Sean Conlon of PetBox
  • Sean Conlon of PetBox
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Everyone keeps getting older. Lady, my Uncle Max’s black toy poodle, has been with him for many years and has started to slow down. Max has moved into full pamper mode “for her declining years.”

I gave a call over to Petbox (800-203-4588; getpetbox.com), a local company that ships all over the country. Company CEO Sean Conlon told me, “Petbox is a great way for pet parents to discover healthy new brands for their cat or dog, whether it be for treats or toys or grooming products. We get contacted by about 12 to 25 manufacturers a day about new products, and we scour the internet looking for boutique items — maybe there’s an Etsy store that has really good stuff. We find unique things that you might not come across in a pet store.”

After the finding comes the testing. “We have 15 team members,” said Conlon, “ranging from animal-behavior analysts from the humane society to veterinarians. We also have seven office dogs that eat the treats and play with toys all day. If all the dogs like a toy or treat and it also stands up to our specifications, then it’s something we keep for our members.”

For food products, those specifications demand American sourcing and manufacture. “They have to be made here in the USA, and the ingredients have to be from here, too. The edible stuff must be extremely healthy.”

In the toy department, “One of our favorites is the Floaty Dolphin by Aussie Naturals. It’s made of neoprene, which is the same stuff that wetsuits are made of. Inside, it has a rope and tennis ball; there’s no stuffing. It’s all natural material, so if the dog should ingest any of it while chewing on it, there will be nothing toxic. For cats, our catnip sprays, catnip collection of toys, and even just catnip are extremely popular.”

When it comes to grooming, “Daily grooming wipes are great. You use them to wipe down your dog or cat’s coat. We also have shampoo from John Paul Pet, which is by Paul Mitchell; or Pethead, from the makers of Bedhead products. Their lemongrass shampoo for pets smells amazing.”

Right now, said Conlon, “Petbox is the only pet-subscription series that lets you choose the items that go in the box. You can either specify what you want or be surprised — though you can still give us general guidelines like small, medium, or large cat box or dog box. Eventually, you’ll be able to be more specific: say, an eight-year-old dachshund hound with hip and joint problems and an allergy to chicken. We’ll then let you know what specific products are best for that dog.”

Cost is $29–$39 a month, depending on length of subscription. “You get one box a month featuring six premium products with a retail value of $50, and shipping is always free.”

Petbox deals in treats; for basic food orders, I called Russell Blauert, who co-owns San Diego Pet Food Delivery (619-655-4363; sandiegopetfooddelivery.com) with his wife Lori. Blauert told me, “Anything a pet needs, we deliver it. But I would say that our niche is selling and delivering raw food for cats and dogs. We also own I.B. Pet, so that’s our base and the way we get connections for products. But while most physical independent pet stores will usually have a small raw section, we can offer a large selection for sale online and then deliver it.” He carries products from more than 15 raw-food manufacturers, with multiple varieties ($5.49–$67.99).

Raw foods, said Blauert, “are more nutrient-rich, and the animal absorbs more nutrients as well. Animals who eat raw food produce 50 percent less waste. Plus, our foods do not contain corn, wheat, or soy, which are just cheap fillers and can also be allergens.

When it comes to dry food, Blauert sells (and recommends) Blue Buffalo ($18.99–$65.99, depending in size and type) and Honest Kitchen ($8.99–$51.99). He also sells a lot of Bully Sticks chews ($3.89–$9.50) and elk antlers ($7.99–$36.99). “The elk antlers are a particularly good investment,” he says. “It’s a chew that will last you months and months.” Local delivery is free on orders over $48 and product usually arrives in two days.

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