Don’t Make Them Beg
BY AUDRE Y PAVIA
Consumers want healthful,
tasty treats made with
for their pets.
Chews and treats are a favorite cate- gory among pet owners who enjoy spoiling their companion animals.
Still, the trends in this category confirm
that consumers care about the quality of
what they feed their pets.
In the past, pet owners were expected to choose between indulgent treats or
training treats, said Ann Hudson, vice
president of marketing for St. Louis-based
Whitebridge Pet Brands’ Cloud Star and
“Now, you are seeing growth in treats
with healthy ingredients and purposeful
nutrition in mind,” she said. “Sure, indul-
gence and rewarding your pet is still a
major player, but now products not only
serve that purpose, but also benefit the
overall wellness of your pet, or even tar-
get more specific pet needs like skin and
coat health or hip and joint health. They
are truly becoming indulgent supplements
to a healthy pet diet.”
Pet owners are looking for sustainable,
healthful and locally made treats, said Deb
Suchman, co-founder of Polkadog Bakery
“Local can mean anything from made
in the USA to terroir, where every ingredient in a product comes organically from
the same region, the same soil and the
same water,” Suchman said.
Reuven Lakein, director of development for TickledPet in Haverstraw, N. Y.,
has also seen a trend in domestically produced products.
“Pet parents want treats that are nat-
ural, and nothing from China,” he said. “They are becoming more
educated and are checking the labels for origin and ingredients.”
Pet owners are clearly focused on ingredients in the chews and
treats category, and quality is key.
“Grain-free, all-natural, exotic proteins and superfood treats are
continuing to gain popularity,” said Jocelyn Rosenthal, owner of Boo
Boo’s Best in San Francisco. “Responsibly sourced and made in the
USA treats are also an ever-popular trend.”
Natural is a strong direction for this category, said Julian Morton,
founder of Wild Eats in Wichita, Kan.
“We are seeing more natural chews and treats,” Morton said.
“The quality of ingredients is improving as consumers demand more
health benefits. This mirrors the human snack market.”
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C K Treats are becoming
indulgent supplements to
healthy pet diets.
Teaching customers about chews and treats is crucial to make the most
of this category, according to retailers.
“We take a lot of pride in knowing our products and educating
consumers on not only what ingredients are in the treats, but why they
are beneficial,” said Tammy Doak, owner of Bark Avenue Market &
Bakery in Colleyville, Texas. “When we bring in a new treat, we ask the
manufacturer’s rep for a quick training. This way, we know some of the
Full transparency from manufacturers is essential to building trust
with pet owners, said Ann Hudson, vice president of marketing for
St. Louis-based Whitebridge Pet Brands’ Cloud Star and Tiki brands.
Consumers can be educated about the benefits of each ingredient in a
treat as well as the benefits of the manufacturing process behind a treat.
At Rocco and Jezebel for Pets in Brooklyn, N. Y., owner Andrea
Demetropoulos, through education, convinces her customers to feed
higher-quality chews and treats to their pets.
“We absolutely try to educate our customers to change their dog
or cat’s core food to something nutritional, and educate them about
which treats are good for their specific pet,” she said. “We first research
products, which usually means we try to find independent companies
that make USA-sourced and antibiotic- and chemical-free [products], get
to know the products and always give lots of treats out daily to all dogs.”
“While I’d like to say treats sell themselves, an educated staff—like
our Kahooligans—is vital to helping pet owners choose the best treats
and chews for their dog or cat,” she said. “There are as many factors to
consider when choosing your pet’s treats and chews as there are when
choosing their diet.”