Homemade dog biscuits

Grain free dog treats not for all dogs

If you bake dog treats and dog cakes, don’t toss out your wheat flour! Grain free dog products may be today’s trend, but there are downsides too.

I just saw an ad for “oven-baked” grain-free dog treats, which spurred this post. The fact that the treats were “oven-baked” apparently was the “unique” selling point. Really?

So…is grain free better? It is certainly the big trend.

I have nothing against grain free, but there is nothing wrong with wheat! Dog treats are not meant to replace meals or become a full diet. They are exactly what the name says they are: TREATS!

Yes, it’s true that dogs descended from the wild and were carnivorous. They did not sniff around for cakes and biscuits.

Yes, it’s true that to make dog food more economical and cost-effective, grains, especially corn, were added.

Yes, it’s true that 6-7 years ago, a certain toxin was introduced into pet foods to artificially boost the protein content and make the product seem to contribute to health and well-being.

But it’s also true that “grain-free” jerky treats from China are implicated as causing pet deaths.

Depends how you want to spin it.

If you are a small dog bakery, you may be feeling the pressure to jump on the grain free band wagon. Resist making radical changes! If your customers love your treats the way you make them, keep pleasing them.

Many dog treat businesses were born because the owners could not find healthy nutritional solutions for a dietary issue their own pet developed. So they created their own. If a wheat base is used, there’s probably a good reason, and it may not be a health-related one. Not every dog suffers from allergies.

Did you know that wheat promotes acidity in the urine, which helps to dissolve struvite crystals? There certainly are health advantages. Not every dog has allergies.

Pet food manufacturers began adding white potatoes into their products so they could promote them as “grain-free”. This has been reported to be a contributing reason behind the rise in pet diabetes (due to the high carbohydrate content of the potatoes). Many grain-free foods are also high in calories……something humans need to consider for themselves as well.

If you make wonderful wheat based dog treats, use these promotion points if you are challenged about the healthiness of your treats:

  • You know your customers’ names, and their dogs’ names as well. You are not going to offer unhealthy products to those you know! (That would be business suicide.)
  • You most likely bake in your own kitchen, or in one where you oversee the entire baking process. You know exactly what ingredients go into your treats. You know that the ingredients are fresh, human quality, and REAL FOOD.
  • Your pricing is attractive.
  • Most importantly, you give your treats to your own dog! (If you take your dog to markets, just make sure he looks healthy and well-kept.)
  • Finally, don’t be afraid to taste one of your own dog treats right in front of the customer. You do use human grade ingredients that are real food, right?

You will not please everyone, and your treats are not right for every dog either. That’s why there are choices. Share your passion for your product with your customers and always give great customer service – customers won’t get these from a large enterprise.

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 Visit K9Cakery.com for dog bakery supplies made in the USA and the award-winning         Fido’s Frosting, the first all-natural, sugar-free, yogurt dog treat frosting and icing that        does not melt!

dog treat business

Dog Bakery Spotlight – Coastal K9 Bakery

Want to get your dog treats into retail stores? The owner of Coastal K-9 Bakery offers some words of advice. Her dog was the inspiration behind this thriving dog bakery business because he suffered from food allergies.

Coastal K-9 Bakery

Owner: Jackie Oakes

Location: Wilmington, North Carolina

Poor Tippy! The English Springer Spaniel suffered from allergies. But from what? His owner, Jackie, decided to bake wheat free dog treats for him and…he got better! She knew she was on to something because there were other dogs who had undiagnosed food allergies who could benefit as well.

Wheat free dog treats
Wheat free dog treats

So Jackie opened Coastal K-9 Bakery in November 2004 and chose the name due to its location on the coast of North Carolina. Her dog treats are named Tippy’s Treats after the dog who started it all!

Beginning as a retail store, she advertised locally, donated to community-based animal causes and organizations, and became involved with two no-kill animal shelters.

The business does wholesale baking primarily. Jackie says, “I realized wholesale was becoming a large part of my sales. I began attending pet trade shows and marketing to pet shops, other bakeries, and businesses. By calling businesses and making personal visits my visibility has increased greatly.”

Her hard work paid off because Tippy’s Treats are now available in Whole Foods Markets and local grocery chains!  They come in eight flavors, and are mostly wheat, corn and soy free, the common allergy producing flours for dogs.

yappy_birthday_coastal_k9
“Yappy Birthday” dog birthday cake decorated with Fido’s Frosting

“My Yappy Birthday cakes are a bit hit. I use Fido’s Frosting to create beautiful and fun-loving cakes and muffins in a small, medium and large size. We have an extensive inventory of birthday supplies to complement our cakes and muffins.”

We asked Jackie if she had any advice for dog treat businesses wanting to place their treats in retail stores.

Here is her advice:

  • First, you MUST be passionate about your product. If you aren’t sold on it, the retail store will not be sold.
  • Be selective of the retail stores where you want your product.
  • It is very helpful for your company to have a “track record” of acceptance in the community as it is very hard to have a store accept a product that has only been produced for a few months or a year.
  • Should the retail store not accept your product, ask the reason it was not accepted. If there are problems, address and correct any problems.
  • Don’t be afraid to contact the retail store more than once if your product was not accepted. Many times the retail store is in the process of rearranging a store section or waiting for some products to sell out before adding new products.
  • It is important to make a personal appearance to the store manager or buyer. Call ahead to make an appointment, be punctual, be knowledgeable of the store, and be ready to explain the benefits of the store having your product in their inventory.

Tippy lived a better life, and will never be forgotten. Jackie has two rescues living with her now. She says, “It is so rewarding to be a part of the pet industry. I have met so many wonderful people and have discovered so many products that are beneficial to our pets. You also create a bond with your customers as they know that you are doing something that is helping their pet and educates them as well.”

Be sure to look for Tippy’s Treats in your local market. Visit Coastal K-9 Bakery online!

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 Visit K9Cakery.com for dog bakery supplies and the award-winning Fido’s Frosting, the first all-natural, sugar-free, yogurt dog treat frosting and icing that does not melt!

dog bakery business

Dog Bakery Spotlight – Rosie’s Barkery

Turn your passion for helping dog rescues and shelters into a dog bakery business! That’s what
one new dog mom did! Her business is taking off while she lives her passion.

 

 

Owner: Christine Iverson

 

Location: North Hollywood, California

 

February 2011 brought the patter of little puppy feet into Christine’s life. Never having owned a
dog before, and not knowing what to do, she read articles and watched television shows to
learn as much as possible.
Decorated dog treats with Fido's Frosting
Decorated with Fido’s Frosting

The three-month old pit/pointer mix she and her husband adopted from the local shelter was a handful of energy, but changed their
lives for the best. Delving into the world of “homeless” pets brought the plight of these
animals forefront to her and she felt compelled to help.

She named the puppy Rosie, after Rosie the Riveter. Although the “famous” Rosie
was only an illustration, the character stood for strength and a “can-do” attitude,
which fit the puppy perfectly.

By now, fall was approaching and Christine began her yearly ritual of baking for family and
friends. Of course, she couldn’t leave the puppy out. But Rosie had been diagnosed with
allergies. Unfortunately, the exact etiology could not be pinpointed. To be on the safe side,
Christine baked gluten-free dog treats just in case there was an underlying wheat allergy.

Rosie gobbled up gluten-free peanut butter sweet potato treats. Christine says, “Then I thought, maybe I can sell these to raise money for shelters and rescues? Seemed like a good thing to try. I began selling at dog parks where they did pretty well. After a few months there I decided I would make a go at this and set-up shop at a Farmer’s Market. For the past 2 years I’ve sold Rosie’s Barkery dog treats at the market, at various events and now we’re branching out into wholesale.”

The business was aptly named after the new puppy, to keep the “spirit” of the fearless riveter alive! In addition to weekly farmers markets, they exhibit at industry trade shows and have an online presence. They stay very active in the local community, supporting and helping to raise funds for the local shelters and rescues for the benefit of the animals in need. Soon Rosie’s treats will be available in stores nationwide!

gluten free dog treats
Gluten free dog treats
“Our Hearts N’ Homes™ line of treats are not only
popular, but nutritious, easy to ship and the
packaging speaks the best to what we care about most.””Gluten-free is an up and coming trend not only for humans but also for dogs. We have always been gluten-free and many people appreciate the thought that goes into our ingredients. We specialize in hypoallergenic treats that most any dog can enjoy.””Not only are our treats gluten free and most are hypoallergenic but they also raise money for rescues. We make it a priority to push that aspect and to encourage our customers to adopt not shop. We have a lot of creative ideas on how to partner with rescues as part of our Indiegogo campaign.”
Go to Rosie’s Barkery to learn more about this wonderful business!

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 Visit K9Cakery.com for dog bakery supplies and the award-winning Fido’s Frosting, the first          all-natural, sugar-free, yogurt dog treat frosting and icing that does not melt!

All natural dog treats

Natural Dog Chews

Expand your healthy dog treat offerings by including natural dog chews in your product line. The best choices contain a single all natural ingredient.

These natural dog treats are becoming a popular choice among savvy pet parents looking for healthy dog treats made in the USA that do not contain ingredients they can’t even pronounce!  

Natural chews are easy to make.

All natural dog treats
Sweet potato dog chews

A quick and easy way to make chews if you do not have a dehydrator is to put strips of the food product into the oven on a very low temperature (200 degrees F or lower). 

Let it bake until the strips are dried out. It could take from three to four hours or even longer in a regular oven.

Examples of popular commercial chew ingredients:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Salmon skin (shown at the top of the post)
  • Exotic ingredients like rabbit, kangaroo, ostrich and crocodile will make up the natural chews you will soon see from some of the large dog chew manufacturers.

With news of recalls of pet treats especially from certain countries like China, dog lovers are becoming more interested in making their own homemade dog treats. However, it can be a lot of work, so think about offering natural chews to satisfy your customers’ desire for healthy dog treats.

Take this test. Do your pet treats stand up to the following descriptions?

  • Natural
  • Free range or grass-fed
  • No preservatives, additives or fillers
  • No hormones
  • No antibiotics

These are the trending descriptions. Not all customers will be concerned. If you have a particular clientele, it will be important that if you have to say no to any of these parameters, some of your customers may be saying no as well.

 # # #

 Visit K9Cakery.com for dog bakery supplies and the award-winning Fido’s Frosting, the first          all-natural, sugar-free, yogurt dog treat frosting and icing that does not melt!

Dog treat business

Dog Bakery Spotlight – Barkley’s Bakery

Can’t find healthy dog treats? Make your own and turn your passion into your new dog bakery! That’s how these entrepreneurs got started.

Barkley’s Bakery

Owners: Julie Chalmers and Carrie Morgan Heinze

Location: Macungie, Pennsylvania

Pet parents today prefer to give their beloved pets healthy dog treats, and not just any bulk treats.

gluten free dog treats
Gluten free sweet potato dog treats

So when long time friends Julie and Carrie could not find the specialty treats they wanted, such as gluten-free dog treats, sugar-free, or organic treats, they decided to start making their own.

They baked a batch of dog biscuits  and their dog lover friends asked to try some. As the saying goes, the rest is history. The biscuits were a big hit and orders started coming in. The y impressed their first customers and subsequent word of mouth kept them busy.

They offer various gluten-free treats such as the mouth-watering sweet potato dog treats shown in the photo. There are apple cheddar, peanut butter, blueberry, cranberry, banana biscotti, and more!

Marketing dog treats
Marketing dog treats

They got their business license and started selling at farmers markets and other similar venues, to start spreading their name locally.  Dog cakes and gift baskets for dogs are now added to their product line as the business continues to grow.

So how did Julie and Carrie pick the business name? Julie says, “We picked the name Barkley’s Bakery because of Barkley from Sesame Street! We couldn’t figure out how to use both our own dogs’ names. (I have a pittie named Liza and Carrie has a bull mastiff named Dozer.)”

Hopefully, a brick and mortar dog bakery is in the future.

Follow these two busy ladies and see their tasty treats on Facebook and on their own website soon: Barkleysbakery.com. 

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 Visit K9Cakery.com for dog bakery supplies and the award-winning Fido’s Frosting, the all natural, sugar-free, yogurt dog treat frosting and icing that does not melt!

 

Christmas gifts for dogs

Instant Dog Gift Baskets

Frosting FranMake dog gift baskets in an instant for a memorable Christmas!

Have you thought about what Christmas gifts for dogs you will offer this year through your dog bakery business?

Based on a survey of pet owners, dog treats and toys were at the top of the gift list and the gift givers indicated they would be willing to spend from $20.00 to $50.00.

Those of you who make dog treats might want to consider offering dog gifts baskets or specifically a dog treat gift basket filled with assorted tasty treats for your customers to give as holiday gifts either to their own dog or to family and friends with dogs.

It may or may not come as a surprise that people volunteered that they were more inclined to give pet gifts rather than to family, friends, or….a boss.  And, they considered giving out gifts for pets because they saw the suggestion in an advertisement.

Dog Christmas gifts for the dog’s best friend are also a popular choice. Consider this in your advertising! You may want to make up some pet gift baskets that have a feminine theme and some with a masculine theme.

A interesting twist on the gift basket is to use the foil bone-shaped cake pans that come with lids.

Dog gift basket
Instant dog gift basket!

These can be packed with treats and/or other items as well. As an added bonus, the foil pan can be used to bake a dog cake so they are essentially getting two gifts in one!

One last interesting tidbit: The surveyed pet owners preferred to make up their own stockings for their pets rather than to buy the pre-filled ones. For those of you who exhibit at Farmer’s Markets, think about offering smaller healthy dog treats or other small items as a Christmas stocking package for dog lovers to have unique stocking fillers that the large chains like Petco and PetSmart will never carry!

Go to K9Cakery.com for the foil bone shaped cake pans with lids and make Christmas memorable for your customers and their pets!

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 Visit K9Cakery.com for dog bakery supplies and the award-winning Fido’s Frosting, the all natural, sugar-free, yogurt dog treat frosting and icing that does not melt!

Dog treat business

Dog Bakery Spotlight – Lazy Dog’s Cafe

Lazy Dog’s Cafe

Owner: Elizabeth Hobbs

Location: Wellington, Colorado

Elizabeth received a special surprise birthday gift for her 21st birthday – a beautiful six-week old boxer mix puppy! She named the dog Frayja, after a Norse goddess, and Frayja’s Pupcakes launched in 2011.  The small dog bakery in Athens, Georgia (Go Bulldogs!) was Elizabeth’s solution  for a common client concern. “While I was working at an animal hospital, many of the clients were concerned about the quality of the dog treats manufactured in other countries.” News reports about recalls and animal deaths were frequent.  She realized there was a market for healthy and natural dog treats and her bakery would fill this need.

Peanut butter dog treats
Peanut butter dog treats with Fido’s yogurt icing

“My job made it easy for me to market and gain clientele via word of mouth.” She started out making dog treats available to dog rescue organizations, dog adoption events, other charity events and helping clients with dog birthday parties.

But there was one small problem. Customers had difficulty pronouncing the name of the business! One year later, while lying in bed with her “pack” which now included a new rescue dog named Turbo,  the “aha!” moment appeared: “We were a bunch of lazy dogs!” The new business name stuck.

She sells her healthy dog treats through her Etsy shop. You can find colorful,  all natural peanut butter dog treats decorated with yogurt dog treat icing like the ones shown in the photos.

all natural dog treats
Healthy peanut butter dog treats decorated with Fido’s Royal Icing

Elizabeth drizzles all natural sugar-free royal icing for dogs on her treats for decoration.  She offers this caveat: ” I CAN’T believe how many people say they are using a yogurt icing on dog treats when they are really using real sugar-filled royal icing! They have confided that their icing has NO yogurt in it.”

Customers can choose the colors for the icing, and there are are a variety of dog cookie shapes to choose from as well. Treats can be shipped which makes for a great dog gift idea or a pet gift basket.

Elizabeth has some great ideas for dog treats in the works and hopes to expand soon to cat treats with her own home-grown catnip!  She says, “Our goal is to always use all natural, human grade ingredients that are safe and healthy for our pups.”

So, gather your dogs, be “lazy”, and surf on over to Lazy Dog’s Cafe and see what new offerings are baking up!

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 Visit K9Cakery.com for dog bakery supplies and the award-winning Fido’s Frosting, the all natural, sugar-free, yogurt dog treat frosting and icing that does not melt!

Small Business Marketing