Fitness With Fur Babies: The Next Health And Wellness Money Hole?

Forget crazy cat ladies — it seems that millennials, as a whole, are crazy pet people. They are not afraid to orient their lives and spending around their “fur babies,” whether that means cooking dinner for their pet, getting a tattoo of its name or face or choosing an apartment, favorite restaurant or bar or even romantic partner based on how pet-friendly they are.

That’s according to a TruPoll survey from November 2017. Nasdaq notes that, as this generation delays having children, many are filling that space instead with a pet, which they refer to as a “fur baby,” and which they spoil as if it were their own child.

Exhibit A? Petco has just launched a fitness partnership with Anna Victoria, wherein fur baby moms and dads can make exercising fun by doing it with their pet.

Don’t be too quick to call it crazy: Some experts are saying that pet workouts will be the new meditation and mindfulness yoga. In other words, fitness with fur babies could balloon into a huge trend that could spawn a whole wave of classes, books, video guides (including subscriptions to providers and channels that host this content) and, of course, products, from pup fitness trackers to matching workout wear.

However, it remains to be seen whether this fad will come to fruition — and if it does, how much Petco and other trendsetters can profit from it. There are, meanwhile, a number of other notable pet techs, products and services that have millennials begging, “Take my money!”

And some of them really do take their money, automatically, every month: repeat deliveries of food and medication, for instance, or subscription services like BarkBox, which sends a monthly surprise kit containing snacks, treats, toys and other doggie goodies.

Even LINK AKC, the fur baby Fitbit — yes, it’s a thing — costs a $10 monthly fee on top of the initial $100 purchase. High-tech collars like this one, as well as certain web-enabled tags, connect to the internet to track dogs’ fitness activity.

A GPS component tracks location, and even ambient temperature of the dog’s location, in the event that Fido wanders off. Such collars and tags are, of course, mobile app-connected and purport to show pet parents how much activity is healthy for their dog.

There are tools for connecting with gig workers who can take the dog for a walk or even dog-sit while owners are out of town. There are tools for monitoring pets’ health and deciding when it’s time for a trip to the vet. There are tools for moving rescue animals out of shelters and into their forever homes.

One mobile app saves dog owners the trouble of finding a good place to walk, dine or hang out (and also the wrenching horror of being parted from their fur babies) by cataloguing dog-friendly environments and establishments in the city. Another lets pet owners in premium apartment buildings book in-home pet care services, including bathing and grooming, as well as more basic tasks like walking and feeding.

Then there are the camera monitors, pet food dispensers and other IoT hardware products. There’s even a single product that does both: Meet Furbo, the Nest Cam for dogs. It includes a two-way radio so users can talk to their dogs remotely and even shoot dog treats upon remote command.

Ridiculous? Who needs it? Apparently, a lot of folks — or at least, a lot of folks think they need it. Furbo raised $500,000 in crowdfunding and now retails for $242.

It’s clear that pet tech, services and partnerships are a growing space with, apparently, nowhere to go but up — if millennials continue on their current trajectory.



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