Glenn Polyn//July 29, 2020
Glenn Polyn //July 29, 2020
It’s that time of year again to deck the halls—or shelves—with holiday-themed pet products. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic impacting countless lives and bringing many challenges, retailers and manufacturers believe that now, more than ever, is a time to think about “the most wonderful time of the year.” The holiday season is meant to be filled with love and joy, which is just the thing to boost our spirits from the difficult times many of us have been facing this year.
Since the pandemic has led us to spend more time at home, many pet industry leaders agree that this year’s holiday festivities are going to be filled with lots of gift giving, especially for our beloved pets who have provided us with much needed comfort and entertainment. This is why brands are not only bringing back some holiday favorites, but also introducing new products to give pets and pet owners something extra special for facing adversity.
As a retailer, Woof Gang Bakery knows there is a small window to sell products, so the specialty retailer brings in Halloween-themed iced treats for its signature dining table.
“Customers love to have something to treat their pets without the trick,” said Samantha Lee, vendor relations manager and corporate buyer at Woof Gang Bakery, which is based in Orlando, Florida.
As the winter months approach, Woof Gang Bakery brings in such winter wear as coats, sweaters and jackets to keep companion animals warm and cozy. Lee also says this is the time where holiday-themed accessories like hats, antlers, collar ruffs and bow ties are a great item to keep stocked—customers are always searching for items to make their pets look festive and camera ready, and these accessories become even more popular when shared on social media.
Lee says that in addition to these wearable items, themed toys are always important to have on hand for customers looking to spoil their pets with gifts during the holidays. And much like Halloween, Woof Gang Bakery’s signature treats and iced cookies are consistently the top selling holiday items for customers, according to Lee, because they make a great hostess gift for parties and lots of new faces shop in the store buying gifts for pet lovers in their life.
Lee explains that over the last three months pet owners have been spending tons of time with their pets at home due to the pandemic. Because of this, the human-animal bond has grown even stronger and more people than ever are looking at their pets as full-fledged family members.
“Like children, customers are going to add those four-legged family members to their shopping list come holiday season,” Lee stated. “I think this will especially be true in cases where people were social distancing with just their pet, a gift for making quarantine a little less lonely.”
A brand that specializes in treats is Barking Buddha Pet Products, a family-owned and -operated company dedicated to making healthy and delicious treats.
“Barking Buddha makes all-natural, single-ingredient dog treats for the dog lovers who want to spoil their furbabies with grass-fed, free-range, sustainably sourced treats,” said Lucy Caprez, marking director for the brand. “Our single-ingredient chews and treats are all-natural, healthy and safe for your dog; there are no hormones or preservatives added. We source responsibly with sustainability in mind. Apart from our Buddha Bubbles organic dog shampoo, we only sell dog treats that we know are delicious even for the pickiest of pets.”
This fall the company will be launching its newest chew that follows its famous Beef Cheek Slices and Rolls. The newest product that will be launching just in time for Thanksgiving and the winter holidays will be Pork Cheek Roll wrapped in Beef Jerky. Available in two sizes, small (5-6 inches) and large (10-11 inches).
To make things more festive, Barking Buddha has created a gift-worthy option for retailers to help their customers spread joy with their beloved pups.
“At the same time, we will also make available the Three Kings Holiday Pack, which will consist of a case pack of three small Pork Cheek Rolls wrapped in Beef Jerky inside a bag that will also include a free sample of Buddha Bubbles Travel Size Shampoo and Conditioner,” Caprez explained. “Basically, the customer will buy the pack of three small Pork Cheek Rolls and get a free travel-size set of Buddha Bubbles just in time for the holiday season… and what’s better than a good ham for your dog’s holiday dinner?”
For pet parents who have dogs with a sweet tooth, The Lazy Dog Cookie Co. continues its tradition of holiday-themed treats, with past favorites Mutt Cracker Sweets and Home for the Holidays being offered again this season. As Lazy Dog’s vice president of sales Keith Augustine explains, the New York-based company is once again excited about its festive packaging, which has a vintage style that consumers love.
“You really see nostalgic packaging all over in both human food and pet treats, and I think it’s something that resonates with the retailer and the consumer,” he noted.
DuckyWorld, the makers of Yeowww! Catnip, has one fall toy and four holiday toys. The holiday toys consist of Yeowww!-tide Candy Cane, perfect size for bunny kicking; Kris Krinkle Holiday Tree; Yeowww! Stocking, which is the ideal size for batting around; and Dreidel Krinkle, which has crinkle and fuzzy fabric for added texture and fun. The fall toy, Yeowww!-loween Pumpkin is a three-inch toy filled with 100 percent Yeowww! Organically grown catnip.
“While it’s not a new toy, we see the demand growing every year. We think social media plays a big part of this because people love to post themed content,” said Kris Kaiser, digital marketing specialist for DuckyWorld Products.
DuckyWorld also offers three gift bundles and two holiday displays, including its Holiday Kitten Kaboodle which includes all of its holiday items and most gifted toys. And while it doesn’t have any new holiday toys this year, Kaiser says its Sun, Moon & Stars released earlier this year and is perfect for gifting. It’s a set of three out-of-this-world toys that feature fun shapes and textures, which is sure to send even the most pampered cats into orbits of delight and keep them entertained for hours.
Kaiser believes pet owners will be eager to spoil their pets this season, especially following the difficulties from the COVID-19 pandemic, because pets are stay-at-home companions, coworkers and VIP family members, as well as a source of entertainment.
“Watching a cat bunny kick and bat a toy around during a catnip high is prettying entertaining! Over the past few years, we’ve seen our holiday toys sales growth double, and we often sell out by fall. We expect this year to have just as much holiday demand,” Kaiser explained.
Over 15 years ago, Merrick Pet Care started cooking up tasty, nutritious and whimsical seasonally-inspired recipes for dogs like Grammy’s Pot Pie, Turducken and Thanksgiving Day Dinner, and continues to introduce seasonal Merrick recipes each year.
“Over the last few years, we have introduced holiday-inspired varieties of our popular Zuke’s Mini Naturals training treats. Pet parents find that the small, pumpkin- and tree-shaped treats are the perfect size to fit every trainable moment that pops up during the holiday season,” said Jilliann Smith, director of communications for Merrick Pet Care.
Smith says Merrick is bringing back these popular seasonal varieties of Zuke’s Mini Naturals again this year. Zuke’s Mini Naturals Pumpkins are perfect for trick-or-treating around Halloween or celebrating Thanksgiving. The treats are made with high-quality, seasonal ingredients like turkey and pumpkin. Zuke’s Mini Naturals Trees are a great holiday training treat, crafted with festive ingredients like turkey and cranberries. They also make the perfect stocking stuffer for four-legged companions. Merrick is also bringing back its popular Christmas Day Dinner recipe, which is a perennial favorite from past seasons according to Smith.
“We’re also introducing a brand new, limited-edition Merrick recipe for the fall season: Sweater Weather Supper. It’s a hearty recipe that features deboned bison with green beans, sweet potatoes, turkey and cranberries in gravy,” Smith said.
Smith explains that Merrick always tries to tap into food trends and pop culture with its whimsical Merrick recipes. As more pet parents pick out stylish sweaters to keep their dogs warm in the crisp fall weather, Merrick believes they will get a kick out of its newest offering.
“And we can’t wait to see adorable photos of pups wearing their cozy sweaters while enjoying a bowl of our hearty Sweater Weather Supper,” Smith added.
After this challenging year, Smith expects many will try to make the holidays even more special for their families. And for pet parents, this means looking for ways to get four-legged family members more involved in the festivities.
“While people spoil their pets year-round, the holiday season always gives us more reasons—or excuses—to give pets a special treat, meal or gift,” Smith said.
This year, Walkee Paws will be strongly promoting its new collection of skulls Howl-O-Ween dog wear. The collection consists of striking skull and cross-bone leggings, leashes and harnesses to make any pup Howl-O-Ween ready.
“Our Walkee Paws 2-in1 Harness is designed to pair perfectly with Walkee Paws Leggings. It features a reversible design with a different print on each side so consumers can change the pattern each day to match dogs’ mood or outfit,” said Lisa Baronoff, founder and CEO of Walkee Paws. “And if you can’t get enough of our doggone cute prints, pair pups’ leggings with our new Walkee Paws Leash!”
The Walkee Paws 2-in-1 Harness features adjustable chest strap, water-repellant neoprene fabric that’s quick to dry and secure buckle for extra safety. It’s also easy to put on and take off. The Walkee Paws Leash is super durable and long-lasting with a heavy-duty leash clip and has an additional D-ring at the base of the handle to attach keys or a poop bag holder. The standard 6-foot leash is available in three sizes: Small (0.6 inches wide), Medium (0.8 inches wide) and Large (1.0 inches wide).
In addition, Walkee Paws Leggings are not only on-trend and Halloween inspired, but they are also functional as the rubber paw area is waterproof and protects dogs from rain, snow, chemicals and germs. According to Baronoff, this is particularly relevant now as pet parents are looking to keep their homes clean and prevent pooches from tracking in dirt after walks, especially as many have their dogs sleep in bed with them.
Baronoff believes pet owners will be eager to spoil their pets this season because many more pet parents have adopted pandemic puppies and rescue dogs.
“With the continued trend toward humanizing dogs, pet parents will be looking for fun and functional gear to celebrate their pups. Walkee Paws provides worry-free walks and now with a bold and scary Howl-O-Ween pattern, too!” she said.
While TropiClean Pet Products isn’t introducing any holiday-themed pet products, its Fresh Breath by TropiClean Dental Chew Toy is the perfect stocking stuffer for furry friends.
“Fresh Breath by TropiClean Dental Chew Toy is a fresh and fun way to address pets’ oral health. Dogs can clean their teeth and freshen their breath by doing what they most—playing!” said James Brandly, associate trade marketing manager at Cosmos Corporation.
The toy includes Fresh Breath by TropiClean Oral Care Gel and one Fresh Breath Dental Stick. Pet parents just have to apply the gel within the deep pockets of the toy and insert one Fresh Breath Dental Stick inside the toy. The bristles of the toy and the dental stick simulate brushing while the gel helps remove plaque and tartar and freshen their breath, all while pups enjoy playing.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has meant spending more time at home, and bonding with our pets more than ever. Our Fresh Breath by TropiClean Dental Chew Toy is a perfect way to show our dogs how much we care about them by giving them a fun toy that also helps address their oral health needs,” Brandly explained.
West Paw has been making holiday toys for many years and each year, its holiday toys continue to drive a lot of interest and sales.
“People love to spoil their pets and treat them as part of the family, especially during the holidays, so we work to provide a gift-able and focused collection every year,” said Spencer Williams, CEO and president of West Paw. “We work to refresh and change it up every holiday season.”
This year’s holiday collection features festive accessories and toy options for various chew and play styles. West Paw is offering its best-selling Zisc frisbee and Hurley dog bone for a limited time in a ruby red color. For plush toys, it has holiday colors and buffalo check patterns in whimsical winter shapes like reindeer and a Montana bison.
“Our favorite new member of the holiday team is Merry Monster stuffed with IntelliLoft fill made from recycled plastic bottles,” Williams said. “He’s cute, furry and feisty. We know owners will be drawn to him and their dogs will go wild for him.”
West Paw also will continue to offer its new line of Freeze-dried and Creamy treats, which Williams says are sure to make a fantastic stocking stuffer for furry companions. But each year, West Paw also updates and introduces a well-edited collection of American-made holiday toys and accessories. The toy collections are seasonally sophisticated, and are made from plush, durable fabric that dogs will love to snuggle, tug at and toss around. And the holiday leashes and collars are made with recycled polyester. While the same webbing was used from last year, West Paw updated two of the patterns. Additionally, 100 percent of West Paw’s holiday collection of toys, leashes and collars are backed by its Love It Guarantee.
According to Williams, we have all spent more time at home with our pets and invariably became more appreciative of the unconditional love they provide us. Additionally, many people have fostered and/or adopted pets during the quarantine. And their consistent companionship during the COVID-19 outbreak has been much needed for so many during these difficult times.
“We have all had our own unique challenges, but by and large we’ve all been at home for extended periods of time. [This is] giving us that extra time to bond with our pets, either newly adopted or familiar family members, in a way we didn’t have before, so we anticipate our consumers wanting even more to indulge their pets this holiday season,” Williams said.