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Natural Dental Care for Pets

Many shoppers are turning to natural solutions to address their pets’ oral health.


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Consumer demand for dental products that are safe, effective and easy to use has been driving sales of natural solutions recently, pet industry insiders report.

“The awareness and importance of maintaining a healthy oral care regimen has grown in the dental category,” said James Brandly, associate trade-marketing manager for Wentzville, Mo.-based Cosmos Corp., maker of the TropiClean brand, which produces a line of natural dental solutions. “Pet parents are becoming more aware of the benefits of keeping their pets’ mouths healthy and repercussions that occur from neglecting dental care.”

Jessica Young, marketing manager for The Missing Link, a supplement and dental chew manufacturer based in East Longmeadow, Mass., said today’s consumers are interested in multifunctional dental chews that can do much more than just clean teeth.

“Beyond the dental aspect of the chew, consumers are wondering, ‘What are those ingredients doing to my pet’s health after they’ve been digested?’” she said. “‘Even if they are all-natural ingredients, could they be doing more for the health of the animal?’”

The Missing Link offers its Once Daily Superfood dental chews, with formulas that address hip and joint health and skin and coat, and contain superfood ingredients such as flaxseed and kelp.

While ingredients can be key selling points for natural dental products, pet owners also seek convenience.

Natasha Hamon, senior purchaser for Healthy Spot, which has stores in California, said the most noticeable trend in her stores has been toward products that are easy for pet owners to use. 

“Great examples of this includes dental gels that don’t require brushing, dental chews and powders that are added to a pet’s water dish,” she said.

Norm Shrout, owner of Long Leash On Life in Albuquerque, N.M., said that in his region, he’s seeing a definitive movement toward proactive oral hygiene regimens for pets. But still, he added that it’s important for him to regularly talk to his customers about why they need to address their pets’ dental health.

“Many pet parents don’t realize the potential extreme health risks associated with worsening periodontal disease,” he said. “Simple education on the subject can work as a gentle scare tactic to help encourage them to do something to contribute to improved oral health of their pets.”

On the Market

A Growing Assortment

Manufacturers have been going to market with a wide range of pet dental hygiene solutions, including options that come in a variety of formats, from chews to water additives, or that offer pets benefits beyond healthier teeth and gums.

James Brandly, associate trade-marketing manager for Wentzville, Mo.-based Cosmos Corp., maker of the TropiClean brand, said the company has created different dental solutions to fit the various needs of pets and their owners, including its Fresh Breath Water Additives, Oral Care Gels and Oral Care Kits.

“We have recently introduced our Fresh Breath by TropiClean Dental Sticks in two sizes—for dogs five to 25 pounds and for dogs 25-plus pounds,” he said. “The chewy texture and unique T-shape design provides ridges to reach all surfaces of the teeth, simulating brushing with each bite to help brush away plaque and tartar.”

This year, the company will offer a Fresh Breath by TropiClean Dental Trial Kit, providing pet owners with a low-risk trial of a two-week supply of its Fresh Breath Clean Teeth Gel and Fresh Breath Water Additive, as well as a bonus Fresh Breath Dental Chew, which is formulated to offer a way for pet owners to treat their dogs to a healthy mouth, Brandly added.

Jessica Young, marketing manager for The Missing Link in East Longmeadow, Mass., said the company has developed Smartmouth deep-cleaning dental chews that address various health needs, including hip and joint support, healthy skin and coat, and immune and digestion support. The products are set to launch at Global Pet Expo this month and will be sold exclusively to retail stores.

Paul Sullivan, director of public relations for True Leaf Medicine International in Vernon, British Columbia, Canada, said the company is changing the formulation on its dental products in 2019 and will have some exciting announcements later in the year.

Merchandising & Marketing

Spreading the Word

Highlighting pet dental products in high-traffic areas and utilizing manufacturer-provided marketing materials are key ways for pet specialty retailers to keep these products top of mind with customers, industry insiders report.

For example, TropiClean, a Cosmos Corp. brand, offers educational merchandising and displays that focus on product features and include “how to use” graphics, helping pet owners choose the right dental product for their pet, said James Brandly, associate trade-marketing manager for the Wentzville, Mo.-based company.

“We recommend placing our displays in multiple locations throughout the store in high-traffic areas and on endcaps,” he said.

Dental solutions, Brandly added, also lend themselves to various cross-merchandising opportunities.

“Focus on product placement,” he said. “For example, you could place our Fresh Breath Drops clip strip near water bowls to influence pet parents’ purchasing. This also increases basket value.”

However, isolating dental hygiene products in a single display is another valuable merchandising strategy, retailers assert.

Healthy Spot, which has stores in California, created an area specific to dental health.

“Because of the various dental products available, creating an area designated to good oral health helps a customer review their options and pick a method that’s right for them,” said Natasha Hamon, senior purchaser at the store. “Much of our product in this space is hung or sits face forward on a shelf.”

At Long Leash On Life in Albuquerque, N.M., natural dental products are displayed in one area of the store so shoppers can compare items. The store also displays some dental products near the register to inspire impulse purchases, said owner Norm Shrout.

Shrout emphasized the importance of engaging customers in conversation about pet dental health, as well.

“Each pet parent has an individual aptitude when it comes to involvement with their pet’s teeth,” he said. “Some will go all out; others want the least amount of work. With proper questioning and information, their aptitude can be quickly assessed to find just the right solution to their pet’s oral hygiene needs.”

Hamon said that anything that helps convey to customers how quick and easy maintaining pets’ teeth can translate into increased sales.

“There is a misconception that keeping your pet’s teeth clean is time consuming and difficult, especially with an uncooperative participant, but many brands have come out with wonderfully innovative products to alleviate these pain points,” she said. “Keeping your pet’s teeth clean has never been easier, and it’s important to get that message across.”

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, giving retailers a ready-made opportunity to bring up pet oral hygiene. For example, Long Leash On Life uses a social media campaign in January to introduce customers to the topic, followed by a huge sale and giveaways all month.

Shrout recommends putting before-and-after tooth-improvement images near the products.

“Many of the companies offer these photos on their brochure,” he said. “We’ve sold many dental products by handing the pet parent a brochure to read. Many buy the product on that visit after quick brochure perusal. Others take the brochure home and return to buy it.”

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