First Aid and Safety See Growth
Products designed for pet first aid and safety are on the rise with more owners on the move with their dogs and cats and concerned with their well-being.
Some industry insiders report that first aid for pets is a relatively new category, with the most common complaints pet owners want to address being cuts, scrapes, skin rashes, wounds, torn-up paw pads and insect bites.
“Previously, consumers were trying to use first aid kits designed for humans but were finding they didn’t have the right mix of supplies that worked specifically for animals,” said Annie Smith, marketing channel manager for Tender Corp.’s Adventure Medical Kits brand in Oakland, Calif. “Additionally, consumers didn’t really know how to deal with canine emergencies.”
Pet owners’ safety concerns include wanting to quickly and effectively treat their pet’s injuries as well as seeking out more holistic and natural products.
“First aid and safety has been a steadily growing category over the last few years simply because more and more pet parents are being educated on what is best for their furry child, and not just wanting what is best but demanding it,” said Jennifer DiGrazia, CEO of PawFlex Inc. in New York.
As a result, many brands are going natural and creating something that both humans and pets can use. Additionally, there’s more awareness of the fact that a pet or child could ingest the product.
Melissa Whitton, owner of Most Valuable Pets Inc. in Lexington, Ky., said she looks for packaging ease of use and multiple applications.
“I’m more likely to pick up a first aid product that can be used for dogs and cats, birds and small mammals instead of one type,” she said. “[Customers also] don’t want a lot of chemicals on their animals. There are a lot of animals with skin sensitivities, and [households] have kids in contact with the animals and the chemicals on them.”
There also is increased public awareness regarding pet safety, especially regarding vehicle travel and properly restraining pets for their safety and that of other passengers, said Jill Connolly, product and marketing manager for RC Pet Products in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
“Legislation is starting to tackle pet safety, as shown by recent laws that require you to restrain a dog in a vehicle,” she said. “Lots of stores now are putting together pet safety sections, which focus on a variety of pet safety needs.”
As with so many categories in the pet industry, made in the USA is huge, said Jennie Frey, pet supply buyer for RiverTown Feed & Pet Country Store in Petaluma, Calif.
New to the Category
Many of the new products in the first aid and safety category focused on wound care and travel-friendly options.
For example, Oculus Innovative Sciences in Petaluma, Calif., released patented animal health dermatology products. MicrocynAH Hot Spot Spray Gel and MicrocynAH Anti-Itch Spray Gel have patented formulas that combine hypochlorous acid and the skin protectant dimethicone to create a spray gel specifically designed to treat hot spots and itching dermatoses in animals, said Dan McFadden, vice president of animal wellness for Oculus.
Also from California, Corona-based TriDerma Skincare offers Intense Fast Healing Cream, which founder and CEO Gloria Vanderlaan described as “a unique, multipurpose product that contains more than 200 healing properties to help provide faster healing for your furry friend’s skin conditions, from hot spots to constant itching.”
In the fourth quarter of 2015, Oakland, Calif.-based Adventure Medical Kits, a brand of Tender Corp., added The Workin’ Dog kit to its Adventure Dog Series line of first aid kits and wipes for dogs and humans. It is designed for enthusiasts who rely on their dogs on the ranch or hunting in the field, so the kit includes medical supplies designed specifically for these canine companions, said Annie Smith, the company’s marketing channel manager.
Also capitalizing on pets on the go, RC Pet Products in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, released a Pocket Pet First Aid Kit, which Jill Connolly, product and marketing manager, described as “an easy to carry, everyday first aid kit perfect for daily walks [because] it holds all your first aid essentials while clipping conveniently to your leash or tucking in your pocket.”
In response to requests by retailers and pet owners for a medicine line to go with their bandages, New York-based PawFlex Inc. launched its all-natural wound care medicine line called I Love You Naturally.
“It comes as a balm and spray for dogs, cats, rabbits and hamsters, and all the ingredients are natural and play a specific role in the healing process,” said Jennifer DiGrazia, CEO.
And to make recovery more relaxing and comfortable for pets, Cardinal Pet Care in Azusa, Calif., redesigned its Remedy+Recovery Stay Rite Xtra Strong recovery collar for added durability.
“The interior is double welded, ensuring no air leaks, for an inflated collar that stays properly round and cushioned,” said Barbara Denzer, vice president of marketing. “It doesn’t block vision, comes in a relaxing blue color and is soft enough to sleep on—just what dogs need to relax and recover more quickly and comfortably.”
Unlike many products that are natural impulse buys or part of a family’s regular shopping trip, first aid and safety products are a unique niche that requires promotion and education.
Pet owners need to be educated that they have the ability and the supplies they need to help their pets, especially at times when the veterinary office is far away or closed, said Annie Smith, marketing channel manager for Tender Corp.’s Adventure Medical Kits brand in Oakland, Calif.
“We usually just educate our customers by providing pamphlets and talking with them,” said Jennie Frey, pet supply buyer for At RiverTown Feed & Pet Country Store in Petaluma, Calif.
Consumer education is critical because there is so much “snake oil” promoted as scientifically proven, said Dan McFadden, vice president of animal wellness for Oculus Innovative Sciences in Petaluma, Calif.
“It’s important for customers to be made aware of clinical studies and other science that validates the efficacy of a product or ingredient,” he added.
Display and Marketing
Show and tell remains the most profitable way to display safety and first aid merchandise to customers.
“The proof is in the pudding … or in this case, in the solution,” said Dan McFadden, vice president of animal wellness for Oculus Innovative Sciences in Petaluma, Calif. “What the pet owner sees with their own eyes will be the most compelling evidence there is. We recommend that retailers keep a demo bottle of product readily available [to treat] a pet with a wound or skin affliction on the spot. The customer sees improvement and [returns] to the store to buy their own bottle of product.”
Annie Smith, marketing channel manager for Tender Corp.’s Adventure Medical Kits brand in Oakland, Calif., agreed that retailers must show the consumer how and why they should carry first aid products.
“For example, place an Adventure Medical Kit with a gear package that might include a first aid kit, dog treats, poop bags and a leash,” she said.
Most Valuable Pets Inc. in Lexington, Ky., features different types of first aid sprays on the front counter and explains the uses to customers.
“It’s amazing how many people will buy them on impulse,” said Melissa Whitton, owner. “Tell customers all the different uses for them. Also remind them it’s good to have on hand, like with kids.”
Jennifer DiGrazia, CEO of PawFlex Inc. in New York, recommended that stores offer a wide range of health care options like they do with treats and collars and leashes “in order to satisfy the needs and demands of the new generation of pet owners who are educated and informed and are raising pets like children.
“Stores that carry the generic useless crap will be known as stores that carry cheap useless crap, and serious pet parents will not shop at those stores,” she said. “Having a good first aid and safety section shows the customer you care about the well-being of their furry child, and you are not an ‘all about profit’ store.”
Holding pet safety seminars or pet first aid training sessions in the store can be a great way to engage the community and draw attention to products that people might not know exist, said Jill Connolly, product and marketing manager for RC Pet Products in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
And at RiverTown Feed & Pet Country Store in Petaluma, Calif., pet supply buyer Jennie Frey said pictures of before and after treatment are hugely helpful, especially if the staff are not available on the floor when the customer is there.
“When they see a picture and check it out, writing that it’s nontoxic or contains no antibiotics or is OK if licked, these are the little things that catch their eye to bring them over to the product,” she said.
This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of Pet Product News.