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Photo by Mary R. Vogt (http://morguefile.com)

By Leslie, Carna4 Communications

Before bringing CARNA4 to market, we surveyed 300 dog owners (primarily in Canada, with a few from the U.S.) to find out what mattered to them and their dogs – from who they trusted to what they wanted from a dog food. We polled owners with dogs of all ages – from puppies (10%) to senior dogs eight years and older (21%).

Here’s what they told us:

Their dog was a beloved family pet and in some cases, a full family member.

  • An overwhelming 78% of the dog owners surveyed considered their dog a beloved family pet and to 14%, they were a trusted companion.

They generally meet and exchange tips with fellow owners, while walking their pooches through the neighborhood, as well as dog parks and online forums.

  • Owners told us that most of them (58%) met and talked pet care with fellow dog owners during walks through their neighborhood but 37% shared tips at designated dog parks and 23% participated in online pet forums.

Vets are the key source for pet care advice but many also look to their specialty pet retailer and online sources before print publications.

  • For digging deeper, almost three quarters rank their vet (72%), Google searches (54%) and family/friends (46%) among their top three sources for dog care insights. This is followed by pet specialty retailers (29%), online blogs/websites (19%) and print magazines/newspapers/brochures (17%).
  • The most popular magazine was Dogs in Canada (44%), followed by Modern Dog (21%) and Dogs, Dogs, Dogs (14%). Online, the favorite blog was Cesar’s Way, followed by Ottawa Dog Blog and Toronto Barks.

They have the most trouble finding answers to health issues, followed by trustworthy facts on dog food, ingredients and nutrition.

  • When asked “What dog care information or tips are hardest to find,” a quarter mentioned general healthcare and disease queries, from paw chewing to renal failure.
  • Other respondents (23%) said they find dog food, ingredient and nutrition facts scarce, particularly from credible and non-commercial sources. In fact, two percent of those surveyed emphasized their cynicism with words like trust, truth and accuracy in their responses.
  • These concerns were followed by queries about holistic care (10%), behavior (8%), grooming (6%), allergies (5%), raw diets (5%) and dental care (2%).

Most feed premium or super premium food, shop at a pet specialty store and make dry food their top choice, followed by home cooked.

  • Most owners we heard from buy their dog’s food at a pet specialty store (60%), followed by grocery (14%), pet superstore (12%) and the vet (13%).
  • Types of food were split primarily between premium/super premium (41%) and holistic (38%).
  • Dry was the favored food for 88% of these owners, followed by home cooked (18%), wet/canned (17%), raw/freeze dried/dehydrated (13%), with varying combinations.

They looked for food that was rich in meat, produce and dog appeal, made with minimal processing and no by-products that appeared to keep their dog healthy.

  • When asked their top three considerations when purchasing dog food, most respondents gave priority to food with meat as the first ingredient (57%), followed by food that…:

• Makes your dog appear healthy when eating it (37%),

• Contains No meat by-products (30%),

• Your dog clearly likes (28%)

• Contains fruits and vegetables (25%)

• Takes minimal processing to make (24%)

  • Not surprisingly given food scares and recalls, 16% preferred food made in their own country (U.S. or Canada) but only 7% said it was important for the ingredients to be sourced from there. Price was a consideration for some but low down the list at 18%. Interestingly enough, few cared much whether the food contained glucosamine or prebiotics and probiotics (4%).

What is CARNA4’s response?

We’ve noted what owners care about and the questions they want answered. We’re striving to address many of these questions in our blog posts and bringing in experts to help us out.

We’ve also taken these owners’ comments to heart by producing a highly palatable food that starts with fresh, real chicken and includes whole produce. It’s also made with minimal processing and contains no by-products, vitamin/mineral pre-mixes, preservatives or synthetic supplements of any kind. (Read how we do this using sprouted seed ingredients to naturally produce high levels of bioavailable nutrients, probiotics, antioxidants, etc.)

Most importantly, owners have told us that after feeding CARNA4, they’ve noted multiple improvements in their dog’s well-being – from more energy and softer coats to clearing up blemishes, infections and other issues.

Finally, we are committed to telling dog owners the truth about our food and pointing them to sources to probe and learn more about what we can honestly claim and why.

What matters to you and your dog? What do you look for in a dog food? What can we do better? Please tell us.