If it moves, it dies.
By ALMA J. BUELVA
IT'S good to know exactly what you are feeding your pets. Although pet food labels generally detail the ingredients they use, some of the fine print can be mystifying.
All dog foods and treats should ideally pass the expectation vs. reality test, otherwise dog owners are left buying nonsense. Like rawhide, a piece of bleached “leather” sold as dog chew. Fortunately, honest-to-goodness dog treats are not beyond our reach.
Three months ago, another local startup venture came to life after developing what they believe is the “pawfect plate” of dog treats made from dehydrated pieces of real meat. The end-product consists of irregularly shaped chips of chicken, pork, beef and pork liver, packed individually and called Bailey Bites. But it is Pawfect Plate's dehydrated chicken feet called Chicken Xanders Original that is peculiarly special.
Pawfect Plate dog treats are dehydrated meat with no preservatives and chemicals. It's hard to overstate how straightforward it is, which is what can win dog owners' confidence. It's not a meat-flavored treat. It's dried meat, plain and simple.
The dehydrated chicken feet are gnarly, but for MetroPets' resident dog reviewers, taste trumps looks. Despite their appearance, chicken feet are healthy dog treats “as they contain a good amount of calcium, protein and collagen—good for keeping healthy skin and bones as well as providing joint support for our canine and feline friends,” said Erika Santos, owner and founder of Pawfect Plate.
Concerned that the bones might harm your dogs? Don't be, said Erika who explained that cooking bones make them brittle, but dehydrating softens and pulverizes the bones so they are safer for pets to eat.
We found more than 10 chicken feet in a pack of Chicken Xanders Original (80g for P180) enough to go around. Our dogs give it a paws up so there's reason to believe these dried chicken feet will go places.
When it comes to treats, dogs seem to favor the crunchy ones. Pawfect Plates Bailey Bites deliver the crunch and more. Aside from retaining the nutrients in the meat, the dehydration process also makes Bailey Bites dog treats more flavorful and delicious with no moisture to water down the taste, Erika said.
The small dogs in MetroPets' product review team preferred to take small bites at first, but it didn't take long before they aggressively competed with the big dogs for more Bailey Bites. Based on our observation, the pack's favorites are the pork liver and the beef variants. We suggest keeping the Bailey Bites pork, chicken and beef in their individual packs to avoid confusion.
“Our current bestseller is the Bailey Bites Pork Liver variant, maybe because dogs really love the meaty taste of liver. The plus side is that they are very handy treats to use for training as they don’t leave any foul odor or oily residue in your hands,” said Erika.
A 50g bag of Bailey Bites Pork and Bailey Bites Chicken each cost P260. Bailey Bites Beef costs P360 per 50g. Bailey Bites Pork Liver is priced at P280 for 60g. Price-conscious pet owners might argue that a kilo of fresh meat costs less than Pawfect Plate's treats. But Erika countered that fresh meat, unlike dehydrated, won't be as flavorful, healthy and convenient to give as dog treats. She also added that the costing for their product includes other natural ingredients used to enhance taste, plus the time and effort in preparing the product, as well as the hours to dehydrate.
“All of our treats undergo dehydration, a proven and highly safe process that essentially maintains the food's nutritional value and enhances storage life,” she added.
THE MAKING OF PAWFECT PLATE
It's not the first time that dearly loved pets become the inspiration for a new product. Pawfect Plate's story begins with one of Erika's dogs with food issues. To address the problem, Erika switched to home cooked food. Soon, she was dehydrating treats at home.
“Our pets Bailey and Summer are the apple of our eyes. Wanting simple, healthy and natural snacks for them drove my brother and I to start Pawfect Plate. Initial attempts had such positive results that we could not help but want to share these with friends and family. While we hadn’t been dehydrating treats at that time, it was the spark that would eventually set off Pawfect Plate. My brother began extensive research on food preparation methods and we zeroed in on dehydration. For two years this became our obsession,” Erika recalled.
After carefully testing their dehydrated treats in various conditions and types of canine and feline pets, Pawfect Plate finally started selling online and in select veterinary clinics.
“Our products go through strict and thorough quality check before we release them to ensure only the best quality products are shipped to our client's doorsteps. We also abide by proper sanitation guidelines to ensure no cross contamination,” said Erika.
To ensure product freshness, Pawfect Plate's production is based on the amount of current orders they receive. On average, about 30 bags get shipped out to customers each week.
“As we do not use any type of preservatives or chemicals and want to ensure only fresh products are delivered to our clients, we prepare the orders no more than two days prior to ship date. We keep track of preparation dates and expiry dates and clearly mark these on our packaging. Currently we are producing based on the weekly orders as well as other order trends. We’ve been quite blessed with the positive response from our customers,” Erika said.
Pawfect Plate ships its all-natural dog treats every Tuesday (Monday cut-off at 5 p.m.) and Saturday (Friday cut-off at 5 p.m.) Prices are exclusive of shipping costs to be paid for by clients.
In the coming months, Pawfect Plate plans to launch other products which may include dehydrated vegetables and fruits for pets. They also plan to get a certification or approval from the Bureau of Food and Drug Administration (BFAD) to support their expansion plan and to give customers added assurance of product quality.
Back on the ground, cats have joined the dogs in trying out Bailey Bites and one even made a mad dash, albeit in vain, for a Chicken Xander. Erika assured us that it's okay for cats to eat their dehydrated treats. It's safe to say that everyone thoroughly enjoyed and approved what they just ate. There were clean plates everywhere which, if you ask the dogs, is what makes a pawfect plate.
* Water hyacinths: the new cat's cradle!