Cool for the Summer
Retailers can provide valuable tips and personalized product recommendations that help pets stay safe during the dog days of summer.
From road trips to beach vacations, more and more pet owners are taking their furry companions on outdoor adventures, which makes summertime safety a significant concern. Fortunately, manufacturers have met this increased need for pet protection with innovative, premium, and even stylish, safety solutions. With such a wide offering, retailers can serve as valuable guides who help customers choose products that provide optimal pet protection.
The first step retailers can take in managing the summer safety category is anticipating the unique challenges pets will face during summertime. While customers may be familiar with preventing pets from becoming dehydrated or overheated, it’s up to retailers to make sure they are aware of less-known summer safety tips. With new products on the market, retailers can help pet parents choose products that keep pets protected on land, in a car, at night or near water.
Due to the “doggy paddle,” many pet parents may be under the false impression that their pups are inherently skilled swimmers. However, such assumptions put dogs at an increased risk of drowning when they spend time at summer destinations like the pool, lake or beach. Luckily, retailers can offer customers an array of options that keep dogs safe while swimming.
Indianapolis-based Fido Pet Products manufactures PAWS Aboard Pet Life Jackets, which come in bright colors and patterns. They combine fashion with function by making sure canines stay visible.
“Dogs can unpredictably jump into water or sometimes wear themselves out and are too tired to swim all the way back to land,” says Carrie Hughes, vice president of Fido Pet Products. “A thoughtful feature of our lifejackets is a handle on top for this exact reason—picking the dog up or helping it get back to dry ground.”
The company also produces PAWS Aboard water toys that float. One of its top sellers is the Life Ring, a lifesaver-shaped toy that features rope handles. Dogs can also chill out with the company’s Lazy Raft, a paw print-shaped pool float that they can rest comfortably on. Both of these products are viable options that retailers can offer customers who are worried that their pups’ favorite toys may not be waterproof.
ZippyPaws is another manufacturer helping pups stay safe and entertained in the water. Based in Chino, Calif., the company has seen a recent spike in sales of its Adventure Life Jacket.
“We’ve focused on providing our customers with an economical way to have fun with their dogs in the great outdoors,” explains Mark Watkins, sales manager of ZippyPaws. “For those people who love to have their dogs around the water, our Life Jackets can provide a sense of security, especially for dogs who might not be the strongest swimmers. Or if a dog is going to spend a lot of time in the water, it helps to conserve their energy when they can float easily.”
Like Fido Pet Products, Zippypaws also has an aquatic toy line. The company’s Floaterz are buoyant, lightweight rings shaped like animals that are perfect for playing fetch in the pool.
The Dog Flotation Device offered by EzyDog also keeps pool playtime safe. Based in Sandpoint, Idaho, the company makes it a mission to help dogs stay by their owners’ side during outdoor adventures.
“Several EzyDog products draw inspiration from water sports and are designed to enable dogs to join in their peoples’ lifestyle,” says Bryant Baxter, marketing sales coordinator at the company. “We source the very best materials so that our products are both comfortable and durable.”
With a rugged and stylish design, the Dog Flotation Device has vibrant colors and reflective piping for easy identification. The vest is also designed to have an ergonomic fit, and comes in a size suitable for smaller dogs.
In addition to drowning prevention, EzyDog also aims to protect pups from other hazards that come with aquatic adventures. While customers may think that a dog’s fur provides built-in protection from sunburn, retailers can explain that this is not the case and offer products like EzyDog’s Rashies. These shirts are made from fast-drying, stretchable fabric that provides 50+ UV protection and prevents heat rash. They can be worn both in and out of the water.
According to Baxter, the Rashies are a convenient way to keep pups safe in the summertime. “They’re ready for all-day water use and are super easy to clean at the end of a long day at the beach,” he says.
Dress for Success
Life jackets and sun shirts are not the only garments available for keeping pets safe during the hottest time of the year. As pet owners take their canine companions on summer hikes and strolls, visibility is a key safety concern. Retailers can offer wearable options that will make sure a pup is easy to spot.
“If you’re walking or hiking in areas with larger obstructions, safety vests provide a greater opportunity for your dog to be seen,” says Marcy Ream, director of marketing for Coastal Pet Products.
The Alliance, Ohio-based company manufacturers the Reflective Safety Vest, which comes in neon colors and has long reflective stripes. It completely covers a dog’s back. The company also has a line of Lazer Brite collars and leashes that feature 3M reflective material and are visible from up to 600 ft. away.
A two-in-one product, ZippyPaws’ Cooling Vests also increase visibility while preventing dogs from overheating. According to Watkins, “They’re very convenient for on the go because they require no cooling packs. Simply soak the cooling vest in cool water for a few minutes and the vest will keep pups cool for hours. Since they’re brightly colored and have reflective stripes, they also double as a safety vest in keeping dogs more visible in low-light conditions.”
For Len Horowitz, founder and CEO of 4 Paws Tech, a seen dog is a safe dog—especially at night. Headquartered in Glen Head, N.Y., his company offers the NightLight LED collar and leash. Equipped with USB-rechargeable batteries, the leash and collar light up with the push of a button.
Horowitz took a personal approach in creating his company’s technology. “I had many instances where the safety and security of my dog was challenged when I was walking her throughout the day,” he says. “Dog safety through visibility is the core to our brand and was the catalyst to starting 4 Paws Tech.”
The company plans to release its Series II LED Collar at SuperZoo. This product features lights with three color options and is completely waterproof for late night summer swims.
On the Road
With summer as the most popular season for vacation, many pet owners take their animal companions on road trips and look for ways to make the journey safer. Retailers can use this trend to their advantage by carrying and selling pet products perfect for extended car travel.
“Thankfully, the world has come to adopt the same philosophy we have always had, which is that your pet is your family member, therefore you want to bring them on all of your adventures,” says Hughes of Fido Pet Products. “Summer safety includes car safety as well for all of those who take summer road trips.”
Fido Pet Products offers the FidoRido, a car seat made for one to two dogs up to 30 lbs. The unique product uses a two-point harness system and easily installs with a regular seatbelt. A dog can stand, lie down or look out the window while still being restrained.
Coastal Pet Products’ Bergan Auto Harness is another safe travel product available. Crash-tested, it features a padded chest plate and continuous webbing that disperses pressure. It doubles as a walking harness with both back and front d-rings for leash attachment.
According to Ream, retailers can promote summer safety products like the Bergan Auto Harness through specific strategies, such as featuring products in special sections and themed endcaps.
“Training associates on products specific to summer use is another option that improves customers’ in-store experience,” she adds. “We also recommend that associates try the products on their own pets, so they can give firsthand recommendations to customers.”
For ZippyPaws’ Watkins, having knowledgeable and personable staff is also important for promoting these safety aids. “It comes down to having good salespeople who can ask the right questions and are knowledgeable enough about products to determine the best options for customers, based on their needs and their budget,” he explains.
Timing is also an important concern for retailers, as staying ahead of the curve assures greater success in selling seasonal items.
“Having these products in stock and ready to sell at the beginning of the season is key,” says Baxter of EzyDog. “Retailers should remember to offer a variety of colors and sizes, and follow good merchandising practices.”
By combining these tactics with a comprehensive range of products that address even unexpected safety concerns, retailers can seize success in their summertime sales. PB