Treat Them Like Family, Naturally
Pet parents continue to carefully choose their own naturally sourced foods, leading them to search for natural treat options for their beloved pets.
In order to be successful, pet-treat manufacturers must not only satisfy the needs of the animals that are consuming their products, they also have to impress pet parents who recognize these animals as family members. As pet parents continue to demand naturally produced pet treats, retailers have begun offering wholesome snacks made from natural, beneficial ingredients that are produced through processes ensuring the highest quality.
While strolling down the pet-treat aisle, many pet parents ask themselves this question before any other: “Where were these treats manufactured?” Over the last few years, a number of pets in the United States have fallen ill after consuming foreign-sourced treats. The bad press has resulted in a boom for manufacturers of U.S.-made pet treats.
With its foundation strongly set in a 19th-century butcher business, the family at Jones Natural Chews knows a lot about the importance of offering a quality product. “We have always been USA-made from the beginning. After the scare of foreign-manufactured treats, people were more aware of the differences,” says Suzanne Madenis, who addresses the marketing needs of the company. While the standards for pet treats in the United States are becoming more stringent, Jones Natural Chews has adhered to high quality and safety standards throughout its history, and therefore has not been forced to implement many changes. “However, most of the pet industry in the USA has had to graduate to government inspection, third-party audits and HACCP [Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point] programs,” says Madenis. In addition to meeting FDA and HACCP requirements, Jones Natural Pet Chews also enlists third-party approval on an annual basis.
While safety and nutrition are the primary concerns for the majority of pet parents, cost remains a large consideration when purchasing pet treats. Rick Geller, president and CEO of Vital Source Group, which manufactures Pack ‘N Pride all-natural dog treats, recognizes the need for quality pet snacks at an affordable price. He assures his clientele that while his treats are produced in a China-based facility—to keep costs low—they strictly adhere to American safety and quality regulations by testing each batch of treats through Silliker laboratories before it is shipped from the production facility to the United States.
Realizing the challenges of offering a product without a “Made in the USA” label, Geller believes that the region in which products are manufactured should not influence the purchasing decisions of pet parents. “There are many inferior products hidden behind the ‘Made in the U.S.’ package,” he says. Pack ‘N Pride treats are produced using the company’s patented freeze mixed dry cooking process on antibiotic-free meat, which yields a more affordable product that has the easily digestible quality of freeze-dried items and retains the raw nutrition, yet are easily chewable.
Some pet-treat manufacturers offer products that are not only wholesome, but also maintain optimal pet health or can be used to improve certain conditions. To fulfill this dual role, manufacturers must utilize ingredients that promote healing or increase quality of life, yet are natural.
Maintaining a commitment to producing healthful products and understanding the purpose of pet treats, Claudia’s Canine Cuisine has manufactured quality snacks, which also promote pet health, for 17 years. For Claudia’s Canine Cuisine president, Debbie Bohlken, the process to exceptional pet-treat production begins with education. “We continue to use respected veterinarian’s guidance and research literature to help us understand what ingredients would be most beneficial to dogs.”
The company’s offerings include products that promote dental hygiene by removing plaque. Others comprise yogurt, carob, peanut butter and cranberry to accommodate a clientele whose digestive systems do not process grains properly. Bohlken maintains the same standards that she followed when she started making treats for her dogs in her home kitchen many years ago. “Just like humans who like a treat now and then, dogs occasionally deserve something very special to supplement their healthy dog food.”
Through a personal desire to provide natural, wholesome treats to his dog Zuke, Patrick Meiering founded Zuke’s, a company dedicated to providing snacks that fuel active pets. While the company manufactures treats that address potential health issues in dogs and cats, these snacks also provide necessary nutrition. “Our Hip Action delivers glucosamine, chondroitin and eggshell membrane for joint support in a tasty treat. Our G-Zees cat treats deliver glucosamine for joint support, with the added benefit of wholefood cranberry to help maintain a healthy urinary tract,” reveals Chris Meiering, Zuke’s marketing director and brother to the company’s founder. By creating an enjoyable treat that strengthens hips and joints, Zuke’s allows its clients to avoid the mess that can be left behind when a pet rejects a pill or doesn’t receive a full dose from powdered glucosamine and chondroitin that has spilled.
To help combat pet obesity, which can be especially harmful to smaller dogs, Bistro Bites CEO and founder Valerie Perlowitz set out to create treats that keep pets slim, satisfied and healthy. Made with ingredients such as strawberries, blueberries and peas, Bistro Bites provides ingredients that fulfill a dog’s need for antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. After discussing with veterinarians the best approach to manufacture quality natural treats, Perlowitz discovered that dogs have a digestive system similar to that of humans. This similar digestive system can lead to an affliction that is similar to human celiac disease. By using buckwheat, which is a member of the rutabaga family, as the base for its recipes instead of wheat or grain, Bistro Bites helps control canine weight and aid digestion.
As the demand for all-natural treats continues to grow, the market will continue to expand to include more specialty products. Pet parents are going to seek solutions to maximize the health and quality of life for their pets. As pet parents demand more natural options for their own diets, they will seek treats for their pets that are more nutritious and from reputable sources.
The desire to create all-natural pet products has driven Cycle Dog to whittle down its ingredients list to one component: chicken, beef or lamb. The company’s president, Lanette Fidrych, reveals that Cycle Dog is able to create treats that include only one ingredient by utilizing a freeze-dried process. This method increases the products’ shelf life to two years, thereby eliminating the need for additional preservatives. Fidrych predicts a growing demand for more label transparency of pet-treat ingredients and origins of where they are sourced. “Demand for all-natural and eco-friendly has been growing significantly the last three years. Consumers are becoming more educated about what they purchase for their dogs.”
Meeting the current trend for all-natural pet treats, Nature’s Bits uses natural herbs and wild game meats, including bison, duck and salmon, in its products. The company’s director, Louis Angerame, is passionate about offering human-grade pet treats. He is so passionate that he samples all the treats Nature’s Bits produces.
Believing that a company claiming to provide all-natural pet treats must fully deliver on their promise, Angerame reveals that the company uses the finest ingredients, including its preservatives. Rather than prolong a product’s shelf life with chemicals, Nature’s Bits treats include natural tea extracts and vitamin E to naturally preserve its offerings.
The all-natural pet treat demand will not end here, according to Angerame. “I think pet food is ahead of human food in terms of the quality. In the next five years, there will be a big shift; organic will be huge.”