What is the best way to display canine dental
care products in pet specialty stores?
“Encourage sampling. Consider always handing out
a sample and encourage a return visit/purchase.”
—ErIc AbbEy, president and founder of Loving
Pets in Cranbury, N.J. “Merchandising is the first
impression of a product that
you give your customer. You
have to make displays easy to
shop, easy to follow and easy
for the customer to make
a selection. Keeping dental
products grouped together
and merchandised cleanly is
most effective. We take pride
in our merchandising in our
store manager for Pet Goods
in Succasunna, N.J.
“We offer countertop units to promote
trial at the registers and dump bins that can
be placed in high-traffic areas to promote
the ever-important impulse buy. Trial is so
important in the treating world.”—lAurEN
brEchEr, brand manager of Whimzees for
Tewksbury, Mass.-based WellPet
“We merchandise [them] all together,
first by type or method and then by brand.
We find our customers shop by need in
this category, so we want to make it easy
for them to find what they are looking
for. Our stores are empowered to create
interactive and engaging displays to
promote the need for these types of prod-
ucts during February, [which is National
Pet Dental Health Month].”—KrIstIN
DuttoN, director of merchandising and
private brand for Kahoots Feed and Pet,
which has stores in Southern California
“We have the easy-to-grab dental chews placed
on our counter. Otherwise, we keep all dental
products together in one area. That way we can
start a conversation with the customer, see what
need they have and show them what product or
products will work best for their dog.”—JENNIfEr
KluEsNEr, co-owner of Jett and Monkey’s Dog
Shoppe in Des Moines, Iowa
EW ProDucts ArKEtINg
DENtAl trEAts tAKE thE lEAD
Summer 2017 proved to be an exciting season for the oral care category, as many
companies chose then to present their newest offerings to the market.
Because many pet owners still avoid brushing their dogs’ teeth, Loving Pets introduced Ora-Bone dental treats in July. Available in small, medium and large sizes to
meet the needs of any dog breed or size, the treats are 100 percent made in the USA
and feature “a patent-pending design [that] promotes better movement in the mouth
and improved interaction with gums, teeth and tongue,” said Eric Abbey, president
and founder of the Cranbury, N.J., manufacturer.
Each treat includes varied textured surfaces to remove tartar and prevent buildup, and three breath-freshening ingredients freshen breath in the mouth and gut, he
added. Retailers can choose from Ora-Bone in bags for on-shelf or clip strips, or as
single-trial packages in a shipper/display box.
With the goal of revolutionizing canine dental care, WellPet launched Whimzees
Brushzees to the U.S. pet specialty market at SuperZoo in Las Vegas in July. The new
design features grooves and ridges to help remove plaque and tartar, and Brushzees
are “engineered specifically for the ways dogs grip and chew, promoting fresh breath
and cleaner teeth,” said Lauren Brecher, brand manager of Whimzees for Tewksbury,
Also in July, Merrick Pet Care released Merrick Fresh Kisses. The treats feature a
double-brush design to clean teeth by removing plaque and tartar during the chewing of the treat. Specially formulated to freshen breath, they are made with natural
ingredients, do not contain grain or potato and are available in two recipes, said
Betsy Berger, communications manager for the Amarillo, Texas-based company.
Merrick Fresh Kisses infused with Mint-Flavored Breath Strips contain natural
mint breath strip pieces infused throughout the treat to freshen breath. They feature
coconut oil and a combination of peppermint oil, lemongrass oil and rosemary oil.
Pet King Brands introduced its Oratene Antiseptic Gel to pet specialty retailers;
the product was previously only available through a veterinarian. Formulated for
serious oral conditions in dogs and cats, this chlorhexidine replacement can be used
for “red inflamed gums, ulcerations, gingivitis, stomatitis and periodontal disease,”
said Deborah Brown, vice president of the Westmont, Ill.-based company.
“It has a mildly sweet, nonbitter taste and is readily accepted by most pets and
provides soothing relief,” she added.
In May, SwedencareUSA debuted ProDen PlaqueOff Dental Bones. The chews are
designed to help clean plaque and tartar by abrasive action and come in four varieties: Turkey & Cranberry Flavor, Chicken & Pumpkin Flavor, Bacon Flavor and Vegetable
Fusion Flavor. Made in the USA with natural ingredients—including sea kelp—the
chews contain no grain, gluten or soy, according to company officials.
gEt thE WorD out
With National Pet Dental Health Month just around the corner—in
February, to be exact—retailers and manufacturers said now is the
time to promote the category and prime the pump up for sales.
“Pet specialty retailers can increase their revenue stream in a
new direction as they convert customers into dental health care,”
said Martin Shimko, president of SwedencareUSA in Poulsbo, Wash.
“Running specials and placement of dental care products to highlight
them will bring the customer focus and dollars.”
Jessica Klingler, store manager for Pet Goods in Succasunna, N. J.,
said they run specials to encourage clients to sample new products.
“We often put dental treats on sale in our circulars to encourage
customers to try them,” she said. “Our interaction with our customer
in-store is the most impactful way of communicating the importance
of dental supplements to our customers.”
With veterinary clinics offering discounts on dental products
and services during February, Jennifer Kluesner, co-owner of Jett and
Monkey’s Dog Shoppe in Des Moines, Iowa, said she promotes the
items they sell by posting on social media and setting up a counter
display to showcase their availability.
Also emphasizing the importance of media, Lauren Brecher,
brand manager of Whimzees for Tewksbury, Mass.-based WellPet,
said they “work closely with media partners and with their highly
engaged audience on social media channels—Facebook, Insta-
gram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.—to connect in real-time with pet
For many customers, seeing—and smelling—is believing, so
Betsy Berger, communications manager for Merrick Pet Care in
Amarillo, Texas, encourages retailers to find opportunities to drive
“[These] are critical to educate pet parents about how dental
treats work,” she said, “from seeking product experience and
user-generated content on social media to sampling campaigns to
collecting recipe reviews and pet parent testimonials online.”
To support its retail partners, Loving Pets in Cranbury, N.J., also
suggests in-store sampling programs. The company works closely
with bloggers and social media influencers to review products all
year, promote education and outreach, and share open and honest
feedback, said Eric Abbey, president and founder.
WhErE sAlEs bEgIN
Industry participants agree that oral health plays a
critical role in a pet’s overall health. Yet Jessica Klingler,
store manager for Pet Goods in Succasunna, N.J., finds
that many customers still believe that feeding dry food
is enough to keep their pets’ teeth clean. So education
is essential, beginning with retail staff.
Kahoots Feed and Pet, which has stores in Southern
California, provides extensive training to all associates,
said Kristin Dutton, director of merchandising and
“All new items are launched with a training protocol so every associate is educated and can help any
customer with any need she may have,” Dutton said.
“We also allow for vendor trainings through our ‘train
the trainer’ model and have training materials available
for associates to read or reference on an internal online
Several manufacturers reported offering informa-
tion and training for pet specialty retailers. For example,
for retailers wanting more in-depth information, Pet
King Brands in Westmont, Ill., provides webinars to train
one person or an entire team.
As part of its Whimzees website redesign, WellPet
created an easy way for visitors to navigate ingredients,
and it continues to conduct demonstrations as well as
store associate trainings onsite and through distributor
sales representatives, said Lauren Brecher, brand manager of Whimzees for Tewksbury, Mass.-based WellPet.
Betsy Berger, communications manager for Merrick
Pet Care in Amarillo, Texas, said that along with product
information and in-store demos with pet retail staff,
the company furnishes samples and coupons so store
associates can try the treats with their own pets.
Sampling is an effective training method at Jett and
Monkey’s Dog Shoppe in Des Moines, Iowa.
“For the most part, our employees have used the
products and seen the difference in their dogs,” said
Jennifer Kluesner, co-owner.