Published On: December 17th, 2019

Independent Pet Partners Collaborates with University of Denver to Define Pet Wellness

Pet Business Staff Dec 27, 2019 / — Independent Pet Partners (IPP) revealed a proprietary framework for pet wellness to guide pet families in the care and wellbeing of their pets, which is focused on a model of prevention science and overall happiness.

To establish its blueprint of pet wellness, IPP collaborated with the University of Denver’s Institute for Human-Animal Connection to apply current research in animals’ integrated health needs and their implications for deepening the human-pet bond. For example, the World Health Organization defines “wellness” as the harmony between people, pets and the environment. The initative served as initial inspiration for IPP and the University of Denver, where research and work has culminated in the development of IPP’s 5 Pillars of Pet Wellness: Nourishment, Play, Comfort, Companionship and Purpose.

Each pillar addresses a pet’s mind-body connection and will be brought to life through digital spaces and retail stores, as well as masterclasses, training and consultations across each of IPP’s brands: Loyal Companion, Chuck & Don’s Pet Food and Supplies, Kriser’s Natural Pet and Natural Pawz.

“Clearly, the comfort and companionship pets provide has a huge health benefit on people, so we wondered what we could do to improve the health of our pets,” said Tricia Nichols, chief marketing officer of Independent Pet Partners. “Then we discovered a gap in our industry: there was no clear definition of wellness in regard to pets. As humans, we understand the importance of our personal wellness and that our pets help us live happier, longer lives. We have a responsibility to do the same for them.”

Each of the 5 Pillars of Pet Wellness provides guidance and informs day-to-day actions over a pet’s lifetime:

  • Nourishment: Building a nutritious, biologically appropriate, rotational diet customized based on breed, age and individual conditions.

  • Play: Developing healthy bodies and sound minds through exercise and mental stimulation.

  • Comfort: Ensuring a healthy and comfortable body and environment for a pet by reducing stress and providing physical care through grooming, regular checkups, supplements and good sleep.

  • Companionship: Developing a pet’s emotional and intellectual wellbeing, including effective communication through positive reinforcement, habit and social emotional learning.

  • Purpose: Experiencing the feelings of love, shared bonds and reciprocation that allow pets to realize their full potential and encourage use of their breed-specific capabilities.

“The hierarchy of needs for humans has been studied extensively for decades, but that’s not the case for our pets,” said Nichols. “As our research with the University of Denver found, pets are able to live a fulfilling life when their individual needs, preferences and circumstances are taken into account. We want each of our stores and experiences to be the place where pet parents know they can come for sound advice, healthy food, the absolute best products and a community that truly believes in the wellbeing of our pets.”

IPP plans to educate consumers on the 5 Pillars of Pet Wellness by offering masterclasses on different aspects of wellness, in-store “wellness bars” and educational videos for pet owners. The company’s brands will also highlight a specific pillar each month to amplify its focus.

In addition, IPP will extend this framework into every aspect of its business model by reflecting pet wellness across its assortment and navigation, content structure reorganization and staff training to be a trusted resource and advisor for pet families. Each brand will ensure their retail stores make shopping by the pillars easy and clear with educational touchpoints and messaging throughout.

By the end of 2020, IPP plans to reorganize the merchandising of stores to reflect this categorical change. For example, instead of just highlighting a collection of toys, they will illustrate the different purposes of each toy – i.e. those for training vs. snuggling – and place them in alignment with the toy’s purpose and appropriate wellness pillar. To begin, IPP is testing the concept in select stores in the Northeast under the Loyal Companion brand.