By Maria Gregoriou
HOMEMADE, made-to-measure dog food is crucial for keeping your dog healthy, according to three friends who are in the initial stages of setting up a dog-catering company, Pet Gourmet.
Would-be professional dog chefs – Melissa Parpassis, Magda Kokkinidou and Christos Kokkinidou – all have dogs and describe themselves as the dog gang of Nicosia. They all cook for their pets because they believe that ready made dog food is lacking in the necessary nutrients.
By swapping recipes, and observing how healthy their dogs look compared to others fed on dry dog food, the friends came up with the idea of preparing homemade meals for dogs and selling them in packs of seven to last a week.
“After performing many months of research and cooperating with a vet in Greece, we know the correct amount of meat, vegetables, starch and fat that a dog needs to eat healthily,” 37-year-old Parpassis said.
Pet Gourmet follows the guidelines established by the Association of American Feed Control officials on the daily requirements in nutrients for dogs, and this means that pulses and vegetables are included in the food.
Although, as a subspecies of the gray wolf, dogs were originally carnivores, the addition of fibre into their diets helps dogs digest more easily.
Most dog owners feed their animals dry dog food. According to a Nicosia vet, dry food made by ‘serious’ companies is composed of good quality meat that is also suitable for human consumption. But companies that produce dry food cheaply use by-products of animals. Among these are non-meat parts from cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry such as intestines, lungs, hooves and unborn fetuses.
It is also important to know how to store and handle dry dog food correctly as it can become contaminated with Salmonella.
Parpassis has a one year old dog – a cross between a Poodle and a Jack Russell – and has always fed her home-cooked meals.
“My dog has never been sick, her hair is very shiny and she has a healthy look in her eye,” she said.
Parpassis compared her dog with a friend’s dog that she has now been feeding for four months.
“Before, the dog was always fed dry food and you could see that her hair was brittle and falling out,” Parpassis said.
Four months later, the dog looks much healthier.
“Just imagine if we ate fast food all the time, we wouldn’t be healthy either,” Parpassis said.
Of course, feeding your pet with homemade dinners is not just a matter of knowing what to cook but also whether you have the time to do so.
“We understand that it is difficult for someone to cook for their dog on a daily basis, so we want to start up a company that offers this service,” Parpassis said.
The plan is that one of the three friends will visit the owner to assess the dog. They will also ask whether the dog stays mainly indoors, is taken for long walks and has any health issues.
A standard questionnaire will ask the dog’s breed, age, activity and size. Depending on these factors, the amount of ingredients in each meal is measured. For example, if the dog is not very active then it will need less protein in its diet.
“Depending on the size of the dog we will know how many grams of food it will need a day,” Parpassis added.
Overfeeding dogs can make them overweight and this leads to heart and bone problems, Parpassis explained.
After knowing the dog’s details, the amount of food it should eat a day and the proportions of ingredients to be used, the three friends will prepare refrigerated meals for seven days.
Parpassis added that each meal will be different and the packs of food – which can be frozen – will be delivered to the dog owner’s house once a week.
“Our love for dogs is the driving force behind this idea. We are in the final stages of getting the recipes just right and looking into how we can register our business,” she explained.
And does the setting up of a gourmet food business for dogs make good economic sense during a recession?
Yes, says Parpassis. She explained that price will depend on how much food the dog needs but will work out roughly the same as ready made food.
Within Nicosia delivery will cost €2, while for other areas the three dog chefs will look into an agreement with a courier service for a better deal on delivery.
For more information call 96216205 or visit http://petgourmet-cy.com