Send in the Reinforcements

Beyond keeping pets at their healthiest, remedies and supplements can also help retailers boost sales in other categories.




As with people, sometimes pets need more than just eating well to help them maintain optimal health. When pet owners are looking for additional products that can help prevent illnesses in their pets, or help them recover more quickly, they can turn to the remedies and supplements category.

Manufacturers of remedies and supplements are making it easier than ever for consumers to provide their furry loved ones with products that focus on joint care, immune support, skin care and other issues. Additionally, these companies are increasingly providing more information about the products to retailers so they can make educated recommendations to consumers.

According to Packaged Facts’ March 2016 report, Senior, Weight Management (SWM) and Special Needs Pet Products in the U.S., retail sales of SWM items totaled nearly $3.8 billion in 2015, up 21 percent over 2010 sales. The Rockville, Md.-based firm projects that SWM sales will increase to $4.5 billion in 2020, up 20 percent over 2015 sales.

While most of that number (83 percent) is for food, supplements make up five percent of the total. The other 12 percent is for devices and supplies such as harnesses and feeders. Although that might seem like a small percentage, supplement sales can benefit retailers through the category’s links to other types of products. The report, citing Simmons data, notes that 35 percent of dog owners who purchase senior or weight management pet foods also purchase pet supplements. Cat owners are also willing to buy both, as 21 percent of cat owners purchase both pet food and pet supplements. Among pet-owning supplement purchasers, 21 percent of dog owners and 18 percent of cat owners also purchase these foods. Overall, 28 percent of SWM purchasers also buy supplements, and 23 percent of supplement purchasers also buy SWM foods.

Manufacturers say the success of supplements and remedies depends on educating retailers about new trends in ingredients and the efficacy of the products. 

“The more we can educate retailers and consumers about the benefits of products and the ingredients found in them, the more attractive the product becomes,” says Dana Ballard, marketing coordinator for Stephenville, Texas-based Response Products, makers of Cetyl M. “All in all, education is key in providing the potential for growth and success for the supplements category.” 

Response Products launched Cetyl M Joint & Immune Support for Dogs in a soft chew. “Marketing research shows the rise in popularity in products in soft chew form,” says Ballard. “Also, we wanted to give our own furry family members the best in an all-around health and wellness product.” 

Response Products also updated the packaging for Advanced Cetyl M for Dogs and Advanced Cetyl M for Large Dogs. “The new and improved bottles and pouches are easy to read and show a more updated, natural look for retailers’ shelves,” says Ballard. “Every product needs a good update once in a while. We thought it was the perfect time to give the packaging for these products a more updated look that is more reflective of the natural nature of our products.” 

Cetyl M contains cetyl myristoleate, which is a fatty acid that supports joint health, but fatty acids aren’t the only ingredient that is on-trend now. Consumers are also looking for superfoods. Garmon Corp., which makes NaturVet products, recently launched Mushroom Max Advanced Immune Support. The product contains four functional mushrooms—maitake, reishi, shitake and turkey tail—and the company says these work synergistically with antioxidants to help support and balance the immune system, promote overall health and well-being, and help ensure superior quality of life for pets.    

“Mushrooms are considered a superfood, and consumers have been using them to improve their own health for many years,” says Scott Garmon, president of the Temecula, Calif.-based company. “A mushroom supplement for pets was a natural fit as consumers want better health for themselves and their pets.” 

Garmon predicts the ingredient will become more popular. “Mushrooms have been recognized for their health benefits for many centuries by many different cultures as a nutritional food source and as a natural remedy,” he says. “As consumers become more aware of the many health benefits that mushrooms can provide for their pets, this category will continue to expand.” Mushroom Max Advanced Immune Support also contains vitamins A, C and E, coenzyme Q-10 and selenium. 

Garmon Corp. is also helping retailers educate their employees so they can help consumers select the best product for their pets. The company offers retailers a monthly NaturVet University that details the products and also contains questions and answers to help educate employees.

Matt Ryherd, sales manager for Urbandale, Iowa-based HealthyCoat, agrees that education is key for supplement sales. The company makes HealthyCoat for Dogs, a supplement that contains omega-3 and -6 essential fatty acids to help relieve dry skin and reduce shedding. While there is a range of products on the market that focus on skin, HealthyCoat’s supplement contains ingredients that are different from many of the other options. The company offers retailers brochures and signage to help pet owners find out more about the products. “A lot of people are familiar with fish oil, but our product is made with soy and flax seed,” says Ryherd. “There are so many products out there, pills and powders, and ours is liquid, so we’re educating the customer.”  

HealthyCoat for Dogs, which comes in a bacon flavor, can help treat hot spots and allergies. Ryherd says one out of four dogs suffers from skin and coat issues, and HealthyCoat can help. “I think people have gotten used to dogs shedding in general, but they should only shed two or three times a year depending on the breed,” says Ryherd. “We can’t stop the shedding, and we don’t want to, but people who vacuum six or seven days a week can get that down to two or three.” 

Ryherd adds that consumers seek out HealthyCoat for Dogs during the winter months, when dogs spend more time indoors with the heat on, causing dry skin. In addition to helping with skin issues, HealthyCoat can have other benefits because omega-3 and -6 acids are good for overall health. That desire for overall health is another factor that will contribute to the growth of the supplement category. “The healthier your animal is, the fewer vet bills you’re going to have,” says Ryherd. “Some types of supplements will, in the long run, save hundreds of dollars.”


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