New dog food line offers ‘fine dining with herbs’ | Inquirer Lifestyle

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New dog food line offers ‘fine dining with herbs’ | Inquirer Lifestyle

Vigor & Sage uses a variety of natural ingredients like ginseng and seaweed. —LEO SABANGAN II

Luis Mercado was driving home from work when he got a call from his parents. Pull over, they said. Mercado didn’t need to hear it. Instincts told him straightaway that something terrible had happened to Maxx, his 11-year-old pug.

Maxx had a heart condition. He had his first heart attack when he was 7, and survived another a few years later. Unfortunately for Maxx, the third was also his last.

“That’s the scariest part about owning pets. We know someday we will outlive them,” said Mercado.

Since his pup’s diagnosis, Mercado had searched everywhere for the proper nutrition for Maxx, but was frustrated.


Like all pet parents, Mercado wanted his pooch to live a quality life for as long as possible. But this was at a time there weren’t many options in the local market yet, when pet owners had to resort to mass-produced supermarket brands.

Three years ago, over a year after Maxx’s passing, Mercado got another pug, Bruno. A better and much-experienced pet parent this time, Mercado swore he would never allow what happened to Maxx to happen to Bruno. Superior pet nutrition would be his priority.

A couple of years ago, while on his honeymoon in The Netherlands, his wife directed his attention to the Dutch brand, Vigor & Sage, a pet food, she said, that would be perfect for Bruno.

The brand was available only in select stores, which probably meant that more care was put into producing each bag.

Top nutrition

Mercado did his research and learned that the brand’s vision aligns with his—that is, to provide top nutrition to pets.

Vigor & Sage also has a unique concept of adding herbs to its food.

Luis Mercado with his late dog Maxx –FILE PHOTO

“We call it ‘fine dining with herbs’ for pets,” Kirill Repin, global business development director of Vigor & Sage, told Mercado.

Mercado bought some for Bruno. The pug loved it. In two to three weeks, he noticed Bruno’s breath and poop smelled better, and he appeared happier and more energetic. (Since pets can’t talk to their humans, monitoring not only what goes into their mouths, but also what comes out, is usually an excellent way to stay on top of their health.)

Mercado knew he finally found the right food with Vigor & Sage. He was so satisfied that he decided to distribute the brand in the Philippines.

“This is pure passion, because of Bruno and Maxx,” he said. “I’ve been looking for the best dog food. We couldn’t find the right food when Maxx was alive. So when Bruno came it was something I really wanted to find.”

Vigor & Sage researched on the evolution of the feeding habits of carnivorous pets. Dogs and cats are predatory carnivores by nature, and, therefore, needed a high-protein diet in the wild to prey on other animals and defend themselves against predators. To recuperate after a day’s hunting and heal themselves from injuries, they consumed herbs.

Luis Mercado’s pug Bruno goes for the motherlode.

The brand combines ancient wisdom with modern science. Each recipe uses only the purest natural ingredients enriched with beneficial herbs. This holistic, balanced approach resulted in complete foods for the physical and mental well-being of pets. Each bag, no matter the variant, is grain-free and gluten-free.

“The education level of the consumer market is not yet where it should be. Not many people understand the benefits of grain-free products,” Mercado said. “Grains are bad, even for humans. Brown rice or red rice is healthier because they are fewer grains. Grains cause difficult digestion.”

Fiber content

Most dog manufacturers add an unnaturally high amount of fiber in the kibble. The normal fiber content of the ancestral diet is between 4 and 6 percent. The fiber content of many dry pet foods is greater than 15 percent, and most “diet” foods are even worse, containing more than 28 percent fiber.

Pets eating kibble high in fiber produce stinkier poop because their bodies aren’t designed to absorb certain nutrients in those diets, such as grains and starches.

“It is important to check the ingredients, and to check for the right amount of protein and fat,” Mercado said. “The care that should be given pets should be the same as that of someone you love. Know the food you feed to your pet. With other dog-food brands, it would be like feeding them junk food.”

Vigor & Sage variants have ginseng, green tea, lily root, oat grass, wolfberry and seaweed.

Ginseng, for example, helps build resistance, reduces susceptibility to illness, and promotes health and longevity.

Lily root is good for their skin and green tea is excellent for weight control, Mercado said.

Bruno begs for more.–PHOTOS BY LEO SABANGAN II

Wolfberries (goji berries) help support your pet’s immunity and combat free radicals, and are also known to help prevent the growth of cancer cells and regulate blood and cholesterol levels.

Each kibble contains seaweed, Mercado said. While not the most obvious choice for your pet, it is nutrient-dense and is actually the ultimate health complement.

It’s a rich source of minerals and protein (amino acids) with a range of medicinal characteristics, including anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties. It can enhance immunity and energy as well as improve digestion.

Vigor & Sage, exclusively distributed by Rubicon Crossings, is available at, a premium retailer for pets that delivers free of charge within Metro Manila. It is also at the Philippine Pet Birth Control Center Foundation, 155 Boni Ave., Mandaluyong; tel. 9495941.

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