Gayle Nastasi, animal consultant and author
We all, as conscientious pet parents, want to do what is best for our animal family members. This includes, of course, trying to provide them with quality nutrition. Whether we feed raw, create home-made diets, or shop for top-quality commercial brands, we all strive to do our best. There is always that “but will he eat it?” factor to consider, in addition to individual sensitivities and allergies. For some people, finding just that right food (or combination of foods) is a major endeavor. Then, when we find what works, what is healthy, and what Fluffy and Fido will actually eat, we stick with the magical combination faithfully.
That combination, for my own pets, for many years, has included Merrick pet foods. My dogs and cats have all accepted the brand readily. I liked that they were all-USA-sourced, holistic, used no by-products or preservatives. I liked that they had a wide variety of flavors and options to choose from, to keep cats from growing finicky and help guard against things like bowel issues. I liked, more than anything, that they were an independently-owned manufacturer who were not beholden to any of the big-name commercial conglomerates.
That is, until a short while ago. As most of our pet-loving friends out there probably already know, Merrick has recently sold its soul to the devil. They are now a Purina-owned company.
Now, I am not quite as rabidly anti-Purina as many people are. I don’t use their products, but I have in the past. Many years ago, Purina Dog Chow was the only thing a certain fussy pup of mine would eat. Those were the days, however, when we did not have a huge list of alternatives, and “natural” was not even a concept in the world of pet foods. I have, more recently, picked up a bag or two of one of their more natural dry cat foods, when dealing with one of my periodic stray cat efforts, simply because it was better than Dad’s or Meow Mix and I needed something fast.
However, it’s not a brand I would feed on a regular basis, and recent news stories about law suits against Blue Buffalo (another brand I will no longer use) and the disastrous reports about animals dying due to toxins in Beneful have moved me farther away from Purina as anything I would feed my own pets.
And now Merrick is Purina.
Merrick claims that nothing will change. They claim they will remain independent, and in full control of their sourcing and their recipes. Merrick’s customers, most of whom know more than the average supermarket shopper about pet foods, have seen too much of Purina to trust those promises. It’s not that we don’t believe that Merrick (at the moment) means what they are saying. It’s just that, when we look at similar situations of buy-outs by the big-name companies, it is obvious that, whatever the current promises may be, Merrick is going to eventually find out that money talks, and their primary share-holder is going to call the shots.
I have, over the years, recommended Merrick foods to many of my clients. I will no longer be doing so, and am once again looking for an alternative to feed my own pets. My dog and my cat both already eat half home-made, mixed with high quality holistic pet food. (The cat won’t eat the home-made unless it’s mixed with canned — trust me, I’ve tried. For Kai, however, switching to all home-made is still an option.)
Were you a Merrick user? Have you decided to switch, now that you know they will be a Purina product from now on? If you are switching, what brands are you considering? Are you going to stay with Merrick and see if they make good on their promises in the long-term? Feel free to leave your comments below.