By Gregory Daurer | Aug 08, 2022
Wellness supplements for cats and dogs
When Kamalski's dog Sienna began suffering from arthritis, he didn't recognize the early signs. "And that made me feel really bad," he says, "because I felt like I am an educated guy. I've been in the health and wellness arena for a big part of my career."
Kamalski has helped to run a health and fitness company, which sells the nutritional supplements it has developed. "I have connections with biomolecular scientists and formulation scientists," he says. So, with their help, he set about creating a supplement for his aging pet. Soon, friends and relatives began asking for samples, which led to the eventual decision to start his own company with digital marketing expert and co-founder Chris Mattock.
Today, Pet Wellness Direct offers two different products for dogs experiencing joint and arthritis issues. One is for early-stage cases, incorporating ingredients like glucosamine, MSM, and vitamins C and E. The advanced formula goes even further via the addition of green-lipped mussels from New Zealand, which Kamalski notes within a product video are "350 times more powerful at reducing inflammation than salmon oil or fish oil," as well as sea cucumber, which is "an incredible source of natural chondroitin that's going to help reduce pain and inflammation."
Kamalski has also noted how cancer rates in cats and dogs are on the rise. "It's frightening," he says. It was a veterinarian treating his own dog for cancer who first told Kamalski about the immune-boosting properties of turkey tail mushrooms. Now, Kamalski incorporates turkey tail -- as well as shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms -- into his Critical Immune Defense product for cats and dogs. Kamalski also points to the anti-inflammatory properties of the white turmeric the company adds, which is "odorless, colorless, and it's more bioavailable, which means it absorbs into the pet's body more readily."
If some of those ingredients sound familiar to consumers of human healthcare products, that's because they are. Kamalski says, "We like to look at the human space and look at innovation in the human sector and say, 'How does it apply to the world of pets?'"
Pet Wellness Direct's VetSmart formulas are manufactured within GMP facilities on both the East and West Coast, without the use of "artificial flavors, colors, [or] fillers." A board of advisors, which includes veterinarians, offers input about products and ingredients. "They help us," Kamalski says. "They advise us. And they are proactive, pro-preventative health care. They believe in wellness, not just treating an issue when it happens."
Despite not being sold in retail stores, Kamalski says, "We've been growing exponentially each year." In addition to being offered through the company's website, VetSmart products are sold online through Chewy, Amazon, Walmart, and -- starting next quarter -- Petco.
The company's range of products also includes an oral spray, incorporating aloe vera, to prevent tooth decay and oral disease in cats and dogs. "They'll get less tartar and plaque, which means they have less chance of getting oral disease and having a tooth pulled," Kamalski says.
There's also a probiotic formulation for dogs. And his latest two offerings for dogs arrived just in time for outdoor flea season: a shampoo to "kill fleas without harsh chemicals or toxins," according to the company's website, and an in-home spray. "It has enough cedarwood oil that it gets the job done -- which in this case is to kill fleas," Kamalski says of the two products that also incorporate rosemary and lemongrass oils.
And there's more to come. Kamalski plans on releasing up to three new products per year over the next five years. "We're building the business," he says. "We're excited to be able to help pets."
Challenges: "I think the biggest challenge is cutting through the noise in the marketplace and helping consumers to make better purchase decisions," says Kamalski. "So, being able to get through to the consumer in an effective manner and tell the story and educate them is really a challenge."
The company utilizes Facebook and YouTube videos to draw in consumers. On the company's website, there are side-by-side comparisons of the amounts of the ingredients within Pet Wellness Direct's products versus other brands on the market. "They're stronger; they're more powerful; they deliver better and longer lasting results," he says of what he terms his "veterinarian strength" formulations. "We don't use cheap ingredients," he adds.
Opportunities: Kamalski says it's more consumers valuing "preventative measures for their pet -- as opposed to waiting until there's a problem like I did initially, you know, where my dog's limping or my dog sits down in the middle of a walk. It's too late."
Needs: Kamalski says, "Consumers with an open mind that are willing to listen to the message and willing to spend money to prevent issues down the line -- which are far more costly, by the way. They're actually doing themselves a great service in terms of their pet and their [pet's] health and their longevity -- but, also, in terms of their wallet."