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

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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!

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Nancy Kerns has edited horse and dog magazines since graduating the San Francisco State University Journalism program in 1990. The founding editor of Whole Dog Journal in 1998, Nancy regularly attends cutting-edge dog-training conferences including those for the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, Pet Professional Guild, Association of Professional Dog Trainers, and Clicker Expo. To stay on top of industry developments, she also attends pet industry trade shows such as Global Pet and SuperZoo, educational conferences of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association and Pet Food Industry’s Pet Food Forum. As a regular volunteer for her local animal shelter, the Northwest SPCA in Oroville, CA, she fosters large litters of puppies and helps train wayward adolescent dogs in order to increase their chances of adoption. Nancy shares her life with her husband and two canine alumni of the NWSPCA, mixed-breed Otto (whose adorably fuzzy visage was incorporated into WDJ’s masthead some years ago) and Pit/Lab-mix Woody. 

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