Idahound uses premium, local ingredients to create “evolutionary” and farm-driven dog and cat foods, while pursuing minimal environmental impacts. We make whole foods to feed your carnivore - butchering, processing and packaging everything ourselves in Carey, Idaho.
Founded on a dual commitment to pet health and environmental stewardship, Idahound wants to raise around awareness about role our pets play in the food system. It is our vision to create foods that promote responsible animal husbandry, sustainable agriculture, waste and energy reduction, and the local food movement. In doing so, we also believe it’s possible to create far healthier and more biologically-appropriate foods to provide the best possible lives for our dogs and cats.
For the Love of Bert
The origin of Idahound begins with Chris Cey, a high school science teacher who noticed that his young British Pointer, Bert, was having digestive issues on long Chukar hunts. In addition, Bert’s coat had become strangely pokey and “unpleasant to pet.” Determined to improve Bert’s health holistically rather than pharmaceutically, Cey began examining his dog’s diet.
He found that the history of pet food is a very human history. Since their domestication, dogs have been fed everything from exotic proteins to soupy broths to whatever trash scraps could be afforded at the time. However it was only in the late 1800s, with the arrival of “dog biscuits” made of discarded hardtack, that an industry was born. Although the new attention to pet food manufacturing had its benefits, it also carried the baggage of industrialized food processing.
What most struck Cey were the differences, from formulation to preparation, between commercial dog foods and the natural diet of a wolf. Although two entirely distinct species, dogs and wolves share an indisputable genetic overlap. As a student of biology, Chris understood that his Pointer’s anatomy and physiology, which still intimately matched those of Canis lupus, had evolved for specific purposes: teeth designed to tear flesh, a short and simple gastrointestinal tract suited for digestion and adsorption of a meat diet, and, just as importantly, a predilection for meat above almost any other food. How could a dry kibble possibly compare to fresh elk or deer meat? How could such highly-processed foods ever reasonably substitute what canines ate in the wild? As a carnivore, or even as a quasi-carnivore, Bert had been unknowingly fed a diet that had almost no biological justifications.
However, it wasn’t simply the nature of dry food that had alarmed Chris, but the potential negative effects kibble had been having on Bert, as well as his other dogs. A veterinarian had suggested Bert’s bloody stools could be the result of kibble irritating his stomach lining. Could his rough coat also be related? The dog food industry provided no evidence suggesting that grains, refined sugars, and the standard medley of food additives and preservatives were beneficial or, at the very least, not harmful to the animals consuming them in large quantities for their entire lives. Some quick research painted Chris a darkening picture of the pet food industry. Below are a few reasons to reconsider your hound’s commercial diet.
1. The manufacturing process of kibble is nutritionally destructive.
In an effort to make a cheap and stable food, manufacturers boil rendered animal products for days at a time, after which the “soup” is baked, pulverized or powdered. Even if wholesome ingredients are being used, the temperatures reached during this process denatures substantial amounts of proteins, digestive enzymes, and certain vitamins. Whole foods are fresh foods.
“Meat meal,” “bone meal,” and “by-product meal” are rendered from dead animals. These commonly-listed dog food proteins have almost no quality standards and are often contaminated.
Cereal grains are used primarily in dog foods as bulk fillers, low-cost additions with little to no nutritional purpose. While cited as sources of energy, these simple carbohydrates are not the natural energy producers for canines. Those roles should be filled by quality proteins and fats.
2. When it comes to dog food, grains are simply wrong.
Grains, and even certain vegetables, are digestively strenuous. Digestion takes up the most energy in any living being and the dog’s short and simple digestive tract is not designed to breakdown high-starch carbohydrates. Grains can also be toxic. A number of pollutants can compromise cheap grain, including insects, mites, and mold. Spores from latter can be especially harmful, as they are known to produce poisonous mycotoxins. Finally, grains often cause dogs allergic and inflammatory reactions. While almost any food could be a potential allergen, glutenous grains were not a part of the canine’s evolutionary diet, thereby heightening your hound’s chance of sensitivity. A number of grain contaminants also have allergenic potential.
While the body of work surrounding canine nutrition is extensive, it fails to acknowledge a dog’s simple need for biologically-appropriate foods. Debate regarding those foods are common, even among veterinarians, and the bulleted points above only scratch the surface. It is most important for an owner to recognize that his or her dog is an individual with specific dietary needs. There is no single solution, but there are good and bad options.
A Different Approach
Ditching the old kibble altogether, Cey personally decided to make Bert a unique recipe of wild Idaho game, which included organs, local organic produce, and organic powdered eggshell. It was raw and meaty. It was balanced and wholesome. Finally eating a diet that made sense biologically, Bert thrived, his body rebuilt. Today, Cey feeds his raw grinds to three Pointers, including a ten-year old Burt, and a Boston Terrier. His recipes have been honed and the feeding regimen evolved to include raw bones and green tripe.
Idahound’s diets are truly the product of Cey’s labors to fix Bert. Yet it was only when he shared his “raw” philosophy with two young entrepreneurs that a business was born. What Alec and John David saw within the dog food industry is a structure that not only harms pets, but one that is also connected to a broken food system. Why not build a brand that addresses both issues?
The pet food industry is a structure that not only harms pets, but one that is also connected to a broken food system. Why not build a company that addresses both issues?
At Idahound, we believe that best dog food is minimally-processed and sourced locally. We believe in the efficacy of fresh foods that are nutritionally dense. We believe in treating people, animals and the environment fairly — and not hiding behind lists obscure of ingredients and questionable processes. The ills of industrial pet food are plain to see, which bodes the question: doesn’t your hound deserve better than unsavory meats and deplorable grains from a distant factory? Idahound wants to provide the smart alternative: a locally-sourced menu of foods and treats that are holistic, healthy and delicious.
Feed your carnivore.