the spending potential, it’s worth taking note and considering what this means.  

At Michelson Found Animals Foundation, we’re fascinated by the evolving pet tech industry and the way it is catering to the needs of pets and their humans. So, we commissioned a survey of 1,000 dog and cat owners to dig into this topic. Not surprisingly, we found that as humans become more tech-connected themselves, it is extending to their pets as well.

From voice assistants to smart appliances to lights that can be controlled by your phone, it’s not surprising that most American houses have become “smart homes;” the study found that 61 percent of pet owners have at least one form of smart technology in their homes. And, this extends to their pets: more than half (56 percent) say they have special tech just for Fido or Fluffy. Here are a few areas that entrepreneurs are wise to consider:

Help pet parents prioritize pet’s health

More than half of the pet parents surveyed say technology gives them a greater sense of their pet’s wellbeing, with almost a quarter using health and nutrition apps and more than one fifth using pet servicing apps. Health is the biggest motivator for pet tech – almost half use technology for general health maintenance, while more than a third use it to help with nutritional needs and a fifth to help look after a sick or elderly pet.

Provide peace of mind

Tech allows owners to keep a closer eye on their furry friend – almost eight-in-ten pet parents with pet tech use it for tracking or monitoring, including microchips (60 percent), cameras (22 percent) or tracking devices (20 percent). And, more than half of those surveyed are interested in getting a pet tracking device, while 40 percent want to purchase a pet monitoring camera.

Let them say goodbye to guilt

Nearly 3-in-4 pet parents admit that they feel guilty when leaving their pets alone, something unavoidable for those who work outside the home. Technology can provide the ability to connect with pets and alleviate this guilt, and a third of pet owners find this to be a big benefit. Of those who feel guilty, 61 percent say pet tech gives them a greater sense of their pet’s security and wellbeing. From cameras to treat dispensers, pet parents are also using smart tech to entertain their pets when they aren’t there; 43 percent of those with voice assistants use them to play audiobooks or music for their pets.

Life is busy, make things easier

Pet parents are using smart tech for reminders to give their pets medications (36 percent), to feed their pets (35 percent), schedule vet appointments (43 percent) and book pet sitters or walkers (25 percent).  And, more than half said they were interested in purchasing an automatic smart feeder, while 40 percent said they wanted a smart pet door.

Overall, tech is enhancing the lives of pet parents – forty percent say technology helps them provide the best care for their pet, and almost as many (38 percent) say it helps them be a better pet parent. The opportunity is massive, with one in four pet parents admitting they spend more on tech for their pets than for themselves.

Aimee Gilbreath joined Michelson Found Animals in March 2008 as its first full-time employee and Executive Director. She has been responsible for developing and implementing the Foundation’s wide range of innovative programs. Under her leadership the Foundation has grown to over 70 staff members and 500+ volunteers. Found Animals’ programs focus on sterilization, microchipping, and adoption as key levers to reduce shelter intake and euthanasia and span from traditional philanthropy to social enterprise. In addition to providing funding to local spay/neuter non-profits, the Foundation also administers the Michelson Prize and Grants program to encourage development of non-surgical sterilization products. Found Animals provides affordable microchips and scanners, along with a state-of-the-art universal registry, to shelters and clinics nationwide. In Los Angeles, the foundation operates two retail adoption centers that adopt 3,000 shelter pets per year as well as a kitten foster program. Gilbreath is a former management consultant with significant experience leading teams to solve business problems for Fortune 500 clients. She holds an M.B. and a B.S. in Molecular Biology. She’s currently the loving pet parent of her pitbull Rufus.