To meet modern consumers’ demands, manufacturers are energizing the dog bowl category with innovative designs, materials and functionalities.
With almost all the attention on pet food trends, such as raw diets or the benefits of natural ingredients, it’s easy to overlook what that food is served in.
However humble they may appear, dog bowls, too, have been undergoing a transformation in recent years.
“Today’s customer wants new, new, new all of the time. We are constantly developing to meet that demand. This means new styles, new designs and new modes of functionality,” says Gretchen George, president of Wilmington, Mass.-based PetRageous Designs.
Even though it may seem like dog bowls have been placed on the back burner, it’s still worthwhile for retailers to stay up-to-date on the current trends, as many owners are buying multiple bowls for their pups.
“Every pet needs bowls every day for food and water. But also, it’s more than that—every pet needs bowls for different activities, such as daily use, back ups during washing, as well as for travel and the dog park,” says Eric Abbey, president and founder of Loving Pets in Cranbury, N.J.
Inspired by Home
One of the biggest influences on the dog bowl category in recent years has been home décor. The popularity of farmhouse and natural wood aesthetics, as seen on HGTV, for example, inspired one of Loving Pets’ newest collections.
“We created the new Wood Bowl collection to complement that style of home decor and offer the durability and beauty of wood, while still at an affordable price point,” says Abbey.
These handcrafted wood bowls and diners, which are part of Loving Pets’ Black Label Collection, include four different designs featuring the natural beauty of sustainable wood in a variety of finishes and powder-coated wrought iron. Each vessel is also composed of naturally anti-bacterial, veterinarian-recommended stainless steel insert bowls and anti-skid feet.
Similarly, Loving Pets’ Retro Bowls play on the resurgence of vintage styles. The super-durable melamine bowls with stainless steel inserts come in three shades that mimic a mid-century diner. The practical no-tip design and rubber-lined base also helps prevent spills, sliding and excess noise.
Other manufacturers, like PetRageous, are experimenting with non-traditional materials.
“Over the past few years, modern pet parents have moved away from plastics and are more concentrated in stoneware and stainless steel,” says George. “PetRageous Design’s thoughtful and creative designs with extra touches make all the difference separating our bowls from the competition.”
The company’s stoneware bowls are all about fun colors and designs. Two of the newest bowls feature a farmhouse style shiplap wood background and rustic font. For a more finished look, PetRageous offers a wide variety of stainless steel bowls.
“The evolution of the stainless steel category has allowed for much more decorative designs while maintaining their main purposes of being lightweight and durable,” says George.
The company’s new Tortuga stainless steel bowls, for example, are designed to look like a stoneware bowl with cute, dog-themed sayings scripted on the exterior.
Another non-traditional material making waves in the dog bowl category is glass. Pennsylvania-based Pawsitively Approved is at the forefront of the trend with its signature pet dishes made from “shatter-proof” borosilicate glass—a non-porous, healthy alternative to plastic.
“Pawsitively Approved made the decision to enter the pet industry with our glass products because we did not see anything that was new in pet bowls,” says Kathleen Sarniak Tanzola, CEO of Pawsitively Approved. “I wanted my [dog] Bailey to have a healthy alternative to what was on the market and, of course, share it with all of Bailey’s buds.”
Pet parents can rest assured knowing that Pawsitively Approved glass pet dishes glass are 100 percent non-toxic, non-leaching and FDA approved. The dishes come in three different sizes and eight color variations to fit all breeds and owner preferences. Plus, the dishes are spill proof, microwave safe, easy to clean and manufactured in the U.S.
The call for sustainable pet products has also made its way to the bowl category. Pura Naturals Pet eco-friendly bowls are crafted from rice hulls—the coating on grains of rice—harvested in the state of Arkansas. It is a Class-A thermal insulating material that can reduce heat and decrease the chance of mold or algae growing in the dish.
The New York-based company’s feeding sets are formaldehyde- and BPA-free, and non-toxic. They come with two bowls on a non-skid slip resistant tray and are available in two different sizes and three colors (natural, herb and slate).
“Our bowl is ideal for the family pet that’s eating inside. Our tray has four rubber grommets so it stays in place. The groove on the tray locks the bowl in place—no more chasing bowls around your kitchen,” says Julie Creed, vice president, sales and marketing at Pura Naturals Pet.
For pet parents looking for something more elegant than contemporary, Pets Stop is taking dog bowl to the next level—literally.
The Illinois-based manufacturer offers a full line of heavy-duty elevated diners in a wide range of sizes and classic styles. All of Pet Stops’ diners are made with high-quality, high-end materials. The new Noor Dog Diner, for instance, is an elegant, raised double dog feeder with a whitewashed hardwood ash top, solid steel base and angled iron legs.
The raised design isn’t just about looks, though. It’s also about health. By lifting bowls up five to 12 inches off of the ground, dogs don’t have to bend as far down to eat. This position can aid in digestion, prevent bloat and help older dogs with arthritis avoid pain.
Finding the Right Fit
Despite popular opinion, food and water bowls are not necessarily one size fits all. Breed, size, feeding habits and lifestyle should all be taken into consideration when choosing feeding suppliers. To maximize success in the category, retailers should make an effort to help customers identify the right bowl for their pup.
“We certainly suggest first and foremost to get an understanding of the type of dog and the home environment it lives in including the habits of the owner,” advises George.
Ask customers questions such as:
• Does your dog exhibit difficulty or reluctance to eat?
• Is your dog eating too quickly?
• Does your dog spend the day home alone?
• What part of the home do you place water and food bowls in?
• Does your dog travel a lot with you?
Another great way to capture customers’ attention and drive sales is to offer live demonstrations. “Keep some diners at floor level, and maybe even fill them up with water for customers who bring their dogs to the store,” says Milan Bhandari, co-founder of Pet Stop.
As for the future of the category, industry experts anticipate a continued interest in alternative materials and fresh designs.
“I believe the future is one where the consumer searches for and demands safe and healthy products for their pets and the environment,” says Sarniak Tanzola. “Consumers want products that are easy to clean, stay put, are microwave safe and add a design element to their space.” PB