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Natural Marketplace: Natural Oils Rise to the Top

Posted: October 22, 2013, 1:40 p.m. EDT

Companies seek third-party testing and novel sources of omega-3 fatty acids to grow their lines of natural oils.

By Arden Moore

To keep their active yet aging dogs and cats as healthy as possible, pet owners are turning to store shelves and online sites in search of viable natural oils that can make a real difference.

In response, leading manufacturers are in drive mode to produce topical and edible natural oils that are pure, address specific health issues and stand up to independent testing. Salmon oil, for example, has been a popular source of omega-3 fatty acids, but some companies are now touting the effectiveness of anchovies, white fish, cod and krill as well.

"The pet supplement business has changed dramatically from 15 years ago when many of us veterinarians would recommend putting a dog on a multivitamin,” said L. Phillips Brown, DVM, a veterinarian who serves as a member of the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC). "It is more important today for supplements to be function specific so that they are tailored to address a specific problem, such as itchy skin or joint mobility.”

Natural Oils
Carrie Brenner/i-5 Publishing at Pet Supply

Dr. Brown, who also serves as a veterinary consultant for Boise, Idaho-based Nutri-Vet, has had the opportunity to see firsthand where Nutri-Vet obtains its salmon.

"I’ve been on their boats as the crew caught the salmon and processed the meat and oils,” he said. "All of our natural oil pet products are edible and contain only pure oil from wild, nonfarmed Alaskan salmon that has been stabilized with rosemary, a natural antioxidant that promotes freshness, purity and taste.”

Full Disclosure Is Key
Manufacturers are also finding they need to be accessible to the concerns of pet retailers and to be as transparent as possible in terms of how their ingredients are obtained, processed and tested.

Retailers, such as Kris Logan, co-owner of Fluffy Puppies: A Place for Dogs in Clearwater, Fla., are part of a growing group of discerning store owners who want proof to back up the claims about natural oils from manufacturers. This retired chiropractor witnessed the field of natural medicine open up for people.

"I was there to watch the supplement market skyrocket during my chiropractic career and now I am seeing it in the pet industry,” said Logan. "When we opened our store nine years ago, it wasn’t any stretch at all to bring in natural supplements for pets, and this includes topical and edible natural oils. So, when company representatives approach me, I really check them out.”

Among the manufacturers meeting her scrutiny is PureLife 4Pets, a brand of Vetimed in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

"This company has done lots of research on their supplements,” Logan noted. "Their products are made in America and certified by the National Animal Supplement Council.”

Oscar Tenorio, product line manager for PureLife 4Pets, said that his company goes global in its continued research to develop more effective natural oil products. It resulted in the company using krill oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids.

"We found krill to be more potent, more concentrated with better absorption, and without the fishy smell found in salmon oil-based products,” said Tenorio. "And we do third-party testing and quality control. All of our products, as well as all of our marketing pieces, are audited by the National Animal Supplement Council.”

Fish Oils Come From Many Sources
Think all fish oil supplements are the same? Think again. Depending upon the manufacturer, the primary source of fish oils designated for pets might contain:
• Salmon oil
• Cod liver oil
• Anchovy oil
• Sardines
• Krill oil
• White fish and salmon oil combined
All of these oils contain omega-3 fatty acids, noted for delivering many health benefits in pets as well as in people. Specifically, omega-3 fatty acids offer an anti-inflammatory effect that can aid in addressing arthritis, mobility and heart conditions, according to manufacturers.
Many companies produce fish oil supplements containing salmon that is obtained from the ocean or salmon farms. However, cod liver, anchovy, sardines and krill tend to contain higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids per dose, depending on the manufacturing process, reported veterinarians and natural supplement manufacturers.
"Sardine oil tends to have the highest levels of omega 3s,” said Erin Hay, national sales representative for Nordic Naturals in Watsonville, Calif. "Purity and freshness are paramount. We use arctic blue glass bottles to prevent ultraviolet light from degrading our oils. And we recommend refrigeration once the bottles are opened to maintain their freshness and viability.”—AM

Share Success Stories
Logan attracts health-conscious pet owners by sharing success stories of dogs with skin conditions that have shown improvement after receiving natural oil supplements.

For instance, Logan said she saw immediate and visible improvement in Cowboy, her store’s resident canine greeter who had a dull coat, once Cowboy started receiving PureLife 4Pets’ Omega 3 Support formula, which contains krill oil instead of salmon oil.

"After seeing a visible improvement in Cowboy’s coat after being on the Omega 3 Support formula, my groomers are now all recommending it to clients booking appointments for their dogs to be groomed,” said Logan.

Norm Shrout, co-owner of Long Leash on Life in Albuquerque, N.M., scrutinizes all natural oil products he carries. Like Logan, he knows he must stay current on which companies produce the high-quality natural oils his customers want and deserve.

Among his favorite companies to carry natural oils from is Nordic Naturals in Watsonville, Calif.
"Nordic Naturals is one of the few companies that are transparent in how they make their products,” said Shrout. "They are doing all the right things to minimize oxidation, and they conduct independent tests for any presence of toxins or impurities. They never overfish, and they are always looking for sustainable sources of fish oil as well.”

Erin Hay, national sales representative for Nordic Naturals’ pet line, confirmed that all of the company’s oils are third-party tested.

"Not every company does third-party testing, but we feel this is crucial,” said Hay. "We make available all of the test results of our products, so any consumer can request a certificate of analysis for any of our products.”

Shrout also educates his customers to not simply shop by price tag to find natural oils that will yield the best health results for their pets. Nordic Naturals’ products, for example, contain cod liver oil and anchovy oil, not salmon oil.

"Anchovy and cod liver are more concentrated in omega-3 fatty acids than salmon oil,” said Shrout. "Because Nordic Naturals are so concentrated, you can use less of it, and that is something we point out to our customers who are looking for a good value for their money.”

Introduce Novel Oils
In addition, Shrout wins customers by introducing them to natural oils that offer surprising benefits to their pets. For example, he recommends products containing flaxseed oil to customers who are vegans and looking for a vegetarian oil-based product for their dogs. And he carries a line of organic coconut oil products that are ideally suited as dietary aids for overweight dogs who have difficulties processing fat properly and sport dull coats.

"It turns out that coconut oil is a type of fat that dogs can readily use and process,” said Shrout. "We have had good results of massaging coconut oil on crusty skin patches on dogs belonging to some of our customers.”

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