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Least Cost Recipe

by May 17, 2019

A standard practice in the livestock feed industry is to formulate diets on a “least cost formulation”. In short the formulator for the feed manufacturer establishes a set of minimum nutrient standards for the diet (or recipe) and they may even set minimum and/or maximum allowable amounts of various feed ingredient restrictions. The various ingredients are priced to establish a value and then a computer program least cost formulates the diet. This means the lowest cost that meets the minimum specifications of the diet using the available ingredients. This may be fine for feedlot cattle and hogs on a finishing diet but many companies utilize the same strategy for your family pet foods. This is especially true of grocery store and big box store offerings which are merely focused on price. Do you want your family pet subject to ever changing formulas and the “cheapest” diet a manufacturer can produce?

Ollie versus OC Raw and NWN

by March 27, 2024

Ollie delivers on some really cute television advertisements!   A bit of a closer look, however, at some food comparisons is a bit tougher thanks to an Ollie website designed to hook you in (two weeks at half price) and keep it coming (automatic shipments)  at a price per package that makes it nearly impossible to compare on a per nutrient basis.   Petco, is however, an authorized retailer of Ollie and lists their 5 pound frozen Beef at $49.99 per  bag.   For comparison purposes below see Ollie Beef,  our own OC Raw Beef Rox and our own Northwest Naturals Beef nuggets.   

  1. OC Raw and NWN are both nearly $3 per pound less expensive than Ollie
  2. OC Raw and NWN contain less water than Ollie
  3. OC Raw and NWN are both much higher protein than Ollie
  4. OC Raw and NWN are both higher fat than Ollie
  5. OC Raw and NWN are both lower estimated carbs than Ollie
  6. OC Raw and NWN contain more MEAT than Ollie
  7. OC Raw and NWN contain no potatoes
  8. OC Raw and NWN contain more natural ingredients

Would you rather pay for cute advertisements or higher quality food (and more of it!)

“Grain Free” Back in the News

by March 16, 2024

Perhaps we are beginning to gain a better understanding of what may have happened to precipitate the great firestorm surrounding the claim made a few years back regarding “grain free” pet foods.   A class action suit was filed in February against Hills Pet Food and a key veterinary practice alleging a plot to recover market share by the pet food manufacturer by essentially fabricating a scare among pet owners that grain free foods were outright dangerous to their furry family members.   It is claimed that Hills used their close ties to the veterinary industry to invoke this fear.    The following is largely from an article in Truth about Pet Food explaining the premise alleged in the suit:

“Using the tools of professional science and Hill’s vast veterinary influence network, the goal of the scheme was to persuade American pet-owners that grain-free diets weren’t just “fad diets” but actually dangerous for dogs—an argument that, if successful, had the potential to eradicate the entire grain-free sector of the pet food market. They have been carrying out this wide ranging scheme ever since and it has been, by any measure, a breathtaking (if unlawful) success.”

The lawsuit complaint introduces the case with this information:

Hill’s is unique among these three so-called “traditional” pet food companies for three different reasons. First, it is the smallest of the three—its annual revenues dwarf those of most other pet food brands, but they are only about 20% of Purina’s revenues. Second, as by far the largest maker of “prescription-only” diets in the country and as the self-proclaimed “#1 Vet Recommended Brand,” Hill’s is tied much more closely to the veterinary community than either Mars or Purina. For Mars and Purina, marketing to vets and distributing through vet clinics are both relatively inconsequential parts of their sprawling companies; for Hill’s, they are a major component of the business.

The third thing that makes Hill’s unique among the three “traditional” pet food companies is its uniquely poor financial performance in the years leading up to 2018, when the misconduct at the heart of this suit began. During this period, the market for pet foods made by “non-traditional,” often independent, brands was growing explosively. For example, from 2011 to 2017, sales of “grain-free” dog foods, a leading category among independent makers, rose from 15% to 44% of all dog food sales in American pet specialty stores. Purina was so large and diversified that it weathered this storm successfully, growing steadily and preserving its market share from 2014 to 2017. But Hill’s did not. Over the same four-year period, Hill’s annual revenues were pancake-flat and its market share plunged by more than 20%. Long the third-largest seller of complete-diet dog food in the country, Hill’s fell to fourth in 2018, after being overtaken by Blue Buffalo, the largest of the new wave of “non-traditional” pet food brands.”

“Thus, beginning no later than 2018, Hill’s and a cluster of associated entities and individuals (collectively with Hill’s, the “Defendants”) embarked on a drastic and unlawful course to reverse this slide. They carried out a scheme to falsely convince American dog owners that a massive, unrelated, and hugely diverse group of dog food products—essentially any product made by any of the hundreds of independent firms that were collectively eroding Hill’s market share—all increase the risk and severity of a deadly canine heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy (“DCM”).”

“To carry out the scheme, Hill’s, along with a group of closely bound academic veterinarians (the “Veterinarian Defendants”) and front organizations operating on Hill’s behalf, acted in a coordinated conspiracy.”

“First and most explosively, the Veterinarian Defendants fraudulently induced the United States Food and Drug Administration to launch a high-profile investigation into DCM.”

“The second strand of Defendants’ scheme: Hill’s co-conspirators, the Veterinarian Defendants authored study after study about DCM and then mischaracterized the findings.”

“The Defendants also created and fostered social media environments including at least one Facebook group that was an echo chamber, suppressing any contradiction of the propaganda campaign.”

Hill’s is owned by Colgate-Palmolive. In 2022, Hill’s annual revenue was approximately US$3,713 billion, according to Petfood Industry’s top companies database. This annual revenue made Hill’s the third largest pet food company on the planet, trailing Mars Pet Care (Pedigree, Royal Canin, Nutro, Iams, Eukanuba, Cesar and others), and Nestle Purina Petcare (Purina, Friskies, Beneful, Pro Plan, Alpo, Beyond, Chow, Fancy Feast, others) .  Hill’s denies the claims outlined above.

More than a year has passed since the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that the agency found insufficient data to establish causality among pet food products and cases of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). 

Despite the FDA investigation’s effect on the pet food market, scientists didn’t find evidence connecting certain diets to cases of DCM. More than 150 published studies didn’t reveal to researchers any firm connection among cases of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and grain-free dog food. Veterinarians and others with BSM Partners, a pet industry consulting agency, published their review of existing scientific research on dog nutrition and its relationship to DCM in the Journal of Animal Science.

In December 2022, FDA investigators stated that they had insufficient data to establish causality among DCM case reports and pet food products eaten by afflicted dogs. 

We would encourage you to read the entire document filed in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas.   And the next time someone recommends AGAINST feeding a grain free diet just ask them “Why?”.    Any search engine looking for “Hills Class Action Lawsuit” should bring the 124 page document up or try the link below.

“Mysterious” Dog Respiratory Disease

by November 27, 2023

We are not veterinarians nor epidemiologists here and we realize that. However, there appears to be more NOT known about this mysterious respiratory disease in dogs than is known. There are those suggesting it is in fact nothing more than a generational or seasonal uptick in a collective group of pathological organisms. On the other hand scientists at the University of New Hampshire believe they have identified a bacterial infection that is the root cause. What is probably important to note is that a Google search for information will yield a wide crop of local and network television news productions all seemingly saying the same thing that a “mystery illness in dogs is quickly spreading across the country”. Social media purveyors love to pick these reports up and disseminate them far and wide even though they are largely devoid of any useful information and frequently full of misinformation. We do know that stories of this mystery illness have been circulating since early 2022.

We will continue to rely on our veterinarian institutions for useful information regarding this situation and in the meantime are taking several additional precautions. We continue to promote feeding a healthy quality diet as the best way to support your pets immune system and also have offered several natural ways to do the same as well as many supplements available to boost their immune system.  Keeping regular veterinarian visits along with up to date immunizations is critical. We recently made the decision to cancel our annual Christmas “Grinch” event as we felt there was no good justification to have an event promoting an unnecessary gathering of dogs in a tight space.  As we’ve reported elsewhere we’ve reviewed our sanitary practices in grooming and note that there is NO nose to nose contact allowed in our grooming salon. In that light we’re also encouraging grooming clients to drop off and pick up their dogs close to their appointment times.  

If we learn more of any substance we will pass it along.

Vet Services

by January 26, 2023
Dr. Abby Strobbe
Dr. Abby Strobbe of Abby’s Road Veterinary Care will continue to hold pop up clinics at Wholesome Pet Essentials monthly.

Dr. Abby is a mobile integrative veterinarian. She offers traditional care such as wellness exams, vaccinations, and laboratory testing. She also offers holistic care such as food therapy, acupuncture, and supplement recommendations.

Please contact Dr. Abby via email for additional information.

📞Dr. Abby @ 515-357-9724

The Farmers Dog Myth

by August 21, 2022

The Farmers Dog                             

We get an occasional question about “The Farmers Dog” product and they do spend a lot of money marketing on television so they are noticed.   In fact, there appears to be much about marketing associated with this product and maybe not so much about feeding your pet any differently than if you bought a lesser kibble.   

Here is the typical ingredient list for “The Farmers Dog” Turkey:


USDA Turkey, Chickpeas, Carrot, Broccoli, Spinach, Parsnip, TFD Nutrient Blend, Salmon Oil [Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Bitartrate, Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate, Taurine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Selenium Yeast, Potassium Iodide, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Folic Acid]

Note that Chickpeas are the second ingredient so they provide a considerable amount of vegetable protein to the diet.    Most supplemental minerals and vitamins are provided by synthetic sources.  

Compare to our Northwest Naturals Turkey:   (frozen)


Turkey, Ground Turkey Bone, Turkey Heart, Turkey Liver, Apples, Carrots, Romaine Lettuce, Watermelon, Egg, Ground Flaxseed, Fish Oil*, Apple Cider Vinegar, Blueberry, Cranberry, Inulin, Dried Kelp, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Chloride, Ginger, Parsley, Garlic, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Mixed Tocopherols (as preservative), Vitamin D Supplement.

*Fish Oil – Is a blend of  Fish Oils from Salmon, Herring and Pollock.

Meat provides the protein source!   No chickpeas in this one.   Most of the mineral and vitamin supplementation are from natural sources.    80% Meat – 18.75% Produce – 1.25% Supplements

Clearly the frozen Northwest Naturals is a superior product.  

How about cost?    The Farmers Dog would cost $4.67 per day to feed my 20# dog according to their own website calculations.    Northwest Naturals $2.88 per day! 

Why Local and Independent?

by June 17, 2022

We frequently point out that we are a local family-owned independent business. But what does that mean for you?

Perhaps a less obvious consideration is that we are personally invested in the goods and services we offer for you furry friend. There is no ROI “test” by a corporate buyer to determine if a good enough profit margin can be made on a product. There is no corporate buyer being swayed by a vendor or product manufacturer incentives to sell you what they want you to buy rather than what your pet needs. We select your dog or cat’s goodies based on what is good and safe for them! We don’t even have to listen to a franchise office in our selection process. And you won’t get frequent buyer rewards are the big box centers.

So the next time the lure of the “big box” store or that huge on-line store creeps into your vision please remind yourself that their massive assortment doesn’t mean they really have more to offer. The inventory may be deeper but not more diverse and pound for pound of nutrition no less expensive.

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