Whole Dog Journal's Blog August 2, 2017

Superzoo (or Any Pet Product Trade Show) IS a Super Zoo!

Posted at 04:55PM - Comments: (15)

Last week, for the second year in a row, I attended the pet product industry trade show called Superzoo, held in recent years in the Mandalay Bay convention center in Las Vegas. I was there to meet with representatives of various dog food companies and look for new/cool/unique helpful products to feature in WDJ. I’ve been trying to bring product reviews to the pages of WDJ on a more regular basis, and seeing so many pet product companies and their wares in one place at the same time is very helpful.

Photo courtesy of SuperZoo

It’s also EXHAUSTING. I traveled with a dog trainer friend, Sarah Richardson, who owns a training/boarding/daycare facility close to me, The Canine Connection, in Chico, California. Sarah, too, was looking for products to sell in her small lobby retail area, as well as products with which to outfit her facility. When we first arrived in Las Vegas, late at night, Sarah was optimistic. “Hey, we should go see a show! We should go eat out at one of these great restaurants! We should go see a concert!” But at the end of the show each day, at what would seem like the entirely reasonable hour of 5 pm, we were both BEAT. It was all we could do to eat and go back to the hotel room, and lay around discussing what we saw that day until we fell asleep.

I really should have had one of those activity monitors on; I’d love to know how many miles I walked. The show lasts for three days, and each day, I was on the floor from 8 am to 5 pm (well, the last day ends at 3 pm), and I still hadn’t seen everything, and hadn’t been down each aisle of the show. Superzoo is the largest pet industry trade show in North America, with more than 1,200 exhibitors. Some of those exhibitors have a tiny space, or just a few items or services to promote. Others have enormous booths with thousands of products on display; some of the booths of the biggest pet food makers and pharmaceutical companies offer full bars and/or snacks.

Trends I observed:

• What the industry calls the “natural/holistic” segment of the pet food market is putting an increased emphasis on ingredient sources, with a number of companies launching marketing campaigns based on ethically sourced and humanely raised ingredients.

• Products containing cannabis and its extracts are huge. I lost count of how many products containing a hemp or cannabis ingredient were present; some are intended for medicinal use, others for behavioral (calming) purposes. We’ll be looking at this category in a review in the next few months.

• Technology-based products for managing and observing pets while owners are away are continuing to evolve and improve. I’ll be bringing you reviews of the best products we found and will be testing by year’s end. Exciting stuff!

• There are WAY too many toy, treat, and collar makers in the world. Many offer products that we would never buy nor recommend. I’ll try to offer more reviews of the far fewer really good toys, treats, and collars that are out there. I’ll also try to credit the pioneers and innovators of the best products. Knock-offs of every good idea abound as well, and sometimes it takes a little detective work to determine who really cares about the product’s performance, quality, and safety, and who has just made a copy of the product, without really knowing all the little things that a truly committed product maker put into their wares. 

Subscribers should start seeing some of those product reviews soon!

Comments (15)

There's a pet fair coming into town soon, as a first time puppy owner, are there any particular products or services I should pay particular attention towards? Everything is sooo confusing and overwhelming as a beginner. Thanks!

Posted by: sabyine | September 6, 2017 3:46 PM    Report this comment

I look forward to your reviews on the products worth buying. I was in a dollar store yesterday when I saw a woman with a tiny pup tucked into in shirt. I asked about the puppy, which she had just picked up and she told me she was there getting all the supplies she needed for it. I looked in her cart and she had dog food (or so called food!), treats, toys, a collar and pee pads. I had to bite my tongue. I really wanted to just rescue that puppy right then. These products are of questionable value and are possibly toxic for dogs. Have you ever smelled a tennis ball from the dollar store? It smells like oil. Black crude oil. I know I will probably take flack for saying this as a lot of people buy pet supplies from the dollar store. The only thing I will buy there is poop bags.

Anyway I'm so glad you are going to let us know about some worthwhile products and probably let us know about some worthless ones too. Thank you for your commitment to dogs. I admire you for fostering so many dogs.

Posted by: grandmatojoy | August 6, 2017 3:36 PM    Report this comment

I want to thank you for all the time and love you are putting int0 this. Trying to buy the right toys for my dogs and puppies has become overwhelming and depressing. There are so many toys I won't buy and so few toys that I feel are okay. It will be nice to have a list of toys I can feel confident in buying. Kudos to all the WDJ staff. My most heart felt thanks go out to you and all that you do.

Posted by: MarilynL | August 6, 2017 10:19 AM    Report this comment

I had gotten a harness for my Mini American Eskimo Dog made my Simplydog at Walmart when we first adopted her. I liked it very much, so a couple years later I got her another one just like the first one. Now it has been a couple years later and I wanted to get her another one. I found out the name has changed to Mission Pets. They were at the trade show in LA. I was just wondering if you happened to see their display, and what you thought of their harnesses.

Posted by: white dog | August 5, 2017 2:21 PM    Report this comment

Nancy, WDJ is becoming the "Consumer Reports" of the dog world! Great! We
dog-owners/guardians need this and you really fill this niche. Some of us have access to "pet expos" where many new products are offered, but it's helpful to have guidance and advice on what to buy or avoid. That's one of the greatest benefits of subscribing to the Whole Dog Journal. Keep up the great work...

Posted by: Diana in Md | August 5, 2017 11:02 AM    Report this comment

I have been very pleased with a new app for your laptop-"Pet Diet Designer"-helps those of us that feed home-prepared meals. Ingredients/amounts are input and it tells you %protein/fat/carbs plus vitamins,etc and if they meet recommended amounts. It has saved me a lot of time trying to calculate this info. Very inexpensive as well ($20). Works for raw, cooked, etc.

Posted by: browndog | August 4, 2017 10:59 AM    Report this comment

Zoo's are cruel, why would they have anything there.

Posted by: Sweeti's mom | August 3, 2017 9:31 PM    Report this comment

RE: the comment on catnip above -- YES, it's great for calming dogs! We found this out accidentally when one of our dogsitters brought a catnip toy for our pup to play with. Chewing on the toy mellowed her out (she's a very high strung rat terrier mix). So, I started sprinkling it in her food thinking that perhaps ingesting it would have the same effect, but no joy. In fact, there was absolutely NO effect from eating catnip. I'd be interested to hear more on the catnip story from you or others who have experience.

Posted by: TrekkerChick | August 3, 2017 4:09 PM    Report this comment

I cannot wait for your reviews and recommendations!! Good job! I am also very interested in the cannibas products! We have a 10 month old wound up English Lab who did not do well with fireworks, loud booms etc.

Posted by: SlyBrandy | August 3, 2017 12:31 PM    Report this comment

Nancy, I always love WDJ product reviews. I've selected many products over the years based on WDJ articles (most recently, a Balance Harness which we love). Great that you got to Superzoo ... so the rest of us don't have to! :) It sounds overwhelming!

Posted by: Carolyn M | August 3, 2017 11:55 AM    Report this comment

iPhones have an app called "Health" (white box icon with red heart in the center). When you open it you can select "Activity" and shows your steps, walking/running distance and flights climbed. As long as you have it on you (best place is pant's pocket) it works like a FitBit.

Posted by: PWhiz | August 3, 2017 11:12 AM    Report this comment

Did you see the treats that contain crickets/cricket powder? YUM!

Posted by: S Hoots | August 3, 2017 10:18 AM    Report this comment

As a retailer who sells at dog events/shows, I attend Super Zoo every year. It will be interesting to see if you picked some of the same products that I did this year.

I'm always disappointed and saddened by the ever growing number of knock off products each year.

I did find a muzzle that I plan to purchase for my own extensive first aid kit that I take to all my events. www.ezmuzzle.com

www.loveamericandog.com - Woman owned and all toys are made in Colorado.

I'm interested in your thoughts on how catnip effects dogs. I came across a treat line for both dogs and cats- the cat treats have catnip. So on a whim, I searched "is catnip safe for dogs?" what I've read so far, catnip has a calming effect on dogs and might be useful for noise such as fireworks/thunder storms.

Posted by: S Hoots | August 3, 2017 9:57 AM    Report this comment

Did you find any Great GPS type systems? For when a dog gets lost? Thanks, love reading your thoughts!

Posted by: ceazur | August 3, 2017 9:38 AM    Report this comment

I'm reminded of the trade shows that accompanied major medical meetings, when I was in practice. The amount of information, as well as the volume of "stuff" that is given away by exhibitors in order to attract attention can be overwhelming. The trick was to find an exhibit early on that gave away shoulder bags as an advertising ploy and then use these to carry everything else. I imagine you'll also begin receiving lots of material by mail, if you registered your address with the more interesting exhibitors at the convention. Although it can be difficult to sort through all the overlapping, sometimes conflicting claims at these trade shows, they're still one of the best ways to see what's actually going on at the leading edge of development in many areas. I look forward to reading your reports of what you learned.

Posted by: Alvin Hill | August 3, 2017 9:37 AM    Report this comment

New to Whole Dog Journal? Register for Free!

Already Registered?
Log In