Tell your dog to get ready for quinoa kibble.

Pet food trends are following their owners’ tastes. Even the meat-loving brands are marketing plants, the very ingredients they once sidelined – just not the plants the industry has historically relied on, like the high-protein soybean and corn-gluten meals.

Instead, Blue Buffalo Co. Ltd. offers a Chicken & Quinoa Ancient Grains recipe, for example, and a grain-free line from Nestle Purina Petcare Co.’s Beneful is now “accented with blueberries, pumpkin & spinach.” Honest Kitchen Inc., which uses only human-grade ingredients, has been selling its Chicken & Quinoa recipe since 2006 and now offers Beef & Chickpea, Duck & Sweet Potato, and Fish & Coconut blends as well.

Dogs aren’t wolves, after all. They’re omnivores, said Anna-Kate Shoveller, an assistant professor of animal biosciences at the University of Guelph, in Canada. “They do quite well on a vegetable-based or a lower-protein diet,” she said.

Shoveller researches nutrition in animals and has been conducting experiments and publishing on a newly controversial topic: feeding vegetables to domestic dogs. And despite recent documentaries and marketing trends, Labrador retrievers, cocker spaniels, and the rest of the nearly 70 million dogs living in homes in the U.S. do not need to be fed like wild beasts.

Consider the nearly $30 billion pet food market’s second- and third-most-popular dog food brands: the relative newcomer Blue Buffalo, whose “farm-to-table inspired canine cuisine” features a portrait of a wolf on each bag of its Wilderness line, and Beneful, whose bags brag of “real” chicken, beef and salmon as “the #1 ingredient.”

Together, the two brands sold more than $2.3 billion of dog chow last year.Pedigree, Mars Inc.’s budget-friendly brand, was the top-selling dog food in the country in 2016, pulling in $1.6 billion, according to data from Euromonitor.

Blue Buffalo has played the healthy-wolf card better than any other company, despite admitting in a lawsuit that its ingredients weren’t always as marketed.

Founded in 2002, it commanded 7.5 percent of the U.S. dog food market last year, making it the fifth-largest seller in the country. That’s still small compared to Nestle Purina, No. 1 , at 23.5 percent-but down from 26.8 percent in 2011, according to Euromonitor.

If there’s a mythos around meat, plants come with their own presumptions. The industry’s pivot back to plants, if only certain ones, seems a bit silly to experts, at least from a nutritional point of view.

“If soy is bad, why is pea good?” asked Ryan Yamka. Yamka is an animal nutritionist certified by the American College of Animal Sciences, as well as founder and independent consultant with Luna Science and Nutrition. “It all comes down to marketing,” he said.

Dogs aren’t doing the shopping

Pet food in the U.S. falls under a mix of federal and state regulations. Owners looking for assurance that a food meets their pets’ nutritional needs should look for the “Complete and Balanced” nutritional adequacy statement on the package.

The statement is based on the dog or cat food nutrient profiles set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials and guarantees that the food is nutritionally balanced. Aafco has no enforcement power of its own, but most commercially available pet foods sold online comply with its profiles, no matter what ingredients are in them.

“Pets don’t need ingredients, they need nutrients,” said Mary Emma Young, the communications director at the Pet Food Institute, the industry’s trade group, repeating a popular refrain in the pet food world. They also need to be able to digest the nutrients – and to like the food, or they won’t eat it.

And while there is no shortage of consumers, bloggers and competitors questioning the safety and health of mass-produced pet foods, especially since the massive 2007 pet food recall that followed the poisoning of thousands of pets, the industry puts significant resources into research to meet the guidelines Aafco sets.

Nestle Purina alone has more than 500 scientists on staff, including food scientists, nutritionists and veterinarians.

Yamka traces the ingredient obsession back to the recall, in which Chinese suppliers added contaminants to wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate to boost protein levels.

“Somehow soy and corn got rolled in,” he said, and companies began advertising “absence claims” to bring in concerned customers. “It made it easy to make wheat and grains the boogeyman.”

Add in the lifestyle trends emerging on the human side – gluten-free this, grain-free that – and pet food marketers found a willing consumer base.

“Nobody kept up with Blue Buffalo in marketing and advertising,” Yamka said. “You had a lot of market leaders back then trying to mimic that, but they couldn’t.”

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