Something to Gnaw On
“Owners of pocket pets are crying out for better nutritional solutions that offer more options for weight management,” said Claire Hamblion, marketing manager at Supreme Petfoods.
Chewing provides these pets with a natural way to burn calories. Owners can also hide chews around the habitat to increase foraging activity.
Supreme has natural chews for small animals covered with its Stickles line. Perfect for satisfying the chewing urges of rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas and other species, Stickles are available in several varieties made of healthy oats, seeds, fruits, vegetables and hay.
For hamsters, rats, gerbils, guinea pigs, rabbits and more, Kaytee offers Apple Orchard Sticks Small Animal Chews. These are natural, safe and sustainable wood chews that provide healthy tooth wear and cleaning. They also reduce pet boredom.
No matter which species you cater to, the market for long-lasting, healthy chews continues to expand. Unique treat options include naturally-shed antlers, bully sticks and chews derived from the scapula or trachea of an animal.
“Trachea cartilage is an excellent natural source of chondroitin, glucosamine and collagen, the building blocks of joint health. Most joint care supplements on the market are actually derived from trachea cartilage,” said Anthony Bennie, founder of Clear Conscience Pet. “Trachey Chewz are incredibly appealing and palatable to dogs, with an artisan-roasted golden brown finish enhanced by the OSV blend of organic flax, tomato, carrot and spinach. We prepare these to be a robust, harder chew. This helps to satisfy your dog’s natural, instinctive chewing drive, much like gnawing on a bone, but unlike bone, Beef Trachey Chewz are fully digestible and do not splinter like bone does.”
The range of chews that utilize alternative proteins continues to expand. From naturally-shed elk antlers to exotic alligator jerky, there is a chew available for every animal’s unique preference. Barkworthies now offers a natural Kangaroo Steak, which is a hypoallergenic dog chew made of all-natural, free-range Australian kangaroo. Rich in iron, zinc and vitamins B6 and B12, it offers an alternative for dogs who have allergies to lamb or beef.
What’s in It and Where’s It From?
For those who prefer natural chews more fishy, The Honest Kitchen provides Beams. These chews are made of pure, wild-caught catfish skins from the clean ocean waters of Iceland, which are then dried into savory, chewy sticks. The company has an ongoing commitment to sourcing high-quality, sustainable ingredients from around the world.
“People want to know where their pet’s food and treats are coming from,” said Lucy Postins, founder of The Honest Kitchen.
“People tell us they feel better when they see ‘natural’ on a pet food or treat label,” said Tommy Gay, president of Look Who’s Happy. “And they want products made with a limited number of ingredients that are responsibly sourced. Pet owners believe these treats are healthier and safer for their pets and are closer to something they’d eat themselves. Look Who’s Happy treats only contain carefully selected, all-natural ingredients, which are significant selling points for parents who care for the health and happiness of their pets. I personally avoid eating foods that contain fillers and ingredients that are hard to pronounce and I believe my dog deserves better, too.”
For those who prefer vegetarian options in chews and treats, there are a number of available products. The new Pegetables line of premium dog chews are made with natural vegetables, including carrot, sweet potato and peas. Their unique shapes are designed to help remove plaque and tartar, while providing a delicious treat that’s made in the U.S.
Whimzees, from Paragon Pet Products, are long-lasting chews made from potato starch, a highly digestible, gluten-free source of energy. Their unusual shapes and all-natural coloring—derived from natural plant extracts—help promote dental health by reducing tartar and plaque.
“The dental category is a rapidly developing category, based on greater education on health care for our pets, as well as greater understanding of the correlation of oral-dental health to heart health,” said Lion Houkes, global marketing director at Paragon. “In addition, pet parents continue to seek out natural product-solutions and effective products that are made of high-quality, highly digestible ingredients that promote health and safety.”
Other options include treats that are made from dairy products rather than beef. Himalayan Dog Chews are derived from an ancient hard cheese recipe that combines yak and cow milk using traditional manufacturing practices. The result is a hard cheese that is fully digestible—dogs also love to chew on it. The company reports that these products last on average five to seven times longer than bully sticks.
Choosing a natural chew is something that both the animal and the owner should enjoy.
“Consumers are always looking for new and different types of chews to keep their dogs interested,” said Bill Chilian, marketing vice president at Barkworthies. “We offer over 200 all natural, minimally processed chews, and we’re constantly looking for alternative proteins or combinations to keep dogs happy, satisfied and healthy.
Additionally, people seem to really appreciate our ‘simpler is better’ approach to product development, processing and packaging.”