What pets want or need does not always necessarily match the wishes of their owners. This also applies to perfumes and smells in pet care as well in beauty and home care products. A joint project of the Symrise divisions Fragrance, Cosmetic Ingredients and Diana with its Pet Food Business Unit has taken a close look at this not infrequent conflict of objectives – and now serves a promising market.


Some dogs feel most com­fortable and enjoy their own smell when they have been running around outside and rolling in puddles. Cats are cleaner creatures and love the scent of catnip and valerian. Unknown smells make them insecure. Pet owners, on the other hand, would prefer to hide the scents their pets sometimes bring home with them under fine shampoos. In the best case, these shampoos smell like human care products. One thing is clear: Pref­erences diverge widely. In addition, our four-legged friends are much more sensitive to odors than humans: “10 % of a dog’s brain is dedicated to olfac­tion, as compared to only 0.3 % in humans. Dogs have about 200 million olfactive neurons, cats have 67 million and humans only 15 million,” says Anne Cabotin, Senior Vice President of Consumer Fragrances. “We need to tailor fragrances that do not irritate dogs and also contribute to making them feel relaxed and happy.” Dogs also have much thinner skin with a higher pH value, which means they need more shampoos and creams specifically adapted to their sensitive skin.

The market for animal care products is huge. There are 830 million domestic dogs and cats around the world, and this number has risen by 40 % in the past ten years. “But this growth is far from over. We’re talking about a market for animal care products of around € 10 billion,” says Bertrand de Launay, President of Diana Pet Food, citing another concise figure that points to rising figures: According to studies, two-thirds of all millennials in the U.S. – those born between the early 1980 s and late 1990 s – already own a pet. “However, we are no longer talking about pet owners, but about pet parents. And because this humanization will progress even more, we see enormous potential in the beauty and home care industries as well.”

For pet owners, animal care products should ideally smell like care products for people.

So how do you bring the needs of humans and animals together in pet care prod­ucts? A team from the Pet Food business unit of Symrise’s Division Diana, has joined forces with researchers from the Consumer Fragrances business unit of Symrise’s Fragrance Division. The result are fragrances with a NeoFresh® technology inside that help suppressing odors without the animals per­ceiving the smell of the care product as unpleasant. Both sides brought their strengths to the development process. An example of this is the evaluation subjects: “We know the animals’ preferences very well because we have been working for years with more than 1,000 cats and dogs living in our Panelis centers in France, Brazil and the USA,” says Bertrand de Launay. Experts are also evaluating the products with 2,300 dogs and cats that live with families in the French region, who were brought together to form the Panelis in-home panel. The process also involved veterinarians and ethologists (animal behavior experts). The experts are additionally evaluating feedbacks from pet parents of Yummypets, a pioneering social media network for pets. Yummypets also belongs to Diana Pet Food. More than 1.3 million ani­mal owners and their pets are already active on the network. 

“We had been working on this topic for quite some time, and after Symrise took over Diana in 2015, we realized how big our synergy effects were,” reports Bertrand de Launay. Three customer groups were to be addressed: companies that already offer animal care products, beauty care companies that want to add beauty products for animals, and companies that sell animal food and want to expand their range. In developing the fragrances and also selling the products to the care product manufacturers, the project relied on the know-how of Symrise colleagues from the Cosmetic Ingredients Division, who are par­ticularly well versed in products for sensitive skin and hair. “At Symrise, we want to increase health and well-being for the whole family, and that includes pets,” says Gabriele Vielhaber, Senior Vice President Global Accounts Cosmetic Ingredients. “At the same time, we recognize how large the markets in this segment are. This fits in well with our corporate strategy, according to which we want to generate a third of our sales in areas outside the traditional fragrance and flavor segments.” The coronavirus crisis has further intensified the development of the market. “Consumers are spending much more time at home with their cats and dogs, which has made them realize they can improve living conditions for their pets as well – not just with food, but with odors,” says Gabriele Vielhaber.

The entry of large and trendy cosmetics customers into the segment has also boosted business. “This is the ideal time to also expand our product range,” says Gabriele. “However, and this is particularly important, the products must be precisely adapted to the needs of the animals: In dogs, for example, this means that we use our gentlest ingredients and fragrances because of the higher skin pH, thinner epidermis and finer hair.” In addition, the products are vegan, mostly biodegradable and manufactured without controversial substances such as parabens.

The teams are also currently developing products for which they have advanced into another area: household cleaning products. “What does a pet have the most contact with?” Bertrand asks, and he answers immediately, saying, “The floor. Dogs and cats walk on carpets or hard floor coverings all day long, so it is only logical that we take a close look at this area as well.” “Pets and their parents are exposed to the same air care and cleaning products used for everyday home cleaning and freshing,” says Anne Cabotin. “Now pet parents will be able to buy their essential home products with the confidence that fragrances are well accepted by their pets.”

Numbers of olfactory nerve cells (in million)