It all started with a cat named Spot. As a kitten, Spot was full of life, healthy and happy. As an adult, however, Spot became a sickly cat, plagued by digestive problems, skin irritations, excessive shedding and an unpleasant odor, according to Halo.

Andi Brown, founder of Halo and owner of troubled feline, Spot, began reading the labels on her cat's food and studying cats' nutritional requirements. Brown learned that the quality of nutrients a pet ingests has a direct correlation to the animal's health. After trying various premium petfoods, Brown finally ended up developing a recipe - later to become Halo's signature product, Spot's Stew - for a homemade stew full of all-natural fresh chicken and vegetables.

According to Halo, Brown's new diet for Spot had astonishing results: a noticeably healthier skin and coat, weight loss and an improved digestive system.

This experience opened Andi's eyes. She realized that the cat food she had fed Spot contained ingredients such as corn, wheat, rice, by-products, and also potentially hazardous ones, such as ethoxyquin or BHT and BHA, and she started to question what nutritional value such ingredients had.

"Halo, Purely for Pets  has been our own brand since 1986," says Steve Marton, CEO of Halo. "The Halo brand has grown to include natural food for dogs and cats (both wet and dry), treats, supplements and grooming products." Since Halo's inception, Andi Brown has become an active advocate for natural ingredients in the world of pet care products. She recently published her first book, The Whole Pet Diet: Eight Weeks to Great Health for Dogs and Cats (Ten Speed Press).

"Halo products have the best ingredients for dogs and cats. Plain and simple, that's what we strive to be known for," explains Marton. "That's why Ellen DeGeneres became a part owner of our company. That's why she spreads the word." In 2008, Halo announced that talk show host Ellen DeGeneres had become a co-owner of the company. The announcement came as Halo was expanding it product line and retail presence in the US market by offering its products in retail chains such as Whole Foods and Petco. "This is a defining moment in the history of Halo," said company president Alan Kerzner at the time of the announcement.

"We're delighted to have Ellen join our family at this time of exciting growth."

"That's why similarly-passionate pet owners do everything in their power to spread the word as well," continues Marton. "As more and more consumers are reading ingredients labels - and understanding what the ingredients are - our sales improve. For example, consumers are just starting to understand ingredients like chicken meal, which is a rendered meat." Does that mean it's terrible for animals? "Certainly not," says Marton. "But consumers who want the best ingredients for their pets prefer ingredients like real chicken, eggs and pea protein. Every Halo ingredient is a real, natural ingredient that consumers recognize and understand. Every meat we use can also be sent to make human food products."

This nutritional transparency  -- all of Halo's product ingredients are available on their website and in late 2008, the company released the Spot's Stew recipe for consumers to recreate for their pets at home -- has garnered the company a loyal, fastidious following. Not to mention the company's promise to their consumer's, located on their products and their website: Halo products will produce vibrant, happier, healthier pets - inside and out. We guarantee you'll see the results.

According to Marton, three things have driven Halo's growth since 1986:

  • The holistic, natural ingredients in their products;
  • Strong partnerships with retailers like pet specialty and natural food stores; and
  • The trust and passion of their consumers.

"This year we've added two exciting new product lines - Halo Healthsome treats, and Halo HolistiClean stain and odor remover," Marton shares. "The Healthsome treats are exceeding expectations, and complement our award-winning Halo Liv-a-Littles protein treats to provide everything consumer's need for healthy treating. HolistiClean is launching as we speak."

Extensive study and the input of nutritional experts are the backbone of Halo's healthy dog and cat food, nutritional supplements, herbal grooming supplies and treats. Consumer educational information is available from veterinarians like Dr. Donna Spector and dog behavioral consultants like Kim Barnett. "Our biggest opportunity is education," explains Marton. "As consumers - and even retailers - learn more about ingredients, Halo stands out. It's exciting to see a world-wide learning curve showing a growing care for animals."

So what's next  for the petfood company with the holistic approach, celebrity co-owner and fan-obsessed Twitter page? "We're very excited about the future as more and more people think of their pets as members of their family," enthuses Marton. "I think you can look to expansion of our offerings in food, treats, supplements and grooming. Also, as new natural ingredients are discovered with health benefits for humans, you'll see the best find their way into Halo products."

As consumers know more, they will expect more. Halo, Purely For Pets welcomes this pet parent enthusiasm, hoping to follow the trajectory of the human food industry with higher-quality, natural products.

Business basics

Headquarters: Tampa, Florida, USA
Officers: Andi Brown, founder; Steve Marton, CEO; Alan Kerzner, president; Ellen DeGeneres, co-owner and charitable partner
Brands: Spot's Stew (dog /cat, wet/dry food formulas), Liv-A-Littles (dog and cat treats), VitaGlo (pet supplements), Cloud Nine (grooming supplies), HolistiClean (pet stain and odor remover)
Distribution: Nationwide in US pet specialty, natural and health food stores, as well as larger retailers such as Whole Foods and Petco