Portland Pet Food founder talks dog-food dilemma

New-to-Canada pet-food brand offers “all-natural, human grade” dog meals and treats.

Article content

Portland Pet Food was borne out love for a small, senior-aged dog named Rosie.

“I started the company basically for my 14-1/2-year-old Standard Poodle, who was not thriving and was losing weight,” founder Katie McCarron, speaking from her home in Oregon, explains. “The vet had really given up on her …

“They thought at first she had cancer, but she ended up having nothing wrong with her.”

Determined to keep trying to find a solution for her beloved dog’s decline, the B.C.-born entrepreneur started researching healthy pet-food options.


Article content

“The added synthetic supplements and vitamins that go into pet food, I was not really aware of that before I got into this business,” McCarron explains of what shocked her most during her research. “I also didn’t understand what ‘rendered’ was. I didn’t understand that many of these are diseased, older animals that are not fit for the human food chain. They go to a rendering plant, are cooked at very high levels to destroy any bacteria, and then they have to add back in the synthetic nutrients and vitamins because those get destroyed also in the cooking process.”

Finding nothing available on the market that met her standards, McCarron headed into her kitchen to formulate her own nutritious recipes using human-grade ingredients in the hopes she could help Rosie turn a corner on her health.


Article content

“Rosie really rebounded,” McCarron says of the results of the recipes she created using her own nutrition background and with the help of the Food Innovation Centre at Oregon State University. “We started out with meals, with Rosie’s Beef N’ Rice. And, she lived to be 17 almost, just eating our meals.”

Portland Pet Food founder Katie McCarron with her dogs Rosie and Tuxedo.
Portland Pet Food founder Katie McCarron with her dogs Rosie and Tuxedo. Portland Pet Food

Inspired by the results, she hit the road with her recipes in 2014, selling the homemade products at local farmer’s markets before branching out into specialty pet-food stores, and finally, expanding into natural grocery stores by 2019, according to McCarron.

The brand entered the Canadian market in 2020, with a further expansion through Pet Valu this summer.

“We’re in about 2,700 stores across Canada and the United States, McCarron says of the line, which includes five varieties of dog meals along with an assortment of baked treats made with domestic ingredients that are billed as all-natural and human-grade.


Article content

For the Canadian launch, the company has partnered with the B.C.-based non-profit group Thank Dog I Am Out Rescue Society, donating a percentage of sales in order to help local dogs misplaced by wildfires.

Portland Pet Food dog-food pouches.
Portland Pet Food dog-food pouches. Handout/Portland Pet Food

“Everything is sourced here, pretty much locally,” she says. “My motto is, if you can’t pronounce it, why would you feed it to your dog?”

Offering a human-grade option for dog food was paramount for McCarron, who says the differences between what is classified as human-grade and feed-grade can be staggering.

“You can’t really compare a feed-grade pea, for example, to what’s acceptable for a pea that’s meant for human consumption,” she says. “And I wanted to make sure they were getting all the nutrients, naturally.”

While the meals and biscuits are made to human-grade standards, McCarron cautions that the food is still for canine companions to enjoy — rather than their humans.

“Because we are a pet-food company, I do have to put on the labels that this is not for human consumption, but we’ve had several people try it,” McCarron says, with a laugh. “It would be fine to eat it, but I’ve formulated the recipes for a dog and their nutritional needs and not a human’s.”

McCarron says a line of cat food is planned for 2022.




Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Source: vancouversun.com