Guide to Buying, Selling and Marketing—Health & Nutrition 25 Pet Business n www.petbusiness.com
brands for all animal species.
However, some misconceptions persist, adds Kaminski.
“What we see is that pet owners are often looking for a short-
term solution to a specific problem,” she explains. “But most
supplements are based on long-term, preventative health, which
often tends to inhibit compliance in giving supplements regularly
to pets. It’s that quick-fix attitude many consumers have.”
Ted Hayes, president of Life Line Pet Nutrition, Inc., a Gig Harbor,
Wash., manufacturer of natural supplements for dogs and cats, says
another issue is that pet owners often overlook supplements until
their pets encounter health concerns or deficiencies. In reality, he
explains, owners should be supplementing with a quality omega- 3
fatty acid throughout their pet’s life.
Even so, there are encouraging indications that owners are
becoming more proactive in how they approach pet wellness,
says Lindsey Stluka, sales and marketing for Herbsmith, an
Oconomowoc, Wis.-based manufacturer of health-supporting and
condition-specific supplements for dog, cats and horses.
“People are starting to figure out that most kibble doesn’t
contain the micronutrients needed to keep their dog or cat in
peak condition, so they’re starting to fill in the gaps,” she says,
noting that joint and digestive support supplements, in particular,
are drawing a lot of interest from pet owners, as are skin and coat
Supplements in Demand
James Brandly, marketing coordinator with TropiClean Pet
Products, a Wentzville, Mo., developer of pet products, says the
supplements arena is growing every year, citing Packaged Facts
figures (U.S. 6th edition) indicating pet supplement sales have
realized a compound growth rate of nearly four percent annually,
with sales hitting $580 million last year. Also according to Packaged
Facts, pet owners are looking for condition-specific, solution-based
supplements, says Brandly.
Stluka says Herbsmith is advising pet specialty retailers to
consider adding supplements designed for supporting senior
health and cognitive function. She also suggests incorporating
vision and antioxidant supplements into the assortment, along
Chad Tillman, national sales manager of Grizzly Pet Products
LLC, also says that pet specialty retailers “should really begin
considering carrying an antioxidant product” to support the
immune system and target free radicals.
“Most modern pet foods, even super-premium foods, contain
ingredients that can lead to an increase of free radicals. An
antioxidant supplement designed for boosting the immune system
can help fight these,” says Tillman, adding that other primary
concerns pet owners have are around skin and coat health, allergies
and joint support.
Located in Woodinville, Wash., Grizzly Pet Products specializes
in all-natural pet products for dogs and cats derived from Alaskan
wild salmon, Alaskan wild pollock and wild Antartic krill, including
supplements and ultra-premium foods and treats.
Dog and cat owners are also looking for products that are easy
to use, preferring not to struggle with dogs—and especially with
cats—to dose them, says Kaminski, describing this effort as the
stuff of nightmares for both pet and person.
“So, they’re looking for forms that are easy to give by the pet
just licking a great-tasting gel or a form that can be combined with
regular food,” she says, drawing from Pet-Ag’s custom research
involving more than 1,000 dog and cat owners.
“The research also indicated that health concerns as pets age
are of great concern, with about 60 percent of those owners using
a supplement using more than one [to address multiple issues],”
Kaminski. “This indicates the importance of retailers offering a full
line of supplements.”
Figuring It Out
The volume of pet supplements available to consumers is
mushrooming, contributing to confusion about what product
might work best for their pet. Pet specialty retailers face particular
concerns when trying to figure out what to carry, especially since
their customers are relying on them to provide safe, effective
products. This dilemma is compounded by the fact that, as this
category picks up steam, more manufacturers are entering into it,
often for the first time.
“Manufacturers are always seeking to grow sales by expanding
into new categories or in some cases crossing over [from the human
market to the pet market],” says Kaminski. “The issue is that not
all of these manufacturers have the expertise for formulating and
making supplements, nor do they have an understanding of selling
in the pet supplement market.”
Additionally, says Stluka, many pet owners mistakenly believe
that the supplements industry is more tightly regulated than it is,
and that all product claims are legitimate and verified, which isn’t
“Instead, it’s really up to the manufacturer to make a quality
product,” she says. “And it’s definitely up to consumers to advocate
for their animals.”
Stluka says they “always recommend” consumers purchase
supplements carrying the NASC (National Animal Supplement
Council) Seal of Quality on the packaging. Brandly agrees.
“Quality is another requirement in the supplements arena,”
he says. “The NASC Quality Seal indicates that its members have
gone through a rigorous audit, designed to help minimize and
control risk; statistically track all product information; keep the
consumer educated with correct labeling information; and make
the consumer aware of any possible ingredient complexities with
caution and warning statements.”
The “swift-growing influence” of NASC—a private organization
that works with the FDA—has dramatically changed the
supplements industry for the better, says Tillman, ensuring that
unproven claims don’t appear on packaging or in sales material, and
that the guaranteed analysis of products are accurate, along with
regulating every aspect of manufacturing and holding producers to
“Every consumer should check all supplements for pets to verify
it is a NASC-certified product,” he asserts.