Special edition: Supplements for Pets

Navigating the regulations around supplements for pets

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dietary supplement

While many ingredients and trends for animal supplements are the similar to those found in human dietary supplements, the sector lives in a pre-DSHEA environment for regulations, explains Bill Bookout, president of the National Animal Supplement Council.

Human dietary supplement companies are laterally expanding and beginning to look at supplements for this particular market segment, explained Bookout, but the regulatory environment is significantly different for pet supplements than humans.

Speaking with NutraIngredients-USA at the recent Expo West trade show in Anaheim, Bookout explained that when the FDA passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) in October 1994 it amended the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to create a category of food for human dietary supplements. However, Congress did not include language that mentioned animals in that legislation.

“The division of FDA we deal with on the pet supplement or animal supplement side is the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine. They published an opinion in the Federal Registry in April 1996 that said, in their opinion, DSHEA was not intended to apply to animals, so for the pet/animal supplement area, we live in a pre-DSHEA environment,”​ explained Bookout.

“A lot of people think that animal supplements are not regulated, but that’s not true. They’re really regulated at three levels: One they’re regulated by the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine; they can also be regulated by the States; or we [NASC] have developed a system of self-regulation and we represent about 90% of the animal supplement industry.

“We have a very thorough and comprehensive system of self-regulation that we have worked to define, develop, and implement working very openly and transparently with the regulatory agencies at both the State and Federal level.”

Channels & trends

Like the human supplement industry, there are numerous channels to market for animal supplements, he said, including veterinarians, pet specialty stores, the natural food channel on the human food side is, and the mass channel. However, “the channel that is growing the fastest is e-commerce”​, said Bookout.

“The overall trends for animal supplements follow many of the trends seen in human supplements, but they’re lagging. So, probiotics, skin and coat products with essential fatty acids and omega-3s. Weight management is a big category that people explore but there’s no magic bullet for weight loss in animals; if you don’t feed them the right diet and give them exercise then they’re going to be overweight.”

The market for supplements for pets is valued at around $1.8 bn, with 50% of that for dogs and cats, and the other 50% for horses.

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