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January 4, 2016

If you adapt the saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” to apply to dogs, there’s no question that the way to win canine love is with treats and chews. Judging by the exploding product variety in this category, it is definitely time to rethink the treat jar.

“The ultimate dog chew is one that is healthy and fun, contains human-grade limited ingredients, is easily digestible, and offers dogs a chewing experience that helps remove dangerous plaque and tartar as the result of a functional, mechanical chewing movement,” said Lion Houkes, global director of marketing for Paragon Pet Products, manufacturer of WHIMZEES.

“Our best-selling product is the WHIMZEES alligator. It’s a fun chew that not only offers great functionalities due to the grooves and ridges that help fight tartar in a dog’s teeth and gums, but the unique shape also helps dogs to ‘hold’ it between their paws in order to chew,” Houkes said.

With a strong focus on canine dental health, the company has just launched its new WHIMZEES Veggie Collection in sausage shapes and strips.

“The products have the same vegetarian ingredients as our original WHIMZEES but with important additions such as calcium and clove bud oil,” Houkes said. “In addition to treating common health challenges like indigestion, toothaches, stress and blood disorders, clove bud oil also has antimicrobial, anti-fungal, antiseptic and antiviral benefits. Cloves are also rich in important minerals such as iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C.”

In the last few years, the chews and treat category—primarily cookies, jerky-styled products and rawhide—has begun to see growing competition from antler chews.

“Antler chews are a good choice for pet parents for a variety of reasons,” said Cindy Dunston Quirk, founder of Scout & Zoe’s, based in Anderson, Indiana. “First, they are very durable—especially for dogs that are big chewers. And antlers are actually good for dogs, as they are a natural source of calcium, phosphorous and other minerals. While calcium is necessary to build strong bones, the necessity of calcium in a pet’s diet doesn’t end with bone health. It also plays a very important part in heart function, supports nerve transmission, muscle building and signaling, and assists with the secretion of hormones.”

“All our antler dog chews are sourced from wild, shed, USA-premium elk antlers,” Dunston Quirk said. “And without a doubt, our most popular antler chews are the large size chew and our antler splits. The latter are perfect for senior dogs. Our antler splits are cut horizontally and expose the marrow on the inside of the antler, which canines consider a delicacy.”

Building on the introduction of the Merrick Backcountry protein-packed ancestral canine diet range, Merrick Pet Care has added new Merrick Backcountry meaty treats to its lineup in the form of jerky, sausage and patties to satisfy carnivorous cravings.

“The Merrick Backcountry treats meet the demand for all natural, grain-free meat treats that are safely made in the USA,” said Betsy Berger, communications manager for the Texas-based company. “They are made with deboned meat, poultry or fish as the first ingredient, thus making them protein-rich and ideal for packing an energy punch when out hiking or on a long walk.”

According to Tana Hersch, marketing coordinator for Riley’s Organics, the company has new organic treat flavors in development to complement their apple, sweet potato, pumpkin and coconut biscuits, along with what dogs have deemed their favorite flavor (in terms of company sales), the peanut butter and molasses recipe.

All the Riley’s Organics products have the USDA certification logo.

“The USDA organic certification is not just a casual seal of approval,” Hersch said. “It’s a signature of trust. We find that consumers are willing to pay for that trust, especially if they understand the production and certification process that the mark represents.”

“However, we are competitively priced to other organic dog treats, with human grade ingredients that adhere to the highest quality standards,” Hersch said.

Castor & Pollux Organic Dog Cookies also have the USDA stamp on their packaging. These all-natural treats feature 95 percent organic ingredients, including organic free-range chicken as the first ingredient.

“They are ideal for training, rewarding good behavior, or because your dog has perfected giving you ‘that look’,” Berger added.  “Each one-and-a-half inch cookie contains about eight calories.”
New to the Castor & Pollux Good Buddy treat product range are Dental Chews, available in small- and medium-sized bones.

“Not only are they made without grains, corn, soy or wheat ingredients; they also contain no sorbic acid or sodium copper chlorophylin,” Berger explained.

The treat revolution continues with Loving Pets mimicking human treats with tasty chips and air puffed snacks.

“Barksters emulate chips and Puffsters are air-puffed snacks for dogs. Together, they are creating an entirely new category,” said Eric Abbey, president and founder of the company. “We believe what we have called the ‘USA Pet Snack Revolution’ is a way of helping support our retailers drive more incremental sales.”

Puffsters Air Puffed Snack Chips are made with 100 percent natural U.S. sourced chicken combined with U.S. grown fruits and vegetables, and contain 10 calories per chip. They are available in four combinations: sweet potato and chicken, apple and chicken, banana and chicken, and cranberry and chicken.

According to Holly Sher, president and owner of the Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food Company, “Evanger’s Raw Gently Dried treat line is made onsite at our Illinois factory so we can assure quality control in freshness and taste.”

The flavors include wild salmon, beef liver, beef tripe, beef lungs, beef hearts and beef tongue. To showcase freshness and quality, the Raw Gently Dried treats are displayed in a clear container for convenient stacking or retail display at checkout.

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