Today's Veterinary Business

JUN 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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32 Today's Veterinary Business Business Business NUTRACEUTICALS Supplemental advice Veterinary teams that take a deliberate, organized approach can capitalize on still-growing interest in pet nutraceuticals. By Karyn Gavzer, MBA, CVPM Maggie, a lively, loveable 8-year-old English springer spaniel was limping again. Her owner was concerned and took her to the veterinarian. The diagnosis was a torn anterior cruciate ligament, and the veterinarian recommended surgery to repair it. Maggie's owners considered themselves fortunate to have a veterinarian who had coached at the local high school. He knew how active Maggie was and he was very aware of the need for functional- ity and the importance of getting Maggie back to fully enjoying life again. After the surgery, he recom- mended glucosamine as a nutri- tional supplement, not just during the recovery period but for the rest of Maggie's life to help maintain joint health. Maggie loves the pill and thinks of it as a treat, her owners say. The glucosamine is kept near the coffeemaker so they don't forget to give the supplement. The owners are part of a con- tinuing trend in the pet nutritional supplement market and veterinary medicine. Major veterinary compa- nies are betting on it. The Nutraceutical Market This past fall, Bayer Animal Health threw its hat into the nutraceutical market with the launch of a chew supplement formulated to support multiple dog body systems. What do Bayer and other manufacturers know that you don't? Trend watchers like Hubba report that "The number of buyer searches for 'pet supplements' grew by 60 percent" in 2017. Pet Age, a key pet products industry publication, says keyword searches are good predictors of what will be "on trend" for pets in the near future. What is clear is that many pet businesses see nutraceuticals as an 2 at the time, and today, nine years later, he is best friends and play- mate with a 5-year-old boy. Lucky's owners try to include him and their young son in as many activities and outings as they can, but two years ago Lucky hurt his back while playing. The injury required surgery on two lower discs. Lucky was lucky again and made a complete recovery. He again enjoys walks with the family and chasing the boy. Lucky's owners were grateful that he could be helped, and they readily complied when the surgeon recommended putting him on glu- cosamine after the operation and a maintenance dose for life. The owners have since added a second supplement to the daily regimen to improve his skin and coat. They found out about the sup- plement from another dog owner, and their veterinarian approved. Numerical Evidence While market research and sto- ries provide helpful insights, little specific research exists on nutra- ceutical use in veterinary practice and even less on how veterinary clients feel about it. An informal survey I conducted of 12 pet own- ers, however, supports the view that nutraceuticals could be a new opportunity for practices. Between them, the pet owners had 10 dogs and four cats ranging in age from under a year to 8 years or older (75 percent of them). The surprise was that, even within the small sample, most of the pets received nutraceutical supplements: • Fatty acids/omega fatty acids/flax: 4 owners • Probiotics/other digestive aids: 2 owners • Glucosamine: 2 owners • Other: 2 owners • Nothing: 2 owners Another tidbit was where the prod- ucts were purchased. The owners who gave nutraceutical supple- ments bought them from: • Veterinarian: 4 • Online store: 3 • Pet store: 2 • Walmart: 1 opportunity. The companies ap- pear to be betting on the potential of a market driven by consumers' growing taste for healthier food and dietary choices for themselves and their pets. Industry reports say the human global nutraceuticals market is predicted to grow by a compounded annual rate of 7.3 percent through 2019, to $279 billion, a rate much faster than in most other economic sec- tors and well ahead of inflation. The pet market has hundreds of nutraceutical products as well as prescription and over-the-counter diets that contain nutraceuticals. North American supplements and nutraceuticals sales were $1.3 billion in 2016 and are ex- pected to show continuing growth through 2019 and beyond. Getting the Word Out How do most veterinary clients find out about nutraceutical supple- ments? Here's another true story that suggests it usually happens only after the pet has a medical in- cident. In this case, the pet owners went one step further and added a second supplement. Lucky, an 11-year-old beagle, has abundant energy and runs to the front door or window to an- nounce the arrival of the mail carri- er, squirrels, the next-door neighbor and anyone who rings the doorbell or walks by with a dog. Lucky really is a lucky dog. His owner adopted him at a crowded Chicago shelter when she was sin - gle and in school. Lucky was almost

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