The natural supplements and remedies category is growing, as pet owners look for more solutions to their furry loved ones’ health issues. Manufacturers say they are developing new formulations with nontraditional ingredients, to deliver everything from general well being to relief from anxiety and itching.
"Natural ingredients and products have been on the rise for many years and show no sign of decline in the future," says Dan Archetti, national sales director for Westmont, Ill.-based Pet King Brands, Inc.
Pet King Brands makes the ZYMOX dermatology line, which added an ear solution without hydrocortisone for pregnant/lactating females, pets sensitive to hydrocortisone or pets that need regular preventive care. There is also ZYMOX Shampoo to help calm and soothe itchy allergy skin, and ZYMOX Conditioning Rinse, which nourishes the skin and coat and features the patented LP3 Enzyme System.
Archetti says one of the biggest trends now is products with natural ingredients for allergies or ear and skin infection, and that are veterinarian recommended. Retailers can succeed in the category if they let consumers know the stores have a remedy section.
"Since skin allergies and ear infections are so common—two of the top health conditions seen by veterinarians—it’s important that retailers offer solutions to help manage these painful and expensive conditions," says Archetti.
Never Too Much Information
Other trends that are driving this category are the humanization trend, the increase in consumer education about natural supplements and pet owners’ general desire to keep their beloved animals healthy.
"Sometimes due to lack of nutrition and other times due to unfortunate luck, your pet will experience a variety of ailments throughout its life," says Travis Draeger, leader of business development for Silver Star Brands based in Oshkosh, Wis. "The efficacy customers are finding in high-quality herbal and homeopathic remedies is truly amazing. That efficacy and the success stories around it continue to boost the acceptance and overall growth of all-natural remedies."
Some consumers also want to know details about the ingredients and the manufacturing. Silver Star, which makes PetAlive brand products, uses the whole-herb, full-spectrum manufacturing process, which uses all elements of the plant.
"Some companies choose to use standardized extracts, which only use certain elements of the herb," Draeger says. "That process is easier and will result in a cheaper price point, but ultimately giving you a lower quality product."
PetAlive recently launched Scare-D-Pet, a safe, effective natural remedy made of 100 percent homeopathic ingredients. The drops help to relieve common symptoms related to loud noises, such as nervousness, excitability, hyperactivity and fearfulness.
Manufacturers say consumers are reading labels, and they want to know that the product is more than just natural.
"Shoppers are reading ingredient lists and learning about how their pet’s diet impacts conditions such as anxiety, skin and coat issues, and energy levels," says Sarah Salva, director of marketing for Parker, Colo.-based H&C Animal. "In addition, more and more types of products such as treats and foods are offering supplement-like benefits as pet owners are searching for convenient solutions that are included in what they already buy to avoid making additional purchases."
Among the newest products from H&C Animal Health are the hip and joint supplement for dogs, Activphy, which comes in a soft chew and has a taste guarantee. The company says its patented method of support using blue green algae extract, along with glucosamine, MSM and turmeric, supports mobility and joint health.
The ingredients that have gotten much attention lately are hemp and CBD oil. Adam Mizrahi, director of marketing at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Diamond CBD, which offers the Medipets line of products, attributes the growth of this segment to several factors. One is that a few years ago, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta produced an on-air special on the topic.
"The entire industry really took off from that point as interest in cannabidiol, or CBD oil, took hold in the public sphere," Mizrahi says.
Another factor was that California, which has had medical marijuana for years, popularized the idea that CBD oil can be part of health and wellness. "Once the trend became popular out there, it just sort of steamrolled across the country," Mizrahi says.
Also, Mizrahi noted that in the pet products industry there has been more focus and research on CBD oil and the endocannabinoid system. "The endocannabinoid system is a vast system of cannabinoid receptors in the body," he says. "Furthermore, the body itself produces its own natural cannabinoids. CBD oil or cannabidiol, in general, is known as a phytocannabinoid, or plant-based cannabinoid, which can help to supplement the endocannabinoid system."
One challenge in this category is the lack of regulation. "Some companies are utilizing lower quality ingredients, including hemp grown in China," says Julianna Carella, founder and CEO of Petaluma, Calif.-based Treatibles.
Also, some products have inconsistencies in phytocannabinoid content. Consumers that buy low-quality products might find that the products do not work and dismiss the entire category.
Still, several veterinary schools are currently conducting clinical studies on phytocannabinoids. "I am confident they will support what we have been working so hard to educate the public about: the efficacy of phytocannabinoids for pets," says Carella. Treatibles makes grain-free hemp chews and other products.
While pet products that contain cannabidiol (CBD) or phytocannabinoid rich (PCR) hemp oil are gaining sales momentum, the category still has some challenges. One is that manufacturers are working to dispel certain myths about the products, but on the plus side, consumers are becoming more educated about cannabinoids.
"As more people experience the benefits for themselves, they are looking to provide the same benefits for their pets," says Carella. "The recent FDA approval for the first CBD pharmaceutical has shined a new light on the once demonized plant, as well."
To assuage consumers, manufacturers are trying to get the word out about the positives about CBD oil. "The best companies, like us here at MediPets, will provide consumers with clearly-labeled packaging and independent third-party lab reports to show consumers exactly what’s in the bottle that they are purchasing," says Mizrahi. "They will know exactly what the product will do for their pet."