Two Pups, One Austin Chef
Nutrient-dense ready-to-eat dog food could help alleviate dogs’ symptoms and finicky habits
My boxer, Chuck, loves to eat. But between her allergies and the cat's own separate set of health issues, we find our little menagerie at the vet's office far more often than we'd like – a recurring ear infection, an ulcer on the lip, constant paw-licking and chin-scratching. My editor reports that although her senior dog is the mark of good health, he's perhaps the single most finicky canine on the planet: Jim won't even eat a piece of perfectly mid-rare New York strip straight from the dinner table. Or chicken. Or lunch meat. Or anything aside from his one specific food, and only when it's been sitting out for awhile. Balancing a dog's eating habits with personalized health needs is no easy feat, and one local human chef-turned-pet chef knows the struggle all too well.
Gregory Purnell, a chef for more than 30 years, and his wife Nikki started a local dog food company – Your Pets' Chef – last summer after getting recipe feedback from their own pups. "Our Boerboel [a South African Mastiff] has allergies, and he was really suffering. My wife, Nikki, started looking into the ingredients in kibble. We had tried just about everything, and it just wasn't giving him any relief. So we started researching cooking our own food for our dogs. My wife researched what natural ingredients benefit dogs; I created the recipes and prepared the food. This entire venture started because we wanted our dogs to get the most nutrition they could through diet," Purnell said.
Their business focuses on well-balanced, health-focused dog food made from human-grade ingredients like garbanzo beans, brown rice, beef tripe, blackberries, basil, and even marine microalgae. And because balance is essential, they've intentionally worked to ensure that all of the meal options – think chicken in gravy – meet the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines for Growth/All Life Stages.
"Our dogs were doing so well on the food. Our Boerboel's allergies improved immensely, and our senior chihuahua's digestive issues are near nonexistent," Purnell added. "We've met quite a few people who do cook for their dogs. However, it's very time-consuming. This is where we come in – let us do the work for you and become Your Pets' Chef."
The Austinites soon realized they had to share the food with all the animal lovers in town, but knew that convenience would be essential for making an easy transition from regular feeding routines. Your Pets' Chef provides several different protein-included meals, and the food is delivered to pet owners' doorsteps ready to eat. Prices vary based on pupper size and shipment frequency, but with options at $1.64 per day, it's priced lower than many gourmet dog food alternatives.
Chuck couldn't stay seated once I'd opened the Your Pets' Chef meal package, and she pushed her bowl across the room in her effort to eat every bite. With ground turkey and chicken gizzards as the first ingredients, I wouldn't expect anything less. As for sweet, strange Jim, the verdict – and the food – is still out.