What’s good for the people in the family is often beneficial to the canine contingent;
in this way, interest in digestive health products for dogs is on an upward trajectory.
Stomach issues are the
No. 1 reason dog owners
take their pets to the
veterinarian, according to
BY LIZE TT BOND
As with human family members, a healthy digestive system for dogs plays a strong role in overall health. When problems arise and an imbalance occurs, Fido
can become susceptible to a host of maladies.
For these reasons, consumers are on the hunt for more
healthful options, and because digestive health is among
consumers’ top concerns in the human health food category, many pet owners are extending that focus to their
pets’ food, according to Matt Keller, brand manager of Supreme Source, a brand of Ogden, Utah-based American Pet
“The sheer volume and daily barrage of research show-
ing the benefits of digestive health has everyone buzzing
about new super beverages and foods that protect and
improve gut health,” Keller said. “It’s a natural conse-
quence that this strong affinity towards improving our
own well-being, and that of our loved ones, includes furry
Sales and market trends indicate that brands focused on
meeting the digestive needs of family pets are winning at
the shelf, Keller added.
As the overall health benefits of probiotics become more
widely understood, the awareness is being reflected in pet
supplements, said Derek J. Archambault, director of marketing, pet and retail, for FoodScience Corp. in Williston, Vt.
“Pet health trends follow those in human health closely,
and this is truly reflected in digestive health,” Archambault
said. “People are looking for natural health solutions, tak-
ing probiotics and utilizing specialty diets more than ever
Probiotics help with digestion and gut health while
boosting the immune system through short-chain fatty
acids that prevent the growth of harmful bacteria’s such
as E. coli and salmonella, said Immacula Pierre, CEO and
co-founder of Iconic Paws in Woodbridge, Va.
“A healthy balance of good bacteria in the gut can help
with everything from diarrhea and digestive problems to
anxiety and even inflammation,” Pierre said. “Whether a
dog is young and springy or getting up there in age, pro-
biotics and prebiotics are an important part of any pet’s
Kyla Sternlieb, founder and president of Under the
Weather in South Burlington, Vt., noted that a study pub-
lished in April 2017 by Healthy Paws, which compiled pet
insurance claims data, found that stomach issues are the
No. 1 reason for a trip to the veterinarian.
“These digestive problems might include vomiting and
diarrhea, or an upset stomach due to stress and anxiety,”
Sternlieb said. “It is very common for vets to suggest feed-
ing a bland diet until a dog’s digestive tract settles down,
giving it time to heal, and then weaning the dog back to its
regular diet when healthy digestion is restored.”
At Pawz On Main in Cottonwood, Ariz., co-owner De-
nise Strong has noted an increase in the number of dogs
experiencing digestive issues, and a corresponding call for
product solutions. In answer, Strong carries a variety of se-
lections, including foods formulated for sensitive stomachs
or digestive issues, supplements and prebiotics.
“I also carry numerous single-source protein treats for
dogs with digestive issues,” she said.
Canned pumpkin is the choice solution for digestive is-
sues with shoppers at Dolly’s Pet Shoppe in Sandy, Ore.
“Everybody seems to want pumpkin,” said owner Anna
DePaolo. “Incorporating a spoonful a day is great for diges-
When recommending a probiotic supplement, DePaolo
prefers Flora4 by Carna4.
“I like that it’s plant based, making it an easy sell,” she
Carla Pereira, co-owner of Piglet’s Pantry in Mount
Dora, Fla., said that while canned pumpkin and a probiotic
supplement are in the mix, the most popular offering for
digestive health is Piglet’s Pantry’s own product, Charcoal
Bonz, a peanut butter cookie with activated charcoal added.
“That’s a natural way to detox the system and settle the
stomach,” Pereira said. “After a few weeks, pet owners notice
that the dog’s digestion is better, as is the smell of their breath
and their stools.”
GUIDING THE CONSUMER
Prominently placing products that support digestive
or overall health in a store’s supplements section will
assist consumers looking for natural sources to help
maintain their pet’s well-being, according to Kyla
Sternlieb, founder and president of Under the Weather
in South Burlington, Vt.
“Further, retailers can promote an ongoing
campaign with specials for products that are
commonly sold during certain times of the year,”
Sternlieb said. “For example, joint supplements for
dogs that exercise more in the spring or immunity
boosters before the winter settles in.”
At Dolly’s Pet Shoppe in Sandy, Ore., where canned
pumpkin sought after for its tummy-friendly qualities,
the product is stocked with canned foods, but also
displayed on endcaps and rotated throughout the year
on a seasonal display table, said owner Anna DePaolo.
“I have it everywhere and sell a lot of it,” she
said. “Customers don’t always notice it in the canned
section, but everybody seems to want pumpkin, so it’s
kind of in their faces.”
Retailers can create their own educational content
or look to brands for support in the effort to become
a pet care partner to their customers, said Derek J.
Archambault, director of marketing, pet and retail, for
FoodScience Corp. in Williston, Vt.
It’s no longer enough to communicate the health
benefits of a product; pet owners need assistance
throughout the transition to a new food and ongoing
information, said Matt Keller, brand manager of
Supreme Source for Ogden, Utah-based American Pet
“Consumers have become familiar with digestive
health but need help in navigating the details,” he said.
Brands reinforcing credible and relatable
information not only speak with one voice to
employees and consumers, but also create passionate
and informed brand advocates, Keller added.