Dechra, the veterinary products company, is to revamp its range of healthy pet foods as it taps into the growing demand from owners seeking treatment for animals with human-like ailments such as obesity, arthritis and allergies.

Ian Page, chief executive, said the Stoke-based company planned a series of new and improved products in the coming months for “companion” animals, building on sales that have increased 6.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis to £23m annually.

He said the biggest demand was for low salt, low fat “weight maintenance” diets, as owners fed their pets some of the same unhealthy food that they ate themselves, including chocolate and chips.

Dechra has concentrated on producing pet foods with ingredients specifically linked to health improvements, and sells exclusively through vets, at prices slightly below those charged by its rivals using broader retail channels.

About 70 per cent of its nutrition sales for “therapeutic diets” branded Specific – which aim to improve nutrition to help diabetes, arthritis and urinary, kidney, liver and heart problems. It has recently also launched diets for pets that are hypoallergenic and have problems with their joints.

Dechra has also expanded its range of animal medicines and said it was on track to spend an additional £2.5m in the current financial year on developing products of endocrine therapy, lameness and a respiratory drug for horses.

The company posted net income up 38 per cent to £6.1m in the year to June 30, on sales up 15 per cent to £350m. With expansion into markets outside Europe led by the US, Dechra increased its workforce by 54 to 1,024 during the year.

In a research note, Brewin Dolphin, the investment bank, called the Dechra results “solid” but said performance in the pharmaceuticals division had “disappointed” and expected to reduce its earnings forecasts.

It stressed relatively slow expansion of sales of Vetoryl, the company’s new product to treat Cushing’s Disease, a glandular disorder in dogs, which reported sales of $2.2m since its launch in January.

Dechra’s shares fell 14½p to 414p on Tuesday.

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