Oral Care Dog Treats Booming
Because pets’ teeth are notoriously hard to brush, most of the action is in treats and chews, especially for dogs.
Oral care products for pets are big business. According to Packaged Facts’ newest pet market report, Pet Oral Care Products and Services in the U.S., approximately $775 million of the market is products.
During 2014, sales of oral care dog biscuits and treats soared 33 percent to $268 million, representing 81 percent of all sales of pet oral care products, according to IRI’s mass-market tracking.
Albeit somewhat tarnished by time and product safety travails, one name still conjures the vast potential of oral care: Greenies. Launched in 1998, Greenies was the first dog biscuit to sport the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal for plaque and tartar control, and at the height of its glory in the early to mid 2000s, the toothbrush-shaped treat purported to be outselling Milk-Bone. Greenies remains almost legendary, having spurred countless knockoffs and set the stage for success stories that continue to this day.
During 2014, sales of Mars’ Pedigree Dentastix, the top-selling oral care dog treat in mass channels, rose 11 percent to $145 million, according to IRI, with newer entries also making a splash, including Milk-Bone Brushing Chews ($40 million) and Purina Beneful Healthy Smile ($29 million). (Greenies are now authorized for sale only by pet stores and veterinarians.)
Ironically, oral care treats likely are getting a healthful bump from veterinarians and industry associations working to increase consumer awareness of the need for regular professional oral care for pets. The cornerstone of this effort is the American Veterinary Medical Association’s National Pet Dental Health Month, a nationwide event that marked its 22nd anniversary in February 2015.
But with veterinary visits on the decline and many pet owners still budget strapped, dog treats appear to be reaping at least equal rewards. Pet owner surveys conducted by Packaged Facts in 2015 reveal good price to be the top factor influencing the purchase of a pet oral care product, cited by 41 percent of respondents, with veterinarian recommendation at 36 percent; 43 percent of pet owners choose not to have their pets’ teeth cleaned by a veterinarian because they believe that cleaning a pet’s teeth at home is just as effective.
These figures underscore the challenges veterinarians face when it comes to encouraging oral care compliance, but the upside is the ongoing potential for dental-themed treats.
While 59 percent of dog owners agree that they are concerned with the dental hygiene of their pets, only 33 percent regularly have their pets’ teeth cleaned by a veterinarian, and only 44 percent have purchased dental hygiene products in the past 12 months. Those are gaps waiting to be filled, and for pet owners slouching on veterinary visits, oral care treats might be exactly what the doctor ordered.