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Critter Crowd Pleasers: Small Animal Pet Products Provide Sales Boost

Glenn Polyn//June 2, 2023//

Critter Crowd Pleasers: Small Animal Pet Products Provide Sales Boost

Glenn Polyn //June 2, 2023//

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Pet ownership in the United States has continued to climb over the past three decades, according to surveys conducted by American Pet Products Association. The percentage of pet-owning households has grown from 56 percent in 1988 (the first year the survey was conducted) to 66 percent in 2023, based on the 2023-2024 National Pet Owners Survey. The most common pets in the U.S. are dogs and cats, but there’s still a lot of love for other animals and species. Millions of households include fish, birds and small animals like hamsters and rabbits. In fact, 6.7 million households have such small animal pets as hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, mice and ferrets. That trails only dogs (65.1 million households), cats (46.5 million households) and freshwater fish (11.1 million households).

According to Supreme Petfoods, while companion animals are recession-resistant, cost-of-living concerns mean that people are more mindful of their spending, even when it comes to small animals. Claire Hamblion, marketing director at Supreme Petfoods, explains that nutrition is key to small pet health and well-being, and when budgets are stretched owners place a premium on value for money.

“Rabbits and guinea pigs are very much part of the family, and owners want to do their very best for them,” she explained. “The Tiny Friends Farm range offers great value without compromising on nutrition, giving pet owners the reassurance that they are supporting the health and happiness of their pets even when household finances are stretched.”

Launched over 20 years ago, Tiny Friends Farm offers fantastic value for money while not compromising on quality. Developed by nutritional experts, TFF is made with high quality natural ingredients for optimum digestive health. This wholesome fun range including Russel Rabbit and Gerty Guinea Pig provides pets with nutritionally balanced diets and is trusted by owners to meet their pet’s specific needs.

Science Selective is another popular range from Supreme Petfoods. Developed by veterinary experts and nutritionists, Science Selective is trusted by owners and receives high brand loyalty. Emphasizing the specific nutritional needs of each individual stage of a pet’s life, Science Selective supports optimum digestive health and meets the unique nutritional needs of small pets.

Science Selective Junior Guinea Pig, which was added to Supreme’s range of life-stage diets last year, reflects consumer demand for species-specific, tailored nutrition. The diet helps give guinea pigs up to the age of 20 weeks, the best start in life. Junior Guinea Pig combines tasty dandelion and fennel for a naturally delicious diet. With a protein content and a vitamin-mineral profile formulated to sustain growth, the product ensures that the nutritional needs of young guinea pigs are perfectly met. As with all Supreme’s guinea pig diets, the Junior Guinea Pig diet is fortified with stabilized vitamin C reflecting the specific requirements of these small pets.

Feeding such critters as chinchillas or rabbits as companion animals is not difficult, as long as consumes understand the unique features and function of the animal’s species-specific digestive system. Feeding adequate amounts of high-quality forage is the key to keeping a small animal’s digestive system healthy.

According to Standlee, many rabbit owners feed pelleted diets as a primary source of nutrition. This is acceptable provided the fiber content of these pellets is adequate and that the fiber is of high quality. If the pellet does not contain enough fiber, the rabbit digestive system will not function properly. Further, if the fiber in these pellets is of poor quality, the fiber will not be adequately digested, and weight loss will occur. Pelleted rabbit feeds often contain grains, as well. A small amount of grain can be digested in the small intestine; however, a large amount of grain can be a problem. Any grain that is not digested in the small intestine, will pass into the cecum and colon. Bacterial fermentation of grain produces a strong acid that can kill hindgut microorganisms, resulting in disaster for the rabbit.

Standlee nutritionists have designed PremiYum Fortified Foods for small companion animals, including rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, mice, rats and chinchillas. The extrusion process ensures uniform mixing and delivers the right amount of essential vitamins and minerals for each small animal type. Standlee PremiYum Fortified Foods are meant to be paired with its Hand-Selected Forages to deliver the optimal diet for small companion animals while making it simple for pet parents to feed.

PremiYum Chinchilla Fortified Food has been crafted to deliver the optimal nutrients to chinchilas when combined with Standlee Premium Hand-Selected Forages. Consumers simply use the on-pack silhouettes to develop the perfect combination and eliminate the hassle of balancing their small animal’s feeding program.

Small animals have needs that go beyond simply the basic essentials. In addition to a nutritious species-specific diet, there’s the living space, bedding and engaging chews and toys.

Oxbow Animal Health is a brand that believes, in addition to the right nutrition, daily opportunities for physical, behavioral and nutritional enrichment are essential to meeting the key instinctual needs of small pets. The company, which was acquired by Compana Pet Brands (formerly Manna Pro) in January 2022, offers premium whole foods, supplements, treats and supplies for rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters, chinchillas and more.

Oxbow Animal Health specifically makes a supplement line, Natural Science, to give extra nutrients to small pets. Animals that take the Vitamin C product can benefit from usage during times of stress, illness or recovery. With high fiber Timothy hay, the stabilized vitamin supports the wellness of small pets. Other offerings in the Natural Science line includes Natural Science Papaya Support, which is designed to support the digestive health of pets.

In the wild, small animals explore, chew, hide and play throughout the day. When these instincts are overlooked or not properly supported, the negative results can include a sedentary lifestyle, obesity and multiple boredom-based behaviors. Among many benefits, critters with access to enriching accessories are more likely to be physically active, mentally stimulated and have a stronger bond with their pet parents.

To encourage small animals’ instinctual behaviors, which include playing, chewing, exploring and hiding, Oxbow designed its Enriched Life lineup. Featuring natural chews, engaging play centers, behavior-inspired habitats and premium care lines, Oxbow’s Enriched Life products are meant to support physical, behavioral and nutritional enrichment on a daily basis.

Driven by a concern for pet health, it’s not surprising that natural bedding is in demand among small animal parents. Healthy Pet’s carefresh line of small animal bedding is made from scratch from sustainable pulp fiber to provide a better bedding that meets and beats the expectations of small pet parents. The brand’s unique manufacturing process also extracts dust to ensure a cleaner, healthier home.

Available in multiple colors and variations, the pillow-soft bedding provides long lasting, added odor control to keep homes smelling fresh. By making it possible to go a little longer between complete bedding cleanings, carefresh saves pet parents the time and hassle of tidying their pet’s habitat daily.

Treats are more than yummy snacks for small pets. They’re functional products that are meant to fulfill foraging behavior and provide pet parents with an opportunity to reward and bond with their companion animals.

Family-owned and operated since 1843, F.M. Brown’s is a trusted producer of superior products that enrich the lives of small animals and their pet parents. The Pennsylvania-based brand recently showcased its “garden and orchard favorites” at Global Pet Expo with Tropical Carnival Natural Timothy Snickets, made with Timothy hay, combined with healthy fruits and veggies; Tropical Carnival Natural Peas and Carrots; and Tropical Carnival Natural Garden Harvest with veggies galore.

Founded in 1981, Sunseed is the result of years of innovation, desire to create high-quality products and a deep love for animals. Operating out of Weston, Ohio, the company recognizes that companion animals need health and wellness products. Much of the raw material used to make its products come from local fields to make the highest quality and freshest food and treat for small critters and other companion animals.

Made specifically for small animals, Vita Prima Sun Drops Advanced Daily V Liquid Vitamin Supplement can be added directly to food or water. The main fortified nutrient, Vitamin A, provides support for the immune system, mucous membranes and growth and reproduction. Vitamins D3 and C help with bone development and the nervous, muscular and immune systems. Supplementary Vitamin C is particularly important for pet guinea pigs and this product offers a simple and easy way to ensure they are getting the nutrients they need.

The pet industry is seeing that, as with dogs and cats, consumers are humanizing their critter companion animals, which translates into a strong interest in their health and happiness. The small animal companion pet category is continuing on a path of strong growth, and retailers can take advantage of it by offering a varied array of product options to meet their customers’ discerning preferences. Retailers also should take advantage of the knowledge and expertise of small animal brands, as customer education is a vital part of improving the lives of small companion animals. Making pet parent education should be a top priority to enhance the pet’s well-being while boosting sales an increasing the chance of repeat business.