Nutrition Business Journal

Are Pet Supplements a Good Brand Extension for Human Supplement Firms?


Herbal bladder control capsules for dogs. All-natural anti-anxiety chews for cats. Joint-relief supplements for horses. Take a walk through any pet store, natural foods store or veterinarian’s lobby and you’ll discover that the complementary medicine revolution is slowly making its way to the animal world, in large part through the sale of dietary supplements for dogs, cats, horses and other animals. You’ll also see that many of the companies long dedicated to creating dietary supplements for humans now make products for animals as well and are doing a pretty good job of penetrating the pet supplement market.

Animal supplements represent “a relatively cluttered category with very few strong leaders and the potential to grow as fast as or even faster than human nutrition did. That, to me, means opportunity,” said Tom O’Leary, a dietary supplement industry veteran and the brain behind Rainbow Light Nutritional Systems’ new GreenDog Naturals line of canine supplements.

Twenty-five-year-old Rainbow Light is one of the latest human supplement company to venture into the animal category, joining industry leaders such as Thorne Research, Standard Process, 21st Century Health Care and FoodScience Corp. in a young, promising market that many say looks a lot like the natural foods market did 15 years ago. But, as more human companies consider moving into the pet world, veterinarians and pet product pioneers warn that the transition is more complex than some might assume. Facing an uncertain and convoluted regulatory environment, a veterinary field that is cautious at best when it comes to understanding and recommending animal supplements, and a patient population that is vastly different from humans, companies wishing to extend their brand to pets have their work cut out for them.

“It’s definitely a good time to get into the business,” said Dale Metz, CEO of FoodScience Corp. and a founding member of the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC). “But if you are a human supplement company and you think you can just take your existing product and put it in a capsule for an animal, that is not the case. It’s complicated.”

Nutrition Business Journal’s August issue takes a deep dive into the U.S. Animal Nutrition industry. To order a copy of the issue, subscribe to NBJ or download a free 32-page sample issue, go to

Related NBJ links:
Joint, Omega-3 and Other Supplements Prove Popular for Bowser and Fluffy
NBJ's Natural Pet Product & Pet Nutrition Report 2006
Top Dog: Organic and Natural Pet Food Sales Soar in Wake of China Scandal

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