Healthy Mouth, Healthy Pet
Manufacturers are making it easier than ever for pet owners to help their dogs and cats maintain healthy teeth and gums—an essential part of our four-legged friends’ overall wellness.
For pet owners, oral care means much more than simply brushing their pets’ teeth. There are also treats, drops and other items that can help keep the animals’ gums healthy and their breath fresh. In fact, manufacturers are constantly developing a variety of new ways to take care of pets’ teeth and breath, with the common threads being ease of use and natural ingredients.
It should come as no surprise that this product category is a source of constant innovation, as consumers have proved quite willing to buy oral care items as part of their efforts to maintain their pets’ overall health. According to the Chicago-based market research firm Mintel’s Pet Supplies US 2017 report, 33 percent of pet owners said they bought dental care products such as toothbrushes and dental chews when asked which health and grooming supplies they purchased for their pets in the past year. Overall, dental health supplies rank second, after flea and tick spot treatments, which were purchased by 42 percent of the survey respondents.
Keeping Everyone Healthy
The demand for oral care solutions reflects consumers’ growing awareness of the need for dental care products for their pets. “This category is experiencing substantial growth due in large part to pet parents understanding the value of their own oral health, the humanizing of their pets and the increased emphasis in the media about pet wellness,” says Deborah Brown, vice president of Pet King Brands, Inc., based in Westmont, Ill. “Pet parents are also becoming more educated about the long-term implications of not providing good oral care.”
Brown says there are several trends that are driving the oral care category. First, pet owners are looking for brushless products that are easy to use, so that humans and pets can incorporate these into a daily routine. With this in mind, consumers are looking for products that are available in various dispensing options, such as sprays or drinking water additives. In addition, current on-trend products perform more than one task, such as cleaning teeth, fighting plaque and eliminating bad breath.
Safety is, of course, also important—especially considering that certain ingredients can be toxic to some animals. “There are ingredients that are safe for cats but deadly for dogs, such as Xylitol, a common sweetener,” Brown says.
Pet King Brands offers the oral care remedy product Oratene Antiseptic Gel for serious mouth conditions. The company says the new product is the most potent enzymatic formula in the Oratene line. It is designed to soothe and relieve and is recommended for pets with periodontal disease, stomatitis, gingivitis, red inflamed gums and ulcerations. Oratene is an alternative to chlorhexidine, a disinfectant and antiseptic that can reportedly help reduce tartar buildup but can also have unpleasant side effects.
Andrew Groth, president of PetzLife Products Inc. in Spring Park, Minn., agrees that pet owners are looking for easy-to-administer oral care solutions.
“Cats especially need a stress-free dental program for them and their owners,” he says. “No one likes to wrap their cat up like a burrito every time they need to trim nails or apply treatments.” Also, consumers are looking for all-natural and made-in-the-USA products made from human-grade ingredients.
PetzLife, which in 2017 was acquired by Chesterfield, Mo.-based Manna Pro Products LLC, plans to expand its No Brush line of oral care products. The company is also planning a “Best Smile” contest in February for the AVMA-sponsored National Pet Dental Health Month.
“The future can only get better,” Groth says. “With the rise of awareness of dental issues being left untreated, the category could grow rapidly with all of the new products and marketing that is getting attention.”
James Brandly, content writer and public relations manager for Wentzville, Mo.-based TropiClean Pet Products, agrees that the oral care category is poised for continued growth, which will be driven by responsible pet parents looking for innovative solutions.
“Keeping up with our pet’s oral hygiene isn’t a task we can brush off; it’s an important part of keeping our furry friends healthy,” he says. “Neglected oral care can lead to numerous implications later, like kidney and liver issues, and can become a costly venture at the veterinarian’s office.”
TropiClean Fresh Breath offers a complete oral care line, with oral care kits, brushes, gels and no-brushing solutions like a water additive and new Dental Chews. The new TropiClean Fresh Breath Dental Chews are made with the same natural ingredients as the Fresh Breath products. They are grain- and gluten-free and crafted in the USA. The chewy texture helps remove plaque and tartar.
Help for Senior Pets
Another trend that is boosting interest in oral care is that pets are living longer. One growing segment in pet care products is for senior dogs, age seven-plus years.
“Just like humans, they can have sensitivity and pain due to decay which can lead to other problems,” says Michael Stoeckle, president/CEO of Naples, Fla.-based Ark Naturals. “Pet parents need to be aware of the specific issues older dogs face as they feed their pets and provide solutions for guarding against any oral health problems.”
For 2018, the company is focusing on its Gray Muzzle line of products for senior pets. “As animals age, putting dogs at risk of anesthesia can be problematic,” Stoeckle says. He says the line of Gray Muzzle products allows pet owners to promote dental health in a safer way for senior dogs, because the formulas are specific to their sensitive teeth, plaque and tarter buildup, and easy digestion. “It is an important product line for us and one we will be refocused on in the coming year.”
Like a Doggie Breath Mint
Possibly the easiest way to help a dog maintain better oral health is to give the pup a chew that has added oral care benefits. For example, Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Emerald Pet Products launched fresh Smileezz grain-free dog dental chews, which have coconut oil and kelp to help reduce bacteria in the mouth that cause tartar and plaque buildup. They also contain parsley, dill, alfalfa and spearmint to eliminate bad breath that comes from the stomach.
“Any time you have bad breath with humans, it comes from the stomach—and dogs are the same way,” says Glenn A. Novotny, president of Emerald Pet Products. “We’ve had good traction from independent pet retailers because they love the ingredient panel.”
Pet owners also love the ingredient panel because the foods are familiar. Instead of a heavy, starchy potato base, Novotny says, Emerald Pet uses lentils and chickpeas, which are on-trend plant-based proteins.
“Chickpeas are what hummus is made of,” he says. “It’s very popular on the human side and that translates over to pet.” The fresh Smileezz are available in different sizes for different size dogs and are made in the USA.
The Importance of Ingredients
As with other pet products, consumers are looking for natural ingredients in the oral care products they use on their furry friends.
“You don’t need chemicals when you can safely clean naturally,” says Beth Sommers, president and chief merchandising officer of Seattle-based Pura Naturals Pet. “It’s important to know what ingredients are beneficial and what you don’t need.”
Sommers adds that Pura Naturals Pet researched ingredients and spoke with veterinarians to develop a toothpaste gel that helps promote healthy teeth and gums. The ingredients include coconut oil, which is antibacterial/antiviral and can help reduce bad breath and plaque; baking soda to help freshen breath, whiten teeth and remove plaque; olive leaf extract to soothe inﬂamed gums and support gastrointestinal health; fennel extract, which is rich in vitamin C and can help ﬁght gingivitis; sweet potato, which contains vitamin A to support healthy, skin, coat and eyes, as well as help improve digestion; and other natural ingredients.
Pura Naturals Pet is launching Organic Dental Solutions in time for National Pet Dental Health Month. The kit contains a non-slip grip canine toothbrush that is free of phthalate, latex, BPA and BPS. The Sweet Potato and Cinnamon Toothpaste Gel is a co-brand between Pura Naturals Pet and RADIUS, a Kutztown, Pa.-based manufacturer of eco-friendly, made-in-the USA personal care products. The kits will have brushes specifically for puppies, adult and senior dogs. PB