Chemical-free treats and foods for your pets

Pet lovers are now replacing kibble with freshly made bone broth, vegetable chips, bacon biscotti and more for their dogs and cats

Pet lovers are now replacing kibble with freshly made bone broth, vegetable chips, bacon biscotti and more for their dogs and cats

Chicken chips, crispy emu skin sticks, turmeric cookies, chicken moringa bikkies, pumpkin pretzels… These are just some of the goodies your pets can snack on. As more people choose chemical-free, locally sourced food for their meals, they are doing the same for their pets as well: replacing readymade pet food, especially snacks, treats and chewables with healthy, natural alternatives.

Some of the ‘real food’ options include dehydrated chicken, lamb and beef, as well as gluten-free cookies and vegetable-based baked bites. Pet owners can choose from lamb bones, chicken claws, skin crispies, whole small fish, skinned quail, and more. Some also offer custom made food for specific breeds.

Few treats from Canine India | Photo Credit: Special arranagement

Julia Harish, pet nutritionist and founder of Canine India, Chennai, started making dog and cat treats when she could not find the right food for her rescue dog. “When I started Canine India, requests came in to make the kind of food I make for my pet, available online,” she says, adding that she ensures that the meat and fish she uses, to make dehydrated fish, skin chips and food supplements, comes from reliable sources.

Delhi-based brand Goofy Tails uses 100% farm-raised meat and veggies for their steam-cooked recipes. The founder, Anisha George, claims “The recipes are designed after teaming up with vets, pet nutritionists, and experienced 5 star chefs. Our aim is to give your pooch a balanced, nutrition-rich, and tasty meal which is preservative free. Based on the breed and age of a pooch, each meal’s calorie count and quantity is carefully calibrated and hygienically packed.”

Mumbai-based Moumita Roy of Pookies for Treat, who has a team of six people, says their brand’s dehydrated bones with meat are best sellers. “The bone treats (shipped across the country), and bone broth which is an excellent source of protein and calcium (for Mumbai only) are customer favourites. Most of the meat treats are dried meats or different parts of chicken, duck, goat and cow.”

Aishwarya Poddar of Bite Me, Treats and More, which is over a year old, says she started baking and making treats for her dog, a lockdown puppy who is a picky eater, as she wanted to feed it right. Armed with a couple of certification courses on canine nutrition, Aishwarya says, “I make my baked treats look similar to human food. Some of the best-seller snacks are meat popcorn, pretzels, cookies and bagels. Then there is gluten-free, sugar-free stuff on order.”

Canine India's Julia Harish shows the treats.

Canine India’s Julia Harish shows the treats.

Pet owners who opted for home-cooked meals and healthy natural treats say they see a significant change in the gut health of their pets. Sarah Mirza, whose three rottweilers are on a raw diet, says she opted for natural treats instead of bulk manufactured ones due to the ingredients (like corn starch) that go into readymade food. “I prefer to minimise vet visits and that is only possible when they are on the right diet,” she says.

Dr Muralidhar Dasari of Dr Dog in Hyderabad says if one wants, meat treats can be made in home small quantities. He explains “if the meat is dehydrated (dried fully) it can be used as a treat. To make dehydrated meat treats one needs a dehydrator.”

Alternatively, Sonali Sabharwal, a pet parent says her husband who is a chef makes something similar in the oven. She says “the process is time consuming but we have a method to fall back on when we run out of their treat stock. My husband orders fresh fish like anchovies and sardines. He then sets the oven temperature to 120-140° and lets it dehydrate in the oven for three hours.”

So go ahead, trick them for a treat with a handful of homemade oven roasted anchovies and earn some extra kisses from your pet.

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