They sleep in our beds, they eat our food, they sometimes wear our clothes, or eat our socks anyway. Dogs will be joining the human race a little bit more it seems, with a NZ vitamin water being developed especially for them to be served in cafes, restaurants and hotels.
Deborah Chester, Auckland inventor of the RimPro-Tec wheel protection system, is launching a range of vitamin water for dogs called K9H20, following the success of vitamin water for the human population.
"Its a New Zealand spring vitamin water, great for the restaurant owners and the retail market," said Chester, who has worked with Massey University's Canine and Feline Foods and Nutrition Dept to produce the drink.
Dog owners will be able to choose from four flavours; NZ beef, free range chicken, fresh mint and peanut butter.
"What better way to end the hard working day than enjoying a summer drink with their owners in the local pub, restaurant or even the five star hotel as they do in the United States?" said Chester. "Why shouldn't New Zealand follow the world wide trends?"
"We've got a very good response from the dogs on trial at Massey," said Chester, the owner of three dogs herself. Set to launch in three months, a 500 ml bottle will retail for around $4.45, selling in convenience stores, pet shops. veterinary practices and potentially supermarkets. The entrepreneur has also designed a travel bowl, the Portabowl, which retails for $1.99 to pour the drink into when out and about.
K9H20 has caught the interest of a number of vets who can see a need for such a product, especially when an animal is recovering from an illness or an operation and is not up to eating solids. Chester has also had interest from high end doggy day care centres in Auckland.
Chester is launching a number of pet food and drink under her latest business, BestMate PetCare, a division of BestMate Group based in Glenfield.
"Our mission is to provide only natural New Zealand-made food and beverage products within the pet industry," says Chester, who is also developing a drink for cats with the help of Massey University.
"New Zealand has one of the highest levels of pet ownership per person, well ahead of the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia," she says. A 2007 survey revealed that 52 per cent of New Zealand households had a cat, and nearly 30 per cent had a dog, she said.
"Really people are looking at their animals as part of the family. They are becoming like people's children."
K9H20 will be global from day one. Chester says she already has interest from Japan, Dubai and the US market.
America has approximately 78.2 million owned dogs, 39 per cent of US households own at least one dog.