From the beginning, Idahound’s primary values have been canine health and environmental sustainability. To compassionately feed our dogs the healthiest foods, but not care for the earth is illogical. Food production is what connects humanity most intimately to nature and the soils that sustain us all. In the descriptions that follow, you’ll learn just how Idahound goes about ethically sourcing ingredients, minimizing waste, and supporting local farmers and ranchers, all while making fresh and healthy products that will make your hound drool.
Our holistic line of products starts with live, grass-fed ewes that we buy from local ranchers along the Snake River plain. Culled because of age, these ewes are normally trucked to out-of-state slaughterhouses, enduring lengthy trips that are highly stressful and sometimes even fatal. In addition, these shipments are expensive and energy intensive. Idahound’s demand for these animals reduces both cost and impact.
Once the ewes arrive at Idahound’s ranch in Carey, Idaho, they graze freely before being slaughtered on-site. We make this procedure as stress-free for the animals as possible, honoring both the ewes and the pets who will consume them. Butchering also takes place on the ranch in an old horse barn that we’ve converted into a food processing facility. From each animal we render 100% of the meat, organ, and bone. All product is immediately refrigerated and then processed the following day, meaning our raw dog food goes from a live animal to a meal in less than 24 hours, frozen only after being packaged. The same goes for Idahound’s raw meaty bones and green tripe. We like to consider it a “farm to bowl” menu, fresher than anything produced by larger manufacturers.
"We like to consider it a 'farm to bowl' menu, fresher than anything produced by larger manufacturers."
Idahound’s ewes are also the source of its dried treats. Rendered alongside the other products, our Lamb Crisps, Ewe Chews, and Lung Bites are dehydrated in a nearby room and packaged by hand. For Idahound’s Snake River Slivers, we source fresh, grass-fed liver from the Montana Meat Cooperative,which, like us, is committed to sustainable ranching practices. Known as “offal,” these organ meats, although highly nutritious, are often difficult to move into human channels, especially for small producers. As with our cull ewes, Idahound’s offal purchases create a novel revenue stream for the ranchers involved.
To nutritionally balance our raw diets, Idahound’s recipes also include organic carrots, squash, and apples. Each fall Idahound partners with the Blaine County Hunger Coalition, whose volunteers glean hundreds of pounds of apples from local farms and neighborhoods that we use in our raw recipes. In an effort to reduce any and all food waste, Idahound received and processed any specimens that the Coalition determined were misshapen or unfit for its pantries, which in the agricultural world are called “#2s.” Likewise, Idahound purchases #2 carrots and squash whenever possible, further eliminating food waste and creating more revenue for the local farmers involved. It should be mentioned that while #2 produce isn’t pretty, it’s hardly rotten. All of the food that Idahound “recycles” simply fails to meet the stringent aesthetic standards of the grocery world, which, for example, might throw away a three-legged carrot.
Finally, we arrive at packaging and waste. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to reuse or recycle all of Idahound’s packaging. Food safety requirements, for example, forces us to seal the raw diets in polyurethane bags, which must be thrown away. We do, however, group the aforementioned bags into cardboard six-packs, a quarter of which we collect from participating retailers and reuse. The remainder we encourage customers to recycle. We also sell in bulk as often as possible, using buckets that customers also return to us. As we grow, Idahound is committed to finding more and more sustainable packaging options.
When it comes to sustainability, our dogs’ diets should not be ignored. The pet food industry is heavily reliant on industrial agriculture, using all the animal parts that, for instance, can’t be ground into fast food. One of Idahound’s goals is to pull back the veil and help owners see the connection not only between fresh food and pet health, but fresh food and good environmental stewardship.
"When it comes to sustainability, our dogs' diets should not be ignored."