Alternative Answers

Interest in cannabidiol (CBD) products continues to grow, especially among pet owners seeking out natural solutions for their dogs and cats. In fact, CBD products are not only gaining traction for addressing conditions such as joint pain or anxiety, but also as part of a trend toward maintaining health in pets. 

"As customers and retailers become more educated on CBD and how it supports their pets’ overall health, we’re seeing an increase in customers purchasing our products as a preventative for their generally healthy dogs and cats," said Chelsea Gennings, vice president of sales for Pet Releaf in Littleton, Colo. "So much of pet care has traditionally been reactive, but pet parents are increasingly looking for products that help their healthy pets remain healthy for as long as possible." 

Angela Ardolino, founder of CBD Dog Health in Lutz, Fla., said that when owners do seek out alternative treatments for pets that are experiencing health conditions, it is often because traditional treatments have failed them—or, in many cases, because the pet is suffering.

"Once pet parents begin to learn about all of the natural, holistic remedies that have been proven effective time and time again, they don’t want to go back to costly prescription drugs, which can create more problems," she added.

People are looking for natural products to improve their own health and that of their pets, said John R. Taylor, naturopathic doctor and founder and CEO of NWC Naturals Pet Products in Laguna Hills, Calif. 

"As CBD continues to get a lot of press, it’s no wonder that more people want to know what it is and how it might be able to help them and their pets," he said.

Consumer Education 

Offer Ample Guidance

Considering that cannabidiol (CBD) products for dogs and cats are still relatively new, many customers might not even be familiar with them, or they could have misconceptions about them. Therefore, education is paramount. 

"If retailers want to promote the category, their efforts need to focus on education," said Steve Saxton, founder and CEO of Green Gorilla, which has U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles. "There is a wealth of information about how to use CBD and its effectiveness when used as a remedy for certain conditions. Retailers need to cut through all the hype and clutter and provide customers with the facts. Providing a fact sheet at the point of sale, for example, would be hugely beneficial."

Growing CBD product sales requires engagement between customers and employees, said Heidi Hill, founder of Holistic Hound, a manufacturer of CBD-based pet products that also operates a pet supply store in Berkeley, Calif. 

"Education is essential, as there is a great deal of misinformation and misunderstanding regarding the use of CBD products for animals," Hill said. "At the same time, there is a glut of options on the market, and customers often need help differentiating between these selections and learning how to choose a product that is safe and suits the particular needs of their pet."

As more and more retailers add these products to their stores’ shelves—and more customers begin to show interest—the need for education becomes an ongoing endeavor. Dan Owens, co-owner of Four Dogs Pet Supplies in Charlotte, N.C., has made a concerted effort to stay abreast of the latest information about CBD and to really listen to feedback from customers. He said their input is providing him with anecdotal information to share with other clients whose biggest question tends to be "Does it really work?"

"It’s still pretty new to us," Owens said. "We’re using it on our own elderly dogs so that we can offer our personal experience, but we’re also asking our customers to share their feedback about how it’s working for them. We’re looking at it from an ongoing education standpoint and continuing to try to learn more about it." 

As interest in CBD grows, retailers should expect that customer questions will be aplenty, which could also present the opportunity for future educational occasions such as workshops or other events, said Chelsea Gennings, vice president of sales for Pet Releaf in Littleton, Colo.

"To take customer education to the next level, offering CBD-specific demonstrations or in-store events is a great way for retailers to dedicate time to educate their customers in a high-impact and long-lasting way about CBD," she said.

New Products

Introductions that Offer Relief

From oils to treats, manufacturers are offering a variety of new cannabidiol (CBD) products.

Pet Releaf in Littleton, Colo., recently released Liposomes Hemp Oils, its first line of products under its new division, Pet Releaf Professional. According to the company, the brand-new oil technology gives pet owners the convenience of administering the CBD oil directly on their pet’s food without losing any efficacy. The products are available in two potencies: Liposomes Hemp Oil 330, which contains 100 milligrams of active CBD for small dogs and cats, and Liposomes Hemp Oil 1000, which contains 300 milligrams of active CBD for medium- to large-breed dogs. 

At press time, Angela Ardolino, founder of CBD Dog Health in Lutz, Fla., said that the company will soon release some products specifically formulated for cats.

"Our cat products will be the companions to CBD Dog’s Calm, Ease and Heal, and will include all-natural essential oils to alleviate anxiety, stress, pain and serious illness," she said.

Green Gorilla, which has U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles, recently launched CBD Lamb Recipe dog treats. Green Gorilla Hemp & Olive Freeze-Dried Dog Treats come in a 2.1-ounce bag and are 100 percent natural, with no fillers or additives.

Holistic Hound in Berkeley, Calif., is working on a new product to add to its line of phytocannabinoid-rich hemp and medicinal mushroom supplements. The product will introduce a new flavor profile and provide an alternative option for dogs and cats with dental issues or finicky palates, said company officials.


Sales Strategies

Samples and deep retailer knowledge can help sell cannabidiol (CBD) products.

Chelsea Gennings, vice president of sales for Pet Releaf in Littleton, Colo., said that one of the best ways to improve sales in the CBD category is to really get to know the products, which might mean slimming down a store’s product selection so that retailers can promote items they are truly familiar with and understand.

"The biggest correlation we see across our top retailers is that they carry a very limited number of CBD brands," Gennings said. "Although CBD products are becoming increasingly popular in the pet industry, most pet parents’ general knowledge of CBD is very minimal. Carrying one to two brands that a retailer has complete confidence in and that they’ve taken the time to truly educate themselves on makes the selling process much easier. In order to properly promote CBD products in-store, a retailer has to thoroughly understand the benefits and brand differences, which can be hard to achieve when carrying a large variety of options."

Sometimes, it might take a sample to help win over those hard-to-sell customers.

"My biggest recommendation is for retailers to let customers try it themselves," said Angela Ardolino, founder of CBD Dog Health in Lutz, Fla. 

CBD-based treats can also serve as a segue into ultimately selling the oils, said Jessica Swartout, store manager at Urban Tails Pet Supply in Minneapolis.

"Oils are our best-seller, but some of our more skeptical customers might buy the treats because they’re unsure about trying the oil first," Swartout said. "Treats are a great introductory product that we’ve found often leads to CBD oil purchases down the road."