As further proof that pet ownership continues to increase and fuel the growth of petfood markets globally, a new website for dog lovers in India has launched. DogZone.in bills itself as India's first online community of dog lovers. 

 

 

Euromonitor International has tapped India as the fastest-growing petfood market by 2015, projecting sales of dog and cat food to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 13.8%. While that growth would leave the total value of the market at only US$82 million -- tiny compared to projected US sales of US$23 billion in 2015 or even US$456 million in China that year, double-digit growth each year in a still rather shaky global economy is no small feat. 

 

 

As urbanization increases -- Eumonitor also pegs India as the second-fastest market for urban population growth, only behind China -- and incomes improve in so-called developing markets like India, pet ownership also tends to increase. "With rising incomes and economic growth, India is seeing an increase in stress-related ailments as well," reads the press release announcing DogZone.in. "A growing number of Indian households are adopting dogs in order to benefit from their therapeutic effects." 

 

 

According to a 2008 Euromonitor report published in Creature Companion magazine -- yes, India has its own pet care magazine, along with an annual pet trade show, the India International Pet Trade Fair -- there were 3.6 million dogs pet dogs in the six largest Indian cities alone at that time. Today, Euromonitor says dogs comprise 80% of the pet market in India. 

 

 

India is also home to major universities with colleges of veterinary medicine and animal nutrition programs. An assistant professor with one of those, Dr. K.B. Gore of the Department of Animal Nutrition, College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry at Navsari Agricultural University, will be sharing his expertise on prebiotics and probiotics as functional foods for dogs at Petfood Forum Asia 2012 in February in Bangkok.

  

 

Yet, according to the DogZone.in press release, knowledge and information about pet care is lacking in India, even online, and that's where the new site comes in, according to ifs founder, Gaurev Saxena. "Thousands of Indians become first-time dog owners each month. They have lots of questions and misconceptions and usually go with the trial-and-error method of raising dogs," he says. "I hope DogZone.in will be able to change this. If information is available so easily, I am sure people will utilize it and ensure they raise healthy, mentally sound dogs." 

 

 

We all know online information about pet care and nutrition is often rife with misinformation, myths and personal agendas. With DogZone.in being a community site, focusing on ways for dog lovers to connect with one another (post videos, photos, comments, blogs, discussion threads, etc.), so far the posts seem to be just people sharing information about their own dogs and love for dogs in general. Let's hope if care questions and information start getting posted, the content is backed by fact and science. (Saxena has an MBA in marketing, according to the press release; he's not a trained dog expert.) 

 

 

Still, any site that helps encourage pet ownership and, even better, responsible ownership, will only help our industry. Perhaps India is a market your company should explore if you don't already distribute your products there.