Sizzling Stock: Dog Chews
Consumers Seek Unique & Long-lasting Offerings
Dogs are naturally driven to chew, creating a steady category for pet businesses. The challenge posed by consumers is the desire to provide safe and satisfying options to keep their chewers occupied and fulfill that primal need, experts said. According to industry insiders making and selling dog chews, there has been an increase in consumer demand for these products.
“Pet parents are always looking for something new, innovative and unique,” said Mike Thomas, vice president of development for QT Dog in Dallas. “Braided bleached rawhide will always be a mainstay, but in the past decade, we have seen the introduction of bully sticks, antlers, exotic proteins and horns into the chew space.”
Curt Jacques, president of West Lebanon Feed and Supply in West Lebanon, N.H., said sales of chews are climbing, and that dog owners especially like the animal parts, such as pig ears, chicken feet and pizzle sticks.
Lorin Grow, owner of Furry Face in Redlands, Calif., said the store carries a lot of body part chews as well, adding that many of these parts offer natural sources of supplementation, such as glucosamine, for the dogs.
“We are full of body parts and consider it a much more natural route, as it utilizes all parts of a slaughtered animal,” she said. “We carry a wide variety to fit all types and sizes of chewers.”
According to Thomas, “single-ingredient oven-dried parts from nontraditional protein sources are in high demand. Products from water buffalo, kangaroo, elk and even alligator are hitting the market and rapidly gaining acceptance by pet parents.”
Mark Vitt, co-owner of Mutts & Co., which has stores in the Columbus, Ohio, area, said the chain’s selection of chews includes natural body parts, antlers, bones and dental chews. He reported that tug toys with an edible chew attached also sell well.
At The Quirky Pet in Montpelier, Vt., body parts often are a focus of conversation, said Cindra Conison, owner of the store.
“People are already hooked on what we call our ‘dead animal parts’ and often ask for advice to expand their dogs into other parts, all sourced in the USA,” she said. “Some of the more obscure items we highlight include bison testicle, freeze-dried turkey testicle, lamb lung, bison tendons and maple-smoked bones.”
Thomas noted that the industry will soon see “more developments in the ‘what in the world is that?’ department,” adding that water buffalo parts are fast tracking right now.
“The plants in India have dialed in their processing so the end products compare favorably with the product coming out of South America,” he said. “Water buffalo horn is selling huge right now.”
In response, Thomas said QT Dog“introduced oversized natural water buffalo chews made from 2-foot-long strips of head skin as well as big whole tails that retail competitively yet are unique to the category. There are only so many ways you can present a bully stick.”
In addition to unique and interesting offerings, dog owners want long-lasting chews, said Jamie Idzi, owner of Yuppy Puppy in Bethany Beach, Del.
Vitt agreed, adding: “Consumers are looking for something that is safe, edible, digestible and durable enough to keep their pets occupied for an extended period of time.”