For Earth Animal founders Dr. Bob and Susan Goldstein, their veterinary oath provides the foundation on which all of their decisions and products as a company have been built.
By Alyssa Brewer
Like many businesses in the pet industry, Earth Animal’s founding was inspired by one pet in particular. Dr. Bob and Susan Goldstein, the company’s co-founders, rescued a dog named Lee, who suffered from hip dysplasia. When Leigh wasn’t responding to conventional treatment, the Goldsteins, who at the time had a conventional veterinary practice, put together a natural vitamin and mineral treatment program.
“That was a transformational experience for Dr. Bob and I,” says Susan. “Leigh lived another 10 years, and he truly is the founder of our company.”
Now, the Goldsteins are celebrating 40 years of caring for animals through Earth Animal’s natural product lines rooted in their holistic veterinary practice. In addition to the inspiration drawn from their own pet’s recovery, the Goldsteins had begun to see an increase in younger animals with degenerative diseases in their veterinary practice, which they traced back to the insecticides and pesticides in flea and tick collars commonly used at the time.
“That put us on a mission where we had to do something,” says Susan. “We searched for alternatives to these harsh chemicals for the prevention of fleas and ticks, but couldn’t find any.”
This led to the development of one of the company’s legacy lines, Nature’s Protection, a complete range of synthetic chemical-free topical and internal products for all-natural flea and tick prevention. The line includes daily food supplements, an herbal supplement and herbal flea and tick collars, spot-on, spray and shampoo. And, the company will soon be expanding the line with a topical powder. Earth Animal’s focus on natural ingredient selection and avoiding the use of chemicals in all of their pet health products, snacks and chews forms the foundation for the Goldsteins’ business.
“What’s really different about us is our veterinary background,” Susan says. “We took an oath to cause no harm and do whatever we can to protect animals. When it comes to formulating products and sourcing ingredients, we need to honor this oath.”
For the wide variety of naturally occurring ingredients used in its products, Earth Animal seeks out the best possible sources. The company’s line of condition-specific herbal extracts are made from proprietary herbal blends made in the Green Mountains in Vermont. The extracts, which are recognized by the National Animal Supplement Council, are designed to address some of the most common problem conditions dogs and cats have, providing a natural, non-toxic solution.
“It’s just another way of avoiding cortisone, which can cause lots of side effects if used long term,” Susan says.
This month, Earth Animal is introducing Nature’s Comfort, a line of CBD products. As a non-chemical alternative remedy for many common ailments, CBD was a natural fit for the company’s larger mission. “CBD as a compound has some very inherent healing and soothing properties for dogs and cats, primarily in pain, inflammation and calming of the nervous system,” Dr. Goldstein says. “Our hemp is sourced from the very best farmers in Rogue Valley, Ore., who use only all-natural, organic growing methods and practices based upon the strict guidelines set by the Oregon Department of Agriculture.”
Earth Animal’s CBD products offer a unique form of transdermal delivery through the inner flap of the ear. Their proprietary UPTAKE Technology used in the product allows it to be absorbed directly into the body, bypassing the GI tract for efficient delivery.
Given Earth Animal’s focus on wellness through prevention, the company’s latest expansion into one of the biggest and most significant contributors to any animal’s health—their food—makes complete sense. At Global Pet Expo, Earth Animal is launching its first complete diet, Dr. Bob’s Wisdom. The diet is an air-dried, minimally processed component food that allows pet parents to see every element of what they’re putting in their pet’s bowl.
“It includes chicken, turkey, fruits and vegetables, and Dr. Bob’s Vitality Cubes, which are packed with vitamins and minerals, and other nutrients needed to balance the food,” Dr. Goldstein says. “It’s very similar to a trail mix where you’ll see all of the ingredients in the food. It is made with humanely raised, Global Animal Partnership (GAP) certified proteins and organic fruits and veggies, making it complete, balanced and delicious.”
In addition to the company’s steadfast commitment to developing products that support holistic pet wellness, Earth Animal’s approach to retail also helps it stand out among the competition. It is one of the rare manufacturers that has its own retail store, helping the company stay keenly aware of what the day-to-day challenges really are for pet specialty retailers.
“We have one little store in Westport, Conn., and we have kept that store going for lots of reasons,” Susan says. “One of the more important ones is that it keeps us directly connected to the consumer. We fully understand what the retailer is up against. We can help stores have the best information possible as to how to market and sell our products.”
Particularly as a company that is largely focused on healthcare products, and healthy chews and treats, truly understanding what is needed to ensure those products get customers’ attention is critical. In these categories, customers may not know exactly what they’re looking for, or be unaware of natural alternatives that are effective with minimal to no side effects. To help make sure the benefits of its products are communicated to pet parents, Earth Animal strives to provide ample resources to support sales and marketing efforts.
“Our products are very health oriented, so we really partner with retailers on education, training and point-of-sale support,” Susan says. “Our team of healers is very accessible and hands-on.”
Earth Animal is on a growth track, recently opening its own plant in Maryland, which is currently manufacturing the Wisdom food line. This new step helps the company further solidify its commitment to sustainable manufacturing practices and transparency.
But Earth Animal aims to go beyond the health of household pets and bring its mission and vision to a new, broader level.
“We are on a mission to help save animals, and it doesn’t stop with dogs and cats,” says Susan. “It’s really important that Earth Animal takes the lead to create awareness of the plight of the factory farmed animal and help others find a way to put an end to factory farmed animals.”
To that end, the company is fully invested in pursuing “reducatarianism,” which is a philosophy committed to reducing meat consumption. Earth Animal has hired consultants to help them move forward in this goal, and Dr. Goldstein is working with university researchers on ways to reduce the amount of meat in the next edition of the Dr. Bob’s Wisdom line.
“Our sustainability promise is to preserve and enhance quality of life for animals, people and the earth, and we’re looking at the nutritional components of plants that can sustain the health of dogs and cats while reducing stress on the environment,” Dr. Goldstein says. “It will be beneficial for the dog and cat as we will make sure they’re getting the proper nutrients they need, and it will benefit the planet by taking off the pressure of having to raise animals for food.”
Another prime example is in Earth Animal’s signature No-Hide line of dog chews. The company has long offered chicken, pork, venison and other meat-based varieties in this digestible alternative to rawhide, and is now introducing peanut butter.
“It’s a question of when, not if, there won’t be any animals in EA’s supply chain,” Susan says. “It’s a big mission, but it keeps us on track with a purpose.” PB