The Merits of a Fish-Based Diet for Pets

Authored by Dr Natanya Smit, ACANA Technical Sales Representative BSc, BVSc. 


Everyone enjoys variety in their diet – this also rings true for when it comes to selecting an appropriate diet for your furry companion. Due to its rich nutritional value, cats and dogs can also enjoy fish as a source of meat protein in their diets which also add variety. We’ve jotted down a few ideas to encourage you to consider fish as part of a meat-rich diet for your beloved pet.


Fish is a great source of protein
Your pet needs protein. Protein is the body’s building blocks. While plant and meat ingredients can contribute protein in the diet, protein derived from meat ingredients are generally more digestible and contain all the essential amino acids that your pets need. Fish as a meat ingredient is a great source of protein, containing all of the essential amino acids that your pets need in their diets to remain in tip-top health.


A fish-rich diet provides a solid source of omega-3 fatty acids
Fish based diets are a great source of animal-based omega-3 fatty acids, which have important health benefits for cats and dogs. Omega-3 fatty acids contain anti-inflammatory properties, which makes diets rich in these fatty acids a great food option for dogs and cats suffering from inflammatory conditions, such as skin allergies and joint disease. It is also good for brain health and can be included as part of a patient’s cancer treatment.


When making a food purchase for your pet, choose diets with high levels of EPA and DHA to ensure that your pet is getting all the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in their diets. These details should be disclosed on the packaging of pet foods, if it’s not, they might not be included in the diet.


Provides for rotational feeding options and variety
Rotational feeding refers to a diet rotation which provides pets with regular dietary changes. Not only does this keep them interested in their meals, by rotational feeding you add diversity to their nutrition. By exposing them to different protein sources you can help decrease the chances of your pets developing food sensitivities, this is particularly impactful when rotational feeding is introduced at a young age.


Provides an alternative protein source for dogs with food sensitivities
Dogs with food sensitivities might itch or show gastrointestinal signs such as diarrhoea and vomiting. In these instances, you might limit the reaction by feeding a limited ingredient diet with a ‘novel’ meat protein, or one your dog hasn’t had exposure to. Look out for credible vet-based brands which offer at least 50% in fish ingredients and ones which don’t contain poultry or grains as these have often been linked to food-related allergic reactions in dogs.


A brand readily available to the South African pet lover is ACANA. Their Pacifica and Wild Coast options meet this criterion and provide a suitable sustainably sourced option.


With these points in mind, now you can make an informed and bold choice in a suitable meaty, fish-based diet for your pet next time you’re filling up your shopping cart.

Women on the Frontlines in the Conservation Battle

Women are known for never taking a backseat when it comes to conservation.  The world has been graced with many fearless stalwarts who have led in the way of wildlife conservation. Every day, these heroes put it all on the line in a concerted effort to battle wildlife trafficking, poaching, and the destruction of the habitat of at-risk species, preventing the decimation of our wildlife populations.  


A few of these women include the iconic zoologist Dian Fossey, primatologist Dame Jane Goodall, or South Africa’s very own Ann van Dyk, who is known for her care for our cheetah population. Undoubtedly, women the world over, are tenacious and unrelenting in their efforts to safeguard nature. 


Three other notably heroic women are Esther Matthew, specialist conservation officer at the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Drylands Conservation Programme, Southern African Wildlife College’s chief executive officer, Theresa Sowry and Vicki Hudson, conservation intelligence manager at the CapeNature Conservation Detection Dog project.


This field of ‘canine conservation detection’ is highly specialised and is a novel approach locally. In fact, the CapeNature Conservation Detection Dog project is one of the first live target conservation detection programmes operational in South Africa. This means these clever and unique hounds are trained to help track living endangered species to ensure their future population growth in a safe and secure environment unaffected by human activities.


Leading the way as a fearless female and trusty canine


Esther and her trusty female partner Jessie, a Border Collie and scent detection dog, are on a mission to save some of South Africa’s critically endangered species. Their Drylands programme operates in the vast Karoo, and they work collaboratively with landowners and communities to promote, sustain, secure and restore the ecological integrity of this area’s biodiversity. 


Trained by Esther to assist the team, Jessie, has been instrumental in locating rare African Giant Bullfrogs underground, and the critically endangered Riverine Rabbit, helping to ensure their long-term survival. 


Commenting on challenges in her field, Esther believes that one of the biggest challenges women face in this field is being underestimated. There is a perception that women are not tough enough for the fieldwork required to do conservation work. However, Esther believes that the best way to overcome this is to change others’ perceptions by proving them wrong and taking up challenges when some say it can’t be done!


Providing the fuel to help keep the pioneering pooches in shape 


ORIJEN sponsors the Drylands initiative’s detection dogs with its Biologically Appropriate dog food, featuring an unmatched 85% meat content. This meat-based diet provides everything these valiant scent detection dogs need to thrive and do a sterling job in identifying and saving vulnerable species.


Another project which is supported by ORIJEN pet food through the sponsorship of nutritious food, is the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC)’s counter-poaching K9 unit, which sees these furry heroes being used in the fight against rhino poaching. The College’s free tracking (off-leash) dogs have to date, in conjunction with the on-lead dogs,  saved approximately 47 rhinos which have in turn, led to 152 poacher arrests and 65 rifles recovered since the project’s inception in February last year. “The free-tracking hounds have been the game changer. The hounds’ “noses”, speed and stamina allow them to track much faster than a human or on-leash dog can, often  across rough terrain,” said Theresa Sowry. In her role as CEO, she is a stand-out conservationist and businesswoman leading efforts to save our rhinos, securing great global support and funding for her efforts.


Not only are these persistent canines tracking poachers and our famous larger mammals, the CapeNature Conservation Detection Dog project sees dogs being trained to find no less than five species of tortoises, each of which have their own unique scent. Vicki Hudson in her role at CapeNature, sees to it that their four-legged conservation heroes locate cryptic and camouflaged species of conservation concern such as the critically endangered Rose’s Mountain Toadlet. 


Together with their fearless female human companions, the dogs have participated in numerous search and rescue operations, salvaging tortoises from death by fire, lack of food and water from the drought and even bulldozers when a piece of land they live on is being developed.


ORIJEN salutes the work being done by these remarkable two and four-legged conservation heroes.  “South Africa’s natural heritage and remarkable wildlife is being saved while endangered species are preserved for generations to come. We are grateful that we are able to support these remarkable efforts and salute these female conservationists during Women’s Month.”

Benefits of a Meat-Based Diet

Is your pet eating enough meat?


As a pet owner, did you know that biologically, your furry companion depends on drawing the bulk of their nutrition from a meat-based diet in order to remain in good health?  Here are a few reasons why: 


Dogs and cats are naturally carnivorous.  A clear indication of this is made by observing their teeth – long, pointy canines show that these animals were designed to tear up and consume meat as their main nutritional source.  Cats are obligate carnivores; meaning that they must eat the tissues of other animals in order to thrive.  Dogs share more than 99% of their DNA with the modern-day grey wolf and they too should be fed a diet rich in meat.


There are countless benefits to embracing a meat-based diet for your pet.  It provides for a great protein source which is important for building strength, healthy bodies and shiny coats.  It also helps your pet maintain an ideal body condition and gives them a satisfying feeling of ‘fullness’ after a meal. 


Puppies & kittens especially benefit from animal proteins which provide all the amino acid building blocks a growing canine and feline need. Animal fat is a great source of energy and it is important to note that fatty acids are used by the body to promote better brain and nerve development. Meat also provides essential minerals such as calcium and phosphorus which are important for developing the bones and joints of young pups and kittens.


It is possible to feed a plant-based diet with supplements to a carnivore like a dog but, this isn’t necessarily the best source of these nutrients. Plant-based diets contain plant proteins which are not nutritionally complete and require supplementation and also contain high levels of carbohydrates for which dogs and cats have no need. It may be cheaper to feed your pet a plant-based diet, but what is the true cost in terms of overall health and well being? A meat-based diet contains all the nutrients that dogs and cats need naturally with little or no need for supplementation.  


Choosing a meat-based diet: 

Not all meat-based diets are created equal.  Be sure to read the label before making a pet food purchase.  Here are key points which will help guide you in making the best decision for your pet:


  1. Look out for products that contain no less than 50% meat content in the list of ingredients.
  2. Consider whole prey meat inclusions with organ meat (in the correct ratios) for your pet’s diet, which is a great way to introduce concentrated and natural sources of virtually every nutrient your dog needs to thrive, as these include all essential vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and vital amino acids. Densely packed with nearly every nutrient, including heavy doses of B vitamins, organ meats such as kidney, liver and tripe are loaded with the minerals phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium, and iodine.
  3. Meatier diets offer more variety when feeding at mealtime. Rotational feeding of different protein sources such as lamb, poultry, pork and fish will help keep your pet interested in their meal and decrease the chances of them developing sensitivities. 
  4. Consider more sustainable choices by selecting brands that use free-run poultry, nest-laid eggs and wild-caught fish to minimise your pet’s environmental impact.


We hope that this inspired you to make more discerning food choices for your pets next time you’re out picking up a bag of food.  If you’re not doing so already, maybe trial them on a meat-based diet and see the positive differences for yourself.

Endangered Wildlife Species Month

Leading the pack in conservation efforts on Endangered Species Month 


Countries around the globe are observing Endangered Species Month, and taking stock of the successes achieved and work left to be done in the fight to protect endangered, threatened and at-risk species. 


“The global fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is ushering in a new era of cooperation amongst nations. Hopefully, this collaborative spirit also spreads to other areas requiring a concerted worldwide effort to battle wildlife trafficking, poaching, and the destruction of the habitat of at-risk species, which all emanate in the decimation of wildlife populations globally,” says Matt Robertson, Veterinarian at ORIJEN South Africa. 


To assist in this fight to protect South Africa’s endangered species, ORIJEN South Africa is collaborating with the Southern African Wildlife College’s counter-poaching K9 unit, helping to keep these conservation champions in tip-top condition, through its sponsorship of ORIJEN dog food. This assists the dogs in their mission to carry out their vital work in the fight against rhino poaching, thwarting potential attacks on this iconic species. As part of the College’s learning by doing approach to training and since becoming operational in February 2019, these free tracking dogs have saved approximately 45 rhinos and have led to arrests of over 140 poachers. 


“ORIJEN South Africa is proud to be partnering with the Southern African Wildlife College in support of its four-tiered approach to counter-poaching, which includes well-trained field rangers, a K9 capacity, aerial support as well as community engagement. The tiers are symbiotic, but the game-changer has been the free-running dogs. Fuelled by ORIJEN, the dogs are able to track poachers down at much faster speeds than any human can whilst using their incredible sense of smell to stay on track,” says Robertson. 


In addition, ORIJEN South Africa also supports the CapeNature Conservation Detection Dog project, which helps conserve the critically endangered geometric tortoise, Psammobates geometricus, that became endangered due to competition for habitat with development and agriculture. 


This field of canine conservation detection is highly specialised and is a novel approach locally, in fact, this specific project is the first live target conservation detection work operational within South Africa. ORIJEN sponsors the initiative’s detection dogs with it’s award-winning, Biologically Appropriate dog food featuring 85% unmatched and unique inclusions of meat. This meat-based diet provides everything the valiant detection dogs, Brin and Jamie, needs to thrive and do a sterling job in identifying and helping to save this vulnerable species. 


“Brin and Jamie have found thousands of tortoises over a 7-year period across the Western Cape. Both dogs are trained to find no less than five species of tortoises, each of which have their own unique scent and have also been trained to locate the critically endangered toadlet (Rose’s mountain toadlet). These four-legged conservation heroes have participated in numerous search and rescue operations, salvaging tortoises from death by fire, lack of food and water from the drought and even bulldozers when a piece of land they live on is being developed,” says Vicki Hudson, Conservation Intelligence Manager at the CapeNature Conservation Detection project. 


Pack Leader, via its ORIJEN brand also supports Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Drylands Conservation Programme, which sees Specialist Conservation Officer, Esther Matthew, and her trusty partner Jessie the Border Collie, scent detection dog, on a mission to save some of South Africa’s critically endangered species. Matthew explained that Jessie has been used to find African Giant Bullfrogs (Pyxicephalus adspersus) underground and is currently being used to find the Critically Endangered Riverine Rabbit (Bunolagus monticularis). Some of their future conservation research projects will include the Golden Mole and the Karoo Dwarf tortoise. 


“Through our support of these crucial local initiatives and the brave men, women and four-legged conservation heroes helping to save South Africa’s natural heritage, we hope to play a part in helping to preserve these species for generations to come,” concludes Robertson.

North America’s Leading Poop Bags are now in SA

EarthRated Dog Poo Bags

Forging new grounds by launching their product line in South Africa, Earth Rated® is a Canadian company based out of Montréal, Québec, creating high-quality, affordable products for the environmentally-conscious dog owner.


Earth Rated® offers a wide variety of poop bags for a simple and hassle-free experience, including a certified compostable option made from vegetable starches. Formats range from dispenser refill rolls for on-the-go, extra-wide bags with easy-tie handles and bulk rolls for backyard pickups and are available in lavender and unscented. Their iconic leash dispenser is the ultimate dog-walking accessory and has a unique adjustable strap, which can attach to any size leash.


In addition to poop bags, their product line also includes a bio-enzymatic stain and odour remover that works on a variety of surfaces and is guaranteed to eliminate even the most stubborn stains. They also offer a durable and lightweight outdoor scooper that is great for backyard clean-ups.


“Fostering a sense of community amongst fellow animal lovers is the driving force behind Earth Rated®, and we are thrilled to include South Africa in our mission to keep the world wagging,” said Tara Garland, Marketing Director.


About Earth Rated®


Founded in 2009, a group of friends responded to a need for a poop bag that was both affordable and eco-friendly. Earth Rated® creates products that encourage responsible pet ownership by helping keep parks and neighborhoods clean. As a team of pet owners, Earth Rated® is proud to support rescues and shelters and build lasting relationships with their dog-loving community of loyal customers.

Tracking Poachers in the Kruger National Park

Ten kilometres west of the Kruger National Park is the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC), offering conservation education, training and skills development programmes. To help conserve biological diversity and protect threatened species in the greater Kruger National Park, one of their programmes includes training dogs in the battle against wildlife crimes. This is how they do it.


Training exercises


The distinctive, dusty footprints on the boundary of the SAWC training ground in the greater Kruger National Park were about nine hours old. The rangers knew they had to act quickly. Within minutes, a sophisticated counter-poaching training exercise was in full swing. Soon a helicopter was en route to the site of the ‘incursion’, carrying Dog Master Johan van Straaten and the free-running pack dogs from the Southern African Wildlife College.


The dogs, who are all in the advanced stages of training, followed the carefully laid tracks. Off lead, they’re quicker than any person, and in two hours, they had covered 20km! By following the dogs from the air, the idea is that the rangers are able to make up valuable time, leading support teams right to their targets. If this had been a real incursion, not a training exercise, it’s very likely the poachers would have been caught.


These exercises show just how effective the pack hounds from the college are; they’ve even successfully followed about 12-hour-old spoor in ground temperatures of 39°C. “We can’t talk about operations as it could jeopardise the safety of all involved, but we can say that the dogs have already played a significant role in apprehending poachers and hunting equipment, even in the thickest of bush. Time and again, they’re proving their worth in the field,” says SAWC CEO, Theresa Sowry.


“For the dogs, the reward is the work itself, but for those involved in counter-poaching, it’s a game-changer,” agrees Van Straaten. Using their innate instincts, the dogs – a cross between English Foxhounds and American Blueticks – are trained from an early age to track people. They are also trained to track in a pack, unlike some breeds that are more suited to solitary tracking with a single handler. Remarkably, they have no problem ignoring anything else in the field – from lions to impala – as they run through the bush at incredible speeds, making up valuable time in tracking down poachers.

Tracking poachers in Kruger National Park

Hard work


Keeping up with them presents its own challenges, but working with the dogs trained at the college, Van Straaten and his team are developing innovative ways of monitoring them from the air. “Their noses are remarkable and so is their stamina; they can cover huge distances at high speed, without a handler in sight,” he explains. When they need to rest, new dogs are flown in, “but you can see how motivated they are when they track. They never deviate,” he proudly notes.


While dogs have been used to combat wildlife crime for a number of years, the potential of pack dogs and apprehension dogs in counter-poaching is only just being recognised. The college’s K9 Unit was established in 2015, thanks to a catalytic three-year grant from the WWF Nedbank Green Trust. This grant supported the construction of kennels, the salary and housing for the dog handlers and the production of accredited training materials. In October 2017, a three-year grant was awarded to the SAWC by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). This grant ensures that the highest possible standards are met when it comes to the welfare of dogs working in the service of wildlife conservation, and allows the college to build on their early successes in this specialised field.


The college’s own dogs, as well as dogs in training, are well looked after in secure, modern kennels and their welfare is paramount. “They’re athletes working in challenging conditions and they expend huge amounts of energy during the course of their work,” says the college’s Dr Kevin Robertson, who is also a qualified veterinarian. This is why the college welcomes its latest partnership with Pack Leader Pet Products, a distributor of pet products, including Champion Petfoods’ brands ORIJEN and ACANA.


These brands mirror the quantity, freshness, and variety of meats that the dogs need to eat and that nourish them completely. “Our dogs are thriving on their current diet, as can be seen from their performance and their glossy coats,” says Robertson.

Supplementary Dogs


Not all college dogs are high-speed trackers. They also train and work with Beagles as well as Belgian Malinois, a slightly smaller, more agile German Shepherd Dog. The different breeds have highly specialised and complementary skills. “The hounds are good at tracking and pack work, while the Belgian Malinois are good all-rounders. They can apprehend a poacher, protect the handler, and search for evidence and illegal substances, sniffing out rhino horn, pangolin, drugs, and other contraband,” says Van Straaten.


The college also recently received a number of counter-poaching, free-tracking and apprehension dogs who have, with the support of the Ivan Carter Wildlife Conservation Alliance, been bred in Texas and trained for the college by accomplished and well-known houndsman, Joe Braman, and his staff.


As a higher education and training institute, the college’s real-world, hands-on experience with its growing K9 Unit enables it to support the work of field rangers and wildlife law enforcement officers working with dogs across Africa.


Meanwhile, back in the greater Kruger National Park, the dogs train daily while the battle against wildlife crime continues. Poachers are sometimes as sophisticated as they are brutal and relentless. As hard as it is to keep up, there is no doubt the pack dogs have added to the four-tiered approach being used and tested by the college. “They’re real conservation heroes that complement the work being done by field rangers, through aerial support and within communities,” says Sowry. “And they certainly never let you down.”

Earthbath Natural Pet Care

Looking for a pet shampoo that’s gentle on your pets? How about one that’s People Tested and Pet Approved!TM  earthbathⓇ offers a complete line of natural products for every occasion.

earthbath natural pet care

We design all of our products with the health or your fine-furred friend in mind. Our pets are our “kids,” our best friends & our cuddly bedmates all rolled into one fun-filled furry package, and we think they deserve only nature’s finest blends of cleansing potions and sumptuous, effective essences.


That’s why earthbath products are made in the USA with natural and organic ingredients and no artificial colours. We believe you and your pet deserve quality products that are non-toxic, paraben & sulfate free, phthalate free, and phosphate free. And, we never use soap in our shampoos, which can dry skin and remove necessary skin oils. earthbath has a genuine love for pets and concern for the environment.


earthbath’s comprehensive line of shampoos, grooming wipes, and spritzes offer heavenly scented™ solutions for the unique needs of your pet, including everyday cleansing and coat conditioning, relief from itching or hot spots, skin sensitivity or allergy, odour relief, and more. Botanical fragrances inspired by nature will have your pet smelling better than ever while naturally improving their skin and coat.


earthbath products are cruelty-free and contain no animal ingredients or byproducts. Furthermore, we believe earthbath products are best tested on people, not on animals. Before any new products are made available for sale, our CEO Paul personally tests each and every product to make sure they are just right.

Planet Dog. The best toys on earth now in SA!

Planet Dog unleashes the power of play with Orbee-Tuff ®, durable, interactive dog toys, puzzles and easy to use slow feeders, all designed to activate dogs’ minds and energise their play. They’re as interesting as they are impressive – they squeak, whistle or bounce erratically, keeping your dog interested and engaged.

Invented by a team of forward-thinking chemists commissioned by Planet Dog 20 years ago, Orbee-Tuff ® remains the most innovative, eco-friendly dog toy material in the world, having won countless awards for design, innovation, durability and overall excellence.


Orbee-Tuff toys are durable, pliable and buoyant with a peppermint scent to ensure dogs love the smell as much as the mouth feels. They come with a lifetime guarantee and consist of FDA approved non-toxic materials, so they’re 100% safe for your dog and 100% respectful of the planet.


Planet Dog proudly creates the BEST products from the BEST materials for your BEST friend.


Sit. Speak. Act.®


Planet Dog proudly donates 2% of every purchase to the Planet Dog Foundation (PDF) to support canine service programmes, from seeing-eye dogs to therapy dogs, search and rescue dogs to police dogs, these incredible animals are enhancing and saving human lives