Taking care of (family) business with Bellomy ResTech

by Matt Gullett | published on June, 2024

A Yorkshire Terrier stares directly ahead, accompanied by the text, "Rover x ResTech: The collab you didn't know you needed ..."
When he needed information on the best food for his beloved pets, Matt Gullett turned to Bellomy ResTech for insights. Image created with AI

Matt Gullett, Bellomy SVP of Insights Technology, regularly applies his expertise to topics like the rise of prescriptive analytics, Gen Z’s preference for advice from the digital realm, and whether to trust AI. In today’s post, Matt’s gets personal as he writes about using the Bellomy AI Analytics tool to help find the best dog food for his beloved pet Yorkies. 

Like millions of others, when Covid hit I made a rapid transition from traditional office work to working from home. As a technologist and lifelong introvert, I assumed working from home would be a good fit, and four years on, with my employer transitioning to a fully remote work model, I thoroughly prefer it. 

I have learned a lot in the transition, including about the unique qualities and special needs of our beloved pet Yorkies. For instance, a few days ago I was at my desk working when the sound of thunder roared into the house. Within 10 seconds, an 8-pound Yorkshire Terrier was in my lap. Shaking and panting, Little Dog was terrified and looking for safety. How many times had thunder or other noises frightened him during all the years my wife and I worked at the office? (Meanwhile, our other Yorkie, Tigger, simply rolled over in his bed.) 

Informing my dog-related decisions 

After spending more time with these special family members, I am much more sensitive to their needs. Both our Yorkies are in their double-digit years of life, and both have recently started having digestive challenges and bone/joint issues. So recently I began my search for the best possible food for their golden years. 

Working in the research field, I naturally looked into research that’s been done on the topic. Not surprisingly, there is quite a bit. However, much of it is thick with numbers and short on personal, real-world stories. So I turned to several sources of online reviews for dog food to see what I could learn. 

The value of online reviews 

Anyone who has spent time reading online reviews with a critical eye understands they can be a mixed bag. Their disadvantages include inherent data quality and sampling risks, and often the sheer volume makes navigating them a challenge — I found 134,000 online reviews for dog food. On the other hand, with their treasure trove of insight on consumer behaviors, attitudes, needs, and loyalties, they’re an invaluable tool for building insight and directional guidance in many research activities. So, with this in mind, I collected the reviews and turned to Bellomy’s AI Analytics for Text tool

Capturing insights with Bellomy ResTech

Within seconds of opening the dataset in Bellomy’s text tool, I knew that of 134,000 reviews, 1,237 specifically mentioned Yorkie or Yorkshire, and what the three highest-rated brands were among those mentions. I did this by filtering to Yorkie mentions and using the tool’s impact metric capability. The impact metric is great for quickly sorting a list of terms in a dataset because it takes not just the score (in this case a 5-point scale) into consideration but also the frequency, cutting through much of the noise in a dataset like this. (There were other brands with higher scores, but they had far fewer reviews to assess.) 

AI Assistant gets to the meat of dog food question 

This was a good start, but I knew that for output specific to our situation, I needed to get personal with the data, so I prompted the AI Assistant like this:

My wife and I own two yorkies, both getting old, both in the double-digit years of age. They are both starting to show some challenges with digestive health and bone/joint issues. We think our current dog food selection is not helping. So, I have pulled together some online reviews of various dog food options. I would like your help in identifying some key elements I should look for when choosing a new brand. Also anything I should watch out for. Analyze the consumer comments thoroughly and share your findings relevant to my challenge.

In less than 15 seconds, the AI churned through the reviews with Yorkie mentions and came back with a list of elements to consider and watch out for, pertinent consumer insights, and brands to consider. Following are some of the AI Assistant’s key findings from the reviews, and a full transcript of its output is below. 

What to look for

Regarding digestive health, the AI Assistant concluded that foods with natural sources of fiber (like sweet potatoes and pumpkin) and probiotics can help maintain healthy digestion; grain-free formulas can help reduce digestive issues; and ingredients like lamb, chicken, and rice are typically easier on the stomach. For bone and joint health, it emphasized omega fatty acids like fish oil to maintain joint flexibility and reduce inflammation. And finally, it emphasized high-quality protein (confirm that the primary ingredient is a named meat source, not a by-product) and manageable kibble size because Yorkies are small dogs. 

What to watch out for

The AI Assistant cautioned against foods with artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Common allergens (like corn, wheat, and soy) that can cause digestive issues in some dogs. and high fat content. It also offered the sage advice that a higher price doesn’t necessarily mean better quality, and there are reasonably priced brands that are equally nutritious to their more expensive counterparts. 

Insights/brands to consider

  • With its grain-free options and inclusion of sweet potato and pumpkin, Nature’s Recipe came out a winner, especially its grain-free chicken, sweet potato and pumpkin recipe, which many reviewers credited with improved digestive health for their dogs. 
  • Purina One got high marks for its added vitamins and minerals and its “small bites” option. Users reported their senior dogs, including those with joint issues, enjoyed this food and seemed more energetic.
  • The AI also shouted out Beneful IncrediBites (high in protein and specifically formulated for small dogs) and Freshpet (gentle on the stomach and pleasing even to picky eaters). 
  • Finally, the AI reminded me to always transition to a new food gradually and consult with a vet for tailored advice. 

Verifying the results

The AI Assistant’s information was a mix of things I knew along with a good bit of things I did not. One thing I know definitively is that AI can be trusted with verification, but never blindly. Understanding that A) I am not a dog food expert and B) making informed decisions is important to me, in this situation I took three validation steps. 

  1. The first step is old-school — I simply read some reviews. I could happily talk about this for an hour, but suffice to say, the Bellomy AI Analytics tool makes this task easy. 
  2. The second step is to look at recognized third-party expertise. Here again, the Bellomy tool helps a lot. 
  3. The third step is to extend the insights process by digging into relevant media sites and web searches a bit further. Again, this is easy because the AI Assistant has a built-in function for it. 

With the guidance from Bellomy’s AI and these verification steps (dogfoodadvisor.com is exactly what I needed), I am confident about selecting a new diet for Little Dog and Tigger. 

The Bellomy AI Analytics tool makes reading additional reviews (the first verification step) easy. The second verification step is to look at recognized third-party expertise. Here again, the Bellomy tool helps a lot. The third verification step is to extend the insights process by digging into relevant media sites and web searches a bit further. Again, this is easy because the AI Assistant has a built-in function for it.

What could you do with the Bellomy tool?

I know that a dataset on dog food reviews might have limited usefulness, although it has real-life impact for my family. Still, it’s a good example of the rich insights and stories within online reviews and of the power and utility of the Bellomy AI Analytics for Text tool. Can you imagine how you and your team could use it for a window into customer satisfaction, pain points, trends, potential whitespace and more?  

Meanwhile at my house, we’re in the process of trying out a couple new brands of food to see how the dogs respond. If you want to know more about our experience, message me on LinkedIn — or maybe even watch this space. 

Matt Gullett is Bellomy SVP of Insights Technology.

Have a tricky business challenge you’d like to discuss? Get in touch! 


Unedited output from the Bellomy AI text tool
to Matt Gullett's dog food prompt

Given the information from the consumer reviews, here are some key elements to consider and watch out for when choosing a new dog food brand for your elderly Yorkies, who are experiencing digestive and bone/joint issues:

### Key Elements to Look For:

1. **Digestive Health:**

- **Fiber and Probiotics:** Look for dog foods that contain natural sources of fiber (like sweet potatoes, pumpkin) and probiotics, which help maintain healthy digestion.

- **Grain-Free Options:** Some dogs are sensitive to grains, and grain-free formulas can help reduce digestive issues.

- **Easily Digestible Ingredients:** Ingredients like lamb, chicken, and rice are typically easier on the stomach.


2. **Bone and Joint Health:**

- **Glucosamine and Chondroitin:** These supplements support joint health and are crucial for aging dogs.

- **Omega Fatty Acids:** Ingredients like fish oil can help maintain joint flexibility and reduce inflammation.


3. **Protein Quality:**

- **High-Quality Protein:** Ensure that the primary ingredient is a named meat source (like chicken, beef, salmon) rather than by-products.

- **Balanced Protein and Fat:** A good balance of protein and fat is necessary to maintain muscle mass without adding extra weight.


4. **Size and Texture of Kibble:**

- **Small Kibble Size:** Since Yorkies are small dogs, smaller kibble sizes are easier for them to chew, especially if they have dental issues.

- **Soft Food Options:** Wet food or kibble that can be softened with water may be easier for them to eat.


### Brands to Consider:

- **Nature’s Recipe:** Known for its grain-free options and inclusion of sweet potato and pumpkin, which are good for digestive health.

- **Purina ONE:** Offers small bites and has options with added vitamins and minerals, which can be great for senior dogs.

- **Beneful IncrediBites:** Specifically formulated for small dogs and has high protein content, which is beneficial for maintaining muscle mass.

- **Freshpet:** Fresh, refrigerated dog food that many picky eaters seem to enjoy and is easy on the stomach.


### Watch Out For:

1. **Ingredient Quality:**

- Avoid foods that list unnamed meat by-products or vague terms like "meat meal."

- Be cautious of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.


2. **Allergens:**

- Common allergens like corn, wheat, and soy can cause digestive issues in some dogs.

- Monitor for any specific food allergies your Yorkies may have, particularly to common proteins like chicken.


3. **High Fat Content:**

- While fat is good for energy, too much can lead to weight gain, which can exacerbate joint issues.


4. **Price vs. Quality:**

- Higher price doesn't always mean better quality, and some reasonably priced brands are equally nutritious.


### Consumer Insights:

- **Positive Reviews for Digestive Health:**

- **Nature's Recipe Grain-Free Chicken, Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Recipe**: Many users noted improvements in their dogs' digestive health.

- **Freshpet:** Praised for being gentle on the stomach and loved by picky eaters.


- **Positive Reviews for Joint Health:**

- **Purina ONE Small Bites**: Users reported their senior dogs, including those with joint issues, enjoyed this food and seemed more energetic.

- **Blue Buffalo:** Known for high-quality ingredients, though some users found it pricey.


- **Mixed Reviews:**

- **Pedigree:** While many dogs love it, some users reported it caused gas and digestive issues.

- **Cesar:** Very popular but can be pricier, and some dogs had stomach issues.


### Conclusion:

When selecting a new dog food for your elderly Yorkies, prioritize high-quality, easily digestible ingredients, and consider foods with added supplements for joint health. Brands like Nature’s Recipe, Purina ONE, and Freshpet have good reviews for digestive health and are worth considering. Always transition to new food gradually to monitor for any adverse reactions and consult with your vet for tailored advice.