From all-natural pet diets to virtual training sessions, here's how experts predict we will care for our dogs and cats in the new year.

By Caroline Biggs
December 14, 2020
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The pet industry is booming. According to the 2019-2020 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 67 percent of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 84.9 million homes, and the numbers are only rising due to the surge in pet adoptions during the COVID-19 pandemic. And if you ask any pet parent they're likely to say the same: Their furry friends are like family members. "Pets are like children and should be treated as such," says Veronica Becchetti, co-founder and head of production at Wild One. "If you eat clean to feel good, your pet should as well, and if you take vitamins or supplements to maintain your health, you want the same for your pet."

close-up of woman cuddling a tabby cat
Credit: Getty Images

Curious what trends will dominate the pet industry in 2021? We reached out to Phillip Cooper, president of Pet Industry Expert, and a handful of other pet industry authorities what trends will be popular for dogs and cats in the new year and here's what he had to say.

All-Natural Pet Foods and Treats

Just like people are growing more and more wary of eating overly processed foods, Cooper says pet owners are demanding higher quality diets for their pets. "The all-natural segment is showing great growth," he explains. "Bigger dog food makers are responding by adjusting protein levels and adding fresh ingredients."

An increased interest in all-natural pet diets has also led to the rise of eco-friendly organic foods and treats, including plant-based treats, such as Wild One's Organic Fruit Salad Treats ($8, wildone.com), as well as kibbles made with protein-rich insects, like Jiminy's Cricket Crave Dog Food ($21.95, amazon.com). "All-natural products offer better health for pets along with environmental side benefits," says Anne Carlson, founder and CEO of Jiminy's. "Organic food also removes pesticides from the equation, so there's less groundwater contamination along with a reduced impact on some wild animal species like bees."

Pet-Friendly Cleaning Products

The rise in pet ownership during COVID-19 has also led to an increase in pet-safe cleaning products on the market. Major home brands have released a slew of pet-minded products, like the chemical-free Casabella No Bones About It Sponge ($8, amazon.com) and the supersized Evercare Pet Mega Floor Lint Roller ($18.32, amazon.com), all designed to make living with (and cleaning up after) dogs and cats a breeze. "The importance of cleanliness is at an all-time high, as we are spending more time at home with our pets," says Pippa Peterson, Director of Brand Marketing at Bradshaw International. "Home care is self-care, and it is an important part of our well-being routine."

Natural Pet Toys

An interest in all-natural pet food and treats has also led to a surge in eco-friendly pet toys composed of all-natural materials, like organic cotton and natural rubber. "Natural toys are better for animals," Becchetti says. "Items made of natural materials, like our BPA-and-phthalate-free Triangle Tug ($24, wildone.com) and Twist Toss ($18, wildone.com), are both nontoxic and ethically constructed. "We see this as less of a trend, and more of a movement as sustainable and 'clean' pet products continue to gain momentum."

Pet Insurance

If you don't already have insurance for your pet, Cooper says now is the time to opt in. "Fifteen percent of dog owners now purchase pet insurance," he explains. "Since pets have been elevated to child status, pet parents are willing to spend extra to keep their pets in good health and to live as long as possible. Pet insurance has filled this need and offers a way to help with unexpected pet health issues."

Along with providing financial assistance during emergencies, certain pet insurance plans, including Pets Best, also offer optional wellness plans, which can help owners save money on anticipated veterinary expenses, like shots, medications, and spaying or neutering. "As pet parents face the challenge of providing the best medical care for their pets, pet insurance allows them to afford the right course of treatment and care for their pets while protecting against major financial setbacks," says Jonathan Wainberg, Senior Vice President and GM at CareCredit Pet.

Virtual Pet Services

With pandemic-related safety measures to follow, Cooper says virtual pet services, such as online veterinary counseling and training classes, are becoming more popular than ever. "COVID-19 has forced the industry to make many changes and adapt as needed," he explains. "Vets are banding together by state to offer online vet visits for health check-ups, as well as curbside visits and in- home visits."

CBD for Pets

If you thought humans were the only species jumping on the CBD trend, then Cooper says you're mistaken. "CBD use for pets is still a very fast-growing trend," he explains. "Many CBD firms are now launching CBD treats touted as a treatment for many ailments." Popular CBD brands such as Medterra, have released a wide range of CBD products including CBD-infused chews and drops, so your four-legged family members can reap the benefits of all-natural CBD, include joint and digestive support as well as anxiety relief.

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