By Eric Stenson
Supplements for pets is a booming market that shows no signs of letting up any time soon. According to market researcher Packaged Facts, projected retail sales for pet supplements and nutraceutical treats in the U.S. continue to be promising and are expected to reach an estimated $1.6 billion for 2017.
With humans showing a tendency toward natural products for their own health use, it’s no surprise that pet supplements are reacting to that trend as well. Nupro in Manalapan, New Jersey, makes nutritional supplements for dogs, cats and ferrets, according to Janis Gianforte, Nupro’s president. She discovered supplements being developed by a nutrition doctor through her work training horses.
“I was using his products on the horses about 30 years ago,” she said. “He already had these products developed, but did not have time to do much with them. From there, I started getting into dog shows.”
Nupro’s all-natural dog supplement includes a full range of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids and essential omega fatty acids. It comes as a powder, which—when mixed with water—forms a tasty gravy that works as a very palatable topper to any type of food, according to Gianforte. She says that in addition to its supplement properties, the taste gives it a special appeal to dogs that have trouble eating.
“They love the smell and taste. The dogs really like the stuff,” she said. “That we’re still here (after 28 years in business) really speaks volumes.”
Wholistic Pet Organics of Bedford, New Hampshire, makes natural supplements for general support; digestive, skin and joint health; and pest control for dogs, cats and horses. Russell W. Phillips, director of nutrition and sales for Wholistic Pet, maintains that all of his company’s products are human grade and certified organic.
“Being human grade is huge,” he said. “We believe in delivering the best in clinical nutrition.”
Phillips said his company got started in 1998 when trying to find appropriate nutritional supplements for show dogs.
“We have backgrounds in nutrition and biomolecular science, and we are from the dog-show world,” he said. “We could never find that standard of a proper supplement that our dogs needed. We’ve devoted our lives to finding out what animals respond to best.”
His company focuses on ingredients that provide specific benefits to animals, he said. For example, kelp has a great deal of phytonutrients, and flax seed helps fight cardiovascular disease.
Perhaps you want to think of something on the sweet side? K9 Honey, produced by Rango Honey of Tempe, Arizona, is the first-of-its-kind raw honey produced exclusively for dogs, according to Joe Harwell, Rango’s owner. It can be used as a food topper or a treat.
“It is raw honey that has not been filtered, so naturally it has bee pollen within, so by sourcing, grinding and blending bee pollen from eight other U.S. regions, we aren’t adding any new ingredients into the mix,” Harwell said. “We are only providing a larger portfolio of pollens that may help with a dog’s allergies.”
By using bee pollen from different areas of the country, K9 Honey is working to “pay ahead” for dogs’ health, according to Harwell.
“Our dogs are exposed to more potential allergic situations as they are more ingrained into family functions, travel, play dates, etc.,” he noted. “So small doses of a broader pollen portfolio may off set any potential allergic issues in the future.”
Naturvet of Temecula, California, makes a wide variety of supplements for pain relief, allergy and skin health for cats and dogs. The company has two veterinarians, Dr. Pedro Rivera and Dr. Ihor Basko, who teach and speak at conferences and have been formulating pet products for over 20 years, according to Jason Roth, director of digital marketing. The company also employs three fulltime formulators who do institutional research, Roth said.
“We first start out by asking what the problem is or what is the body system that needs support,” Roth said. “We then look at the causes for these problems or weak systems and try to support that with nutritional or herbal solutions. Another way to say it, would be that we
work to fix the source of the issue, not just the symptoms.”
InClover Pet Supplements of Boulder, Colorado, makes supplements for cats, dogs and horses that assist with joint support, digestion, skin and coat, and dental health. Allie Sparrow, director of business growth, said her company is really thoughtful about formulation, spurred on by founder Rebecca Rose, a biochemist.
“We don’t just go for ingredients that are the hot buttons,” Sparrow said. “We look at what a healthy animal has and what an unhealthy animal is missing. We always go to the best sources for ingredients—all natural, organic whenever possible.”
When it comes to encouraging retailers who want to increase their presence in the natural supplement, Sparrow offers simple advice: do the homework.
“Do your research on the products,” she advises. “It’s really important to know what you’re carrying. Stand behind the products and the ingredients.”
Areas of Concern
Tomlyn Veterinary Science, a division of Vetoquinol, USA of Fort Worth, Texas, features products for calming, digestive health, immune support, joint support and skin discomfort, as well as vitamin and calorie supplements.
“While developing a new product, we work closely with our on-staff veterinarians, regulatory department and the supplier to develop a formula based on our needs,” said Brittany Green, product manager for Tomlyn. “The result is a line of products developed by experts that understand what pets need.”
Each product has a different set of ingredients based on the particular ailment, Green explains. For example, the Joint & Hip product line is offered for cats and all sizes of dogs, with formulas differing for each. The Senior Dog formula includes many of the same great features from the medium/large dog chew, with the added benefit of grape-seed extract for antioxidant properties.
According to its website, Tomlyn uses only quality formulations and proven scientific knowledge to drive its uncompromising ethical approach. The company’s full-time, on-staff veterinarians become the roadmap for blending the finest quality products made from wholesome ingredients and focused on real benefits for your pets.
From a retailer perspective, Amanda Farris, manager of Pets General in Lakewood, Ohio, has seen a definite increase in customer interest for natural supplements. Brands her store carries include the Missing Link, Naturvet, Vet’s Best and Solid Gold.
“People are looking for new ways to heal their animals,” she said. “Older-age animals, hip and joint, a lot of cat people are looking for immune support, a lot of digestive aids. Dental is a big one, too.”
To Farris, it comes down to trying things until you find what works.
“Figure out what kind of thing pet owners want to accomplish, then see what they can do,” she said. “It’s kind of trial and error; all animals are different. If the dog or cat is having problems, supplements can definitely help in a number of areas.”