Hale Animal Health has launched its first two premium pet supplement products as it continues its work developing New Zealand’s first ever range of medicinal cannabis products for pets.
Part-owned by New Zealand’s largest medicinal cannabis company, Helius Therapeutics, Hale is the consumer brand its Managing Director Leila de Koster has been working on since announcing the Helius partnership in May last year.
“It’s Hale – as in hale and hearty! Our two Vitality Plus products for cats and dogs represent our first off-the-shelf nutraceutical products. Vitality Plus is a blend of premium oils designed to complement the pet’s base diet and provide a balanced source of healthy fats and essential fatty acids. In the coming months, we’ll release a further range of natural supplements packed full of superfoods, with an eye also to exporting,” she says.
Ms de Koster says creating New Zealand’s first range of CBD-based approved veterinary medicines remains absolutely central to Hale’s overall strategy. In fact, Hale could be among the first to register cannabis medicines for animals anywhere in the world.
At the same time, Helius is New Zealand’s first licensed cannabis producer to be partnering in the animal health category.
Developing cannabidiol (CBD) clinically-proven prescription products for pets, that vets can prescribe with confidence, is equally important to Helius Therapeutics. Based in Auckland’s East Tamaki, construction of Helius’ state-of-the-art manufacturing facility is nearing completion.
What’s more, the medicinal cannabis company brings its own animal health talent and experience. New Helius Chief Executive, Carmen Doran, ran Novartis Animal Health Operations in Scotland, while Helius Chief Quality Officer, Bruce Wallace, was formerly Global Head of Quality at Argenta.
The country’s new Medicinal Cannabis Scheme allows for local cannabis production. It also enables the development and delivery of cannabis wellness and prescription products for pets. While it’s a novel concept in New Zealand, the sector is experiencing rapid growth globally, with domestic and exporting opportunities significant.
Ms de Koster says to achieve New Zealand’s first prescription medicinal cannabis products for animals, considerable data will be collated, and clinical trials conducted, over the next two years. Hale will then present an extensive dossier of findings to regulator ACVM (Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines) in its quest to obtain registration.
She says barriers to people trying CBD products for their pets in the US include the fact there remains little scientific research showing their efficacy and that it’s too hard to gauge the effectiveness of products.
“Kiwi pet owners and vets will likely have these same concerns. That’s precisely why we are providing solid evidence through the clinical trials and registration process for our CBD products here in New Zealand,” she says.
The company’s first CBD product will be targeted to treating pain in dogs with osteoarthritis and future cannabis-based products could include cannabinoid chews to help with anxiety, and shampoos and conditioners to help with skin conditions.
In the meantime, Hale’s newly launched Vitality Plus™ supplement products for cats and dogs will be available in pet specialty stores and vet clinics throughout New Zealand. The liquid supplements, designed to complement the base diet of the pet, include cold pressed flaxseed oil, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, sustainably sourced tuna fish oil, green shelled mussel oil and vitamin E as an antioxidant.
In the coming months, Hale will then release the first round of its Best Life™ range which includes supplements tailored to the life stage of the pet, full of nutrients and superfoods. The first two products in this range will be for adult and senior cats and dogs, with supplements for puppies, kittens and active dogs to follow.
All ingredients have been carefully chosen due to the proven health benefits for pets and are undergoing a thorough research and development process to ensure a high quality, premium product that is palatable for the pet.
Hale and Helius believe their ultimate shared goal of delivering therapeutic cannabis products and medicines will be a game-changer for many Kiwi pet owners, desperate to alleviate their companion’s pain and suffering naturally. CBD has been found to effectively treat pets’ anxiety, stress, nausea, skin conditions, arthritis, and seizures - among other conditions.
“The reason most cited by pet owners in the US and Canada for purchasing CBD for their pets is to help with back and joint pain. We recognise that this is one of the most common problems that pets face, and that’s why our clinical trials will be focusing on the treatment of pain in dogs with osteoarthritis,” says Ms de Koster.
Home to at least 1.1 million dogs and 1.5 million cats, New Zealand’s pet owners alone already spend $1.8 billion on pet products and services each year, and demand is increasingly shifting toward natural health products.
Hale’s Managing Director says spending on pet products internationally is enjoying strong growth. According to a recently published report in the US, spending on pet products continues to break records year-on-year.
In fact, spending by US pet owners increased by more than $3 billion from 2017 to 2018 - a 4.3% annual growth rate which is in line with New Zealand’s 4.5% annual growth rate.
“We pride ourselves on being at the cutting edge of animal health. We are incredibly excited to be one of the first animal welfare companies in the world conducting clinical trials and registering a CBD medicine for pets".
“Cannabis-focused products will follow, but first up is our range of premium pet supplements. We’re asking Kiwi pet owners to look out for this new local brand and support us in this great journey to improve the lives for our animal friends,” says Leila de Koster.