As the number of pets increase in households across Europe, this has correlated with a significant rise in the purchasing of pet treats. According to the Pet Food Industry, 95% of people say pets are part of the family, with many believing that pet treats help develop a relationship between owner and pet (Pet Food Industry, 2016). This article will focus on the growth of the Pet Treat sector of the market and why pet owners are looking for functional treats to help with their pet’s health and wellbeing.
Treats are one of the highlights of being a pet owner. Many owners use them for training and providing a focus to reaffirm positive behaviour. In addition, many believe that it helps their connection with their pets. It is believed that around 90 per cent of dogs are motivated by food, this makes treats an adequate reward to offer.
As people spent more time at home during the lockdowns, the time with their pets increased. Others acquired or adopted a pet, particularly in the earlier stages of the pandemic. As a result, people looked for different ways to pamper themselves, with their pets included. Packaged Facts inferred that pet pampering trends contributed to the rise in pet food treats. This is only set to continue in the future, with many pet parents looking to treat their pets with a premium quality treat. In particular, people aged 18-24 are spending more than double on their pets than those over the age of 55.
As most pet owners return to the workplace, there has been a concern for pets’ welfare. Interestingly, 34% of owners believe their pet’s anxiety will increase. This has seen pet treat manufacturers looking at ways to benefit a pet’s health. We will now look into the role of functional treats and how this segment of the treat market is growing.
Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to improve skin conditions not only in healthy dogs (Rees et al., 2001) but also in dogs with pruritic skin diseases (Logas & Kunkle, 1994), making these fatty acids a popular ingredient for skin and coat treats.
Nucleotides play an essential role in cell renewal and proliferation and have been shown to have beneficial effects on immune function and gastrointestinal health. Immune cells need to rapidly increase in number in response to an invading microorganism and nucleotide supplementation has been shown to support this in both dogs (Romanao et al., 2007) and cats (Rutherfurd-Markwick et al., 2013). The cells lining the intestines (epithelial cells) face a lot of wear and tear and continuous cell renewal is required to regenerate and replace these cells. This process that is enhanced by dietary nucleotide supplementation (Domeneghini et al., 2004), helping to support the intestines’ ability to digest food, absorb nutrients and keep out harmful microorganisms.
Prebiotics such as mannan-oligosaccharides (MOS), fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and chicory/inulin can provide a number of benefits for digestive health such as increasing numbers of ‘friendly’ gut bacteria and increasing production of short-chain fatty acids – an important source of ‘fuel’ for intestinal epithelial cells (Pinna & Biagi, 2014). While prebiotics provides the ‘food’ for friendly gut bacteria, probiotic supplements directly deliver the live friendly bacteria into the gut. In addition to providing benefits for digestive health, probiotics can also stimulate immune function, for example enhancing the antibody response to vaccination in dogs (Benyacoub et al., 2003).
According to a recent survey, 70% of pet care customers say treats with functional benefits help to play an important role in their pet’s health (Packaged Facts, 2019). Those surveyed look for treats that help solve problems or offer extra nutrition.
Functional Treats come in many shapes and sizes. Below are five popular types of functional treats with specific benefits to pets.
To summarise, it is evident that the popularity of pet treats is on the rise. Many pet owners see their pets as part of the family and believe that treats can help develop a connection between themselves and their pets. Recent research has found that the market value of treats is on the increase year on year, with the UK market set to rise by 13.1% over the next five years. In addition, the global dog treat market is expected to grow by 4.2%, and the cat treats market by 5.5% in the next five years.
There are several reasons why the treats market has seen an increase in sales. One of them is the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw many people spending a lot of their time at home. With this, people looked for ways to pamper themselves and their pets, with luxury items such as treats being purchased. In addition, as humanisation expands into pet food, pet parents have been looking for functional treats that can help support their pet’s health. As a result, this segment in the treat market is growing substantially, with 70% of pet care customers saying that treats with functional benefits help to play an important role in their pet’s health.
The growth of pet treats will undoubtedly continue in the future, with many different types of treats becoming available on the market. In addition, pet food manufacturers and brands will look to add more ways in which treats can help support the health and wellbeing of pets.
Baltazar, A. (2013, January 13). Healthy Ways to Treat Your Dog. Retrieved from PetMD: https://www.petmd.com/dog/centers/nutrition/evr_dg_healthy_dog_treats
Benyacoub, J., Czarnecki-Maulden, G.L., Cavadini, C., Sauthier, T., Anderson, R.E., Schiffrin, E.J. & von der Weid, T. (2003) Supplementation of food with Enterococcus faecium (SF68) stimulates immune function in young dogs. J Nutr, 133:1158-1162
Domeneghini, C., Giancamillo, Di., Savoini, G., Paratte, R., Bontempo, V. & Dell’Orto, V. (2004) Structural patterns of swine ileal mucosa following L-glutamine and nucleotide administration during the weaning period. An histochemical and histometrical study. Histol Histopathol. 19:49-58
Euromonitor. (2022). Dog Food in the United Kingdom. Passport.
Euromonitor. (2022). World Market for Pet Care. Passport.
Granderson, D. (2017, September 5th). Something to Chew On (aka Why Pet Owners Love Treats and Chews). Retrieved from Packaged Facts: https://www.packagedfacts.com/Content/Blog/2017/09/05/Something-to-Chew-On-aka-Why-Pet-Owners-Love-Treats-and-Chews
Johnson, K.A., Lee, A.H. & Swanson, K.S. (2020) Nutrition and neutraceuticals in the changing management of osteoarthritis for dogs and cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc, 256: 1335-1341.
Logas, D. & Kunkle, G.A. (1994) Double-blinded crossover study with marine oil supplementation containing high-dose eicosapentaenoic acid for the treatment of canine pruritic skin disease. Vet Dermatol, 5:99-104
Pet Food Industry (2016, March 9th). 95% say pets are part of the family. Retrieved from Pet Food Industry: https://www.petfoodindustry.com/articles/5695-report—say-pets-are-part-of-the-family
Pacelli, A. (2022, March 17). Pet owners spend more money on their pets than on themselves, research suggests. Retrieved from DogsTodayMagazine:
Rees, C.A., Bauer, J.E., Burkholder, W.J., Kennis, R.A., Dunbar, B.L. & Bigley, K.E. (2001) Effects of dietary flax seed and sunflower seed supplementation on normal canine serum polyunsaturated fatty acids and skin and hair coat condition scores. Vet Dermatol, 12:111-117
Romano, V., Martinez-Puig, D., Torre, C., Iraculis, N., Vilaseca, L.I. & Chetrit C. (2007) Dietary nucleotides improve the immune status of puppies at weaning. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr, 91:158-162
Rutherfurd-Markwick K.J., Hendriks W.H., Morel P.C.H. & Thomas D.J. (2015) The potential for enhancement of immunity in cats by dietary supplementation. Vet Immun Immunopath, 152 (3-4):333-40
Article written by Matthew Aiken and Dr. Adrian Hewson-Hughes