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Pet parents are seeking new-age solutions to age-old problems

How modern solutions to gaps in pet care are bringing relief to pet parents

Pet parents are turning to innovative solutions to access quality pet care.
Pet parents are turning to innovative solutions to access quality pet care. (Courtesy Wiggles )

There were about 32 million pets in India in 2022, more than double the figure in 2016-17, according to an August 2022 report in Mint. Unlike the generations before, millennials and Gen Z don’t see their pets through the lens of ownership; they are family. As this shift is becoming more evident than ever, especially after the spike during the pandemic, first-time pet parents are also coming across the many gaps that exist in pet care.

When pets are seen as either kept animals or status symbols, their well-being is not a priority for many. In contrast, pet parents are heavily invested in pet care and are driving growth in the sector. “Today, we use the term pet parents, not the owner. This shift in language points towards a cultural shift. For pet parents, their pets are an important part of their daily lives and are considered in decisions about the future. They invest in pet healthcare, keep a tab on their diets and are better attuned to their needs,” Anushka Iyer, founder of pet care platform Wiggles, explains.

Also read: 5 simple ways to get your dog to trust you

However, when there is increased focus, the gaps are difficult to push under the carpet. Some of the age-old issues continue to challenge today’s pet parents.

Lack of information

The main one is the lack of accessible information. Earlier this year, in a survey conducted by Supertails, an online platform for pet care needs, most of the surveyed Gen Z pet parents highlighted the lack of reliable information, especially for first-timers. This gap is linked to a lack of quality research regarding pet care, says Iyer.

“While the research and development field about pet healthcare is growing, easily accessible essential information is still lacking for pet parents,” she points out.

Pet parents, especially first-timers, don’t know what to do and are heavily reliant on information available online, which is not always reliable. What to do if your pet eats something you are unsure about? Should all dogs avoid chocolate? There are buzzing questions, but inaccessibility can make it difficult to find the right information. One of the ways this gap is currently being addressed is through pet telehealth, which specifically boomed since the pandemic. The need for telehealth was strongly felt during the Covid-19 pandemic, that restricted people to their homes and put a stop to mobility.

In 2021, Practo, an India-based integrated health company, and Plum, an insurance health company, rolled out their pet telemedicine consultations, which came as a relief for many pet parents, especially in urban and semi-urban areas.

Quality food

The global pet care market size is estimated to be at $235.32 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow to increase by more than $100 billion by 2030, according to Fortune Business Insights. However, pet products, specifically quality food, are still a challenge. 

“For pet parents, ensuring their pets’ diets are packed with the necessary nutrition to build their immunity can be challenging. For instance, in packaged food, often the meat used is discarded parts, not considered as right for human consumption. But, how is that okay for pets to consume?” Iyer says. Understanding this issue, Wiggles started by making limited fresh food for pets with transparency about what goes into it, and as the demand grew, they ventured into dry food products, Iyer adds.

Today, initiatives are also looking at alternate solutions to ensure pet food is rich in nutrients. For instance, Loopworm has creates insect-based proteins that can be used in pet foods. "Insects have huge quantities of protein, fats, and amino acids. Consequently, the extracted protein is superior to other protein sources and has high digestibility. Especially for dogs and cats,” Ankit Alok Bagaria, co-founder of Loopworm told Lounge in a previous article. 

Supporting this point, Dr Shahid Vaseem, director of The TrustiVet Pet Hospital, Bengaluru, who had more than 18 years of experience in the field had said in the article that insect-based pet food will see a boom in the near future. 

Innovative solutions

Pet care solutions are also shifting towards addressing pet health issues through food. Iyer talks about how a big pain point among pets is hip dysplasia, which can lead to arthritis. “In Europe, I came across how cannabis-based oil (CBD) is used to address the issue. Although it is a grey space in India, we did research and realised that CBD oil helps. There are new age solutions that even I never heard of.” According to Wiggles, their Hemp seed oil helps dogs and cats with pain anxiety relief and is India's first anti-inflammatory and skin soother for topical and oral use. 

There are also other innovations to help pet parents provide quality care for their furry ones. For instance, it can be a struggle to get pets to take medicine in the form of pills. Instagram is filled with reels by pet parents trying to hide the pill in sausage or treats, only for the dogs to gulp down the food and spit out the pill. Today, there are oral strips that are coated with medicine or supplements that pets seem to prefer. “Strips make it easier for pets to get the medicines without much fuss and unnecessary struggle,” Iyer says. 

Along with strips, there is also liquid nutrition available for pets, which is especially helpful when they are on a liquid diet after surgeries or under recommendation by a veterinarian.

Also read: Pet care on a budget

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