Get the Grain Out

As dog owners shift their own eating habits because of prevailing trends, they are scrutinizing their pets’ diets more than ever before.

“There are a few motivating factors in choosing grain-free options,” said Bette Shubert, Bravo Pet Food’s co-founder and senior vice president of sales, new product development and education. “The primary one is pet parents’ desire to feed a better, more nutritionally-sound food benefitting the overall health and well-being of the companion animal. Cats and dogs are carnivores, or meat-eaters. Many pet foods are at least 50 percent (or more) grain because the carbohydrates are needed to hold the food together. But as The Merck Veterinary Manual tells us, dogs and cats have ‘no dietary requirement for carbohydrates.’”

Like Humans Do
The human food industry is experiencing massive change with an emphasis on what the Institute of Food Technologists calls “the intersection of health and convenience.” And, as most trends do, that is trickling into the pet space.

“Pet owners are becoming more conscious of ingredients and paying closer attention to food labels and nutritional benefits, which is primarily driving their increasing belief that grains are bad for dogs with digestive sensitivities,” said Adrian Pettyan, CEO and co-founder of Caru Pet Food. “In fact, this belief is backed by veterinarians that agree that pets do not need as much grain in their diets as originally thought, and [they] often recommend that pets eat little or no grains, as to not trigger metabolism difficulties or potential diseases. Overall, as pet parents make healthy decisions for themselves and their families, they are doing the same for their furry companions by purchasing wholesome foods that contain nutritious benefits to support their individual needs.”

Caru’s Tetra Pak cartons deliver on the convenience factor because they are easy to open, close and store. The recipes inside provide the healthy, grain-free formulas.

“Caru recipes are ‘just like homemade’—we focus on carefully choosing our products’ ingredients and treating each with integrity to maintain its most healthful qualities to benefit the pet’s diet and promote an overall healthy lifestyle,” Pettyan said. “That said, we recognized consumers’ need for grain-free pet food and treats, and also formulated our grain-free Stews and Treats with GMO-free ingredients. We also recently launched a new line of GMO-free dog treats with exotic proteins: alligator, rabbit and wild boar. These items were created for owners who believe a change of proteins or novel proteins will help alleviate food sensitivities or simply want to satisfy their pets’ wild cravings.”

Part of the grain-free trend, which Bravo embraces, is a push for a raw food diet. Some consumers have been reluctant to make that shift for fear of preparing and storing raw meat. Bravo has combined the desire for that feeding approach with packaged convenience.

“Bravo has always offered single-source protein, limited and grain-free ingredient formulas that all serve a specific nutritional purpose,” Shubert said. “Using our raw foods as an example, the muscle meats provide energy, the organs are nutrient-rich, and the bones are great for dental health and as a source of calcium. In some cases, we add vegetables for added nutrients. Our fresh-frozen raw foods are simple by design and provide a great foundation for creating a custom food based on the specific nutritional needs of the companion animal. Our grain-free freeze dried dinners meet the AAFCO standards for complete and balanced nutrition right out of the package. And if you look at our treats, you’ll find they are made from 100 percent muscle meats and/or organs, making them highly nutritious and delicious and 100 percent grain-free.”

Treats Going Against the Grain
These shifts in consumer demands aren’t exclusive to food; grain-free treats are also popular.

“Currently, pet parents are regularly seeking products that are grain-free and corn-free, as well as products that offer limited, natural ingredients,” said Jeff Camosci, vice president of sales and marketing at Paragon Pet Products. “WHIMZEES dental dog chews are an incredible solution because they offer all of the benefits that help to promote healthier gums and teeth, but in a more fun, delicious and highly digestible way than anything else on the market. The limited, natural ingredients in WHIMZEES offer a high quality vegetarian option that promotes dental and oral health but with a taste and texture dogs adore.”

Camosci emphasized that “simple, limited ingredients are very on-trend, and we see this trend evolving to be the standard versus the exception. Our company is continuing to see grain-free as a highly sought requirement with regards to dogs with all different kinds of allergies.”

For those considering grain-free products to stock your shelves, these products were previously specialty but are now a basic consumer expectation. A range of treats and grain-free kibble, plus alternative options like Caru and Bravo, hit major pain points for consumers who want the health of a grain-free meal with the convenience of simple-serve packaging.

Who’s a Good Boy?

There is a wonderful arsenal of training tools for dogs that deal with a variety of issues, whether it’s simply learning to walk on a leash or how to remain calm in certain situations.

Leashes and Harnesses
The Company of Animals, creators of the original Halti head collar, recently announced their new Halti walking range. This extensive collection was created to offer practical options for people and pets from every walk of life.

“Just like every behavior and training product we’ve ever launched, they’re all designed to promote harmony between people and pets,” said Larry Cobb, CEO of The Company of Animals’ US subsidiary.

Products in this new line all feature a reflective 3M strip for walking visibility and includes the Halti Retractable Lead designed to let dogs enjoy the freedom of walking but simultaneously offers dog owners reassurance that their pet is safe and secure. It is available in four colors and three sizes and features a comfortable, gel-padded handle and one-click thumb lock to adjust lead length. The Halti All-In-One Lead has a padded neoprene handle and super-strong elastic shock absorber for walking comfort. It can double as a tie-out tether or belt for hands-free use.

Dog travel experts Kurgo offer a variety of practical products that work as both training tools as well as practical accessories for well-mannered dogs on the go such as the Tru-Fit Smart Harness that features a halt ring on the chest plates.

“If your dog attempts to pull on a leash attached to the halt ring, it will just turn him around, effectively training him that pulling will get him nowhere,” explained Kerry Sutherland, the company’s publicist. “The chest pad is designed to reduce stress on the trachea and sternum while dispersing kinetic energy across the chest.”

The Springback Dog Leash is designed to deal with a dog that makes an unpredictable pull or directional changes as it will stretch and bungee him back into place.

“It’s a great training tool to teach your dog to enjoy the outdoors while limiting his freedom and keeping him safe,” Sutherland said.

The Safe & Sound Harness from Smart Pet Love includes a device that offers the feel of a real heartbeat located in a pocket in the front of the harness. It’s a great training tool to curb anxiety.

“It’s the same technology used in our world famous Snuggle Puppy,” said Bob Thorne, the company’s president.

“A high percentage of dogs end up in shelters because of unresolved anxiety issues that manifest as reallydog leash bad behavior, thus their owners give up on them,” Thorne said. “Our harness provides a natural solution by providing a pack animal (dog) the feel of another pulsing heart. It offers dogs reassurance and allows them to build confidence.”

PetSafe offers a variety of training harnesses, such as the Deluxe Easy Walk Harness designed to gently discourage a dog from pulling on the leash.

“The chest strap rests across the dog’s chest so there’s no choking or gagging, and the front-chest leash attachment helps you steer your dog to the side and redirect his attention toward you,” said Jason Hart, director of marketing for PetSafe. “It also features neoprene line straps and reflective strips, visible up to 1,000 feet.”

For pet owners who like to combine fashion with functional training, the PetSafe Bling Easy Walk Harness features a fun, sparkly ribbon overlay on the nylon harness. The Bling Easy Walk Harness utilizes silver quick-release buckles and four adjustment points to provide maximum comfort and a reliable fit, and is available in three different colors and four sizes.

There is also a new harness from Gold Paw Series.

“Our new Crossover Harness was created with comfort in mind,” said company president Rebecca Gadd. “It provides a stretchy yet durable feel that allows for better breathability without compromising safety. It’s designed to remove pressure from the throat and direct it onto the shoulders, where it belongs, and is especially great for larger dogs that have a pulling tendency.”

ThunderWorks has had a lot of success with their ThunderShirts, in various styles, and their ThunderLeashes. The standard leash mimics a dog training trick called the Dutch half hitch that involves looping a leash around the flank or belly and tightening it to distract and help settle an overactive or leash-aggressive dog that may pull hard or become very agitated at the sight of other animals or strangers.

“The tractable leash has surprised a lot of people with its effectiveness as a ‘no-pull’ leash,” said Todd Cantrell, the company’s vice president of marketing.

Rewarding Good Behavior
When it comes to dog training and positive reinforcement techniques, training treats are undoubtedly a must-have training tool.

Bravo’s new training treats are made with 100 percent muscle meat, poultry protein, cheese and organs, and are sized to serve as the perfect reinforcement reward. They are freeze-dried and not messy if kept in a treat pouch or pocket.

PetSafe also has an item called the Treat Pouch Sport as part of their arsenal of training products. The product features a special hinge that allows the pouch to stay open, making training with multiple treats easy. The divided inner pocket is convenient for separating treats, while the front storage pocket is perfect for carrying cell phones or other personal items.

The Treat Pouch Sport includes a belt clip and detachable/adjustable belt and also features multiple elastic loops as well as a carabineer for attaching keys, clickers or other training tools. It’s made of waterproof, stain-resistant material and is available in black, red and blue.

Selling Treats for Training

Once upon a time in a galaxy far far away, many pet owners didn’t like to use treats when training their dogs. They thought using treats was the same as bribery, and that dogs would be far less obedient unless treats were continually used. Today, dog trainers routinely suggest treats as a positive way to help motivate dogs to learn and listen. As retailers, you can help boost your treat sales by knowing not only what constitutes a good training treat but how customers can safely use them to great effect with their dogs.

A Good Training Treat Is…
• Something a dog likes. This seems obvious, but if a dog doesn’t find a treat palatable, she will be far less motivated to work for it. Some dogs prefer soft treats, such as Bil-Jac Grain Free Soft Dog Training Treats; others prefer harder ones, such as Stewart Pro Treats or Cloudstar Crunchy Tricky Trainers. Since soft treats could become messy when kept in a pocket, recommending a treat pouch is a great way to add on to the sale.

• Small enough to be consumed in one or two bites. Training usually involves numerous repetitions in order for a dog to master a concept, which equates to multiple treats during a training session. Small, bite-sized treats are not as likely to cause weight-gain challenges and are less distracting when a dog eats them. Ideally, a dog gets a taste of something fabulous, then it is gone and she is motivated for more. A dog who takes three minutes (or more) to chew and swallow a treat will have completely lost focus on whatever it was her owner was trying to teach her.

• Easily broken into bite-sized pieces if needed. Whether hard or soft treats are used, owners should be able to break them cleanly into smaller pieces if warranted, such as when training very small dogs or limited the amount of calories consumed during a session. Owners could even use their dogs’ favorite biscuits and jerky if they can easily reduce them in size.

• Easily hidden to prevent visual dependency. If dogs can’t see the treats, they won’t know if their owners have one or not. This keeps the dogs guessing and more motivated. Owners can opt not to use a treat without decreasing their dog’s responses.

• Not smelly to limit dogs’ awareness. Owners should also avoid treats that enable their dogs to know when they are hiding one. If the treat in question is so odorous dogs will be able tell when their owners are holding them, how will they get a response when they aren’t? This is why you should always recommend treats that are as odorless as possible. Charlee Bear Liver Flavor Dog Treats are a fantastic example; they are small, easily concealed, practically odorless and palatable.

• Will not stain apparel. Since many owners put a few treats in their pockets when training their dogs, a good training treat should not stain clothing. Again, recommending a treat pouch enables owners to avoid staining and creates an add-on sale.

How Trainers Use Treats
Consistent positive reinforcement of a behavior strengthens that behavior. When trainers first start teaching a behavior, they will often reward an appropriate response with food 100 percent of the time. They will repeat the rewards until a dog shows a clear, consistent understanding and response, at which time they will start to wean a dog off them.

Although every dog learns at a different pace, treats are an effective tool to use when training dogs. Retailers who know how to use them can effectively promote the right types to their customers.

Fact or Fiction

Now that we are in the political silly season in the U.S., it is sometimes difficult to tell fact from fiction. In politics, it is often hard for folks to agree on the facts, let alone reach a consensus opinion. Let’s take a look at some facts involving the pet industry, then see if my opinions are on base or out in left field, to use another seasonal analogy. Baseball is far more interesting than politics, don’t you agree?

Fact: “Finding Dory” is one of the top domestic box-office hits of the summer and has a shot at becoming the biggest animated film ever.
Opinion: The pet industry got out in front of the story this time, muting critics’ claims that the industry exploits marine fish and harms the environment. PIJAC and the Pet Leadership Council (PLC) worked with the Walt Disney Co. to create a series of educational pieces that help consumers understand the commitment of time, money and resources needed to maintain a home aquarium. The website www.happyhealthyfish.pet was launched just before “Finding Dory” premiered, including links to other helpful websites, such as a cool, interactive game developed for the PLC that rewards players for providing proper care for their digital fish.

Fact: Four in 10 U.S. households have a dog today. Based upon U.S. Census Bureau projections, and assuming the ratio of dogs per household remains static, the demand for pet dogs will grow to 95 million animals by 2025.
Opinion: This is great news for retailers selling dog supplies, provided the supply of animals can keep up with demand. But efforts are underway in many cities and towns across the country to cut off consumers’ access to puppies sold in retail pet stores under the pretext of helping shelters get more dogs adopted and shutting down “puppy mills.” But pet sale bans are based on not one, but two, false premises.

First, shelters cannot come close to providing the number of dogs needed to meet demand. Even if every shelter dog was adopted, the total number of dogs available is 3.3 million (and we know that not every shelter dog is adoptable due to medical or behavioral issues). If shelters can only supply for between 25-30 percent of American pet owners’ needs, where will all of the other dogs come from? Shutting down pet store sales will have no impact on adoption rates and will only limit consumers’ choices when it comes to selecting the pet that is most appropriate for them.

Second, USDA-licensed and inspected commercial breeders are not “puppy mills.” Conflating commercial breeders with puppy mills is how animal rights activists are convincing local elected officials to pass puppy sale bans. Are there bad actors out there who give the whole industry a black eye? Of course. Could breeding standards be strengthened based on the best science available today? They could and they are. Purdue University’s Center for Animal Welfare Science is about to conclude a two-year study that will result in science-based standards developed for the care and well-being of dogs bred commercially.

Fact: U.S. Retail Sales totaled $2.367 trillion in the 12 months through May, up 2.1 percent year-over-year. Retail sales excluding gas stations are up 3.9 percent.
Opinion: Strong employment and rising wages are driving consumer spending. Are your sales up nearly 4 percent? If not, it’s time to figure out why your slice of the pie is shrinking. A study reported in Retailing Today on “The Shopping Habits of American Women” revealed that price was ranked first among factors affecting shopping behavior. Consumers have an array of tools available today to help them compare prices. But shoppers for pet products listed “in-store displays” as their first choice, nearly twice as often as Amazon or Google.

That’s great news for retail pet stores. But once the customer is in your store, you need to make a connection that goes beyond price and keeps them coming back. A well-trained staff is a good place to start and Pet Store Pro, the free online training program brought to you by the Pet Industry Distributors Association, has everything you need.

Tried and True but Also New

Pet Age’s Alexandra Wepner spoke with Larry Cobb, CEO of The Company of Animals, U.S. Subsidiary, about the company’s history and expansion.

Alexandra Wepner: What is the history of The Company of Animals?
Larry Cobb: In 1979, Dr. Roger Mugford founded The Company of Animals, a brand which he invented and developed a range of products that have revolutionized the way people train their pets. The HALTI Head Collar and Pet Corrector auditory training tool are among his exemplary products frequently copied by competitors but unmatched in quality or effectiveness.

Alexandra: How has your catalog evolved since it all began with the HALTI Headcollar?
Larry: Our catalog has expanded greatly, as we have not only developed and expanded our line of products, but have also acquired a number of brands and evolved them as well. As we look to our core mission, we understand that there is a larger world outside of training, so we have developed products that suite every dog, age, lifestyle and training level.

For example, we have observed that consumers are becoming more educated about leashes and collars that best suit their dogs’ needs, they are also starting to demand unique styles for their dog accessories. Consumers want functional, comfortable products that come in a variety of colors and styles to embrace their dogs’ personalities and lifestyles.

The Company of Animals is filling this demand by offering a number of new products in our HALTI Training (available now) and HALTI Walking lines (debuted May of this year). The lines include collars, leads and harnesses that have unique colors and styles while providing exceptional functionality and comfort for both dogs and their owners.

In addition, the company has taken steps toward keeping pets and owners safe, with the inclusion of patented 3M Scotchlite™ reflective weaves into its new HALTI Walking collars, leads and harnesses so owners and pets are visible in dimly-lit areas or during nighttime walks.

Alexandra: You’re located near and sometimes work with The Animal Behavior Center. Why is that partnership valuable to The Company of Animals?
Larry: The Animal Behavior Center not only benefits canines, but gives The Company of Animals the unique advantage of being able to constantly research and develop new products to help resolve pet-related behavior and training problems, as well as having a great base in which to test new designs and principles of animal training.

Alexandra: What’s it like managing international business in over 30 countries?
Larry: We have found that our international customers’ needs are different in many ways. As such, we have an international sales team that understands and builds programs that meet these consumer needs. We are currently selling to over 50 countries and the team is traveling the globe weekly to work in each of our markets.

Alexandra: How do you go about introducing consumers to products that are different from products already on the market? Any tips for retailers?
Larry: It’s all about education and drawing a clear line of product differentiation at retailers. For example, utilizing life-size dog models can accurately showcase color-coordinated lead and collar sets, and allow customers to handle a product in order to better assess functionality and materials.

It’s also a good idea to allow dogs to try on sample merchandise so that pet parents can decide if a product is the right size and fit for their pet and lifestyle. A fitting session also allows staff members the opportunity to detail the advantages of a particular product that otherwise may be overlooked.

Alexandra: Are there any COA products currently in the works?
Larry: We are always looking to the future and staying ahead of the curve when it comes to product development and innovation. However, we are very excited to be launching the Baskerville Ultra Muzzle this fall. The Baskerville Ultra Muzzle is a solution to cover all dog muzzle wearing scenarios, while optimizing a dog’s well-being by enabling panting, drinking and eating. It is also unique in providing optimal fit for all dogs.

Slow It Down There, Doggie

Customers frequently seek solutions to problems with some idea of what they need, and purchase products they know will solve their problem.

The slow feeder category is different though because, more often than not, customers don’t know that a slow feeder could be the solution to their problem.

Customers come into the store looking for a solution to specific health concerns like gas or bloat, and behavioral problems like destructive chewing. These customers are probably unfamiliar with slow or interactive feeders. In fact, many customers aren’t yet aware that such products exist, so directing them to these products will help them discover new solutions to an old problem.

Bill McQuade, who along with his wife, operate three pet stores in Arkansas, said that few of their customers specifically seek slow feeders. Rather, they’re looking for solutions to problems like vomiting or gas, and he recommends slow feeding bowls as the solution.

Problem Solving

Customers whose dogs gulp their food or who have body types prone to bloat, seek solutions to help prevent their dogs from bloating, which can be deadly.

“Bloat is the second leading health risk in canines,” Eric Abbey, president of Loving Pets, said. “Our goal was to create a solution that helps prevent bloat by slowing your dog down while eating, and easily attaches to the bowl customers already own.”

Loving Pets introduced the Gobble Stopper, which is an affordable option because it doesn’t require the customer to purchase a separate bowl. Instead, it works with their existing ceramic, stainless or plastic dish. The “canopy” bone design of the Gobble Stopper creates an obstacle during meals, effectively slowing the pace of consumption by up to five times, according to the company.

Another solution is the Flying Saucer from Advance Pet Products. The stainless steel bowl is designed with a raised element in the center, which creates a channel around the rim from which the dog eats. Ravi Singh, of  Advance Pet Products, said this product was developed for puppies. However, these types of obstacles encourage dogs to eat slowly, minimizing the health risks associated with eating too quickly.

Jason Vap, founder of petprojekt, offers the Bloat Blocker, which works on his own dog.

“There’s a great selection of slow feeding products out there on the market,” he said. “Our product, the Bloat Blocker, helps prevent bloat by utilizing the patent pending suction cup that allows it to adhere to any type of dog bowl, whether it’s ceramic, stainless steel or even plastic.”

It forces the dog to eat around it, which causes the animal to slow down in either drinking or eating.

“Since the original prototype, it’s greatly helped my Doberman slow his eating down by more than half the time,” Vap said.

Vap is correct when he says there are many types of these products available.

The Company of Animals offers the Green Dog Slow Feeder, which turns a dog’s meal into a challenging game. All a customer has to do is scatter the desired amount of food across the Green and watch the dog work to push the food out between the many blades of grass.

Behavior Issues

Further, customers seek solutions to behavioral problems like destructive chewing and obsessive compulsive behaviors. McQuade says that in his stores, he suggests slow feeders to customers who are struggling with these issues. For instance, the Gobble Stopper is recommended for multiple pet households where food stealing or food aggression issues may arise as a result of varying paces of eating.

Aikiou developed their interactive feeding products to address behavioral issues. The company’s products are designed to capitalize on a dog’s natural instincts.

“Each and every bowl we make is applied directly to the natural behavior of the animal,” Alexandre Tremblay, president of Aikiou, said. “Most [customers] look at it because they have a behavioral problem or a dog that is just bored.”

The Aikiou bowl adds an activity to the dog’s day that helps keep their mind occupied.

Because this category is unfamiliar to many consumers, there is tremendous room for growth. According to Tremblay, this category is destined to grow as consumers gain that much-needed education.

“It’s hard to say where this category will go,” he said. “It’s a need. It’s our responsibility to get dogs the products they need in their life to survive mentally or physically. This category is going to grow, and it’s going to grow pretty fast when people start to realize that we need to supply animals with the products they need to express their natural instincts.”

What’s Next?

Additional or expanded product offerings will help drive that growth. Singh, of Advance Pet Products, says his company plans to adjust its line by making a heavier dish and offering more options than the current 26- and 58-ounce sizes. He says they want to accommodate larger dogs in their future slow feeder offerings.

Education is the key to successful slow feeder sales, meaning sales staff should be prepared to direct customers who are facing health or behavioral problems to this category.

“A few [customers] ask about them,but usually it is an educational sale,” McQuade said.

This is where correctly merchandising the product to grab the attention of a customer can play a critical part. Consider end caps with educational signage and unique product placement.

“I certainly suggest that these types of items really need to be located near bowls, feeders and feeding supplies,” Vap said. “Many retailers have a specialty section, which causes great confusion to the end customer, whereas they might not be aware that there are products out there to help with this issue.”

Innova Introduces Nature’s Table

Natura Pet Products‘ Innova line of dog and cat food recently introduced its new Nature’s Table Grain Free Dog and Cat Foods and Treats during an invite-only, farm-to-table dinner in New York City, which featured the same farm-grown ingredients found in its product line.

Nature’s Table brings the farm to a pet’s bowl, using real, wholesome ingredients such as sweet blueberries, seasonal pumpkin and fresh carrots. Ingredients that are grown and raised with care, from places they know, by trusted partners, like handpicked apples from Evans Fruit Orchards, in Washington State.

 

Like all Innova products, Nature’s Table does not contain any chicken by-product meal, fillers, wheat, corn, soy, or artificial preservatives, colors or flavors. Animal protein is always the first ingredient, helping to maintain lean muscle mass. The products are grain and white potato free, with no gluten added.

During the event, attendees were able to feast on a menu prepared by chef Kerry Heffernan and inspired by the fresh ingredients you would find in the new Nature’s Table line of products. The four course meal, included entrees like smoked chicken breast with lentil and root vegetable ragout and rosemary custard, carpaccio bison with cranberry agrodolce and sunflower chive oil and pumpkin brulee with sweet whipped cottage cheese and Mexican cinnamon.

Dog owners can choose from five nutritious dry recipes and two treat recipes:

  • Grain Free Farm-Raised Chicken & Savory Turkey Recipe Adult Dog Food
  • Grain Free Cold Water Salmon & Wild Herring Recipe Adult Dog Food
  • Grain Free Ranch-Raised Beef & Red Lentils Recipe Adult Dog Food
  • Grain Free Adult Dog Food with Ranch-Raised Bison & Green Lentils
  • Grain Free Adult Dog Food with Pasture-Raised Venison & Split Peas
  • Grain Free Farm-Raised Chicken Recipe Dog Treats
  • Grain Free Ranch-Raised Beef & Garden Peas Recipe Dog Treats

 

 

Cat owners will have two nutritious dry recipes and one treat recipe to choose from:

  • Grain Free Farm-Raised Chicken & Tender Turkey Recipe Adult Cat Food
  • Grain Free Cold Water Salmon & Peas Recipe Adult Cat Food
  • Grain Free Cold Water Salmon & Savory Chicken Recipe Cat Treats

 

The company will have their new product line on display at the Global Pet Expo.

Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

The 138th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show took place at Madison Square Garden Feb. 10-11, where Sky, a Wire Fox Terrier captured the Best in Show title.

But, before that there were many other dogs both in the ring and behind the scenes that captured the hearts of judges and spectators.

Here is a look at some of them.

 

 

Keeping Those Teeth Pearly White

February is pet dental month. And, while there may be discounts on related products and services for pet owners to take advantage of during this time frame, it’s also an excellent opportunity for retailers to educate customers that dental hygiene is something that should be practiced year-round, resulting in perennial sales.

The range of dental care products now available reflects great innovation in this category. It’s no longer about ordinary toothbrushes and pastes. Brushes have gone electric and being sold along with other aids such as doggie dental floss, water additives and doggie tongue scrapers. There are even products such as the SilverTails line from the Quaker Pet Group that targets dental care specifically for senior pets.

Orapup is the first canine tongue cleaner geared to beat bad dog breath without the daily use of a toothbrush.

The tongue applicator has ultra-soft, pointed bristles designed to reach deep into the uneven crevices of a dog’s tongue and loosen stinky bacteria. The cleaning paste, which is applied to the applicator, contains all-natural enzymes and anti-plaque properties that fortify against gum disease and reduce tartar.

“There’s no forcing the dog to participate and thus no stress involved in making this a daily task,” Katy Laine Kenealy, spokesperson for the company, said.

Since launching the Doggie DentalAID dental floss for dogs in 2012, the manufacturing company SER Enterprises, based in California, has expanded from online retailing into selected pet stores and is looking at overseas markets, too.

“We are selling a lot to groomers, who use the product as part of their grooming service and then offer it to customers as a take-home product for home dental care,” Rafles Warnars, one of the founding partners, said.

Dental Cleanse for Dogs, a water additive manufactured by Natural Chemistry contains no artificial sweeteners such as Sorbitol and Xylitol, nor any artificial colorants and dyes.

“Its safe for dogs of all ages,” Jeff Fowler, senior sales manager for the company, said. “It’s odorless and tasteless and as been very well received by pet specialty retailers who are working to educate their customers about how to eliminate the bacteria causing bad breath and gingivitis in their dog’s mouth.  When used daily, it not only helps to fights plaque and tarter, but works to maintain teeth whiteness, too.”

Keep Them Educated

Dr. Dave Dugan, oral surgeon and founder of Zututh battery-operated toothbrushes for dogs, agreed about the retailers’ role in education.

“Education is key and retailers play an important role in informing pet owners about the dangers associated with poor dental hygiene,” he said. “Veterinarian studies have proven that poor dental health, and periodontal disease can lead to a variety of painful and harmful diseases.

“While it may take a while for a dog to get used to having its teeth brushed, the long-term benefits significantly outweigh any potential short-term discomfort. It’s not hurting them; it’s just a new sensation that requires some getting used to, just like teaching a toddler to brush their teeth.”

To this end, the company produced a video tutorial on their website to offer useful instruction.

Misty Schneider, owner of Pet Kingdom Where Pets Rules in Algona, Iowa, said pet dental care is something promoted primarily by the veterinarians in her area.

“We do sell various products and it’s definitely a category that has promotional opportunities during February and beyond,” she said. “It’s certainly something to consider for the future. And with so much information available online [such as video tutorials], it would be easy to direct customers for more in-depth information.”

New Options

Ark Naturals just released a large sized bone in their Breath-less Brushless Toothpaste range. The product, which has earned three awards, is now available in four sizes.

“The product is extruded and not injection molded,” Susan Weiss, the company’s founder, said. “Extruded products are easier to digest and, with this type of manufacturing process, there is less chance of products breaking off in pieces.”

The outside of the chew has breath-freshening ingredients such as chlorophyll, cinnamon, vanilla and clove. The design of the chew has as “scrub” effect on teeth and gums. And on the inside, Ark Naturals’ patented toothpaste center provides three bacteriostats to inhibit the growth of plaque-forming bacteria, as well as to assist with bad breath and tartar and plaque build-up.

According to Steve Shweky, president of Fetch …for Pets!, trends in pet dental hygiene are following the latest trends in human oral care and says that the range now available now includes a variety of products aimed at making oral care convenient.

“Our top sellers from our Arm and Hammer Canine Oral Care line include: the Dental Rinse for adult dogs, the Advanced Care Fresh Breath and Whitening Toothpaste, the Toothbrush and Finger Toothbrush Set and the Advanced Care Dental Mints,” he said.

SynergyLabs, manufacturers of animal health and veterinary care products headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has an extensive portfolio of brands and products, which include a large selection of dental products.

“Our top selling product is the Dental Fresh Original Formula which is available in a variety of sizes from 4 ounces through to 32 ounces,” Carlos Zamora, marketing coordinator for Synergy Labs, said. “The range includes focused dental care such the Advanced Whitening Formula, Advanced Plaque and Tartar and also a Puppy Formula.”

Like Warnars, Zamora also said a lot of their products are sold to groomers for salon use. The smaller sizes are in turn sold to pet owners for take home applications in between grooming appointments.

Apart from promoting February as pet dental month, Shweky also believes that it’s important to utilize both social media and traditional ad campaigns in the promotion of products because campaigns have great reach and also offer their own unique benefits.

“Social media is great because it allows you to interact with the customer instantly and really opens up a dialogue,” Shweky said. “It’s also inexpensive. On the other hand, traditional ad campaigns are important because they provide a more permanent form of advertising. They also disseminate very quickly and produce short-term results with greater tangibility.”

Solving Common Puppy Problems

Puppy owners want products to help get their puppy off to the right start, such as solutions-based products, like items for chewing, potty training and safety.

Many puppy owners are also first-time dog owners who require guidance in choosing the right mix of products.

Jason Hart, director of marketing at PetSafe, sees the pet industry’s mega-trends affecting the puppy products category.

“The trends driving development in the puppy arena are the same as what is driving innovation across dog products, which is a combination of shifting towards smaller dogs, indoor dogs and the continued humanization of pets,” he said.

In addition to staple products like food dishes and collars being manufactured from sustainable materials, the toy category is benefiting from the shifting trend toward natural or holistic products. Because many pet owners are concerned about their puppy ingesting parts of toys, nontoxic puppy products are becoming increasingly popular.

Sarah Fuller, owner of NoPo Paws in Portland, Ore., sees similar trends in her store.

“I am seeing trends toward more natural puppy products, which follows the growth of the natural pet product industry overall,” she said. “I’m seeing lots of new toys from recycled or sustainable materials. Boiled wool is a hot one right now and is fantastic for puppies as it’s not as easily destroyed as many cotton toys.

“My customers are often searching for products to keep their puppies out of trouble but that are also safe. They want a toy that will keep their puppy entertained but they also want to know it’s not full of chemicals that ultimately will harm him or her. I like to recommend products like West Paw Design Zogoflex toys. The toys are incredibly durable, come with a replacement guarantee and are certified non-toxic.”

Additionally, activity toys perform well in the puppy category because owners want to keep their puppies busy, instead of chewing on household items like the sofa. Plus, puppy owners seek out products to assist in training and socialization.

“I also receive a lot of requests, especially in the rainy climate we live in, for toys that will assist in the training process and help expend energy when the weather prevents several daily walks,” Fuller said. “Fortunately, we have seen tons of new product development in terms of ‘puzzle’ toys for dogs. Nina Ottoson and Kyjen make fantastic puzzle toys. I often recommend these types of products for indoor brain exercise  and as a part of a training program that includes daily walks and training sessions.”

The shift toward natural products reaches into puppy grooming as well.

“Pets are part of the family and pet parents are investing further in their pet,” Steven Shweky from Fetch…for pets! said. “More and more, they want to provide a healthy start in life to the newest member of their family. Therefore, they are looking to natural products. As a result, there has been an increase in demand for natural and organic products.”

He cites the Burt’s Bees Natural Pet Care line, which features two products designed with puppies in mind, the 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner and the Tearless Shampoo, both of which are gentle products with no parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals, synthetic fragrances or sulfates.

Likewise, Carlos Zamora, marketing coordinator at SynergyLabs, noted the same trend.

“It seems that organic and natural puppy shampoos are on the rise due to increased demand in the last year,” he said. “Now, natural products like Richard’s Organics by SynergyLabs have become a lot more competitive.”

Further, according to Zamora, puppy formulations, products with ingredients designed specifically for puppies,  are popular among puppy owners.

“When we manufacture puppy products we just don’t replicate the same ingredients from those of a dog product,” Zamora said. “All puppy product ingredients are well researched in order to maximize its results. For example, there are some ingredients that will dry a puppy’s delicate skin or cause irritation.”

Education Is Key

Shweky said retailers should, “educate customers on the significance of using gentle products that are specifically formulated for puppies.”

Because many puppy owners are first-time dog owners, this education can spell the difference between making a sale and a confused costumer leaving the store.

“Be your own product advocate,” Zamora said. “Pet parents prefer to know you’ve tried a product first before you sell it.”

Within the store, merchandize puppy products together to help new owners navigate product choices.

“Within toys, I recommend creating a puppy section which would include all puppy-related toys,” Hart said. “This makes is easier for consumers to shop and ensures they get the right product for their pet. Retailers should also keep in mind that puppy owners in many cases will be first time dog owners and may be nervous about what to buy.  It can be very helpful to provide educational signage to help guide puppy owners in their purchase.”

He also said retailers need to understand their consumer by finding out information about the kind of puppy they’ve added to their family, their living arrangements, for instance, if they have a yard, and the puppy’s schedule.

“The more they understand the consumer, the better they can provide strong solutions,” he said.

Because the puppy category is saturated, success requires retailers to offer on-trend products, while guiding puppy owners to choose the right mix of items.

Pro-Pet Recalls Dog, Cat Foods

Pro-Pet LLC, of St. Marys, Ohio, voluntarily recalled a limited number of dry dog and cat foods for possible Salmonella contamination.

A single field test indicated products manufactured during a two day period, on a single production line may have the potential for Salmonella contamination. Only products made during this time frame are being recalled. There have been no reports of illness related to this product to date.

These products were distributed through select retailers, distributors and on-line consumer purchases in: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

No other products/lot numbers are affected by this recall.

Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

Customers should immediately discontinue use of any impacted product and contact Pro-Pet at 1-888-765-4190 for disposition.

For more information on the recall, customers can contact the customer service line for Pro-Pet at 1-888-765-4190. Customer service representatives will be available Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT.

 

 

Harmful Super Bowl Foods for Pets

Who doesn’t love the Super Bowl? It’s practically a national holiday. And, this year with it being in our backyard here in New Jersey, it is even more exciting.

But, with all the good food, loud screams when your team scores, or loud unprintable words being said your team doesn’t, there are plenty of opportunities for a pet to get stressed or sick.

Food is likely the biggest challenge, because as many times as you tell your little cousin not to give the dog any treats from the table, you know they are bound to slip them at least a tortilla chip. That is the least of your worries, however.

Popular appetizers like salsa and guacamole, which typically contain onions and can be toxic to dogs, are a major concern. So is caffeine in soda, or the bones from Buffalo wings. Alcohol is another major worry, so keep your bottles of Goose Island’s 312, or glasses of Penguin Merlot, out of your dogs reach.

To combat the loud noises, and general excitement of a crowd of unfamiliar people roaming about your house during your party, try using a calming product for your pup.

One product readily available at a local retailer that can help this is the ThunderShirt. Or, try a homeopathic spray, like the ones offered by Rescue Remedy.

 

P.S. — Go Broncos!!

 

 

 

 

Puppy, Clydesdale Become Super Bowl Stars

Get ready for the collective, “awwww” you are going to hear as you share this video with your co-workers, friends and family.

Once again Budweiser has capitalized on their famous Clydesdales, this time co-staring them with an adorable puppy for this year’s Super Bowl commercial.

Take a look ~

 

Zuke’s Joins Nestlé Purina PetCare

Zuke’s Performance Pet Nutrition, was acquired by  Nestlé Purina PetCare, the company said. 

“I’m personally so pleased that Zuke’s is now a part of the Nestlé Purina family,”  Patrick Meiering, founder of Zuke’s, said. “Their understanding of Zuke’s core mission of fostering an active and healthy lifestyle for pets and pet parents alike, their commitment to keeping Zuke’s and its employees in Durango as an independent operation, and their ability to help grow the Zuke’s brand in the pet specialty marketplace were important factors in partnering with Nestlé Purina.”

According to a press release issued by the dog and cat treat company, “Zuke’s, and its employees, will continue to be operated as an independent company based in beautiful Durango. Zuke’s will continue creating and producing outdoors-inspired, safe, and healthy dog and cat treats in the same facilities, in the same way, right here in the USA.”

“I joined the Zuke’s team in 2010 with the goal of growing the Zuke’s brand while staying true to its authentic roots and history,” John Hart, president of Zuke’s, said. “We achieved that goal and are excited to continue and accelerate that growth in pet specialty with our new partnership.”

 

Flea and Tick Control Becomes Year-Round Problem

Continuously changing climatic conditions throughout the United States combined with the rising popularity of pet travel, are making veterinarians no longer consider seasonal treatments for fleas and ticks an effective way of controlling infestations.

Instead, many veterinary professionals, along with pet industry manufacturers, are suggesting that year-round treatment prevention is a much more practical and medically sound approach to controlling the problem.

With so many generic flea and tick medications available over the counter alongside a plethora of both holistic and chemical collars, sprays, shampoos, plus home and garden treatment merchandise, retailers have an unique opportunity to create their own in-store prevention centers and do brisk business 12 months a year.

Last year Bayer Healthcare launched their line of Seresto flea and tick collars for cats and dogs designed to offer eight months of protection, the first product to offer such long-term efficacy.

“Through August 2013, over 250,000 dogs and cats have been protected with the only eight-month premium flea and tick preventative that exists in the U.S. market, and feedback received and level of satisfaction from veterinarians and pet owners has been very positive and consistent,” Dave Van Brunt, vice president of marketing for the companion animal business unit, Bayer HealthCare Animal Health, said.

With so many flea and tick treatments available to pet retailers, the onus has been thrust upon them to really understand what they are selling. This is especially important, since the category is consistency growing and merging at a fast rate.

For example, last year the Perrigo Company acquired Velcera in a deal that took PetArmor flea and tick products under their gigantic umbrella which also includes the extensive range of products from Sergeants Pet Care, a company they acquired in late 2012.

Another range now looking for shelf visibility comes from Absorbine known in the marketplace for its equine products. The company recently introduced a line of flea and tick products for dogs.

The UltraShield EX is a spray-on that offers 17 days of waterproof protection, along with a built-in sunscreen, and coat conditioning ingredients.

Jeff Fowler, national sales manager for Natural Chemistry, said when dealing with the flea and tick issue, consumers sometimes assume natural products are not effective, or take too long to work.

“Our USA-made formulas for shampoos, bedding and yard sprays have been proven to provide residual killing and repelling of fleas, ticks, and also black flies and mosquitoes and begin working immediately,” he said. “Treat the pet as needed based upon activities. For example, if you are going for a walk and your pet has an issue with fleas and ticks, you would use before leaving home.

“The added advantage of natural botanical ingredients that work synergistically with one another to provide effective, natural protection and are safe to use around children as well, is parents do not have to worry about their family being exposed to any harmful chemicals. All products have a pleasant cinnamon, clove and vanilla scent.”

Richard’s Organics First Defense Premise Treatment manufactured by SynergyLabs says that a single application offers protection of the home against fleas for a full year. According to the product details, it’s made from “environmentally boric acid, and dehydrates and kills fleas at larvae stage ending an infestation within a week or so.”

Carlos Zamora, marketing coordinator for the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company, explained that all the products in the line, such as the shampoos and bedding sprays work in conjunction with one another and that the shampoo is safe for puppies as young as eight weeks of age and over.

When it comes to ticks, a growing sector of this market also deals with their removal from both pets and people, and has received a lot of press in recent months with the noticeable increase in Lyme disease nationwide.

Since launching the Tick Key 5 years ago, Donna LaFountain has seen business boom in conjunction with the year-round increase in the tick problem.

“It’s being viewed as a must-have safety item for both people who work in the field or with animals whether its search and rescue dogs or farm animals, or people who simply enjoy the outdoors,” LaFountain said.

This high-strength anodized aluminum key is available in seven bright colors.

Another product gaining nationwide recognized is Tick-SR.

The product, sold in towelettes for single applications or in bottles, works by dissolving the “glue” that bonds the tick to the host as well as impeding the blood flow to the area cutting off the tick’s meal.

It also helps disinfect the wound to further prevent infection.

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