Lap dogs of luxury: News for pampered pets

June 21, 1998|By Young Chang

Looking for a way to pay back that pet who does so much for you? You know, the one that helps reduce your depression and chance of heart disease, that might even get you a life-insurance discount? The answer might be found at next weekend's 40th Annual National Pet Products Trade Show in Atlanta.

Held by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, the June 25-27 trade show attracts manufacturers and buyers from all over the world, all looking for a niche in the $21 billion U.S. pet industry. Among its prime attractions is the New Products Showcase, previewing tomorrow's pet-product trends.

U.S. pet-owning households, which numbered 58 million in 1996, spent $12 billion that year on pet products alone, according to Funda Alp, the association's spokeswoman.

Among this year's New Product highlights: the Fool a Bug, an insect-avoiding food bowl on legs; the Bubbletank, a bubble-gum machine fashioned into an aquarium; and "My Dog Can Do That," a board game designed to be played by dogs and their owners.

There is a trend toward more luxurious pet products, the manufacturers association says. Alp says the reason is simple: "Consumers are developing closer bonds with their pets."

That claim seems to be borne out even outside the trade-show corridors. The Midland Life Insurance Co., for instance, offers a better rate on life insurance for qualified applicants who own pets. Extensive research has shown that pets can improve their owners' emotional and physical health, says Midland's Deborah Knight, so applicants over 65 are asked about pet ownership.

To give voice to these deepening bonds, Pet Love, a division of Hallmark Cards Inc., has launched a line of all-occasion greeting cards meant to be given from pet to pet, pet to owner, or vice versa.

But if a card alone can't express your feelings, how about making a gesture in that always contentious owner-pet struggle - bath time - with the Rinse Ace Pet Shower, a pet-oriented shower massage?

"It's got a nice spray ... so it does have a massaging effect," says Patty Mueller of the Idea Factory, its manufacturer.

You'll have Fido eating out of your hand.

Pub Date: 6/21/98

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