Mashpee Business Offers Homemade Organic Entrees And Treats For Dogs

Erika and Jefferson DeLeon, with children Mattix and Maso, at their Barks and Bubbles grooming salon at South Cape Village.GEOFF SPILLANE/ENTERPRISE - Erika and Jefferson DeLeon, with children Mattix and Maso, at their Barks and Bubbles grooming salon at South Cape Village.

Erika B. and Jefferson D. DeLeon, owners of the Barks and Bubbles dog grooming salon at South Cape Village in Mashpee, know too well the heartbreak of losing a pet to tainted or recalled dog and cat foods and treats.

In 2008, Ms. DeLeon’s mother’s dog, Jake, a terrier, died from eating a recalled chicken treat.

Last October, the couple’s cat, Scoops, developed bladder crystals and eventual fatal liver failure after eating a store-bought can of a well-known cat food.

“There wasn’t even a recall on the food, but online there were many reviews and reports that cats were becoming sick from eating it,” Ms. DeLeon said.

Scoops’s death was the last straw for the couple. They were through risking their pets’ health with potentially dangerous mass-produced foods.

The tragedy triggered them to expand their business by making and selling organic, healthy homemade pet entrées and treats, in effect becoming personal chefs for dogs.

Six years ago, when the couple, now residents of Sandwich, were living in Florida their two rottweilers became ill with an undiagnosed illness. Not knowing what to do, they turned to Dr. Margaret Fowler, a holistic veterinarian for help. Dr. Fowler performed acupuncture on the dogs but it was the nutritional therapy that seemed to do the trick in making them feel better.

“Feeding them healthy, organic food had an incredible effect on their health. If I had never met this woman, they would have passed away long before they did,” Ms. DeLeon said, adding that when the family moved to the Cape the dogs were ultimately diagnosed as having Lyme disease by Dr. Jonathan Leach of Mashpee.

Fast-forward to 2014, and the couple once again has turned to Dr. Fowler, who practices traditional Chinese veterinary medicine, consulting with her to learn the methods and techniques used to create yin/yang foods for pets. Yin/yang foods are categorized as cooling, warming, or neutral and are meant to meet a dog’s thermal or temperature needs.

For instance, according to Ms. DeLeon, a dog with arthritis would require a cooling food, whereas a warming food would benefit a dog with circulatory and digestive issues, and a frail dog would do well by a neutral food.

“A dog’s health all goes back to the food that it is eating. When the food is mass-produced, it has too long of a shelf life, so they are likely not using the best ingredients,” Mr. DeLeon said, adding that he and his wife cook fresh meals daily for their two dogs—a rottweiler and a Labrador retriever.

Ms. DeLeon even said that when a dog comes into the salon, she can tell by its skin condition if it is being fed one of three well-known brands of food available on most supermarket shelves.

“If the brand can pay for an ad on TV, then it probably is not the best nutrition option for your dog,” she said.

While feeding a dog customized, homemade entrées and treats will cost more than store-bought foods, the DeLeons said they are committed to making the meal plans affordable, and that the price will ultimately depend on the size of the dog.

They suggest that dog owners bring their pet to the shop for a consultation, and, in turn, a menu and diet will be custom-designed. Up to one week’s worth of meals and treats—including cookies and frozen yogurt—can be prepared in advance, with at least 48 hours’ notice. In addition, owners can also be provided with special recipes, if they do not want the meals and treats prepared in advance.

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YIN or “Cooling” Foods:
Meat/Flesh—Turkey, duck, cod
Grain—Millet, barley, brown rice
Vegetables—Celery, kelp, broccoli
Fruit—Pear, strawberry, cranberry
Oils—Flaxseed

YANG or “Warming” Foods:
Meat/Flesh (Stewed in rosemary, thyme, garlic, and ginger)—Chicken, chicken livers, lamb, turkey, salmon
Grain—Oats, white rice
Vegetables—Sweet potato, squash, pumpkin, cabbage, kale
Fruit/Dairy—Greek yogurt, peach, cherry
Oils—Olive, coconut

YIN/YANG or “Neutral” Foods:
Meat/Flesh—Beef, beef liver, sardines
Grain/Legumes—White rice, kidney beans
Vegetables—Carrots, potato, peas, green beans,
Fruit/Dairy—Apple, yogurt
Oils—Olive, coconut

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