BY E THAN D. MIZER
Health-conscious custom- ers increasingly are turn- ing to pet store staff to
address their pets’ health issues via natural supplementa-tion. Retailers who offer items
they believe in and can talk
about authoritatively stand to
gain repeat business and additional sales with products
in the category.
look to store staff for advice even before visiting the
“It depends on what the
issue is,” said Lynnet Spiegel,
owner of Jeffrey’s Natural Pet
Foods, which has stores in San
Francisco. “Most of the time,
our customers come to us be-
fore going to the vet.”
The goal is to educate cus-
tomers about various options
they have that could improve
their pets’ health, she said.
Generally, she prefers to begin the conversation with a
discussion of each pet’s diet,
she added, turning to supplements after she’s touched
on that issue. Several other
retailers agreed that this is the
appropriate place to start, including Heather Bearz, co-owner of The Cheshire Cat & Dog, Too
in Cheshire, Conn.
“People come to us when dogs are already sick,” she said. “If
they switch their dog’s diet and he still has issues, that’s when we’ll
recommend supplements and other dietary interventions, such as
adding goat’s milk.”
Most often, customers ask retailers about addressing digestive
issues, skin and coat problems, allergies, and hip- and joint-related
ailments, industry participants noted.
“Pet parents are experiencing pill fatigue and are looking for
natural, food-based ways to prevent ailments and maintain the
health of their four-legged friends,” said David Rizzo, director of
operations for Zuke’s in Durango, Colo.
Supplementing probiotics is extremely popular, according to
retailers and manufacturers.
“We have noticed an increase in requests for probiotics and digestion solutions for dogs and cats,” said Jaime Rowe, president of
Ello Pet Supply, a distributor of USA-made pet products based in
Wheat Ridge, Colo., adding that she has also heard a lot of interest
expressed from those in the industry on the topics of joint care,
anxiety and overall pet health.
What supplements each retailer is best suited to offer will likely
depend on clientele and geography.
“I think hip and joint is the biggest [issue],” said Ric Sommons,
owner of Dolittle’s, which has stores in South Carolina. “Skin and
coat is probably right behind it. We’re in the Deep South, so itchy
skin is always a thing.”
Customers increasingly turn to retailers for advice and products to improve pet
wellness and overall health.
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