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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Your Favorite Brand of Pet Food

Aug 30, 2015 09:28PM

Has it Been Sold to a Conglomerate?

by Liora Robinson
Over the past several years, there has been an unprecedented number of pet food brand acquisitions. Most “all-natural” pet foods begin as small, independent companies. These companies strive to produce top-quality, natural foods to provide an option for the consumer who searches for the very best nutrition for their pets. The choice to use only high-quality ingredients, reputable sourcing and minimal processing results in pet food choices that surpass the majority of the commercial options.

It’s not uncommon to see small, top-quality, pet food companies grow from being “unknown” into leaders of the pet nutrition industry. Many of these companies are family-owned and operated. They’ve earned their reputation based on their choice to use high-quality ingredients, safe and responsible manufacturing processes and transparency. As these companies grow, many are unable to keep up with the demand. Those owners who are capable of keeping up with the demand eventually approach retirement, and unless their children want to continue the business, oftentimes sell to the highest bidder.

The pet food giants understand the demand for natural pet food, and since few of them currently produce it, acquiring small pet food companies can be very profitable. Keeping in mind that the pet food giants are usually publicly owned companies, they have stockholder obligations; therefore profits are a main concern. So, what happens to your pet food once it has been sold to a pet food giant?

First, don't jump to the conclusion that your pet food is going to change overnight. As with any pet food manufacturer, changes are likely, but these changes take time. Most pet food brands make adjustments to their formulas. This does not mean that your pet food company is cutting corners or replacing high-quality ingredients with garbage. There is new research coming out all the time, and many of the high-quality pet food manufacturers make adjustments to their formulas to keep up with modern technology and the latest pet nutrition research. You should take the time to properly research the new owners of your pet food brand. Don't spend all your time looking at blogs and reviews. Some are based on rumor and prejudice. Make an informed decision based on what's best for your pet.

The following tips can help you discern whether or not your pet food has changed.

      1. Keep labels. Pet food manufacturers may change ingredients but wait until they sell through their existing inventory of labels before changing the label. Formula changes won’t become apparent until the new labels are being used.
      2. Take photographs of the appearance of your pet food.
      3. Pay close attention to the cues your pet gives you. If your pet suddenly stops eating the food or has some sort of disturbance to his digestive system, these may be signs that something has changed in the formula.
      4. If you notice anything that makes you suspicious that there has been a change, call the manufacturer. If they are reluctant to give you answers, this is another sign that this pet food brand may no longer be trustworthy.
The bottom line is allowing your pet to lead you. Most of the time you will be able to tell if something is “off” just by monitoring your pet.

There are new, small, independent manufacturing companies sprouting every day. These smaller brands are typically found only in independent, pet retail stores. Consult your vet if you suspect your pet is having a problem with his food and then visit your local independent pet nutrition store for the highest quality pet food choices.

Liora Robinson, co-owner of Whole Pet Central, with stores in Rockville, Herndon and Asburn. For more information, visit


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