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Mobility supplements
15th October 2013

by Sandra Pearce


A monthly snapshot and analysis of a different sector within the UK pet industry

The mobility supplements category is experiencing good growth, fuelled by owners being willing to supplement their pets’ diets to prevent and ease joint and mobility issues. This is coupled with greater consumer awareness that their pets’ mobility problem can be helped using a supplement which is available over the counter, says Dorwest Herbs’ Roly Boughton.

Consumer research indicates that mobility issues are in the top three health concerns, along with dental and skin conditions.

The Internet is helping, says Guy Blaskey of Pooch & Mutt. Whereas in the past a pet would be diagnosed by a vet with a condition like arthritis and prescribed a medication such as Metacam, many owners today will google conditions and see what other owners are recommending. “People will then go to their pet shops to buy these products, or order them online,” he said. “Additionally, a newer crop of vets are coming through who are willing to try supplements instead of reaching for the medication.”

Today there are numerous over-the-counter mobility supplements, including M&C’s Arthriti-UM products, launched over 20 years ago, and VetSpec Joint Mobility canine supplement. Many complete pet foods also carry mobility messages, having added glucosamine and/or chondroitin.


VetSpec Joint Mobility for dogs

It is, however, difficult to put an accurate figure on the scale of the market. Market researchers AMA Research estimates the total supplements market at being around £37 million RSP in 2012 but has not provided a breakdown into the relevant sub-categories.

Fiona Mascall at Mark and Chappell says that with the population of aging, overweight pets growing, the market for mobility supplements will continue to thrive. “Companies will continue to conduct research and explore various ingredients and formulations to match consumer needs. It is predicted by 2015, pet supplement sales will reach US$2 billion in the US alone.”

Health supplements manufacturer Lintbells says its Yumove supplement is the ‘fastest growing joint supplement in the UK, now in the top three, and the only one available to both the veterinary and retail channel’. Apart from the mandatory glucosamine and chondroitin, Yumove contains Green Lipped mussel and Hyaluronic acid. Director John Howie said: “What makes it unique is that it provides a unique source of Green Lipped mussel to provide a natural anti-inflammatory effect. The effect of Green Lipped mussel on mobility has already been proven in clinical trials, and Yumove is currently being studied in a clinical trial by the Royal Veterinary College.”


Yumove was launched in 2009. Yumove Young & Active (left) was introduced in November with younger, active dogs in mind

In November, the company launched Yumove Young & Active for younger dogs, which John says is picking up a good following particularly among active dogs such as agility and flyball. The product differs from normal Yumove in that Green Lipped mussel levels have been increased by 20%, as young dog joint problems tend to be inflammation-based as a result of over-doing things.

Guy offers a number of supplements and treats, including the popular Mobile Bones supplement, and he thinks the market is splitting into two. He explains: “At one end you will get more and more cheaper commoditised basic supplements that contain a couple of the basic ingredients like glucosamine. At the other end you will get products like Mobile Bones that instead of just looking at the best-selling ingredients, look at the problems that people feed supplements for.

“Most people feed mobility supplements to dogs with arthritis or dysplasia, so we have formulated Mobile Bones to include specific ingredients for those conditions. For example, Mobile Bones has a full bones-strengthening supplement, which reduces the rate of bone degradation in cases of dysplasia and keeps bones strong in elderly dogs prone to arthritis, lessening the chance of injury.”

At this higher end of the market, there is strong emphasis on quality of raw materials. As John explains: “A great deal of work goes into the sourcing of our raw materials, which means that in this case, our unique Green Lipped mussels provide higher levels of the anti-inflammatory Omega 3s than any other Green Lipped mussels. What this means for the customer is that they see a very quick effect (usually within four to six weeks), which is why it has demonstrated such large growth since launch in 2009, has a phenomenally high customer satisfaction rating.”

In terms of where the market is going, emerging research on improving pet health will continue to drive sales and pique the interest of consumers everywhere, said Fiona.

All say continued research and development will spur growth. As Roly says: “As Dorwest produces licensed medicines, we aim to continually evolve and improve our medicines and supplements to be at the forefront of effective herbal treatments for arthritis and mobility issues for dogs and cats based on sound scientific data.”


New mobility treat from Pooch & Mutt complements its Mobile Bones supplement

Owners will also increasingly become aware that just because a pet food carries a mobility health benefit, there is still a place for mobility supplements and treats. In addition to its Mobile Bones, Pooch & Mutt has recently launched a range of treats which include Active Mobility treats. “These were designed to be fed alongside any mobility food or supplement (including Mobile Bones), and contain ingredients such as rose hip (Rosa Canina), which is rarely found in joint supplements but which is a proven powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.”