Getting My Feet Wet

As I mentioned in my last letter, I’m in the planning stages of setting up my first saltwater tank. My eventual goal is to have a mini reef tank with corals, clams, fish and other interesting and beautiful organisms.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and talking to marine tank keepers so I will know what I’m doing before I take the plunge. It’s interesting to me to be in the role of beginning pet keeper because it’s been a long time since I’ve had that experience. I’m really grateful to the folks who have been sharing their knowledge with me. I’m especially happy I found the Reef2Reef community. Their forum and Facebook feed is full of knowledgeable, friendly and helpful people who always have time to help beginners.

As you can imagine, I was excited about Joe Olenick’s article on reef livestock this month. He gives a good primer on the common, hardy and interesting animals that are in-demand by reef keepers. If your store is new to the reef scene, you’re sure to get a lot out of it. Even if you are a diehard reef shop, Joe’s piece is worth your time.

On a more somber note, I’ve found the recent reports of widespread bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef distressing. Bleaching occurs when water temperatures rise and corals lose the algae that gives them their dazzling colors. The corals turn white, hence the name. The problem is that the corals depend on those algae for food. Bleached corals are usually dead corals. As global temperatures rise, these terrible events will grow more frequent, endangering the survival of reefs.

Can the pet industry help out? I think it can.

The trade in marine life is often thought of as harmful to the environment, but it doesn’t have to be. Demand for marine animals provides local income from the natural reef, which is incentive to preserve it. Several aquatic products companies – including (but not limited to) Boyd Enterprises, Ecotech Marine, Cobalt Aquatics, and Piscine Energetics – have helped sponsor the Coral Restoration Foundation, which plants corals on reefs in the Florida Keys. A new company, Biota Aquariums, will soon be launching a sustainable saltwater tank kit suitable for beginners. Now that so many coral keepers are fragging their corals, there’s even the possibility that home aquarists could provide corals to conservation programs.

I’d love to see more partnerships between pet companies and conservation organizations. We can all work together to help the animals we love.

Tom Mazorlig

Get Crabby

Hermit crabs are perennial favorites in the pet industry. Their cute appearance, ease of care and interesting behaviors make them popular pets, especially for families with young children.

Despite these attributes, the popularity of hermit crabs does not appear to be growing, according to Paul Manger, manager at Florida Marine Research, one of the largest suppliers of hermit crabs and hermit crab products.

“The popularity of hermit crabs has been in equilibrium for the past three years,” Manger said.

As for possible reasons for this stasis, Manger cites “the cautious attitude of the consumer and the lack of child bearing within the millennial generation.”

Crab Central
While the demand for hermit crabs may not be growing, there are still plenty of crab enthusiasts out there, which makes having a hermit crab section worthwhile.

“This is a very niche market; however, there is a large consumer base, so I recommend that all pet retailers dedicate a space to hermit crabs,” said Josh Panos, national sales assistant manager for Zoo Med. “Hermit crabs are very affordable and easy to maintain, making one the perfect pet for a beginner hobbyist.”

“It is a fun and affordable hobby that the whole family can enjoy,” Panos said. “Zoo Med offers a wide variety of shells, from glow-in-the-dark to decorative in all different shapes and sizes, which adds to the excitement by giving consumers options and customizable features.”

Manger recommends creating a hermit crab end cap.

“An effective way to merchandise our crabs would be utilizing an end cap,” Manger said. “The objective is to have all the products in one area in order for the customer to see the complete unit, which can be taken home and all of the products available for the crab’s comfort. Hermit crabs in numbers large enough to create a perception of activity will create great sales for the livestock.”

Crabby Comforts
Along with the crabs themselves, Florida Marine Research offers a complete range of products for their care. These include additional shells in their natural form, as well as shells painted with a variety of designs. The company also sells the crabs in natural shells and painted shells. Some varieties available include shells that look like clowns, hats, football helmets, fish, fruit, turtles and more.

One aspect of crab care that can be overlooked is their need for heat.

“The critical element for a crab’s longevity is heat,” Manger said. “Temperatures of 72-75 degrees Fahrenheit are an acceptable range.”

Because of the crabs’ temperature needs, include thermometers – such as those offered by Florida Marine Research or Zoo Med – in the hermit crab section. Retailers should also stock a few products for keeping the crabs warm. One example is Zoo Med’s Hermit Crab Heater. This self-adhesive heating pad sticks under the enclosure. It is safe for plastic crab habitats.

Although crabs enjoy warm temperatures, they can become overheated, too. Manger has a suggestion for helping with this problem.

“As the temperature rises in the crab home, air flow is needed,” he said. “Without this airflow, a respiratory problem will develop. The remedy for the heat problem is to place the home in a cooler area or place an air pump into the crab habitat. Plugging the hose [end] and creating a small hole in the hose will force air into the crab home.”

Zoo Med is bringing a whole new look to hermit crabs and their accessories with glow-in-the-dark products.

“We recently introduced a whole new hermit crab product line that glows in the dark,” Panos said. “We now offer a Glow in the Dark Hermit Crab Kit, water bowls, cage furniture, cleaning accessories and even Hermit Crab Glow in the Dark shells. It now makes night time viewing of these little critters very enjoyable and fun for the whole family.”

Zoo Med and Florida Marine Research also offer non-glowing complete hermit crab kits for customers who prefer a more traditional habitat appearance.

Food and Drink
Hermit crabs have a reputation for eating just about anything, but they still need a complete and nutritious diet.

Florida Marine Research offers Land Hermit Crab Food in two sizes to provide crabs with proper nutrition. The company also has a Land Hermit Crab Treat. Zoo Med offers hermit crab foods in both dry and canned formulas.

Hermit crabs require both fresh water and salt water to drink. Retailers must inform crab owners of this, as well as telling them that adding table salt to water does not create suitable salt water for the crabs. To create appropriate salt water for hermit crabs, owners can use Zoo Med’s Hermit Crab Salt Conditioner. It adds salt and calcium to the water to ensure the health of hermit crabs. It also removes harmful chlorine from tap water.

While hermit crabs are long lived and easy to care for, their needs for additional shells, appropriate food, salt water and other specific habitat requirements provide the retailer with significant sales opportunities.

Road Dogs

Summer is getting underway and that means a lot of people are setting off on summer vacations. These days, more and more vacationers are taking their pets with them. As part of the pet humanization trend, Fido gets to take a vacation, too.

To go along with an uptick in the number of people who travel with their pets—for vacation or other outings—pet companies are producing more products to make traveling with pets a better experience for both pet and owner.

Our cover story has the details on these products, as well as some other information on the people and pets that take to the road.

Aside from the travel-related products that your store can stock, how does the traveling pet trend affect your store? I have some ideas, but I’d also like to hear it from your perspective. How do you help your customers who are traveling with their pets? Send us an email or drop us a note via social media if you’ve got some good ideas.

Traveling with pets almost always actually means “traveling with dogs.” Other pets tend to stay home when their families get out and about. There definitely are people who travel with cats and birds (not so much small mammals, reptiles or fish, for obvious reasons), but they are more the exception than the rule. Does your store offer pet sitting or pet boarding to those owners? Or have you partnered with such a service so you can provide a referral to your customers?

What am I doing this summer?

I’m glad you asked. Aside from SuperZoo and P3—you’re going to those right?—I’m going to be starting with a whole new pet project. By the end of the summer or maybe early fall, I’ll be setting up a saltwater tank for the first time. It’s been a long time since I’ve tried keeping pets I know so little about. There’s a lot to learn before acquiring any pet, and marine organisms require more research than most. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on fish and corals and the equipment they need.

I feel lucky that the marine hobby show Reef-a-Palooza is happening relatively close to the Pet Age office at the end of June. I’m looking forward to attending, learning a lot and seeing all the cool animals. I’m excited to meet other marine hobbyists and get ideas for my own tank. Maybe I’ll see you there, too.

Save travels!

Tom Mazorlig

Beyond the Bowl

Food and water bowls for reptiles would seem to be a static category. They just need to provide a place for the pet to obtain nourishment and hydration. However, more companies are rethinking the tried-and-true bowls to offer keepers and their pets more interesting options.

Hobbyists vary on what they want in food and water bowls.

“Bowls are basic items that every pet owner needs,” said Terry Shaw, manager at Fish-N-Pets Unlimited in Houston. “You always need to have enough of them in stock and have a variety. A lot of keepers go with the cheapest ones, but plenty of others want the bowls to fit the look of the setup.”

Back to Nature

“Many hobbyists want their pets’ food and water bowls to blend in with the other items in cage,” Shaw said. “Ones that look like they’re made of rock or wood sell pretty well.”
Manufacturers offer a wide range of bowls to fulfill this desire for a natural look.

The Zilla Terrarium Dish line from Central Garden and Pet fits perfectly into various herp habitats. The bowls have a shallow rim for the pet’s easy access. The ceramic finish makes them easier to clean than natural surfaces.

The Zilla Terraced Dish combines a natural look with small steps allowing pets to climb in and out easily to access food or water. According to the company’s website, it is particularly useful for turtles and tortoises. The finish is easy to clean and is bacteria resistant. The wide base prevents tipping.

Repta Bowls from Fluker’s provide a rock-like look and are available in five sizes and several colors.

The Castle Crib, also from Fluker’s, provides for three of a reptile’s needs in one compact item. It has a bowl, a hiding place and a basking platform. It is available in two sizes and has a rocklike appearance that will suit most terrarium décor.

When it comes to feeding, there are options other than bowls. Some items provide food for reptiles that better match the way they obtain food in nature.

Zoo Med Arboreal Food Clips provide owners a way to feed leafy greens to tree-dwelling lizards, such as iguanas, veiled chameleons and bearded dragons. They can also be used to elevate food to provide a change of foraging for ground-dwelling leaf eaters, including tortoises and uromastyx lizards.

The Zoo Med Mealworm Feeder is an elevated container with small holes in the bottom, allowing mealworms to fall out slowly. This gives insect-eating pets an opportunity to hunt individual insects. Many pets will learn that the Feeder provides delicious bugs and eagerly wait for them.

For insect-eating herps that live up in branches or rock walls, Hagen offers the Exo Terra Canopy Worm Dish. An adhesive clip fastens this bowl to the terrarium glass. The escape-proof bowl holds mealworms or similar feeder insects above the enclosure floor, providing the pet with a more natural feeding experience.

Running Water

Reptile hobbyists can also meet their pets’ water needs in a more natural fashion with some the products now available.

According to the company’s website, “Zoo Med’s Drippers simulate natural rainfall and provide humidity for captive reptiles. The Dripper has a folding handle lid that allows you to suspend it above the enclosure. Especially helpful for animals that do not readily drink standing water and instead drink “dew” from leaves (i.e. Old World Chameleons).” The Drippers are available in two sizes.

For hobbyists that keep reptiles that need dripping water to drink and want something that looks nice in the enclosure, the Exo Terra Dripper Plant fits the bill. The included pump circulates water from the reservoir up to the top of the realistic plant so it drips down the leaves. The moving water stimulates arboreal reptiles to drink.

Another option for reptiles that prefer to drink moving water is the new Exo Terra Reptile Fountain. Water cascades from the top down the faux stone structure enticing reptiles to drink.

According to Hagen’s website, “the Exo Terra Reptile Fountain is easy-to-maintain, as it consists of only two pieces that can easily be dismantled for cleaning purposes. An Exo Terra Repti Flo pump is included to provide water circulation.”

Other Options

Not every hobbyist wants realistic water and food bowls. Some prefer them to stand out from the décor of the cage or to match a theme of unrealistic looking décor.

For those hobbyists, Zoo Med’s Glo-Bowls might be just what they are looking for–they glow in the dark. Glo-Bowls are combo food and water bowls that nest together for convenience. They have a low profile for easy access by the pet and a smooth, easily cleaned surface.

It’s no secret that reptiles can make a mess in their water bowls. Keeping the water safe and hygienic for the pet can be a chore.

K-Rex Kleanbowl from Kinn, Inc., addresses this issue. The bowl holds an eco-friendly, biodegradable inner bowl. When the bowl gets soiled, the inner bowl can be thrown away and replaced with a fresh one. The package contains three inner bowls and refill packs are available.

Zen and the Art of Pet Products

Pet Age’s Tom Mazorlig spoke with Chad Gibson, co-founder of Zen Pet, about the company’s beginnings, its quality standards and the working relationship with his sister, Zen Pet co-founder Jen Barelli.

Tom Mazorlig: Can you tell me about how you started Zen Pet?

Chad Gibson: In college, in 2000 roughly, we created a company called G & B Marketing. We had one particular product called the IV Stabilizer. It’s a splint for IV treatment for veterinary use. We created that—and we still do—and that’s what got my foot in the door on distribution on the vet side. We tried adding some new products every couple of years along the way. The product that put us on the map was the Pro Collar. That was picked up by Petco and PetSmart over 10 years ago.

Five years ago, we were approached by a Canadian company called Contech Enterprises. They were an acquisition-based company that would buy smaller guys like us, and we sold to them. My sister and I worked for this company for four years and doubled the business in four years. However, they added a bad acquisition in lawn and garden, closed up shop and went bankrupt. We were in a mad-dash scramble to capture all of our accounts. In doing so, we got our IPs back at pennies on the dollar and opened our doors back up under Zen Pet.

Zen Pet brand has been in the market for close to three years now. It’s been a rollercoaster ride for the last five years.

Tom: What is your process for ensuring high standards of product quality?

Chad: Part of our strategy is to work very closely with our manufacturer. Our manufacturer is actually one of our best friends; he’s in Tijuana, Mexico. We are able to strictly monitor our quality control standards because it’s so close. The factory is only an hour away from us. Quality control and proximity to our manufacturing is huge in the sense that if we see any types of problems in materials or in feedback from our customers, we are able to adjust our product in general or the quality of the materials. We don’t have to wait for a very long lead time like others do when they source in China.

Tom: Zen Pet creates products for both the veterinary and pet space. What are the challenges you face producing items for both of those markets? How does that work for Zen Pet as a company?

Chad: One of the most important aspects of being in the veterinary channel is that you gain recognition and recommendations by the veterinarians themselves. That is huge for us because we can go to the retail accounts and multi-chain accounts and say we have all this distribution and recommendation from the vet side. However, not all veterinarians like to sell hard goods. That’s where we do have a little bit of a barrier in the vet channel. But our veterinary sales keep on growing and growing.

Tom: Do you think there’s a trend of pet stores carrying more products that used to be thought of as more strictly veterinary products?

Chad: I see pet stores carrying a lot more products that are tailored to solutions, like health and wellness products. That’s what we specialize in. Do I see a lot more products from the veterinary channel coming into retail? Yes. The hardest part is packaging it properly so the customer realizes what the benefits are.

Tom: You own Zen Pet with your sister, Jen Barelli. What’s it like working so closely with a family member?

Chad: We’ve been working very closely for many years. We’ll put boxing gloves on here and there, but for the most part we work very well together. It’s nice because if I miss something or she misses something she tends to notice or I tend to notice, and we’ll pick each other up from that. It’s kind of like having a duplicate of yourself, which everybody would love to have. Of course, we have our differences on some issues but we’ve come to terms with each other. I’m comfortable with her decisions and she’s also comfortable with mine.

Tom: What’s your typical day like?

Chad: We come in to the office and we brief each other on what orders have shipped, who needs to ship any account updates. That usually leads into sales and marketing calls. Everything in sales, marketing and account management filters through either Jen or myself. We also deal with customer service calls, which we are going to be expanding and bringing someone in to help us on that. We are both on QuickBooks online, which makes it very easy to handle all business activity, even if we are on the road. Lastly, we tend to check in with our warehouse a couple times a day. We do visit our warehouse twice weekly.

Tom: What new things can we expect to see from Zen Pet in the near future?

Chad: We are very close to getting national distribution in independent pet stores. We’re rebranding two of our products. Zen Cone is kind of a hybrid of a soft cone and a plastic cone. The other one is Tick Tornado. It’s in a two pack at a good price point.

Good Dog Foundation Held Fifth Fundraising Gala, Honored Planet Dog in New York

The Good Dog Foundation held its fifth fundraising gala on May 17 at Gustavino’s in New York City.

The event also honored Planet Dog and the Planet Dog Foundation for donating to The Good Dog Foundation, as well as other nonprofit organizations that foster human-canine well-being and healing.

The evening started with a cocktail reception and silent auction to benefit The Good Dog Foundation. This was followed by a dinner, an award presentation to Planet Dog and a live auction.

Unleashed by Petco was the Signature Host of the gala. It provided a “fetching” bar with treats, toys, digital photo booth, and primping station for the more than 30 certified therapy dogs and their human partners who were in attendance

Award-winning actor and star of the Broadway play “Sylvia” Robert Sella hosted the event. After some witty opening remarks, he introduced Rachel McPherson, founder of the Good Dog Foundation, highlighting her ground-breaking efforts to foster understanding among doctors and staff of the usefulness of therapy dogs in a hospital setting.

“Rachel and the Good Dog Foundation are globally recognized for their success in finding, training and placing therapy dogs,” Sella said. “Rachel was involved with the use of therapy dogs in some of our darkest days, including 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, the Boston Marathon bombing and in Newtown, Connecticut.”

“I fell in love with Planet Dog 15 years ago,” McPherson said. “Alex [Fisher] founded Planet Dog to make beautiful eco-friendly pet products. We are so impressed with this company.”McPherson thanked everyone – including Good Dog Foundation staff and trainers – for their support and talked about why Good Dog Foundation honored Planet Dog.

McPherson said that Planet Dog donates two percent of sales to the Planet Dog Foundation, which funds organizations providing and training dogs to serve as therapy dogs, guide dogs, search and rescue dogs, and medical alert dogs.

“It’s not a giant company, but it has a giant impact and a great big heart,” McPherson said.

There was a short video about Planet Dog founder Alex Fisher, the company and the Planet Dog Foundation, and then McPherson introduced Fisher and Colleen McCracken and presented the award.

“This award belongs to the people behind Planet Dog and the Planet Dog Foundation,” Fisher said. Referring to the partnership with the Good Dog Foundation, Fisher said, “Though both of our organizations are coming up on 20 years, I think we both agree our work has just begun.”

McCracken told Pet Age, “We are thrilled to be acknowledged by the Good Dog Foundation. It’s an amazing therapy dog program that we’ve been involved with for years. I’m humbled by the honor. Our founder, Alex, is from New York so we’re especially thrilled to have this happen here.”

After the award there was a video presentation featuring the work of the Good Dog Foundation at the Bendheim Cancer Center in Greenwich, Connecticut.

A live auction to benefit the Good Dog Foundation followed. Auction items included a five night stay in Paris and an original signed illustration by Maurice Sendak donated by the Maurice Sendak Foundation.


Healthier Herps

With the growing popularity of reptile and amphibian pets, there are more pet owners than ever before who are concerned about the proper nutrition of these exotic animals. Pet product manufacturers have responded to this concern by offering a widening range of dietary supplements for herps. There are also more products to combat mites and other external problems.

Vitamins, Minerals and More

Supplements are an important part of the husbandry of most reptiles and amphibians because the diets of pets are often lacking in one nutrient or another.

The JurassiPet Reptile line from Seachem Laboratories offers a full range of reptile products that includes nutritional supplements.

“They are based on sound science and research, providing only the highest quality ingredients on the market,” said Trevor MacLean, national director of sales and support at Seachem Laboratories.

“Calcium and additional vitamins are critical to a reptile’s health, so we offer several supplements that meet those needs,” MacLean said. “JurassiVite is the only reptile/amphibian vitamin/mineral supplement that provides all 14 essential vitamins and 17 trace and ultra-trace minerals recommended by herpetological experts.”

According to MacLean, calcium is of particular importance, especially in regards to its relationship to phosphorus.

“A common issue that occurs in many reptiles is metabolic bone disease (MBD),” MacLean said. “Too much or too little calcium; too much phosphorous; too little or too much vitamin D3, too little UVB; too little protein or a combination of these factors generally causes MBD. All of which can be avoided with the proper supplementation and providing your reptile with a clean environment.”

“Our calcium supplement, JurassiCal, is available as a powder or liquid form that is extremely concentrated and does not contain phosphorous or vitamin D3. Herbivorous and carnivorous diets are frequently calcium deficient and phosphorous rich, thus having a calcium supplement containing phosphorous is of no benefit.”

Several other companies also offer a range of supplements for reptiles and amphibians.

Zoo Med makes ReptiVite in two formulas: with and without vitamin D3. According to Zoo Med’s website ReptiVite is “a complete vitamin, mineral and amino acid complex specifically formulated for reptiles” and was “originally developed for the San Diego Zoo to correct soft-shell problems in turtles.”

Zoo Med’s Repti Calcium is also available with and without vitamin D3. Both are ultrafine, phosphorus-free powders of precipitated calcium carbonate.

Repashy Superfoods manufactures several supplements that match specific dietary needs. The RescueCal+ is a calcium supplement designed especially for reptiles already suffering from a calcium or vitamin D deficiency. It can be dissolved in water for easy usage and, according to the company’s website, is the only calcium supplement to contain magnesium.

Other items in the Repashy line include the SuperCal calcium supplements, available with four different levels of vitamin D, HyD, MeD, LoD and NoD; SuperVite, a complete multivitamin and multimineral powder; and SuperPig, a carotenoid formula that brightens the pigmentation of reptiles to help them show off their best colors.

For keepers of horned lizards and other ant-eating specialists, Repashy Superfoods made Formic Cal Plus. This is a calcium supplement with added calcium formate that would be provided by feeding on ants in nature.

Reptiles that are breeding, sick or newly acquired may stop eating for some time. This can be detrimental to their health.

To help with this problem, Zilla has created Jump-Start Caloric Supplement and Appetite Simulant. The Zilla website says “Jump-Start was created to address the full range of reasons a reptile’s normal eating pattern may be disrupted, from breeding, illness and anorexia to everyday sluggishness.”

On the Surface

Of course not all problems seen in reptiles can be prevented or fixed with supplements.

“Another common occurrence with reptiles is mites,” MacLean said. “These are pesky, unwanted parasites that can cause your reptile discomfort, and ultimately reduce their overall fitness. By using a safe, nontoxic formula such as JurassiMite or Mite Wipes, you can easily rid your reptile of these unwanted pests!”

Mite Wipes launched at this year’s Global Pet Expo. They contain a nontoxic, all-natural formula that eradicates mites and ticks. According to the JurassiPet website, it is safe to use Mite Wipes daily.
Provent-a-Mite from Pro Products is a spray that eliminates mites and ticks. According to Pro Products website, it is the only mite control product approved by the EPA and USDA for all species of reptiles, including tortoises. It can be sprayed on the pet, substrate and cage décor and will remain effective for 30 days.

For reptiles that are having trouble shedding their skin, Zoo Med offers Repti Shedding Aid. This made in the USA spray helps in removing dead skin stuck on snakes and lizards.

MacLean advises that understanding reptile supplements and medications is the key to successfully selling them.

“Understanding the science behind products will help retailers to sell with confidence,” MacLean said. “Educating not only about the products, but also about proper husbandry, will help the customer to be more successful. When customers are successful, it keeps them in the hobby.”

And Your Little Dog, Too!

When it comes to dog breeds, Americans are thinking small. The percentage of small dogs – those under 20 pounds – has been growing steadily larger since around 2000.

To go with this trend, more pet products companies are offering items designed especially for compact canines. If you want a rundown on the small breed trend and the products that trend has inspired, turn to our cover story. From special diets to tiny toys, the latest items for pint-sized pooches are here. For most pet retailers, stocking some of these and other items for these popular breeds is a no-brainer.

The reasons for the growing popularity of little dogs seem to be connected to the greater trends of modern living. More people are living in cities in smaller spaces. It’s easier to have a smaller dog in those types of dwellings than a large dog. As dogs have more and more been considered part of the family, more owners want to take their dogs with them as often as possible. Again, that’s easier with a smaller dog.

One aspect of having a small dog that doesn’t get talked about often but that I think is one of the big advantages they have over their larger cousins is that smaller breeds tend to live longer. With a smaller dog, there is a greater chance of seeing that pet live to be a dozen years or more. Of course, if you really want a long-lived pet, nothing beats parrots and tortoises.

Which brings me to my confession: I much prefer big dogs to small. There’s no question that small breeds are cute, loyal, smart, fun and affectionate companions. There’s just something about the bigger breeds that appeals to me. If I were to get a dog, I’d likely choose something on the larger side of the canine spectrum. For now, though, I’m sticking with cats, snakes and spiders.

Caring for the Slow and Steady

Turtles and tortoises (more scientifically known as chelonians) comprise a few hundred species, some of which are very popular pets.

“Red-eared sliders still prevail as the most popular aquatic turtle and this is mainly attributed to the low price and ease of acquisition associated with them,” said Chris Leone, owner of Garden State Tortoise, a turtle and tortoise breeding facility in central N.J. “Other popular aquatic species catching up to them are Mississippi map turtles, western painted turtles, yellow-bellied sliders and peninsula cooters.”

“As for tortoise species, the sulcata, also known as the African spur-thighed tortoise, is the heavy weight champion here, trailed by Russian tortoises, various hingeback species, red foot tortoises and sometimes eastern Hermann’s tortoises,” Leone said. “Sulcatas are attractive tortoises which can easily adapt and turn out to be quite personable.”

However, Leone also said the large adult size of sulcatas means they are not the right pet for many keepers and owners often have to give up their sulcatas when they get too big.

“Zoo Med is proud to offer a full line of products for turtles and tortoises,” said Ashley Rademacher, animal care and education coordinator for Zoo Med Labs. “As turtle and tortoise enthusiasts, we commonly find a need for specialized equipment for these specialized animals and use this knowledge and experience to find solutions for fellow keepers.”

This line of products for shelled companions includes Turtle Clean Filters, Aquatic Turtle Feeder, Turtle Tub Kit, the new Turtle Pond Dock, the Tortoise House, the Tortoise Play Pen and an array of diets created for a wide range of species and life stages.

“Our Aquatic Turtle Feeder makes feeding time fun and interactive by encouraging more activity from pet aquatic turtles,” Rademacher said. “The floating, fish shaped feeder can be filled with turtle food pellets which are released when the feeder is bumped by the animals. In nature, turtles forage for food and this item is designed to help promote these natural activities.”

The Pond Dock provides a large basking platform for aquatic turtles housed in outdoor ponds or large indoor enclosures. It and Zoo Med’s other Turtle Docks have a self-leveling feature, so they automatically adjust to all water levels, allowing turtles to haul out to bask and dry off when they feel the need.

The Tortoise House can be used indoors or outdoors. The wood siding offers the pet security and the enclosed “sleeping area” is snug and weatherproof. According to Rademacher, the modular design allows keepers to expand their housing as needed, and it is easy to assemble. Zoo Med’s Tortoise Play Pen allows temporary outdoor housing so a tortoise or box turtle can graze on grass and be exposed to beneficial sunlight.

Recently, Tetrafauna from Spectrum Brands launched ReptoHeat, a dual temperature basking heater suitable for turtles and tortoises. It features two temperature modes with the heat provided by a ceramic heating unit. It mounts quickly and safely to a metal screen cage top.

Chelonian Chow

Unlike many other reptiles and amphibians, turtles and tortoises can thrive on convenient packaged diets.

Mazuri is one company that offers a full range of diets for chelonians.

“Each of the diets were designed by nutrition experts dedicated to producing the best quality of diets for your turtle and tortoises and each product contains a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee,” said Troy Tollefson, Ph.D., nutritionist at Mazuri.

“For freshwater turtle species, Mazuri has an extruded floating pelleted diet (Mazuri Aquatic Turtle) and a gel based diet (Mazuri Aquatic Gel) that are both nutritionally complete and designed to meet the needs of all life stages of your turtle,” Tollefson said. “All diets contain high levels of fish, fish oil, natural vitamin E and are highly palatable.”

Mazuri also offers three pelleted diets for tortoises: Small Tortoise LS, Tortoise LS and Tortoises. According to Tollefson, the Small Tortoise LS diet meets the nutritional requirements of growing tortoises for their first year, and the regular Tortoise LS diet is for tortoises older than that. The Tortoise LS diets are based on timothy grass, have high levels of fiber and contain live probiotics.

In June of 2016, Tetrafauna will launch the ReptoMin Pro Lifestage Nutrition line of age-specific diets for aquatic turtles. It will feature Baby, Juvenile and Adult diets.

“Not only are these Lifestages formulas scientifically balanced to fulfill the needs of each growth milestone, but each stage is also complemented with natural, easily digested yucca extract that controls and blocks odors derived from pet waste for maximum enjoyment of your pet turtle,” said Keely Roberts, Spectrum Brands aquatic nutrition marketing. “And with odor-blocking technology, you can finally spend your time enjoying your pet–not constantly cleaning up after him.”

Selling Stuff for the Shelled

Tetrafauna’s merchandising will make it easy for pet store personnel to sell the Lifestages Nutrition line.

“For the new Tetrafauna PRO ReptoMin Lifestages Nutrition line, we will provide retailers with merchandising strategy and many advertising tools to help educate and make their consumers successful,” Roberts said. “From easy-to-decipher size charts at the shelf, icons on packaging, innovative talk box and brochure design, as well as Tetra Care’s trusted support team, we are confident Tetrafauna PRO ReptoMin® Lifestages Nutrition will be well received by turtle keepers and retailers alike.”

Zoo Med also provides help for retailers selling products for chelonians and for consumers caring for them.

“At Zoo Med, education is very important to us,” Rademacher said. “Our website, Facebook and YouTube are filled with educational information about our products and the animals they are intended for.”

Leone advises that, to maintain chelonian keepers as customers, you have to stock the right products.

“With turtle and tortoise husbandry being at the peak of its popularity, many keepers are aware of the better choices in equipment,” Leone said. “It seems many retailers have not caught on to this, which can be frustrating. I know all too well that when you are in a pinch and need to replace something like a bulb, sometimes you can’t simply run to the pet store because they just don’t carry it.”

He recommends some less obvious products that would appeal to these pet owners.

“Over the counter deworming medications, which are extremely important for tortoise health care like Panacur and Safe Guard, would be great to see available,” Leone said. “More appropriate enclosures such as Vision cages, HerpCages and Neodeshas should be carried as these work well for housing semi-terrestrial turtle species that require high humidity and low light. They also work well for raising baby tortoises, which by nature require high humidity levels.”

It’s Easier Being Green

Having just returned from Global Pet Expo, I can tell you that the pet industry has gone green. Eco-friendly products seemed to be everywhere. Almost every company I spoke with highlighted the ways that company was working to be more sustainable and using safer and more natural materials.

While I didn’t know that’s what I would see at Global when we were planning our April edition, in acknowledgement of Earth Day, we decided to make this our Green Issue. I won’t claim any great insight or psychic abilities; anyone who has been around the pet industry for the last several years knows about the proliferation of green pet products.

Our cover story is all about eco-friendly products and the consumer demand for these products. More and more pet owners are not only willing to purchase environmentally friendly products for their pets but are actively seeking these products out. Today’s pet owner is often as concerned for the well-being of the planet as for the well-being of his or her pet.

Along with the cover story, in our products section you can find Focus on Eco-Friendly Products. This will give you a look at the diversity of green products that are now all the rage in the pet industry.

And, of course, every month we bring you our Natural Trends & Products column by Stacy Mantle. For this issue, she wrote about raw diets, a growing category within the pet food segment.
Pet Age itself embraces the greening of the pet industry by being a member of the Pet Industry Sustainability Coalition (PISC), and our own Craig Rexford is a member of its advisory board. PISC provides information to pet companies on how to make their products and processes more sustainable.

I share the environmental concerns of many other pet owners and seek out products that are more sustainable for my pets. It’s encouraging to see the options for doing so keep expanding. It’s also encouraging that greener product options exist across the various segments of the pet industry, not just in the cat and dog categories.

The green pet product trend shows no signs of slacking. Retailers would be smart to embrace it by stocking sustainable products and showcasing them for customers. It’s good for the retailer, the consumer, the pets and the planet.

Happy Earth Day!

Tom Mazorlig

New Products, Trends on Display at Global Pet Expo

Global Pet Expo (GPE), already the largest American pet trade show, keeps getting bigger and hosting more vendors each year.

The show is held annually by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) and Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA). The 2016 GPE was held in Orlando, Fla. on March 16-18.

According to Bob Vetere, president and CEO of APPA, GPE has grown 60 percent since its first show and the 2016 edition set records for attendance and number of buyer preregistrations. There were 5,842 buyers present—a four percent increase since last year. This year, there were 3,218 booths housing 1,087 exhibitors.

With all of these pet companies showing off their latest and greatest products, the Pet Age team combed the show looking for trends that would be important for retailers to know.

The pet tech trend is going strong, with at least two dozen vendors offering pet activity trackers, smart feeders, app controlled aquarium lighting and more. OurPets showcased what is perhaps the most complete line of technology-integrated products, Intelligent Pet Care. It includes the SmartPetLink app that controls a smart litter box, smart feeder and smart waterer.

Another trend that was out in force is pet companies partnering with celebrities. At GPE, Petmate launched a line of dog products with country star Miranda Lambert. The line is called Mutt Nation and has a country-rock and rustic style that draws on Lambert’s roots.

There was also the debut of Big and Bobbi, LLC, a line of dog shampoos created in a partnership between American rapper, songwriter, producer and member of Outkast Big Boi and Bobbi Panter of Bobbi Panter Pet Products.

At least one celebrity launched a pet company that was entirely her own. Lisa Vanderpump from the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Vanderpump Rules launched Vanderpump Pets at Global. The company offers leashes, collars, clothing, carriers and accessories for dogs and cats.

Pet owners are always looking for ways to calm pets, ease separation anxiety and relieve their pain. The latest trend in that arena seems to be treats, supplements and lotions containing natural, cannabis-derived cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is legal in all 50 states and contains no THC, according to Larry Wright, president and CEO of The Green Pet Shop.

“CBD is medicinal and it doesn’t get pets high,” Wright said.

The interest in CBD has been driven by the growing acceptance of medical marijuana for humans.

“Ever since medical marijuana became popular, people have been using it for pets,” said Graham Sorkin of The Green Pet Shop. “We decided to create a formula for pets. We see a lot of demand for a domestic product instead of from China.”

Pet Releaf offers a full range of dog and cat products containing calming CBD. Barkworthies launched Pumpkin Cannabidiol Treats for dogs.

The Green Pet Shop offered a CBD lotion in a gel pen that is applied to the inside of pets’ ears.

“A transdermal delivery offers a higher percentage of effectiveness in pain relief,” Wright said.

Although the demand for alternate protein sources and ancestral diets is not new, the number of products that includes these items has surged. At GPE, Pet Age staff saw foods and/or treats based on lamb, goat, rabbit, bison, wild boar, quail, pheasant, alligator and kangaroo, which are likely only some of the varieties available.

Why the increased interest in these types of diets and treats?

“Interest in ancestral canine diets is on the rise as pet parents seek ways to feed their dogs as they may have eaten in the wild,” said Pete Brace, vice president of communications and pet parent relations for Merrick Pet Care. “These diets combine the best of the mega pet food trends pet parents are looking for. For example, Merrick Backcountry features high-protein grain-free recipes that start with real deboned meat, plus freeze-dried raw pieces of meat, fish and poultry for the fresh taste and digestibility of a raw diet and exotic protein blends to give dogs a novel flavor experience.”

Bone broth might be a new in-demand product, said Scott Kinsinger of Caru Pet Food Company. Caru launched a grass-fed, made in the USA bone broth at Global.

According to Kinsinger, bone broth offers a number of benefits to pets.

“It’s full of nutrients and glucosamine for joints,” Kinsinger said. “It’s a natural way to get these into a dog and it’s very palatable. Retailers are very excited about it.”

The Honest Kitchen has also offered a bone broth product: Bone Broth with Turmeric.

Whether brand new or longstanding, these trends are some that retailers would be wise to notice. With each trade show comes the opportunity to offer pet owners increasingly innovative ways to care for their companions. And of course, staying ahead of market trends often means staying ahead of the competition.


Slice of Life

One of the niches within the reptile hobby is the design and maintenance of natural terrariums, also called vivariums. Natural terrarium aficionados seek to create tiny slices of rainforests or deserts in their homes.

While there is no reliable information on how large this segment of the hobby is, some experts think the trend is growing.

“I have been seeing an increase in people designing natural terrariums,” said Ron Tremper, consulting herpetologist for Tetrafauna, Spectrum Brands and Pet, Home and Garden. “Why? First, there are better designed units available, like the ReptoHabitat that affords people the chance to keep plants and herps in harmony. Second, people want more out of their reptile pet and so a beautiful terrarium gets invited into the living or family room in more and more households.”

Mike Rizzo, owner of Glass Box Tropicals, a Michigan-based supplier of terrarium equipment, plants and poison dart frogs, agrees that popularity of keeping natural terrariums is growing. He sees different but related reasons for the growth.

“Yes, the keeping of naturalistic terrariums/vivariums is growing in popularity quite dramatically,” Rizzo said.

He believes there are three factors feeding this trend.

“One is social media,” Rizzo said. “There are now many Facebook groups as well as online forums devoted solely to this topic, many of them with thousands of members. When a member of one of these groups shares a picture or post, it allows an even larger audience to be exposed to the beauty and tranquility that these creations can bring to a home or office.”

“The second factor is education,” he said. “Many more hobbyists are learning that their animals will be happiest in a naturalistic setup. These setups help increase humidity and create more potential hiding spots, which often makes the animals inside feel more comfortable and secure.”

“Finally, there is increasing availability of the items needed to create amazing, naturalistic tanks,” Rizzo said. “There are several very popular and well-stocked websites, most that can have any item to you within days of ordering it, and many that also guarantee live arrival or plants and microfauna. Many brick and mortar pet stores are starting to carry additional naturalistic terrarium products as well.”

Lighten Up

Natural terrariums encompass diverse environments from rainforests to deserts to almost anything in between. One thing they have in common is live plants, and live plants need appropriate lighting.

“LED lighting has become an important part of natural terrariums for supporting plant growth and reptiles’ proper vision,” said Ashley Rademacher, animal care and education coordinator at Zoo Med. “Zoo Med’s new energy efficient LED Terrarium Lighting with a low profile design also boasts a unique modular design that allows for replacing or swapping out LED modules. Each module comes standard with three different colored light emitting diodes (LEDs) including white, red and blue. The 6500K daylight high output LEDs provide truly naturalistic, brilliant white lighting. This light supports pet’s vision and promotes natural behaviors such as feeding and breeding responses. Light combinations can be easily controlled with independent rocker switches located on the end of each hood.”

For terrarium inhabitants that need UVB lighting, Zoo Med offers the ReptiSun LED UVB Terrarium Hood. It combines the energy efficient ReptiSun LED lighting with a ReptiSun 5.0 UVB Lamp.

Enclosing Nature

While keepers can create a vivarium in any tank, most prefer front-opening terrariums for easier access.

The Tetrafauna brand from Spectrum Brands offers several enclosures that will fit the bill. The Deluxe ReptoHabitats come in several sizes and have sliding glass front doors along with sturdy screen tops, allowing easy access to any part of the terrarium. The bottom features a low profile drain to make cleaning out water features simple.

Zoo Med’s new Skyscraper Terrarium is an option for keeps of tree-dwelling species. It has an 18-inch by 18-inch base and is 36 inches tall.

“It is perfect for many arboreal species such as tree pythons and boas, New Caledonian geckos, anoles and many others,” Rademacher said. “The extra tall habitat allows arboreal animals to perform natural behaviors and feel secure in their tree-top home. The watertight base allows keepers to build naturalist habitats including water features and plants.”

Show Them How It’s Done

When it comes to natural terrariums, the best way for retailers to create interest– and sales–is to have one or more on display, according to experts.

“Seeing is believing,” Tremper said. “Retailers must have one or two knockout terrarium set-ups on display. This helps potential customers envision what could be theirs; especially if a recirculating waterfall is in play. The sales force must engage customers and show them the features and how to be successful.”

Rizzo agrees.

“The best way to sell many of these is to set up a nice display tank so that customers can envision the possibilities,” Rizzo said. “Some stores also have great success selling tanks that are already setup and ready for animals to be introduced immediately.”

According to Rademacher, it is helpful to show products in use.

“Showing products in use is really a great way to inspire current and potential pet keepers to be creative and build natural terrariums for their animals,” she said. “Zoo Med has made several different YouTube videos with examples of how to use products to create naturalistic terrariums. Retailers are always welcome to share our videos as well as photos from our website for inspiration and guidance.”

Pick of the Litter

Pet Age spoke with Joey Herrick, founder of the Lucy Pet Foundation, and Andre Argenton, global research and development director for performance materials and chemicals at The Dow Chemical Company, about their partnership in creating and packaging a brand new kind of cat litter.

Tom: What is the history of Lucy Pet Foundation?

Joey: When I owned Natural Balance Pet Foods, we always donated food to animal rescue groups because it was my belief that they were the ones actually saving lives and changing euthanasia rates. I felt great supporting that. When the company was sold, I had no more food to give, so I decided I would start the Lucy Pet Foundation. It would be a fleet of mobile spay and neuter trucks and provide no cost or low cost spaying and neutering. I wanted to stop the influx of animals going into the shelters.

I told my wife I was going to take a million dollars and start the Lucy Pet Foundation; she said “OK.” Then I told her I wouldn’t make a dollar from this; I’m not taking a salary. And my wife said “OK.” My wife asked about traveling—I said we’ll travel. We’ll go to Lancaster and Palmdale and all the places there’s pet overpopulation. That wasn’t the travel she had in mind. But that’s what happened.
I hired Dr. Karen Halligan, who used to be with the local ASPCA. I met her at a trade show and hired her to be the chief veterinary officer. And that’s how we started.

It’s been a little more than two years and I’m very proud of the Lucy Pet Foundation. We’ve helped over 11,000 animals.

I felt good about giving food away, but I had blinders on. I knew animals were being killed, I knew that. But I drive the bus to the shelter and when you go the shelters and see it firsthand, it’s pretty tough. I would be crying driving home and thinking that I couldn’t do this. Then I’d get home and my dogs would come up to me and I’d realize I have to do this.

I’m really proud that the city of Los Angeles has given us a contract. In the little over two years we’ve been doing this, we’ve gotten a really good reputation. The contract is to spay and neuter over 10,000 animals over the next two years for the city.

Tom: How did making the products start? What’s the relationship between Lucy Pet Foundation and Lucy Pet Products?

Joey: The Foundation became such a big project and we needed more money. I’m not a fund raising expert, but I do know how to create and sell products. So I started Lucy Pet Products in order to fund Lucy Pet Foundation. I don’t take a salary. I donate the profits back to the Foundation.

I started with shampoos. I really made them different. It’s really beautiful packaging and metal bottles. The product inside works well, too. Those launched nationally with Petco and Central Garden distributing.

Tom: You recently branched out into cat litter. Tell me how that happened.

Joey: Someone in the industry said to me, “Joey, you’re so creative. Can you do something with litter?” I started brainstorming with Betsy Martin, who I’ve worked with for 20 years. We came up with a two-handled bag with a side spout so it’s very easy to pour. There’s not a bag like it.

The package itself is beautiful. It features our cat Ricky, who we rescued. Ricky has a very interesting tail, so on the bag the tail wraps around it and makes the handle.

I took it to Jim Heim at Central—he loved the packaging. He introduced me to the company Horn in LA. Horn has a relationship with Dow. They set up a meeting between my team and Dow, so we flew out to Houston. I said to my team on the way in, “You do realize we are going into a $54 billion company and asking for an exclusive on their new state-of-the-art litter that stops ammonia in the box?Let’s just enjoy the meeting.”

We were shocked that the result of that meeting was that we got the multi-year exclusive. We couldn’t have scripted it any better. So now, that litter is ready to launch at Global. I’ve already got orders from Japan, Korea and Taiwan. I expect it to be a big product and, more importantly, one that will help cats because there’s no ammonia in the litter box. We smell ammonia at three parts per million but cats are smelling it at much less than that. And they’re inhaling it. This litter is healthier for cats and I think it will be very successful and help the Lucy Pet Foundation. It’s a win-win.

Tom: Tell me about the development of the new litter. What are its important qualities?

Andre: At Dow, we like to say that we connect science with societal needs. Our odor prevention technology is the perfect example: a groundbreaking solution to an issue plaguing cat owners everywhere. With our patent-pending, nontoxic solution, cat owners and their pets will not be exposed to high levels of unpleasant ammonia odors. Dow’s solution inhibits ammonia from occurring in cat litter boxes.

Tom: How did Dow decide to select Lucy as the exclusive package supplier for the litter?

Andre: Joey Herrick wants to disrupt the cat litter market. He wants a product that addresses the harmful ammonia problem once and for all. And above all, he wants to have a positive impact on the pet population. Dow is very pleased to be the technology engine behind this product. Moreover, we are proud to be affiliated with a company that is actively working to make a real difference in larger animal welfare issues.

Tom: What else is coming up at Lucy Pet Products?

Joey: We have a dog named Surfin’ Jack—he’s on the bottles of our shampoo. I got him out of the shelter. He was in the Lucy Bowl commercial for the Lucy Pet Foundation featuring dogs and cats playing football with other dogs and cats watching the game. Now, Jack and Ricky are learning to surf. I’ve done Rose Parade floats in the past. We’re bringing back a float we used in 2012 with dogs surfing on it. It’s coming back for 2016 but the difference is I’m building the first portable wave machine on it. It’s going around the country, looking for the best surfing dogs. It’s really the “American Idol” tour for surfing dogs to be in the Rose Parade. The goal is to spread awareness of the thousands of animals that are euthanized in shelters.

Generation Gap

I’ve been thinking a lot about millennials lately.

I’m sure this is partly because Pet Age recently hired two assistant editors in that age group—between about 18 and 34 years old. But it’s also because millennials are in the news more and more these days. They are the biggest supporters of a certain underdog presidential candidate. They are the driving force behind most social media platforms. And they not only outnumber us Gen Xers—they now outnumber baby boomers, too.

As their purchasing power grows in the coming years, it’s crucial that pet retailers understand this cohort of pet owners. To help with that, this issue has two columns that discuss ways to appeal to this growing demographic of pet owners. Guest columnist Kerry Sutherland lays out three rules for engaging millennial customers. Regular columnist Andy Black discusses the ways in which millennial shopping habits and expectations differ from those of other generations.

One thing that everyone talks about when it comes to this generation is their love of social media and other forms of digital communication. As we’ve said in these pages before, retailers that are savvy about their social media use will have an edge in reaching millennials. Having a presence on social media is a good start, but you’ve got to actually use that presence to drive people – of all generations – into your store.

While on the subject of social media, I encourage you to follow and like Pet Age across the various platforms. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Our app is available for both Apple and Android systems. You won’t want to miss our Freebie Friday giveaways on Instagram. And if you want to see your pet featured in our social media, send a picture to Following us on social media also ensures you’ll receive all our coverage of the new products we see on the floor of Global Pet Expo.

Two more things about millennials: You may have seen our December news story about a study conducted by Nestle Purina that indicated that more millennials favor cats over dogs. Other surveys have shown that millennials are more likely to own reptiles than other generations.

Millennials love cats and reptiles? We might have more in common than I thought.

Looking Out for the Groomers

Pet Age’s Tom Mazorlig spoke with Chuck Simons, founder of Groomer’s Helper, about the history of the company and its successful business partnerships.

Tom Mazorlig: Tell me about the history of Groomer’s Helper.

Chuck Simons: My wife and I had a small pet grooming shop in Ventnor, New Jersey. One day this wonderful man—may he rest in peace—Dr. R. K. Anderson sent us this little aluminum clamp with a wingnut on it called the Alpha Lock. When I saw the Alpha Lock I said, “Holy mackerel, look at this!” I took it and put it on my grooming arm and hooked it right to my grooming loop. It put the dog in a cross tie. We’ve been cross tying horses for thousands of years. It’s a rope from one side of the stall to the halter and one to the other side of the stall. It controls the horse’s head and when the horse realizes that he is in the cross tie, he calms. It reduced the area the dog could turn and bite by 90 percent and reduced the area in which the groomer could get bitten.

The Alpha Lock was not selling to groomers because it’s hard to groom a dog with a muzzle on. It became prominent when it turned into the Groomer’s Helper because it held the loop itself and instead of the dog being able to jump or fall off the table, it makes it safer. PetSmart and Petco tested it and it has reduced injuries to groomers and pets substantially. The Groomer’s Helper is a fantastic time saver and will allow the groomer two or three more grooms per day, making it a huge money maker.

Tom: Groomer’s Helper is the distributor for the ActiVet brushes. How did that partnership come about?

Chuck: Originally, the brushes were made by a private label in Germany, but there was a falling out with the U.S. distributor. When I was at InterZoo in Nuremburg, Jerry Knoll asked me to come see the brushes. He had redressed them. He made them with color-coded handles indicating what they were and the tops were now white. These were brushes that everyone was dying to get. I asked him what I had to do to bring these brushes back to the United States. Jerry knew me from the shows and trusted me, so he gave me the North American distributorship. Two SuperZoos ago is when we reintroduced them to the United States. They’ve been a phenomenal success.

Tom: What makes these brushes special?

Chuck: They’ve had 22 years to develop their product. This is German stainless steel with blunted pins. It’s a flexible headed brush, so instead of your wrist doing the work, it’s the flexible head that does the work. They are double-sided and double-headed, so that’s going to do twice the area and there’s no stopping between brushing.

Tom: How did the partnership with Dog Fashion Spa come about?

Chuck: For many years, there has been the same-old shampoo with fragrances. At Interzoo, I met a gentleman named Domenico Ponti and his significant other is Elena Volnova. Their products are all natural, use essential oils, and everything is made in the USA. They have a wonderful line of products that go along with the shampoos, such as a glass nail file, non-acetone based nail polish and nail polish remover, a nose brush and a skin and coat conditioner that is absolutely phenomenal.

The products are really fantastic but it’s tough for a company to start out brand new and sell ones and twos for wholesale at these shows. I came up with an elite dealership plan. For $2,000 a grooming shop can have a complete line of these products. We give them $500 worth of free shampoo, fragrances and support materials for the back of the store so they can use the products on the dogs. When the people pick up their dogs at the front counter and say, “Where can I buy this stuff?” the groomer can point to the free kiosk and there it is. The dog is their salesperson, so there is a chance for a sale on every groom. They make 100 percent profit. They have six months to pay and at the end of the six months if they don’t think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, we will buy every product back from them for what they paid for it.

We are really committed to the groomers. Retail will give them an extra $50-$75,000 per year. This gives them one product line to buy from one company. They don’t have to worry about going to different companies and pricing.

It rounded out our line with brushes and now the shampoos, coat conditioners and Groomer’s Helper. PetLift is now making our tub insert. Groomers have been asking me to get something in the tub because they are getting severely bitten there. I’ve developed an insert for the tub that allows the groomers to use Groomer’s Helper in the tub. We should have the full prototype available for the InterGroom show in June.


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