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December 1, 2015

The problem: Very few dog owners brush their dogs’ teeth weekly or even monthly, let alone daily, which is what the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends. This presents a huge issue. Dental disease affects 91 percent of dogs over the age of three, according to Banfield Pet Hospital’s State of Pet Health 2014 Report.

The solution: A range of dental products that span every category from treats and chews to toothpaste, oral wipes and rinses. No matter what type of dental care your customers want to provide to their dogs, there’s a product to meet those needs.

Treats for Healthy Teeth

Treats simplify the process and make keeping up with dental hygiene more convenient while letting pet owners feel like they’re spoiling their pet.

“As people become more educated about how to keep their pets healthy and happy, we see consistent growth in the category of natural and functional treats,” said Chris Meiering, director of innovation at Zuke’s. “The fact that dental health can impact a pet’s overall well-being has caused an increased interest specifically in natural dental treats, which is perfectly in line with the industry’s overall move toward natural products made in the USA.”

“We launched our Z-Bones in the edible dental market to offer a healthy, grain-free dental bone alternative to many of the current wheat-dense products on the market,” Meiering said. “Our all-natural potato and pea-based formula, designed specifically with a dog’s digestive system in mind, supports fresh breath, clean teeth and healthy gums with antioxidant rich, whole food ingredients.”

Chews are another easy option for pet owners, though consumers are savvy about what goes into edible dental chews.

“Currently, pet parents are regularly seeking out 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, North America, Paragon Pet Products, the maker of WHIMZEES dental dog chews. “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.”

“Product safety and quality are incredibly important to our entire company, as well as every retailer, pet parent and pet customer,” Camosci said. “WHIMZEES are produced according to human grade standards, and this unwavering commitment to quality will continue to drive us each and every day.”

PetSafe offers a line of dental products including both treats and chews.

“In dental treats, consumers are selecting more natural products and treats with whole food ingredients,” said Sarah Beene, PetSafe brand treats’ category manager. “As the cases of canine periodontal disease continue to increase, so does the demand for superior dental products. Wholesome, made in the USA dental treats, like the PetSafe indigo Fresh dental treats, will continue to grow in popularity. Grain-free continues to be a trend across all treat categories, including dental, so treats like our PetSafe indigo Fresh Floss Bones, made with potatoes and peas, are popular. Weight management also continues to be challenge for pet parents, and products like the indigo Fresh Dental Sticks provide a substantial, but low-calorie, chew.”

Another option to cross-promote with dental is a long-lasting chew that isn’t necessarily dental-specific.

“Pet owners are always seeking new, innovative ways to keep their dog happy, healthy and occupied, and Barkworthies’ natural chews are a triple threat to meeting these needs,” said Bill Chilian, marketing vice president at Barkworthies. “Unlike many dental specific pet products or manufactured chews that promote dental health, the oral benefits of Barkworthies’ single- and limited-ingredient products are inherent to the chew. For example, our naturally shed antler selection are not only long-lasting, they promote dental health because of their texture and natural vitamin and mineral make up. The hard texture of these chews naturally scrapes away plague and tartar when chewed.”

Better Brushing

The humanization trend plays a role in the dental category; many customers seek oral care products that remind them of the products that they use. For those customers who do want to provide their pet with daily dental care, Petsmile Professional Toothpaste and Petsmile Applicator Swabs do the trick.

“Petsmile Professional Toothpaste is the first toothpaste to be awarded the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal for plaque inhibition which prevents plaque buildup,” said Lucia Smigel, president and CEO of Petsmile. “This is important because plaque left undisrupted can turn into tartar, which can only be removed if you take your pet to the vet and put them under (anesthesia). Undisrupted tartar can lead to serious periodontal disease, subsequent tooth loss, internal diseases and much more.”

Displaying Dental Products

Placement in the store is the key to successfully selling the dental category. Beene suggested grouping items together on an endcap display to encourage shopping.

“Typically dental products are merchandized by category with treats in one place and other products elsewhere, but retailers can periodically feature dental solutions endcaps to help consumers discover a broader spectrum of dental care options,” Beene said. “For example, PetSafe brand offers the indigo Fresh dental treats and the Busy Buddy Bristle Bone toy, two different ways for dogs to have fun while cleaning their teeth.”

According to Meiering, “The dental aisle at retail, like the treat aisle, is becoming a very crowded marketplace. We recommend merchandising functional treats by function to make it easier for consumers to find the exact solution they need. Another great way to gain traction with dental treats is to cross merchandise them with other health and dental products to showcase the many options pet owners have in caring for their dogs.”

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