A Breed Apart: The Latest Gear for Your Dog or Cat (cont.)

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However, Dan Schecter of Carpenter, which produces memory foam for mattresses and pet beds, says the pet-products industry often buys remnants. The remnants can come in the form of sheets or as “bits and pieces,” he says, but he doesn’t believe that such remnants deliver the same quality as a big sheet provides. “A bigger sheet allows you to put on a pattern, called a convolute, and that adds attributes to the foam,” increasing the level of comfort and support. This is how mattresses that are meant for people are constructed.

Further, pet-bed manufacturers often combine memory foam with other inserts in their beds, such as polyester that’s made from recycled bottles, as well as gel inserts and other types of foam. In many cases, the mere fact that the label touts memory foam doesn’t in any way convey to the consumer whether it’s a pedigreed memory-foam bed, so to speak, or a mixed breed. We found that many manufacturers of pet beds are tight-lipped about the type of memory-foam content of their products—even in cases in which a memory-foam pet bed is sold under a brand that’s associated with a manufacturer of a memory-foam mattress for people.

Further, we found that a high price—some cost several hundred dollars—doesn’t necessarily attest to better memory foam on the inside.

Also aimed at owners of senior pets are new beds that have built-in heating pads or cooling systems. Morgan gives them a stamp of approval. A heating pad or cold-gel pad offers pet owners “an easy way to deliver heat or cold sources,” he says, “especially when you are dealing with a chronic condition . . . on a daily basis and, sometimes, several times a day.”

LIKE FAMILY. As the innovation in pet products continues to mirror the lifestyle trends of pet owners, the industry has moved into what independent pet-industry consultant Mike Dillon, who is the author of the report “Pet Industry Strategic Outlook,” calls the integration phase. Major companies that focused only on products for people now are crossing over to cater to furry customers, too. Anyone interested in a pet blow dryer, for example?

What does this development mean for the consumer who shops for his/her canine or feline family member? Obviously, it means a lot more choice. Of course, a lot more wariness, too.

Sandy Robins has reported on pets and pet products since 2003 for publications such as Cat Fancy and Modern Dog and on MSNBC.com and Today.com. She wrote the books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For the Love of Cats” and is the recipient of the 2013 Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contributions to the Pet Industry Award.

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