Innovation That Matters

Five business ideas aimed at cats, dogs & their doting owners

Work & Lifestyle

We love our pets. US consumers spent USD 45.5 billion on them in 2009, according to the American Pet Products Association. Increasingly, a good chunk of this money goes toward treating domestic animals in ways that reflect their owners’ own lifestyle choices. Here are five products and services that reflect this anthropomorphic trend: 1. FIDO FACTOR — Fido Factor is a US directory of dog-friendly restaurants, venues, bookstores and other establishments. The site encourages user-generated content through its iPhone app, Facebook integration, and with the promise of a donation to San Francisco SPCA when new content gets added for that city. 2. COUNTRY DOGS — Country Dogs forms partnerships with farm owners near US cities to create boarding facilities for dogs in disused barns, stables or other outbuildings. Touting itself as a more stress-free alternative to urban kennels, the service emphasizes fresh air and exercise for customers’ pets in a spacious, rural environment. 3. VET CARE EXPRESS — Vet Care Express provides emergency and non-emergency transport for sick and injured pets in the Florida area. They also provide a taxi service when pets need to be moved from A to B without their owners. Their ‘animal ambulances’ are fully equipped with appropriate cages, gurneys and first aid facilities. 4. VIYO — Prebiotic drinks such as Yakult and Actimel have become highly successful in recent years by combining some fairly sober medical rationale about immune systems with upbeat and positive lifestyle marketing. Inevitably, there’s now a Belgian prebotic for pets. Viyo comes in a cat formula and a dog formula, with varieties for different ages. Like its equivalents for humans, the drink contains friendly bacteria plus nutrients, vitamins and other supplements. 5. PET SPEAKERS — Cats and dogs are sensitive to a much wider sound frequency range than their owners. Pet hearing specialists Pet Acoustics have created a music system designed to please man and beast alike: My Pet Speaker eliminates frequencies that go unnoticed by human listeners but could unsettle cats, dogs, and horses too. Plus the controls are all positioned so they can’t be flicked by passing tails. Spotted by: Cecilia Biemann, Tom van Daele and Bill McMahon


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