Functional Treats for Pets

Treats with CBD and other on-trend ingredients support various health issues for pets.




There are more ways than ever for pet owners to give their pets treats that contain beneficial ingredients. Consumers can give their dogs and cats snacks that support dental, joint, and skin and coat health, as well as help them stay calm. The increased variety of functional treats is a plus for retailers that want to encourage shoppers to visit more frequently. The only drawback, manufacturers say, is that the abundance of products available. The growing amount of data about the functional ingredients might generate confusion. Still, retailers can thrive in the functional treats category if they offer a variety of products and educate themselves about the benefits.


The hottest ingredients right now are hemp and cannabidiol (CBD). Treats that contain hemp or CBD and that also feature other beneficial ingredients, such as superfoods, are gaining popularity.


“Consumers seek functional supplements to help alleviate discomfort in their pets and to help them maintain a healthy and active life,” says Jay Basnight, chief marketing officer for TDBBS, based in Richmond, Va. “The most sought-after functional support types include overall wellness support, joint support, skin/coat and digestive support.”


TDBBS offers a line of supplements called Happy Hempies. They feature three supplement variations formulated with full-spectrum hemp oil and other functional ingredients. Stress Support is made with green tea extract and chamomile. Healthy Body Support is made with turmeric and krill oil, and Joint Support is made with green-lipped mussel and glucosamine. Basnight says the company also manufactures many varieties of superfood chews for the Barkworthies brand.


“Functional treats and chews continue to have steady growth year-over-year,” Basnight explains. “The humanization of pets has shifted consumer buying habits to purchasing premium products that serve a purpose.”


The company stays ahead of these trends by following innovation within the human supplemental category. “In the near future, we feel that there are growth opportunities to expand on within niche functional support solutions, including calming and cognitive support,” he says.


Hemp and Inflammation

Hemp oil is also good for inflammation, says Jodi Ziskin, director of communications for Treatibles, based in Petaluma, Calif.


“Pet parents are keenly aware that inflammation is the source of so many issues cats and dogs face, from joint discomfort to a bevy of digestive disorders,” she says. “One of the many attributes of full spectrum hemp oil infused functional chews is that it helps the body’s normal inflammatory response.”


Ziskin says functional chews containing full spectrum hemp oil can address a variety of conditions, including maintaining normal emotional balance, instilling calmness and vitality, promoting healthy joints and flexibility, and supporting the body’s normal inflammatory response. Treatibles offers hard and soft functional chews designed to help animals that exhibit anxiety, discomfort, loss of appetite, digestive tract issues, seizures and more.


Treatibles recently introduced Soft Chews for Cats and Soft Chews for Dogs. Both include turmeric, which contains curcumin, a natural anti-inflammatory compound and strong antioxidants that can neutralize free radicals, boost brain function and lower the risk of brain disease. The chews also feature the digestive enzymes papain and bromelain. The cat chews also contain catnip.


“It seems that functional treats and chews have been a natural progression in the nutraceutical products for pets category,” Ziskin says. “I believe this is more than a trend and will continue growing with the addition of hemp products for pets. “


Natural Still Strong

Consumers are looking for more than CBD. They also shop for natural and grain-free treats. Littleton, Colo.-based Pet Releaf recently launched Grain-Free Soft Chew Edibites, available in two new potencies and flavors. The Regular Grain-Free Soft Chew Edibites contain 2 mg of active CBD per Edibite, compared to 1.5 mg of active CBD in each Regular Crunchy Edibite; and the Large Breed Grain-Free Soft Chew Edibites contain 5 mg of active CBD per Edibite, compared to 3 mg of active CBD in each Large Breed Crunchy Edibite.


“We see a huge trend of pet parents seeking out the most natural functional options there are,” says Chelsea Gennings, Pet Releaf’s vice president of business development and special projects. “As a CBD manufacturer, our Edibites are the perfect solution for guardians who are looking for a daily supplement or all-natural option for pets experiencing minor ailments, illness or injury.”


The new line of CBD-infused Edibites also contain organic pea flour, which is milled to order for Pet Releaf, and highly beneficial ingredients such as organic turmeric and cinnamon. Pet Releaf Grain-Free Soft Chew Edibites are designed for pets with more sensitive mouths, and for pet owners looking for a higher potency daily supplement option.


Education is Key

With functional treats, retailers should know enough about the various products to answer consumers’ questions. That is especially true with CBD products.  “It’s important for retailers to know that they need to be educated,” says Jon Neveloff, partner at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based King Kanine. “There are two conversations. One is what is CBD and what does it do, and that’s what we’ve been answering for the past two and a half years. The other is, now I kind of get CBD, so tell me what about yours is different.”


King Kanine makes King Kalm Crunch, a PCR (phytocannabinoid rich) cookie. The all-natural recipe is made with organic ingredients and contains vitamins and omega-3. The company also makes King Kalm Soothe sprays and plans to launch a mange spray that contains CBD and is designed for two types of mange: sarcoptic mange (burrowing mite) and demodectic. “We’ve been testing the mange spray on rescue dogs,” Neveloff says. “The results have been insane.”


Other manufacturers say they are looking at launching hemp or CBD products, and will do so carefully. “Despite a lot of interest, there is just as much confusion among consumers not knowing what the products truly are and which benefits they should expect or use the item for,” says Michael Stoeckle, president and CEO of Ark Naturals Company, based in Tampa, Fla. “Given that landscape, Ark Naturals is actively conducting research to understand the effects that hemp and/or CBD can have on the health of your pet.”


Stoeckle says Ark Naturals will continue its partnerships with National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), as well as third party advisors, to properly educate consumers on the hemp or CBD launch.


Meanwhile Ark Naturals is extending its line of dental products. The new value pack of Brushless Toothpaste product is a 60-count box, which the company says is a one month supply. Also new is the Sensitive Gums formulation, with the same active ingredients as the company’s original Brushless Toothpaste, but formed into a crunchy, airy texture. The new texture is designed for dogs with sensitive teeth and gums, teething puppies and breeds prone to tooth trouble, which Stoeckle says includes Pugs, Yorkshire Terriers, Shetland Sheepdogs, Dachshunds and Chihuahuas. Ark Naturals is also introducing a Deep Cleaning formula that is longer than the original chew to reach molars and teeth in the back of the mouth that are more susceptible to tartar buildup.


The functional treats category is becoming more crowded with new products. Retailers should make room for them, and make sure they are able to answer shoppers’ questions.


“With variety can sometimes come confusion, so we also recommend a focus on education,” Stoeckle says. “Training staff, taking advantage of handouts, samples and other materials that will help consumers understand their options is critical.”


Stoeckle adds that it is important for retailers to partner with brands on pricing, and to adhere to minimum advertised price policies. “This is particularly critical within supplements because of rising costs in veterinary care and the impact that has on most pet parents,” he says. “Our goal is to provide products that allow pet parents to be in control of their pet’s health and well being, for the lifetime of the pet.” PB


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