In a nation of pooch-lovers, a new flavoured water for dogs, packed with electrolytes and vitamins, costs more than mineral water for humans - and its bounding off the shelves.
Cool bottled water in three delicious flavours - beef, chicken and bacon. Not tempted? Your dog will be.
An Australian man has taken pooch-pampering to the next level with the launch of Aqua Dog. With one canine for every five Australians, the country has one of the worlds highest dog ownership rates and a pet food industry worth AUS$ 1,2 billion (R6,2 billion) a year.
For Andrew Larkey, that made the country the perfect place to market bottled water for dogs. Most people think how ridiculous. The irony is that this is 100 percent serious, Larkey says. It is like a sports drink for dogs. Larkey came up with the idea while working as the new products manager for an international beverage company. On his trips to the supermarket two things, he says, became clear. The fastest growing markets were bottled water for humans and high value pet treats. Larkey simply wanted to marry the two together.
Bottled water for dogs - I just had to, Larkey says.
When the multinational did not believe in the idea, Larkey left his job and went alone. Selling for nearly AUS$3 (about R15) per bottle, the canine drink is more expensive than mineral water for humans. But in a nation of dog lovers, it is flying off the shelves. Over a thousand 600ml bottles are sold a week and Larkey says he is struggling to keep up with demand. He has also launched Aqua Dog in the US, Taiwan, Singapore and is testing the product in Japan.
Larkey insists the bottled water has important health benefits. Dogs, like people, only drink when they are dehydrated. But unlike us they are unable to say, I am off for a run, I better have a drink before I start off, he says. The flavour encourages the dog to drink and prepares the body against damaging fluid loss, and overheating during competition, travelling, training or hot days. It is packed with electrolytes and vitamins. I mean, we could drink it.
One happy customer is Jacqui Lambrick, the proud owner of seven Great Danes who gives each of her girls a bottle a day. Lambrick started them on Aqua Dog when one of her pets fell ill. She would not eat or drink anything. But she drank the dog water and would have nothing else after that, she says.
The Australia Institute says an independent public policy research centre, spending on pet products in Australia just keeps growing. A recent study found that the majority of pet carers are super-moms - female, married with children, and employed. And as with their real children, overworked pet owners are increasingly trying to compensate for lack of attention by spending more on little extras for their furry friends.
Earlier this year, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals warned that Australia may be loving its dogs to death with between 40 percent and 44 percent of dogs overweight - making them more vulnerable to diabetes, arthritis, heart problems and liver disease.
A water diet could be just what the doctor ordered.