By Paige Brockway
Published: 2019.04.04 10:00 AM
Pet product retailers and manufacturers report continued success in the dog and cat supplement category, with products for dogs taking the sales lead.
â€śGlobally, the supplement category is trending up,â€ť said Fiona Stanton, international marketing manager for Lintbells in Hertfordshire, England.
Casey Jones, president of Vet + Instinct in Phoenix, said this growth can be attributed to two factors: the humanization of pets and the evolution of nutrition science.
â€śConsumers are becoming much more aware of the power of supplementation and diet to lead to a long and healthy life for their animal as well as support any specific concerns that they may have about their animalsâ€™ health,â€ť Jones said.
Jones reported strong sales in supplements for both dogs and cats. He said that while dog products are the clear leader in total sales figures, that doesnâ€™t tell the whole story.
Industry insiders point to various causes for the disparity.
â€śHistorically, more products were created for dogs,â€ť said Jodi Ziskin, director of communications for Treatibles in Petaluma, Calif. â€śThe playing field is starting to even out.â€ť
Ziskin said there are now more feline supplements with ingredients that specifically appeal to cats, such as catnip.
Best-selling cat supplements also seem to be more targeted to cat-specific needs.
â€śIn dogs, we see supplement sales that better reflect their human counterpartsâ€™ needs,â€ť Jones said. â€śIn cats, the big sellers support feline-specific problems, such as hairball reduction, amino-acid support and urinary health.â€ť
An animalâ€™s weight helps determine proper supplement dosing. Because cats are smaller, they use less product, which is another cause of slower category growth, Stanton said.
At Agri Feed Pet Supply, which has two stores in Knoxville, Tenn., supplements for dogs are the clear winner.
â€śI would say we sell dog supplements 10 to one over cat supplements,â€ť said Britt Sturm, vice president of Agri Feed Pet Supply. â€śWe sell quite a bit of diffusers for cats and some cannabidiol (CBD), but dog supplements, by far, are a much larger category for our two stores.â€ť
For those who give their pets supplements, the top three benefits they look for are that they promote joint health or mobility (52 percent), promote digestive health (50 percent), and promote healthy skin or coat (50 percent), according to a recent survey of U.S. pet owners conducted by Wakefield Research.
Retailers and manufacturers report sales success with supplement formats ranging from oils and tablets to powders and chews. Stanton and Jones agreed that different delivery options appeal to different customers and their pets.
â€śThe easier [the supplement] is to administer, the easier it is to work into a daily routine,â€ť Jones said.
He said supplements that can be fed as chews are ideal for easy delivery, but these require additional ingredients to make them into treats. Powder supplements can be messier, but they are popular with customers looking for a simpler list of ingredients.
Michelle Smith, owner of Natural Pet Center in Fargo, N.D., said cat supplements tend to sell best in her store in powder and treat form.
Sturm said treats, oils and liquids generally sell better at Agri Feed Pet Supply.
â€śIt is mostly a convenience thing for the customer,â€ť Sturm said. â€śThey would rather pour a liquid over their petâ€™s food, put some drops in their mouth or give them a treat quickly rather than having to mix something up or worry about making sure their pet has received the full application.â€ť
The results of Wakefield Researchâ€™s survey seem to bear this out, with 68 percent ofÂ pet owners most likely to giveÂ their pets supplements in the form of soft chews, 59 percent most likely to provide supplementation through snacks such as bones or meat strips, and 31 percent most likely to offer their pets chewable tablets.
However, because cats often donâ€™t consume enough water through their regular diet, cat owners (21 percent) are more likely than non-cat owners (16 percent) to give their pets supplements in liquid form, according to the survey results.
Because pet supplements come in relatively small packaging, pet specialty retailers have several options when it comes to product placement and arrangement.
â€śSupplements offer a really high return for the amount of space they take up on the shelf,â€ť said Casey Jones, president of Vet + Instinct in Phoenix.
Some stores, such as Agri Feed Pet Supply, which has two locations in Knoxville, Tenn., keep all supplements together in one big department. Others, like Natural Pet Center in Fargo, N.D., split them upâ€”dog supplements go in the dog section, and cat supplements go in the cat section.Â Â
Natural Pet Center arranges supplements in special displays throughout the year.
â€śThe easy ones would be like the Fourth of July for anxiety, Dental Health Month, Senior Pet Month â€¦ when there are some things that we can bring attention to, weâ€™ll certainly do a smaller display with some signage,â€ť said owner Michelle Smith.
Manufacturers sometimes provide materials to help retailers display products and educate customers. For example, Treatibles in Petaluma, Calif., offers display cases that can fit on shelves or checkout counters, said Jodi Ziskin, the director of communications.
Vet + Instinct offers educational materials that retailers can place near its supplements.
â€ś[They] walk customers through each ingredient and its purpose for being there,â€ť Jones said.
A knowledgeable staff is also key to getting supplements into customersâ€™ hands.
â€śObviously, you want to make sure [the product] is visible, front-facing, easy to see and well stocked, but our employees and customer service to educate the customer is what sells the products the best,â€ť said Britt Sturm, vice president of Agri Feed Pet Supply.
U.K. manufacturer Lintbells launched in the U.S. at the end of 2018. In November, the company introduced YuMOVE Soft Chews, a once-daily joint supplement for dogs. The chews aim to relieve stiffness, boost cartilage development and maintain mobility. Ingredients include omega 3-packed ActivEase Green-Lipped Mussel and glucosamine hydrochloride, which the body uses to build cushions around joints, according to the company. The chews are offered in different sizes for small, medium-size and large dogs, and Lintbells offers a 60-day money back guarantee.
The Hertfordshire, England-based company sells additional tablet and chew supplements for both dogs and cats in the U.K., but so far has only brought YuMOVE Soft Chews for dogs to the U.S.
â€śWe are seeing a real increase in functional chews as the format of choice,â€ť said Fiona Stanton, Lintbellsâ€™ international marketing manager.
Treatibles in Petaluma, Calif. launched two organic, full-spectrum hemp oil products in November. Its soft chews are offered for both dogs and cats, with the cat chews containing catnip along with hemp oil. The chews aim to calm pets, support the digestive and immune systems, and promote healthy joints. The soft chews are available in 60-count packages for dogs and in 100-count packages for cats.
The company also launched Ready Packs for both dogs and cats, which contain 10 single servings of hemp oil. The pocket-sized Ready Packs are designed for on-the-go use and can provide quick anxiety relief during travel, fireworks, or trips to the veterinarian or groomer, according to the company.
â€śWhen administering the oil directly into the petâ€™s mouth, the benefits are often apparent in a shorter amount of time,â€ť said Jodi Ziskin, Treatiblesâ€™ director of communications.
Since last summer, Vet + Instinct has introduced three new supplements for dogs: Digestive Aid Papaya + Ginger, Coat Care Coconut + Dandelion Root, and Joint Health Green-Lipped Mussel + Turmeric. The supplements come in powder form and contain ingredients that promote holistic wellness.
â€śCustomers are loving our Joint Health Green-Lipped Mussel + Tumeric product,â€ť said Casey Jones, president of the Phoenix-based manufacturer. â€śIt is a robust combination of green-lipped mussel, pumpkin seed, turmeric and boswellia to synergistically support a healthy inflammatory response and the normal repair of connective tissue, blended with brewerâ€™s yeast for allergy and immune system health, spirulina algae to support memory and cognitive function, along with reishi mushroom for stress support.â€ť
The cannabidiol (CBD) category continues to see major growth as manufacturers come up with products that target anxiety, joint and digestive health, discomfort and more.
â€śI receive a call or email almost daily with a new CBD-related product and why this one is better than all the others,â€ť said Britt Sturm, vice president of Agri Feed Pet Supply, which has two stores in Knoxville, Tenn.
While CBD continues to trend in the pet industry, it is not the only big-player ingredient that is seeing success.
Both Lintbells in Hertfordshire, England, and Vet + Instinct in Phoenix offer products that feature green-lipped mussel, which is a concentrated source of omega-3 fatty acids that can soothe joints.
Lintbells sources its ActivEase Green-Lipped Mussels from New Zealand, where the company has identified top farmers, bays and harvesting times to ensure the highest possible quality, said Fiona Stanton, the companyâ€™s international marketing manager. While green-lipped mussels are typically freeze-dried for extraction, Lintbells vacuum dries its mussels to avoid damage, Stanton said.
â€śThe result is a premium-quality, exceptionally potent powder with significantly higher levels of important omega 3s than those found in other green-lipped mussel powders,â€ť Stanton said. â€śWe can state with confidence that we offer the worldâ€™s top-strength green-lipped mussel.â€ť