Jul 09, 2019 • By

How our pets’ role in the family has changed

Pets are family. It’s a simple statement 95% of pet owners in the U.S. agree with, but it’s a feeling that’s been ringing true more than ever over the last decade.

Americans are investing in higher quality food made from natural ingredients, custom fashion, daily daycare and even step trackers.

Pets are family – So we treat them like family.

Our story at Blue Buffalo all started with Blue, our large and lovable Airedale – a true family member in every way.

Blue struggled with cancer at a young age, which prompted us to take a serious interest in a wide range of pet health issues. It also inspired us to make a super-premium pet food using only the finest natural ingredients, starting with real meat.

Today, we’re proud to say we’re the number one natural pet food in America – and a member of the General Mills family.

Me, with Blue.

Just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to join others from the General Mills team at the annual Aspen Ideas Festival to talk about the evolution of the pet industry, the impact that our furry friends have on us and the important role they play in our lives. Our panel “From Fido to Fur Baby: Our Pets’ Role in the Family” covered a lot of ground, and three takeaways stood out to me.

Pet parents are analyzing ingredient labels more than ever

Before Blue began his bout with cancer, our family, like many others, never really looked at pet food labels. And back in 2002, there just weren’t that many natural options available. That quickly changed for us, and I see it changing across the country.

Wholesome, natural ingredients are now a must for many pet parents, with meat as the first ingredient, since cats and dogs thrive on protein.

My advice? Look for meat-first, grain-based foods, including wholesome grains like barley, oatmeal and brown rice. And don’t forget fruits and vegetables, which are great for pets, too, since they’re full of antioxidants.

Science is catching up to animal therapy proponents

The psychological benefits of pets are really shining through, thanks to new research. Annie Peters, president and CEO of Pet Partners, shared how interacting with your pet can release oxytocin, the love hormone, which is the same hormone that’s released when mothers bond with their babies.

Additionally, recent research has shown that kids struggling to read can make more progress when reading to an animal versus another person. We’re seeing more dogs and cats being used for workplace wellbeing, as well as in crisis situations, to help those affected cope with trauma.

Science is reinforcing what we already know – animals’ ability to positively affect our emotional well-being is a powerful thing.

Pets trends are just steps behind human trends

The pet industry is really exploding – in 2018, we spent more than $72 billion on our pets in the U.S., with that number increasing to an estimated $200 billion by 2025.

And it’s growing around the world, as well, with estimates saying the global market could be half a trillion dollars by 2025.

At Aspen, Bob Vetere, the former president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association, predicted that when we see health, food and wellness trends emerging for humans, the pet industry follows just two to three months later.

Anything that can keep our pets healthy and extend their lives is getting that much more immediate focus.

Natalie Morales, of NBC News, moderated the discussion between me, Annie Peters and Bob Vetere, at the 2019 Aspen Ideas Festival.

These shifts in how we view our pets’ role in the family isn’t a trend but the new normal. Pet parents want the best for their pets in all aspects of life. I’m incredibly proud Blue Buffalo supports this by providing the nutrients they need to live a healthy, happy life.

Want to learn more?

Watch the full “From Fido to Fur Baby” panel discussion at the Aspen Ideas Festival, here.

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