Over our 27,000 year relationship with dogs, both humans and dogs have undergone evolutionary changes, all while remaining constant companions. Somewhere along the domestication process, humans decided that it would be more convenient and less expensive to drastically change what our best friend eats. Gone are the days when our wolf descended friends would eat a diet that their body was designed for. Dogs used to thrive on meat! Real meat, not processed meat by-product kibble that has been blended with preservatives, additives, and dehydrated to ease the transportation process.
Chris Cey was a high school science teacher from Bellevue, Idaho. He is an avid hunter and enjoyed living off the Eastern Idaho land. His dogs were not only his companions but his hunting partners, helping to flush out and retrieve upland game birds. Chris began to notice that his dog, Bert, wasn’t able to hunt with the same endurance and was having digestive issues. His science background gave him the skills necessary to properly research dog food, its process for production, and its effects on a dog’s health. This led him to start developing a recipe using his own game meat. He saw an immediate change in his dog’s health. This continued for ten years.
When Chris’s former student, John David, was dog-sitting one week, they had no idea that the complicated explanation of how to prepare the dog’s homemade meal would change both their lives forever. The food prep was complicated and time-consuming, but the benefits were undeniable. John brought in his friend Alec, who had a strong entrepreneurial spirit, and that was the beginning of Idahound.
Idahound started in Chris’s garage in 2014. There they brought in one cow from a local farmer and butchered it for the meat. They put together their business models to include raw meat and organs from grass-fed animals from within a 50-mile radius. Instead of using fillers of unknown ingredients and no nutritional value, Idahound uses organic ingredients like apples, squash, and alfalfa. They debuted at the Ketchum farmers market that summer, and the process of introducing themselves to Eastern Idaho began.
When it was time to expand out of Chris’s garage, they purchased a 5-acre property in Carey, ID that worked perfectly. They comply with all food processing protocols that even meet standards for human food. Customers all over the US were now able to purchase raw dog food from their online store. Orders started pouring in from California to the East Coast, but most of their wholesalers are from Boise, Salt Lake City, Coeur d’Alene, and Spokane.
The Idahound meat mainstay includes sheep, which is an excellent source of protein. They just introduced rabbit which is from a local farmer that raises them just for Idahound. They focus on buying directly from local farmers and ranchers. Idahound does all of the butchering, deboning, processing, and packaging themselves. This not only allows them to reduce waste and keep the entire process efficient but gives their five employees the luxury to choose the best parts of every animal.
While every dog is of course different, their digestive systems are predisposed to consume raw meat. Humans consume cooked meat because for us it is easier to digest when cooked as cooking breaks down the proteins of the meat. In dogs, their salivary and digestive enzymes are physically designed to consume and digest large chunks of raw meat.
Feeding your dog an organic, locally sourced, farm to bowl diet is not cheap. But think of it this way, you spend thousands of dollars on vet bills over the dog’s lifetime. If your dog was healthier to begin with, you could offset some of those bills. Yes, kibble is inexpensive, and there are endless reasons why, including low-quality ingredients. Alec asks, “you shop at the farmers market and buy organic food for your family, why would you give your dog the equivalent of fast food?” Often people who want to evolve their dog’s diet to raw will supplement with treats or a mixture of kibble and raw during the day. Most are convinced when they see the immediate changes in their dog’s energy, coat, and even bowel movements. When more nutrients are able to be absorbed into the body in a healthy efficient way, there is less waste.
Idahoud not only wants to provide the best food for your best friend, but they want to do it in a way that is as local as possible. In addition to supporting local farmers and ranchers, sourcing locally can have a positive impact on the environment. There is definitely a tipping scale between profitability and quality. Industrialized meat processing plants focus on profit margins, not quality products. These plants process up to 10,000 cattle a day. Compare this to a small family farm that processes 20-30 cattle a day. Imagine the difference in quality. The only downside is that sustainable agriculture and small family farming do not come cheap. Never has the expression, “you get what you pay for” been more true.
To learn more about Idahound, please visit their website at https://idahound.com or go see them in person at the Capital City Public Market in Boise.