First-aid and wound-care products help pet owners care for their injured animals and help retailers become a trusted resource for the local pet-owning community.
Pet owners know they do not have to rush their furry loved ones to the veterinarian for every scrape or cut. And when they do visit the vet for more serious issues, it is usually the owners who have to do wound care afterwards. These consumers can adequately treat their animals at home, if they have the right knowledge and the right supplies. First-aid and wound-care product manufacturers are trying to reassure consumers that they can take care of their four-legged friends, by stocking up on the appropriate items.
“This is a growing segment with many, many product options,” says Deborah Brown, vice president of Pet King Brands, Inc., in Westmont, Ill. “However, many retailers don’t have the space to stock all the options.”
One way pet stores decide which items to stock is by looking for products that were previously available only in veterinarians’ offices. Pet King offers ZYMOX Enzymatic Topical Cream and Spray, which are antibiotic alternatives that Brown says have been used and dispensed by veterinarians for 17 years. ZYMOX is non-toxic, so humans can feel less concerned if the pet licks the application site. The product also has broad-spectrum effectiveness, which means it is designed to be effective on wounds, regardless of whether they are due to bacteria or fungus.
ZYMOX recently repackaged the Cream and Spray into larger sizes for the equine market. “They work on contact and require no pre-cleaning, which makes it perfect for a skittish horse,” she says.
Brown says the trend in the pet first-aid category is similar to the trend in human first aid, which is that people are concerned with antibiotic resistance. ZYMOX works without antibiotics, and uses enzymes so the wound does not require disinfection before use.
Retailers can succeed in the category by setting up a cohesive pet first-aid section. In fact, says Brown, it would help if stores encourage shoppers to build their own first-aid kits. She recommends displaying a list of suggested items that the pet owner should buy to put in the kit at home. “Some retailers even offer animal CPR classes which can be cross-promoted,” says Brown. “Another idea is to develop a travel section with products pet owners might need when traveling to provide for their pet’s comfort and health, which includes first aid items.”
Travel presents another opportunity for sales in first-aid products, because pet owners sometimes need to buy additional, smaller sizes to take on the go. Last year, Rialto, Calif.-based Innovacyn launched the three-ounce traveler version of Vetericyn Plus Wound & Skin Care spray for all animals. The smaller size is designed for first-aid kits, air travel, and for walking in the park or hiking. Vetericyn products are fast-acting, one-step wound- and skin-care sprays and gels that are non-toxic, steroid-free, antibiotic-free, and do not contain alcohol or tea tree oil.
Antibiotic-free is very much on trend now. Consumers might seek solutions other than antibiotics because of recent negative publicity about everything from over-prescribing of antibiotics by physicians to antibiotics in food such as poultry and beef. Other people simply don’t like the texture of antibiotic ointments and worry the cream might irritate the pet.
The challenge is that infection is a very important danger for any wound. Puncture wounds can become infected if the sharp object pushes bacteria deep into tissues. Wounds on the animal’s face or high up on the leg cannot easily be bandaged, and wounds that are on paws are susceptible to infection just by their location. Manufacturers are developing products that protect cuts and scrapes from becoming more uncomfortable for the pet. Some products even help the skin regenerate so it will heal more quickly.
Marshall Pet Products, based in Wolcott, N.Y., launched Advanced Hydrogel Wound & Skin Care, a micro-barrier gel that uses patented Ion Dispersion Technology (IDT). It helps protect the wound and removes dead tissue while creating a protective micro-barrier for the skin cells to regenerate and renew themselves. The company says it is a safe, no-rinse formula that is long lasting and antibiotic free. Advanced Hydrogel Wound & Skin Care is temperature resistant, non-toxic, and alcohol and steroid free. The Made-in-the-USA product is also safe for all animal species.
Another on-trend term is “natural,” and certain natural ingredients have properties that can help with healing. PetzLife Wound Care features organic virgin coconut oil, which contains vitamin E and is an anti-fungal. The product also has red raspberry seed oil, which contains vitamins A and E; and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids; neem oil, which works as an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral agent; and lavender oil, which is known for its calming effects. PetzLife Wound Care is designed for dogs and cats, and it can be used for ringworm, skin rashes, hot spots, burns, cuts and scratches.
“Natural remedies are gaining more and more popularity in the marketplace,” says Andrew Groth, president of PetzLife Products, Inc., in Spring Park, Minn. “Now PetzLife is offering the same 100-percent plant-based remedy that veterinarians are using in their clinics. The unique formula provides a breathable protectant barrier.”
In addition to treating the wound, pet parents must make sure the dog or cat does not damage the wound and prevent it from healing. Suitical International, which is based in the Netherlands, offers an alternative to the Elizabethan collar that pet owners and veterinarians attach around the necks of the animals to prevent them from licking wounds or biting off sutures. “Pet owners are seeking more comfortable and multipurpose solutions,” says Melvin Kok, CEO of Suitical International. “It is not only about treating anymore, but now the pet’s comfort is becoming more important.”
The company developed and patented the Suitical Recovery Suit and Recovery Sleeve, designed to make the pet’s recovery more comfortable. Instead of restricting the head, Kok says, the full-body suit covers and protects the affected area, while allowing the pet to retain freedom of movement. “It covers up open wounds, hot spots, bandages, skin conditions and allergies, and it can also be used when in heat or light incontinence,” he says. “The products are very breathable due to the very high-quality materials, to allow air circulation and keeping all areas dry.” The fabric is lightweight, has four-way stretch, and is machine washable.
The other advantage of covering the areas, Kok says, is that kids and other members of the family are still able to interact with their pet. “Research has shown that by reducing the stress level, the recovery is a lot quicker,” he says.
There are opportunities for retailers who know that pet owners do not want to visit the veterinarian for every malady. “This saves pet owners the price of a check-up,” says Kok. “First aid must be more top of mind, due to the growth in the category. By announcing this more to pet owners, they will then become more aware of the availability of first-aid and wound-care products at their local pet store.”