2020 was a big year for welcoming new pets into the household. Three out of ten pet owners added a furry family member last year. And although dog and cat adoptions declined overall compared to 2019, fostering increased by 13% for dogs and 6% for cats, and shelters reported far fewer intakes. 

While that’s good news for homeless pets, the first year of owning a new animal is often the most challenging, and pet owners need all the help they can get. Having support from the pet food industry could help them make better decisions for the lifelong health of their new pet. 

Clearing up confusion about feeding and nutrition 

According to a recent survey from Royal Canin, learning how to feed their pets is one of the primary struggles for new cat and dog owners. During the first year of ownership, many pet parents said they felt uncertain about: 

  • what type of food to feed their new pet (40%) 
  • what feeding schedule would work best for their pet (39%)
  • how often to feed their pet (34%) 

A separate survey uncovered misinformation about feeding puppies — nearly 50% of small breed owners weren’t aware that their pet should eat puppy food for up to a year, and 92% of large breed owners didn’t know their pet should be on a puppy diet for up to two years. 

Clear guidance from pet food companies can help owners determine what type of diet is best for their pet and calculate how much and how often their pet should eat. The need for simple, understandable feeding information is part of the reason personalized pet food has been so successful. These companies have taken the guesswork out of feeding a new pet. Owners simply enter information about their pet — everything from weight, age, and activity level to health conditions and dietary restrictions — and end up with food tailored to their pet’s needs. Some companies also portion out meals in individual packages to make feeding even more convenient.

Whether they have a puppy or an adult dog, 70% of owners are interested in learning more about keeping their pets healthy. Pet food companies can aid this effort by providing educational resources, such as informational blog posts, videos, and Q&As with veterinary nutritionists. 

Offering welcome packages

Welcome packages, which often include food, treats, toys, and informational materials, are an excellent way for pet food companies to support new owners while partnering with other industry companies. Pet parents receive these welcome kits via animal rescue organizations, veterinary clinics, or online promotions.

Market research firm Packaged Facts named this one of the key opportunities for the pet food industry in 2020: “Pet food marketers and retailers would do well to target new pet owners and secure their long-term loyalty from day one through ‘puppy promotions’ and new pet welcome packages.” 

Donating to support struggling pet owners

Some owners who sought pet companionship during the pandemic found themselves faced with difficult decisions — 20% of pet owners even considered rehoming their pets. Among them, 30% said support like short-term financial assistance and access to pet services would’ve helped their situation.

The pet food industry stepped up in 2020 to offer financial aid and pet food donations to communities in need. But pet ownership often comes with unexpected costs, and that need will still be around well after the pandemic. Regularly giving back to pet food pantries, community outreach efforts, and homeless shelters helps ensure that owners can continue to provide for their pets under challenging circumstances. 

If pet parents don’t have to worry about what and how to feed their new pet, they can spend more time tackling the other trials of pet ownership — like bonding, training, and finding a good vet.