KANSAS CITY, MO. — The United States will celebrate National Love Your Pet Day on Feb. 20, as if pet owners needed another reason to pamper their furry companions.
Steady growth in pet product sales over the last decade shows there is no shortage of love for today’s dogs and cats. The continued humanization and premiumization of these products — including pet food, treats and supplements — is helping pet owners spoil their four-legged family members daily.
To join in the festivities, Pet Food Processing has highlighted eight pet nutrition products and announcements putting the “human” in “humanization.”
Maev Vitamin Bars
Maev, an emerging direct-to-consumer raw dog food brand, is reporting rapid month-over-month sales growth for its human-grade formulas and supplements. Aside from its raw dog foods and bone broth cubes, the company offers Vitamin Bars it describes as a dog’s daily multivitamin.
"Maev Vitamin Bars are a daily supplement offering targeted, balanced nutrition to support your dog’s functional goals, which map to the four most common health concerns in dogs in the United States: Anxiety & Mental Health, Weight & Digestion, Hip & Joint, and Coat & Skin,” said Katie Spies, founder and chief executive officer of Maev. “Many of Maev’s customers like to mix and match Raw Food wellness goals with Vitamin Bar goals, to meet each dog’s unique needs."
The Vitamin Bars look like something a pet owner could find in the natural health section of their local supermarket. They are formulated with peanut butter, shredded coconut flakes, chia seeds and functional ingredients based on the specific formula, all of which are human grade.
In the final days of 2021, NutriSource Pet Foods introduced its first three meal topper products, all “inspired by kombucha.” A popular fermented drink touting probiotic and antioxidant benefits for humans, NutriSource has spun the fad into a line of liquid bone broth toppers formulated with postbiotics to support digestion and hydration in dogs.
“Come-pooch-a™ makes mealtime a little more exciting while providing dogs with important nutrients that support their overall wellness,” said Adam Martodam, marketing director at NutriSource.
In December 2021, Clif Bar & Company announced a new line of plant-based, jerky-style dog treats under its latest brand: CLIF Pet. Set to hit store shelves in early 2022, the line includes three formulas — Sweet Potato & Blueberry Recipe, Pumpkin & Apple Recipe, and Butternut Squash & Cranberry Recipe — each formulated with seven ingredients and promoting digestive health, according to the company.
Clif Bar’s flagship brands feature on-the-go snacks for active and health-conscious consumers. The company’s expansion into the pet snack space reflects increased demand for function, humanization and convenience in the pet treat market.
To source ingredients for its new plant-based jerky for dogs, Clif Bar’s Chief Innovation Officer Rizal Hamdallah stated the company will be exploring integration with its existing ingredient supply chain as much as possible.
v-dog meatless jerky
While jerky isn’t a novel sight in the pet treat market, the way some companies are formulating their jerky treats is. Roughly one year ago, v-dog introduced kindjerky, its first meatless jerky treats for dogs. Kindjerky treats are chewy and all natural, containing only animal-free ingredients like pea protein, sweet potato and non-GMO coconut glycerin.
"We're confident pet parents want clean, allergen-free options for their pups,” said Darren Middlesworth, president at v-dog.
Vegan pet owners looking to pass on their food philosophies to dogs are seeing an increasing number of vegan dog food and treat products on the market today. V-dog’s kindjerky adds to its portfolio of vegan dog food and dental chew products.
The human-grade trend continues with fresh, direct-to-consumer pet food brand Spot & Tango. The company launched UnKibble, a line of human-grade, fresh kibble alternative diets, in April 2020, and recently committed to establishing its first in-house production plant in Pennsylvania.
The ability to tailor formulations to each pets’ nutritional needs also speaks to the increasing humanization of this marketplace. For example, UnKibble diets can be customized based on a dog’s age, weight, breed or activity level.
“We created this brand because we wanted all pet parents to find comfort and confidence in what they were feeding their dogs,” said Russell Breuer, founder and chief executive officer of Spot & Tango.
Goat milk for pets
Meyenberg, a producer of goat milk products for people, extended its consumer base to include puppies and kittens in early 2021. The company launched Tailspring, a brand of milk alternative products formulated to resemble the mother’s milk. The 100% human-grade products are intended for nursing puppies and kittens and offer key vitamins, minerals and ingredients to support digestion.
“At Meyenberg, we’ve been hearing from customers for decades how goat milk helped their animals to thrive — sometimes even saving lives — and we really wanted to serve the community of pets and their owners as well,” said Kate Slaney, brand manager for Tailspring.
As pet owners become increasingly aware of the importance of keeping their dogs and cats hydrated, DoggyRade and KittyRade entered the market with isotonic beverages for pets that offer health benefits beyond hydration. Both products are designed to be low-calorie, energy-boosting and rehydrating solutions for dogs and cats.
DoggyRade is formulated with prebiotics and can help restore electrolytes lost during activity. KittyRade is formulated with glutamic acid to support intestinal function, as well as taurine to promote heart and eye health.
Bon voyage, and bone appétit. In May 2021, global hospitality company Hilton launched a culinary menu for dogs, available at more than 30 of its hotel locations in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The menu was curated in partnership with veterinary nutritionists and includes four “mouth-watering” courses: Beef Doguignon, a slow-cooked beef brisket with mashed potatoes, carrots, green beans, sweetcorn and gluten-free gravy; Mutt Roast, a gluten-free tomato pasta topped with cheddar cheese; Earl Greyhound, a beverage blend of lavender, rose petals, lime flower and orange flowers to promote calmness in dogs; and Tailwagger Creek, a non-alcoholic dog wine made from elderflower, nettle, ginseng, lime flower and black carrot.
In an effort to encourage travelers to bring their canine companions along, Hilton has branded 74 of its global hotels as dog-friendly getaways. These locations include dog beds and water bowls, Bone Appétit room service at the select 32 locations, and other amenities for tail-wagging tourists.
Keep up with the latest pet food trends on our Trends page.