Woofables – A Gourmet Bakery Your Dog Will Love

December 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Ecopreneurs, Front Page, Iowa, Pet Food, Pets, Slideshow

Woofables specializes in healthy treats for canines. Photo: Brigette Fanning

Although Woofables, The Gourmet Dog Bakery in Coralville, Iowa, sells dog food, it has the light scent of a real bakery. Owner Laura Taylor, who used to work in marketing, now spends her days crafting handmade treats for canines out of all-natural, all-human-grade ingredients.

This basket of goodies looks yummy to dog owners, but only canines will find it delicious. Photo: Brigette Fanning

While frosting a cake, Taylor explains that everything made in the store can be eaten by people; they’ll just think it tastes bland. Salt is unhealthy for dogs, so items are flavored with pumpkin, peanut butter, and cinnamon. Frosting is made with carob and yogurt and tastes like white chocolate.

“My kids like to come in the kitchen area and eat the carob chips whole because they taste so good,” Taylor laughs.

She also mentions that customers tell her the doggy truffles taste like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Most treats look like small gingerbread cookies and are sold in bulk from a long table in the center of the shop, resembling the produce aisle at a grocery store. They retail for $9.49 per pound, and Taylor says they’re the store’s best-seller.

Taylor bought the six-and-a-half-year-old store two months ago. She previously considered baking a hobby, but now makes her living creating and selling bakery treats for dogs.

Former owner Lara Moore, who still works at the store part time, calls the goodies “extra special treats,” because even though they’re all natural, they should be given to dogs in moderation. The carob in the frosting contains sugar, so dogs shouldn’t eat them every day.

Taylor says that dogs benefit from an all natural diet because they’ll have more energy, a healthier coat, and improved health. A lot of canines suffer from digestive problems, which can be aided by a better diet.

“They’re just like us,” she said. “The better we eat, the better we feel.”

The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t have as strict guidelines concerning grade and cleanliness for traditional dog food compared to human food, Taylor also explains. Woofables is licensed by the Iowa Department of Agriculture. Twice a year, the store’s process and ingredients are inspected.

One of her goals for the already established business is to expand the wholesale and online sales. Taylor is launching a new website within a few weeks that will allow users to buy online.

Currently, the wholesale side of the business sells to four stores. One of those outlets, Brown Dog Bakery in Des Moines, previously purchased items from as far away as Indiana and Colorado.

“There are not a lot of places like ours around here,” Taylor says. “No other places around here make handmade items.”

Another goal for the business is to streamline and improve efficiency with baking because, currently, the process is entirely manual. Taylor — and a few helpers — bake the items by hand, but that process will be hard to maintain with Taylor’s expansion goals in mind.

Safe Toys for Doggy Playtime

Organic and natural pet toys are also available at Woofables. Photo: Brigette Fanning

Woofables also offers dog toys, some of which are from earth-friendly companies. Simply Fido stuffed animals, ranging from $15.99 to $21.99, are made from all-organic fabrics and all-natural dyes.

Moore says the company sends all the toys through a UV filter before they’re sold, in order to kill bacteria caused by the handling process. They’re also sent through a metal detector to catch any sewing needles that might have been left behind.

Flat Katz stuffed animals, which use organic cotton and soybean fabrics, retail for $10.99. Biodegradable doggie deposit bags are also offered.

Taylor says dogs are welcome to shop with their owners and mostly visit on the weekends, though a few stopped in on a Wednesday afternoon. She anticipates that business will pick up significantly for the holiday season.

“I’m expecting the Christmas rush to last right up until Christmas, since people usually shop for their pets last,” she says.

Order from Woofables

Woofables is located at 1801 2nd St Suite 270 Coralville IA 52241. Customers may place orders over the phone by calling the store at 319.351.9663 or by sending an email to the store.

Brigette Fanning

Contributing Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

A Raw Diet for Your Pets

November 26, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, Iowa, Oregon, Pet Food

A well-balanced raw diet keeps these pets healthy. Photo: Laura Dallas

“Raw meat is what dogs are designed to eat,” says Doreen Hock, DVM. “It’s much closer to their ancestral diet.” We’ve been talking about the advantages of human-grade pet foods as compared to the more common, less-expensive foods that contain meat by-products. I’m already convinced from my research that anything containing meat by-products isn’t what I want to feed a pet that I love. But this idea of giving only raw foods is new to me.

“I rescued a foster dog, a little Chihuahua, that was on the verge of death,” Hock says. “She was about to be put to sleep because she was so unhealthy. After feeding her raw meat and some supplements for three months, she’s beautiful now. She gets younger every day.” Hock also tells me about “a dachshund who had a horrible skin condition. Using a raw diet, we got him looking much better.”

Laura Dallas, of rural Johnson County, Iowa, has four dogs and two cats, all of whom eat a natural, raw diet that she prepares for them. “It consists of raw meat, bones, and organ meats and is modeled after the natural proportions of meat, bone, and organ found in prey animals,” Dallas says. “I also give them free-range, natural eggs and occasional small amounts of vegetable matter. I prefer to feed organic or naturally raised meats to my dogs; but if I find they’re not available, I’ll feed conventionally raised meats, in a pinch. The most important thing in a healthy diet for cats and dogs is the absence of grains and starches.”

Dallas adds, “I feed food in the largest possible pieces, to encourage chewing and promote teeth cleaning. My three dogs, ages 10, 6, and 3, have never had a dental cleaning, yet every time they go the vet, I hear praises of how wonderfully clean their teeth are and what healthy gums they have.”

A dedicated pet owner, Dallas has fed her companion animals a raw diet for seven years. She raised a puppy on the diet, and that three-year old now competes in flyball. Her 10-year-old border collie earned an ONYX title in flyball while on the raw diet. “We also live with two cats, Wasabi (1) and Megatron (11), who thrive on a natural, raw diet and enjoy their chicken necks, beef heart, turkey, rabbit, liver, and other items. All my dogs and cats are rescues, either adopted from an animal shelter, a local rescue, or found as strays,” she says. Dallas orders some of her pet’s foods from My Pet Carnivore.

At Dr. Hock’s store, the Healthy Pet, in Eugene, Oregon, about 70 percent of the items they sell are high-quality, holistic or organic pet foods. “The rest is frozen, complete, raw diets. Some people will buy the meat from us, then add vegetables on their own. There are also other ways to feed pets raw foods that are not as expensive or time-consuming as you might think,” she says.

Robust health begins with excellent nutrition. Photo: Laura Dallas

Robust health begins with excellent nutrition. Photo: Laura Dallas

Julie Phye, co-owner of Leash on Life pet supply in Iowa City, Iowa, agrees that a raw diet can be a healthy choice. “When pet owners say their animal has persistent allergies or diarrhea, that often clears up when they feed their pet a raw diet.”

But Phye and her partner, Laurie Smith, decided not to carry raw foods. “A pet store that sells raw foods needs a freezer to keep the meat safe while it’s in the store. Yet, that alone doesn’t guarantee the safety of the food,” she says. “Some distributors have transportation and freezer problems. As store owners, we have to rely on the transportation company to keep the meat safe while it’s in their hands.”

Transporting raw foods isn’t just a problem for distributors. “When owners are traveling with pets, a raw diet is very difficult to maintain, so they rely on organic or holistic pet foods,” Phye says.

“Owners have to be very careful about cleaning pets’ bowls and keeping the food preparation area clean for both their pets and themselves,” she cautions. “If you have a pet that likes to graze all day instead of gobble the food down at one sitting, you’ll have to be especially careful to empty and clean the bowls so that your pet doesn’t get salmonella. I don’t want to sell raw foods to someone if they’re not committed to good hygiene. I don’t want to be part of making their animals sick.”

She adds, “It’s also pretty complex to make sure that pets get the right amount of other nutrients to make a complete and balanced diet. For example, when you give your pet a calcium supplement, you have to know the right amount of magnesium to balance it out. Some of my customers who feed their pets a raw diet often buy a bit of kibble to mix with it.” Phye suggests that pet owners should do research to find out if a raw diet is for them. It’s not as simple as feeding out of a bag.

Pet owner Dallas says, “Sometimes people tell me that they would feel more comfortable feeding a processed food in a bag, their thought is that they won’t be able to get the nutrients correct. My response to that is I think that feeding a variety of fresh whole foods, food similar to the foods that canines evolved eating, will certainly provide better nutrition than a monotonous processed diet, even if that processed diet has plenty of fancy supplements. For people who want the convenience of a dog food in a can or bag, or just don’t feel comfortable with being responsible for the entire diet, I encourage them to add in fresh foods to what they are feeding. Just like with people, a diet full of variety that is processed as little as possible, is the healthy way to go.”

If you decide to try a raw diet, be sure, as Phye says, to research it thoroughly. It may be the healthiest choice for your animal, but the success of the diet depends on your commitment to providing complete and balanced nutrition, as well as hygienic conditions. And, one more thing, check with your pet’s veterinarian to find out what’s best for your animal’s individual needs.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Part 1: Pet Foods and Mystery Meat

Part 2: Pet Foods Good Enough to Eat

Part 3: A Raw Diet for Your Pets

Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food