v-dog successfully tapping into vegan dog food market

A family-owned dog food company founded in 2005 has ridden the wave of veganism’s popularity right into vegan pet owners’ pantries.

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Photo courtesy of v-dog
Photo courtesy of v-dog

California, USA-based v-dog has been selling complete and balanced, plant-based kibble and chews since 2005 and, according to the company, has grown into the most prominent vegan dog food company in America. It’s a designation v-dog is proud to claim.

“At v-dog, we are proud to be a vegan-owned and -operated family business,” says Lindsay Rubin, director of operations for v-dog. “Everything we do is rooted in maintaining optimal health in dogs, saving animals’ lives and doing as little harm to the planet as possible. We hire passionate people who work overtime to ensure our mission-driven business reaches its full potential.”

The growth of a niche market for dog food

“We’ve experienced consistent growth over the years, mostly in the last few as the plant-based movement continues to explode in the US,” says Rubin. The company is constantly looking for ways to expand within its specialized segment, coming out with its first US Department of Agriculture (USDA)-certified organic product, the peanut butter-flavored Wiggle Biscuit, in 2016, and working on more products for release in 2018. One such product is a launch of its kibble in “mini bites” size, convenient for smaller dogs or dogs with trouble chewing.

v-dog has also recently moved its headquarters to San Francisco, California, aiming to sit in a hub of business, fresh ideas and, of course, dogs.

“We’re grateful to be right in the middle of it all,” says Rubin. “Plus, you basically can’t walk one block without seeing at least two dogs! We’re proud to continue to grow our team and work on new products as we grow. v-dog experienced significant growth in 2017 and we project that growth will continue as we scale up this year.”

vdog ingredients

The company prides itself on its ingredients, including those in its USDA organic-certified Wiggle Biscuits: eight organic ingredients that are gentle on digestion and excellent for allergy-prone dogs, according to v-dog. | Courtesy of v-dog

The continued growth of the pet food industry, particularly with regards to the younger pet owners and their interest in e-commerce, is an avenue that v-dog feels primed to tap.

“The pet food industry is booming, with young people driving up much of the e-commerce sector growth,” says Rubin. “In this generation, we are obsessed with our pets like nothing else. It’s a phenomenon characterized by statistics of young people buying healthier, more premium pet food, and buying where it’s natural for them to shop: online. Additionally, with the vegan movement gaining massive momentum every year, we are excited that v-dog is the top choice for vegan pet parents.”

Change and challenges at v-dog

One significant change for the company happened in 2014, with the death of its founder, David Middlesworth. The company remained a family business, however, with son Darren Middlesworth (previously the head of product development) taking over as president and carrying on v-dog’s commitment to healthy, expertly formulated pet products and to-the-core authenticity.

“We’re proud to carry on Dave’s mission, which prioritized unparalleled health of the dog,” says Rubin. “We’re excited to continue to grow our team of compassionate employees and foster the best business partnerships to allow pet parents better access to our products, whether online or in-store. In addition to our website and various pet stores, v-dog is now sold throughout the entire USA on Amazon and Chewy.com. We are also working on international expansion for 2018.”

That expansion includes new international sister company v-planet, which launched in April 2018 with vegan kibble available in two package sizes, 4.5 lb. and 15 lb. The formula features plant-based ingredients like pea protein, lentils and quinoa. The new company will share the same branding and design as v-dog, featuring the signature leaf-eared dog. v-planet will be made and packaged in Canada and expanding across the globe through distributors that will make the kibble available in pet and grocery stores, according to Rubin.

vdog kibble bags lineup

v-dog’s line of vegan dog products include dry food, Wiggle Biscuits and vegan chews called Breathbones. | Courtesy of v-dog

But being a vegan dog food company, even one as successful as v-dog, isn’t without its (perhaps predictable) challenges.

“One of the most difficult challenges for v-dog is battling the rampant misinformation about vegan dogs on the internet,” says Rubin. “Dogs are omnivores and the proof is not only in their genetics (AMY2B gene), but in the thriving, happy dogs (some living into their 20s) on v-dog food. When our founder started v-dog, he knew dogs could thrive on a plant-based diet, and we’re here to continue to share his message and the facts — along with tons of positivity and kindness.

“We’re excited to continue to show the world that vegan dogs are healthy, happy dogs when fed a complete and balanced food like v-dog,” she says. “We work hard to provide resources about this lifestyle through our website with the help of great veterinarians and pet food experts. We are always so proud to share the countless success stories that flow in on a daily basis from our incredible customers on our testimonials page.”

The future of v-dog

“The future of v-dog is and always will be a team of animal lovers making compassionate, plant-based products,” says Rubin. “We are excited to be in the pet food space as a healthy, ethical option for dogs during a time when a microscope is placed on ingredients and brands more than ever. As America’s first all-vegan dog product company, we are excited to pave the way for the plant-based pet movement, which is gaining momentum as the health, ethical and environmental ramifications become more widely known.”

The company understands that the topic of plant-based diets for dogs can be a polarizing one, and education will continue to be a primary component of the v-dog strategy. The founder, says Rubin, was ahead of his time, but the massive growth of veganism in the US since 2005 has borne out his vision.

“What he did know is that dogs can live healthy, happy lives on a plant-based diet,” says Rubin, “and we are so proud to carry on his message, thirteen years and counting.”



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