Here are some of today’s top treat trends that support satisfying, safe, and sustainable snacking opportunities for pets.
Sweet treats and special snacks
What often comes to mind when thinking of pet treats are baked biscuits, small soft treats, or even a knotted rawhide piece. But some pet parents are venturing away from the traditional treats and seeking unique ways to reward their pets.
- Toppers: Even dinner time can be a treat with meal toppers. With options ranging from broths and pour-overs to freeze-dried powders, pet owners can easily mix extra flavor and nutrition into the food dish.
- Frozen treats: When warm weather arrives, it’s not just the humans who will be enjoying frozen treats. Pets can join their owners for an ice cream break, thanks to frozen treats made with minimal dairy ingredients and pet-safe flavors like peanut butter, vanilla, and sweet potato.
- Alternative proteins: Some treats allow pets to sample proteins that aren’t common in pet food — in formats like baked and freeze-dried bites or natural chews. These might be exotic meats like elk, kangaroo, and alligator or insect-based treats.
- Celebratory treats: Consumers want to share their special occasions with their furry family members. So when it’s time to celebrate, they might reach for seasonally-flavored pet treats, treats with holiday-themed packaging, and pet-friendly birthday cakes.
- Snack bars: Just like humans, dogs appreciate a hearty snack break to recharge during long hikes. And the grab-and-go format of snack bars is easy to take along on adventures.
Bites with benefits
As consumers stock up on better-for-you snacks for themselves, they’re also choosing healthier treats for their pets. Pet parents feel better about giving their animals treats that are more than just empty calories and don’t come with the potential health risks of some table scraps.
That’s why many of the latest treats in the market aren’t simply treats — they include health-related label claims like skin and coat support, gut health, and immunity. And more treats are hitting the shelves with nutritional boosts from superfoods such as blueberries, bone broth, and turmeric.
Sales of CBD pet products are still going strong, too, although they’re not yet approved by the FDA. Pet parents may turn to CBD chews to calm their furry companions, particularly during the pandemic’s stressors, or prevent separation anxiety when they return to the office.
Treats for finicky felines
From chews to food toppers to training treats, most canine companions will readily sample various tastes and textures. On the other hand, cats tend to be more selective, making it difficult for their owners to find something they enjoy.
But that may change. Some of the latest cat treats on the market are catering to the way cats prefer to snack. Lickable cat treats, in particular, are gaining popularity — the liquid format is appealing to cats, delivers the high moisture cats need, and is conveniently packaged for owners to squeeze and feed. Owners can also drizzle these treats over food to entice picky eaters.
Another feline favorite is freeze-dried treats. These treats usually only contain a single protein — poultry and fish tend to be the favorites among cats — and are easy to use as food toppers to add extra protein to mealtime.
Safety, sourcing, and sustainability
Safety is a top priority for pet treat purchasers, especially for dog chews, which can splinter into sharp pieces or cause internal blockages. Rawhide alternatives help alleviate such concerns, and pet treat manufacturers are jumping on board.
Fieldcrest Farms uses powder collagen to produce its rawhide alternative products, while companies like Vital Essentials use freeze-drying to preserve the flavor of natural chews and make them safer for dogs to chew and humans to handle. Several companies are also producing crunchy fish skin chews as a safe, leaner protein option.
But consumers are also paying closer attention to ingredient sources. Nearly 70% of pet parents are concerned about the treatment of the animals used to make pet food and treats, and many want to support local farms by buying treats that are made and sourced in the US.
And they’re still shopping sustainably, even for their pets. Fortunately, pet treat products often support sustainability efforts, as they may use plant and animal parts that human food manufacturers discard. But as environmental concerns continue to influence what pet owners purchase, upcycled treats could gain popularity. Shameless Pets has forged ahead in this effort, producing pet treats with a portion of fruits and vegetables that are safe for consumption but wouldn’t look pretty on a grocery store shelf.
Good food might be the foundation of a healthy pet, but treats provide opportunities for training, bonding, and adventures. So consumers will always be looking for new ways to reward their pets while keeping them healthy and happy.