5 Underrated Pet Supplement Trends Helping Dogs & Cats Live Longer and Better

Just as many products made for kids must also appeal to the sensibilities of parents, so too must modern dog and cat products be designed with the expectations of the pet parents in mind. This is true across the full scope of pet products and services, from food and treats to beddings, toys and even leashes. But beyond merely satisfying pet owner demand for fashionable carriers or ergonomic feeders, some of the most notable gains are being made on the pet health front, according to market research firm Packaged Facts.

When people think about pet health, pet medications and pet food garner much of the attention. However, pet supplements are increasingly relied upon by dog and cat owners to help their four-legged companions live longer and live better. In the brand new report Pet Supplements Market in the U.S., 6th Edition, Packaged Facts conservatively estimates that from 2012 to 2016, pet supplement sales managed a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of almost 4%, with sales of $580 million in 2016. Dog owners purchase the majority of pet supplements, buying three times as much as cat owners.

Yet, while an overall focus on health and wellness is an important factor impacting pet supplement sales, a number of other influences also have a significant impact on the market, most notably the increased awareness of age- and obesity-related health factors for pets in the U.S., and the growing trend of pet owners defining themselves as the parent of their pet rather than its owner. Other factors impacting pet supplement usage include the growing awareness of pet food allergies and intolerances, the market-wide trend towards more natural pet products, and the use of pet supplements as preventive care to avoid costly vet visits.

But this is only the tip of the activity happening in the pet supplements segment. And so, here are Packaged Facts’ 5 other important—and arguably underrated—trends shaping the pet supplements market:

  1. Joint health, digestive health, and condition-specific supplements have opportunity to compete with formulated pet foods and treats: Packaged Facts survey data found that joint supplements and digestive health supplements top the list of the supplement types most frequently purchased. But beyond joint and digestive health, pet owners are also seeking out supplements to aid with cognitive health, skin/coat health and heart health. This indicates that there is definite opportunity for supplement marketers that offer condition-specific products to compete with similarly formulated pet foods and pet treats. And make no mistake, the competition is heating up. Pet supplement marketers must find ways to emphasize the benefits of their products beyond what’s offered in food and treats.
  2. Supplement marketers addressing issue of palatability: A long-standing problem for pet supplement marketers is providing a product that pets will actually consume. Owners can’t explain to a pet why the supplement is good for them, and so are left to try to disguise liquids, powders and pills to make it easier to administer the product, with smearing on peanut butter, wrapping pills in cheese, and cutting holes in pieces of hot dogs being some of the less-than-optimal options. To combat this problem, some supplement makers, such as Vets Plus Inc., have begun developing functional treats. Others, including W. F. Young Inc., have turned their focus on making supplements easier for pets to take, investigating options such as chews. Others still, such as Heyrex with its soluble pet supplements, are developing novel solutions to the palatability problem.
  3. Cat supplements offer more than hairball relief: Cats are known to be finicky animals, so the thought of trying to get one to take a nutritional supplement may give some cat owners pause. However, new developments in delivery options, as well as increasing understanding of how nutrition plays a part in a cat’s overall wellness, have begun to change some cat owners’ minds. Although hairball control supplements are still in high demand, marketers have begun targeting other conditions specific to cats (i.e., UTIs and kidney problems), releasing cat-specific supplements, and in general giving what supplement marketers had previously considered the “other companion animal” more attention.
  4. For natural pet supplements, turmeric/curcumin crosses over from human market: Natural and organic have long been pet market buzzwords, but because so much of the chemical composition of supplements comes from man-made sources, finding natural or organic supplements can be a challenge. However, consumer demand is high and the market has been flooded by natural products over the past several years. While there are a few interesting herbs and superfoods being incorporated into pet supplements, one of the most interesting making its way from the human supplement market into the pet industry is turmeric, the spice that gives curry dishes their flavor and color. One of the compounds in turmeric, curcumin, has gained favor in the supplements market due to the number of health benefits it is believed to provide, primarily through its anti-inflammatory effects. Amazing Nutritionals with its Turmeric Chews, Dr. Mercola Healthy Pets with its Curcumin supplement, Natura Petz with its Termeric the Magnificent supplement, and Fera Pet Organics with its Hip + Joint supplement that contains turmeric are only some of the marketers participating in this trend. Packaged Facts is watching to see how much staying power this intriguing ingredient has in the pet supplements segment.
  5. Cannabidiol supplements generate interest, pose problems: Cannabidiol (CBD), one of the active ingredients in marijuana, is used in human medicine to help with a variety of conditions, including chronic pain, anxiety and epilepsy. As with many health-related human trends, the use of CBD has crossed over into the pet market, and several marketers have introduced CBD supplements for pets, the majority of which do not have a large presence elsewhere in the supplements market but instead specialize in products containing CBD. This trend is gaining momentum among certain circles even though veterinarians’ views on the supplement vary and there is a lack of scholarly literature on the subject specifically in relation to pets. Companies competing in this segment tout that their products aid in everything from “overall health and wellness” to treating advanced age-related conditions such joint and inflammation issues.

About the Report

Building on the analysis presented in the previous five editions of this report, this fully updated sixth edition of Pet Supplements in the U.S. covers historical and projected retail sales from 2012 through 2021, competitive strategies of key players, and trends in new product development such as alternative formulations, condition-specific products, feline supplements, natural/organic supplements, and carry-overs from the human supplements market, as well as retail channel trends.