Pets fetch specialized OTC segment

While the recession has caused some pet lovers to cut back spending on toys and treats, when it comes to their pets' health, consumers aren't skimping. A recent Packaged Facts consumer survey shows that 43% of dog owners and 36% of cat owners purchase some type of specialty nutritional formula pet food or supplemental nutritional products. In 2012, sales totaled about $1.3 billion, according to Packaged Facts.

Packaged Facts research director David Sprinkle said an aging pet population is driving the market as more pets suffer from such age-related conditions as joint deterioration and cognitive dysfunction. Supplements with glucosamine, omega fatty acids and probiotics — along with such trendier ingredients as bee pollen, green tea and elk velvet antler — have been category-drivers, according to the firm's research.

In addition to traditional tablets and pills, supplements now come in functional biscuits, soft chews and alternative delivery formats, such as gels and pastes.

Consumers have become more educated about taking care of their pets and understand the importance of preventive pet care. At the same time, pharmacies are filling more prescriptions for aging pets. Drug chains offering a good selection of pet supplements and OTCs are in a good position to gain a bigger share of the pet care market.