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Pet food manufacturer, Burgess Pet Care, has teamed up with the largest supplier of vet scales in the UK, Marsden, to conduct a nationwide survey to help identify pet owners’ attitudes towards helping their pets maintain a healthy weight.

According to the manufacturer, pet obesity is a “high concern” of pet care professions and many pet owners are unaware that their pet is overweight, putting their health at severe risk. The nationwide survey will help to examine pet owners’ patterns towards their pets’ diets, picking out the fat cats from the gym bunnies.

Research from the PDSA’s Animal Wellbeing (PAW) 2018 Report found:

  • 40% of dog owners don’t know their pet’s current weight and/or body condition score
  • 53% of cat owners matched images of Body Condition Score 4 (overweight) or 5 (obese) to their cat’s current body shape.
  • 60% of cat owners don’t know their pet’s current weight and/or body condition score
  • 77% of rabbit owners don’t know their pet’s current weight and/or body condition score

Burgess in-house vet Dr Suzanne Moyes said: “Pet obesity is a weighty issue. Being overweight can lead to all manner of health and wellbeing issues – including osteoarthritis, diabetes, cardiac disease and the inability to exhibit natural behaviours.

“We’re really interested in finding out what people know about managing their pets’ weight. The information we uncover will help pet health professionals provide better weight-management support to the UK’s pets and their owners.”

David Smith of Marsden added: “Accurate and regular weighing of both pets and their food is essential to maintain a healthy weight. We also know from working with vets and animal charities, such as Battersea, that people don’t always recognise that their pet is overweight. We’re keen to get people’s opinions on the subject and also to raise awareness of just how important maintaining a healthy weight is for all our pets.”

Whether you have a cat, dog, rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, chinchillas, hamsters, gerbils, degus, rats or mice, Burgess Pet Care and Marsden are requesting pet owners to spare just five minutes to take part in the survey. Anyone entering will be automatically entered into a prize draw to win six months’ supply of Burgess Pet Food of your choice.

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Dog-friendly holiday company PetsPyjamas has partnered with vet advice line PawSquad, to offer 24/7 advice services.

The advice is activated via supplying a booking reference number, and is live for the duration of the visitors stay, and can be managed by PawSquad’s app. The user is them put in contact with a qualified veterinary professional to go over any health issues, and can upload images and participate in a text or video chat.

The complementary service is intended to provide reassurance to pet owners on the go and help avoid an unnecessary and costly emergency trip to the vet, which is normally priced £20 for a one-off online consultation.

Denise Elphick, co-founder, PetsPyjamas said: “Being at the forefront of dog-friendly holidays since 2014, we provide all the barks and whistles of a truly dog-friendly stay. However, as with humans, we understand that dogs can sometimes be under the weather when travelling, which always feels more stressful away from home.

“Our new partnership with PawSquad is designed to give pet owners peace of mind and health expertise in the event of a sick pet, so the family dog included can soon return to R and R and holiday fun.”

Dr Mark Boddy, CEO, PawSquad, added: “Having a vet in your pocket, day and night can be very reassuring. Whether you are enjoying a dog-friendly holiday with PetsPyjamas in the countryside, by the coast, in the UK or abroad, our experienced vet team are ready to answer your concerns.

“You can connect through our website or smartphone app and be talking to a vet within seconds. If your pet has suffered an injury or you are concerned about some unusual behaviour or symptoms, our vets are here with the professional advice and reassurance you need to manage it the right way.”

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Founder of Pet Brand Tatty Head, Felicity Cooper has been named as a Midlands finalist for the Natwest Great British Entrepreneur Awards (GBEA), within the Start-Up Entrepreneur of the Year category.

Tatty Head, which launched at Crufts 2019, is a new Pet Brand created by Cooper who had a vision to bring its dog training aid – Twist ‘N’ Treat – to the market. The product concept was borne when Cooper spotted a gap in the market for a practical dog treat container which would rattle when shaken and dispense treats in a controlled manner.

The Natwest Great British Entrepreneur Awards was founded in 2013 and celebrates entrepreneurship in the United Kingdom.

The 2019 GB Entrepreneur Awards are being held across eight regions: Midlands, Wales, the South West, the North East, the North West, Scotland, Northern Ireland and London and the South East. Tatty Head has been selected as a finalist for the Midlands region.

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Independent Vetcare (IVC) has sponsored British Vets VLGBT+ march in this year’s London Pride.

Amelia Reynolds practice manager at Boness Vets attended to march alongside the BVLGBT+ and to show IVC’s support for the LGBT+ community.

Reynolds said: “It was a privilege and honour to march with BVLGBT+, an amazing group of people. I was proud to represent my community, my profession and my company. Marching in pride isn’t about you, it’s about those who haven’t made it that far yet.

“It’s about taking stock of all that has been achieved and how far the LGBT+ community has come but also how far there still is to go. It’s about being inspired and inspiring others. Above all else it is about love and equality.”

IVC said it promises to:

  • Continue promoting their passion for equality and diversity within IVC and the veterinary industry
  • Become a recognised LGBT+ employer
  • Give support to the LGBT+ community within the company
  • Celebrate equality and diversity
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Over 70 of the pet companies have been short-listed for the 2019 PetQuip Awards, which will be given out during a gala dinner at PATS, Telford. 

For the first time a number of overseas entries were received for the various product categories, reflecting the international scope of the PATS Telford trade show and recognition of the ‘benefits’ of winning a PetQuip award.

Pat Flynn, PetQuip’s trade association manager, said: “Ticket sales for the awards’ dinner started much earlier than usual, as more and more applicants are requesting to be seated with friends or customers from the industry at this entertaining, networking event.  

“As part of the evening’s attraction, the casino tables will be there by popular demand again and the appearance of a table magician will be one of the extra fun elements to be introduced this year. Competition for the awards in all eight categories promises to be fierce, which will make for a very exciting evening while providing a true reflection of the UK’s vibrant pet industry.”

The finalists will be judged on 8 August by an independent panel of pet retailers and marketing analysts.

The finalists for the 2019 PetQuip Awards are:

Merchandising Expertise

ChickenGuard

Fold Hill Foods

Henry and Co

Lucky and Prince

Natures Menu

Paw Naturel

Exporter of the Year

ChickenGuard

Fish4Dogs

Hero Pet Brands

Little Big Paw

Natures Menu

Nutriment

Paw Naturel

Peak Pet Products

Symply Pet Foods

Marketing Project of the Year

Beaphar

Burgess

Fold Hill Foods

Forthglade

Henry and Co

Henry Wag

Highfields Health

Hownd

Paw Naturel

Wild Wash

Pet Product of the Year

Three categories:

1) Food/Treats/Health :

Dogs

Benyfit Natural

Billy + Margot

Fold Hill Foods

GWF Nutrition

Henry and Co

Innocent Pet Care

JR Pet Products

Lucky & Prince

Natures Menu

Nutriment

Pawfect Foods

Pedigree Wholesale

Pet Munchies

PetCo

Only an Ocean

Rocketo

R and R Products

Symply Pet Foods

Wilsons Pet Food

Cats

Blink Cat Food

Burgess

Little Big Paw

PetCo

2) Accessories/Technical:

All about Pets

Beaphar

Beco Pets

Collarways

Danish Designs

GHS Direct

Henry Wag

Hot Dog Pet Products

Hownd

Peak Pet Products

Pedigree Wholesale

Pets and Pods

Only an Ocean

Sure Petcare

Tigga Towers

Trespaws

Tropiclean

3) Small Animals:

ChickenGuard

HayPigs

UK Pet Retailer of the Year

Henry and Co Dog Boutique, Arbroath

Cat Tree UK – online retailer

Just for Pets, pet store chain, nationwide

Mutt and Co Pet Boutique, Hartlepool

Redpaw Pet Supplies, Plympton

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A vet at Wombourne and Gornal Veterinary Centres has been helping raise the public’s awareness of Lungworm, following a recent case that was very nearly fatal for a family’s pet dog.

Vet Kal Kyuranov MRCVS appeared on BBC regional news programme Midlands Tonight to help highlight “how nasty lungworm is but how simple it is to protect your pets from it”.

When Kyruanov examined the dog called Bear, it was clear that he was ill and his stomach was full of fluid and blood. He needed an emergency operation to drain it. During the emergency operation, he realised that Bear had a serious lungworm infestation.

Lungworm (Angiostrongylus vasorum) is a parasitic worm that can be carried by dogs and foxes. Despite its name, the lungworm parasite resides in the heart and blood vessels of an infected animal where it lays eggs that get carried to the lungs. If a dog becomes infected, it can make them very ill and, quite often, proves to be fatal.

Kyuranov said: “I am very grateful that Bear survived and that I have been able to help raise awareness of Lungworm risks in our area I will continue to promote the prevention of this horrible disease.”

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Pet product manufacturer Rosewood Pet Products has launched its pet collection range with clothing retailer Joules. 

The collection consists of three ranges:

  • Floral, featuring pet beds, mattresses and travel mats in Joules’ ‘Bircham Bloom’ floral print.
  • Coastal, a host of nautical inspired designs, featuring a range of collars and leads, dog toys and showerproof coats. The range includes a coat designed to match the renowned Joules Coast Jacket.
  • Heritage, the country-inspired collection, featuring tweed mattresses and beds and plush toys.

Bev Panter, marketing director, Rosewood Pet Products, said: “We’re thrilled to be collaborating with Joules to launch a one of a kind pet range for dogs. At Rosewood we understand that pets truly are part of the family, and we’re excited to introduce our customers to the new collections which feature Joules’ iconic use of colour and print.

“The partnership creates a stylish and durable collection that not only looks good but will withstand everything a dog’s life throws at it.”

Josie Will, licensing manager, Joules, added: “We’re delighted to have partnered with Rosewood Pet Products to further our lifestyle offering, bringing our customers and their furry friends the collection they’ve been waiting for! Rosewood’s expertise coupled with Joules’ stand-out designs and unique prints, have created the ultimate must-have collection.”

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In 1860, when James Spratt created the first dog biscuit brand, which contained a mix of wheat, vegetables, beetroot, and “the dried, unsalted, gelatinous parts of prairie beef”, he unwittingly pioneered a category now worth £17bn a year in the UK. His biscuits were expensive, and wisely targeted at the ‘English gentlemen’ who could afford them.

The first canned dog food appeared in 1922, and by the 40s held 90% of the market. Predominantly made from and marketed as ‘lean, red meat’, it was most likely from horses bred purely for this purpose. Dry kibble was introduced in 1956, adopting manufacturing processes developed by the cereal industry. This gained momentum during the 60s and 70s, with competing brands continuously developing new varieties and flavours to attract and retain a fast growing base of domestic dog owners.

By the late 70s, things had plateaued to the point where a bowl of Pedigree Chum and a trusty Boneo constituted a balanced diet. The fact that dogs might not actually enjoy a cylindrical tower of mass-produced meat chunks suspended in a dubious, quivering jelly that remained upright even when cut in half – followed by a dry, bone-shaped lump of savoury concrete – wasn’t really considered… because “top breeders recommend it”!

Oh, how things have changed. Today, this nation of animal lovers – enlightened to its own nutritional needs and preferences – has projected on its pet population a similar discerning taste, and some arguably use their four-legged friends to reflect their own lifestyle choices. But it’s no bad thing to want ‘accessory’ pets to enjoy a comparable quality of food, and it’s certainly been a boon for their health.

They seem to be enjoying a far higher standard of living in other respects, too, with owners spending over £750m on their furry companions over Christmas 2018, and £210m this Valentine’s Day. Pet-friendly cupcakes are now as mainstream as chewies and catnip, and there is even Pawsecco, a still rosé ‘wine’ for cats and dogs. Just when you wonder what they’ll think of next…

With ‘dog food’ as well as owners’ own diets, they’re increasingly aware of the important nutritional differences between the mass-produced and highly processed varieties and the fresh, real stuff. And it’s no surprise that the more they learn, the higher the proliferation of premium and health-focused dog food brands on the market. After, all, as Lily’s Kitchen CEO Henrietta Morrison quite rightly points out: “Pets are family and we want to do the very best for them.”

Accordingly, messages of responsible resourcing, and natural and organic ingredients, are increasingly prominent in brand and pack design for pet food – and often displayed in ways that more closely resemble a stroll down a Waitrose deli aisle than a trip to Pets at Home.

So customers are beginning to enjoy a more sophisticated and humanised approach to branding, for a higher quality of dog foods. However, as is often the case in the early stages of consumer awareness and changes in buying decisions, the market is suddenly flooded with hastily put-together packaging that – like the image of dog food it’s trying to put behind it – is fairly homogeneous, and uninspiring.

Many of the tired clichés and familiar category design cues remain. From hundreds of more-or-less identical bags, boxes and plastic pouches featuring paw-print icons, the usual puppies tilt their heads, inviting us to play while pleading for our love and attention with big soppy eyes. Then there are the ‘serious’ nutritional expert brands, the medical speciality products, and the breed-specific diets that tend to over-egg the science and authority, and suggest that anything but their take on canine nutrition is tantamount to cruelty.

En masse, this is far from seductive or reassuring – particularly for the new dog owner, for whom it can be pretty confusing and overwhelming. Nor does it do much to appeal to lifestyle, or the lifelong relationships they’re looking to build with their dogs – and with the brands they entrust to nourish and delight them.

So, what if we were to look at it differently? What if we took a longer view, and focused on how companies need to make and market products that reflect lifestyle and help build these relationships, instead of using the default cheeky puppy and stern scientist angles to secure sales?

Actually, let’s take it a step further… what if Harvey Nicks and Harrods entered the ‘canine meal’ market, and advertised in Tatler? Surely their products – their messaging, design and packaging as well as their ingredients and provenance – would reflect and appeal to the aspirations of the affluent pet owners, and be less concerned about communicating what we already know (ie. that dogs can be cute and need feeding). In all likeliness, they’d focus on the wider fineries and rewarding experiences of dog ownership, and on the best ‘cuisine experience’ for the dog – in terms of quality and taste, and the nutritional aspects that ensure health and vitality.

While we’re at it, why not commission award-winning chefs to create delicious ‘pour-over sauces’ to transform pretty monotonous bowls of healthy kibbles into a variety of tasty gourmet dishes guaranteed to makes canine mouths water? Or produce ‘tasty toppings’ to sprinkle on wet food for a healthy combination of enjoyment and nutritional benefit.

How about a range involving marinades, so an owner can design, prepare and create the ultimate treats for their dog, from their own choice cuts of meat and fish? Isn’t it about time we acknowledged our canine companions’ desire and need for variety and nutrition, and brought them into the ‘foody’ side of life us humans have embraced so heartily?

Of course, this all makes sense. But for it to be a success, the branding and messaging has to move on, big time. Let’s leave the lazy and tired traditional cues and packaging formats behind, and upset the market with themes as yet unexplored by pet care brands. Let’s communicate gourmet quality experiences that man’s best friend will love us all the more for, and use language more akin to restaurant talk than the meaningless ‘tasty chunks’ or ‘meaty goodness’. We need to aim at a more discerning class of pet owner, because that’s what all pet owners would prefer to be.

Admittedly, there will always be a huge market for dog food at ‘affordable prices’, and it will likely remain the mainstay of the domestic canine’s diet. However, at Brown&co we see a highly lucrative niche opportunity yet to be explored by mainstream pet care brands, or by an entrepreneurial visionary…

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Pet food retailer Fish4Dogs has donated three-tons worth of dog food to Birmingham Dogs Home (BDH), equivalent to 16,000 meals.

Unpacked by volunteers, it has been stored in a purpose-built container to maintain its 18-month shelf life while drawn down for use across its two centres that can home a combined total of 230 dogs at any one time.

The dry food has been used in packing trials to test quality assurance for stacking and transportation processes in the lead up to the company’s brand refresh later in the year.

BDH has been operating for 127 years and has rescued over 2,700 dogs and rehomed in the region of 1600 of them in new and loving forever homes.

Graham Smith, Fish4Dogs, CEO, said: “We have worked closely with Birmingham Dogs Home for some time now and know that the average cost of looking after each dog equates to more than £700.

“Some dogs will require greater care and attention than others, they may have a longer road to recovery and we want to give them the best possible start with a food which incorporates essential nutrients to assist recovery while being gentle for those recovering from illness or infirmity.”

Giles Webber, chief executive, BDH, added: “It is our long-held wish that one day there will be no need for a centre like ours and that through education and information, the generations to come will have a greater desire to cherish their canine companions.

“We are delighted that Fish4Dogs are on that journey with us. In addition, to the practical benefits that its food will give to the dogs in our care, we are united by a commitment to support animal welfare and ensure that every dog gets its chance to lead its best life.”

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Peak Pet Products has announced the addition of two new PetWeighter bowls.

Designed to complement stylish modern interiors, the PetWeighter Pearly White and the PetWeighter Platinum are available now at a suggested retail price of £24.99.

Thanks to feedback from PetWeighter customers from the UK and USA, the British company has created these two brand new subtle shades to add real style to any contemporary home environment.

Launched in 2016, PetWeighter is an “innovative” product that features a unique design to prevent spills and mess that can often result from an ‘ever-moving’ food or drinking bowl. It also ensures a constant supply of water.

The two-part PetWeighter comprises a removable bowl on top of a base that can be filled with sand, water or a combination of the two. This means that the high-strength, food-grade plastic bowl will not move when a dog nudges it – and stops the container and contents from travelling across the kitchen or garden.

PetWeighter pearly white and platinum come with a complementary dark grey base. The product is also available in red, turquoise blue, pale pink or hot pink with a mid-grey base.

Rob Peacock, owner of Peak Pet Products, said: “We’ve been blown away by the popularity of our existing colour range, but we listened to feedback from our customers around the world, who were seeking bowls to match their neutral kitchen and utility room designs. We recognise that greys and natural tones have become more fashionable in recent years, and have answered their wishes with the Pearly White and Platinum shades.”

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