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Friday, March 28, 2014
Perfect pet treats
American vet makes pet snacks with carefully chosen ingredients

For some of us, doing something special for the ones we love includes not just our children, parents and significant others. It also includes our dogs. Count Sarah Lavery among the canine lovers. A year and a half ago, the 32-year-old veterinarian started The Pet Bakery of Oakmont in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, a business specializing in healthy, organic dog treats. She's now selling enough of her canine products locally and via the Internet that she's expanding operations from her home kitchen into a garage next door.

Given how crazy many Americans seem to be about pampering their pets — it's a US$60 billion (approximately NT$1.8 trillion) industry — it's easy to see why she is striking a chord with dog owners. And just as Americans have become more attuned to the importance of healthy eating, so have pet owners grown more aware about the importance of feeding their dogs a nutritious diet.

Of course, dogs have nutritional needs quite different from humans. Most everyone, for instance, knows that dogs can't eat chocolate. But did you also know that grapes, raisins and coffee can prove fatal to pets? And that you should also avoid feeding them onions, garlic, macadamia nuts and xylitol (a sugar substitute found in toothpaste, candy and sugar-free gum)? "The list goes on and on," noted Lavery.

For those who'd rather spend time with their dogs instead of cooking for them, she is happy to do the work, at least when it comes to baked treats. "I'm pretty anal about the ingredients that go into my treats," for the sake of the health of her four-legged friends, she said.

While she's always loved to bake, Lavery didn't set out to do it professionally. Rather, a doctor suggested it as a form of therapy after a debilitating car accident. The 2012 crash left her with a concussion so severe that she was able to work only about eight hours a week, "I was going stir-crazy," she recalled. Baking was a perfect solution because it helps develop small-muscle control and eye-hand coordination.

Lavery soon became skilled enough at treat-making that she was able to launch The Pet Bakery of Oakmont. Thanks to positive word of mouth, the bakery quickly found success, and nine local businesses now also carry her products. "It's a love for me, a hobby," said Lavery.

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