Natural ingredients, hand-made products, no plastics – many of today’s fastest-growing ‘human’ lifestyle choices are now shaping how we care for our pets. Here, award-winning Podium Pet Products – the company which has brough to market Dog Rocks and the all-new, all-natural Be:Loved pet care range – digs deeper into how animal lovers are putting the ‘nature’ back into pet nurture.
Whisper it quietly, but pet ‘ownership’ is a thing of the past… because a new era of true pet parenting is here. Just as we’ve been making more mindful, natural and sustainable shopping decisions for ourselves in recent years, we’re now doing the same for our beloved animals. By sharing our health and wellness preferences with our pets we feel they will be well cared for, comfortable and at their best. In short we’re not only treating them as part of the family, but also, effectively, human.
This ‘humanisation’ trend has been highlighted by major market studies for several years. But that doesn’t mean the surge in canine fashions that emerged in the early 2000s. Today, pet anthropomorphism has matured into a responsible, environmentally aware reflection of our modern consumer values.
A report into the UK pet care market by Mintel last July* shed some light on this growing trend. Of the 12.6 million pet-owning households in the UK (around 45% of all homes) 87% bought healthcare and pet accessories for their dogs, cats or other small animals in the past year, beyond their basic food, veterinary and insurance needs. Mintel also say we’re continuing to spend more money on our pets, fuelled both by our view of them as family members and by a forecast 15% growth in pet ownership by 2024 (not to mention the anecdotal number of extra paws welcomed by families during the 2020 lockdown). Jane Westgarth, a senior retail analyst at Mintel, explained: “Pets are ‘people’ too, in the eyes of most pet owners. And, just like treasured members of the family, pets are indulged with toys, stylish accessories and good quality pet care products. This ‘humanisation’ trend even stretches to pets being given their own Christmas and birthday gifts. People are also buying into technical products, such as fitness and activity monitors, again mirroring trends in the human marketplace.”
Research by Euromonitor International in May this year* agrees, reporting that pet humanisation has both strengthened the bond between owners and pets, and made their animals’ health, wellbeing and happiness a major consideration. Another Mintel study last September*also revealed that a third of UK dog food buyers now believe it’s good for their four-legged friends to regularly have plant-based meals; reflecting our own increasingly vegetarian or veganpreferences.
For pet care items too, we are attracted tonaturally formulated toiletries that pamper and clean, condition and soothe very similar to our own.One company that knows exactly what today’s pet parents are looking for in this regard is Berkshire-based Podium Pet Products. Specialisingin developing entirely natural, eco-friendly pet care ranges for furry friends around the world, the company was recognised with The Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade in 2016.CEO Carina Evans – who comes from a farming background and is anall-round animal lover – says it’s all about including our pets in the healthy lifestyle we aspire to ourselves.
“Where human priorities go, pet trends tend to follow,” she confirms. “If we feel that a product could be good for us, it will also be good for our much-loved animals. That’s why pet careranges incorporating wholesome,countryside ingredients such as such as honey, lavender, goat’s milk and chamomile are more popular than ever, along with healthfulextras like green tea, essential plant-based oils and selected vitamins.”
The packaging and the provenance of what we buy today is as important as the contents, she adds; with well designed, British-made ranges – in sustainable packaging – especially catching the eye of pet parents. “Whether for us or our animals, people want things in their homes that look lovely and smell delicious. British, artisan items also speak of traditional values and extra care taken to prepare them. We’re all trying to avoid unnecessary chemicals and plastics too, and that’s increasingly reflected in what we choose for our pets.”
To meet this growing demand, Podium Pet Products recently developed a 100% natural pet care range inspired by an oldanimal husbandry book discovered in Carina’s husband’s family. “My mother- and father-in-law were Dorset farmers. When money was scarce, they developed an amazing treasure trove of recipes – from soaps for grubby farming hands and paws to moisturising balms for callouses – all using nothing but what they could find in the hedgerows or from nature’s harvest. It’s these recipes and remedies that we have reimagined to give our four-legged friends the boost from mother nature they deserve.”
The result, Be:Loved, is an effective, luxurious range of all-natural soaps, balms, oils and scents handmade in the UK to keep animals in top condition and lovingly deal with those minor bumps and scrapes. Every product is free from synthetic preservatives, tested first on the company’s human team and is packed plastic-free. “We developed Be:Loved to delight both pets and their parents,” explains Carina. “There are four, gorgeous, goodness-filled shampoo bars for example, including antibacterial Be:Clean infused with growth-boosting green tea for the messiest coats; Be:Bugfree which includes insect-repelling citronella; Be:Vegan made with vegan hemp and chamomile that’s perfect for skin issues such as dandruff and eczema; and Be-Calm incorporating lavender and goat’s milk to help pets unwind after an adventurous day.”
Two, enriching nose and paw balms featuring shea butter and Vitamin E have also been formulated for on-the-go fixes: Be:Safe first aid cream with essential oils and moisturising beeswax to soothe minor grazes and stings; and Be:Loved which incorporates avocado oil and manuka honey to treat cracked paws, callouses or dry noses. To refresh a pet’s coat between washes there is also Be:Silky, a conditioning and relaxing pet massage rub featuring enriching botanical oils. And the home-owner’s comfort hasn’t been forgotten either: Be:Fresh probiotic sanitizing spray is on hand to clean, scent and protect homes and kennels; while the Be:Calm candle, crafted with sweet-smelling lavender and chamomile, uses enzymes to eliminate odours anywhere in the home.
Innovative Podium Pet Products has even created Dog Rocks, a clever solution to the unsightly yellow lawn burns caused by dog urine. These 100% natural, unique igneous rocks, found only in Australian mines, are placed in a dog’s water bowl where they effectively absorb the nitrates, ammonia and trace elements in tap water that usually cause burn patches. Carina explains: “We created Dog Rocks with the health and wellbeing of dogs and other family pets in mind. Unlike other products they are totally natural and don’t change urine pH – they simply mean the animal has purer, cleaner water to drink, plus the garden stays lovely.”
Carina concludes: “With even more of us at home for longer in these Covid times, it’s important to make the best of what we have while treating ourselves and our animals to different things. With Be:Loved and Dog Rocks we’re proud to please both pets and their parents with affordable, versatile, responsible care products that they can all enjoy!
Find out more
The Be:Loved range and Dog Rocks are available from a range of retailers and leading pet stores, as well as from www.wearebeloved.co and www.dogrocks.com. You can also join the Be:Loved community on Instagram by following @belovedpetz