Pet Product Innovations Keep Companion Animals Healthy

Glenn Polyn//August 1, 2022//

Little baby cat sleeping on human hand closeup

Pet Product Innovations Keep Companion Animals Healthy

Glenn Polyn //August 1, 2022//

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The pet care industry, which hit a record $123 billion in sales in 2021, is projected to grow to $275 billion by 2023, according to Morgan Stanley. The increase in spending will be driven by new pet ownership, says a recent AlphaWise survey that showed almost two-thirds of 18-to-34-year-olds plan to get a pet in the next five years.   

Pet parents are more educated now than ever before, checking ingredient claims and brand sustainability practices. Google searches consist of natural food and treat products with an emphasis on “gut health,” “vitamins” and “supplements,” to name a few search words. Consumers want products that offer a variety of benefits to a pet’s health and well-being from the beginning of their life to their golden years.    

For Barb and Michael Morris, losing their 10-year-old basset hound, Belle, to kidney disease inspired them to open Treats On A Leash, an independent pet supply store located in downtown Ames, Iowa. The pair wanted to do better in terms of pet nutrition not only for their own dog, Willow, but for other dogs as well.  

“Barb spends a lot of time vetting the products we bring into the store to make sure they are high quality and safe for our customer’s furry family members,” explained store manager Bailie Kies.     

Retailers should be prepared to offer high-quality health and wellness products that offer solutions as well as answer any questions curious customers may have. In some parts of the country, the cooler months are just around the corner, which will bring with them a different set of pet health ailments.   

“Our probiotic options are typically our most popular wellness products in the fall,” noted Kies. “By this time of year as it gets colder, most pet parents are finding the itchiness of their pet is likely not due to pollen or allergies. We like to point our customers in the direction of probiotics to help calm the inflammation response that allergies exacerbate in the body.”   

Probiotic supplements, such as Arkus Daily, support pets from the inside out by maintaining a healthy microbiome. While the majority of canine probiotics are made with organisms commonly found in products such as yogurt or bread yeast, the microbes in Arkus are all native to the gut of healthy dogs. Made by Native Microbials, the patented preservation technology ensures live probiotic delivery. With headquarters in San Diego, Native Microbials uses advanced microbiology and data science methods to develop next-generation microbial supplements for a variety of animal species while maintaining multiple field and production operations worldwide.  

Native Microbials launched Arkus Daily XL after feedback from customers revealed that the original jar can run out quickly for a big dog. The new SKU is double the bulk product for pet parents that have a bigger dog or want to stock up on Arkus Daily.   

“Arkus Daily is the only product available today that only contains live probiotic microbes found naturally in healthy dogs,” said Mallory Embree, co-founder and chief science officer at Native Microbials, maker of Arkus Daily. “Science tells us that for probiotic microbes to thrive and ultimately enhance the health state of an animal, it’s best if they’re sourced from that environment.”   

Pet brands believe in innovation, and some companies have discovered innovative ways of administering probiotics. Case in point is Skout’s Honor, which has developed its Probiotic Itch Relief Shampoo. According to Jenny Gilcrest, vice president of marketing for Skout’s Honor, the company has patent-pending probiotic technology that has proven to be effective at treating serious pet skin issues without antibiotics or steroids.  

In fact, the brand released results last year from a third-party study that confirmed the efficacy of the ground-breaking topical probiotic technology in combating common dog and cat yeast and fungal skin infections. The probiotic blend has been scientifically proven to stop and prevent the growth of Candida and Ringworm, two microbes commonly associated with skin ailments, including itch, odor, shedding, hotspots and inflammation.  

“When applied topically, probiotics support the skin’s natural ability to defend against ‘bad bacteria’ which causes irritation, itch, odor and shedding,” Gilcrest added. 

As the company is a proponent of giving back, Skout’s Honor created its Paw Pledge program, which allows customers to give back with every purchase. Every bottle sold signifies a day’s worth of food donated to rescue animals. Earlier this year, Skout’s Honor, a leader in environmentally and socially conscious pet essentials, reached a major milestone of having donated more than 10 million meals to animal rescues across the nation through the program. Since the company’s founding in 2015, the Paw Pledge has been able to make a significant positive impact in collaboration with Greater Good Charities. 

Annamaet Petfoods is another brand dedicated to the environment, sustainability and preserving natural resources. One way in which it does so is by using degradable and sustainable packaging. This patented process, called Bio-Flex, provides materials that are specifically engineered to biodegrade in landfills and during this process create green, renewable and sustainable energy. Packaging not manufactured with BioFlex could take up to 800 years to break down with no benefit to the environment.  

The company has combined consumer demand for eco-friendly practices with the need for quality products to deliver the necessary amounts of vitamins. The result was Annamaet Enhance, which is the brand’s NASC-certified, human-grade supplement. The supplements unique formula provides dogs with calcium, sodium, zinc, copper, choline, Vitamin D, E and B in a highly absorbable form.    

Formulated with two board certified veterinary nutritionists, this special formulation will assist in meeting the current requirements for any lean meat-based diet, or those with added vegetables, fruits, oils or grains. In addition, Annamaet has taken great efforts to make Enhance highly palatable, including using the organic form of chelated minerals, as opposed to the inorganic form from sulfates and oxides that are known for their bitter taste.  

“Since the beginning, Annamaet’s top priority has been to provide the best nutrition for our dogs,” said Robert Downey, founder and president of Annamaet Petfoods, in a company press release. “As people continue to care more and more about their pets’ nutrition, our job is to provide products, like Annamaet Enhance, that assist and boost their dog’s diet.”   

GoodGood, developed by Central Garden & Pet, is a new brand on the market that describes itself as being “built in partnership with passionate pet parents and scientists seeking to support a better understanding of pets and to develop trusted, highly effective and easy-to-use wellness solutions that help pet households lead happier and healthier lives.” 

GoodGood provides desired products and solutions to the new generation of pet parents as well as a unique opportunity to address the wellness needs of pets and their pet parents.    

“Made with recognizable, premium ingredients, the four new dog supplement chews carry the prestigious NASC Quality Seal and are made in the U.S.A with U.S.- and globally sourced ingredients,” said Mike McGoohan, senior vice president, marketing and strategy at Central Garden & Pet. GoodGood’s inaugural line of dog supplements includes four products: GoodGood Allergy + Immune Dog Chews, GoodGood Calming Dog Chews, GoodGood Hip + Joint Dog Chews and GoodGood Skin + Coat Dog Chews. 

According to brand director Joe McIver, Dogswell is another company offering health and wellness products that “align with today’s greater focus on proactive health, which, like many human trends, is transferring to pets, especially now that dogs and cats are living longer.” 

Dogswell provides a complete line of functional treats, foods, supplements and over-the-counter remedies that offer science-based solutions to help dogs and cats live long, healthy lives – from addressing a specific concern such as hip and joint health, to enhancing whole body wellness. 

In April, when Whitebridge Pet Brands, manufacturer of the Dogswell and Grizzly brands, merged with Italian-based Agras Pet Foods, Whitebridge CEO Olivier Amice said the move allowed the company “to accelerate our development with more innovation made available to more markets. We will continue to bring to our retailers relevant and differentiated solutions to help them maximize the potential of their stores.” 

With real meat as the No. 1 ingredient, Dogswell Soft & Chewy functional treats were developed to deliver supplemental benefits in a soft-textured treat that is easy to chew. The product range is being expanded to include two additional varieties: duck-flavored Immune System and chicken-flavored Hip & Joint. This month, the brand is also releasing Dogswell Meatballs in two varieties: beef-flavored Hip & Joint and duck-flavored Skin & Coat.   

Grizzly Pet Products was founded in 2002 by a scientist, Harald Fisker, and McIver states the brand continues being dedicated to being able to “to back up every claim we make with conclusive evidence, and to use our technical expertise to educate fellow pet parents on the benefits of Omegas.”  

For example, Grizzly Joint Aid Liquid combines four joint ingredients, along with wild Antarctic krill oil to support digestive absorption and provide an appetizing flavor to dogs. When sprayed regularly on a pet’s food, the active ingredients — glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, hyaluronic acid and Wild Antarctic Krill Oil — work together to support joint health.  

Mclver notes that the liquid is “especially ideal for senior pets, because Wild Antarctic Krill Oil makes these ingredients easier on the digestive tract, which becomes increasingly important as pets age.”  

While the dog sector is the most crowded animal category when it omes to health and wellness options, products for other companion animals should not go unnoticed. As cats age, their bodies change, and they need additional support for their kidneys, joints and immune system.  

Veteran-owned Wapiti Labs describes itself as “the original elk velvet antler company,” creating health and wellness supplements using EVA. The elk velvet antler is harvested — in a humane and stress-free manner — from elks that roam free and graze on the company’s 320-acre farm. The extraction process preserves the beneficial ingredients in elk velvet antler, such as amino acids, collagen, glucosamine, hyaluronic acid and trace elements like calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron copper and zinc.   

The line of feline EVA supplements includes six formulations: Recuperate; Chest; Vital; Strength; G.I. Tract; and ReVitalize.   

Elk Velvet Antler ReVitalize Supplement for Senior Cats naturally supports normal kidney function, circulation and overall health for felines. Using the same natural blend of elk velvet antler and traditional herbs found in Wapiti Labs Vital formula, ReVitalize has been reformulated specially for the senior cat. It also contains a higher level of ginseng for additional support. 

“Adding EVA to our all-natural formulation shows significant [health] improvements as it helps support and maintain long-term health and body function. It does have ginseng in the formulation, so it helps give added energy and support,” explained Sherry Garcia, director of operations for Wapiti Labs.  

Although second stage of life products are important to aid a pet later in life, dental care is an important, and often underappreciated, part of a pet’s overall health that should be started when the companion animal is young. 

“Maintaining your pet’s oral hygiene can prevent dental disease, tooth loss, bad breath and organ damage,” explained Julie Creed, vice president of sales and marketing for Pure and Natural Pet, which was founded by Beth Sommers in 2015. 

According to Sommers, her inspiration was her dog, Girlfriend, who was plaqued with allergies as well as skin and coat issues. She took it upon herself to create a line of USDA Certified Organic grooming and health and wellness products that had honest labels, stating what ingredients were really in the product.  

“I wanted to make sure that pets and their families would be able to understand the ingredients and know exactly what they were using,” Sommers said in a Five Questions profile that appeared in the May 2022 issue of Pet Age. 

Organic Dental Solutions Canine Tooth Gel from Pure and Natural Pet is chemical-, dye- and preservative-free with coconut oil, olive leaf extract, fennel extract, kelp extract, thyme oil and cinnamon powder. Together, Creed explains, these ingredients help reduce bad breath and plaque, soothe inflamed gums, support gastrointestinal health, fight gingivitis, reduce plaque, tartar and tooth decay with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.    

Regardless of a dog’s age, activity level, plaque and tartar build up, the oral health solutions from Ark Naturals are designed to meet pet parent needs by providing a dental remedy for all companion animals. This year, the company focused on innovating a functional dental chew for all chewing types.  

“The products also vary in form, from a soft baked chew to a harder and longer-lasting chew; the second providing a deeper clean to reach the back molars, or for dogs with increased chewing tolerance,” said Michael Stoeckle, president and CEO of Ark Naturals Company. “Although dental care goals and chewing preferences may vary, our products are consistent in offering a lower calorie count and improved digestibility versus other chews on the market.”  

Ark Naturals Soft Shield was thoughtfully designed to provide dental care for delicate chewers who cannot handle a harder chew, while Extreme Clean was intentionally crafted to be wider and longer with deeper ridges so that the dog can “hold” the chew and scrape the molars in the back of the mouth.   

Although cats and dogs are the most commonly owned animal, the pandemic saw an increase in other animal ownership. In the wake of COVID-19, 12.2 percent of all U.S. households own one (or more) type of pet other than dogs and cats, up from 10.8 percent five years ago, according to a Packaged Facts report.  

With that in mind, reptiles are companion animals that require their own unique set of health products that focus on their well-being, thus allowing them to live their best life.  

“We know that reptiles and amphibians require specialized care, and that’s why we are constantly offering new products that provide everything needed for successful, happy and healthy reptile pet parenting,” said Ernie Katris, vice president of innovation and marketing for Zilla.   

The company’s product offerings include Zilla Vitamin Supplement with Beta Carotene Food Spray and Zilla Calcium Supplement Food Spray. Both products can be easily administered by misting your reptile’s food 15 seconds before feeding time.  

Katris explains that the Beta Carotene Food Spray is scientifically formulated to provide specific nutritional requirements for reptiles and amphibians, while the Calcium Supplement Food Spray is readily absorbed into virtually any reptile or amphibian’s bloodstream, assimilated directly into bone tissue.  

“In our ongoing commitment to providing the best possible solutions for reptile owners, we are working on some exciting new innovations and marketing that will be coming in early 2023,” Katris noted.  

When reptiles don’t get the proper levels of vitamins and nutrients in their diet, they are susceptible to other health issues. JurassiPet produces a full line of reptile, amphibian and land crustacean products for the prehistoric pet enthusiast to nurture the health and well-being of their companion animal.  

Seachem Laboratories, maker of JurassiPet, is one of the few surviving independent and privately owned pet care companies. Launched more than 40 years ago, Seachem has been a company rooted in sound science, providing solutions for hobbyists’ problems. The company makes JurassiTears to support eye health as well as the overall health of reptiles.  

“It contains conditioners and emollients that help to open and lubricate the eye as well as reduce inflammation that can be caused by vitamin deficiency, but especially infection,” said Jim Rodgers, vice president of Seachem Laboratories. “JurassiTears also aids in overall health by providing both Vitamin A and Vitamin B12.” 

When applied daily, the drops can soothe inflamed, irritated eyes and Rodgers notes that “any reptile can benefit from JurassiTears use. In fact, it can be used weekly as an aid to both eye and overall health.” 

The new rise in ownership for the “other” group means retailers can expect to see more customers wandering into their store looking for a new companion animal. This is the perfect opportunity to create a new enthusiast, while gaining a new customer. One common health ailment all retailers should be aware of is itch as it affects all fish and is easily transferred from one tank to another by fish, invertebrates, plants, decorations or even maintenance equipment.  

Ich, also known as white spot disease, is one of the most common aquarium diseases. Ich is a microscopic parasite that appears on the body, fins and gills of fish. To the bare eye, it looks like the fish is sprinkled with white grit or coarse sand, and owners will catch the fish rubbing against hard objects to free themselves of the parasite, which can be fatal.  

“If left untreated, Ich will eventually kill your fish. If caught early, it is very treatable, and many fish make a full recovery,” explained Don Miller, owner and CEO of Ruby Reef.  

To combat Ich, Ruby Reef offers Kick-Ich Pro, a formulation composed of five nitroimidazoles in an aqueous solution. It interrupts the life cycle at the free-swimming stage and stops the infection by stopping the re-infection. “Treating Ich can be a huge undertaking for an aquarist. Ruby Reef has researched the biology of the parasite to define a best practice to eradicate and improve the chances to save your fish from dying,” said Miller. 

One ever-evolving pet health category involves products containing cannabidiol (CBD), which is one of the 150+ phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis sativa plant. Found in different applications, from oils and tinctures to topical sprays, gels and chews, pet CBD continues to be a growing sector that has a strong following among pet parents.   

Created exclusively as a pet CBD company, Pawse is a brand whose mission has been to “improve the lives of pets, daily,” which means offering non-CBD options as well. Pawse describes its Might Mushrooms as a non-CBD, immune boosting complex of functional mushrooms, organically cultivated and naturally grown, concentrated into a form that provides antioxidant and immunity benefits.   

“These non-CBD products adhere to the same guidelines as our current products on the market in that they are all palatable, effective and healthy,” Pawse co-founder Matt Frazie told Pet Age earlier this year.   

Made from 100 percent fruiting bodies, the mushrooms promote healthy skin and allergy response, healthy anal glands and immune response.   

Since the health and wellness category is a source of constant innovation, retailers must be prepared to research the latest offerings with the goal of carrying a wide variety of products that best serve their customers’ pet needs. The health and well-being category is one that will never lessen in importance. If anything, it is sure to grow as brands continue to develop more innovative and effective health care products. 



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