Pet Age recently spoke with Travis Atkins, a member of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition and co-founder of SquarePet, to learn more about the Austin, Texas-based pet food company.
Why is it important that SquarePet is a family-owned, family-run pet food business?
SquarePet being 100 percent family-owned without equity partners is very important and a huge advantage for us and, more importantly, for pets. We have the freedom to tailor nutrition according to our SquarePet nutritional philosophy, which only permits us to use high-quality and responsibly sourced ingredients, adhere to safe manufacturing processes and create nutrition with purpose. Our ability to answer directly to ourselves and to our customers and not to a financial obligation is a very unique spot and one that doesn’t influence us to sacrifice nutrition in response to other possible extrinsic pressures.
Why does SquarePet choose to manufacture solution-based pet foods?
When summarizing our SquarePet nutritional philosophy, it really comes down to NUTRITION WITH PURPOSE. We set out to not be a bandwagon company that hops on loosely grounded trends. Instead we make nutritional products with a purpose that even in our short existence seem to swim upstream of what others are doing. Maybe it would be the smart thing to do, but we can’t rightfully take a quality product and start infusing it with livestock feed and feel that we’re doing the right thing. We understand that more and more consumers are not necessarily seeking “flavors” for their pets, they are seeking solutions based nutritional tools to help solve or possibly even prevent a problem.
What’s been new for 2020 from SquarePet?
We are more motivated and optimistic than ever and hope to share this enthusiasm with all of our current and future retail partners. It’s certainly been a wild start to 2020, and much like our “Quaran-Team” promotional efforts, we plan to continue this philosophy of partnership and promote our one-of-a-kind, high-quality nutritional products to help guide consumers in-store. In addition to our current novel line up of products, we have introduced an entirely new product line as well as a new formula to our Veterinarian Formulated Solutions (VFS) line. Our new VFS Low Fat Formula diet is designed with the precision that you’d find in other veterinary based diets, is 100 percent complete and balanced, and made with sustainably sourced ingredients. Our entirely new product line, Squarely Natural, fits a true need for an all-natural, high-quality, energy-dense formula that is comprised of three primary ingredients—one primary protein source, one primary carbohydrate source and one healthy oil. Squarely Natural is positioned perfectly as an elimination diet option, a great transition diet or as an elevated standard for everyday feeding at a great value.
What makes SquareEgg such a unique dog food?
SquareEgg goes outside the boundaries of most comfort zones on first blush—because it is totally different. But once time has elapsed, it becomes evident to most that proteins are just carriers of amino acids and that egg happens to be the gold standard of all protein sources, including meat based proteins. Egg not only supplies all the essential amino acids needed by dogs (and humans) to thrive, it supplies them in the most bioavailable or usable fashion. This is what makes SquareEgg inherently solutions based—ease of digestion; and why veterinary diets that utilize egg are positioned as diets for digestive difficulties or food sensitivities.
SquareEgg is not only unique, it is probably the most versatile diet available today. It can be used as a solutions-based option for digestive concerns or food intolerances, a novel protein source, a base mix for raw feeding or home cooking, used as a rotational protein source or a reset in between diets, based on its gentle kibble structure it is great for senior dogs, used as a superior option to plant based vegetarian diets, and of course is designed as an all life stages diet including the growth of large breed puppies. SquareEgg has begun to help many, many dogs, and we hope that this continues.
What kind of pet owner would benefit from your Veterinarian Formulated Solutions (VFS) dog food line?
VFS is a really cool line that marries high-quality ingredients with true veterinary-inspired, solution-based nutrition, while at the same time being economically friendly. Right now we have our VFS Skin & Digestive Support diet and have just released our VFS Low Fat Formula. Our Skin & Digestive Support diet is a hydrolyzed protein diet and can be beneficial for those dogs who may have food allergies or sensitivities. Our Low Fat Formula is made with certified sustainable ingredients and can be considered for dogs who have had or are prone to pancreatitis, dogs that have difficulties digesting fat or dogs in need of a shorter-term gentle diet due to an “upset tummy.” It should be mentioned that all VFS diets are 100 percent complete and balanced for adult maintenance, and suitable to be fed to any adult dog.
How would you describe your partnership strategy with distributors that carry your products?
From the beginning, SquarePet has set its sights on helping to continue to push the pet food industry further and stay at the forefront of innovation and pet nutrition. This philosophy mirrors that of the hard working independent pet retailers who are in the trenches on a daily basis providing the best products and services for the health and well-being of all pets. In order to best serve this common mission, we chose to work with smaller independent regional distributors that place emphasis on relationships and long-term partnerships.