New Hale Animal Health products for pets taking off

Health supplements for cats and dogs are becoming big business, globally and in New Zealand. Helius' sister company, Hale Animal Health, sees an equally big opportunity to improve the lives our our furry friends.

New dietary supplements for pets just released on the New Zealand market are evidence that a huge trend overseas – health products for pets – is gathering pace here too.

Few pet owners understand the importance of omega fatty acids, according to Leila de Koster, Managing Director of Hale Animal Health, whose Vitality Plus products for dogs and cats were launched late last year.

“I think it’s fair to say that New Zealand has been a little behind other countries when it comes to supplements for cats and dogs – a small addition to pets’ diets which can have a large influence when it comes to supporting their health,” she says.

“It’s huge business overseas and, talking to pet retailers here, we are hearing that the market in New Zealand is still small, but it is growing and important.”

Some estimates say the global pet supplements market will grow from US$673m in 2019 to over US$1 billion by 2027.

“It’s really mirroring what has happened with human health,” de Koster says. “Many people around the world take supplements to help support their health and wellbeing – and that is exactly what’s happening in the pet world too.”

Vitality Plus is focused on a balanced intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which de Koster says supports immunity, health and wellbeing. Various research studies have also shown fatty acid supplements may support treatment of several conditions.

“We sometimes need supplements for our family members or ourselves because, for whatever reason, we are not producing any or enough of a given nutrient. It’s exactly the same with cats and dogs – omega fatty acids need to be present in their diet, because they cannot produce them themselves.”

Such fats and oils are an important part of the diet for all animals because research has shown they:

  • support energy levels

  • form membranes of all cells

  • support absorption of vitamins, such as A, D, E and K

  • support normal hormone balance

Some fatty acids are essential for all animals, such as linoleic acid, DHA and EPA, but cats and dogs have different requirements. Dogs need Alpha-Linoleic acid (ALA) as well as a good amount of DHA and EPA as they are particularly inefficient at producing it themselves and cats can similarly not produce arachidonic acid, de Koster says.

So having established fatty acids are required, how does a pet owner know whether their pet’s food has these key substances?

“Linoleic acid is often in foods like sunflower oil, canola oil and chicken fat, and cat and dog food is often rich in this. On the other hand, pet food is often low in the right omega fatty acids – ALA, DHA, EPA, and arachidonic for cats – which support skin condition, heart and brain health, and help support their immune system", says de Koster

“Pets often don’t get enough DHA and EPA in their diet because they are typically found in fish and seafood and are therefore not always a part of the pet’s diet.”

So supplements are helpful, she says – but how do pet owners know what to buy? Before Vitality Plus launched, Hale Animal Health investigated what few products were on the market. de Koster says they found products with labels that were hard to decipher by a layman or had not correctly tailored the ratio of fatty acids to the animal it was designed for.

“We looked specifically for the EPA and DHA content in various dog foods and found that, even in the most high-end foods, at most they were only able to meet roughly 50 per cent of the recommended daily requirements.”

An optimal ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids is about 6 to 1, for cats and dogs. The Vitality Plus supplements cost an average of $45 over four to six weeks for large dogs (less for smaller dogs) and about $35 for cats for the same period. It comes as a liquid, with a small amount poured over the pet’s normal food. The supplements were developed together with an animal nutritionist and were also tested to ensure they are palatable for dogs and cats.

Even though the product was launched only late last year, some free samples sent to pet owners had already elicited some positive feedback, says de Koster:

“It’s been really encouraging. We’ve had dog owners come back to us and tell us that they’ve noticed that their dog’s coat is shinier, others have remarked that their pet’s mobility seems better and many have said their general health seems better and the dog has more of ‘a sparkle in the eye’. Many pets are apparently licking their bowls clean which is a good sign.”

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