We chatted with Bruce Dwyer from Healthy Dog Treats about his business:
How did you get interested in dog food?
Initially, my entry into the dog industry was becoming a pro dog walker. I still do that now mostly in the mornings, to keep in direct contact with dogs. But after a career in engineering and then corporate marketing I soon realized after getting my own dog how far removed commercial dog food was from natural food that dogs in the wild eat. Dogs are still essentially carnivores (based on their recent evolution from the grey wolf) and while they can tolerate some carbs, commercial dog food is typically 70% grain or vegetables. This is purely about economics, not dog health or species appropriate foods. Then we found that 97% of people in Australia and America feed their dog’s commercial dog food, filled with cheap grains, purely for big business profit. People buy dog food and dog treats mainly from supermarkets who sell the big brands that continue selling grain laden food, it’s a very convenient and ingrained habit to break.
My interest comes from dog health (walks and genuine diet) and providing dog treats for health, primal occupation (chewing and teeth cleaning) and to readdress the meat imbalance currently out there. Reading up on bio-availability of meat-based food is just the starting point of understanding why dogs evolved to eat meat, and thrive on meat-based diets.
What’s the best diet for a dog?
Based on the above information it should come as no surprise that the best food for dogs is what they hunt. It is animal based and a combination of meat, offal, and bones. Most people can’t be bothered with the time and effort and sometimes expense of converting their dog to a carnivore diet. And we know we aren’t going to change the majority of owner’s views based on media spending from the majors. So all we can do is supplement their grain and vegetable diets with quality 100% meat dog treat products are the best price possible.
What food should you not feed your dog?
There are long lists of ‘human’ foods that are toxic to dogs such as alcohol, chocolate, and onions, but there are many more common vegetables and herbs that can harm dogs. We however also believe that ill health, particular organ damage and things like kidney disease, diabetes issues, and pancreatitis might be at least partially caused by overloading dog’s digestions with carbs. Meat isn’t full of sugar, but grains and vegetables are, dogs did not evolve to eat high levels of sugar. While dogs can form an allergy to some meats and vegetables, there are very few dogs around that have a toxic reaction to ANY meat.
However, just in case, we have provided niche functional categories on our site to assist owners in teat selection like low-fat treats, offal, and even dog training treats. ALL meat based.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Starting from scratch in a new industry hasn’t been easy, however with a clear mission and belief of the best things for dogs (off lead walks and animal-based diets) has made our focus clear. We do sell a very small amount of biscuits and non-meat treats, however, the vast majority of our sales are from 100% meat, no additives, no colouring no preservatives meat, offal or bones products. SO I guess the thing I am proudest of is answering emails from prospective clients and offering a genuine food option, non-mainstream treat solution. A small fraction of the feedback from this can be found on our site on our testimonials pages.
What do you love most about what you do?
Getting the feedback from the small fraction of owners out there willing to take the chance in feeding their dogs genuinely healthy food (meat-based treats).
We always recommend starting slowly in any transition, as you must do with any major change in a dog’s diet, but with high meat protein organic options like kangaroo and fish, and proven medicinal treats like shark cartilage and Green-lipped mussels there are many positive health results we can help with. With low-fat options appropriate for dogs with active pancreatitis and hearing about the improvement in the dogs health and activity (arthritis relief) lets us know we are on the right track. We love making a real difference. Not offering gimmicks.
Who or what inspires you?
Who inspires us are – the owners who take the chance on letting us supply their beloved dogs these food ‘supplements’. They are our heroes, who take the leap of faith and reap the rewards.
The answer to this question is also the few sites and people out there who know how little the domestic dog’s digestive processes and nutrition needs have changed from the wolf. Sharp tearing teeth, small analyze amounts, high acid stomach, and short intestine to expel meat based waste is typical of any major carnivore. Our suppliers struggle on, they don’t have a huge advertising budget, and neither do we. It’s a ‘topsy-turvy’ world, where feeding dogs the right thing (animal based) is shunned by most of the media and is replaced by the confectionary equivalent of feeding breakfast cereal to a wolf.
We are inspired by the unknown authorities who back meat based dog foods and treats and the few companies who know the truth in their hearts and the few scientific papers out there willing to risk reporting what should be common sense but instead is treated as an anomaly.
Do you have any predictions for the pet industry?
The health of the pet industry is tied to discretionary income. In bad global economic times, dogs just get basic grain dog food. In good times dogs get high priced premium grain dog food, dog washes, dog coats and expensive toys. We follow the US in many trends and the dog food and dog treat industry are generally heading to the ultra-premium end of the spectrum.
‘Ethically produced’ sources of food, organic sources, new ‘recipe’ and combinations of superfoods are all ‘on trend’. Unfortunately, to keep margins high, all of this is usually directed at vegetable and grains still. High priced grain free dog food generally just means substituting sweet potato or similar for grain, yet another carb. People are not being informed about the benefits of meat in a dog’s diet, and when it remains at 30-40% of the packet, overall dog’s health remains on hold. Adding ‘superfood’ vegetables or micro amounts of herbs does not cover the lack of bioavailable meat based proteins the dogs could be eating.
Do you have any plans for the future?
We already have an extensive range of products and product sizes of quality products but we are always looking to improve quality sources and the breadth of the range. For instance, you would be amazed at the massive difference in quality and look of kangaroo tendons on the market. They are a high-end treat, with little margin, but we have worked for many years to secure the best products you can get – and this means we source from many different suppliers to ensure the right quality product and price point give our customers maximum choice.
There are many other areas we would like to expand into, however, our core goal at the moment is becoming the best and biggest supplier of dog treats in Australia.
About Healthy Dog Treats
Bruce’s Healthy Dog Treats understand the importance of getting more quality meat into dogs diets. We also understand how important matching the right type of meat and its chewing time (small, medium or long) to the chewing ability of a dog is often critical in an owner’s choice. We have a massive directory of well-researched articles to assist our clients informed choices. Fast service and the best treats available at affordable prices is our stand out value.
Image credits: Photo by Benjamin Lambert on Unsplash, McDobbie Hu on Unsplash.