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Absorbing the Facts of Dogs' Digestive Health

Products that address dogs’ digestive health come in a range of formats—all retailers need to do is find the right set for their store, create meaningful displays and educate their staff.



There are myriad options to choose from when it comes to stocking digestive health products for dogs—be they digestive supplements such as prebiotics and probiotics, digestive aids and foods formulated to help digestion, or even bowls designed to help a pet eat correctly. Unfortunately, not every store will have room for every product, so it’s important to carry what your customers need most.

Most dogs can benefit from a digestive health product at one point or another.

“We always recommend that when a customer is in the process of changing a pet’s food to use digestive enzymes and probiotics products to aid in the transition from one food to another,” said Nancy Fedelem, owner of Salty’s Pet Supply in Portland, Ore. “We also recommend these products if a pet has been taking antibiotics, has diarrhea or other stomach upsets.”

Deborah Viney, account executive at BH Pet Gear, maker of Kaleb’s Organics, in New York, said the biggest buzz in the dog digestive industry concerns “super ingredients that have beneficial properties to provide health benefits as well as great taste.”

There is an emerging trend in soft chews as a delivery system, said Scott Garmon, president of Garmon Corp., maker of NaturVet products, in Temecula, Calif.

“At NaturVet, we have three effective ways to deliver the product to your pet: powders, soft chews and tablets,” he said. “The consumer can choose the method that best suits their pets.”

Vetscience LLC/Fruitables Pet Food in Dallas has pioneered research into pumpkin and sweet potato as feed ingredients, and the company did clinical research at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences on weight loss using pumpkin, said David DeLorenzo, president. 

“In addition to the weight loss program development and success, we also discovered that the use of pumpkin and sweet potato had significant benefits in the digestive tract,” he said. “We created our Fruitables digestive supplements to address these issues, and every year, more pet retailers and dog parents discover the benefits and use the product for both acute and chronic issues.”

Andrea Margelis, manager of Pets Naturally in Traverse City, Mich., said she has seen more sales in pumpkin, as it’s not only good for digestive issues, but also helps soothe a dog’s stomach.

“It’s beneficial for dogs, whether [they’re] constipated or [have] diarrhea, because it’s such a great water-soluble fiber,” she said.


New in Digestive Health

NaturVet, a brand of Garmon Corp. in Temecula, Calif., recently announced its newest product, Outta My Box, which, when fed to both the dog and cat in a household, reduces the desire for the dog to “snack” from the cat’s litterbox, said Scott Garmon, president. 

“It contains the unique, patent-
pending ingredient ProBioStrive,” Garmon said. “This ingredient contains herbs and natural digestive aids that promote optimal GI balance. It also helps reduce feline stool odor, which can be a real plus to customers.”

David DeLorenzo, president of Vetscience LLC/Fruitables Pet Food in Dallas, said the company is working on some significant ongoing research and development projects that will be commercialized and ready for sale in late 2016.


Educating the Consumer on Digestive Health

Established customers continue to shop because they trust employees to give them proper recommendations on what is best for their pets. This often is based on satisfying past purchases.

“So by educating their employees, retailers are giving them the necessary tools to recommend products with confidence,” said Scott Garmon, president of Garmon Corp., maker of NaturVet products, in Temecula, Calif. “Once the customer is pleased with employees’ past recommendations, talking to them about digestive aid supplements is very easy.”

To help with education, each month NaturVet sends retailers an informational piece called NaturVet University. 

“This educational piece not only contains information on the product and its ingredients, but also offers a link to questions and answers the retailer can utilize in training their employees,” Garmon said. “These questions are gathered from FAQ our customer service department receives from pet owners, thus preparing the employees to have the correct answers to customers’ questions.”


Digestive Display Best Practices

David DeLorenzo, president of Vetscience LLC/Fruitables Pet Food in Dallas, recommends retailers use any off-shelf display or multiple placements to give consumers access to digestive aids where they buy their food, treats and supplements.

“We understand stores only have so much available display space,” he said. “Our rolling can display is a program we implemented that solved a lot of merchandising issues, as it was portable and could be placed in multiple locations; however, smaller stores have difficulty in executing it with the limited floor space available.”

Deborah Viney, account executive at New York-based BH Pet Gear, maker of Kaleb’s Organics, said it’s best to display dog digestive products in impulse areas such as point-of-sale displays at the cash wrap area, where staff members can answer any questions.

Pets Naturally in Traverse City, Mich., has a wall of shelving just for health supplements, with a separate section devoted to digestive support products, said Andrea Margelis, manager.

“Most people wonder how often they should give a probiotic,” Margelis said. “Most people think they should only give it when a dog has been on antibiotics, but they should be given every day, because it boosts an immune system, fights off allergies and is good for overall health.”


This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Pet Product News.

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