HIGH PROTEIN: GAINING MOMENTUM
The past 10 years have seen a heightened focus on both the quality of the
sources offered in pet foods as well as the quantity of the protein provided,
particularly in ancestral diets, said Bob Rubin, CEO and president of Solid Gold
Pet in Greenville, S.C.
“Dogs are carnivores, and diets low in protein and fats, yet high in carbohydrates, do not match the canine metabolism,” said Robert Goldstein, DVM,
co-CEO of Earth Animal in Westport, Conn.
As a result, many pets consuming high-carbohydrate foods experience
allergic reactions, weight gain and other difficulties, he said, and these
issues have been motivating the impetus toward dog food featuring higher
“The driving force has not been to raise the protein, but rather to reduce
the amount of carbohydrates in a food,” Goldstein said. “In doing so, fat
and protein percentages automatically go up. Over the last 10 years, that
movement has spurred these high-protein diets, because the newer foods are
focused on lower carbohydrates.”
Interest in grain-free foods has increased consumer demand for
high-quality selections made with animal protein, said Pete Brace, vice
president of communications and pet parent relations for Merrick Pet Care in
“Pet parents want the best food for their dogs, and that starts with real
meat, fish or poultry, and now we’re seeing further interest in novel proteins like
rabbit, venison and salmon,” Brace said.
For pets suffering from adverse food reactions, a single-source, novel-pro-tein, limited-ingredient diet might alleviate symptoms, said Jennifer Adolphe,
Ph.D., RD and senior nutritionist at Petcurean Pet Nutrition in Chilliwack, British
“These diets include a single source of meat protein, with as few additional
ingredients as possible to meet the nutritional requirements of a pet,” she said.
“The trend has been to go toward grain free and higher protein,” said Alison
Schwartz, manager of All Pets Considered in Greensboro, N.C. “High protein is
not as trendy, and I would say customers are coming in asking for a grain-free
food rather than high protein.”
Raw feeding has sparked interest in the benefits of higher-protein
foods, said Susan Goldstein, co-founder and co-CEO of Earth Animal.
“I think raw food is a very positive culprit,” she said. “Many families have
seen their animals thrive on a raw diet, and that practical concept has led the
way for high protein.”
INNOVATIONS IN PROTEIN
“Dogs thrive on quality animal protein and fat to stay fit and healthy,” said Pete
Brace, vice president of communications and pet parent relations for Merrick Pet
Care in Amarillo, Texas. “Pet parents can see the benefits of a protein-rich diet in
their dogs, such as healthier skin and coat, increased energy and overall health.”
In response, manufacturers are developing foods to satisfy consumer demand.
New for 2017, Dr. Bob Goldstein’s Wisdom from Earth Animal is a dehydrated
“component” food, high in protein and fat, yet low in carbohydrates, said Robert
Goldstein, DVM and co-CEO at Earth Animal in Westport, Conn. The scoopable recipes are shelf stable and formulated using organic, shredded meat, air-dried fruits
and vegetables, and Dr. Bob’s Composite Cubes, which are made with fresh fruits,
vegetables and sprouted seeds. Grain- and gluten-free, Wisdom is high in protein,
moderate in fat and low in carbohydrates, Goldstein said.
“Instead of kibble, where everything is thrown into one batch, ground up and
cooked, Earth Animal has separated all of the components,” Goldstein said. “This
method offers a meat, fat, and fruit and vegetable component, all in their own form.
It’s real food; you can see the vegetables.”
Susan Goldstein, Earth Animal’s co-founder and co-CEO, emphasized Earth Ani-
mal’s commitment to the use of fresh meats, sourced from local farms dedicated to
the humane treatment of animals.
Introduced in August 2016, Petcurean Pet Nutrition’s Gather is a new category
of pet food crafted from certified, organic, non-GMO and sustainably produced
ingredients, said Jennifer Adolphe, Ph.D., RD and senior nutritionist at Petcurean in
Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada.
All recipes feature single-source, fresh and dehydrated primary proteins,
including Marine Stewardship Council-certified cod and krill—a first for a kibble—
organic poultry and peas, with no rendered or genetically engineered ingredients,
For pet owners wishing to provide naturally balanced nourishment while fueling
their pets’ everyday adventures, Solid Gold’s High Protein line features four grain-and gluten-free kibble recipes for dogs. Formulas include Chicken, Duck, Cold-Water
Salmon and Krill Meal, and Red Meat Recipe with Buffalo.
“The foundation of each recipe includes clean, high-quality protein sources
combined with healthy fats to supply essential energy, and a carefully curated
blend of 16 superfoods, such as pumpkin, blueberries and spearmint, to support
whole-body health,” said Bob Rubin, CEO and president of Solid Gold Pet in Greenville, S.C. “Finally, protected probiotics are included to support immune system
function and digestive health.”
HUNTING FOR PROTEIN
Since a high-protein diet is suitable for some, but not all, pets,
education and knowledge are cornerstones to marketing and
selling high-protein dog foods, said Jennifer Adolphe, Ph.D., RD and senior nutritionist at
Petcurean Pet Nutrition in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada.
At Woof Gang Bakery franchises and corporate stores, conversation remains the best
“We take the time to speak with each customer in order to find the perfect diet,”
said Samantha Cohen, vendor relations manager and corporate buyer for the Orlando,
Fla.-based chain. “Through social media postings and abundant sampling, customers are
able to understand, see and try an assortment of foods, including those that are high and
balanced in protein, before selecting the best food for their pets’ needs.”
Engaging and educational point-of-sale materials will further help to promote a brand
in-store, including endcap posters, charts describing premium ingredients and shelf
talkers, Adolphe said.
Pet owners want to easily find a pet food featuring the protein type and levels they’re
looking for, said Pete Brace, vice president of communications and pet parent relations at
Merrick Pet Care in Amarillo, Texas.
“That’s why, at Merrick, we put the protein levels on the front of our dry recipes as
well as in the nutritional information on our packaging,” he said.
Placing like foods together will enable shoppers to easily locate and select the
protein source that best aligns with their dog’s preference and needs while learning about
other flavors that they might want to rotate their dog to in the future, said Bob Rubin, CEO
and president of Solid Gold Pet in Greenville, S.C.