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‘Smart’ pet bed wins Wilmington company honors at consumer electronics show

This dog bed from Wilmington-based Petrics can weigh your dog, let you know how well it’s sleeping and adjust the temperature so your pet isn’t too hot or too cold. It won awards at the this month’s consumer electronics show in Las Vegas and will be available in the fall.
This dog bed from Wilmington-based Petrics can weigh your dog, let you know how well it’s sleeping and adjust the temperature so your pet isn’t too hot or too cold. It won awards at the this month’s consumer electronics show in Las Vegas and will be available in the fall.

Sleeping in a bed that’s too warm or too cold is never comfortable – and pets hate it, too. Wilmington-based company Petrics recently won an award for a product that promises to solve the problem.

Petrics, a pet healthcare technology business, created the Smart Pet Bed, which won an innovation award in both the “Smart Home” and “Tech for a Better World” categories at CES, an international consumer electronics trade show in Las Vegas earlier this month. The bed also made the Wall Street Journal’s list of best products at the show, which featured more than 4,000 gadgets.

Founded in 2015, Petrics aims to provide pet owners with health and nutrition information tailored to their individual pet.

“We want to make it easier for you to love your pets longer,” said CEO Edward Hall. “They’re essentially like our children.”

Using thermoelectric technology, the pet bed allows you to make it cooler or warmer through its smartphone app. You can also input your dog’s breed and your geographic location for the bed to adjust its temperature automatically.

Hall said that the climate control aspect is especially helpful for owners with breeds that are used to a different climate, like a husky living in Florida. In addition, geriatric pets can use the warmth, especially during cold and rainy times, to soothe aching muscles.

The product is scheduled to be released this fall and will retail for $100 to $300, depending on the size. It includes a removable cover for the cushion so it can be washed. In the future, Petrics plans to offer different patterns for the covers and varying cushion densities.

The company also makes an accompanying waterproof activity tracker that attaches to the pets’ collars and measures their caloric burn like a FitBit does. The tracker has a replaceable battery with a four-month battery life.

“We wanted to make it very user-friendly,” Hall said. “I have to charge my phone, I have to charge my headset, the last thing I want to do is charge my dog.”

The bed’s biggest selling point may be that it helps you keep track your pets’ weight and sleep patterns thanks to a built-in scale that sends the information to a smartphone app (the tracker syncs with most popular mobile phones).

Hall started Petrics after noticing that his mother was having trouble managing her pets’ health. He began to research the topic and found that more than 53 percent of cats and dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese.

After talking with veterinarians and other experts, he learned that many pet owners struggle to give their pets the appropriate amount of food and exercise. When vets make recommendations, the owners often don’t follow the advice.

“The problem is that because we are caregivers of the pet, it means we have to adjust something in our lives too,” Hall said. “It becomes harder to comply.”

Barbara Butler, a veternarian at Care First Animal Hospital at Glenwood in Raleigh, said that pet obesity is a major problem she encounters.

“I think some folks have a hard time judging what is an appropriate amount of food for their pet,” she said.

To help with this problem, Hall designed an app for pet diet recommendations that includes information on more than 15,000 pet foods and 17,000 ingredients. It can identify the best foods for your dog or cat based on data compiled by nutrition experts and veterinarians.

The app, which will be released within the next month, also allows vets to acquire more data on the lives of their patients so they can better diagnose any health issues.

“We want to help you through the entire life cycle of your pet,” he said. “We can help be that gentle nudge.”

Hall, who grew up in Durham and has a degree in entrepreneurship from UNC Wilmington, noted that Petrics currently has four full-time employees and subcontracts with about 15 others. As of October 2017, the company had raised more than $650,000 in private equity funding.

He noted that Petrics’ products appeal to multiple consumer segments, especially vets who need accurate data about pets’ activities.

“Vets like that we’re able to fill a gap in an industry,” he said. “There’s a huge need for managing weight.”

Butler said she thinks technology that helps pets stay healthy can be beneficial, if people will actually use the items.

“Just like with humans with weight loss, different types of methods work better for different people,” she said. “I think you have to do what works when it comes to weight loss.”

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