Frequently Asked Questions

We Value Education and Transparency

We believe the more pet parents know about their pets nutritional needs and the products they love, the better! Our F.A.Q section is always growing. Have a question that isn’t answered here? Contact our pet nutrition expert through the form below.

HOPE Specific Questions

Is your food plant based?

HOPE is not a plant-based diet. We source whole, nutritious ingredients from novel sources across the tree of life, including insect larvae, yeast, algae and more. Learn about the benefits of these ingredients here. Hypoallergenic and protein packed!

Does HOPE contain weird ingredients I can't name?

Our pet foods contain no meat, and no junk, and no weird words. We source protein and other nutrients from a wide variety of ingredients that are whole, clean, and found in nature. Read our ingredient list here. In order to exceed standards and ensure all of your pets’ needs are met, we combine a variety of superfoods like insect larvae, algae, and yeast. We believe in honesty and transparency, and are excited not only to share about the cool ingredients in our recipes, but plan to continually offer education and information about why those ingredients made the cut, and how they help your pet thrive.

Don't dogs and cats need meat?

Let’s talk about dogs first. Dogs are omnivores, meaning they can get their nutrition from a mix of sources. In fact, dogs can even thrive on a plant-based diet. What dogs do need is sufficient protein, and a balanced complete diet that meets their bodily needs for wellness. We work with pet nutrition experts to make sure that our recipe will help your dog thrive. In many cases, our alternative proteins, including insects, offer additional benefits that meat doesn’t.

Now, for the more complicated animal: cats. Cats are considered obligate carnivores – but what does that really mean? It means that there are some essential building blocks that their bodies cannot make on their own, and therefore they must be found in their diets. Typically these components are found in meat, and/or added to food from synthetic sources. We are in the process of patenting novel formulations that will provide everything cats need without the meat, and the best part is it is derived from fully natural sources. We believe this will offer even greater nutritional benefits! 

How is your food produced?

We work with pet nutritionists to develop a recipe that meets all of the needs of our dogs, and regulation standards in the US and Europe. From there, we manufacture with our partner, a small family-run facility in rural Ontario.

What do you mean by novel or alternative?

“Novel protein” just means new – a protein source or ingredient that your pet hasn’t eaten before. If you pet has an allergy to a food they are eating that uses a common ingredient like chicken, your vet may recommend trying a novel ingredient. Because our protein sources are biologically quite different than the livestock ingredients most pets are eating, it represents an alternative that is unlikely to cause a similar reaction.

“Alternative protein” is used to describe a plant-based or clean-meat alternative to traditional meats. For people, this can mean things like veggie burgers or almond milk. Our foods are formulated with alternative clean ingredients that are not sourced from livestock.

Where are your ingredients sourced?

As locally as possible! Our insect protein comes from a Canadian insect farm as well as other ingredients in our formula. The manufacturing is done in rural Ontario.

Is this food adequate for puppies?

HOPE’s current dog food line is formulated for adult maintenance, meaning it is best suited for dogs who are not growing anymore (dogs above the age of 12-18 months). Check back soon for future formulations of puppy food!

Is HOPE good for dogs with allergies?

HOPE is formulated without common allergens: this includes chicken, beef, lamb, chicken eggs, dairy products and soy. HOPE utilizes novel protein from black soldier fly larvae to create a healthy and hypoallergenic diet for adult dogs. Novel proteins are just new proteins your pet has not been exposed to yet and are commonly recommended when your pet has a suspected food allergy.

As insects are a novel protein used in pet food, it is unlikely your dog will be allergic compared to more commonly used protein sources like chicken. It is always possible to develop food allergies to any food, so it is best to pay attention to your dog’s skin and coat condition as well as their bowel movements to see how they are responding to their diet.

What is the tree of life?

The tree of life, or phylogenetic tree shows how all life on earth is related. The branches show how all of the species on our planet evolved from common ancestors over billions of years. All life on Earth is part of a single tree of life, and it is massive, awe-inspiring, and diverse!

In Western culture, we tend to focus on livestock for our protein, yet this is such a small cross section of all the available sources on the planet. Our goal at HOPE is to reimagine how we feed our pets, starting with their nutritional needs, and then finding the most effective and sustainable source for those nutrients. We look beyond livestock and plants, finding ingredients from branches across the entire tree – including insects and algae!

General Pet Food Questions

What does "Formulated to AAFCO or FEDIAF Standards" mean?

In the USA, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a voluntary member association of American state and federal officials who develop model laws for states to regulate the sale and distribution of animal feeds including pet food. They set nutrient minimums and maximums for both dogs and cats and set standards for conducting feeding trials, which are designed to test the nutrient profiles of dog and cat food. These nutrient profiles are based on the National Research Council’s recommendations which are based on scientific literature.

The European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF) is the trade body representing the European pet food industry. They work through a committee structure and review: additives and undesirable substances, feed safety and hygiene, product communication, nutritional and analytical science, feed materials and trade, environment and sustainability, and particular nutritional purposes.

All products manufactured by HOPE meet or exceed both AAFCO and FEDIAF standards.

How is Canadian pet food regulated?

Pet food manufacturers in Canada are subject to following regulations made by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The CFIA creates animal health safeguards which make it illegal for specified risk materials to be fed to any animal including your pets! Manufacturers must follow the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act as well as the Competition Act. These acts let manufacturers know how pet food can be marketed to consumers, including how the pet food is named and what type of information needs to be available on the label. There is also a Pet Food Association of Canada (PFAC) which is an industry association of pet food manufacturers as well as companies selling goods to the pet food manufacturing industry. It’s members manufacture their pet foods to the nutritional standards put in place by AAFCO.

What does "complete and balanced" mean?

“Complete and balanced” is a term defined by AAFCO. It means the product has met or exceeded all of the nutrient requirements for your pet by undergoing a nutrient analysis OR the product has undergone animal feeding trials and has demonstrated its ability to meet or exceed your pets nutritional requirements.

What does "guaranteed analysis" mean?

“Guaranteed analysis” refers to minimum or maximum percentages of key nutrients in a pet food package. Minimum percentages of crude protein and crude fat, as well as maximum percentages of crude fiber and moisture are required on pet food labels. “Crude” simply refers to the specific testing method of the product. Other nutrient guarantees like vitamins and minerals can be included in the guaranteed analysis, but it is not required.

Pet Nutrition Questions

What is the right amount of protein for my dog?

Dogs and cats are both included in the Carnivora order, therefore many pet owners believe that dogs and cats require a very high amount of dietary protein concentrations to flourish. Due to recent trends in the pet food industry, most dog foods have protein levels well above nutrient requirements.

However, undigested protein is just excreted in feces and can produce a more unpleasant smell. Excess protein can also increase nitrogen excretion in urine without any benefit to your pet. This excess nitrogen elimination can negatively impact our environment due to increased acidification and eutrophication of soil.

Dogs and cats, like humans, require specific nutrients, not ingredients. These nutrients can be reached with a variety of different ingredient sources, including animal products, novel proteins, grains, pulses, etc. At HOPE, we aim to use accurate protein contents and digestible protein sources in our pet foods to help your pet thrive while also reducing their ecological paw print.

How much and how often should I feed my dog?

How often you should feed your pet is dependent on the life stage of your cat or dog. Kittens and puppies should be fed multiple times per day (3-4 times), while healthy adult cats and dogs only need to be fed once per day!

For more information on how much to feed your pet, you can check out this blog post from our pet nutrition expert! We always recommend talking with your vet – they are your partner in the health of your pet.

Are there studies on the nutritional value of insect protein?

Check out these great studies:

Do et al. (2020). Nutrient and AA digestibility of black soldier fly larvae differing in age using the precision-fed cecectomized rooster assay. Journal of Animal Science, 98, 1-10. 

Kroger et al. (2020). Evaluation of an extruded diet for adult dogs containing larvae meal from the Black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens). Animal Feed Science and Technology, 270, 

Bosch et al. (2016). In vitro digestibility and fermentability of selected insects for dog foods. Animal Feed Science and Technology, 221, 174-184.

Mccusker et al. (2014). Amino acid content of selected plant, algae and insect species: a search for alternative protein sources for use in pet foods. Journal of Nutritional Science, 3, 1-5.

Bosch et al. (2014). Protein quality of insects as potential ingredients for dog and cat foods. Journal of Nutritional Science, 3.

How do I transition my dog to a new food?

The easiest way to transition your dog to any new food is to introduce the food slowly over a period of at least three days, but can be longer if you choose. This way the new ingredients or new formulation of the food won’t upset your dog’s digestive system and cause diarrhea. Be sure to mix the new food and old food together in the same bowl and offer it to your dog. Check out the chart below for an easy transition schedule.

Short transition schedule:

Days Old diet HOPE Pet Food
1 75% 25%
2 50% 50%
3 25% 75%
4 0% 100%


Longer transition schedule:

Days Old diet HOPE Pet Food
1 75% 25%
2 75% 25%
3 50% 50%
4 50% 50%
5 25% 75%
6 25% 75%
7 0% 100%

Ingredient Specific Questions

Is it natural and safe for my pet to eat insects?

Believe it or not, dogs actually do seek to eat insects naturally – and boy do they love the smell of insect oil! Not only are insects very protein dense, and contain natural fibre (which meat does not), studies actually show that they may be even healthier when compared to meat. People have also eaten insects since prehistoric times, and although it is no longer common in North America, it is still done in many places. Bugs are edible for people and pets, and are rich in nutrients that can really help us thrive!

Why black soldier fly protein?

Black soldier fly protein is a complete protein meaning it contains all the essential amino acids pets and humans need. While they are known for their protein content (more than any meat!) they also have healthy fats, minerals and vitamins. BSF contains more iron than spinach, more B12 than beef, more omegas than salmon, and more calcium than milk!

They are a clean superfood, with no antibiotics or hormones, and no risk of disease transmission. They are also great for the planet.

Over 30% of food is wasted, mostly sent to landfills creating toxic greenhouse gases that are harmful to our environment. Black soldier fly larvae provide a valuable solution to this global problem, as they naturally upcycle nutrients from organic matter. Our partners at Enterra use traceable, recycled food including fruits, vegetables and grains to feed our insects. This environmentally responsible approach reduces the volume in landfills while delivering high quality nutrients for animal feed and pet food. Nothing wasted, everything gained.

What is the difference between seaweed, algae, and kelp?

Seaweed is an umbrella term for any marine macroalgae. There are three main groups of seaweeds; red algae, green algae, and brown algae. Kelp is a large type of seaweed and is in the brown algae family. Both seaweed and kelp are nutritious and packed with vitamins, minerals, fats and protein.

What are pulses?

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), pulses are dry-harvested leguminous crops, including beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils. However, pulses do not include any legumes rich in fat/oil or moisture at the time of harvest, like soybeans and peanuts, or fresh beans and peas. All pulses are legumes, but not all legumes are pulses!

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Exceptional nutrition you can feel good about
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