Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Scruffy Dog Kudos: Organix Grain-free Dog Food from Castor & Pollux

Ages since I've posted. Broken record, right? Well, I thought this was worth mentioning...

A friend sent me a link today to yet another frightening story about toxic pet foods imported from China that are resulting in much suffering and death of dogs around the country. It's frightening. And it underscores how the great power of global trade also comes with a great responsibility to ensure the quality and safety of items we import from other countries. For me it drives home how important it is to know where ALL of our food comes from. Or at least to have a pretty good idea of it.

"Buy organic and local whenever possible" has been a practice I've tried to stick to for human food for a long time. But unless I cook my own dog food, it's much harder to know what Baxter and Kirby are getting. I barely have time to cook my own people food (note how infrequently I blog these days...no coincidence...), so cooking separate, highly meat-oriented dog food for the canines isn't likely to happen any time soon.

So the next best thing, for us, is purchasing high-quality pet food and treats. Also, because of Baxter's issues with grain, we need to be very careful that none of the dog food that we buy has any grain in it at all (not even rice). Some might think this is excessive, but Baxter had recurrent ear infections and horrible skin allergies for seven years, even when we were feeding him lamb and rice and special allergy formula foods from the veterinarian.

On the advice of a different, holistic, veterinarian, we took him off ALL grain six years ago (see this post from 2006) and I'm happy to report that Baxter has not had one skin allergy problem or ear infection since. NOT ONE. And we've had him on several different grain-free foods. It really does make a difference. 

So I was excited when one of our favorite local pet product companies, Castor & Pollux, began offering grain-free versions of their Organix pet food. I've been waiting for them to offer organic, grain-free food for years. When our local New Seasons market, where we do most of our people-food shopping, started carrying it a few months ago we decided to give it a try.

First, I have to say this food passed the Baxter and Kirby taste test with flying colors. Kirby is always enthusiastic about dinner, but Baxter usually takes his time and hasn't been very enthused with mealtime for a few years now. Since switching to the Organix grain-free kibble and canned food (we mix a small amount in) he has been right there with Kirby at meal time, waiting for the "go" signal so he can plow into it immediately. He hasn't been this excited about food in years. Even with other canned food mixed in.

Health-wise, the food seems to be good for both of them. Both dogs have shiny coats, no skin issues and excellent bills of health from the vet. Baxter's digestion, which faced a few challenges after a dozen years on the planet, is now in perfect working order. That alone was worth the switch.

And I've been happy to purchase from a local, Oregon company. It's the first time I've ever purchased dog food at our local food market (I have to say, though, New Seasons is no ordinary market). Anyway, it's HANDY.

So, the last question for me about the Castor & Pollux food was origin. Today I sent them an email asking about where they source their ingredients and linking to the article on Chinese imported pet foods. I was impressed that I got a very nice and thorough reply within a few hours:

Over 95% of our ingredients are from the US and Canada, but sometimes the highest quality is from other countries.  Our chicken is from here in the United States and our lamb is from New Zealand, but none of [our] meats or veggies are from China.  All our ingredients are tested upon arrival, samples are tested throughout production, and all finished product is tested for toxins and contaminants before we release it for sale.  The quality and safety of our food is our #1 priority and we would never compromise our commitment to the wellbeing of our four-legged family members by using anything less than the best available ingredients in their food.
I'm taking their word for it. Why? Because they have earned my trust. We've always had great experiences with their other pet products and now with their Organix grain-free foods. They responded to me quickly and thoroughly. And I know where they are. I can drive there and look them in the eye if I want to. And that's close enough for me.