BY LIZE TT BOND
From table scraps to highly processed, carbohydrate-rich fare, our dogs have tucked into their meals with gusto. However, Fido’s primal cousins—wolves, coyote and foxes—subsist primarily on
meat spiced with scavenged fruits, nuts, grasses and other vegetation. Over time, it’s become increasingly evident to some that dogs
are meant to eat rations mirroring those consumed by this ancestral
family. Thus, grain-free selections have risen in popularity, leading
to an elevation in protein.
Protein is an essential nutrient contributing to a dog’s overall
health and well-being, from supporting strong muscles and vital organs to promoting a healthy skin and coat, said Bob Rubin, CEO and
president of Solid Gold Pet in Greenville, S.C.
Moreover, a focus on preventive health care, limited use of med-
ications when possible, and feeding the most nutritious, species-ap-
propriate diet available has spawned more whole-food-oriented of-
ferings, many with organic ingredients, said Robert Goldstein, DVM
and co-CEO at Earth Animal in Westport, Conn.
; The trend in pet food is moving with the human field as far as
nutrition and the prevention of disease,” Goldstein said. “People are
treating their pets as they would a child, and as a result, they are very
tuned into the health of their animals and the foods that will contrib-
ute to that health.”
For these reasons, protein is one of the hottest functional food
ingredients in both the human and pet food markets, said Jennifer
Adolphe, Ph.D., RD and senior nutritionist at Petcurean Pet Nutrition
in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada.
“Because of its association with ‘ancestral diets,’ consumers seem
to be gravitating toward protein,” Adolphe said.
The promotion of weight loss is another benefit of a high-protein
canine diet, she noted.
“When following a calorie-restricted diet, high protein intake can
help dogs preserve muscle,” she said.
Leading the Pack to Protein
Grain-free, limited-ingredient and raw foods, coupled with consumers
shying away from carbohydrate-laden fare, all have contributed to
an increase in the availability of high-protein dog foods.
THE HIGH-PROTEIN SYLLABUS
Today’s pet owners are health-conscious, savvy shoppers
and want their pets to receive the same benefits as family
members: food that helps them enjoy a healthy, happy and
active lifestyle, said Bob Rubin, CEO and president of Solid
Gold Pet in Greenville, S.C.
To achieve that goal, retailers and manufacturers
agree that knowledge is crucial when it comes to assisting consumers with dietary selections for their dogs.
Conversation is the best way to provide decision-mak-
ing support, said Alison Schwartz, manager at All Pets
Considered in Greensboro, N.C.
“Discussing the needs of a pet allows our associates
to offer guidance,” she said.
On the other hand, at Sevilla Feed & Animal Supply in
Chino, Calif., associate Raul Sevilla said that many customers are lifelong pet and livestock owners. These shoppers
have studied foods and are well versed when it comes
to animal nutrition, and Sevilla noted the importance of
acknowledging that expertise.
Recognizing that a high-protein diet is not suitable for
every dog, educated franchisees and store employees at
Woof Gang Bakery are able to pass their own knowledge on
to customers, said Samantha Cohen, vendor relations manager and corporate buyer for the Orlando, Fla.-based chain.
“The goal at Woof Gang Bakery is to find the perfect
food for each individual pet that we meet,” she said.
Solid Gold Pet recently implemented a training program to help frontline retail sales teams understand the
benefits of a high-protein canine diet and communicate
those distinctions to pet owners, Rubin said.
While it is up to the manufacturer to provide retailer
education, it is also key that tutelage is provided to distributors, enabling knowledge to be passed on to the retailer
through that channel as well, said Susan Goldstein,
co-founder and co-CEO of Earth Animal in Westport, Conn.
“We look to provide this educational component so
the distributors also understand what they are selling to
retailers,” she said.
Protein is an essential nutrient that contributes to a dog’s overall
well-being and supports strong muscles, according to manufacturers.