Friday, February 19, 2016

Food Friday: Hound & Gatos Beef Canned Dog Food

Hound and Gatos touts itself as "The Original Paleolithic Pet Food Company". They make canned pet foods out of pretty much just meat, which makes me likes them quite a bit. They also say some questionable, laughable, and outright ridiculous stuff on their website, and use some questionable online marketing tactics that make me feel slightly icky about supporting their company. But only slightly, I mean its entirely possible the questionable stuff was the work of one hopeless idiot that eventually lost their job. At any rate, putting this stuff in my blog post means it's possible I'm inviting trouble from Hound &Gatos and that is kind of exciting. Living dangerously, yo.
dog food and dinosaurs

The Food

I found this brand of dog food via my usual method of walking into a small business pet supply store and scanning the shelves for anything that we've never tried before. I picked this one because it was a novel brand that did not contain any poultry, egg, sweet potato, barley, or corn, so Brisbane could try it.

Hound & Gatos offers eight different dog food recipes, and at first glance six of them look potentially Brisbane-safe. This beef can contains nothing but beef, water, some gums for texture, and vitamins. If all their foods were made this way, Brisbane would be able to eat all but the chicken and lamb/chicken/salmon cans. Unfortunately, on closer examination, only the beef, pork, and salmon foods are poultry-free. The trout and lamb foods both contain duck liver, and the rabbit recipe has both duck and turkey in there. Nope.

Dog Food Advisor rates this food five our of five stars as a whole, but this beef can only merits 4.5 stars due to its high fat-to-protein ratio. This makes in more appropriate for a high-energy performance dog, and less appropriate for an older dog or one with pancreatitis.

The Company
dog food and dinosaurs

For those who did not grow up in the southwest and therefore speak pidgin Spanish by default, 'gatos' means 'cat'. I find their slogan interesting, because it uses a well-known food-woo term that sends up red flags for me as a fan of evidence-based claims. I mean, what exactly a hunter-gatherer society ate isn't exactly consistent. Also, dogs are kind of basically scavengers, which meant they were eating the non-optimal paleolithic leftovers and junk rather than prime cuts of mammoth steak. I mean, that's why we even have dogs in the first place.

Hound & Gatos describes their food as hypoallergenic, which is demonstrably false. Allergies to animal proteins are quite common, and their inclusion of various poultry ingredients makes several of their products unusable for my allergy dog. They also announce that they believe fluoridated water is partly to blame for dogs becoming ill. This is where my opinion of the company went from "pretty good" to "probably crazy". Let's face it, there is no credible, reliable scientific evidence that fluoridated water makes anyone sick. I can handle pet food companies making the appeal to nature and blathering on about what animals eat "in the wild", but straight up crazy conspiracy theory is where I draw the line.

Speaking of crazy, lets go back to that Dog Food Advisor page and scroll down to the comments at the bottom. Note that several have been deleted, with the moderator note below, 'Those with a vested interest in any product must publicly disclose this important information to others and always post using their real names. Your use of multiple identities as evidenced by your recent comments posted here using different names yet from the same computer is a violation of Our Commenting Policy "...the use of multiple identities or other deceptive tactics designed to mislead readers are strictly forbidden." Because you have violated this policy, your comments have been removed.'

So somebody from this company was making sock puppet accounts and using them to post multiple glowing reviews from seemingly unrelated parties. Below that are several suspiciously similar comments by various parties describing how Hound and Gatos food made their dog's coat nicer and gave them more energy. Pretty much every one of those comments says the same two things, and they were all made around the same time. I'm not sure why anybody thought this looked like legit PR for the company.

Additionally, several less sock-puppety users on Dog Food Advisor mentioned that they had attempted to contact the company with questions, but had not been able to reach anyone. The sock puppets replied that they had very good luck contacting the company and even spoke to the owner, which is the PR equivalent of going "nuh-uh!"

Bottom Line

This is a high-quality food. My dogs like it. In fact, it was the first thing I could get Sisci to willingly consume after her spay surgery. They make a couple of foods that seem safe for my allergy dog. Though they use co packer Performance Pet, this packer seems to have very high integrity. That said, the amount of woo on the website, and the fact that some part of their Public Relations department is or was staffed by someone with the foresight and maturity of a twelve-year-old, makes me feel a bit squicky about buying their products on a regular basis.

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