Natural Healing

The first-aid and health-care product categories are offering today's ingredient-conscious consumers a wide range of natural options on pet store shelves.


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As humans become more discerning about ingredients in the health and first-aid products they use, many pet-owners are now also seeking more natural products to use on their four-legged friends. These products address a range of issues such as joint or skin problems and oral or ear hygiene, but they all favor natural ingredients and give pet owners an alternative to many traditional products on the market.

Here’s a look at offerings in several of these product categories.


Joint Care

Aging dogs often develop joint issues, just like humans do; and certain breeds, such as German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers and Dachshunds, are particularly predisposed to joint problems. “It generally starts with some type of joint trauma, and fatty acid begins to be produced in higher levels because of the trauma to that joint,” says Brian Reardon, business unit manager at ProLabs. 

ProLabs applied technology from human medicine to develop Flex Rx, a natural alternative to prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). The company ran a clinical trial on dogs with mild to moderate arthritis and found the nutritional supplement to be effective, according to Reardon. “We strive to introduce products that have scientifically based results,” he says. “In terms of arthritic conditions, there are no cures. Aside from replacing the joint, there’s no way to cure it. All we have to do is come up with the best situation to manage it.”


Skin Treatments
When it comes to natural skin treatments, pet-owners have plenty of options. Among those is Pet King Brand’s ZYMOX skin and wound-care products, including the ZYMOX spray, topical cream, and enzymatic shampoo and rinse. Naomi Kirby, technical services manager at Pet King Brands, says the spray and cream are great first-aid tools. “Because of their proven antimicrobial properties, they can work in lieu of an antibiotic ointment in cases of cuts, scratches or infected areas of the skin such as hot spots,” she explains. “They can be used on any age of dog or cat and most small furry pets excluding rabbits.”

According to Kirby, ZYMOX products use a patented enzyme system based on more than 30 years of scientific technology. “Both the cream and spray require no pre-cleaning before application because the by-products produced by the infection function as catalysts to activate the enzymes within the ZYMOX products,” she says. “The ease of application and use of the ZYMOX products are ideal for pets that have severe infections and are in pain when handled, and for their owners who don’t want to touch a messy wound.”

DERMagic offers its own line of all-natural skin care products that are safe for use on all mammals, including dogs, cats, pigs, horses and humans. The line includes a skin rescue lotion, hot-spot salve and cell-restoration crème. The products combat dry and itchy skin, yeast infections and the effects of skin allergies. “To support the healing process, we also offer grooming products that do not contain sodium lauryl sulfate or other irritants, including our organic shampoo bars and our anti-dandruff salt scrubs,” says Adelia Ritchie, DERMagic founder and CEO. Without sodium lauryl sulfate, shampoo is less foamy but still effective and less likely to irritate a dog’s skin, according to Ritchie.

PetzLife recently introduced an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory Wound Care spray. “It soothes and heals surface scratches, fights itchy and scaly skin conditions, and promotes healing of surface wounds,” says PetzLife marketing director Henry Dinneen. “It is a compound of all-natural oils that protects, promotes healing and is breathable, allowing air to the wound. Wound Care has been toxicity tested and causes no adverse skin reactions of any sort.”

ProLabs also has a Skin Sooth spray that contains zinc to relieve itching and aid the healing of skin ailments, including minor wounds, foot-pad injuries and skin-fold dermatitis.


Flea Control

Fleas are a perennial problem for pets and owners, and pet product companies have responded by developing natural flea-control options. In fact, Ritchie says DERMagic’s most popular bath product is its flea shampoo bar, which uses a fine, white powder called diatomaceous earth and essential oils. “For controlling fleas and other insect pests, we also offer our Diatomaceous earth (DE) Flea Dust in a handy shaker jar, as well as a one-pound refill bag,” Ritchie says. “This product can be used safely both dusted on pets and sprinkled around their bedding and favorite hangouts, without worry about any chemicals or toxins or side-effects.”

PetzLife also sells an all-natural topical flea and tick killer called Complete Coat. “Simply spray it on, rub it down to the skin under their coat, and it attacks fleas and ticks, and their larvae, and prevents future infestations,” Dinneen says.


Ear Care

Pet-owners have several natural options for treating ear problems and preventing dirt and wax buildup. Pet King Brands offers ZYMOX enzymatic ear solution, which contains no antibiotics and acts as a cleaner and medication with one daily dose, and the ZYMOX ear cleanser, which offers mild microbe control and gentle cleaning. ProLabs also manufactures ear-care products. Its Clear Ear drops use zinc to soothe itching, eliminate odor-causing bacteria and restore a normal ear environment.


Oral Care
Oral hygiene is an important part of overall health, and pet-owners also have several natural options in this product segment as well. Pet King Brands offers daily oral-care products that are brushless and include a maintenance gel, a breath-freshening spray and a water additive. These products contain antibacterial enzymes found in saliva.

For PetzLife, oral-care products are a top seller. The company’s oral-care products come in both a spray and a gel, giving pet-owners a choice. “Oral Care works on softening and removing plaque and tartar build-up, preventing future build-up, and it promotes healthy gums, fights gingivitis and improves their breath,” Dinneen says. “No brushing is required, simply get the product into the pets mouth, preferably prior to bedtime, with no water for 30 minutes afterwards. Oral Care coats pets’ teeth and gums, and it works overnight.”


Merchandising Tips
To maximize the sales potential of natural health-care and first-aid products, retailers should strategically merchandise their assortments to grab consumers’ attention. Kirby suggests using manufacturers’ point-of-sale displays and dedicating a section of the grooming area to first-aid products. “Many retailers are also developing sections devoted to dermatology, to include more than basic grooming tools,” she says.

Retailers could also consider cross-promoting products. “We recommend that retailers carry our products not only in the proper category sections—dental products, flea and tick products, and first-aid products—but also in their holistic-products section so that consumers can find an all-natural solution for their particular concerns that day,” Dinneen says.

Reardon recommends that retailers study the active ingredients in their products so they can share that knowledge with pet-owners. “Not every solution is going to fit every pet owner,” he says. “I would manage my assortment to try to incorporate as many different types of solutions as I could. To me, redundancy [different products with the same active ingredient], is probably lost opportunity.”

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