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Golden Years

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Editor’s letter as published in the September issue of Pet Age.

While my dog still has a few years to go before he is considered a senior pet, I have been experiencing similar issues with him that some older dogs develop since he was a year old.

Since he was a puppy, he has had bad knees, specifically luxating patella. For those of you not familiar with it, it’s a condition where the kneecap moves out of its location.

It means taking him on shorter, slower walks; helping him jump up on the couch or bed and managing all the symptoms that comes with it, like when he yelps because all he did was step the wrong way or is hobbling around on three legs because he can’t put his leg down.

There are a lot of emotional ups and downs that come with this. But, what is comforting to know is that there are products and options out there that can help him, and they are very similar to the ones you would use with an older dog that is experiencing join issues.

Several years ago, these options, such as supplements, were not as mainstream as they are now in the pet industry. But, these days, it seems like every company is coming out with something geared toward the senior pet, whether it be a food, toy, treat or accessory.

This is a good thing, not only for pet owners who have an aging pet that they want to keep healthy, but also for those looking to adopt a senior pet.

In this month’s Marketing for Success column, Jessica Farina talks about ways to get involved in the community to help your WOM, or word of mouth marketing campaign, and one way is to work with a local, reputable shelters. She suggests that once you find one, you could offer adoption events every month in your store.

A big issue those shelters, or rescue groups, face is the adoption of older pets. Many times people go for the cute little puppy over the 6-year-old mixed breed.

As a store owner, you could offer a specially priced senior pet products package to those who adopt one from the rescue, or shelter, just as you would someone who adopts the cute little puppy from them.

Speaking of the content of this issue, we have some great coverage, both in the magazine and on our website, of SuperZoo, especially helpful if you weren’t able to attend. We worked with the great folks at Chicago Pet Video to conduct more than a dozen videos talking with exhibitors about their new and featured products.

There is also more good news for our industry. According to Packaged Facts, consumer spending in the U.S. pet market will reach $62 billion in 2013, up 4.7 percent over 2012.

While, veterinary services and pet food make up the bulk of the market, with over $21 billion each in sales projected for 2013, non-medical pet services, a smaller category that includes grooming, boarding, training and pet sitting/walking services, is growing at the fastest rate, at 6.0 percent annually.

That’s a lot of opportunity for a pet store owner. Many of you are likely already selling pet food, but what about maybe adding a service to the mix if you don’t have it already?

Start small by partnering with a local trainer who may not have there own facility, but are looking for space to hold a class.

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