First Impressions

April 2019 – Inaugural Council Meeting


By DR. SHAWN MESSONNIER, DVM

When I was first asked to join Champion’s new Transparency Council, I immediately had several thoughts. First, is this just another marketing gimmick by another pet food company to try to sell its food to an uniformed public? Second, would they really be “transparent” with me, a well-known holistic veterinarian and award-winning author and radio show host?


After just returning from the first of many meetings with Champion Pet Foods and attending our inaugural meeting of the Transparency Council, I am happy to report the following.

First and foremost, the council is not a gimmick! It really is a sincere attempt by Champion to open up its kitchen, supplier-partners, and staff to us-no holds barred no matter how intimate or detailed the questions we ask.

Second, yes indeed, Champion really is being transparent. While the average consumer may not know what questions to ask or what to investigate, as a holistic veterinarian I do know that information. And I can honestly state that Champion was able to answer my questions thoroughly, no matter how tough or probing they were.

The first part of the meeting included a briefing on Champion’s BAFRINO mission. Questions were not only welcomed but encouraged.



I thoroughly enjoyed our initial visit with Champion and their executives. Here are some of the highlights of that visit. As a holistic veterinarian, I know that a great diet forms the basis of all I do. Even though I have my own line of outstanding herbal and nutritional supplements, the response I get from my patients is muted if they are not eating an appropriate natural diet.

Champion differentiates itself in numerous ways, but here are a few of the most important.

First, their kitchen is immaculate! I wish my own kitchen at home was so spotless! Throughout the kitchen tour I was impressed with the attention to detail, from receipt of the high quality raw ingredients (sourced locally, more on that in a moment) to the finished product carefully bagged and stored waiting to be shipped to lucky pets around the globe. To minimize microbial contamination during food preparation, I had to encounter several foot baths that are definitely NOT standard care in other pet (or even human) food facilities.

During the DogStar Kitchen Tour I spoke with Keith Arnold, DogStar’s original Kitchen Manager, to learn more about their practices & protocols.


Second, local sourcing is important to Champion. Buying ingredients locally as much as possible allows Champion to monitor quality control and keeps the supplier pet partners in the loop and committed to sourcing only the best raw ingredients (no animal byproducts or tissue from diseased animals or plants here.) Buying locally also allows Champion to formulate supplier relationships that result in the supplier pet partners delivering fresh, quality ingredients.

Third, using larger amounts of fresh protein helps make diets that are more biologically appropriate for the dogs and cats which will consume it. Given a choice, your pet prefers foods that are good for his system, and Champion formulates their diets to give your pet what he would likely prefer if given a choice.

The afternoon included meeting and fishing for fresh proteins with Champion’s catfish suppliers on Kentucky Lake. Here I’m speaking with supplier Michael Tierney, Vice President of Business Development at Northern Pelagic Group (NorPel).


Fourth, because dogs and cats in the wild eat the entire prey item, Champion mimics this and includes whole prey in the diet-muscle tissue, edible bones and cartilage, and healthy organ meats. Fifth, by slowly cooking the ingredients using low heat (“low and slow cooking,”) Champion is able to maintain the nutritional integrity of the ingredients, resulting in lower requirements for synthetic supplementation because the nutrients provided by the real food ingredients are more prevalent and available for your pet to properly function (the basis of functional, holistic medicine.)

As a result of my joining the Transparency Council and visiting Champion’s kitchen, you and I can trust and have confidence that what’s said to be in that bag of quality natural food is indeed there.

While it is true that the cost of a bag of Champion food can be higher than other foods that claim to be “natural and healthy,” I don’t know of any other food manufacturer that is literally opening its doors to pet parents through a transparency council to back its claims. Every ounce of Champion pet food is well worth the cost as reflected in the quality
of ingredients.

I look forward to continuing to learn about Champion’s foods and preparation processes and will happily report back to you in the future.

About Dr. Messonnier

Dr. Shawn Messonnier is a renowned U.S. veterinary physician, expert and author of numerous books including the “Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats.” He founded and practices at the Paws & Claws Animal Hospital in Plano, Texas.

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