Isle of Dogs: Natural pet food, products promote wellness

Isle of Dogs got its start in a non-food segment of the pet world and has expanded into pet food in order to fully serve its furry customers.

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Isle of Dogs President John Hart, here with his Golden Retriever Indy, has married external pet beauty with internal pet health while expanding his business. | Photo courtesy Isle of Dogs
Isle of Dogs President John Hart, here with his Golden Retriever Indy, has married external pet beauty with internal pet health while expanding his business. | Photo courtesy Isle of Dogs

Isle of Dogs got its start in a non-food segment of the pet world: grooming.

“We were born of a winning heritage in the professional dog show arena that resulted from one woman’s quest to find a solution to help her dog recover from a life-threatening skin ailment,” says John Hart, president of Isle of Dogs. “That spirit lives on within the company today and is part of our culture. We are on a quest to help dogs shine from the inside out.”

The company combines grooming products with natural pet food, treats and supplements to promote wellness and beauty from within, says Hart. “All of our health and beauty products help improve the quality of life for dogs and cats by providing the nutrients necessary for clean, healthy coats and optimal internal health.”

Focusing on internal and external pet health

“We pride ourselves on innovation, rather than imitation,” says Hart. “All of our products are unique and provide a benefit in the overall health of a pet. Our dedication to quality, safety and efficacy provides retailers the confidence to know our products perform and will keep customers coming back to their stores.”

With the addition of food and treats to Isle of Dogs’ luxury shampoo, conditioner and brush spray offerings, the company says it has a product line that combines internal health and external beauty to support the overall wellness of dogs and cats. The company’s June 2017 launch of its nourish brand of pet food, jerky treats, dental chews and supplements focuses on grain-free and high-protein formulations customers are asking for.

“We are providing retailers and consumers an alternative format food that contains 90 percent meat,” says Hart. “Our products elevate the grain-free options to a new level.”

According to Hart, the line of products was a natural addition to the company’s existing offerings, as retailers were seeking edible products with internal and external health benefits in unique formats. “Many of our customers prefer alternative formats to kibble, as they believe there are healthier options available,” says Hart. “Our goal is to deliver the nutrients pets need to be healthy inside and out.”

nourish: A specialty pet food line with high nutritional goals

The Isle of Dogs nourish brand is a line of air-dried pet food and treats, dental chews and supplements aimed at the independent pet specialty trade segment. With food and treats made from 90 percent raw meat and free of GMOs, animal meals, grains, corn, gluten, soy, potatoes, lentils and artificial preservatives, flavors and colors, the company says it’s introducing “what grain-free is supposed to be” to its consumers. “The initial response from the market has been very strong, and momentum continues to build,” says Hart.  “We are continuing to add independent distributors across North America, adding retailers weekly. The food is performing very well, and consumers are embracing the alternative jerky style format of 90 percent meat and limited ingredients.”

The brand aims high and lands squarely in the topmost section of the specialty pet food market. “In addition to using natural, premium ingredients in each of our products, all of the meats used in our food and treats are sustainably sourced and ethically raised under strict standards,” says Hart. “Our lamb, venison and beef are free range and grass fed.”

Getting the word out: Educating customers on pet nutrition and health

Hart says he sees Isle of Dogs’ unique position in two segments of the pet world as a prime opportunity to educate pet owners.

“Our biggest opportunity is educating consumers and retailers on the benefits of our products,” says Hart. “There is a huge demand for grain-free products, and we see that trend shifting more to products free from potatoes and other starches.”

This opportunity is also the company’s biggest challenge, according to Hart.

“Telling our story and getting the word out there is the biggest challenge,” he says. “Our marketing and sales strategy is very grassroots and spreads one customer at a time. There is a huge market opportunity available, but reaching it on a small company budget is challenging.”

The company plans to focus on innovation, expanding its presence in the pet market (both food and grooming) to continue getting its name out there to customers.

“We will continue to bring innovations to the pet specialty market,” says Hart. “New food and treat options are in the pipeline for 2018 and beyond. Additionally, our shampoos and coat care products will launch into the pet specialty channel, giving retailers and consumers natural alternatives to most national brands currently offered.”

The future of Isle of Dogs in the pet food industry

As a company new to pet food, Hart says Isle of Dogs sees plenty of opportunity to be successful.

“The current state of the pet food industry is very strong,” says Hart. “Retailers and consumers are embracing innovation and healthier advancements in nutrition. Pet parents want to do the best they can for their pet, and are often searching for better nutrition and health care options.

“The pet food industry will continue to flourish,” he says. “Pets will continue to be important members of the family across all demographics. We do feel the shift in food trends away from traditional kibble will continue to grow at a rapid pace. Consumers are embracing meat-based foods with very limited ingredients as alternative nutrition options. And that means we will continue to advance innovation and find ways to bring the best products we possibly can to market on behalf of our retailers, groomers and their pet parents.”

Just the Facts

Headquarters: Germantown, Wisconsin, USA

Facilities: Co-manufacturers located in US and New Zealand

Officers: Kailas Rao, CEO; John Hart, president; Nancy Butkus; vice president of marketing

Sales: Double-digit annual growth anticipated for 2018 and significant additional growth forecast for the next few years due to nourish launch and additional introduction of new innovation.

Brands: Isle of Dogs, Coature, Salon Elements, Everyday Elements, Every Day Natural Luxury, Replascents, Cococlean, nourish

Distribution: Pet specialty

Employees: 18

Website/Social Media:


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