family with a dog

Pet Snack and Treat Food Trends for 2021

As more pet owners look for products that reflect their own values and ideas of wellness, the pet product industry is innovating to meet those needs. From sustainability to functional ingredients, here’s a look at the top pet snack and treat trends for 2021.

2021 Trends in Pet Snacks and Treats

The rise in single-person and childless households, especially among Millennials, has been an important factor in the shift in perception from pet owner to pet parent. The movement toward pet humanization is manifested in the pet food and products industry as increased spending on pets and a growing interest in premium ingredients and ingredients with wellness benefits.

In the U.S., 88% of pet owners agree it’s important to take preventive measures to protect a pet’s health,1 and the COVID pandemic has further highlighted the importance of prevention. This is creating a big opportunity in pet snacks and treats that can offer added benefits, satisfying both pet and pet parents.

Here we explore the top four trends in pet snacks and treats for 2021:

1. Sustainable Proteins

The demand for sustainable proteins is expanding beyond the food industry into the pet food industry. Pet snacks and treats made with sustainable proteins offer pet owners a way to act on their values and support environmentally aware brands, even if they rely on more traditional and widely available proteins for their pet's regular food. 

Plant proteins such as peas and chickpeas are on the rise in pet snacks and treats as a plant-forward, sustainable option. Insect protein is also emerging in the category with Scout & Zoe’s recent launch of Super Fly for dogs—a line of treats and meal toppers made from black soldier fly larvae.

2. Immunity, Digestion, and Healthy Skin Support

Pet supplements in the form of a snack or treat are also on-trend. These products can target many different areas of health in which pet owners are interested. Among U.S. pet owners, 55% would like to see healthy digestion benefits in pet food and treats, while 46% are interested in skin/coat health benefits and 45% in immune system support.2

Pet treats and snacks for healthy digestion may include enzymes, prebiotics such as inulin, and probiotics, while products for skin and coat contain ingredients such as collagen, flaxseed, and omega-3s. With immunity in the spotlight due to COVID, many pet owners are also looking for pet products with antioxidants, vitamin C, zinc, and superfoods or botanicals for immune system support.

dog drinking water

3. Functional Water Enhancers

An emerging pet supplement format with exciting potential is functional water enhancers. One innovative product line is Nulo Hydrate, a water enhancer with electrolytes, B vitamins for energy support, and BCAAs for healthy muscles. Nulo Hydrate comes in four craveable meaty flavors—pork tenderloin, rotisserie chicken, beef brisket, and lamb. 

Tally-Ho, born out of Ocean Spray’s business incubator, offers a variety of wellness benefits for dogs. For example, Tally-Ho Emotional Health is designed to promote calmness and contains L-theanine, while Tally-Ho Immune Health focuses on immune system support with vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc.

4. Natural Ingredients

Pet owners who prioritize natural ingredients in products for themselves are increasingly prioritizing natural ingredients for their pets, as well. North America leads globally in natural pet food and products, just ahead of Europe, with natural claims most often found in dog snacks and treats.

Of new pet food and product launches in North America between February 2020 and January 2021, 42% claim no additives/preservatives, 16% all-natural product, 7% GMO-free, and 4% organic—all up from four years ago.3 Other clean label approaches pet brands are taking include having short ingredient lists, highlighting the absence of animal byproducts, and making meat the primary ingredient.

boy with cat

Looking Ahead

To make pet snacks and treats that will win in the market, brands can look to trends across the food industry to understand what’s on the minds of today’s pet parents. Expect that health and sustainability will continue to influence purchase decisions going into the future. 

Glanbia Nutritionals supports pet food and supplement companies with our comprehensive ingredient portfolio, which includes bioactive ingredients, flavors, micronutrients, plant and dairy proteins, plant-based solutions and more. Learn about our animal and pet solutions to create pet treats and snacks just right for today’s market.


1-3. Mintel, Supplements can support the wellness trend for pets, March 2021.

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