Pet treats might be the most exciting category when it comes to innovations. The symbiotic relationship between humans and companion animals is commonly believed to date back thousands of years, and at no time before has the mental health community so overwhelmingly recognized the importance of this dynamic. This “love/companionship” factor, according to Phelps Pet CEO and president Rick Ruffolo, has been the single biggest growth driver in the expansion of the pet care category over the last several decades. He points to the buzz word, “humanization,” which describes how pets are treated as members of the family. When it comes to dogs, he chooses another word to describe the human-animal relationship.
“Many people have elevated dogs to fulfill the roles of playmate, companion, family member, explorer, therapist, counselor, fitness/exercise motivator, night watchman, knight in shining armor and general stress reliever, among others,” Ruffolo explained. “In light of this, we re-defined and are trademarking a new use of the word to describe this new dynamic, Unleashed, which we define as the breaking down of any constraints or barriers holding back dogs from playing ever-expanding roles in our lives. This visual of ‘unleashing’ your dog is an apt metaphor describing the unconstrained opportunities humans are providing to the dogs in their lives.”
The Unleashed trend impacts dog treats, which help consumers train, reward and show love as their dogs fulfill different roles in their lives. The more roles, the more the need for treats and treating occasions. Essentially, treats are no longer a between-meal snack; they have become an important daily ritual. And, as Ruffolo continues, this has elevated the dog treat purchase decision process for many pet parents, which is where the retailer comes into the picture.
“As a retailer, you need to be able to help your customer easily navigate your store,” he noted. “You want all customers with dogs leaving with at least one dog treat bag. Shoppers are looking for a premium experience, so feature brands or own label treats that offer added value benefits and quality reassurances such as USDA Organic, Made in the USA and Clean Label ingredients. Shoppers want protein diversity, including beef, chicken, turkey, salmon and wild game. More than ever, they are looking for responsible choices such as 100 percent plant-based ‘meatless meaty’ treats and treats using certified humane or upcycled ingredients. Offering treats with ‘functional’ benefits to help with joint issues, aging, digestive and calming/stress relief also has become important.”
On the cat side, Susan Malizia of PureBites says her brand has noticed two major trends that continue to grow among pet parents. First, pet parents are looking at and challenging every ingredient that goes into the treats, toppers, and food they feed their pets every day. Second, pet parents are looking for treats and toppers that offer the health benefits of functional ingredients to support their pet’s health and it’s always an added bonus if they are in a fun, interactive form to treat or spruce up mealtime.
“We decided to take those trends and apply our PureBites philosophy of using only simple high-quality ingredients by developing new fun, interactive squeezable treats with functional benefits,” Malizia explained. “We launched PureBites+ Squeezables for cats, which can be fed as a healthy and functional treat or topper and are made with only five human-grade ingredients that pet parents can trust. They are available in three daily health support formulas: Digestion with pumpkin and inulin, Skin & Coat with Omega-3 and Omega-6, and Heart & Eyes with taurine and carrots. What makes these treats and toppers so different is that they are made in a fun and interactive squeezable pouch, so snack time or mealtime can be exciting for picky eaters.”
According to Malizia, 90 percent of all pet owners think that choosing the right snacks and treats will make a difference in the health of their pet. They just need to be given the tools and training to make those decisions. That’s where savvy brands can help. For example, PureBites offers a selection of merchandising tools for stores to help spread the word, including special promotional offers, floor stands, clip strips, shelf talkers and samples.
Delicious K9 Granola Factory Donut Holes are the perfect bite-size reward for canine companions. Made with the brand’s signature granola, these scrumptious treats are topped with a drizzle of house yogurt and colorful sprinkles. K9 Granola Factory Donut Holes are available in four yummy flavors, including Peanut Butter with Sprinkles, Birthday Cake, Classic Powdered and Carob Peanut Butter.
Jones Sweet Potato Filling
Available in your dog’s favorite chew: a bone, a hoof or a beef trachea, sweet potato filling represents a healthy and delicious expansion into more vegetable stuffing options. These 2-in-1 snacks are a fabulous combination of textures: creamy filling inside an enjoyable crunchy chew. Dogs love working for the filling, followed by a nice chew once the sweet potato is finished. Stuffed products are a long-lasting reward, sure to keep any dog busy. This product, like all Jones Natural Chews, is made entirely from product raised on American farms and includes no artificial ingredients.
Real Chewz are all-natural, single-ingredient chews packed with protein to provide the nourishment dogs need. Made in Brazil and carefully inspected and tested in the U.S.A. for safety. They’re oven-baked to lock in the delicious flavors dogs love and crave. They’re individually wrapped for ultimate freshness. They’re low in fat, high in protein and made with care without any additives, preservatives or added colors or flavors.
Stewart Dog Treats
Stewart freeze-dried dog treats have a fun, new look to emphasize the simple fact of Stewart treats: pure ingredients and happy dogs. Pet parents will instantly understand exactly what will go into their dog’s body and the benefits they get. Treats with Benefits are single-ingredient treats that are freeze-dried in the U.S.A. and are guaranteed delicious.
Farm Fresh Pet Foods, the Canadian, women-owned company that brings you those smell-so-good-you-could-eat-them meaty treats, is rebranding to Tilted Barn Pet Company. The company promises that absolutely nothing but its name is changing. The brand’s 100 percent Canadian, natural and high-quality dog treats as well as ownership and management are staying the same.
Peace, Love, Hope Dog Treats
Einstein Pets is sending a message of hope to Ukraine with its limited-edition Peace, Love, Hope: Dog Treats For a Cause. The company will donate 100 percent of profits from the sale of these custom-designed, natural, made in the U.S.A. dog treats to organizations that assist people and their pets in Ukraine.
VICTOR Classic Treats
VICTOR has expanded the portfolio of its Classic Treats line to include tender beef treat options. Hi-Pro Bites and Hi-Pro Strips treats are both high protein treats, featuring real beef as the first ingredient and are offered in a tender texture. Hi-Pro Bites come in smaller, bite-sized and lower calorie pieces making it an ideal training treat, while Hi-Pro Strips are a savory strip treat, making it a great reward for active dogs.
Table Scraps is an exciting line of dual-branded dog treats that brings the Magic of Disney to pups of all shapes and sizes. The line, which is made in the U.S.A., includes eight different “clean-label” recipes that feature beloved Disney characters such as Pluto, Stich, Winnie the Pooh, Baloo the bear and more. You can choose from recipes that include USDA-certified organic varieties, Marine Stewardship Council certified salmon bites, upcycled ingredients and 100 percent plant-based jerky treats.
Sizzle Sticks from Natural Cravings have a new name. Now they’re called Sizzle Waggers. Same recipe with same amazing flavors and benefits. They are made with simple, high-quality ingredients to ensure the best flavor and texture. These treats support your pet’s health by providing low fat proteins. Sizzle Waggers are tender, soft and breakable making them the perfect treat for dogs that don’t like or can’t chew very well. These treats can be broken into smaller pieces making them safe for pets of any size, and a great training tool.
Debuting this fall, Fromm Family Foods introduces PurrSnackitty, a collection of soft and savory treats for cats. Available in three tender treat varieties: Liver, Chicken and Salmon, the moist, bite-sized morsels that feature flavors felines crave with eye catching packaging starring swinging jazz cats singing to the perfect tune.
K9 Bros Salmon Treats
K9 Bros believes in the nutritional science affirmed benefits of consuming Omega-3 fatty acids as Omega-3s in fish are the most nutritious fat. Omega-3 is critical for brain health, supports cardiovascular health and improves skin and coat health. These slow-dehydrated treats are made from the same North Atlantic salmon that goes to New York’s finest restaurants. K9 Bros salmon treats are seasoned with parsley, which freshens breath and is high in vitamin C. These treats contain no fillers, salt or artificial preservatives.
Temptations Kitten Treats
Temptations Kitten Treats are a perfectly irresistible combination of crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The new treats are specially formulated with ingredients for the unique dietary needs of growing kittens and support healthy brain development with DHA. The treats are less than two calories per treat and made with no artificial flavors – making them a great option for training, an everyday treat or as a food topper.
NDependent has launched its Sticks line of sweet potato-based dog treats. These crunchy treats are not only healthy but great tasting as well. The Sticks line is made up of five SKUs: Sweet Potato with Beef Green Tripe, Beef and Pomegranate; Chicken Bone Broth with Chicken and Apple; Duck Egg with Duck and Pear; Goat’s Milk with Goat and Blueberry; Krill with Sardines and Cranberry.
Better Brat is a 100 percent plant-based dog treat that tastes just like a juicy brat right off the grill. Made from wholesome, all-natural ingredients, this bratwurst treat satisfies dogs of all shapes and sizes and is only four calories. Bright Planet treats create up to 90 percent less carbon emissions and use up to 68 percent less water than comparable meat-based treats.
MyPup slushy dog treats are frozen treats that come in a tube, just freeze then serve in a bowl. MyPup slushies are formulated to be slushy and are safe for your dog’s teeth. Produced in a human grade facility, they are grain-free, and fortified with vitamins. Available in Chicken, Peanut Butter and Beef flavors.
With only three ingredients, these 100 percent all-natural, freeze-dried treats are sure to become your dog’s favorite. They contain no artificial colors and no synthetic ingredients. VISIBLES are animal-based (Beef, Chicken or Salmon) with visible chunks of vegetables. A high value treat that you can give with confidence.
Trisha Yearwood Dog Treats
Trisha Yearwood Pet Collection provides quality dog food for all breeds across every stage of life. Each ingredient is thoughtfully chosen and 100 percent all-natural to give your dog exactly what they need each day to fuel a happy, healthy lifestyle. Available in dry and stews, pet parents can choose from three flavors: beef, chicken & pork; chicken & vegetables; or pork & rice.
PureBites Air Dried Jerky Treats
PureBites is always asking pet parents to “turn the bag around and look at our ingredients.” PureBites gently air-dried cod skin jerky dog treats are made with only one simple human-grade ingredient you can read, pronounce and trust: 100 percent pure cod skin. No artificial colors, fillers, sweeteners or glycerin. Proudly wild-caught and made fresh and pure in Canada using a delicate air-drying process at low temperatures, which helps preserve fresh RAW whole food, locking in the taste dogs crave and superior nutrition that pet parents love.
Health Extension has introduced ImPawFect, its new line of upcycled pet treats. Made with human-grade ingredients, ImPawFect treats come in recyclable packaging. With the line including Immunity, Digestion, Training and Hip & Joint, ImPawFect is made with the health and well-being of your dog in mind.
NutriSource Crunchy Cat Treats
NutriSource Crunchy Cat Treats are perfectly crunchy and pawsitively irresistible. These delicious treats come offer three mouthwatering flavors including Salmon & Tuna, Turkey & Chicken and Liver & Cheese, making these the perfect option for feeding your favorite feline friend a nutritious treat.
Snif-Snax, manufacturer of Scottish salmon-based treats, introduces three new products for dogs: Scottish Salmon Jerky, Baked Salmon Skins and Tuna Bites. Salmon Jerky and Baked Salmon Skins both consist of one premium ingredient: salmon raised without antibiotics, a vital source of protein and Omega-3s. Tuna Bites are also rich in vitamins and minerals for dogs, with extremely low levels of mercury.
Doggy Delirious treats are deliciously crunchy human-grade biscuits made with four simple base ingredients: fruit and vegetable purees, rye flour, canola oil and cane molasses. The result is the closest thing to a snack you’d eat yourself. Available in 16-ounce packs, flavors include Peanut Butter-Licious (with a grain-free option), Perfectly Pumpkin, Harvest Sweet Potato and the new BBQ Maple Bacon and Smokey Turkey & Apple premium flavor combinations.