PET PRODUCT NEWS: With so many natural op-
tions appearing on the market, how do you de-
termine which products live up to their claims?
What are you seeking in natural products?
HOLLY ALLEN: In addition to being vigilant
about asking the manufacturer really
specific questions (ingredient sourcing,
testing, etc.), we also ask for plenty of
samples for our staff to try. We have a
nice group of long-standing staff members that use the products on their dogs
and cats and report back to the company with their honest opinions. We really
value the opinions of our staff and trust
their experiences with the products we
sample, and we rely on their input prior
to officially adding a product line at Dee-O-Gee.
We are looking at natural calming
products (looking for more variety with
CBD, hemp, etc.), as well as better alternatives for joint/aging natural products.
Also, we are always on the lookout for
unique “long lasting” chews that are
CRYSTAL HOLLAND: We are pretty picky
about the products that we bring into
the store and work primarily with small,
family-owned businesses. We want to
work with companies that are honest
about what is going into their products,
transparent about where they are sourcing ingredients, how it’s made, etc. And
we want to work with companies who
want to work with us. Support from our
brands is huge, as the competition with
online business gets fiercer.
As far as what we are looking for, we
want innovative products. Ones that
keep up with the newest research and
trends in the markets, as well as ones
that are successful. It is hard to bring
in new products that aren’t palatable or
aren’t effective in what they claim. And
we want products that fit all the criteria
listed above: clean, transparent ingredient panels, as well as unique options for
MARY KNIGHT: We look carefully at the
sourcing of ingredients, where the
product is made, who the owners are.
Transparency is very important. If the
company won’t provide us the details
we request, we will not do business
with them. We do our own independent
research, look for reviews and network
with other similar stores outside of our
area. Sometimes, with a brand-new
product, say a food, it’s a gut instinct
that this company really is manufactur-
ing a food for the health of the animals,
not just for the profit.
For instance, there are so many cannabidiol (CBD) products on the market,
and many of them are not pure or organic. It took us months of research before
we brought on our first line of CBD because we wanted to make sure we were
making the right decision. All of us will
usually try these products on our pets
and ourselves before carrying them in
the shop. We want to carry products that
we are confident about because we have
a reputation to uphold.
We are seeking foods that are sus-tainably sourced and minimally processed, proteins that are unique and
supplements that are naturally derived
as much as possible. For treats, we like
meat and fish based best. Again, sourcing is important. We also like products
that are both for pets and people, like colostrum, colloidal silver and CBD oil.
MARNI LEWIS: Before bringing in a new
product, we ask our distributor or the
manufacturer for samples. We try it out
first on our own dogs and give the samples to our regular customers and ask
them for feedback.
We seek out high-quality products
from reputable companies, preferably
family-owned or not mass-produced for
box stores. Our natural products must
also provide a high percentage of animal protein as opposed to high carbohydrates and fillers and are void of: byproducts, unidentified meat meals, artificial
dyes, and preservatives or other harmful chemicals, such as BHA. Although
wheat, corn and soy are natural, we do
not supply food or treats that contain
these ingredients, as they are not quality
ingredients for dogs and cats and may
be allergens for some. USA- and North
American-made products are a must.
Eco-friendly products are a definite plus
for us when choosing nonfood products.
PPN: In which categories are you seeing the
most demand for natural products? What’s driv-
ing that demand?
ALLEN: Natural chews, digestive aids and
kibble toppers. With chews, digestive
aids or toppers, increased awareness of
the importance of natural products that
are ingested is driving demand. Our local
efforts to increase awareness in this area
for pet care, plus the national “trends”
can be attributed to the demand.
HOLLAND: Food is where we see the big-
gest need for natural products. We are
primarily a “grocer”—we often liken
ourselves to Whole Foods—and natural
foods for dogs and cats are our bread
and butter. We constantly have custom-
ers come in with pets who have new
and different allergies and aversions
to foods. While many of our foods are
a good fit for meeting their needs, as
new allergens emerge, new products
that help those allergies must also be
As people are becoming more and
more aware of the need for natural and
whole foods for themselves, they are
also beginning to want the same thing
for their pets. To a lot of our customers,
their pets are as much a part of the family as their children, and they want to set
them up for long, healthy lives. We have
a lot of options available, and more and
more are becoming accessible to the
consumer. We want there to be more
products that are natural but do not
cut corners. Skimping on the ingredient
quality just to make it seem to fit what
the person needs or [products that are]
a “trending topic” are not what we’re interested in.
KNIGHT: We see the most demand for new
raw foods, healing supplements, such as
goat’s milk, bone broth and colostrums,
and CBD oil. All-natural kidney care for
cats and dogs is a frequent request. Our
customers are demanding even higher
standards from the dry kibble industry.
We often get asked if the food is hu-
manely raised and/or sustainable.
What the vets are offering isn’t
working. Our customers are seeing a
longer-lasting result with a natural ap-
proach versus prescriptive medicine.
Also, many people now have an interest in a healthier lifestyle and are influenced by health advocates such as Dr.
Oz, Dr. Mercola and Dr. Karen Becker. Social media is a powerful driver of the natural products industry. You can’t go on