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Following the Human Health Trend

Maggie Marton//December 3, 2013//

Following the Human Health Trend

Maggie Marton //December 3, 2013//

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Developments in remedies and supplements for dogs track trends in human health.

As consumers explore the role these products play in treating chronic illness and supporting a healthy immune system, they seek out similar products for their pets.

Understanding these products requires a baseline understanding of the distinction between them.

“A supplement is an ingredient that is added to the human diet or pet diet because something is missing in the daily nutrition,” Susan Weiss, president of Ark Naturals, said. “For example, if your  food does not provide enough of, say, Vitamin C or Vitamin D, you would take a supplement to make up for ingredients missing. A remedy product is one that solves a problem, joint, dental, ear, eye cleaner, etc. A natural flea and tick product, a dental product, an herbal calming product, an ear cleaner are not supplements, they are remedy products.”

The goal for a dog owner is to find the specific product, or complement of products, to solve a specific problem. Manufacturers accomplish this by addressing those exact needs in their product mix.

“Pet Naturals of Vermont carries a full line of condition-specific supplements for dogs and cats,” Sara Phillips, strategic brand manager at Pet Naturals, said.

These condition-specific solutions deliver products based on consumers’ needs.

“Unlike ‘functional treats’ that may have a small amount of an added ingredient, such as fish oil or glucosamine, our products contain therapeutic levels of ingredients that are designed to work together for the desired effect,” she said.

Trends include probiotics, specialized ingredients, food and treat integration, anti-aging and aesthetics, like skin and eyes, for instance. In addition, many products on the market attempt to address multiple needs in a single formulation.

Nupro is one such supplement. Offered as a powder, the single supplement is designed to address a multitude of wellness needs by making up for nutrients that may be missing from a dog’s diet.

“My products are very simple,” Janis Gianforte of Nupro, which has manufactured its line for nearly 25 years, said. “The simpler it is, the better it works. These ingredients have been around forever. Every ingredient has a reason for being in there. Raw enzymes and amino acids that it would’ve gotten in the wild, flaxseed, kelp, bee pollen, all things they would normally have.”

She said by adding a supplement to a dog’s diet, owners can help optimize their pet’s total health.

Not all remedies come in pill or powder form.

For example, one remedy for anxiety is the Thundershirt. Likewise, pet owners who want to treat minor cuts, scrapes or abrasions at home seek out remedies like the bandages manufactured by PawFlex.

Jennifer DiGrazia,  CEO of PawFlex Inc. cautions retailers to understand that they are carrying these products as a customer service.

“They may not sell out as fast as dog food, treats or toys, but they are in demand,” she said. “When there is a need for them, time is of the essence, and knowing that the customer can just run over to their local pet store in their time of need is priceless. Customers appreciate stores that carry items they need, not just items that are strictly a quick turnaround for the store.”

According to Oscar Tenorio, product line manager at PureLife 4 Pets, remedies and supplements are a homerun, if retailers do it right.

“It can be a great source of income for the retailer, especially because when a pet owner sees an improvement in their pet’s health because of buying one of these products, they’re going to continue to buy that product again and again,” he said.

In addition to carrying the items they need, consumers expect retailers to be knowledgeable about the remedies and supplements stocked on their shelves.

“Retailers also need to know a little about the product if they are going to stock it,” DiGrazia said.

Tenorio at PureLife agrees, and he says their organization has developed a reputation for training. He suggests retailers attend special sessions offered by manufacturers at trade shows to learn as much as possible.

“Retailers do need some level of education,” he said. “We offer that education to the retailers. We have a customized program for each retailer, depending on their size, the amount of business that they want to have regarding supplements or natural products. The training is simply knowing why the products are there, why they exist and the function, the purpose and the benefit they will bring to the pet owner.”

Retailers who want to capitalize on remedies and supplements should watch trends in human health because those trends will spike in pet health. Merchandize remedies and supplements in their own sections, end caps work well, by issue or condition, and be prepared to educate consumers on the ingredients and formulations of the products you carry.

There is a time and space investment to stocking remedies and supplements, but once pet owners see improved health in their dogs, these products become in-demand repeat buys.