Pet Age recently spoke with Martin Shimko, CEO of SwedencareUSA, the U.S. and Canadian manufacturer of ProDen PlaqueOff, an oral healthcare product developed in Sweden.
How has dental care for pets changed since 2005?
There has been a steady progression of knowledge and awareness of companion animal dental care over the last 15 years. Over time, the veterinary community has increased the emphasis on canine dental care and pet owners have become more aware and demanded better and more convenient dental care. An advent of this emphasis is the American Veterinary Dental College. Established in 1988, the AVDC developed veterinary dental training programs and a diploma program which was accredited by the American Board of Veterinary Specialties. They also created the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), which recognizes and accepts consumer home care dental products for plaque and tartar. Several of Swedencare’s products have received the VOHC accreditation, including our Proden PlaqueOff Powder. Hand in hand with the advance of veterinary knowledge is the pet owner’s awareness and acceptance of the need for dental care, and their willingness to pay for it. They want to take better care of their pets and they want them to live longer. An owner does not want to spend all their time at the vet and many don’t have the time or inclination to take care of their pets’ teeth. Pet manufacturers noticed this trend and increased the depth and variety of the home pet dental care market offerings. Basic chews and rawhides have been supplemented with sprays, wipes, water products and designer chews. The largest innovation came in the early 2000’s when Swedencare brought Proden PlaqueOff onto the market. Proden PlaqueOff works against the biofilm in the mouth in a natural fashion. At that time there was very little recognition of the biofilm in the mouth and how it caused dental problems. Swedencare led the way in promoting dental care through disrupting the biofilm.
How does Proden PlaqueOff differ from other dental products on the market?
Proden PlaqueOff Powder is unique in the way it works against the bacterial film in the mouth. This biofilm is a major cause of the dental issues that pets face. While other pet dental products only rely on abrasive action or use harsh chemicals to kill bacteria, Proden PlaqueOff does not change the bacteria levels in the mouth. There is a lot of beneficial bacteria in the oral cavity. Instead, Proden PlaqueOff is always working in the mouth to prevent the formation of this film, which is how the bacteria really causes problems. Our Dental Bones and Dental Bites both have Proden PlaqueOff inside, which means we get the benefit of the chewing action and the benefit of Proden PlaqueOff. This multi-faceted approach is much more comprehensive than other pet oral care products. SwedencareUSA’s products also do not use anti-bacterials, alcohol, xylitol or other chemicals that many other products contain. Pet owners are much more conscious of what goes into the products they use for their pets and recognize safety and quality when they see it.
What are your views on the importance of brick and mortar?
The online vendors have been getting all the attention, especially with the pandemic forcing consumers out of the stores and onto the internet. Brick and mortar retailers have been hit hard with closures and the loss of customers who braved these unknown sites and have now become familiar with the ease of ordering online. There is something very unsatisfying about the online buying experience, though. Really seeing a product and holding it, comparing it to the other products around it cannot be done online. Customers also see comparable products that do not pop up on the channeled and manipulated search engines, giving them a much better idea of what they are buying. A trustworthy store with knowledgeable staff can advise and recommend products to the customer instead of the customer having to rely on hit counters and reviews. I believe that the brick and mortar stores are important to both the pet owner and the pet manufacturer to connect with high quality products.
What exciting developments does Swedencare USA have planned for 2021?
We are pleased to move into the grooming category with pure luxury shampoos and topical maintenance applications this year. For the best care for dogs and cats our new LYXVARA line will give your cat or dog a soft coat and a pleasant smell. For those dogs and cats that have special skin conditions that need targeted solutions we will introduce our SWEDERMA line. Like all our products, the LYXVARA and SWEDERMA lines will be made with the highest quality and specifications. These will be a great addition to any retailer’s grooming section. We expect to launch the two lines at this year’s SuperZoo trade show in August.
In addition, we will be expanding into a wholesome, clean label moist treat – Proden PlaqueOff System Holistic Moist Bites, that can be used for training or happy time – good dog – good cat rewards. The Moist Bites will offer functional ingredients like Hip and Joint, Digestive and others in great flavor selections. All will include the daily dose of Proden PlaqueOff. The Proden PlaqueOff System Holistic Moist Bites will be announced for launch later this year.
Can you tell us the story of the Proden PlaqueOff dogs?
I think we are a better company for pet products because everyone who works here is crazy for their pets. We love our pets and it shows in our quality and commitment to our products. Unfortunately, sometimes we have to say goodbye to our best companions, as we did with two very special dogs to SwedencareUSA. Just before we started SwedencareUSA, my wife and I added two little furballs of fun, male and female toy poodles named Maximus and Tinkerbell, or Max and Tink. They immediately became part of the family with our three girls. Not only were they family, but they were also our first employees as they tested our products and became our spokesdogs. Tink was especially useful as she had a wonderful smile. It never failed to make us laugh when we came home to see her bare her teeth in a big happy grin. We took them to shows, used them in ads and marketing, and showed customers the benefits of Proden PlaqueOff through them. When the girls headed off to college, Max and Tink were there to comfort us through the empty nest syndrome. For 16 wonderful years they were our constant companions. Over time they got older and less spry. They couldn’t jump up on our laps like they use to or play as much. Eventually we had to say goodbye to Tink. She soldiered on with multiple tumors for years without complaint, but she became too sick to continue. Max carried on another five months, but we know he missed his best friend and he passed on as well last November. It is a hard thing to go through and we miss them every day. In our grief we know how much they meant to us. Despite the grief we know that it was worth it to enjoy them for so long. Eventually, time will ease the loss and we will start looking for a new dog or two to journey through life with, but none will ever replace Maximus or Tinkerbell.