For many pet owners, their animal companions are a beloved member of the family. So, as the therapeutic qualities of cannabis products for pets continue to emerge, the question arises: Can it help pets stay healthy, too?
The potential market for pet-targeted cannabis products is significant. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 35 percent of American households have dogs, while 30 percent of households have cats. Last year, Americans spent $60.28 billion on their pets, including $14.28 billion in supplies and over-the-counter medicine, the American Pet Products Association reported.
However, successfully tapping this relatively new niche requires diligent research and a firm grasp of your customers’ needs and interests.
We reached out to Robert Stewart—president of sales, distribution and media at Canna Companion—for insight into how dispensary owners can expand into this market. Stewart has spent the last 16 years developing cannabis products for pets.
There are three basic steps:
The first step is educating yourself on what cannabis can do for pets. Learn how it can help with different ailments such as joint and mobility issues in aging dogs, or how it can help calm anxious dogs and even boost their immunity. You’ll want to be able to tell your customers exactly how cannabis can help their animals.
Hemp, a variety of cannabis, appears to be extremely beneficial to both dogs and cats. CBD extracted from hemp or cannabis contains many of the same therapeutic benefits of THC, but without the high. Many pet owners have claimed that CBD has helped bring life back to their aging pets.
If you are thinking about carrying cannabis for pets, start by asking your customers if they’d be interested in buying these products. Once you start the conversation, your customers will likely be curious about why they should consider using cannabis for their pets and whether it could help.
“Retailers should consider carrying these types of products, but they need to be very selective in the brands they choose to represent,” Stewart said. “From a pure revenue-generating perspective, it’s a product category that has huge future potential.”
Surveying your clientele for a week or so and keeping track of their responses can help you determine if you should pursue the opportunity further. If enough customers are interested, you can always start with a small order from one or two vendors and see how the products sell. However, this is where the tricky part comes in: Finding the right vendor.
When choosing a vendor, it’s important to do your research. Be alert for unsubstantiated claims or potentially unsafe products. For instance, avoid companies that say their products are safe for both human and animal consumption. Your customers should never give their pets products intended for people.
If you’re looking at a company that claims to have worked with veterinarians and have researched their products for years, ask for proof. Any well-run, honest business will be more than happy to share this information with you. Also, consider whether or not the company is a part of a pet product association. If they aren’t, they probably aren’t a well-regarded company.
Bottom line: Before investing in cannabis products for pets, gauge your customers’ interest. If you determine there’s a demand, investigate the companies you plan to work with and purchase only from reliable, reputable vendors.
As the research into cannabis increases, so will the demand. So, getting in on this market early could be valuable in the future.
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