Friday, January 15, 2016

Food Friday: FirstMate Limited Ingredient Canned Wild Salmon Dog Food

FirstMate is not a brand I see around here often, but I found their canned food in the same shop as I found Canine Caviar. They were not really on my radar until I went to check out their website for this blog post. It turns out they're based in British Columbia, so they're a west coast company that just isn't that common down here in southern California. It turns out they're one of the great pet food companies, privately owned with their own production facility and no recalls ever.
dog food and dinosaurs

The Company

FirstMate was founded by an experienced fisherman concerned with dwindling fish stocks in the oceans of the world. This is a cause near and dear to my own heart, so I already like this company. The founder turned his efforts to the farmed salmon industry, and started up a fish food company named after his fishing boat, the Taplow. 

Here's where the story gets interesting! The fish farms had guard dogs that periodically helped themselves to the fish food. That stuff is apparently expensive, and Taplow feeds was asked to develop a food specifically for the guard dogs. The story given on the FirstMate website is that the fish farmers asked Taplow to make a dog food so good, the dogs would stay out of the fish food. I suspect it was something a little bit more cost-and-convenience based, along the lines of "Hey, since we're already paying you a gazillion dollars for fish chow, could you throw in a little something cheap for the dogs and save us an extra order/trip?"

At any rate, Taplow Feeds owns their own production facility, and has never had a recall. That's a pretty impressive. This is a privately-owned company, and the fisherman founder planned from the beginning to be a dog food manufacturer and not just a marketing company like those that use a co packer. They source their lamb from Australia, and everything else from Canada and the USA.
FirstMate Limited Ingredient Salmon Dog Food
I'm not sure if this means the food is tasty, or that my cat is a bit of a weirdo.

The Food

FirstMate dog food was launched in 1989 if I'm reading things right. In 1995 they already had a grain-free food made from fish and potato. Color me impressed. Their grain-inclusive foods are based on barley, rice, and oatmeal. The grain-free dry foods are all potato-based and use chicken fat. They have a disclaimer on every ingredients list that says they use treated chicken fat that contains no protein and therefore cannot cause an allergic reaction, but I honestly just don't trust any of those. Maybe if my dog had fewer allergies. 

Their Limited Ingredient canned foods are awesome, though. This one just has salmon, potato, and vitamins and minerals. That's it. The dogs all loved it, as did one of my cats. James crashed my photo shoot and ate most of the bowl, and I let him because my cats are kind of spoiled. 

The Dog Food Advisor website does not have a rating for FirstMate's canned foods, but their grain-free and grain-inclusive foods both have an average rating of four out of five stars. The ingredients in the dry foods all look good to me, but they lost a star due to below-average fat content and above-average carbohydrates in most of their recipes. This would make me hesitate to use this food long-term for a dog with weight issues, like Brisbane. I would love to see the site analyze the FirstMate wet foods though, as these seem quite nice and are definitely something to add to the rotation when I get the chance.

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