Pet dietary supplements are evolving into a substantial market in the retail space, according to Golden, Colorado-based Panacea Life Sciences. In 2019, pet supplements generated 6.3 billion USD globally (47 percent North America) and is forecasted to have a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 4.8 percent through 2024 (Modor Market Intelligence, pet food nutraceutical market). Cannabidiol pet supplements are predicted to achieve $2 billion in revenue over the same period (Bloomberg).
More than 30 percent of dog and/or cat owners purchase dietary supplements for their animals to relieve joint stiffness, improve coat quality, add probiotics for gastrointestinal health and to counteract effects of aging. Of this market, most pet supplements, more than 43 percent, are purchased by dog owners, with cat owners following closely behind at 34 percent (Transparency Market Research).
Although lucrative, the pet market is fragmented by species and has a changing demographic with more Americans owning cats over dogs and of those dog owners, smaller breeds are more prevalent. There is large demand for more effective and natural products to improve pet health. To explore the market opportunity more thoroughly, we will first look at the major categories of supplements and then examine why increasing numbers of pet owners are turning to cannabidiol (CBD) as the pet supplement of choice.
Common needs for pet supplements
The top three major areas for which pet owners use supplements are joint health, skin health and anxiety.
- Mixtures of glucosamine and chondroitin have been reported to help with human joint health, and now these products are marketed to dog owners to improve their pet’s joint health, improve the cartilage matri, and prevent cartilage breakdown. Two leading products in this category, Cosequin and Dasequin, have mixed results on effectiveness, and according to research may take up to 70 days to observe a beneficial effect (McCarthy, G. The Veterinary Journal, July 2007; vol 174: pp 54-61).
- Fish oil has long been known to improve skin health in dogs, and the omega-3 fatty acid content in the oil provides additional benefits such as relieving joint pain, boosting the immune system and improving cardiovascular health. Canines taking fish oil as a supplement have been reported to have a silkier coat, reduced itching, reduced flaky-dry skin (dander), improved joint health and decreased tumor growth (Bauer, JE J Am Vet Med Assoc., Dec. 2007, vol 231: pp 1657-1661).
- Anxiety in dogs is caused by a multitude of situations including interaction with other dogs or social separation from owners, as well as reactions to loud noises that may result in excessive chewing, barking, amongst other symptoms. Cats also experience anxiety for a variety of reasons, including separation anxiety, new people in the home or veterinary visits. Symptoms of anxiety in cats are excessive grooming, urinating or spraying, biting, as well as altering eating habits. Aside from prescription medications (like L-Theanine and melatonin) to reduce anxiety (which effectively sedate the animal), there are not too many great supplements available to help either dogs or cats.
Why are pet owners crazy about CBD?
All mammals contain an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that modulates many physiological systems including pain, skin health and brain functions. Cannabinoids taken as a supplement help augment the ECS to provide general health improvements and well-being. Similar to the supplements mentioned above that were first developed for human use, cannabidiol-containing products were first created for man, then extended into pet supplements with great success. Pet owners are increasingly turning to CBD products as their supplement of choice.
Clinically, CBD has been shown to be an effective natural supplement to dramatically decrease seizures, ease pain, improve functional performance and improve mobility in dogs (Gamble, LT et al., Front Vet Sci. Jul 2018, v5 p. 165). Cannabidiol is well-tolerated with few side effects when provided at normal doses (Bartner LR et al., Can J Vet Res., Jul 2018, v82: pp.178-183).
Additionally, Panacea Life Sciences conducted a study in 29 dogs experiencing age-related movement disorders. At relatively low doses, an overall 36 percent improvement was observed in various measures from general quality of life to increasing the ability to rise from a sitting position, climb stairs or get into a car. Initial CBD effects are seen in 15 minutes and the degree of effect will increase over the first seven days of taking the product. Taken together, there is a growing body of evidence demonstrating the positive benefits of CBD for joint health in pets.
Also, in the Panacea study, although not a primary endpoint, it was observed that dogs exhibited lower anxiety. Panacea extended these findings in its equine CBD study where both movement and anxiety were measured in a small group of horses. As with the canine study, moderate doses of CBD improved joint health in horses and also trended toward lower anxiety. The anxiety portion of the study is planned to be repeated with larger numbers of animals soon to evaluate dosing and efficacy.
Certain manufacturers are carefully considering not only appropriate dosing for pets but are also adding additional natural oils to augment the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD. Products containing coconut and fish oil may be superior to straight CBD oils as these oils help with digestive issues often observed in dogs, as well as additional antioxidants that assist with mental, joint and skin health properties.
CBD is only going to be effective at helping to improve a pet’s health if the product is easily administered and efficiently absorbed. Most products will consolidate CBD into treats, which is convenient but also difficult to determine if the pet received a controlled serving of CBD. Other options, like using a tincture to put drops into the mouth or formulations that allow measured dosing such as soft gels, are easily administered and absorbed by animals.
With horses, the incorporation of CBD into an oral gel or sugar cube treat are palatable and easy to administer. Cats can also greatly benefit from CBD to lower stress and potentially help with age-related issues. One of the first symptoms of a cat not feeling well is that they may stop eating, so trying to force a cat to swallow or eat a CBD treat is challenging. Instead, transdermal lotions or nose drops may be a better way to give CBD to cats because they allow ease of administration and provide owners the opportunity to lavish attention on their pet.
How to choose a superior product for pets
Pet owners looking to add cannabidiol to their pet’s diet need to look for several elements to ensure they are receiving the best product.
- A quality manufacturer: one that has good reviews and transparent batch testing results. 60 percent of CBD products fail potency and purity quality control.
- Ease of dosing: no one likes to wrestle with a dog or cat to force feed a supplement.
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-free. THC is the product in marijuana that produces the high feeling. Pets consuming THC not only become mentally confused, but THC in high doses produces liver and kidney toxicity.
- Additional benefits: look to see if the product includes other supplements (like coconut or fish oil) in the product to further benefit the pet.
In summary, the pet supplement market is growing rapidly and the CBD supplement market developing even faster. CBD provides real benefit to dogs, cats and horses to improve joint health, skin health and reduced anxiety.