Do You Know Who's Behind Your Dog's Food? Why It Matters.

Do You Know Who's Behind Your Dog's Food? Why It Matters.

I recently polled my Instagram audience, asking them if they know the owner of the company who makes their dog food and if it matters to them. Over sixty percent responded “Yes and yes” meaning they did know the owner and it did matter to them. Only 6% answered with “no and no”. This is not particularly surprising in my corner of the internet, where pet parents take what they feed their dog very seriously, as they should.

I asked this question is because I am fascinated by marketing (particularly in the pet food space) and wanted to delve into the idea that “people buy from people”. I know of many brands of dog food that are extremely popular and it’s not because their food is the best (it’s often far from it) but it’s because their marketing is the best. And I use the term “best” here lightly, often it just means they are spending the most money on advertising and marketing.

There are dog food brands that are run by ex-fashion marketing hipsters that figured out you can make a killing on marking up chick peas and selling it as dog food, with the right website and marketing spin (and ZERO knowledge on dogs & dog nutrition). For me, that is not up to scratch.

When choosing a food to feed your dog you are putting a lot of trust the food is of a certain standard and quality. The important thing to remember is that in marketing- brands can SAY whatever they want, and ACT in a certain way that makes them appear as though your dogs health is their highest priority, but if your kibble company is owned by one of the biggest junk food corporations in the world- do you think that dog health is the highest priority in the board meeting?

Let’s talk about a few of the biggest pet food companies in Australia and who they are owned & run by.

Julie Dillon is the CEO of MasterPet which owns brands like Blackhawk & Vitapet. She was previously the general manager of Hills which is owned by Colgate-Palmolive.

Poul Weihrauch is the CEO of Mars Inc who owns brands Pedigree, Royal Canin & Advance. He began as the brand manager of Snickers, then became the general manager of Mars Confectionary in Europe. Poul also worked for Nestle before Mars in sales and marketing.

Nina Leigh Kruger started as a marketing intern at Nestle and is now the CEO of Nestle Purina who owns brands like Purina One & Proplan.

Peter Brons-Poulson is the CEO of Hills Pet Nutrition and he owns over $5 million worth of Colgate Palmolive shares.

And here are some of my favourite tag lines from some of the marketing efforts of the above brands.

Blackhawk- “Every ingredient matters”

The first five ingredients of their popular “Tasmanian Salmon” food are salmon meal, peas*, chicken fat, tapioca* and potato*.

Pedigree “Feed The Good”

The first ingredient of their Adult Beef food is cereal and/or cereal by products. It also contains “poultry palatant” which is included to make your dog want to eat something that is barely recognisable as food.

Royal Canin “Health is something different for every pet”

Here are the first few ingredients for three of their popular “breed specific” dry foods.

Chihuahua: corn*, chicken by-product meal, wheat gluten*, oat groats*, brewers rice*, chicken fat, brown rice*.

Golden Retriever: brown rice*, chicken by-product meal*, oat groats*, brewers rice*, wheat*, corn gluten meal*, chicken fat.

Bulldog: brewers rice*, oat groats*, chicken by-product meal, brown rice*, wheat gluten*, chicken fat.

Purina “Get one visibly healthy pet”

I love this one because it really captures the fact that your dog may look healthy on the outside but are they really thriving or just surviving on this food?

SuperCoat ingredients: meat and meat by-products (including poultry), wholegrain wheat*, wholegrain barley and sorghum and corn*, cereal and plant by-products* *denotes a cheap filler.

The marketing messaging suggests one thing, but the ACTUAL quality of the food suggests otherwise- in some cases I would say the complete opposite.

You may have noticed I have only mentioned very big, global brands here. That’s on purpose. I encourage you as the pet parent to do some research on the brand and company that makes your dogs food and to make your own decisions on whether you trust them with the health of your dog.

Don’t take the brands marketing words and taglines as gospel- read the ingredients list to see if they practice what they preach, or if they’re putting profits first with the use of clever* marketing.


-Kate Opitz: owner and founder of The Saltiest Dog.

Okay, ChatGPT wrote the title cause I was stuck!

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