Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Purina #BetterWithPets Summit showcases how pets and people are better together

Purina’s third-annual Better With Pets Summit featured three panel discussions exploring different themes across emotional wellness among pets and people.
This post and my attendance at Better With Pets were sponsored by Purina. As always, all opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.

I've been lucky to attend some terrific events over the past few years and one of my favorites is the Purina Better With Pets Summit. For the past three years, Nestlé Purina has hosted this event that showcases the incredible bond between pets and people. And each year, the event has focused on a different aspect of what make our lives better with pets.

Last week I attended the third annual Purina Better With Pets Summit held in Brooklyn, NY, this one centering around the theme of emotional wellness for pets and the people who love them. How do pets help us be well? How do we help them in return?

I couldn't wait to find out more.

We heard from experts across three panels, each that explored a unique take on the topic of emotional wellness. The day long event also featured a series of interactive exhibits that allowed us to experience first hand ways to improve pet wellness in areas such as nutrition, healthy environments and interactive play.

A Look at the Purina Better With Pets Summit

Serving as Master of Ceremony, comedian and writer Josh Gondelman kicked off the event with stories about his recently adopted senior Pug named Bizzy
"The more people understand about the ways pets and people are better together, the more we're going to make this world a better place." --  Nina Leigh Krueger, Chief Marketing Officer for Nestle Purina

Krueger delivered these powerful opening remarks followed by a moving keynote presentation by Purina Senior Researcher Dr. Arleigh Reynolds.

Here's a look at some of these highlights from Better With Pets.

In his keynote, Dr. Reynolds told the story of the Frank Attla Youth Program which was developed to help at-risk youth in rural Alaska gain confidence and self-esteem by adding dogs into the school curriculum.

Dr. Arleigh Reynolds has researched the dog and human bond in Alaska for many years and hold three world sled dog championships

This video from Purina tells the story of the program and its impact on the community. It's an amazing story and worth taking the time to watch.

At the summit, Purina announced it will donate $50,000 to this program that gives the students an opportunity to create a unique bond with dogs and teaches them how to care for them. The donation is part of Purina's broader support of more than 900 pet welfare organizations each year.

"I think who you are with your dogs is who you are in life. Whether we live in Manhattan or in rural Alaska, there's a primal relationship there that makes us the best we can be and also makes the dogs the best they can be when we get to experience it together. And I don't want to see that go away." -- Dr. Arleigh Reynolds, Purina senior researcher

The Panel Discussions

The morning was rounded out with three panel discussion led by industry leaders in pet science and culture who shared how innovative ideas are improving the emotional wellness of pets and the people who love them. 

Among the 10 panelists were Heather Lewis, an animal arts architect who is paving the way for pet wellness through pet-centric design and architecture; Jayne Vitale, a chile development expert and director of the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum, a social and emotional learning program designed to teach empathy as a skill to adolescents; Christina Ha, the founder of the Meow Parlour, the first permanent cat cafe in New York City; and Dr. Tony Buffington, a cat stress expert who has spend the majority of his career examining stress in pets and the impact it can have on health.

Dr. Marty Becker moderated this panel discussion about pets and stress with Purina behaviorist Ragen McGowen, animal arts architect Heather Lewis and cat stress expert Dr. Tony Buffington

A look at the three panels:

Panel 1: An Evolving Relationship with Cats
This panel took a look at the dynamic, possibly evolving relationship between people and cats, and what it might suggest for a new generation of pet owners.

Purina revealed results from a recent survey that showed that nearly half of the 1,000 millennials surveyed own a cat and that 88 percent of cat owners consider themselves similar to their pets.

Panel 2: Stress, Our Pets and Us
This panel provided an in-depth look at the sources and effects of stress on pets, and how to manage stressors to enhance your pet's well-being.  Part of the discussion included the benefits of playing with enrichment toys and the positive impact of exercising a dog's mind and body. We're all for that!

Panel 3: Raising Pets and Kids
The third panel focused on the benefits of raising pets and kids together and how it brings unique benefits from companionship to curriculum, including teaching kids how to read a pet's body language and when it's best to give pets some space.

To close out the event, author and reality television personality Carole Radziwill, shared how pet ownership has shaped and enhanced her life experiences.

Author and TV personality, Carole Radziwill with her dog, Baby. Carole was a keynote speaker at Purina’s Better With Pets Summit
Next week I'll share more about the interactive exhibits, including a play lab for agility dogs (no surprise that was my favorite area!).

Stay tuned for more ways you can be Better With Pets!


  1. Sounds like a great time. Seems like they really focused on cats, so it is nice to see some dogs finally.

    1. Ha! There was a lot of information on cats... but there was plenty for dogs too. I love the Frank Attla Program. Very cool.

  2. Great round up. It was such an interesting Summit. I loved the information and discussion on stress. I also loved the story about Huslia and the Frank Attla Program and featured it today. An inspiring example of how life can be #betterwithpets

    1. Those were my favorites too... and the Play Lab, of course! Just went and read your two stories. They're both terrific! So great seeing you, too!

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