Two factors are driving growth for joint products: First, dogs are living longer lives; therefore, dogs are experiencing more age-related health issues like arthritis. Second, dogs are integrated into the family fold, which includes being a part of the family’s lifestyle. Dogs go on more vacations, participate in more activities like hiking and running, and even compete in more
organized activities than ever before. And all that means more pressure on joints than ever before.
“The biggest barrier people face with supplements is actually getting their dogs to eat it,” said David Rizzo, director of operations at Zuke’s. “Because of this, consumers are looking for joint care products that not only offer functionality, but high-quality nutrition and a taste their dogs enjoy. They are savvy about ingredient and sourcing choices, often seek out allergy-friendly options, and value supplying their pets with wholesome nutrition.
“To meet these demands, Zuke’s Enhance Mobility Functional Chews are grain-free, available in tasty peanut butter and chicken recipes, and are crafted in the USA with some of the best herbs and high-quality ingredients that nature has to offer,” Rizzo said. “The product includes functional ingredients like glucosamine hydrochloride to help support cartilage health in joints, turmeric to help ease stiffness and chondroitin sulfate to help with cartilage maintenance and joint health.”
Ark Naturals also recognizes the need to address a dog’s joint care health. Suitable for both cats and dogs, Joint Rescue Super Strength Chewable supports cartilage and joint function and can provide comfort to pets with exercise- and agerelated mobility issues, as well as morning stiffness, according to the company’s website. Ark Naturals offers the made-in-the- USA chewables in a 60- and 90-count bottle. The company also has “senior friendly” bite size soft chews, Old Dogs! Happy Joints!, available under its Gray Muzzle product line that specifically target age-related joint issues.
The Human Connection
“As health has become a focal point and the baby boomer population ages, consumers are looking for pet treats that contain the same functional ingredients that they seek in supplements,” said Steve Ball, CMO and cofounder of “I and love and you.” “It’s a natural evolution to the humanization of pets. Ingredients such as glucosamine and manganese sulfate are important to both companion animals’ and humans’ health. Seeing ingredients like this on the label allows consumers to quickly identify that products may aid joint care. This is one of many areas where humanization comes to play because both animals and humans need the same things with regards to joint care as they age.”
“I and love and you” is launching a new functional treat in July of this year. At the time this issue went to press, the product name was undetermined.
“We are adding glucosamine and manganese sulfate to a grain-free, soft, heart shaped treat to meet animals’ joint care needs,” Blass said. “In addition, we’ve added turmeric and green tea extract for added benefits. And at only five calories each, it is a treat you can feel good about giving to your pet.”
Because the demand in this category is expected to increase, so will product development. Ball said he expects “more focus on things like joint care and the humanization of companion animal products.”
“As baby boomers, Gen-Xers, millennials and, subsequently, their pets, age; having functional products that allow your pet family members to help stay stronger longer, is important,” Ball said. “We also expect to see other key human trends translate into the pet functional treat category—everything from beauty ingredients to dental health.”
Rizzo made similar observations.
“An aging population of people and pets is supporting the demand for health-centered or supplemental chews, and the category is expected to deliver strong growth over the coming years,” he said. “Just as people are becoming increasingly interested in natural ways to maintain good health and prevent ailments, they’re seeking the same for their dogs. In addition, pet parents are experiencing pill fatigue and looking for natural, food-based ways to prevent ailments and maintain the joint health of their four-legged friends. Products like our Enhance Mobility Functional Chews provide an appealing solution.”
Despite products like his fitting among the treats in store, Ball said that retailers should emphasize the functionality when making a sale.
“Consumers are looking for a clinically proven product that their dog will enjoy eating,” said Sarah Batterson, brand manager at H&C Animal Health, producers of the joint product ActivPhy. “Sixty percent of consumers prefer soft chews.”
ActivPhy is available in a soft chew that is guaranteed by the brand to improve a dog’s mobility within 30 days of directed use.
“Currently, ActivPhy uses bluegreen algae extract, turmeric and glucosamine, all ingredients proven to improve mobility [and] which are all ingredients consumers recognize and might even take themselves,” Batterson said. “We are currently working on providing innovative joint care products that include other healthy ingredients for all-around health such as multi vitamins with added joint health ingredients.”
“We recommend that retailers display joint care products near supplements and functional chews versus within their traditional treat set,” Rizzo said. “We provide marketing materials and FAQ sheets so that they are informed and well-versed about our products. This helps them to both proactively share information about Zuke’s Enhance Functional Chews, understand our brand and answer any questions consumers may have while in the store.”
ActivPhy’s packaging is conducive to stocking the shelves.
“We advise retailers to merchandise ActivPhy Joint Health in the joint supplement or health and wellness section,” Batterson said. “Since ActivPhy comes in a convenient air tight tub, it can be stacked on shelf, or arranged in center store displays.”
Tasty, functional treats and chews are an expanding segment. Retailers should make room on their shelves for effective, palatable joint treats as this segment continues to be a big seller.