Sizzling Stock: Supplements

The growing interest in supplements for dogs and cats shows no signs of slowing, reported pet specialty retailers and manufacturers. Addressing health issues as well as preventing future problems are pressing concerns for pet owners.

"Supplements for joint health, skin health and digestion are definitely the most-sought-after supplements, although more customers are also turning toward natural supplements for stress and anxiety, as well as more acute health issues like urinary and bladder health," said Heather Blum, co-owner of Petagogy in Pittsburgh.

She added that some of her customers even give joint supplements to younger dogs to prevent problems as their pets age.

Harald Fisker, president of Grizzly Pet Products in Woodinville, Wash., agreed saying that products formulated to address and prevent hip and joint makes up a large segment of the category.

"Customer feedback for our Grizzly Joint Aid products clearly indicate that pet parents are very aware of potential joint or hip issues for a number of breeds, and they’ll start using our products earlier on in their pet’s life as a preventative precaution," he added. "This trend is likely a major factor behind the steady growth of this segment."

Pet owners looking to address skin issues also drive supplement sales, Fisker said.

"Itchy, scratchy pets represent a large supplement segment, and pet parents will typically offer up relieving omega-3 supplements," he said.

The popularity of supplements also reflects customers’ desire to address their pets’ issues more naturally and without prescription medications, insiders revealed.

"The problem is that Big Pharma’s options aren’t working, and animals aren’t getting better on medications," said Lorin Grow, owner of Furry Face in Redlands, Calif. "This is frustrating to pet parents who would, and do, often pay dearly to care for their animals only to have a sicker animal after doing so."

Industry participants report growth in cat supplement sales in recent years as well, with behavior-related and digestion-support supplements tops for them.

"More pet owners are looking for support for [various] health issues," said Derek J. Archambault, director of marketing in pet and retail for FoodScience Corp. in Williston, Vt. "We are finding that many people are dealing with a variety of anxiety-triggered behavior issues but are afraid to talk to their vet about them and are looking for natural solutions."

At Pet Food Express, a chain of stores in California, director of education Sue Tasa said cat owners commonly seek help with stress-related undesirable behaviors, so calming aids are popular.

"Diffusers are among the most popular forms of calming products that pet owners report provide desired results," she said. "Hairball prevention/treatment products also continue to be in demand, which provides us an opportunity to discuss both grooming and possible diet improvements as well as additional supplements such as cold water fish oils, when appropriate."

Products formulated with hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) oil also are on the rise in the category, said several participants.

"The latest few years have brought about an array of products featuring phytocannabinoid inclusions for the purpose of pain relief, calming, digestive support, etc.," Fisker said. "Demand for these products largely reflects what’s going on in the human markets, and pet parents want their pets to enjoy the same [medical] benefits."

Julie Brewer, owner of Crunchie’s Natural Pet Foods in Crofton, Md., agreed.

"Now people are asking for hemp oil blends for skin and coat and CBD therapeutic oil for relieving many different types of health issues," she said.