Stocking Up-to-Date Dental Pet Products
Keep your dental product mix up-to-date with easy-to-use solutions that make a difference for pets’ teeth.
With February’s National Pet Dental Health Month just around the corner, now is the time to make your big dental push.
Retailers that will be most successful with the pet dental health category are those that are well prepared to educate their customers and ready to keep up with the latest trends.
Many retailers reported that ease of use is still one of the biggest trends in dental. Brook Bickford, owner of Gone to the Dogs Boutique in St. Pete Beach, Fla., said that many of his customers admit that they don’t really want to brush their dogs’ teeth, but they still value dental health. He points those customers to products such as sprays, foams and water additives.
Jenn Fadal, owner of Wag Natural Pet Market in Tampa, Fla., has seen the same thing at her store. She said customers gravitate toward products that are easy to use such as water additives and chews.
“One thing I’m noticing more than ever is the sudden emergence of so many dental chews,” Fadal said. “It seems that most companies are coming out with their own version of a dental chew, and customers suddenly have more choices than ever.”
The category is growing, with new products from existing brands and newcomers alike, agreed David DeLorenzo, president of Vetscience LLC in Dallas.
“There are new recipes including flavors and added functional ingredients,” DeLorenzo said.
While the chew market has been cornered for many years, today’s customers have a lot more options, said Sherry Redwine, co-owner of Odyssey Pets in Dallas. Redwine said she is getting customers that specifically are interested in chews that are grain and gluten free.
“Grain/gluten free is one of the biggest trends right now,” said Elliot Haverlack, CEO and founder of Simplicity Pet Care in Estero, Fla. “It originated in full feeding diets and has migrated into the treat/chew segment, including dental. Pet owners have been switching their dogs to grain-free diets for a variety of reasons, ranging from food allergies to gastric upset to weight management.”
New to the Category
Several new chews recently have come to the market. Nutri-Vet has introduced a line of Flossing Chews. Aside from cleaning, the chews polish and floss the teeth, said Steve Twohig, vice president of sales for the Boise, Idaho, company.
Sen5es Premium Dental Chews from Simplicity Pet Care in Estero, Fla., also are new. These chews are all natural and grain free and include ingredients such as carrots, spinach, beets, sweet potato and blueberry, said Elliot Haverlack, CEO and founder of Simplicity Pet Care.
Vetscience LLC in Dallas launched Fruitables BioActive Fresh Mouth Dental Chews in October 2015, said David DeLorenzo, president.
“They are designed to address both the structural and functional needs of pet oral health, with a sweet potato recipe that has a firm yet flexible texture that is designed to scrub the tooth from tip to gum line,” he said. “They have BioActive ingredients including Icelandic kelp and decaffeinated green tea extract that have bacteriostatic properties, which means they stop the growth of bacteria on the tooth surface.”
Ark Naturals in Naples, Fla., has added Brushless-ToothPaste to Gray Muzzle, its line of senior products. According to owner Susan Weiss, the new chews have many of the same benefits as the company’s original Brushless formulas but have a lighter consistency that is easier for senior dogs to chew. This is important because older dogs might have gum tenderness or missing teeth, Weiss said.
When it comes to selling dental products, education often is the key to success. Yet many customers might not understand why this category is so important, said Mario Bardouille, dog groomer and trainer with Petsmile USA in New York.
“Dental health should always be added to the grooming process,” Bardouille said. “What do we do for ourselves when we go through a personal hygiene routine? Brushing teeth is always part of that. Customers might just need to look at it that way. They’d never skip brushing their own teeth, and they should do the same for their pets.”
If there is reluctance, Bardouille suggests handing out free samples to show how easy the process can be.
“A lot of customers do like trying a product before they buy it, so free samples can be incredibly helpful,” he said.
When using education in a display, you have to keep the message short and to the point, said Steve Twohig, vice president of sales for Nutri-Vet in Boise, Idaho. Space is not only at a premium in most locations, but customers will miss a message if it’s too lengthy.
“We believe it’s worth reducing the number of products in a display to have room to get information in bullet form on every shelf,” Twohig said.
Information should be honest and easily accessible, said Elliot Haverlack, CEO and founder of Simplicity Pet Care in Estero, Fla.
“Dog owners are among the most caring consumers out there, and they want to stay educated,” Haverlack said. “If you make your information easily accessible and based in fact, they often willingly follow it.”
Retailers should not forget to educate customers who have just brought a new puppy or kitten into their home, said Laura Clark, co-owner of Wylie Wagg, which has locations in Virginia and Washington, D.C.
“Many times those owners are focused on obvious purchases like food, crates and toys,” Clark said. “But getting pets and owners used to brushing at a young age can make life-long dental care much easier.”
Display and Marketing
These days manufacturers are not just trying to catch the consumer’s eye but also lure them in with smell. Elliot Haverlack, CEO and founder of Simplicity Pet Care in Estero, Fla., said that the company is using aroma to attract consumers to their displays with the use of scent strips.
Of course if you’re looking to catch the customer’s eye, that coveted countertop space is the prime location. Putting some dental products by the counter is a no-brainer, said Glenda Bone, owner of Gallery of Pets in Austin, Texas. Because many customers aren’t even aware of the kind of dental products out there—or their importance—this is an easy way to start the conversation, Bone said.
“We are selling a lot of water additives at the register,” Bone said. “It’s a simple product to use—just put it in the water—but it can be overlooked if not on sale right at the register. It’s often an impulse buy.”
Joe Zuccarello, director of innovations and promotions for TropiClean in Wentzville, Mo., said the company’s new 6-inch-by-6-inch counter display for its superconcentrated water enhancer is designed to “intercept the shopping experience and introduce all customers to oral hygiene.”
“Putting [TropiClean’s] Fresh Breath [products] right in front of every shopper at the register is not only helping move product but introducing awareness to customers who may have never sought out a dental product in the first place,” Zuccarello said.
Deciding on a primary location for dental products has become increasingly challenging. Sherry Redwine, co-owner of Odyssey Pets in Dallas, said that as more brands introduce their version of a dental chew, where retailers should put these products is less clear-cut. Now retailers can choose to display those chews with the rest of the line from that brand—or in a separate dental section. Redwine said she has a dental center endcap that includes a variety of dental health items, but she usually puts some of the chews in the treats section due to space constraints.
Brook Bickford, owner of Gone to the Dogs Boutique in St. Pete Beach, Fla., said he has a designated dental section but also puts dental products in a separate health section.
“That way if customers miss the dental section, they may still see some dental products while shopping the health section,” Bickford said. “Customers don’t always come in specifically looking for dental products, so reminders about the category are always important. That may include keeping products in more than one location.”
David DeLorenzo, president of Vetscience LLC in Dallas, recommends cross merchandising.
“Cross merchandising an assortment of the new products, especially singles priced for trial with foods and other consumables with a reminder that all pets can use some dental support as part of their care would be an effective program,” he said.