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Q4 FOCUS: Dog & Cat Treats

Selling more treats is a matter of stocking products that meet a variety of pet owner demands, such as grain free, made in the USA and low calorie.


There are three big trends that are still going strong in the treat category as we enter quarter four: healthful, grain free and made in the USA.

Ava Olsen, brand manager for Charlee Bear Products in Madison, Wis., said that in addition to those three trends, she’d add “simple and understandable labeling.”

“There is also a lot of interest in being healthy and losing weight,” Olsen said. “But we still want things to taste good. I would say popular treats would be healthful and delicious so we can feel good about giving treats.”

Chanda Leary-Coutu, senior manager, marketing communications for WellPet in Tewksbury, Mass., agreed. WellPet recently unveiled several new treat options, each made with natural ingredients.

“Treats represent a special moment between pets and pet parents—an act of love, often spontaneous,” Leary-Coutu said. “Because of this, we’ve found that some pet parents are concerned about over-treating and subsequent weight control. Just like human snacking, we want our pet treats to be nutritious and satisfying, yet also portion and calorie controlled.”

The made in the USA trend also is an important consideration when stocking shelves.

“Customers are all looking for the same thing—USA made,” said Howard Bearz, owner of Cheshire Cat & Dog, Too! in Cheshire, Conn. “If products are made in the USA, they’re an easy sell.”

Especially if they’re freeze dried, too, said Lanny Viegut, owner and CEO of Vital Essentials in Green Bay, Wis.

“Clearly the attention worldwide is on freeze-dried treats that are sourced, made and packaged in the USA,” Viegut said. “Over-processed, carbohydrate-laden and grain-based treats are fast becoming an afterthought.”

Noah Falkie, founder of HavePaws in Chattanooga, Tenn., said that in addition to being concerned with whether a product is gluten and grain free, most customers want to know if it’s made in the USA.

“I imagine these trends will be here for a good five to 10 years,” Falkie added. “Pets have become more and more like members of the family rather than pets. I think this is in part due to our wealth as a nation as well as so many [people] entering their twilight years. Once we have all our needs met, we have a lot of extra resources to spoil our companion animals with, and treats are one way to do that.” 

Plato Pet Treats presents Hundur’s Crunch, a line of single-ingredient fish skin treats for dogs. The treats are naturally rich in omega 3  and 6, and offer a crunchy texture, making them a great dental treat. The treats always are responsibly sourced—the Plato way.

Paragon Pet Products’ Whimzees Veggie Collection includes Veggie Sausages and Veggie Strips. The products use the same natural, vegetarian ingredients as the company’s original line but with the additions of calcium and aromatic clove bud oil to promote dental health. In addition to its use as treatment for common health issues such as indigestion, toothaches, stress and blood disorders, clove bud oil offers antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic and antiviral benefits, according to the company. It is rich in minerals such as calcium, hydrochloric acid, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C.

26 Bars & a Band offers Chewysaurus All Natural Dental Chews. The dinosaur dental chew is extruded into three dinosaur shapes. The packaging appeals to parents and children and is a great way to incorporate caring for pets into a family’s routine. Flavors include Crispy Bacon, BBQ Chicken and Roast Lamb. The product is available in two sizes and is made in Australia.  

Pure Treats offers PureBites treats in 100% Pure Duck, 100% Pure Chicken Breast & Duck and 100% Pure Chicken Breast & Lamb. Each package contains just one or two ingredients. The treats are freeze dried raw to lock in the aroma, texture and freshness cats crave.

Rush Direct offers Prime Taste Treats for Cool Cats. The freeze-dried treats contain only one ingredient and have no fillers, artificial flavors or artificial preservatives. They are available in three flavors: Chicken, Whitefish and Salmon.

This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of Pet Product News.

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