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November 7, 2016

It’s well known that pets bring a special joy to human life. In particular, a puppy sighting has a way of stopping whatever activity is going on at the moment. And if you’ve had your family dog since it was a puppy, you’re sure to remember that puppy’s first day in your home like it was yesterday.

But what happens after the tears of joy have been shed and the adorable new addition has become acclimated to its new surroundings? Veterinarians emphasize the importance of targeted and specially designed care for puppies.

“Puppies are growing and developing rapidly—in their bones, muscles, joints, internal organs and immune system, to name but a few of the developmental needs that are being met by nutrition,” according to PetMD.com.

In addition to physical wellbeing, it is important to stimulate puppies’ minds early on, and lay the foundation for healthy habits that will benefit them into their senior years. Similarly to humans, dogs form good and bad habits in their youth, so it is in their best interest that owners reinforce the good habits early on.

Taking note of these special needs, many manufacturers have debuted products targeted to young animals, from chow formulated for growing tummies to chew toys designed for developing jaws and teeth. To keep customers satisfied, retailers can recommend products best tailored to their young companions, thus increasing the effectiveness of each purchase.

Grub for Growth
In order to support the rapid growth that is happening in the first few months to a year of a Pinscher puppypuppy’s life, many brands have developed puppy-specific formulas for pet owners. Diets for the early life stage are commonly designed for smaller mouths, sensitive stomachs and contain more protein to support growth.

However, brands utilize a range of ingredients to benefit young pets. For example, Redbarn‘s Puppy Beef Pate has high quality beef as its first ingredient.

“We added functional ingredients to help support dogs’ optimal health,” said Rashell Cooper, marketing director for Redbarn Pet Products. “Flaxseed Oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that promote healthy skin, coat and joints, and their immune system.”

According to Redbarn, the Dandelion Greens that are also used in the Puppy Beef Pate provide many vitamins and minerals and are high in protein. They’re also a mild liver and digestive stimulant that may help promote waste elimination.

“Healthy digestion is vital to support dogs’ overall health,” Cooper said.

In addition, the company’s Chew-A-Bulls are a mixture of potatoes and real Redbarn Bully sticks covered with a coating to help entice picky eaters. Chicken cartilage, a natural source of Chondroitin, Vitamin E and salmon oil all work to help support dogs’ joint health needs and promote good dental health.

Just as babies have specific nutritional needs, so too do their canine counterparts. Several puppy foods are specially formulated to lay a healthful foundation that will last puppies into their senior years.

One of Zuke’s latest products is specifically designed for puppies. Zuke’s Puppy Naturals are packed with protein, rich in Vitamin A and E, and loaded with DHA and EPA to help support healthy brain development. Following in the footsteps of Zuke’s best-selling Mini Naturals, the Puppy Naturals are formulated to be highly palatable, moist and small in size. Available in Salmon & Sweet Potato, Pork & Bacon, and Lamb & Chickpea recipes, Zuke’s Puppy Naturals are made in the USA and free of harsh additives, preservatives and common allergens (grain, wheat, corn and soy) to be easy on puppies’ sensitive stomachs.

Petcurean has several lines designed for each life stage. The company’s GO! Fit + Free Grain Free Chicken, Turkey + Trout Puppy Recipe is prepared with premium-quality meat proteins, fruits, veggies and omega oils.

According to a statement by the company, Fit + Free recipes contain the most meat of any GO! Recipe. The Fit + Free line offers a protein-rich, lower carb diet aimed at helping a dog stay strong, healthy and fit.

Petcurean also offers NOW FRESH Grain Free Puppy Recipe, available in a general formula as well as versions for small and large breed puppies. All three are made with fresh turkey, salmon, duck and omega-3 and -6 oils from coconuts and canola. They also contain no grains, gluten, wheat, beef, corn, soy, rendered meats, by-products or artificial preservatives.

For small breed pups, Petcurean’s NOW FRESH Grain Free recipe has smaller kibble shapes for easier chewing, pure coconut oil for proper digestion, DHA/EPA to support brain development and omega oils for skin and coat. For large breed puppies, the formula contains calcium and phosphorus to promote growth, green mussels for hip and joint health, added L-carnitine for heart health and fat burning, added taurine to support vision and heart function, and pre- and probiotics to support digestion.

Bubba Rose Biscuit Co. produces a line of treats for when owners want to give their pups a between-meal snack. Friends and family can welcome a new dog to the home with a Welcome Home Box, which can be customized with the dog’s name and any other words desired. A unisex version is available, and all the treats are wheat, corn, soy and gluten free, made with organic flour.

But what’s a puppy power formulated food without a bowl from that enables young dogs to effectively eat? The extra small Non-Tip Bowl from Platinum Pets uses true sizing, so pet owners know exactly how much food a puppy is getting. Just like humans, many bad habits are learned in a pet’s early years—and overeating is one of those bad habits. Featuring Platinum Pets’ proprietary powder coating process, each bowl is finished in an array of dazzling colors that increase durability.

“The bowls not only look great, but are more resistant to chips, dents, scratches and fading,” said Kate Jones, president of Platinum Pets. “The silicone ring on the bottom of each bowl keeps it secure so your puppy isn’t chasing its food across the floor.”

The company relaunched its website, www.platinumpets.com, with easy-to-find sections on non-tip bowls, diners and other products.

Active Now, Healthy Later
Keeping puppies active is an important part of their overall health, both mentally and physically. In addition, it allows for owners to form bonds with their companions that will last their lifetimes. Retailers have the important role of reminding customers of the importance of an active and healthy life style for young pups. Ultimately, they themselves will have a more satisfying relationship with their new furry friend if they remember to stimulate their puppy’s natural instinct to play.

However, not all dog toys are created equal—at least when you’re buying for a puppy. As a result, manufacturers have several lines designed for small mouths and paws.

“We took our award-winning Orbee-Tuff material and developed a special soothing formula just for growing pups,” said a Planet Dog product release. “Durable enough to withstand the chewing habits of a teething pup, yet pliable enough to be gentle on their developing teeth, these puppy pleasers are especially soothing when frozen.”

The toy versions are designed with a smaller, softer durometer in order to acclimate to young puppy teeth and developing jaw lines. Lil’ Pup Bones are 3½ inches long, and Big Pup Bones are five inches long. Lil’ Pup Balls are 2¼ inches and Big Pup Balls measure 3¼ inches.

Specifically designed for an especially interactive play, Planet Dog’s Mazee, Snoop and Nooks are great for dogs of all ages. The Mazee is an interactive puzzle toy that offers hours of long-lasting, brain stimulating entertainment for dogs of any size. The Snoop is a multiple-award-winning translucent and squishy toy with a deep crevice that conceals a “treasure.” It can be filled with treats or any 2½-inch Orbee-Tuff toy. Dogs will be enticed to pounce, nudge, nose and nibble to release the hidden reward.

Lastly, the Nooks collection is made to entice dogs to seek treats “in every nook and cranny.” Each toy features a whimsical shape, perfect for stuffing with tiny treat bits, peanut butter, cheese or any other of a dog’s favorite treat.

Toys that encourage owners to play with their puppies are especially good for bonding and spending quality time with a new puppy.

The Zinger Junior from PETLOGIX, a new brand from Hyper Pet, is a throw toy with interchangeable accessories. While the Zinger works for medium and large dogs, the Zinger Junior is designed for small breeds and puppies. They launch with three accessories: the Zing Shot, with a tennis ball felt fixture; the Zing Cube, a soft square for use in smaller environments; and the Zing Bumpy, with an uneven surface that provides irregular bounce, adding unpredictability and extra excitement to the puppy’s playtime. Each attachment floats, and therefore is safe to play with in settings near water.

When sending customers off with supplies for their new pets, toys and play things are important to include. Retailers should emphasize the many benefits to puppies that come along with routine exercise. According to Hill’s Pet Nutrition, a manufacturer of nutritious cat and dog diets, exercise is essential to preventing obesity, strengthening cardiovascular muscles, promoting housetraining, coping with owners’ absence, reducing behavioral and digestive problems, increasing agility, building confidence and increasing socialization. It also discourages destructive behaviors, including but not limited to hyperactivity, rough play and biting, excessive barking and whining, and predatory behavior.

Satisfying Sleep
Perhaps just as important as a place to play and exercise is a safe and comfortable place for puppies to rest afterward. Because puppies are growing at a high rate, their bodies must use and restore significant amounts of energy. Similar to humans, puppies require slightly more sleep than their adult counterparts. Any time outside of these resting periods is used to establish familiarity with their environments and other learning.

To lend your customers’ puppies some shelter for both play and naptime, there’s the easy-to-install P.L.A.Y. Tunnel.

“The P.L.A.Y Tunnel pops open to create an appealing place for your pet to play, train or even flop down for a nap,” said a release from the company. “When you’re ready to go, it folds flat for easy carrying.”

P.L.A.Y’s Snuggle Bed gives finicky pets the ultimate versatility and comfort of a plush bed. It’s sewn with dirt-resistant canvas on one side and luxurious faux fur on the other. The bed is convertible, allowing owners or pets to mold it into a variety of shapes and fitting a range of uses, conforming to individual lifestyles. Snuggle Beds are OEKO-TEX certified safe, 100-percent machine washable and available in three sizes and colors.

P.L.A.Y.’s Chill Pads are also luxuriously soft, durable and suit a variety of living spaces.

“Throw them around in your office, in front of a fireplace or in the back of your car,” the release continued. “They also double up as nifty cushions for your pet’s crate.”

Just like the Snuggle Bed, Chill Pads are OEKO-TEX certified safe and 100-percent machine washable.

For pet owners with a particular country-esque style, there is MuttNation’s collection of loungers. Inspired by and curated by country singer Miranda Lambert, the MuttNation Square Cuddler Bed with Fringe provides cozy comfort for dogs with its shearling interior. The bed is available in cowhide, denim or pink plaid prints and comes in one size suitable for small dogs. A Leather Printed Lounger with a Dig & Burrow feature is also available and suited for small dogs.

For pet owners using a crate, molly mutt’s wool crate pads are made in the USA with 100-percent natural materials. The wool crate pads provide cooling and warming benefits and are designed with patterns to complement home décor. They are naturally anti-bacterial, dirt resistant and water repellant. According to the company, the wool is also powerfully absorbent, wicking away moisture from the pad’s surface, the smallest size of which would likely be most appropriate for puppies.

Must-Have Merchandise
Especially during the holiday season, pets and their owners are confronted with a potentially anxiety-inducing obligation: family gatherings. Company at the home often causes stress in pets, and constantly opening and closing front doors presents the risk of pets leaving the home without owners’ immediate notice.

Pawsitively Safe by Platinum Pets is a new lost pet finder system from the manufacturers best known for their colorful stainless steel dining bowls. Users simply sign up through the company’s registration system online and assign contact and pet information connected to a unique code embedded in each tag.

The system uses the power of social media to alert friends and neighbors of a lost pet, and to alert pet owners via text, phone or email once the pet is found. Keeping a pet’s identification up to date is important at any age, and reminding customers of that importance is another way to go the extra mile to help them live a safe and satisfying life with their canine companions.

And whether or not pet owners with puppies are expecting company, they’re sure to have recurring needs for hygienic and housetraining supplies.

QuickBath Puppy Shampoo from International Veterinary Sciences (IVS) is formulated for sensitive puppy skin and coats. It’s also a tearless product, making it a great solution for keeping pups happy and healthy.

Super-Wik Piddle Pads come from WikiWags, makers of a variety of pet diapers and wraps for discouraging male dogs from marking owners’ homes.

“Puppies may be adorable, but they are curious and need our help to learn how to behave in our homes,” noted Louise Payten on the WikiWags company blog. “When it comes to housetraining, they need pads that can stand up to their best efforts to seek and destroy anything that’s chewable.”

The Piddle Pads are made to hold dog’s liquid waste, and reduce both odors and the amount of time owners spend cleaning. The company provides tips and tricks for effectively using their products in a blog at www.wikiwags.com. When conferring with customers, retailers should let pet owners know that Piddle Pads are made for those that:

• Do not have a safe outside space or frequently experience bad weather that prevents dog walking
• Have puppies that have not yet been vaccinated and therefore are not safe for exposure to certain outdoor contagions
• Have puppies with problems waiting until they get outside for a walk
• Work long hours and have to leave puppies alone for extended periods of time

For pet owners with varied lifestyles, it is important for them to find products and services that will allow them to keep their puppies happy and healthy. Retailers would be wise to offer solutions that some customers might not have previously considered—and therein lies the value of the local pet shop.

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