16 October 2016

BUSINESS - Pet Supplement Market Continues to Grow

(Flickr user Michelle Tribe)
The supplement market, for humans and for pets, can be controversial and confusing, but there is an undeniable, and growing, market for supplements.

Consumers are worried about their own health and their pets’ health, and supplements are one way they address these concerns.

The US pet supplement market is expected to see sales upwards of $697 million by 2019, continuing the trend that market analysts have been watching since 2008.

The pet market is particularly competitive right now, because regulatory requirements for entry into the market are low, and interest is high.

This balance will shift as the pet health supplement industry becomes more regulated, but if it has even a fraction of the staying power of the human supplement market, retailers will continue to see growing sales.

The parallels (and cross-overs) between the human and pet supplement markets are significant.

Certifications for labels like organic or gluten-free are similar between the two industries, which makes it easy for established human health supplement companies to bring in a line of similar supplements for pets.

Human clinical trials are often used as the source for information on a supplement’s safety and efficacy, and dosages are adjusted based on age, size or breed.

Joints, skin and coat, and digestion are among the most common health issues addressed by supplements for pets.

Prebiotics and probiotics are becoming more popular in pet supplements, but PetMD cautions that veterinarian supervision is critical if your pet is on a prescription diet. Many of these diets already contain supplements or ingredients that would interact with a supplement.

The most common supplement for pets is glucosamine. Glucosamine has been used in humans for years, and there is good scientific evidence to support its use for osteoarthritis.

However, the pet supplement market is less rigidly regulated than the human supplement market.

Testing in 2009 found that 25% of 87 tested brands sold in the United States either did not contain the listed ingredients in the listed amounts, or did contain other ingredients that could be harmful, such as lead.

Although pet supplement companies have invested significant time and effort into developing safe supplements for pets, as a largely unregulated industry, there are risks to the consumer.

There are also risks to suppliers.

American pet supplement suppliers are in a legal grey-area, and the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) notes that there are over 400 ingredients currently being sold in pet supplements that are not approved by the FDA for use in animal feed, and are also not approved as animal drugs.

These ingredients include the popular glucosamine and chondroitin, and marketers are conscious of the risk that these products could be pulled from the market if the FDA decided to clarify this legal grey area.

Canadian pet supplement suppliers have a specific process to go through in order to have their products registered and approved.

This is a temporary solution, and it remains to be seen whether Canada will stay with their third-party program administrator, North American Compendiums (NAC), or if they will bring regulation under their own administration.

By Tiffany Sostar
Tiffany is a writer, editor, academic, and animal lover who came late to her appreciation of pets. At 18, a rescue pup named Tasha saved her from a depression and she hasn't looked back. She has worked as the canine behaviour program coordinator for the Calgary Humane Society, and was a dog trainer specializing in working with fearful and reactive dogs for many years. She doesn't have any pets right now, but makes up for it by giving her petsitting clients (and any dogs she comes across on her frequent coffee shop adventures) extra snuggles.

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