A Geelong couple has found a way to make canine nutrition a whole lot healthier, writes SUZIE COFFEY
‘People are struggling enough to understand about our own health needs and are probably only now learning the importance of eating unprocessed, natural foods. It makes sense that the same applies to dogs.’
FOUR years ago the future didn’t look bright for Mark Hallo’s cherished rottweiler Bear. The six-year old was struggling to recover from a knee reconstruction and was suffering from arthritis and hip dysplasia.
“He was barely able to walk for 15 minutes at a time,” Mark says.
“And we were told it was only going to get worse.”
Dismayed at Bear’s bleak outlook, Mark and his wife Kate took matters into their own hands.
“Logic told me that if eating a lot of fish with the anti-inflammatory benefits of Omega 3 was good for humans, it should be good for dogs too,” Mark says.
The Geelong couple decided to reform Bear’s diet, shifting it away from processed kibble to a natural diet based around chicken, fish, vegetables and rice. Mark says the health benefits quickly became obvious.
“We noticed his weight was easier to manage, his coat was shiny and he was showing no signs of pain.
“He can now walk for 30 minutes a day without a problem.
“Four years later he moves better than ever – he’s better at 10 than he was at six.”
The experience motivated Mark and Kate to find out more about the nutritional requirements of canines and their research was surprising.
A study conducted in Belgium examined the life expectancy of dogs fed a homemade diet of high quality foods compared to dogs fed an industrial, commercial pet food diet.
Mark says the research proved dogs fed the homemade meals had an increased life expectancy of 32 months.
A further study showed that adding fresh vegetable to commercial kibble prevented or slowed down the development of transitional cell carcinoma in dogs.
“I started looking into dog nutrition and pretty soon realised I knew nothing about what was going into the dried food we were feeding our dog,” Mark says.
“People are struggling enough to understand about our own health needs and are probably only now learning the importance of eating unprocessed, natural foods. It makes sense that the same applies to dogs.”
Their own experience coupled with their extensive research inspired Mark and Kate, who are parents to four-year-old son Mex, to develop a range of dog food focusing on human quality produce meals for dogs.
After much research and extensive consultation with Torquay vet Dr Kate Gittings, Fresh For Dogs was launched in December.
The business offers a range of high quality, lightly cooked meals for dogs, designed to meet the nutritional needs of canines.
“The meals are lightly cooked by a professional chef, using human grade meat, fish and vegetables,” Mark explains.
“We never use preservatives or chemicals – every meal is 100 per cent natural. It makes sense that it’s a healthier option.
“We wanted to be absolutely certain we got the right balance which is where Dr Kate was so important. Every ingredient was researched to ensure it offered a nutritional benefit for dogs.”
All meals are vacuum sealed and snap frozen for maximum nutritional value, and there is also a range of natural treats available.
“Dog owners look upon their pets as a member of the family and want to provide the best for them,” Mark says.
“The two things they get right is to provide a loving, caring environment and lots of exercise.
“But making sure their dog’s diet is great is often overlooked. That’s probably because there’s not a lot of education on it and you trust the label, especially when it says ‘premium’.
“For us it’s been hugely rewarding to feel like we are doing everything we can for Bear, and also to see the benefits to other dogs. One of our first clients is the owner of two greyhound rescues and to see the difference in their health in such a short time is incredible.
“If you can give your dogs every chance of a longer, happier, healthier life, it just makes sense to do it.”
Fresh For Dogs delivers weekly to homes in Geelong, the Bellarine Peninsula, Surf Coast Ballarat and Greater Melbourne. Visit freshfordogs.com.au to find out more.
Geelong Advertiser GT – 1 Apr 2017