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February 24, 2016

Dental products are becoming increasingly important as the incidence of dental disease rises among aging dogs. This category poses a tricky element, however, because not all dog owners will have consulted with their veterinarian before seeking out a dental treatment. Always start from that point because some dental problems simply cannot be addressed with treats or supplements.

Pet Humanization

For those pet owners who strive to be proactive by taking care of their dog’s teeth or for those customers who have already consulted their vet, be prepared to offer a range of solutions from food toppers and water additives to pastes and treats. As this category has expanded, trends in dental products are evolving to meet the increased need and to appeal to human consumers.

“The pet health category mirrors the human health category, as greater importance is placed on dental health,” said Jeff Camosci, Paragon Pet Products’ vice president of sales and marketing for North America. “Humanization is also a very important factor. With more pets than ever before being considered members of the family, pet parents are reading labels and are more educated than ever before, and they seek out product-solutions that offer the best in quality and performance. Healthy products and products with certified quality are in high demand.”

Reflecting this trend, Paragon Pet’s WHIMZEES brand is produced according to human-grade standards using vegetarian ingredients.

There are three main items that most consumers are looking for in a dental health product for their pets,” said Martin Shimko, managing partner of SV Distribution, producers of ProDen’s PlaqueOff. “In varying order, they are looking for effectiveness, price, and ease of use.”

According to Shimko, ProDen’s PlaqueOff hits those three key points. It is a powder that can be used as a food topper, making delivery simple.

“PlaqueOff has many other beneficial attributes as well, such as the natural ingredients, the lack of additives or harmful chemicals of any kind, and the high palatability of the product so that it exceeds the requirements of most customers,” he said.

Treats that provide dental health benefits appeal to consumers who want to spoil their pet while providing health benefits. Treats like Zuke’s grain-free, potato- and pea-based Z-Bones are popular options because pet owners already have brand recognition with Zuke’s from their typical treat lines, so it is not as big of a stretch to get your customers to shift to the dental version.

Swedencare, the manufacturer of the Proden PlaqueOff Dental Powder, has created a new product in a treat form that contains Proden PlaqueOff. The new Proden PlaqueOff Dental Bites are palatable, crunchy bites that give the pet owner an alternative form of PlaqueOff to give their pets. Camosci said that this is beneficial to owners with picky pets or owners who free-feed multiple pets.

Smile for Safety

As with any edible or supplement product, consumers are concerned about safety. In particular, there’s an emphasis on ingredient origin and manufacturing process after numerous recalls have worried pet owners.

“Pet parents don’t have to worry about questionable ingredients or additives with Barkworthies since we pride ourselves on simplifying the process for pets and their parents,” said Bill Chilian, marketing vice president at Barkworthies. “For instance, with our antlers, we simply sort, clean and round any sharp edges to protect the pet. It’s all about delivering a premium, safe chewing experience for the pet while they naturally receive the associated health benefits.”

Barkworthies makes a range of bones and chews, like bully sticks, elk antlers and chews made from a variety of proteins from the typical (cow and pig ears) to the unusual (kangaroo chews). They also have a specific selection of Made in the USA products with corresponding POP displays.

In store, it is important to convey the benefits and features to customers. However, Camosci recommends limiting messaging to one key point.

“Dogs need good oral care to keep them healthy,” Camosci said. “Good oral care does not come just from feeding the right kibble, but a combination of regular veterinarian check-ups, brushing the teeth and providing effective chew treats to keep the teeth clean and healthy.”

WHIMZEES has created a variety of displays and POP materials that are available to achieve clear on-shelf communication.

“The goal of each display option is to clearly explain the benefits of oral health while highlighting our products’ features and benefits in a ‘WHIMZ-ical’ way that engage the pet-parent shopper inside the store,” Camosci said. “We want to be a partner to our retailers, since they interface with consumers every single day. We provide POS materials from signage to printed collateral, and based on the exploding growth of this category, we encourage our retail partners to create a section dedicated to oral/dental health and the important benefits of good oral care.”

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