Joint health supplements top pet owner demands

Joint health was the top health benefit pet owners sought in pet supplements. However, one expert cautioned about these products.

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The pet supplement market has grown significantly from approximately US$800 million in 2001 to US$2.4-2.5 billion in 2021, Bill Bookout, president, National Animal Supplement Council, said during his presentation at Petfood Essentials 2024. In the United States, 14% of pets take dietary supplements. There may be room for that percentage to grow, considering that 73% of humans take supplements, and a quarter of those people have pets. The humanization of pet supplements may follow the humanization of pet food. Despite the potential popularity, new pet supplements still need to be focused on providing what consumers demand.

Pet owner demands for supplements

In a survey by Marketplace, the majority of pet owners stated that they look first at the specific benefits offered by a supplement, Bookout said. That focus has stayed strong consistently with 31% of pet owners ranking benefits first in 2021, rising to 38% of survey respondents in 2023.

The second most influential attribute was price at more than 15%. The other influences all had less than 10%. They were, in order, certifications, brands, reviews, specific ingredients, formats and flavors.

Joint health was the top health benefit pet owners sought. However, he offered advice about formulating these products.

“Joint health is always a big category, especially for supplements,” Bookout said. “But, you’ve got to be careful in doing it.”

For example, he pointed out ingredients that are used in joint products to support healthy joints in people but that are unapproved for use in animal food or animal treats, like MSM.  

“The industry is driven by innovation, right?” he said. “It's all usually driven by innovation? Well, it's not unbridled innovation; you must be careful about that. Don't lapse into deep waters that you may get in trouble over.”

Innovation must be balanced with caution to avoid regulatory issues, he said. 

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