What I learned running an online dog treats business

| October 18, 2018

Having had a career in engineering and corporate marketing, no one would have expected me to start my own dog treats business. My entry into this industry was motivated by a personal interest in professional dog walker but soon after getting my own dog, I learned how far removed commercial dog food is from the natural food that dogs would eat in the wilderness.

Why traditional dog food isn’t fit for purpose

Generally, dogs are carnivorous. While they can tolerate eating some carbs, commercial dog food can contain up to 70% vegetables or grains.  When I realised how unbalanced these foods are, I knew that traditional commercial dog food is purely a business venture and has no interest in dog health or providing appropriate dog food.

In Australia and America for instance, I found out that 97% of the people feed their dogs on commercial food. The commercial dog foods in these countries are filled with cheap grains which do nothing but bulk up profits for big business. Most people buy big brand dog food from the supermarkets where they buy their own foods, but this is no guarantee of good quality.

Dog foods to avoid – and embrace

Which food should you not feed your dog on?  There are certain foods that might be harmful to the health of your dog. These include chocolate, alcohol, and onions. Nonetheless, more common herbs and vegetables can also harm your dog. Moreover, I believe that things health problems such kidney disease, organ damage, pancreatitis, and diabetes problems may be partially attributed to overloading a dog’s digestion with carbs.

Dogs didn’t evolve to eat sugar and grains and that hasn’t changed with domestication.  Vegetables contain sugar, but meat does not. Moreover, this explains why some dogs may develop allergic reactions to certain types of vegetables and herbs, but very few will have the same toxic reaction to any kind of meat.

By far the best dog food is what they would hunt in nature – combination of meat, bones, and offal. Due to expense, time and effort, most people are not willing or able to convert their dog to a fully carnivorous diet, but the better their diet, the healthier and happier they’ll be.  I realised there was a gap in the market for high quality meat treats to complement the usual grain based diet.  Rather than seek distribution through the supermarkets, I also saw that online sales were the best way to find niche customers while minimising the costs of distribution.

The highlight of my career

Starting from the ground up in a new industry has not always been easy. However, I had a clear vision to carve out a unique selling proposition for our treats, compared to the competition. We do sell a small amount of non-meat treats and biscuits; however, the majority of our sales comes from meat products. As many of our customers are also careful about additives, coloring or preservatives, we make sure our products are free of them too.

What I love most about my work

To the small fraction of dog owners who are out there and are willing to take the chance to feed their dog genuinely healthy products, I say thank you. There can never be a greater gift than a client calling or emailing you with positive feedback. To me, that is what I love about what I do.

When clients call us, we always recommend they start slowly in making any changes to their dog’s diet.  We don’t try to sell them in bulk, but look to gain their trust as that’s the secret of a loyal customer base.   We offer tailored solutions, such low-fat options, which are appropriate for dogs with pancreatitis, and we make it a point to offer personal advice on meat proteins and more esoteric organic food options like kangaroo and fish, shark cartilage and green-lipped mussels.

What inspires me?

The people who take the chance to let us supply their beloved dogs with supplements are what drive me in this job. They are our heroes since they take the leap of faith to trust our business and let their dog reap the rewards. As well, the authorities who back meat-based dog foods inspire us, as well as the companies who know the truth and the scientific papers that risk reporting about this matter.

My future plans

Although we have an extensive and wide range of products, we are open to improving the quality of our sources and the breadth of our products. There are very many areas of pet food we would like to venture into, however, for now we want to be the biggest and best supplier of dog food in Australia.

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Paul Campbell

Paul Campbell is an Australian pet food entrepreneur.