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A Resolve Through Research

Holistic Pet Nutrition Center bridges the gap in pet nutrition

You are what you eat.

The old adage goes for you pets, too. 

Ann Straub, founder of The Holistic Pet Nutrition Center, watched her dog battle through ear infections, hair loss, and never-ending sickness. 

“We’d go to the vet [and] get medication but he would continue to get sick,” Ann explained. “I found myself frustrated that we couldn’t find the answer.”

Ann wondered if diet was to blame.

“I thought I was feeding good dog food: it was expensive, it had ‘holistic’ printed on the bag,” she said. “But then we switched to a grain-free diet and all of his issues went away.” 

Research runs through Ann’s blood. In the early 2000s she worked at GlaxoSmithKline in the Bitterroot Valley. When the recession hit, she returned home to Pennsylvania, taking a job at the University of Pittsburgh. When she noticed her dog’s health decline, she looked for alternative solutions. 

“I became upset at the lack of information and lack of education surrounding pet nutrition,” Ann said. “I finally said, ‘I know how to research. I can research pet food just as easily as I can research anything else.’” 

In 2012, Ann opened the flagship location of The Holistic Pet Nutrition Center in Harmony, Pennsylvania. 

“It was a lot of trial-and-error,” Ann said. “The result was people’s dogs were getting better.” 

On a trip back to Montana, Ann stopped by the Good Food Store in search of dog treats. She spied a retail location for rent. 

“I was literally on my way to the airport to fly back to Pennsylvania,” she explained. “It was one of those weird moments, sitting on the deck at the airport having a beer, and I said to myself, ‘Could I do this here?’” 

She made the call and leased the space, opening the Missoula store in 2015. 

“The vibe in Missoula is so great. Everyone cares about their pets,” Ann said. “We get to help pets be healthier and more comfortable. It’s such a gift.” 

Ann says a couple of common misconceptions exist about pet nutrition: one, that feeding better food is more expensive, and two, that you shouldn’t alter your pet’s diet. 

“We love to give pet parents the freedom to create a palate for their pet,” Ann explained. “You can absolutely feed canned food on Tuesday and raw food on Wednesday. Feeding the same food day after day is like telling a kid they can only eat Cheerios.” 

At The Holistic Pet Nutrition Center, Ann’s staff helps pet owners with alternative diets for their pets. 

“When someone comes in, I pull up their current food online. We look at the ingredients,” Ann said. “The first five ingredients make up 95 percent of the food. This is very important.” 

She explains that protein should make up the first two ingredients in any pet food. Deciphering the make-up of pet food can be challenging.

“Many pet food companies do shady things in regard to ingredients,” Ann said. “I could probably build a rocket and go to Mars easier than I could pull the rug out from under the pet food industry.” 

Foods like dry kibble and canned food often include binding agents to hold the food together as well as undergo a pasteurization process that alters protein molecules. However, Ann explains, a combination of kibble and canned food can be a good way to broaden the types and sources of protein a dog or cat consumes. 

Other types of food include dehydrated or freeze-dried options, which can be rehydrated with water to a consistency that is palatable for older pets. 

“The goal is to feed the animal what is closest to what he would eat in the wild,” Ann said. “Raw food helps your pet develop a strong immune system and a bullet-proof gut.” 

Ann often recommends a diet that includes all types of foods: kibble, canned, dehydrated, freeze-dried, and raw, in addition to functional treats that can help address a variety of issues, from dental health and hip dysplasia, to anxiety, pain, and chronic urinary infections. 

“You can see things are wrong. Don’t ignore them,” Ann said. “This is an amazing animal that you get to share your life with. Cherish them and take care of them.” 

Ann says getting started may seem daunting but that small steps are the key. 

“When I figured out that I didn’t need to listen to the misinformation about feeding my dogs and took it into my own hands, I felt like a good dog mom,” Ann said. “Now I can turn to someone else and say, ‘Let me show you.’” 

Your Pet Wants You To Check Them Out!

The Holistic Pet Nutrition Center

1720 South Third Street West, Suite A