Aging, Achy Joints, Other Ailments Drive Dog Supplement Sales
Pet owners are increasingly turning to supplements to boost their pets’ health and well-being.
As dog owners continue to pay closer attention to their pets’ health—and how they can positively impact it—the number of supplements available on the market continues to rise. Retailers who are successful with the category are those that are staying on top of dog owners’ needs, according to industry insiders.
“At the highest level, supplement sales are driven by pet parents’ desire to give their pets the healthiest and happiest life they can,” said Andrew Morrison, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Presidio Natural Pet Co., which manufactures Fetch Fuel liquid supplements and full-spectrum hemp oil. “As veterinary care and food sciences improve, more dogs are living longer and experiencing age-related complications as a result. Because these age-related issues are some of the most visible and familiar to owners, aging dogs continue to be a huge driver of supplement sales in pet.”
An increase in online resources and “digital connectivity” through social media and other resources has led to increased pet owner awareness about the health and well-being of their pets, said Bryan Nieman, brand director and fifth-generation family member at Fromm Family Foods in Mequon, Wis.
“This accessibility [to more resources] helps pet parents make more informed choices and seek out balanced diets and solutions that will help to deliver optimal results,” Nieman said. “This ranges from supplements to improve specific challenges like joint health to dietary supplements for dogs suffering from temporary digestive upset.”
Digestive upset has certainly been getting increasing attention from pet owners. In early 2019, Fromm Family Foods introduced a line of canned dietary supplements, Fromm Family Remedies Digestive Support Supplement for Dogs, specifically formulated to calm sensitive stomachs and relieve temporary dietary upset in dogs, according to Niemen.
“The new formulations offer a solution-based nutritional supplement that can help ease digestive upset, firm stool and transition pets back to their complete and normal diets,” Nieman said.
Vetericyn Animal Wellness, a brand of Rialto, Calif.-based Innovacyn, recently unveiled its first supplement product, All-In. The supplement contains the key nutrients dogs need at their particular stage of life—whether puppy, adult or senior—to promote digestive, cellular, bone, mental and immune health, according to company officials.
Vetericyn Animal Wellness partnered with Dr. A.S. Narain Naidu, a world-renowned scientist and pioneer in molecular medicine, to develop All-In, which is the only supplement that combines patented, age-specific complexes with a delivery system that transports vital ingredients, according to officials. The delivery system opens a dog’s cells, allowing the ingredients to be effectively absorbed by the body in the right amount instead of passed through a pet’s system and disposed.
“Our technology being used in All-In is completely new to the pet category, and we are fortunate to be introducing something new and exciting that is not already available in the market,” said Geoff Hamby, director of marketing for Vetericyn. “The problem, over recent years, has been overdosing supplement ingredients through the ‘more is better’ approach. The problem is both humans and dogs alike can only absorb so much supplemental vitamins and minerals, and the rest just passes through.
“With the new complex technologies available in All-In, we have focused on nutritional absorption so that everything a dog ingests, including their food, is experiencing its maximum nutrient absorption potential. That’s the foundation to our multipatented technology.”
CBD Options Garner Interest
Heightened interest in cannabidiol (CBD) products also continues to grow in this category. Jan Hopper, owner of Living Pawsitively Natural Pet Supply and Gift Store in Lafayette, N.J., said that her customers are seeing great results with CBD oil.
“They’re seeking it for everything from arthritis to anxiety, and a lot of them are seeing great results,” Hopper said. “While there may be some hesitation to make an investment at first, if they do get those amazing results, they become repeat customers. We have quite a few repeat customers when it comes to the CBD products.”
As the interest has grown, Presidio Natural Pet Co. has introduced new products to meet the demand in that segment.
“We have recently come out with a line of full-spectrum hemp oil called Blossom,” Morrison said. “We felt there was not a CBD line that was an honest and transparent line of premium hemp oils designed for pets, by pet people. Our pursuit of this goal was how Blossom was born. It is grown, extracted and bottled in Colorado by our exclusive vertically integrated partner. Blossom is NASC [National Animal Supplement Council] certified, and our quality is rigorously tested throughout the complete production cycle. Our bottles have an easy-to-understand serving/dosing guide, making it a top choice for both retailers and consumers.”
Believe in What’s on the Shelf
Pet specialty retailers looking to curate the ideal assortment of supplements and essential oils might want to consider going through a deliberate selection process that aims to meet customers’ needs, industry insiders advise.
Dan Owens, co-owner of Four Dogs Pet Supplies in Charlotte, N.C., said that they’ve grown this section slowly—only adding products that they’ve used themselves on their pets or that have come strongly recommended by customers.
Andrew Morrison, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Presidio Natural Pet Co., which manufactures Fetch Fuel liquid supplements and full-spectrum hemp oil, said that a product assortment that reflects customers’ wants and needs should definitely be the goal.
“One of the best ways to curate your supplement assortment is to listen to your customer,” Morrison said. “When I owned my retail store, I learned of several great products through customer recommendations and special orders. The vetting process of a new supplement is less straightforward and requires research into product efficacy. The best product mix blends customer interests, retail buyers’ experience and strong product efficacy.”
Independent retailers that offer only products that they believe in can boost customers’ confidence that any choice they’ve made is a good one.
“In terms of assortment optimization, nothing is more important to my customers than knowing that the products we carry are safe,” said Denise Strong, owner of Pawz on Main, a pet boutique in Cottonwood, Ariz. “They are counting on me to curate a variety of products but still know that any single one that they pick is going to be safe.”
Because pet specialty stores often create an intimate buying experience for their customers, they have a home-court advantage over their competitors in this category, said Bryan Nieman, brand director and fifth-generation family member at Fromm Family Foods in Mequon, Wis.
“Shoppers often seek out their neighborhood store to receive better recommendations, ask more questions and experience a more hands-on shopping experience,” Nieman said. “Store owners who excel at this are more knowledgeable about the products they sell, the brands they carry and the trends in the marketplace. Providing variety can be a good thing when curating a solutions-specific display or store aisle, but a great working knowledge about why these products work is key.”
Quality Counts Over Quantity
While dog owners are increasingly conscious about their pets’ health and well-being and are incorporating more supplements into their dogs’ routines, they are equally conscious of the price that these products cost.
“Price points are always important to supplement sales,” said Anthony Santarsiero, president of Milford, Ohio-based TruDog, which manufactures supplements in liquid, powder and chew form. “You obviously want to make sure you remain competitive and [do] not undercut yourself in an attempt to beat the competition. That is never a good long-term strategy and, ultimately, devalues your brand over time. On top of low margins, there is the possibility of the consumer perception that your product is inferior to your competitors.
“It is always a challenge of fine-tuning as most consumers naturally want the biggest bang for the buck but are always willing to pay a little more for quality because they see it as an investment of their time and money, especially when it comes to their pets,” Santarsiero added.
Dog owners are definitely willing to pay a bit more if they believe it will provide results, said Denise Strong, owner of Pawz on Main, a pet boutique in Cottonwood, Ariz.
“When dog owners can see that a supplement is improving their dog’s quality of life, they’re willing to spend more money,” she added. “When it comes to their dog’s health, they can see the value of where their money goes—and that makes it worth it.”
Dan Owens, co-owner of Four Dogs Pet Supplies in Charlotte, N.C., cautions against choosing cheaper varieties just to be able to offer lower price points.
“Because supplements and essential oils are not regulated, I cannot stress enough how important it is to feel comfortable with your sources and know that you’ve chosen products from reputable companies,” Owens said. “There is a real risk to dogs from knock-off supplements or even essential oils that are not ‘dog strength.’ It’s just not worth investing in discount products.”
When it comes to supplements, efficacy is paramount, said Andrew Morrison, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Presidio Natural Pet Co., which manufactures Fetch Fuel liquid supplements and full-spectrum hemp oil.
“Simply providing a cheaper or lesser option won’t necessarily drive sales on an ongoing basis, because I believe sales in the supplement category are more results driven than others,” he said. “So, my recommendation is to only carry the supplements you actually believe work, then to educate customers on why you like/trust/prefer a specific supplement.”
Geoff Hamby, director of marketing for Vetericyn Animal Wellness, a brand of Rialto, Calif.-based Innovacyn, said, “As the old saying goes, ‘You get what you pay for.’”
“This certainly holds true for pet supplements,” Hamby added. “If a pet parent wants a product that is manufactured to high quality standards—quality sourced ingredients, no fillers, clinically validated and provides realistic expectations for label claims—it will be a product that will generally cost around $1 per day or more. There are some good general vitamins out there, but consumers should be careful when they find a low-priced product that is making silver bullet claims.”