Interview with Asha Dillon, founder & CEO of Leadr Pet, a pet health and wellness brand.

Interview with Asha Dillon, founder & CEO of Leadr Pet, a pet health and wellness brand.

Hi, I’m Asha, founder of Leadr Pet. I live in Sydney with my 9 month old cocker spaniel Romeo, who is the cheekiest, most energetic dog i’ve ever had. I’ve always had lot’s of pets, and grew up living on a farm with 5 dogs and 2 cats (and 5 chickens, ducks and 2x horses). So being a pet owner and animal lover is ingrained into my whole life!

Asha Dillon, Founder & CEO Leadr Pet

Can you tell us a little about your journey in the wellness industry and what led to the creation of Leadr Pet?

I’ve worked in the vitamin and wellness industry for around 10 years, I've worked for Australia’s biggest vitamin brands such as Blackmores, Bioceuticals and a company that owned Swisse vitamins. I’m a qualified nutritionist and have always worked in product development and innovation. I’ve brought out over 65+ human supplements to market in Australia, UK, China, America and Europe. As a vitamin expert and nutritionist, often friends, colleagues and family members would ring and text for advice, how to treat conditions naturally and what supplements to buy. My 94 year old grandmother would ring me weekly! It wasn’t until she rang me and asked what to give her cat who had kidney problems and recurrent UTI’s, she wanted to use something natural, that i even thought about supplements for pets. I had developed UTI products for women, but never considered what natural supplements were available for cats. I looked online and in pet-stores and found that there were pet supplements, but nothing of the same quality as human supplements, none with clinically trialled, branded ingredients, and that none of the pet supplement labels had the dose of the active ingredients! This was insane to me, and I realised that considering our animals often have similar health issues to us, leaky gut, stress, anxiety, joint pain, behavioural issues, poor gut health – that there needed to be a premium-quality, science-backed vitamin brand for pets. So I quit my job and decided to build that brand, which is how Leadr Pet was born.

What were some of the challenges you faced when starting Leadr Pet and how did you address them?

There were so many challenges it’s not funny. Inflation, global pandemic, shortage of raw materials and a lack of understanding from the pet industry on lifting their game when it came to creating science-backed supplements for dogs. I feel that the pet supplement industry is still very far behind the human supplement industry in regard to quality of ingredients, transparency and labelling. We’ve really lifted the standards for the industry as a whole in regard to our formulations, labels and packaging. Our pouches are made from sugar-cane and a starter pack comes with a refillable supplement tin that you can keep and re-use forever! One of the biggest challenges was the packaging element of leadr pet, and we spent a lot of time sourcing sustainable packaging, which was a non-negotiable for us. It’s 2023, brands should be beautiful, fun, sustainable and easy to use.

How does Leadr Pet distinguish itself from other pet health brands in the market?

Our brand is lifting the standards for pet supplements in Australia (and hopefully one day soon – globally). We are big on transparency, so all our clinical trials, active ingredients and doses are on our labels and our website. We are focused on evidence-based natural medicine and efficacy. People spend a lot of time and money on their pets, if they invest in supplements, they need to work. That’s why we spent so much time and effort creating science-backed supplements that will do what they say they will do.

Can you elaborate on the philosophy of "prevention before intervention" in pet health?

Prevention before intervention is the underlying principle of “wellness” and health. To us that means using natural evidence-based herbals, vitamins and minerals to prevent health issues from occurring. An example of that is our Fetch supplement which is for joint health, this supplement should be given to large breeds who are prone to issues to prevent arthritis from starting and support their joints as they age. We also believe in preventing conditions naturally through the use of natural medicine such as using Settle for stress and anxiety instead of using prescription medicine such as Xanax or Valium etc. Did you know over 1 Million pets in Australia are on prescription anxiety medication, it’s crazy. In saying that, we absolutely love our vets and know that we need them. Leadr Pet is not about offering an alternative to vet care, but looking after your pet before trouble starts.

Why did you decide to develop Belly for Cats, a functional treat for feline probiotic wellness?

Belly for cats is so special for us, not only was it developed with my grandmother's cat in mind, it was developed as a multi-tasker supplement for all felines. Did you know that over 90% of cats get gingivitis? We wanted to create a supplement chew that could treat kidney, urinary, dental and gut health in one. Our Belly for felines contains minimal ingredients, is all natural but uses probiotic strains clinically trialled in cats + cranberry extract to support kidney and urinary health. The texture of the chew supports their teeth and dental health, as they have to chew it to eat it! Urinary health is really important for cats, and many cats as they get older develop kidney issues, this product definitely speaks to the philosophy of prevention before intervention and is a great wellness boost to prevent and treat health concern that cats are prone to.

Could you explain how Belly for Cats improves gut biodiversity and overall wellbeing in cats?

Belly is made from a proprietary blend of multi-strain probiotics and cranberry extract to increase biodiversity in the gut, boost kidney and urinary tract health and improve overall wellness. With 4 strains of clinically trialled strains in felines, this is a broad spectrum probiotic which increases biodiversity by replenishing the microflora with strains of the good bacteria. Probiotics are good for all of us, and with a healthy microflora you in turn have better immunity, energy, digestion and overall wellness.

What other practices can cat owners adopt to improve their pets' gut health?

We recommend adding gut-loving ingredients into their diet. You can add ingredients such as Kefir, Yoghurt (their digestive enzymes can break down the lactose), bone broth to their food. Just adding simple ingredients to their biscuits or wet food can promote a healthier gut.

What are your thoughts on cat grass as a dietary supplement for cats? I wouldn’t recommend cat grass as a dietary supplement, unless cats find the activity enriching through mental stimulation. If you’re looking for a supplement to improve transit time and for well-formed poops, we would suggest a probiotic such as belly for felines. This contains kangaroo, sweet potato and pumpkin which contain fibre so are great for digestion.

What are some signs that a cat might benefit from using Belly for Cats?

Signs of poor gut health such as diarrhoea and/or constipation, straining when going to the toilet, poor digestion. Probiotics help with digestion, gut and immune health. Giving Belly for Felines is a great way to support your cats overall wellness and improve their health. Cats immune health is located in their digestive system, so it’s important to support them wholistically with a supplement.

As an entrepreneur, what has been your most significant learning experience while launching Leadr Pet?

The biggest learning experience is to not “sweat the small stuff”, when you are an entrepreneur a million things go wrong all the time. A week before launch we had 3 separate deliveries of badly printed ecommerce boxes, which I had to unpack and repack from and into the truck 3 times with my team in the rain. However when things go wrong, we just lean in to trying to make it funny – we even made a tiktok about all the things that went wrong a week before launch – 

@leadrpet Clown behaviour 🤡 Good news: we’re launching in a few days! Stay tuned and don’t miss any updates by 🤳FOLLOWING (+) us and 💌 SUBSCRIBING to get a 15% off pre-launch offer. #tiktokfinds #aussiebusiness #tiktokbusiness #entrepreneurtok #fyp ♬ It's A Wrap - Sped Up - Mariah Carey

 Can you share any upcoming plans for Leadr Pet? 

We are definitely focusing on more cat products. Cat stress and anxiety is a big one and something we have planned. Considering our Settle for dogs has been our best-seller by far, we have had 100’s of requests from cat owners for a product for cats.

How might "adventure cats" benefit from using Belly for Cats?

I think the biggest benefit for adventure cats would be how ‘belly’ supports their gut health and in turn immune health. If you have a cat who is only used to the bacteria, microbes and weird and wonderful things of an apartment or inside a house and you introduce them suddenly to the “outside world” this can be stressful for their bodies. Using probiotics to keep their gut and immune health strong is a great way to support them for all the new weird and wonderful bacteria you find on an adventure.

Cats are notoriously fussy eaters, will they love these functional treats?

Our belly for felines has been described as 100% delicious by all of our customers. However, if you do have a particularly fussy cat and they don’t enjoy the chew (which is a shame as they miss out on the dental benefits), you can break it up into small pieces and mix it in their food.

How has the initial response to Leadr Pet been?

In 3 short months since launching the response has been absolutely incredible. We have so many customers who order one product, and then a week later order more of the other products. Our customer reviews and feedback have been incredible and nothing fills our team with more joy than receiving pictures of our customers with their pets and hearing about the great results they are having with the supplements. Settle for stress and anxiety for dogs has been absolutely game-changing and dog owners have reported less anxiety within 24 hours for their dogs. Heal for restoring gut health has also had incredible feedback, with customers emailing us to let us know that their dog's diarrhoea has resolved within 24-48 hours. As a dog owner whose dog is prone to diarrhoea this is a massive relief!

As a first-time founder in the pet health industry, have there been practices that have stood out to you in the pet industry when comparing it with the human health industry?

The pet industry is so far behind the human supplement industry. I’ve come from developing TGA-listed supplements and running clinical trials for CBD supplements for patients with insomnia, so I've come from a very highly regulated nutraceutical background. I’ve brought all of that focus on quality, science, clinical trials and premium ingredients and built that into leadr pet. There is really no pet supplement on the market with that same grade, quality and purity of the ingredients for humans. I’m really passionate about research and science and natural medicine and have put all of that passion and expertise into the range.


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