What new ingredients or materials are you seeing in
wellness and first aid products for dogs and cats?
“There’s a lot of advertising about the many benefits
of CBD products, and I think that category is seeing the
biggest rise in popularity.”—PATTIE BODEN, owner of
Animal Connection in Charlottesville, Va.
“Calendula oil is extremely popular due
to its multifaceted healing and moisturizing abilities. Also notable is sweet
potato.”—BETH SOMMERS, president
and chief merchandising officer of Pura
Naturals Pet in Ardsley, N.Y.
“An ingredient known as hypochlorous or HOCl. The hypochlorous molecule is naturally produced by the body’s immune system as a response
to combat ailments. Because the HOCl molecule is pH neutral and has
a similar safety profile to saline, it doesn’t damage healthy tissue the
way traditional wound cleansers like hydrogen peroxide, chlorhexidine,
isopropyl alcohol and benzalkonium chloride can. This is also the reason
it doesn’t sting or burn when applied to wounds or irritations and why it’s
safe to use around the eyes, ears and mouth.”—GEOFF HAMBY, marketing director at Vetericyn Animal Wellness in Rialto, Calif.
“The biggest trend is the use of mushrooms as immune boosters
and cancer fighters, along with huge use of CBDs.”—TONISHELAS-
KE, owner of Healthy Pet Products, which has stores in Pennsylvania
in its “Medi-
For pet retailers, choosing an appropriate assortment of first aid and
wellness products is crucial for sales success, industry participants
said. Because so many products fit into this category, most sources
recommended a broad assortment and price point.
For example, Sarah Hudson-Sims, buyer for Pets on Broadway in
Portland, Ore., said the store stocks a mix of natural and synthetic
products in several price ranges.
“You won’t have everything that a customer could possibly ask for,
but it’s good to have something in the general range of what a friend/
vet/online forum may have recommended to your customer,” she said.
Geoff Hamby, marketing director at Vetericyn Animal Wellness
in Rialto, Calif., said preventive products are necessary, and he
encouraged retailers to include ear-cleaning systems formulated for
dogs and cats in their inventory.
“We suggest keeping a selection of products on hand for the
more common eye, ear and skin ailments,” Hamby said. “
Skin-related problems are usually small cuts and scrapes, or topical skin
issues like hot spots, torn pads and sores. Other common issues are
irritations in the eyes and ears as a result of allergies, dust, water, etc.”
Customer education and awareness are key components to increasing sales of first aid and
wellness products for dogs and cats, according to industry insiders. Couple these with effective
displays and cross-merchandising, and stores are finding a winning combination, insiders said.
“Education is huge in this category because many pet owners are uncomfortable caring
for wounds or doing routine eye and ear cleaning,” said Geoff Hamby, marketing director at
Vetericyn Animal Wellness in Rialto, Calif.
He recommended using online as well as in-store strategies to educate and boost sales.
“Blogging, social media and in-store classes are all great ways to educate your customer on
the products and their impact on pet health,” he said. “There are also more traditional marketing
tactics like couponing, bundling or cross-merchandising.”
Tom Wien, director of marketing at Cardinal Pet Care in Azusa, Calif., agreed that cross-merchandising first aid and wellness products in other store sections creates opportunities for
“For example, retailers could include an antiseptic spray and liquid bandage in their outdoor
product assortment,” he said. “Styptic powder can be located next to the grooming and nail
clippers aisle, and calming products could be featured near crates and other travel products.”
At Animal Connection in Charlottesville, Va., owner Pattie Boden groups products by
categories such as skin and coat, allergies, digestive, hip/joint and more.
“We also provide in that display some information about the most popular conditions people
are asking us to resolve,” she said.
Creating a high-visibility first aid and wellness station that is stocked with a wide variety of
products draws attention to the category, Wien said, and several retailers said this format works
well in their stores.
The health and wellness section at Pets on Broadway in Portland, Ore., is located “an
easy distance from our front counter,” said buyer Sarah Hudson-Sims. “We encourage staff to
approach anyone in that aisle more than anywhere else in the store. The array of products can
be confusing, and help is almost always appreciated.”
The section is organized by health issue—such as tear stains, digestive aids and hot
spots—and features 2-inch-by-4-inch product recommendation tags that say “Staff Favorite”
with the associate’s name and why he or she likes that particular product.
In the center of Healthy Pet Products stores, which are located in Pennsylvania, owner
Toni Shelaske has a department called the Medicine Cabinet where wellness and supplement
products are stocked and divided into cat and dog sections.
“We have tried them categorized by ailment and categorized by brand, and either works
fine,” she said. “But if a store’s staffing is on the lighter side and has less payroll hours for
customer education, I recommend going with ‘ailment’ so customers can figure it out on their
The shelving behind the wellness endcap contains first aid products, such as slings, cones
and vet wrap, because the categories tie in together, she said, adding that these items are not
divided into cat and dog categories.
“A lot of pet medical products are being made from
medical/aeronautic/high-tech fabrics and materials, so
they breathe easier on the skin and don’t cause chafing
or other irritations. A lot of the herbal solutions we have
are adding secondary ingredients that are trendy in human nutrition. For example, it seems like every digestive
aid is now adding turmeric for its anti-inflammatory
properties as well.”—SARAHHUDSON-SIMS, buyerfor
Pets on Broadway in Portland, Ore.