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Sizzling Stock: Dog Nutrition

Clean & Nutritious Diets Do Best



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With humans more educated these days about their own nutrition and particulars about ingredients, pet industry participants find pet owners applying this new knowledge to their pets.

“Dog owners want their pets to be healthy and happy, and they want to know they did their very best when choosing a food,” said Ann Hudson, vice president of marketing for Whitebridge Pet Brands in St. Louis. “Owners sometimes know more about human nutrition than dog nutrition, and that colors their choices when it comes to dog food.”

Denise Strong, co-owner of Pawz On Main in Cottonwood, Ariz., said she finds that food-quality-conscious customers strive to feed their pets a diet equal to their own.

“The mentality is that ‘if it’s good for me, it must be good for my pet,’” Strong said.

One growing segment in dog nutrition is limited-ingredient diets.

Karen Neola, founder of My Perfect Pet in Poway, Calif., said dog owners are recognizing that a shorter list of higher-quality ingredients creates a better foundation for their pet’s overall health.

“The key is not to simply shorten the ingredient list, but to ensure that every ingredient is easily digested and offers a specific contribution to the pet’s dietary needs,” she said.

Additional trends, according to several sources, are U.S. made, natural and grain free.

“We’ve been closely following the trend of increased humanization in the pet industry, and today’s pet consumer is looking for the following trends in their pet’s food: made in the USA, natural and grain free,” said Rashell Cooper, marketing director for Redbarn Pet Products in Long Beach, Calif.

In particular, grain-free diets are selling well, according to Andrea Margelis, manager of Pets Naturally in Traverse City, Mich., and Lisa Vogt, CEO of The Dawg House Grooming Boarding Daycare in Athens, Ga. Margelis added that customers want these grain-free options for all life stages—from puppy to senior.

“When looking for new foods, consumers want them to be tailored to their individual pet,” she said. “‘One size’ does not fit all, and with the options that are available, we can give consumers what they want.”

Cooper agreed.

“We see these desires manifesting in trends like natural products, clean labels, whole-food ingredients and diets that speak to the activity levels of individual pets,” she said. “We also see consumers desiring high-protein options, and we believe trends like freeze-dried meats and premium protein choices help deliver choices.”

Demand for U.S.-made and -sourced products is rising, and insiders reported that traceability, perceived quality and the desire to support the nation’s economy all contribute to this.

“Made- and sourced-in-the-USA pet food gives the consumer confidence that they are getting high-quality food for their pet,” said George DiGuido, owner of NYC Pet in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The inclusion of unique proteins in dog diets is another trend that continues to show up in the category, enabling owners to provide variety in their pets’ diets and avoid allergies, industry participants said.

“As pet parents look to add variety to their dog’s mealtime routine—and ensure they get the best nutrition out of each bowl—we’re seeing a thirst for more unique protein sources,” said Elaine Obergfell, director of brand marketing for WellPet in Tewksbury, Mass.

Ingredients deemed more natural are also on-trend, according to industry insiders.

“We believe the most important trend in dog and cat food is providing options that cater to our customers’ pets,” Cooper said. “Adding functional superfood ingredients speaks to their desire for clean labels with easily understood ingredients.”

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