For the Love of Dog

12/27/2017 12:27 pm ET
Brigitte Cutshall
This article is dedicated to our dog Bebe, a beautiful Great Pyrenees that passed away on 12/11/2017; just 3 months shy of her 10th birthday.

We all have different reasons to have a pet. My husband likes to joke that I prefer dogs over humans. The love of animals is a common denominator for many people, dogs especially. Pets are usually considered part of the family in our culture.

We’ve adopted six dogs over the past 30 years. And they all had a diet of standard dog food that you can buy at the store because that’s what we were taught. That changed with my second Great Pyrenees, Bebe. She developed unknown skin ‘allergies’ that started when she was 18 months old. We were always dealing with an outbreak; sometimes it was severe. Apparently that is a common malady with that breed.

At some point, I decided to start making her food at home; mainly chicken and rice with carrots and potatoes in big batches so we’d have some in advance for a week. She also had hypoallergenic dry food through our vet that was mixed in sometimes. Prepping her food was a lot of work actually but worth it because eating fresh food helped her skin so much and the love she provided back was worth it. Her Labrador brother continues to eat this way now.

Most people don’t have time to make extra food for their pets so they go to the store and purchase pre-made kibble. But this process can be daunting as well. There are so many brands and options, it can be overwhelming actually. Strong bones. Healthy teeth. Healthy joints. Not all are created equal.

There are a lot of problems with the pet industry and this isn’t new information to most people. Sticking with the standard commercial diet doesn’t guarantee your pet will stay healthy. You don’t really want to know what’s included but basically includes diseased animal parts and other contaminants. The focus is on the bottom line and corners are cut.

A study from Belgium found that dogs who were fed a homemade diet versus industrial, commercial pet food (like kibble!) lived up to 32 months longer. Another study also says that adding fresh fruits and veggies to your dog’s bowl can decrease their risk of cancer of 65%.

We should have different expectations on feeding our pets and let them be known. This opens the door to opportunities.

Companies like PetPlate have emerged and made it their mission to offer solutions with ingredients that provide actual nutrition. By feeding your pets real meals like the ones from PetPlate, you can potentially increase their lifespan. PetPlate’s meals are designed by vet nutritionists and use only USDA meat and farm-fresh produce – the meals are 100% human-grade.

Their business model intrigued me and wanted to learn more. So I reached out to PetPlate and thankful that the founder, Renaldo Webb, and the veterinary nutritionist, Dr. Renee Streeter, helped me better understand what they’re about:

  • As a consultant in the pet food space, Renaldo Webb saw firsthand the inferior ingredients and substandard cooking processes used to make kibble and other mass-market pet food. Horrified with what he saw, he went to work work to find a healthy solution for his own dog Winston…and the rest is history!
  • Renaldo took on a no B.S. (no bad stuff!!) approach to the creation of PetPlate. That means custom meals made with wholesome ingredients for a balanced diet – never any by-products, rendered meats, preservatives, or artificial anything.
  • When Renaldo began researching the topic of formulating a homemade diet for pets, it was suggested that he consult with Dr. Streeter because of her industry-leading reputation. Dr. Streeter liked the idea of offering pet parents the option to purchase a homemade-style diet because she knew that many people want to cook for their dogs but don’t have the time. She and Renaldo quickly got to work formulating the PetPlate meals that are offered to pet parents today.
  • At the very beginning, the meals were made in a commercial kitchen in Brooklyn and their service launched in early 2016. Their service expanded nationally in January 2017. The meals are now made in upstate New York, the company headquarters are in Manhattan, a hub of a buzzing food-tech community.
  • PetPlate is a subscription service that is delivered on a regular basis, depending on the size of the dog. Small dogs receive a box of meals once every three or four weeks, while medium and large dogs receive their meals every one or two weeks. Because there are no additives or preservatives, the meals need to be kept either refrigerated or frozen.
  • I’m all about eating healthy and believe that concept should be applied to your pets. According to Dr. Renee Streeter, they recommend feeding your pet twice a day and that is consistent with AAFCO guidelines. Their meals are portioned so that each meal contains the right balance of nutrients that a dog needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • They are currently building out their veterinarian channel. And they are starting to provide education materials to veterinarians across the country so that they can share information about a homemade-style diet and PetPlate to their clientele.
  • PetPlate does intend to launch cat meals in the future. With the current meals for dogs, they work closely with the vet nutritionists to ensure that the meals are appropriately formulated for a cat’s diet too.

It should be mentioned that PetPlate was featured on Shark Tank in 2016. They are continuing to grow despite not receiving any funds from a Shark Tank investor but received some great constructive feedback on their business model. I believe their persistence will pay off because pet owners like me will continue to expect better food for their pets.

Pets are often among the most beloved members in families – why not feed them the same way that you would feed yourself?

This was first published on www.brigittecutshall.com

Brigitte is a Consultant, Speaker and Health Advocate. Sign up for her newsletter at BrigitteCutshall.com and connect with her on Instagram @brigittecutshall and Twitter @brigittecutshal

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