A holistic approach to dog and cat food
By Jaime McLendon-Boyer
|Among the latest offerings from Wellness are grain-free, protein-focused canned formulas for cats and dogs.|
Boomer, a 12-year-old dog once sick with little prospect for a long life, just might have his owner, Jim Scott, Jr., to thank for beating the odds. Scott’s father, a professional in animal nutrition, purchased long-established dog-biscuit manufacturer Old Mother Hubbard in 1961. His son then furthered his father’s commitment to developing highly nutritious products for animals with the reformulation of Old Mother Hubbard’s product line to 100 percent human-grade recipes three decades later, giving Boomer and other pets like him a chance at a promising future.
“Consumers began questioning the purity of the food they eat and paying a lot more attention to proper diets and healthy lifestyles in the 1990s,” explains Mark Shuster, vice president of marketing for Wellness parent company WellPet LLC. “This trend crossed over to their animal companions, and consumers wanted to be able to have the same peace of mind for their pets as for themselves.”
Scott certainly believed a natural diet would make all the difference in Boomer’s health, and he—along with his staff of animal nutritionists, veterinarians, scientists and animal lovers—went to work to develop a food that dog owners could feel good about. The result was Wellness, which took a holistic approach by way of incorporating human-grade deboned chicken and fish, hormone-free lamb, healthful grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. According to Shuster, it was the first pet-food brand to also exclude meat byproducts, fillers and potential allergens, as well as artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.
In 1997, Wellness dog foods made their debut on the market. Cat foods were added to the line in 2000.
|Two new varieties of Wellness Wellbars crunchy snacks for dogs are set to hit shelves next month: Chicken & Cheddar Cheese and Grain-Free Lamb & Apples.|
“With the proof in the pudding with Boomer and his fellow canines, and consumers asking for it, Wellness knew that cats deserved the same kind of responsible, healthful, natural food to help them live long, happy lives,” Shuster says.
Wellness, a member of the WellPet family, which also includes such brands as Old Mother Hubbard, Eagle Pack and Holistic Select, aims to carefully select ingredients (of which more than 95 percent are sourced in North America) proven to deliver 100 percent of a pet’s lifetime nutritional needs.
According to the company, the line—which now includes dog and cat treats—contains ingredients that provide naturally occurring minerals, vitamins and antioxidants so there is little need for additional supplements. For cats, which are carnivorous and prone to urinary-tract problems, this means diets formulated with animal food sources, berries and other highly digestible ingredients with low magnesium and ash levels. The dog-food diets blend meats, vegetables and grains. Special diets, such as those for weight control or hairball management, contain other ingredients, such as nutrient-rich fibers. Most recipes feature real meat as the No. 1 ingredient and primary source of protein. The Wellness website offers additional information about the ingredients it uses and the benefits these ingredients offer.
So what doesn’t Wellness offer? According to the company, no meat byproducts, such as brains, bone, beaks and feet; no corn, a source of “empty calories;” no wheat byproducts, which can be cheap fillers and an allergen for many dogs and some cats; no soy (another common allergen for dogs, as well as cats), which can be difficult to digest; no artificial preservatives, which have zero nutritional value and can be harmful in excess; no artificial colors and flavors; and no excessive salt or sweeteners.
At a Glance
Parent Company: WellPet LLC
Founder of Wellness: Jim Scott, Sr.
Location: Tewksbury, MA
Number of Years in Business: 11 years
Product Distribution: Pet-specialty stores and natural-food stores across North America, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Macau
“To ensure pets enjoy a long and loving life, Wellness guarantees the best natural-ingredient sourcing, most meticulous quality-assurance and production standards, and nutritional analysis in the industry,” Shuster says.
Wellness reports that its quality-assurance program surpasses FDA and AAFCO pet-food standards. By requiring its suppliers to be in the FDA’s Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) program, the manufacturer is able to adhere to more stringent quality criteria—the same guidelines applied to food for people—than necessary for pet food. Self-proclaimed “passionately picky,” Wellness prides itself on “active management of manufacturing,” which entails quality control at every stage of the manufacturing process, comprehensive audits of procedures and regular manufacturing-plant visits from quality-assurance professionals.
To meet Wellness purity and freshness standards, suppliers must prove their ingredients are free of contaminants. And in an effort to demonstrate its commitment to quality, Wellness requires all its facilities pass a quality audit by Ann Arbor, Mich.-based NSF-Cook & Thurber, a human-food auditing firm. This third-party certification is completely voluntary. Wellness facilities also have to meet HACCP standards, which measure for such potential risks as physical, chemical and microbiological hazards, while following HACCP protocols, such as cleaning and sanitizing equipment before every product run.
Wellness continues to receive high marks from NSF-Cook & Thurber’s review of Wellness processes, procedures and food-safety systems, according to the manufacturer.
“Nothing is more important to us than the safety and wellbeing of the many pets that depend on us for their nutrition,” says Karalyn Naiburg, Wellness director of quality assurance.
“With an uncompromised devotion to excellence in nutrition knowledge and product development, Wellness will continue to lead the way in the wholesome, nutritious feeding of pets,” he asserts. “And we’re excited to partner with retailers who share our dedication.” <HOME>.
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