Wireless pet gadgets automate pet food ordering

Two companies developed products that use wireless connectivity to meet that demand for pet food home delivery.

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The Petnet SmartFeeder | courtesy Petnet
The Petnet SmartFeeder | courtesy Petnet

Pet owners, led by millennials, increasingly want technology to streamline their pet parenting responsibilities, including researching, customizing and ordering their pets’ food. Two companies developed products that use wireless connectivity to meet that demand to enhance the pet food home delivery experience. Along with that, the companies aim to help consumers feed their pets proper portions and thereby fight pet obesity.

One, YaDoggie, will soon offer a Bluetooth-enabled scoop that will reorder the brand’s proprietary dog food when it runs low, using the company’s smart phone app. The scoop lets other family members know that the dog has been fed and stop junior from giving Fido a double helping.

The other company, Petnet, offers automated pet food dispensers and weight-sensitive dishes that monitor a dog or cat’s food intake. The Petnet system also has a six-point evaluation of numerous pet foods. Petnet also automates the process of ordering home-delivered pet food.

YaDoggie smart scoop and dog food delivery

YaDoggie was founded for millennials, by millennials, although co-founder Sol Lipman describes himself as somewhere between the Gen-X and millennial generations.

“Look at the Dollar Shave Club, things like that, millennials want that sense of an experience in what they buy, and they want no-worries dog food,” he told Petfood Industry. “Millennials want to know what there are really getting in their dog’s food. And when they have  question, they want to be able to call and get a person on the line who actually answers their questions.”

Yadoggie’s dog food subscription service started November 2016 in California and went nationwide in September 2017. On YaDoggie’s website and smart phone app, dog owners answer questions about their pets’ preferences and lifestyle. Their answer help them pick one of YaDoggie’s three grain-free dog foods. A slider on the app allows them to adjust for their dogs’ appetites, and customize their dog food delivery frequency.

“With YaDoggie, it’s not just the dog food, it’s the experience,” he said. “That’s something that bigger companies often don’t have the agility to deliver.”

“Tech is one things, but it’s the experience that will really move things,” he said. “Tech helps customize the experience, creating a better experience.”

Speaking of tech, YaDoggie’s founders came into the pet food industry from the information technology start-ups world of Silicon Valley in California, USA. Their Bluetooth pet food scoop came about after market research revealed that many families struggle with knowing if their dog had been fed or not. Families told them that often one family member would feed the dog a second time, resulting in unhealthy overfeeding. The scoop will be available in November 2017.

Their scoop uses a motion sensor to determine if it has been used, then alerts others in the household through their Bluetooth-enabled smart phones. For folks without devices, a light on the scoop indicates if it has been used at the proper time or not. For larger dogs, multiple scoops still only count as one feeding. By monitoring how often it has been used, the scoop helps the app know when to alert dog owners that it’s time to reorder.

Petnet app with SmartFeeder with dog and cat food ratings

Like YaDoggie, Petnet focuses on portion control for feeding dogs and cats. Petnet created an app that syncs with an automated feeder (SmartFeeder) to serve a proper portion of pet food at a designated time. The company also offers SmartBowl, which uses an internal scale to monitor manual feeding amounts and a pets’ food intake.

However, Petnet doesn’t have its own proprietary dog and cat foods. Instead of focusing on brands, the service provides information about the ingredients in those pet foods.

“When users select their food of choice in the app, Petnet shows them a food report card, which helps pet owners understand and analyze the recipe,” Petnet's CEO and co-founder, Carlos Herrera, told Petfood Industry. “From tips on what to look for in a pet food recipe to ensuring a pet receives the proper portion of food through the SmartFeeder.”

Within the Petnet app report card, pet foods are evaluated by six criteria: protein quality, fruit and vegetable content, macronutrient levels, healthy oils and spices presence, artificial ingredients or filler use and added sweetener use.

“Rather that promoting brands, Petnet is focused on educating the consumer on the proper macronutrient needs of their pet based on their specific age, weight and activity level,” said Herrera.

Once a pet owner has decided on their pet food, Petnet’s app allows them to purchase that food for home delivery at regular intervals. The delivery service uses information from pet owners to determine when a customer will need a new bag.

Pet food industry and technology

 As technology continues to progress, the pet food industry seems likely to advance with it. What’s more pet owners will demand that dog and cat food brands utilize technologies.

"We're looking into a very bright future,” said Maria Lange, business group director for market research firm GfK, at Petfood Forum 2017. “Millennials will likely bring in many more pets in the future."

For those future generations, home-delivery of pet food won’t just be a luxury, it will be expected, she said.

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