Nowadays, we tend to be more conscious about what we eat.
Whether it’s healthy, unhealthy, sustainable or ethical, the modern food consumer is more in the know than ever before.
But how many people are as conscious about what they’re feeding their pets?
According to Toni Gordon, the owner of new Aberdeen-based vegan dog-treat company Mother Pupper, not that many.
Nutrition for dogs
The 27-year-old was inspired to start her business when her own dog, Archie, started getting stiff joints.
After going down a “rabbit hole” of dog nutrition information online, not only did Toni create her own dog biscuit recipe that helped Archie’s joints, but she also spotted a gap in the market for healthy, vegan-friendly dog treats.
“Looking at what we’re actually feeding our pets can easily be something that gets overlooked,” says Toni.
“We’re so busy looking after our own bodies and our own health because we feel the difference when we put the effort in.
“But dogs can’t tell that, so we need to take more care and concentration on what we’re feeding them and figure out what they need.”
Having seen the difference in her own dog’s health, Toni decided to take a batch of her dog biscuits to Denmore Park gala day last year, which went down a literal treat with local pooches.
“The galas have been off for a while now because of Covid-19,” she says, “so I decided to make a few enquiries into other local markets.
“But I discovered that if you want to sell anything at a local market, you must have a business.
“That’s when I opted to make what I was doing the business it now is.”
Are vegan treats good for dogs?
Toni now creates a wide variety of homemade, vegan-friendly dog treats from her home kitchen for her business, Mother Pupper.
From beetroot to banana and blueberry to parsley, each of Mother Pupper’s treats contains foods familiar to humans that are also brimming with benefits for dogs.
“Parsley is the king of superfoods for dogs,” says Toni.
“It’s packed with antioxidants, lots of vitamins, anti-inflammatories… it’s incredible.
“I try to tailor my treats to specific dogs’ needs, but a lot of dogs can eat any of the treats I make.
“I make Golden Bones biscuits with turmeric, which I originally made for Archie. I have Minty Paws biscuits that combat dog breath too.”
Toni explains that her mum, Liz, has also been instrumental in the business’s early stages by suggesting many creative recipe ideas and being “a massive help to the company”.
And though her business may be vegan-friendly, she explains that Mother Pupper is not a port of call for local dog owners to substitute their pets’ meat-based diets to vegan alternatives.
“Not at one point would I say that your dog should be vegan or should go vegan,” says Toni.
“A lot of dogs’ main food throughout the day will contain meat, which is healthy for them. But what I’m designing is a treat that’s complementary to their food.
“There’s no reason if they’re getting all their meat product from their main meal to not go vegan for the treat side.
“Going vegan just that little bit is not just beneficial for the dogs’ health, but it’s also much better for the environment too.”
Mother Pupper dog treats
Mother Pupper operates at both Inverurie and Banchory Farmers’ Markets once a month, while also carrying out online orders via its website.
The business has been operating for little more than three months, but already Toni has been blown away by its success.
“Not that I didn’t have faith, but I didn’t think things were going to go this far with the business,” she says.
“I didn’t realise there was such a big space in the market for vegan dog treats that are full of health benefits.
“Now that my business has come to light, people want to find out more and hear about what I have to say as well, which for me is the most important thing.”
Beyond its tasty treats however, the secret recipe to Mother Pupper’s early success lies in Toni’s knowledge and passion for her business.
“I’d say that I’m a really kind person and I think that’s an important aspect to have in a company,” she says.
“I’m a nice person to deal with, and all I want to do is educate people and make them more aware of how to care for their dogs as best they can.
“Honestly, making treats for my own dog was just a nice, wholesome thing to do.
“I never thought of making this into a business… but I’m having a lot of fun with it.”
Mother Pupper will be holding an exclusive product launch event on July 17 at Dogs Day Emporium, Constitution Street, Aberdeen.