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Healthier Care for Fluffy and Rex

By Joanna Cosgrove, Online Editor | October 15, 2012

The increased humaniziation of family pets and furry companions is increasing the market value of dietary supplements and alternative veterinary care for pets.

Sixty-two percent of U.S. households have furry, feathered or scaly family members, according to the American Pet Products Association’s 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey. The overall pet population is closing in on 218 million and with pet health expenditures encouraged by the ongoing “humanization” of family pets and companion animals, the Freedonia Group projected increased spending on pet health products and services, hitting a projected $30.9 billion by 2016, with more than three-fifths of expenditures accounted for by services. 
In its trend study, Pet Health: Products & Services, the Freedonia Group, said the fastest gains in pet health service spending will remain in pet insurance, with revenues expected to advance more than 11% annually through 2016, to $680 million. Surgical and non-surgical veterinary care will continue to dominate pet health services, accounting for close to three-quarters of spending, and non-veterinary pet care, including boarding and grooming, will account for significant spending as pet owners opt for services such as “doggy day care” to tend to pets while owners are away at work or on vacation. 
At the retail level, consumers are forecast to spend $11.5 billion on pet health products in 2016, supporting $5.6 billion in manufacturers’ level sales. Freedonia projected that online pharmacies, pet superstores and large retailers such as Wal-Mart would continue to gain market share over veterinary practices due to significant cost savings, and major retail centers will dedicate more floor space to pet products. And while pharmaceuticals and parasiticides were expected to continue to dominate as chief expenditures (accounting for a combined 63% of the market in 2016) Freedonia said they would be outpaced by advances for less mature preventive products such as dietary supplements, diagnostics and prescription food.
“Demand for dietary supplements for companion animals is forecast to grow 7.7% annually to $600 million in 2016, when they will account for nearly 11% of the total pet health product market,” Freedonia wrote in its report, noting that by 2016 demand for dietary supplements will exceed that for prescription pet food. “Much like trends in human health products, gains will be aided by the growing number of outlets that carry pet dietary supplements, as well as by the number of supplements that are formulated to target or address specific health issues. However, the inclusion of vitamins and minerals in premium pet foods will limit gains, as will the maturing of this rapidly growing market.
There are two primary categories of dietary supplements: general and application-specific. General-purpose dietary supplements (such as multivitamins) will remain the largest single category of dietary supplement demand through 2016, when they will account for 38% of the total, the Freedonia report said, nodding to the use of multivitamins as a method to promote a pet’s overall well-being. “The use of multivitamins is a relatively simple method of helping a pet live a longer, healthier life, which will lead to multivitamins being the fastest-growing segment of the pet dietary supplement market,” the firm said. “Formulations intended to aid joint health will remain the largest subsegment, though they will be the slowest-growing application-specific supplemental products. Other formulas are targeted at skin and coat health, and digestion. Application-specific dietary supplements for pets may contain a mix of vitamins, minerals and/or various herbal and non-herbal (e.g., glucosamine) extracts.”
Listed among the most common pet supplements were vitamins A, D, E and K (fat-soluble types); B-complex vitamins (water-soluble types); and vitamin C. “Fat-soluble vitamins are used to support health in a pet’s bodily systems, with vitamin A indicated for increased resistance to ophthalmic infections, vitamin D increasing calcium absorption to contribute to bone and tooth strength, and vitamin K serving as a blood-clotting agent,” the firm explained.
Just as they are important to human health, water-soluble vitamins are also important to the normal functioning of a pet’s body. B-complex vitamins such as vitamin B1 (thiamine) assist in converting food into energy. Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) promotes smooth skin and helps in the uptake of oxygen by cells. Vitamin B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), and B12 (cobalamin) are often used in veterinary dietary supplement formulations thanks to their contributions to central nervous system and GI health, the production of energy and maintenance of healthy coats and skin. Vitamin C helps build an animal’s resistance to infection, the formation of collagen, the promotion of iron absorption, the metabolism of amino acids and the maintenance of normal adrenal function, the Freedonia report explained.
In addition to vitamins, minerals and herbal extracts are also becoming significant supplemental ingredients in pet products. “Calcium and zinc are the most commonly used minerals in these products, with calcium designated to promote healthy teeth and bones, and zinc indicated for organ health,” Freedonia said. “The growing popularity of herbal extracts in pet supplements follows the trend in human holistic care. Some of the herbal extracts that are used in pet supplements are chamomile (for its anti-inflammatory properties), cranberry (for urinary tract health) and ginger root (as a digestive aid). Non-herbal extracts, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, are also seeing rising use in these products.”
For more information about this report, or to purchase the report in its entirety, click this link.

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