Yes, Zuke’s Was Bought By Purina. Don’t Panic!

Zukes collageYes, Zuke’s Performance Pet Nutrition, was acquired by Nestlé Purina PetCare. I heard a rumor Wednesday and yesterday it was confirmed.

UPDATE: The acquisition by Nestle-Purina occurred in January 2014. In February 2018, it was announced that Zuke’s will merge with another natural pet food company owned by Purina – Merrick Pet Care, an natural and organic pet-food company. Both are good companies, and the news is recent, so I’m waiting to see how everything shakes out before updating this article. However, I do know that 24 of Zuke’s 36 employees will be laid off – 16 of whom are located in Durango – during this consolidation with Merrick headquarters in Texas. The employees who lost their jobs are receiving outplacement support services, severance benefits, and benefit continuation (for an unknown amount of time). Jack Llewellyn, executive director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce, added: “Whenever large companies purchase smaller companies, it’s all about the economics, and they are going to evaluate whether it makes sense or not to consolidate.” (Source)

Honestly, I wasn’t very happy about the news. Zuke’s is a brand that I highly respect. We’ve loved Zuke’s since I discovered their first product on the shelves, Power Bones – a “power bar” to fuel your dog’s adventures. I have been working with Zuke’s for reviews and partnerships for a couple years now and they are currently a long-term sponsor of this blog. The staff is great and Zuke’s truly cares about dogs (and cats), pet health, and fueling active adventures with your dog.

I don’t feel the same about Purina. Among other things that affect my opinion of them, Purina makes Beneful and there has been some controversy around that food. I admit that I know more about the negative sentiment among vigilant pet owners that surrounds the brand than I do about the facts and the brand itself. There was some information circulating that Beneful was responsible for causing some dogs to get sick or die. The FDA found that Purina Beneful did not cause the death of the dog in the most notable case – a 2 1/2 year old English Mastiff. There is still some skepticism among pet owners though and, founded or not, some pet owners do not trust the Purina brand.

Upon hearing the news about Purina acquiring Zuke’s, I did a little research. Like I said, I wasn’t super pleased by the news but did not want to rush to judgement. Some large companies acquire smaller ones but allow them to operate as if they were still independent. It turns out, that is the case here.

Zuke’s will operate independently under Purina. The Zuke’s company stated that “Zuke’s will continue creating and producing outdoors-inspired, safe and healthy dog and cat treats in the same facilities, in the same way, right here in the USA.” Meiering, the original founder of Zuke’s, will continue to serve in an advisory role.

According to an article in Pet Age Magazine, Meiering stated, ““I’m personally so pleased that Zuke’s is now a part of the Nestlé Purina family, Their understanding of Zuke’s core mission of fostering an active and healthy lifestyle for pets and pet parents alike, their commitment to keeping Zuke’s and its employees in Durango as an independent operation, and their ability to help grow the Zuke’s brand in the pet specialty marketplace were important factors in partnering with Nestlé Purina.”

I have not heard yet from my sponsor contact at Zuke’s about the sale. I am a bit disappointed that I was not given a heads-up but understand that some company information can not be released until it goes public. All I have to go on right now is the press releases about the acquisition but I am not panicking.

As long as nothing changes about Zuke’s mission, formulations, and their employees continue to be treated with respect, I am fine with them being owned by Purina. Purina can help Zuke’s reach more people with their mission through years of proven marketing techniques.

I’ll be keeping an eye on how all of this unfolds and let you know if my opinion changes.

About the Author

Hi, I’m Jessica. I’m a Dachshund sitter, President of the largest social Dachshund club in Washington State, a dog trainer in training, and I’ve been a Dachshund owner for 20 years. I have over 150,000 hours of experience with the breed. When I’m not working, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.

92 Comments

  1. I think it’s natural for folks to assume the worst, as we all have had brands we love be acquired by huge companies, and then you sit back and watch the quality go downhill. (I’m looking at YOU, Rubio’s Baja Grill!) But I’m hoping the ingredients will stay the same. It’s a bummer though because before I would buy Zukes without giving it a second thought. But now I feel like I’m going to need to keep an eye on their labels again, checking up to make sure it’s still the same good stuff.

    Thanks for the additional info and I know you’ll keep us posted!

    1. I agree. I never had any reservation to buying and promoting Zuke’s treats before. Now they are in a position where a lot of people may hesitate to buy and some won’t, purely because they would be inadvertently supporting a company they don’t believe in. I would not be surprised if there are other “smaller brands” out there though that we (at least *I*) am not aware that Purina owns.

  2. I think it’s fair to not panic just yet but as Jackie says, we’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on the product over upcoming months to see if we start to see a decline in quality or changes. It’s like any takeover where the original team are kept in place – the real significant changes come when you’re not looking, a year or so after acquisition. My fingers are crossed that we don’t lose another great treat company to a big company’s changes, though.

    1. Try out Farmers Dog
      I seen video about dog foods and treats , and all dog food comes from China if your dog food says “chicken meal” it’s diseased livestock put in dog food..they start making it in China then send it to USA and they finish cooking it and packaging it here so they can but made in America on produces..please do your research. All dog foods like science diet, Iams, Pedigree, and Purina its a Chinese owners company.

      1. Not all chicken meal is from diseased chickens. It just means ground meat, organs, etc. instead of whole. It’s definitely easier for shady companies to “hide” the bad stuff that way though. In my opinion anyway. I’m not a dog food scientist or nutritionist.

  3. Please keep us informed with what you find out. Teach does eat Purina One Sensitive system and does really well on it. We’ve always fed some form of Purina products. With the Beneful fiasco I started being skeptical and hesitant about their products and that is actually how I found Zukes. I really liked how they were a smaller independent company who were doing all the right things and have wonderful products. Let’s hope it does continue.

    1. I don’t have anything against Purina food generally. I don’t think it is good quality, and would not feed it to my dogs, but I have talked to people who say that one of their foods is the only one their dog can eat. I think people are always quick to be skeptical of “big bad” companies but I think the lack of trust over the Beneful and Chicken Jerky fiascoes is warranted. I will definitely be looking into them more.

  4. I agree there is always a chance Purina will leave Zuke’s independent and actions will speak louder than words. However, Americans have short memories, and as soon as they think we aren’t looking, Purina will look for ways to raise Zuke’s revenue. You know where that leads…..

    Plus, I am not interested in supporting Purina, even a subsidiary. Zuke’s has just created a PR nightmare for itself.

    1. I am still gathering my thoughts on this whole thing. I admit though that I struggle with buying Zuke’s and inadvertently supporting Purina in the process. I just know that the sentiment about Pruina is not good but don’t know the facts to make my own judgments. Looks like I will be doing some research.

      1. I have a 7lb. 7yr. old Maltese. I don’t trust any of the food on the market. I cook fresh salmon and fresh organic chicken breasts from Fresh Market. She has not been sick in 6.5 months since I started cooking for her. I also make her fresh green beans and carrots. I love Zukes Mini’s and no problem there. But I am trying to find chewy’s make in the U.S.A. with Natural healthy. I don’t want Rawhide period. I see so many products are made in China, Vietnam or Taiwan and I can’t believe it’s allowed. I don’t trust Purina, Nestle or any large company and believe they care at all about our pets period.

        1. Hi Vee. I understand your distrust of big companies. While I don’t agree, I know many people who feel the same way as you. As for chewies, my dog’s favorites are bully sticks. Yes, it is important to make sure they are high-quality and not from China or another less regulated country (than the US). Our favorite ones are from Pawstruck. The Pawstruck website says this about sourcing and manufacture: “Our natural bully sticks come from free-range, grass-fed South American cattle. You can rest assured knowing that our bully sticks are completely digestible and are not sourced from China or other countries where quality and safety can’t be guaranteed. South America is a terrific source of beef as they have some of the highest quality cattle available.”

  5. I was so bummed out about this. I have always been a fan of Zuke’s but definitely not Purina. They have had their fair share of recalls lately and the majority of their food brands are on my never feed, worst ever foods. We feed raw so we don’t have to worry about kibble but I still like to use commercial treats occasionally and Zuke’s were some of my favorites. I know they say they will be operating independently, but keep in mind Natura Pet said the same thing when they were acquired by P&G. Things went okay for a year or two and then all of a sudden they have had recall after recall and there goes another brand of food I was okay recommending. I will be watching very cautiously, that’s for sure.

    1. I know. I have learned more about Natura and others recently. Purina can say that nothing will change with Zuke’s but, once people aren’t looking anymore, they could make some subtle changes. They could also make changes that are not reportable on the packaging (changes that wouldn’t reflect on it) and we would never know. I am just not sure what to think at this point. I may, however, be stockpiling a year’s worth of treats before they change 🙂

      1. Hmm, stock-piling, that’s a good idea. While I mostly feed my girl healthy whole food treats (veggies, PB, lean proteins) I like to have some commercial treats on-hand and she just LOVES the salmon training treats. While I’d rather feed her the whole foods, I never felt bad about giving her Zuke’s time to time because they seemed like a good company with good ingredients. Now I’m going to have to keep an eye on the ingredients and her reaction while trying to find a possible alternative.

  6. I was wondering how you felt about this knowing that you are huge advocates of Zuke’s. I totally understand the need for smaller companies to want to line up with larger companies, and how that often helps out smaller brands grow and run longer. I do think it’s unfortunate that they have partnered up with a brand that a lot of people do not like and also has so much controversy around. I would never buy Purina products, or products associated with the brand, and I think the true test will be to see if they actually do let them (Zuke’s) operate as if they were still independent. Only time will tell.

    1. I know. Couldn’t they have picked someone besides Purina?? I don’t know what went on behind closed doors but they HAD to know that selling to Purina would turn off a lot of long-time customers. Unfortunately, even if Zuke’s “stays the same”, buying their product is still supporting Purina and I am not sure how I feel about that yet.

  7. I may have sent a slightly inflammatory tweet their way yesterday about the whole thing, since I will not buy Purina products for Rigby. They responded very quickly and politely stating “All of our people, products, manufacturers and processes are staying the same. Still made in the USA!” I appreciate that, but will definitely be keeping an eye on their ingredients/”made in” statement on their labels.

    1. I saw that yesterday and that canned response was the same for every single inquiry. The problem is that Purina can make changes, like sourcing, that don’t reflect on the label.

      1. Yeah, agreed. It’s definitely not a good sign, and its easier for us to just not buy Zuke’s anymore for that reason. We find so many new brands of pet products through Rigby’s Barkbox subscription that I’m not too worried about running out of safe, natural, made in USA treats!

  8. Wow… I think I am almost speechless. I hate to see companies being bought out by corporate giants. I will watch and see what happens, it makes me think they will make changes to their recipes and not source responsibly, sorry I just don’t trust Purina. I am someone who spends $300+/month for dog food and treats and quality is so important to me. I may now be searching for a new training treat… or heck, I’ll be cooking up chicken livers from now on. Thanks for letting us know 🙂

    1. I am the same as you…spending hundreds of dollars a month on food and treats for my dogs. For corporate giants, the dollar always out the “warm and fuzzys”. If it is cheaper for them to source from lesser sources where they are already getting ingredients for their food, I don’t see them NOT doing that eventually. This whole thing has happened with other brands and I don’t expect any different here. Sadly, they can make significant changes that wouldn’t be reflected on the label.

    1. We may be stocking up now and never buying again. It’s too late to not be supporting Purina by doing that but it will ensure the treats are the same ones we have always been getting. I am still a bit in shock and not sure where I stand on the matter. I admire people with the knowledge and conviction to make a stand against supporting a brand they don’t believe in.

  9. Even if the product doesn’t change one single bit, I will no longer be supporting the brand. They could IMPROVE quality and for me, I’m still out. I just don’t feel comfortable buying anything that supports Purina’s bottom line while they continue to sell Waggin’ Train jerky. Their response to the entire debacle was shameful and if there is even a very small chance that they will bring the same level of deception and lack of care to the Zuke’s brand, I don’t want to spend my money on it.

      1. Yes, it’s one of the brands under the Purina umbrella. They are also responsible for Canyon Creek Ranch, another of the chinese jerky products. Others are Beggin’ Strips, Alpo, Beneful, Busy Bone, Frosty Paws, Mighty Dog and some other low quality products.

        1. I clearly need to do some research. I have been blissfully ignorant because I don’t buy any of that stuff. I think I am most shocked that Zuke’s let themselves be purchased by a company with that history.

          1. Sometimes money talks and sometimes, small companies have o choice but sell while they can or risk losing it all. (I don’t know Zuke’s financial position, so it’s hard to known if they sold out or not, but I try not to judge.) All I can do is choose to spend my money with the small companies I support, with good practices. Even if Zukes stays true to the promise that this buy out will not change how they operate, to me? It already has.

            1. Zukes did not do the because they need more money or were in financial straights – they did this because they WANT MORE money – they have been positioning for this since 2010: see website link

              1. From Pet Products News:
                Private Equity Firm Invests in Zuke’s
                Posted: Tuesday, June 1, 2010, 6:26 p.m., EDT

                Zuke’s, a Durango, Colo.-based manufacturer of all-natural pet treats, has received an investment of an undisclosed sum from Encore Consumer Capital, a consumer products-focused private equity firm. The company reported in mid-April that it will use the financial backing to expand its reach in the pet specialty, natural grocery and outdoor markets.

                “We are very excited about the partnership and the many opportunities this will offer our customers, our retailers and our constituents,” Zuke’s founder Patrick Meiering said. “Encore Consumer Capital’s shared industry experience and expertise will help strengthen our branding and strategy as we get closer to achieving our sales, branding and marketing goals.”

                Encore Consumer Capital, which is based in San Francisco, has invested in numerous food and consumer product companies, such as Aidells Sausage Company, Ciao Bella Gelato Co. and MyChelle Dermaceuticals, according to its website.

                “Zuke’s has built a terrific brand that is well respected for its high-quality natural treats, innovation and commitment to the pet specialty channel,” Encore co-founder and managing director Scott Sellers said. “We are excited to work with Patrick and the entire Zuke’s team to help them accomplish their goals.”

                NOTE: In the Nestle Purina sell out – NP states that they have their own management team.

                1. I knew about the private equity firm investment. The announcement above states that Zuke’s wants to expand into “pet specialty, natural grocery and outdoor markets”. I think they have done that very well since 2010. I don’t see how that was positioning them to sell out to Purina though. Purina stands for the opposite of “pet specialty, natural grocery and outdoor markets”. Maybe you mean that they were positioning for general expansion and profit increase?

                  Perhaps I am missing your point?

                  1. I was referring to the history of John Hart… when John Hart took over at Zukes, the writing was on the walls – this is what he does…. he takes these boutique companies and positions them to sell to larger corporations.

                2. AND uMYCHELLE DERMACEUTICALS???? (I know they aren’t PUTRINA) but…. Mychelle used to be great. I’ve not purchased their products in a few years..
                  I am not sure what happened with formulas – if they are worse or better, but they have CHANGED. This is to be expected for companies to grow, IF the changes are for the better. Who knows if they even use quality ingredients anymore etc. But, I can tell you – I won’t be purchasing Mychelle – ever again..

                  And, I certainly WON’T comment on PUTRINA being Zukes financial backers. I have personal experience with Befeful.. It killed 3 of my mothers dogs… And that is a FACT, and, was PROVEN.

                  So, for the disbelievers.. go ahead, head in sand works for many..

                  1. Hi Kimberly –

                    Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m sorry that Beneful killed your Mother’s dog. I would sure be interested in seeing your proof. It’s not that I don’t believe you (personally, I think Beneful is not a good food) but I have yet to see scientific proof to support people’s claims that it has killed their dogs. Since my training is in the sciences, I am always hungry for new and detailed information about things. I would certainly like to read a study on this issue if there is one.

                    I am not sure if you were referring to my attitude with your “head in the sand” comment or not but, to me, a statement like that means “uneducated” or “naive/choosing not to believe the facts”. I’ve educated myself pretty well on the acquisition of Zuke’s, and know that even though the formula can change it hasn’t so far, so I think I stated my opinion with eyes wide open. You’ve clearly made up your mind where you stand on this and that’s ok. I’m not going to change your mind with anything I say. However, if you are interested in learning more about my reasoning for continuing to support Zuke’s you should read my follow-up article – Yes, Zuke’s Was Bought by Purina. So what? http://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/yes-zukes-was-bought-by-purina-so-what/

    1. You’re right! The bottom line is the money goes into Purina’s pocket’s. If you by Zukes now, you are supporting Purina PERIOD.

      1. And that is my dilemma. There is the questions whether Zuke’s will change or not after being acquired. Let’s say that they ARE able to maintain “everything the same” just for fun. That leaves another variable – how you feel about Purina as a brand. I would’t buy *anything* Purina (but this Zuke’s acquisition might challenge that) for my dogs. However, I have spoken to pet parents that say they know Purina doesn’t make the best food but they tried 10 others and it was the only one that worked for their dog. I don’t condemn other people’s choices. I think that Purina isn’t ALL bad and does fill a need for some. I don’t feel like I, personally, have enough knowledge about the issues surrounding Purina to develop a strong stance one way or another. BUT I know many pet parents that I know do their homework, and trust that, say they will never support Purina.

        I am still formulating my final thoughts on this. The truth is though that there are other products that have come to market since Zuke’s started that are just as good…that are still small, caring companies with a good mission. Buying one of those would make the debate kind a mute point.

  10. I haven’t heard this yet, interesting. I like Purina actually. Sure, all of the foods that they make are probably not “up to par” with other foods but I like the company. They offer foods for many different budgets. My fave vet that I used to work with was not a fan of Beneful.

    1. I wouldn’t personally feed a Purina food to my dog but admit that I am in a position where I can afford to buy them the best. I acknowledge and respect that not everyone is in that place. I don’t feel I know enough about Purina to take a strong stance at this time. However, I’ve looked a little into the Beneful and Chicken Jerky fiascoes and don’t have a high level of trust.

  11. I love Zukes and will probably keep feeding them as long as their formula and source material doesnt change, however they wont be my first choice for treats any more. I really dont like Purina, I think Beneful is among the very worst foods out there

    retro rover

    1. Cloud Stat makes a treat that is similar to Mini Naturals if you decide to switch. They would probably be our second choice.

  12. While I always hate to see independent companies seedling to large corporations…my hope is that the same Zukes is now available to more people and more places. Every day we can choose what and how we eat, unfortunately sometimes economics is a part of that decision, and I wish it wasn’t…

    1. Yes, business and economics is a reality of life. The reality is that Zuke’s may be losing some customers but the wider distribution will probably mean more customers in the endd.

  13. Someone please correct me if I am wrong, but I once read that kibble manufacturers have six months to change their labels after making an ingredient change in their product. Does the same hold true for treats? If so, they could change the ingredients in a few months time, and have six months before it appears on the labels. By then some of the hoopla will have blown over. I LOVE Zuke’s for my crew, but cannot in good conscience continue to purchase from or support a company that believes that corn is good for dogs. Purina not only makes Beneful, but also Alpo, and a “light” dog food with horrid ingredients.

    1. I have not heard that but you could be right. My understanding is that the source of the ingredients can be changed without having to make any changes to the label.

  14. I have to say that my initial reaction isn’t good either. Zukes is a brand that I’ve trusted through all the dog treat poisoning issues. But, perhaps this is telling us that Purina wants to change… for the better.

    1. It COULD be. Just tonight I had a conversation with a friend about Burt’s Bees. They said that a while back they were purchased by Clorox. At first she was horrified but, when she looked into it more, Clorox acquired the brand because they knew using harsh chemicals was falling out of favor. They wanted to diversify and move in a more environmentally friendly direction.

  15. The very wise and savvy lady who owns my awesome local pet food store says this is basically THE problem of small pet brands. Small brands and small stores form alliances, customers get attached to the small brand, and then a major pet food brand picks them up. At that point, the small retailer basically has no choice but to drop the product, either because they don’t work with the large brand’s distributors or because customers are suspicious.

    1. I hadn’t thought about it that way. My friend owns a small pet store and orders Zuke’s all of the time. She was on vacation when the news came out so I let her know. We had a discussion about how the same thing has happened to other smaller brands and the ingredients got sourced differently after the hubub about the buyout calmed down – 6 months or so. My friend didn’t come out and say that she won’t carry them anymore but we did have a little talk about possible alternatives.

      I am still not sure how I personally feel about it. I am leery but we have truly loved them since the very first day and they have been great supporters of ours.

  16. I too am reserving judgment about this partnership. Although I’m not a fan of Purina, I know plenty of dog owners who feel they have to keep it secret that they feed their dogs their food. It does work for some dogs, but not for our dogs. I truly don’t understand the partnership – I’m curious to know why Purina chose Zuke’s – obviously it was a good business decision, but given how different their reputations are, I don’t understand why they thought it was a good fit. I’m not saying that it’s not, but I would have thought Purina would have partnered with Milo’s or another creator of chicken jerky treats sourced in China, because my initial thought about Purina is that they’re more interested in money than our dogs’ health.

    Now I’ll be watching Purina with a little more interest to see if they will be raising the bar themselves.

  17. Wow! We just heard reading this. What a bummer. I just hope they do keep up operating as they are and don’t turn into Purina. Usually it starts out that way and then over time they are eaten up and become Purina. Keep us informed.

  18. From my experience as a dog food store owner, this is not good news. Zuke’s has a nice product line but it’s future is questionable. Just as when Natura was purchased by P&G, eventually they start cutting corners for more profits. More importantly, to many small pet businesses are being bought up by big corporations which is not good for diversity and product quality

    1. I didn’t mean to imply the merger is not a big deal. It is. I am just not ready to swear off Zuke’s forever at this point.

      Clorox bought Burt’s Bees in 2007 because the company wanted to go “green”. They thought that Burt’s Bees would a foot in the door for them. The arrangement was much the same as Zuke’s – continue to do what you are doing. My friend has watched Burt’s Bees very carefully since the sale and she said that Clorox has stayed true to it’s word. That may be a positive case. However, I don’t have as high of hopes here. I did read that Purina may have bought Zuke’s in order to break into the wholistic food/treat market but it was just a small mention, not a highly-publicized statement of mission by Purina.

    1. For me, not panicking gave me time to think critically about how I feel about the merger. I’ve decided where I stand and will be sharing that with you all soon. I have to say, although I didn’t panic, I am extremely saddened about Purina buying Zuke’s. I haven’t been so saddened by something like this ever. It’s just that we loved Zuke’s so much and practically lived their brand for the last 10 years.

  19. If it ever comes down to it, switching to Jones wouldn’t be a bad thing. They’re family run and have been around more than 25 years. Come to the Jones sides. We have Windees.

    1. We do like Jone’s windees but in order to replace our Zuke’s Mini Naturals, Jones would need to come out with a tiny, soft training treat 🙂

  20. Don’t panic about the buy out. I do NOT work for Purina, but I do feed my 4 dogs Purina Pro Plan Select Naturals, brown rice and chicken formula. I, too, was skeptical about Purina and thought that basically they are grocery store type products. However, several things changed my mind and just for the record you can’t buy Pro Plan in a grocery store!

    I kept asking people at dog shows what they fed their beautiful long haired dachshunds. Over and over I heard them say Pro Plan. Last summer Pro Plan sponsored the Reliant Center dog show. This is a major show, with big competitors. I got to talking to another dachshund owner who has champion dogs and was discussing the problems I was having with Bentley’s coat. When I told her what I was feeding them, she casually said that they had also used that brand of food and that they had problems with coats, too, since the food had sorghum in it. Yuck, I thought. So I went over to the Pro Plan booth and started talking to them about their food. They gave me a generous supply of food, but also discussed ingredients and dog nutrition in a very sensible way. I felt like they really did understand the need of a dog. Long story is that I switched over to Pro Plan and have been very pleased. It did take me a while to find the right formula, but now we have healthier coats and better appetites. I’ve read more dog food ingredients and labels and nutrition information than I ever thought I would in the process.

    Sorry this is so long, but I do think that Purina is a good company and I hope that they will continue to keep Zukes just as it is!

    1. Thanks for the insightful feedback Beth. Although people in the pet blogger world claim to be “very connected pet parents”, I admit that we are only in touch with people and pet parents in our niche. There is a WHOLE other world of dog owners out there that breed, show, or compete in canine sports. A lot of their opinions about “quality” pet food and dog care differs from those of most pet bloggers. I am not one to say that they are wrong but it is certainly a very different perspective and often the two worlds don’t see eye-to-eye. I am more of a middle of the road person and am certainly interested to learn more about how people in those worlds view pet care and nutrition. I know that brands like Purina and Eukanuba sponsor dog shows and competitions. I think it’s good that they are supporting responsible dog breeding and active dogs. It does make me wonder if people in that world are swayed by all of their propaganda (and possible discounts) though. Avoderm kibble had the same effect on Chester as far as skin and coat, as had Orijen, that you say the Pro Plan did. Raw food does too. I understand that owners of multiple dogs, especially large ones, that are also paying high showing and competition fees probably can’t afford to feed a dog “boutique”‘ kibble or raw food. I am just saying that there are alternatives out there. It’s all just so complicated…which is why I try not to judge people for their choices.

  21. Like you, I’ve never viewed Purina as a very health-conscious company. Let’s face it – it makes cheap products. That being said, my cats have eaten Purina One dry food for years. It works for us.

    On the other hand, Zukes is generally a company pet owners trust as far as making healthier options. I have always been comfortable buying the Zukes treats for my dog. Like you said, we’ll just have to keep a watch on the actual recipes and see if any changes occur. If any changes happen, I’m guessing they will be months or even years down the road.

    1. They will be and, unfortunately, we may not know about them. I agree that Zuke’s was a company that pet parents could trust but now they are in question. There are alternatives out there from other small companies that don’t have questions. I know it’s easier to grab the ones you feel safe with instead of the ones with questions around them. It’s a shame.

  22. There may be no reason to panic, per say, but the fact that Zukes – a once preferred boutique treat to the anti mega corp crowd – sold out to the very corporation that their base is trying to avoid, is the worst news educated pet parents could receive.
    Nestle Purina also owns Waggin Train and Canyon Creek Ranch, two of the top 3 offenders in the FDA investigation involving the deaths and illnesses of over 4500 pets. WHY on earth would the Zukes base customer ever buy Zukes again? From the looks of the Zukes Facebook page, it won’t be happening – they have lost those folks for good, and rightly so! Of course the mega marketing machine that is Nestle Purina will make up for those lost pet parents by dumping this once trusted brand into the Walmarts, Targets and grocery stores – with that type of volume increase Zukes will never be able to maintain their quality – Nestle Purina is banking on it. When that happens, it will be NP that takes control of the expansion – it happens time and time again – it is NP’s playbook!
    NP and Del Monte are battling for pet product dominance and are actively fighting over boutique companies – this is a fact…. no one wins with these deals but the mega corps. Del Monte is so committed to the pet product expansion that they have sold their long time canned vegetable and fruit subsidiary in order to concentrate on pet products.
    As for Beneful – it wasn’t ONE dog – it’s just the beginning! Check out the James Strickland investigative report for more info on that!

    I suggest you DO panic and, more importantly, do not give your hard earned money to the corporations and do not subject your pets to their inferior products and immoral practices!

    1. I agree that it is inevitable that the quality will go down in order to accommodate the volume. I wrote this post the day after I found out and the point of my “don’t panic” statement was that, at least I personally, needed more time to think about it and do a little more research before swearing of Zuke’s forever.

      I saw the announcement about Purina putting Waggin Train Jerky treats back out on the shelf. That pretty much solidifies for me that I don’t want to support Purina which, sadly, means that I won’t be buying Zuke’s anymore. The weird thing is that Zuke’s is very shocked by the backlash over this. Really?? How could they NOT have knows that Purina is not a respected brand among the most studious of pet parents….the same ones that bought Zuke’s in the first place. I could have told them that in one 2-minute conversation.

  23. I am in total agreement with the other Jodi. It wouldn’t matter a fig to me if Zuke’s never changed an ingredient and continued to operate in the same manner they always have.

    My hard earned money will not willingly/knowingly go to any company that is owned by Purina, they have shown careless disregard to animals in other products they sell, and I just can’t get behind them.

    1. I felt the same way before the acquisition of Zuke’s. This merger was such a shock to me that it caused me to re-examine by beliefs. I agree that I just can’t support Purina, especially after the announcement that they are putting the Waggin Train jerky treats back out on the shelf! I do still have some questions around Purina’s practices – as in I just want to educate myself better – but I HIGHLY DOUBT that anything I learn about them would make me change my mind about them for the better. The fact is, there are other options out there that are moral and quality no-brainers so we will switch to them.

  24. I wonder what went on behind the scenes. Hostile takeover? Zuke’s founders wanting to take the money and run? For a while, it looked as if small businesses had a chance of success in specialty markets; but if the big fish keep eating the little fish, we consumers will have less and less choice. (I have in mind the story of a well-known coffee company.)

    1. I know. I am always rooting for the small, independent business owners. They have a level of passion and control that large companies to do not have. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when all of this went down.

  25. So glad to hear that Zuke’s is going to be independently operated! We’ve been feeding my new pup Zuke’s treats since we got him. Thanks for the info.

    -Maggie

    1. Hi Katie. Yes and no. I still occasionally buy them for Chester and Gretel but am STILL undecided about promoting them on my blog anymore. On one hand, I have been watcging them closely and havent seen any changes, and ANY treat or food can have a recall,but I would be so disappounted if I promoted them and there was one (knowing how strongly some people feel about this being a negative direction for them). Bottom line though? Yes, I am personally still ok with them.

  26. My dog is 13 years old and I started feeding him Zukes treats after the vet said to put him on a no grain diet. Well about 5 months later he started regurgitating, so I did an internet search on the treats and learned that Purina bought the company. At that point I stop feeding my dog those treats.

    I’m not sure if its the treats or not, but I don’t trust Purina products. My dog will still vomit, and I don’t know if someone in the house is feeding him those treats.

    My husband purchased 2 boxes of them. So he might be slipping the dog those treats without my knowledge.

    1. I understand you not trusting Purina but I have been watching Zuke’s very closely since the buyout and they haven’t changed their formulation or sourcing (that one I am about 99 % sure on because, well, brands have known to lie). Sometimes dog’s develop sensitivities to foods that once caused them no issues. I can’t say for sure what is causing your dog to vomit but it does sound frustrating and I understand if you are a bit concerned. I hope you can figure out what it is… and get your hubby to stop sneaking the treats if that is what is happening 🙂

  27. I went online last night to order another bag of Zukes Hip Action treats and they are now carrying the California Proposition 65 warning – product contains known carcinogens. I was unaware that Purina bought Zukes til last night, also. I am furious. I try so hard to feed my dogs only safe, healthy food and treats and I’ve been giving them poison.

    1. Hi Terrie. Could you share a link to that warning so I could learn more? I’m not finding it on their website. Thanks.

        1. Hi Terrie. I was 99.9% confident that the ingredients in the Zuke’s treats have remained the same since Purina bought Zuke’s and that they are safe. I’ve been feeding Chester and Gretel Zuke’s for years and they are both very healthy.

          Anyway, I reached out to Zuke’s with your question and this was their response: “The CA Prop 65 warning is connected to whether or not Zuke’s packaging contains BPA and DEHP. Because Zuke’s did not state otherwise, the warning goes up automatically. We checked though, and the packaging is indeed free of those ingredients and compliant with CA Prop 65, so we’re working to get that warning removed.”

          I hope that eases your mind a little. Thanks for bringing this warning to my attention and let me know if you have any other questions.

  28. I just learned that the Zuke’s Dog and Cat Cancer Fund is ceasing operations Dec 1, 2016 (on their website). This was one of the things I thought Zuke’s was keeping when they were purchased by Purina. Do you have any updates or further information? I was interested in working there, but now not so sure…..thanks for the great story and replies.

    1. Hi Felicia. I hadn’t heard about that. I looked at their website but couldn’t find the inforamtion you were referring to. Can you share the link to that? I can shoot them an email to ask about it.

        1. I just visited the DCCFund page and this message was pinned to the top: “Hello,
          My name is Kati Sieger and I worked for The Dog and Cat Cancer Fund from September, 2012 – February, 2015. I recently discovered that, due to a staffing situation, the Fund had fallen into a bit of disarray, so I reached out to the Fund’s Founder, Chris Meiering, and asked him if I could come back for a few months to fill in.
          And so it is with a very heavy heart that I must share the news that The Dog and Cat Cancer Fund will be ceasing operations as of December 1, 2016.
          Unfortunately this means that we will not be able to process or review any applications that have not been previously approved. All pending applications will be closed.
          I understand that this is the worst news you could have expected from us, and that you will be upset and discouraged. My heart hurts for you and with you.
          It has been my honor to be a part of this organization. Every dog and cat that DCCFund was able to help will always hold a piece of my heart. I desperately wish things were not ending this way, and I wish you and your fur babies the best of luck in finding financial assistance through other avenues.
          Sincerely,
          Kati Sieger
          The Dog & Cat Cancer Fund”

          It’s my understanding that, altough the DCCFund was started by the founder of Zuke’s, it is a nonprofit that is it’s own entity – it’s not owned, or solely contributed to, by Zuke’s. The fact that it’s shutting down likely has no connection to Zuke’s directive since their donations wer eonly a fraction of the financial support they received. I can’t speak to the founder’s reasons for shutting it down but it seems that Zuke’s is “no longer supporting it” because it shut down… it didn’t shut down because Zuke’s is no loger supporting it.

          Like I said, I’ll look into it more though.

    1. Thanks for the article David. I’m saddened by the news that Merrick and Zuke’s are merging. I haven’t had time to update this article but I plan to after everything shakes out. I’m sad to see so many at Zuke’s that I’ve formed relationships over the years move on, whether voluntarily or otherwise.

  29. I stopped buying Zuke’s when they got bought out. They may be independent at first but inevitably they get combined for efficiency. I avoid Purina like the plague.

    1. Everyone has a different perspective on Purina and that’s ok. My main concern is the ingredients changing. Up until recently, I stood strongly by what I wrote in this article. However, Purina chose to merge Zuke’s and Merrick (both owned by them) earlier this month and they’re already made some changes in the Zuke’s product line. I’m still keeping a close eye on things because of that.

  30. I avoid Nestle products across the board. What they did decades ago with promoting formula for new babies in 3rd world countries made me despise them. I am shocked every time I learn another company has been assumed by them. Zukes – so disappointed that you went with Nestle. I’m sure there are/were other options. Probably will no longer buy Zukes.

    1. I’m definitely conflicted about the company as a whole. It’s the taking free ground water and selling it thing that bothers me most. However, when it comes to large companies like theirs, almost all of them have something bad in their past. To me, liking the company or not is one issue. The quality of their products is another. I still feel very safe feeding Zuke’s treats to Summit and Gretel.

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