No longer a small category containing just a few products, health aids for pets has grown into a robust space. And companies report steady growth in this broad category.
"We’ve seen category growth year-over-year since we started in this market," said Geoff Hamby, director of marketing for Vetericyn Animal Wellness, a manufacturer in Rialto, Calif., that uses hypochlorous technology to create a pet care solution that helps pet owners avoid the use of products that contain ingredients such as alcohol, steroids and antibiotics. The company recently launched its ALL-IN supplement line, which boasts an effective absorption technology and patented bioactive complexes.
"We believe [the company’s growth is] partly due to the increased awareness and education among pet owners about what health aids work and what don’t, and partly due to the incredible technology we brought to pet parents," Hamby added.
Products represented in this category range from first aid to wellness, often including health supplements. Retailers reporting consistent movement in pet health aids said they typically keep a well-stocked section, complete with dental, eye and ear care products, skin and coat care products, flea and tick preventives, and supplements.
"[Retailers] need to set aside an area that is specifically for wellness products," said Christine McCoy, owner of The Natural Pet Enrichment Center, a pet store in North Royalton, Ohio.
To meet the varying needs of customers, McCoy recommended offering three to five products for each subcategory in health aids.
"Many different pet owners have multiple [subcategories] that they need to be able to look at," she added.
Top requested products at Two Bostons, which has stores in Illinois, treat hot spots, ear infections and diarrhea, said AdreAnne Tesene, owner.
"Make sure you have one or two great options to take care of each of these issues while ensuring your team can confidently talk your customers through each treatment choice," she added.
Pet well-being is top of mind for most owners, and their preferences are trending toward natural, nontoxic and antibiotic-free solutions, industry insiders said.
"One area in which we’ve noticed a big change is consumer demand for natural, safe and, of course, effective products," Hamby said. "Because pets are seen as an equal member of the family, [pet owners] expect a level of quality on par with what they would use themselves."
Packaging that highlights product attributes such as enzyme based, easy to use, fast acting, nontoxic or all natural stand out on store shelves, companies reported. Hamby added that consumers are responding positively to "the ability for the market to offer safe and nontoxic pet products … that are easy to use and apply at home."
Awareness, education and confidence in pet health aids is at an all-time high, with owners keeping themselves informed as well as reaching out to retailers and manufacturers to learn more. Before making purchasing decisions, pet owners are not only shopping for the best price, but they are scrutinizing product ingredients as well as brand reputations and product testimonials, insiders said.
"They take the time to research websites, read reviews, check out a brand’s content and compare with other products," Hamby said. "Many have told us that once they started researching, they were shocked to see how difficult it was to find pet health and wellness products that are backed by clinical evidence and scientifically proven.
"Today’s owners are smart, loving pet parents who demand top-quality products that help keep their pets healthy, just as they would any other family member," he added.