Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Take away and home delivery food for pets

Waiting for home delivery? 
There’s a fine line between blogging and advertising the wares and services of others, but this is something a good friend alerted me to that I found fascinating. Home-delivery of human food specifically for dogs and cats. It’s certainly an interesting development in the human-animal bond department and says a lot about the way some people relate to their pets.

www.deliveryhero.com.au is a company that connects Australians to over 3000 restaurants around the country, via its website and apps. But it isn’t just humans they are serving. The company recently launched a new service, www.doggy-bag.com.au,  which is quite the talking point. Essentially, this allows pet owners to order takeaway and a special something for their dog or cat at the same time. So SAT asked them what it was all about.

How did you come up with the idea of Doggy Bag? Do you think people were doing this on their own informally anyway?

It actually started as an April Fool’s - we came up with the fun idea of offering takeaway food for pets. But then we quickly realised that it could be more than a joke and it could actually become a great product to offer. When we started to contact some of our partner restaurants, we realised they were very excited about it so we decided to launch the Doggy Bags! And yes, I do think people were already sharing their takeaway dish with their pets, or at least feeding them with the leftovers.

Why is Doggie Bag simply better than just sharing your leftovers with the dog or cat?

The Doggy Bags are actual gourmet takeaway food. The chefs from our local participating restaurants came up with their own signature dish based on the fresh ingredients they use to cook dinner for 'humans' with. They don't use leftovers. The Doggy Bag are also specifically designed to suit dogs and cats' needs (no seasoning, etc).

[Remember that there are plenty of human foods that pets should not eat. For more info, see our post on barbie hazards here. You can also download an exceptional educational poster by Lili Chin here].

So I can promise you that Phil would pick out the vegies, but he would probably do a somersault if this was dropped at the door.
What’s on the menu?

Some examples of what is on offer are Penne in a meat sauce with chicken, zucchini, carrots, and pumpkin ($6/$8) from Micky's Cafe, Paddington; Grilled chicken kebab with rice and tomatoes ($9) from Turkish Pide and Kebabs, Erskineville and; Boiled chicken fillet with turmeric and garden vegetables ($5/$8) from Taste of India, Double Bay.

A funny story on this one is that the owner of Taste of India is a huge fan of dogs and he walked across the street to ask the Vet if Turmeric would be suitable for animal's consumption. You see, these restaurateurs have been really involved!

Is there any difference in the way the food is prepared or ingredients used?

Each dish contains proteins, carbohydrates and vegetables with the minimum seasoning to ensure they are suitable for animal consumption. The restaurateurs have been briefed with a list of ingredients to avoid (like onions that are toxic to dogs for instance).

I've also visited them to have a look at the dish itself. The key is to keep their dish fresh, but simple: meat, veggies, carbs - no need to go over the top and serve something that would sound fancy but would not be suitable to animal consumption.

What sort of pet owners do you think will use the service?

I think we will see a mix of pet owners ordering this product. Whether they are people willing to treat their pet at the same time than the family, or time-poor professionals who forgot to pop by the grocery store after work to buy pet food... the price makes it very accessible too, starting at $5 for a 440ml container.

How popular has this service been so far? If so, are dog meals or cat meals more popular?

We have launched the Doggy Bag only last week and we are planning of talking to our customers about it this week. We will then be able to assess if this is a popular service or not.

Doggy Bag is a service marketed to people whose animal is included in family dinner. Do you think that pets are increasingly being treated as part of the family?

I think that any pet owner finds themselves wanting to treat their little loved ones. The same way ordering takeaway delivered to your door might be a treat for the entire family, you want to treat your pet. There's also more and more cafes and restaurants in Sydney that become dog-friendly. People also spend a lot on treating their pets with accessories or good food. This shows that pets are definitely part of the family.

Intriguing. Of course as a vet I am obliged to say that this is not a complete diet. Just as no doctor would recommend eating take-out food every night, one wouldn’t advocate feeding take-out food to one’s dog.

In addition it is important to be careful when introducing new foods as these can cause gastrointestinal upsets. Also one should avoid these dishes in animals on elimination diets, those with pancreatitis and so forth. But I must say from a health perspective it seems better than feeding dogs the leftover human takeaway food which may contain potentially harmful ingredients. Have you ever ordered take-away or home delivery especially for your pet?