Rising US Sales of Supplements for Pets

Sales of supplements for companion animals—cats, dogs, and horses—are rising rapidly in the United States. A feature article from the latest issue of HerbalGram, the quarterly peer-reviewed journal of the nonprofit American Botanical Council (ABC), profiles the burgeoning market for pet supplements and addresses issues regarding their regulation, safety, and efficacy.

The article cites statistics from market research companies and includes statements from supplement company representatives indicating steady growth within the pet supplement market. For instance, Nutrition Business Journal estimates that pet supplement sales in the United States rose 8% in 2007 over the previous year, reaching $923 million.

Herbal supplements for animals seem to be a particularly fast-growing market niche. Sales of pet supplements may be rising due to increased pet ownership in the United States, greater awareness of the nutritional benefits of supplementation, and growing recognition that such products may be effective with fewer side effects than conventional pharmaceutical drugs.

The article points out that pet supplements are not regulated under the same laws that cover human dietary supplements. Many supplements for pets are considered feed products with unapproved ingredients or unapproved drugs of low regulatory priority. In the absence of strong government regulations for pet supplements, the industry’s proactive self-regulatory efforts—spearheaded by the National Animal Supplement Council—have helped to assure consumers, veterinarians, and government officials of the quality and safety of pet supplements.

The future of the industry seems promising. Market research firms project that sales of supplements for pets will continue to grow, according to the article. Companies have begun to partner with veterinarians, university veterinary clinics, and animal shelters to test the effectiveness of their products. For instance, a clinical study to test the herbal supplement Pet Relief® (RZN Nutraceuticals, Orange Park, FL) for canine pain and lameness was initiated in October 2008 at Colorado State University, and a study to test the product Feline Immune System SupportTM (Standard Process, Palmyra, WI) was launched in February 2009 through a cat shelter in Ohio. The results of these studies have not yet been released.

Whether increased regulation will be implemented within the pet supplement industry remains to be seen, but industry representatives quoted in the HerbalGram article claim to support such efforts and have expressed interest in working cooperatively with regulatory authorities.

HerbalGram issue 82, which contains the article “The Expanding Market and Regulatory Challenges of Supplements for Pets in the United States,” was recently posted online on the ABC website (http://www.herbalgram.org/) and is accessible to ABC members and the general public here. HerbalGram is distributed to ABC members and is also available in select bookstores and natural food stores.

About the American Botanical Council

Founded in 1988, the American Botanical Council is a leading international nonprofit organization addressing research and educational issues regarding the health benefits of herbs, medicinal plants, teas, phytomedicines, essential oils, and other plant-based ingredients. ABC’s members include academic researchers and educators, universities and libraries, health professionals and medical institutions, botanical gardens and arboreta, government agencies, members of the herb, dietary supplement, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries, journalists, consumers, and other interested parties from over 70 countries. The organization occupies a historic 2.5-acre site in Austin, Texas, where it publishes the quarterly journal HerbalGram, the monthly e-publication HerbalEGram, HerbClips (summaries of scientific and clinical publications), reference books, and other educational materials. ABC also hosts HerbMedPro, a powerful herbal database, containing thousands of abstracts of scientific and clinical publications on 221 herbs.

ABC is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code. Information: Contact ABC at P.O. Box 144345, Austin, TX 78714-4345, Phone: 512-926-4900. Website: http://www.herbalgram.org/.

Cavaliere C. The expanding market and regulatory challenges of supplements for pets in the United States. HerbalGram. 2009;82:34-41.

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