The purchase of food remains the biggest expenditure item for dog owners. And, in fact, according to the 2015-2016 APPA National Pet Owners’ Survey, premium dog food continues to be the type of food most purchased. Innovation in this category remains unparalleled across the industry as a whole, making it important for pet specialty retailers to constantly refresh their knowledge.
For the Little Ones
According to Pete Brace, vice president of communications and pet parent relations for Merrick Pet Care, small dogs now account for 47 percent of today’s dog population. This growing interest has precipitated a demand for high-quality dog food that’s specially formulated to meet their particular dietary needs.
“Merrick Lil’ Plates is a full line of grain-free dry (and wet recipes) that caters specifically to small breed dogs, formulated to deliver high quality nutrition and tasty mealtime experience,” Brace said. “The kibble has been specially sized to make it easy for small dogs to pick up and chew and the recipes contain probiotics and prebiotic fiber for optimal digestion and industry-leading levels of glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints.”
Both the Grain Free Real Chicken and Sweet Potato Recipe and the Grain Free Real Texas Beef and Sweet Potato Recipe start with 38 percent deboned chicken and beef, respectively. The Grain Free Real Salmon and Sweet Potato Recipe contains 34 per cent real deboned salmon as the first ingredient and the latter is also poultry free. And, like all of Merrick’s recipes, the Lil’ Plates line is manufactured in the U.S. and contains no ingredients from China.
Royal Canin continues to evolve their line of Breed Nutrition Diets using nutrient-based formulations to provide individualized health nutrition for purebred dogs.
“Breed-specific nutrition is an ideal solution for dog owners who want to proactively support the unique health needs of their dog,” said Brent Mayabb, D.V.M., director of corporate affairs. “Each breed-specific formula is designed for one individual breed’s needs, such as energy requirements, bone and joint health, muzzle structure and eating habits, digestive sensitivities and unique coat attributes.”
Royal Canin currently offers 29 breed-specific dry canine formulas. Some of the most popular diets include those for the following breeds: German shepherd, golden retriever, labrador retriever, shih-tzu, bulldog, Yorkshire terrier and the chihuahua.
“Additionally, we have also developed diets that change and evolve as the dog does—from a puppy formula to and adult diet,” Mayabb said. “For example, our Labrador Retriever Puppy is designed exclusively for pure breed labrador retriever puppies from eight weeks to 15 months. The labrador retriever (America’s most popular dog breed) is a breed that tends to eat quickly without chewing its food. The donut shaped kibble of the labrador retriever formula helps to slow the rate of ingestion and encourage the labrador to chew his food.”
“Once a labrador retriever reaches 15 months, the transition from puppy to Labrador Retriever Adult formula may begin,” he continued. “Labrador Retriever Adult formula helps maintain the adult dog’s ideal weight with an appropriate calorie content, maintain healthy skin and coat, and helps support healthy bones and joints.”
Gains in Grain-Free
The Wellness Complete dry recipes have been popular with dog owners for a long time. The company has introduced three grain-free formulas in line with the growing no-grain movement within the industry.
“The New Wellness Complete Health Grain-Free recipes give dogs thoughtfully balanced nutrition, without grains and fillers, in three delicious flavors, helping support pets’ wellbeing from the inside out,” said Danielle Bernal, a veterinarian with Wellness Natural Pet Food.
“No grains means there are more protein-rich ingredients dogs love and need for an active lifestyle, enriched with whole fruits, vegetables and botanicals to create a satisfying and easily-digested meal that supports health from head to tail,” Bernal said. “And, for pet parents who prefer whole grain diets for their dogs, existing Complete Health dry dog recipes have been improved to include more guaranteed protein for energy, vitamin A for tooth and gum health, and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to support healthy skin and coat.”
Solid Gold, who brand themselves as “America’s first holistic dog food company,” has a new CEO and president in Bob Rubin, several new dry dog recipes and new packaging that focus on how the company blends the 20 Superfoods that are the basis of their recipes.
“In 2016, we continue to provide best-in-class nutrition and have improved our packaging and messaging,” Rubin said. “The foundation of Solid Gold’s core dry food recipes is high-quality proteins plus our unique blend of 20 nutritious superfoods, which have been specifically curated for the overall health and wellbeing of dogs and cats.”
“Our new packaging makes a concerted effort to call attention to those ingredients to make it easier for the pet parent to see,” Rubin said. “Consumers want to be able to easily identify the key ingredients and understand if the product is right for their pet. With this in mind, our unique blend of 20 Superfoods will be highlighted in a visually compelling way and the improved message hierarchy will allow for clearer product distinction to aid in shopability.”