The ability to offer a unique and innovative mix of products has long been the cornerstone of success for pet specialty retailers. But as increased competition from other retail channels and a turbulent economy have raised the stakes for these often relatively small retail operations, it has become more important than ever for pet store owners and operators to identify the latest and greatest merchandise to hit the market.
To help retailers in this effort, Pet Business uses its annual Industry Recognition Awards as a platform to honor standout products across a variety of pet care categories. To find the lineup of award winners, the editors of Pet Business search through tons of vendor press releases, the aisles of the industry’s major trade shows and even local pet store shelves to find the most exciting and functional products that the industry has to offer. Of course, in an industry well-known for its high level of innovation, picking just one winner in each category can be quite difficult. But we’ve narrowed down the field, and the winners of the 2011 Pet Business Industry Recognition Awards are…
Quaker Pet Group
Hear Doggy! Ultrasonic Squeaky Toys
Hear Doggy! Ultrasonic Squeaky Toys feature a squeaker that only dogs can hear. Because dogs hear sounds at a higher frequency (0 to 45 KHz) than humans (0 to 20 KHz), the Hear Doggy! squeaker is tuned to the 24 to 28 KHz range. The toys are available in two plush designs. The stuffed toys are available in small or large and feature Blowfish, Whale and Penguin characters. The Flats designs are available in Deer, Rabbit and Skunk characters.
Cycle Dog collars are designed and manufactured from reclaimed bike inner tubes. The line includes nine solid colors and nine custom pattern designs. Each collar features the patent-pending Latch-Lock, a seatbelt-style buckle and patented Pup Top Bottle Opener dual-function leash attachment.
26 Bars and a Band
Avant Garde Retractable Leashes
The Avant Garde retractable leash collection puts the “fun” in functional. With over a dozen stylish prints, there’s something to suit any dog owner’s personality. In 2010, 26 Bars & a Band licensed the lifestyle brand, Paul Frank. The iconic and beloved Julius the monkey now adorns the Avant Garde retractable leashes opening up an entirely new market. The Avant Garde retractable leash uses high-quality parts, an all-belt nylon leash and a simple one-button brake mechanism, and has a 12-month warranty.
Performance Pet Products
Spring Naturals Dinners
Spring Naturals, a new brand from Performance Pet Products, offers a complete family of natural dinners and treats designed to nurture the health and well-being of dogs of any age and breed. Spring Naturals’ recipes include only natural, wholesome ingredients, such as real meats, whole vegetables, whole fruits and whole grains.
Barksters Krisps are 100-percent all-natural healthy treats with a flavorful crunch. Air-puffed, they are low in fat and only contain 11 calories per treat. They are wheat-free, gluten-free and contain no additives or preservatives. Barksters are manufactured in the U.S. and contain only U.S.-grown ingredients. They are available in nine flavor combinations, and each package features a distinctive die-cut bone-shaped box for merchandising and a resealable inner treat bag.
Pet King Brands
Zymox Ear & Skin Products
ZYMOX Ear and Skin products provide a proven natural antibiotic alternative utilizing the patented LP3 Enzyme System with broad-spectrum capabilities to eradicate acute and chronic ears and skin infections with no worry of side effects common when using harsh chemicals and prescribed antibiotics.
Oxy Med Products
The Oxy Med product line includes an Oatmeal Shampoo, Medicated Conditioning Treatment and Anti-Itch Spray. The ingredients include alpha and beta hydroxy, vitamins and fatty acids, which are proven to treat and heal pets’ skin issues, including seborrhea, eczema, scaling, hot spots, flaking and flea bite dermatitis, in the first application.
Dog Grooming Tools/Accessories
FURminator Grooming Tools
Building on its popular line of deshedding tools, FURminator has launched a grooming tool line that includes nail clippers, nail grinders, slicker brushes, rakes, combs, dual brushes and curry brushes. The products are designed to provide high-quality grooming performance. They include a FUR-flex neck, which adds an element of safety and convenience and ensures an enjoyable experience for pets and pet parents. The tools are made with anti-microbial plastic to keep germs and bacteria to a minimum.
Artist and Original Collections
Dog beds in the Artist and Original Collections, from San Francisco startup P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle And You), feature unique designs by local artists and durable handcrafted quality. They are machine washable and made with Planet-Fill, a polyfiber made from recycled plastic bottles.
Dog Oral Care
Breath-Less Brushless Toothpaste Minis
Ark Naturals’ BREATH-LESS Brushless Toothpaste is chewable toothpaste for dogs and cats of all sizes. The dental chews are easily digestible and made with clinically proven, all-natural ingredients. Each great-tasting chew helps reduce dental decay, plaque, tartar, stained teeth and, most importantly to owners, stinky pet breath. The chews have two layers. On the outside, a layer with ridges for effective teeth scrubbing and breath-freshening ingredients including chlorophyll, cinnamon, vanilla and clove. And on the inside, Ark’s patented toothpaste center provides a deep clean against plaque, tartar and bad breath. The chews come in three sizes—mini, small/medium and medium/large.
Kurgo Backseat Bridge stops pets traveling in the car from falling to the floor or coming up to the front seat. The padded bridge connects the space between the front seat and the back seats, while also acting as a front barrier for a secure ride. The built-in partition prevents the dog from standing on the armrest or getting into the front seat and acts as a wall in case the car stops short.
Natural Balance Pet Foods, Inc.
Platefulls Cat Food
Platefulls cat pouches come in eight grain-free formulas with high-quality ingredients, including four indoor varieties with added garden greens and increased fiber, and four regular formulas. Each formula includes a sauce to stimulate cats’ appetites while providing premium-quality nutrition for cats.
Emerald Pet Products
Smart ‘n Tasty Feline Dental Treats
Smart ‘n Tasty Feline Dental Treats work to fight plaque and tartar. The treats are all-natural and are grain-, gluten-, soy- and dairy-free. They are available in four flavors: chicken, tuna, white fish and salmon. Made in the U.S.A. with U.S.-sourced ingredients.
The KONG Wobbler for Cats makes playtime fun and rewarding by dispensing small treats. Used as a mealtime feeder, it also slows rapid eating, and helps fight boredom and obesity by encouraging cats to work for their food.
Cat House System, LLC
Catty Stacks Designer Cat Climbers
Catty Stacks are a long-lasting, eco-friendly and functional alternative to traditional cat houses. All cubes and pillows are made from 100-percent recycled post-consumer products. They are available in five vibrant color choices and are painted with 100-percent soy-based ink. The product also offers a variety of configurations that can be easily rearranged or added to over time.
The Bramton Company
Vet’s Best Waterless Cat Bath
Vet’s Best Waterless Cat Bath features aloe, vitamin E and oatmeal. The gentle blend acts as a natural moisturizer for skin and fur that provides cats with a soft, fresh and clean coat.
Soft Chews for Cats
NaturVet’s new line of chews is supplements made easy. Formulated specifically for cats, NaturVet Soft Chew Supplements are so delicious that cats think they’re treats. NaturVet Soft Chew Supplements are formulated as a 2-in-1 functional supplement to cover cats’ needs. The line includes Hairball Relief Plus Catnip and Calming Aid Plus Ginger, which soothes upset stomachs.
Cat Litter/Litter Maintenance
Oil-Dri Corporation of America
Cat’s Pride Fresh & Light
Cat’s Pride Fresh & Light cat litter is up to 25-percent lighter in weight than other scoopable litters, while maintaining the same number of uses. It features a low-dust, clumping formula that reduces tracking. The litter absorbs odor-causing enzymes on contact—stopping odor before it starts—keeping litter boxes fresher for a longer period of time. It is available in two formulas: Multi-Cat and Fragrance-Free. It comes in a 15 lb. jug, making it easier for pet owners to lift, carry and pour.
Signature Series Comfort Carrier
Bergan’s Signature Series features a Hyper Paw Barrier protecting the zipper from digging paws. Maximum ventilation is provided with the full front mesh panel. Features from the original Comfort Carrier include the Pet Connect hand opening, Safety Belt Loop for seat belts and a plush washable fleece bed. The Signature Series is available in ultramarine blue, coral and black, as well as embroidered graphic treatments. Two sizes—small and large—accommodate pets up to 22 lbs.
Flea & Tick Control
Bayer Animal Health
Advantage II and K9 Advantix
In 2010, Bayer Animal Health expanded the sales channel for its Advantage Topical Solution and K9 Advantix to include pet specialty retailers. Since its introduction 14 years ago, Advantage has enjoyed the recommendation of veterinarians worldwide for the control of fleas on dogs and cats. Introduced in 2003, K9 Advantix (for dogs only) has also garnered the recommendation of veterinarians around the world because of its ability to not only kill but also repel fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. While some retailers have offered these products for several years, only this year have they been available to retailers with the direct support of Bayer Animal Health.
Clean Response Swivel Bin & Rake
The Petmate Clean Response Swivel Bin & Rake has a large-capacity swivel bin for less time unloading, and the rake size and tine spacing are designed for optimal pick-up capability on any surface to save pet owners time when cleaning up after their pup. In seconds, users can hook ordinary plastic grocery bags onto the bin. It also features a handle that is more than three feet tall and a soft comfort grip.
Pet Feeding/Watering Products
Pioneer Pet Products
Big Max Stainless Steel Fountain
The Big Max Stainless Steel Fountain from Pioneer Pet provides dogs and cats with fresh moving water. The Stainless Steel design complements any room and is 100-percent dishwasher safe. It holds one gallon of water.
Central Avian & Small Animal
KAYTEE Forti-Diet Pro Health Egg•Cite products provide fortified nutrition with DHA omega-3, plus prebiotics and probiotics. Forti-Diet Pro Health Egg•Cite is a supplement-enhanced bird food containing egg crumbles, vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids. It is available in varieties for finches, canaries, parakeets, cockatiels, conures and parrots.
Kozy Corner Wall Mounted Bird Cage
Kozy Corner Wall Mounted Bird Cages offer bird owners a new appreciation for their pets and home decor. These beautifully constructed corner-mounted, easy-to-clean lighted cages are available with a choice of plexiglass or wire front panels, with selections for different scenery and colors. They are available in 41- and 56-inch-tall sizes. All of the cages are designed and manufactured in the U.S.
Central Avian & Small Animal
Super Pet Feathered Fun Desktop Activity Center
Super Pet’s Playtime Activity Center is an all-in-one portable playground that can either be placed on a desk or table top, or hung using the included chain and ceiling guard. It features multiple attachment points and comes with one free pod toy. The Playtime Activity Center was designed to encourage bonding and interaction between bird owners and their pets. It is ideal for parakeets, cockatiels and other small companion birds.
Wild Bird Food
Suet Design Series
Wildlife Sciences’ new Suet Design Series of feeders and Feedies are fun feeders with unique designs, including Lady Bugs, Apples, Butterflies and Tulips, made of durable extruded plastic. The larger Suet Design series comes with a High Energy Suet Plus cake, and the smaller Feedies series is packaged with one of Wildlife Sciences Peanut Butter Suet Balls.
Small Animal Food/Treats
Oxbow Animal Health
Timothy Club Line
Oxbow’s Timothy CLUB line consists of handcrafted, 100-percent Timothy hay items. The Timothy Hideout is the ideal size for smaller pets to burrow and nest in. It can also be used as a hay manger for larger pets. The Timothy Twists and Carrot come in fun shapes and present another unique opportunity for enrichment for small animals of all sizes.
Small Animal Toys/Accessories
Ware Manufacturing Inc.
Corrugated Critter Hideouts
Ware’s corrugated hide-outs are available in a variety of fun styles to appeal to young pet owners including the Critter Barn, a classic red barn shape that offers a tall hideout area through the doorway; the Critter Bus, a fun school-bus shape, designed so critters can burrow under the “wheels;” and the Critter X-Maze, a two-piece crawl-through maze. All the corrugated critter hideouts are made from non-toxic cellulose fiber, safe for all small pets to chew. Corrugated cardboard is also biodegradable and recyclable.
Small Animal Habitats
A&E Cage Company
The Hamster Javarium is a perfect starter kit for hamsters, gerbils and mice. It includes several toys, a hideout to sleep in, a sand-coated branch to help keep nails trimmed and to reach the upper levels of the Javarium. A month’s worth of bedding is included. The only thing not included is the water tube and a furry friend.
Small Animal Litter
CareFRESH Hide ‘n Seek
CareFRESH, a premier brand of small pet habitat and food products, has introduced Hide ‘n Seek, a fun nesting toy for hamsters, gerbils, mice and other small pets. Hide ‘n Seek can be added to the cage a handful at a time. Because it’s soft and springy, it’s perfect for nesting and sleeping. Sold in 2-oz. packages, Hide ‘n Seek is available on clip strips to cross merchandise and spark impulse buying. Hide ‘n Seek is available in five varieties: Natural, Fuchsia, Teal and Lavender, and Confetti. Hide ‘n Seek is safe for pets and families and is earth friendly, biodegradable, compostable and made with recycled paper.
Timberline Live Pet Foods, Inc.
Reptile Salad is a fresh mix of vital veggies designed for herbivores and omnivores alike. Great for a variety of animals, Reptile Salad contains kale, red Endive, dandelion greens, leaf lettuce and fresh-cut nopales cactus. Reptile Salad is packaged in 40-g. clear plastic cups and needs to be refrigerated.
Deluxe Sliding Door ReptoHabitats
Tetrafauna Deluxe ReptoHabitats are premium environments for aquatic turtles, reptiles and amphibians. They are available in three sizes and feature easy front access, sliding glass doors with ventilation and a lockable knob. They also have a unique built-in, low-profile drain in the bottom panel, allowing for easy cleaning or filtration options. Each has an innovative screen top with unique one-handed entry feature, and built-in cord routing.
Rolf C. Hagen (USA) Corp.
Exo Terra Monsoon
The Exo Terra Monsoon RS400 is a programmable rainfall system for all types of terrariums and greenhouses. Maintain optimal humidity by generating precipitation at programmed, adjustable intervals on a 24-hour cycle. Perfect for multiple terrariums, it can accommodate eight spray nozzles.
Zoo Med Laboratories, Inc.
Zoo Med’s Plankton Banquet Block is a time-release feeding block that can be used as a supplemental food or as a vacation feeder for both freshwater and marine fish. Made with real plankton and blue-green spirulina chunks; the Plankton Banquet Block is an excellent daily food source for bottom feeders such as Plecostomus, algae eaters, redtail sharks, Gouramis, saltwater tangs, angels and damsels and more. Plankton Banquet Blocks are available in three convenient sizes: Regular, Mini and Giant.
Retro-Flex LED Light Strips
Reef Insane has introduced Retro-Flex high-intensity flexible LED light strips for all aquarium types. The lighting has been designed to give more output than traditional flexible LED strips by utilizing up to 50 percent more LEDs per foot. The lights are completely epoxy encapsulated against moisture with water proof connections. The Retro-Flex light strips can be linked together to provide additional intensity or coloration. They are available in four colors: bright white, blue, green and red, as well as a 50/50 combination of blue and white. The lights are available in three different lengths and can be purchased with or without a transformer. One transformer may operate up to 10 light strips.
AquaView 360 Aquarium Kits
An attractive aquarium that will enhance any room, the AquaView 360 offers complete 360-degree viewing and features exciting LED lighting. The AquaView 360 2-gal. and 3-gal. kits come with low-wattage LED lighting (12 switchable colors), a full hood, undergravel filter, tubing and air pump. The 6-gal. kit has LED lighting (12 switchable colors), a full hood and an internal power filter (45 gph). Experience the enjoyment of fish keeping with these stylish, cylinder shaped aquariums.
API nexx Filter
The API nexx Filter’s design offers quick media changes in four minutes or less and filtration options that offer customers flexibility in filtration. The modular capability of the filter optimizes shelf space. The nexx Filter delivers clear water to the aquarium by using the size-four Bio-Chem Zorb Cartridge.
Aquarium Water Treatments
Dr. Tim’s Aquatics
A pure, 100-percent natural bio-polymer with no fillers made in the U.S.A, NP-Active Pearls act as both a carbon source and medium for beneficial bacteria. As the bacteria consume the NP-Pearls, they remove nitrate and phosphate from the water, out-competing algae, resulting in better water quality and a healthier aquarium environment. In short, NP-Active Pearls offer a natural, easy way to remove nutrients from the aquarium water that would otherwise be available to stimulate algae growth. NP-Active Pearls, which last six to nine months, are periodically replenished and offer a unique natural way to control nitrate and phosphate in all aquariums without chemicals, are completely safe and non-toxic, and offer an easy way to help manage aquarium water quality.
Pond Fish Food/Treats
Aquascape Pond Fish Vitamin Treat
Aquascape’s Pond Fish Vitamin Treat features a pump-top bottle that creates a small, worm-like looking treat for pond fish. The treat includes vitamins, nutrients, lipids and garlic used as a health supplement and as a control for internal and external parasites. It increases appetite and vitality, enhances natural colors of the fish and stimulates breeding.
PRO Series Quiet One Pond and Water Garden Pumps
Lifegard Aquatics’ PRO Series Quiet One Pumps provide even better performance with up to 50 percent lower noise decibels than the Original Series. The all-new Quiet Ones boast new performance specs and new flow controls on many sizes. The PRO Series Pond Models include protective pre-filters, three-pin 20-ft. cord, fittings and spray nozzles. The new Fountain Models feature a three-pin 20-ft. cord and pre-filter grill with flow control.