I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I didn’t know much about writing a blog, so I did a some research. It seems like there is no rule. It's anything you want to write about, whenever you want, and however you want. That's a lot of freedom. I like it!
The story of my inspiration for making my own pet treats is already on my Etsy shop, so I'll write about what my light bulb moment was for deciding to create Dulce Pico. If you haven’t read the story of our beloved Oscar, he passed away from severe pancreatitis from chicken jerky treats from China at 9 years old. The treat he was eating only had about 4 basic ingredients. This happened before all of the stories about tainted treats from China came out.
About 5 years ago, I was searching high and low for organic or human grade dog treats and I wasn’t having much success. I found some treats that sounded very wholesome made with whole foods, but it didn’t state that it was made with ingredients that were organic or fit for human consumption.
My husband and I were out shopping one day and found a very nice pet store that specialized in holistic and natural pet supplies. They had an impressive selection of very healthy sounding treats, but when I looked a little closer, there were additives included to lengthen shelf life, prevent mold, or enhance color. If I saw anything that sounded artificial, I put it right back on the shelf.
After looking through the whole store, and I do mean the whole store, I found these sweet potato chips. Thank goodness I have a very patient hubby. He can tell you how I can spend hours in a pet store. I love reading labels. This treat looked very simple and wholesome with its fun and colorful packaging, made in the USA (AWESOME!), and just one ingredient. What’s more clean and pure than simple sweet potatoes and nothing else? It wasn’t irradiated, soaked in preservatives or sprayed with flavor enhancers. SOLD! I didn’t even look at the price.
I brought it home all excited to have found such a healthy treat for my two little Chihuahuas, who mean the world to me. I pulled one out and they were all excited from the crinkling of the packaging, spinning like crazy, and yelping in anticipation for me to give them their new treat! They eagerly took it, sniffed it, and then looked at me like, “What the heck is this?” They didn’t like it. All that time I spent in the very nice pet store was wasted. The two sweet potato chips laid around in our living room for about a week. They would get a nibble every now and then, but the same two chips I gave them just sat around. There were three more still in the bag and that’s when I noticed the price. I had just paid $5.69 for 5 sweet potato slices that my chis didn’t even like! They weren’t even listed as human grade and definitely not organic. It doesn’t matter how healthy the treats are, if my chis aren’t going to eat them.
That was my light bulb moment!
That’s when I decided to make my own treats, using organic and/or human grade ingredients. My husband and I try to eat well and I wanted my chis to get the same high quality foods that we were eating. I was already reading about pet nutrition and supplements and knew that cooking with high heat destroyed many of the beneficial properties. After some research, I decided that dehydration was the way to go. The temperature is high enough to kill any harmful bacteria, but low enough to preserve as much of the nutrients as possible. Dehydration also made the treats very portable and served as a natural preservative. I bought a small dehydrator online and started experimenting.
The chis LOVED the treats I was making them and since they were made with the same ingredients my husband and I eat, we tried them out too. They tasted like jerky, but just very bland. It wasn’t anything we would chow down on, but it was a huge success with the chis. I made more batches and they were eagerly consumed. Since each batch was a little too much for my chis, I started giving them away to my friends with dogs and got very positive feedback from them too.
This made me think about the processed treats I’d given our dogs in the past. I trusted that they were good for them, but I was actually just giving them processed junk food. As I read more articles about the unnecessary and harmful ingredients in dog treats, I wondered if I had somehow contributed to the health issues they all developed with age. That’s when I realized many of them had similar issues as they grew older and that there are supplements out there to possibly help prevent or delay them. Every single one of them developed tumors, whether they were benign or malignant, inflammation (that affected joints, heart, additional weight, etc.), vision loss, and cognitive decline. One of them developed an inoperable tumor in her mouth at the age of 15 and I wondered if I had given her better quality treats with supplements, if her tumor might have developed later in life or not as quickly. This motivated me to research supplements more in-depth. With time, I selected ones that focused on my concerns and were the highest quality and purity I could find, based on reviews and my own personal use.
As I made new recipes, I was continuing to send them to my friends, whose dogs loved the treats as well. After a few shipments, they were nice enough to tell me that I should think about selling the treats and not just give them away. They’re all about their dogs too and told me that there wasn’t anything out there like what I was making. I have some great friends! That’s when I looked into selling online and opened my Dulce Pico shop.
I’ve since expanded the supplements to meet my customers' requests, the most fun treat being the Fresh Air and Lite Fresh Air. The customer was already a fan of my treats, but after a new four-legged addition to the family, she discovered that her new addition had a knack for clearing the room with one toot. I researched causes of gas in dogs and created a blend of supplements to freshen up the toot. I made a test batch and sent it to her for feedback. After feeding her dog 5-6 treats a day for about 4-5 days (her gassy dog is about 40 lbs), the stinky toots disappeared! I think I now have a very loyal customer. Lol. Since the customer was looking for fresh air in her home with her new dog, I named the treats Fresh Air.
I have so many more stories to tell, but they’ll have to wait until next time.