“We have an on-site lab that tests each ingredient so
we can continue to make only the best pet food possi-
ble that pet owners can trust. Further, we’ve retained
and hired the best people in the industry to provide our
customers with a unique, quality product that we’re
Traceability is integral to the company’s mission.
“It’s why we started our own facility, Ethos,” Kala-
chian said. “At Canidae, it’s part of our everyday pro-
tocol to know where each ingredient is coming from,
and we continue to work towards a future where we’re
involved on an even deeper level.”
The company also seeks to make its processes and
practices visible to pet owners, who seek to buy foods
from brands they know they can trust.
“We communicate Canidae quality through our
packaging, our website, our social media and, notably,
our five-star ratings on various review sites,” Kalachian
said. “Word-of-mouth [is] a factor for us as well . . .
We’ve emphasized through our packaging design and
overall messaging that our products are high quality
and at an affordable price point.”
Looking to the future, Canidae recognizes the poten-
tial for development of new categories within the natu-
ral pet food space and is investing in research.
“At this time, though, we still believe that there’s
nothing better than a dry, extruded pet food as it pertains to digestibility, safety and the convenience of feeding your pet,” Kalachian added.
Tewksbury, Mass.-based WellPet is an independent,
family-owned business that makes food and treats for
dogs and cats under the Wellness, Old Mother Hub-
bard, Holistic Select, Eagle Pack, Sojos and Whimzees
“At WellPet, we’re a family of pet parents,” said Lisa
Laich, vice president of marketing. “We understand
what our customers want from their pet’s food because
we want those same things for our pets: quality, natural
nutrition that helps them feel their best . . . We have
something for every pet, no matter their age, life stage,
breed or dietary requirements.”
The company also understands that “recognizing in-
gredients, where they come from and what their benefits
are is essential for today’s pet parent,” Laich said. “In to-
day’s world, information is too readily available for us to
not raise questions about our pet’s food. That’s why we
only use the finest ingredients in all of our recipes and
have developed an extensive quality assurance program,
guaranteeing that all of our products are safe, pure and
The company considers transparency an integral part
of its relationship with customers.
“Although natural pet food shoppers are highly edu-
cated about the food they choose for their dog or cat, they
shouldn’t have to sift through layers of information to find
the answers they are looking for,” Laich said. “We make
it easier by clearly calling out key ingredients and benefits
on our packaging, and making ourselves readily available
on social media or through our customer service team to
answer any questions they might have.”
In the future, WellPet expects the natural pet food cat-
egory to continue to grow, particularly through subcate-
gories within the niche.
“Raw, freeze-fried and dehydrated foods are all poised
for growth as more pet parents look for pure, natural ingredients to fuel their whole-body health,” Laich said.
HORIZON PET FOOD
Horizon Pet Food in Rosthern, Saskatchewan, Canada, is
a manufacturer of premium dry dog and cat food. The
company deems accountability to be the foundation of its
“[We take] full ownership of every aspect of how our
food reaches a consumer’s home,” said co-founder Jeff En-
glish. “From formula development to ingredient sourcing
to manufacturing to packaging and product placement
through specialty retailers, we are 100 percent accountable
for each and every small decision.”
Self-manufacturing is at the heart of Horizon Pet Food’s
ability to control the final product that reaches customers.
“We know consumers are increasingly aware, and increasingly appreciative, of food companies that own the
sourcing and manufacturing process themselves,” he said.
There also are advantages that arise from being based
in Canada rather than the U.S., English said.
“We can source several ingredients from local growers
that are free of GMOs, growth hormones and steroids . . .
That is sometimes harder to do in other markets,” English
said. “We can also offer significant value for the level of
quality of our formulas because we operate in a currency
that is predominantly lower than the U.S. currency. It’s
better to save there than cutting the level or quality of
The company also recognizes that pet owners often
know what they want in a pet food—and a pet food
“They want and expect authentic, honest products
from companies that respect their needs to balance a budget while doing the best they can in feeding their pet . . .
They also value transparency from the company on how
they do things and will expect a track record to stand behind,” English added.
Looking forward, the company expects specialty pet
food to become more commoditized, leading to increased
competition and pricing pressure. But English remains optimistic about the long-term forecast.
“Innovation will prevail,” he said. “There will be new
products and nutritional advancements, and we fully expect specialty retail to lead that charge. It’s a cycle, and we
don’t see that slowing down at all.”
Richard Rowlands is a writer and marketer for the pet industry, and a keen pet enthusiast. He works with pet businesses to
improve their marketing and increase profits. To find out more,
PET CHARITY NEWS
fires in Napa and
Sonoma in Cali-
fornia, Pet Food
Express set up a
donation SKU at
all its stores and
began accepting monetary donations, as well as directly donating supplies to all its res-
cue partners in the fire zone in Napa and Sonoma counties. The donation of supplies
included thousands of crates, dog and cat food, cat litter, bowls and more. In addition,
the multistore California chain delivered supplies to its stores in the region impacted by
the fires, which were given out to customers based on their needs.
In total, the retailer gave away thousands of crates and tens of thousands of dollars
worth of product. Pet Food Express also raised about $30,000 that will be donated to its
pet rescue/shelter partners.
The company also provided free pet washes at nearly all its stores in the North Bay
Area through Oct. 31. Pet Food Express did this to help people get rid of the soot and
smell. The soot and ash from the fires is filled with toxins from the cars/metal that burned
(unlike with forest fires), so the retailer felt it was important to get dogs cleaned of the
soot, company officials reported.
GRANT ENABLES FACILITY
DOG PROVIDER TO
EXPAND ITS PROGRAM
PetSmart Charities gave a
$300,000 grant to Canine
Companions for Independence, a facility dog provider.
The grant is designed to
help Canine Companions
provide assistance dogs to six
facilities across the U.S. through its renowned Facility Dog program, which pairs
expertly trained dogs with professionals working in rehabilitation, health care,
education and courtroom settings. In these environments, facility dogs perform a
variety of services for clients, such as helping students to focus in class, or providing support to a patient in a medical or psychiatric rehabilitation program. The six
facility dogs are expected to impact hundreds of clients’ lives each week and more
than 40,000 individuals per year.
Canine Companions assistance dogs, including facility dogs, learn more than 40
commands to help enhance independence for children, veterans and adults with
disabilities. Assistance dogs can retrieve dropped items, open doors, turn on lights
and more. Facility dogs utilize these commands in a variety of therapeutic ways,
such as improving balance in a physical therapy session by gently tugging on a toy,
helping with fine and gross motor skills by retrieving and returning items to clients,
and providing a calm and nonjudgmental presence for practicing speech therapies.
Currently, the Facility Dog program supports 324 active dog-handler teams,
which serve about 8 to 10 years. The PetSmart Charities grant will allow this program to expand with six more dog-handler teams to serve 40,000 more individuals
Companies are making it easier for pet owners to see
what’s inside their cans and bags of pet food. SHUTT