Covid-19 has fueled demand for masks and sanitizers across the globe. In India, the pandemic is boosting another sector: pet care products.
Indians are spending top buck for the safety of their pets against coronavirus. Products like animal-friendly alcohol-free sanitizers, imported strong-strapped masks, and immunity-boosting treats have become popular on e-commerce portals and stores in urban India.
On July 15, pet-care brand Wiggles.in launched an alcohol-free sanitizer for animals in India, which it claims is irritation-free and has a soothing effect on pets. Within 30 days of its launch, the company sold out most of its inventory. “We have sold over 80% of our first batch of pet sanitisers…New batch production is currently ongoing,” Anushka Iyer, founder and chief executive officer of Wiggles.in told Quartz.
Worries among Indian pet parents come from a few incidents of pets contracting the virus in the US. “Most of these pets became sick after contact with people with Covid-19,” as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a US-based public health institute.
India is among the fastest-growing markets for pet care products. The industry is estimated to touch $430 million (Rs278 crore) by the end of 2020. Adapting to the Covid-19 trend will only help the sector grow even faster.
“Customers are in panic mode and are ready to pay a huge amount to get their hands on the imported masks we got from the UK,” said Anuradha Prajapati, a pet accessory dealer from Chandigarh. “These masks are made of plastic and have a really strong strap.” The masks at Prajapati’s shop cost between Rs800-Rs1,000. There are other cheaper options available in the market.
At Noida-based pet accessory store Quality Pets, there is a high demand for shoes and sock for pets. “We had (pet) masks available at our shop but we ran out of stock in June and can’t order anymore since they were coming from China,” said Manoj Bansal, owner of Quality Pets.
Several pet owners Quartz spoke to were also concerned about what they could do to boost the immunity of their dogs and cats. ”I take my cocker spaniel, Doobie, out for a walk every day, and though I know India hasn’t seen a single case of Covid-19 in pets yet, I don’t want to take any chance. So I have trimmed down his walking time and make sure I give him his daily dose of treats for a stronger immunity system,” said Anushka Chawla, a 23-year old fashion student from New Delhi.
E-commerce portals like Amazon and Flipkart are flooded with immunity-boosting pills for animals.
Veterinarians believe that forcing a mask on a pet could prove harmful.
“An immunity booster is a good thing, however, several pet owners are going a step ahead and making their dogs wear masks, which is actually exposing them against many respiratory issues,” said Dr Nidhi Sharma, an Uttar Pradesh-based veterinarian.
Sharma further explained that dogs pant with their mouths to regulate their body temperature. A mask will make that process hard.
So, it seems, ignorant pet parents are putting their pooches’ lives at risk in the name of extra safety.