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Pastry Pups: The “Rise” Of Gourmet Dog Bakeries

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When I was growing up, a treat for our dog was a Milk Bone out of the box. Eventually raw-hides entered the picture; followed by those artificially flavored goodies that our pets scarfed down and we all felt were perfectly okay as long as they were produced by a known pet food brand.

Well, times have changed and in addition to a renewed focus on healthier eating habits for ourselves, we have made it our mission to understand what goes into our pets’ food. We want our little guys to have healthy, wholesome treats. But let’s face it; we’re also looking for any opportunity to indulge our pooches in fun, offbeat ways.

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Enter the Dog Bakery – or “barkery” as many prefer to be known – purveyors of such goodies as cakes, cookies, pupcakes, and muffins, all prepared with healthy ingredients and in many instances, presented in a manner that would impress the finest of French patisseries. While price points suggest these treats may need to be reserved for deeds of the life-saving variety versus the “give a paw” kind, there is no question that for special occasions like your little guy’s birthday, wedding, or obedience school graduation, these rewards definitely take the cake!

When did all this start? This rapidly growing niche market really took off about ten years ago when independent start-ups decided it was time to capture their slice of the$22 billion pet food industry pie.

Their catalyst was the desire to offer pet parents a top quality, wholesome pet food and when consumers actually bit, the number of barkerys began to expand in number and in offering.

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3dog1With hundreds of locations and online operations, our “good boy” award has to go to the granddaddy of them all, Missouri’s Three Dog Bakery. Established back in 1989, they now offer online shipping and a range of products that now includes both wet and dry food in franchises across the country. Like the many that followed, their objective was to produce a top quality food for an ailing pet. Great Dane, Gracie was in poor health and had gone off her food. After much experimentation with ingredients and flavor combinations, they eventually hit the bulls-eye and Gracie was eating again. The rest, as they say is history. Today their mission is simple:  bake fresh with premium, all natural ingredients that include blueberries, carrots, cranberries and power foods such as chicken, white fish and peanut butter, whole grains, eggs, and even carob chips.

Cleo's BarkeryOver in Westchester, New York, Cleo’s Barkery delivers Fifth Avenue style with custom cakes, pupcakes, and party packages for up to 50 that would make even the pet-less pine for an invite. The start-up business was inspired by namesake Cleo’s birthday bash. Her pet parent made a flawlessly decorated, all meat birthday cake that would be the envy of any five-year-old, and was devoured by party guests. Friends and family put in orders and the repertoire of Cleo’s mom soon expanded to include versions made with lamb, turkey, venison, chicken, white fish, duck and vegetarian. Soon cookies and cupcakes made the menu and eventually complete party packages that include cake, hats, bandanas, carob cupcakes and the requisite doggie goodie bag for guests.

rys rufferyNew kid on the block (literally) is Ryan Kelly, founder of Ry’s Ruffery (formally known as Ryan’s Barkery). After bringing home a two-year old rescue beagle who snubbed store bought food, the determined 10-year old cooked up a batch of healthy, all natural food for his little guy. The tasty treats took off with neighbouring pet parents and resulted in Ryan pitching to the judges of ABC’s Shark Tank. Funding received; the treats are now in stores everywhere and can be ordered online via the Ry’s Ruffery website. I asked Ryan’s mom, Daniela how they decide on flavours and no surprise – their own two pooches are the brand’s official taste testers.  Hey, how can you go wrong when relying on the highly discerning palates of a beagle and a Chihuahua? Fave flavors? Peanut Butter biscuits (me, too!), Cheddar Cheese biscuits, and Pumpkin- Apple biscuits.

If a barkery is out of your price range for those non-special occasion treats, there are hundreds of easy recipes online – like in our recipes section!

If you’ve got a favorite dog bakery (or run your own), let us know in the comment section below. Oscar is always happy to give them a taste!

Mary SimpsonMary Simpson is an animal-loving writer and communications professional.  A soft touch for anything stray, she shares her century home with an eclectic collection of rescues that include orange tabby Chico, tuxedo Simon, and jet black Owen.  She enjoys running, politics, exploring local wine regions and is an avid supporter of the “shop local” movement.


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