Like A Whole Foods Store For Your Dog? Pet Food Goes Upscale

By Rob Nikolewski
The San Diego Union-Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) An increasing number of dog food companies have sprung up in recent years, promoting choices that reflect many of the same dietary concerns and demands of humans. Gluten Free? No problem!

The San Diego Union-Tribune

Some dog owners have long considered their pets to be part of the family.

And in growing numbers, canines are actually eating like they are.

In what has been part of a larger trend called the “humanization” of pets, more dog owners are feeding Fido a higher grade of more expensive chow that looks increasingly like the food humans eat.

A good example can be seen at the most recent store to open in the San Diego area catering to the specific dietary and nutritional needs of dogs.

At the Del Mar Highlands Town Center, employees at JustFoodForDogs could be mistaken for chefs or food preparers at a high-end restaurant as they slice fresh carrots and Brussels sprouts in a spotless aluminum kitchen, stocked with ovens within steps of a walk-in refrigerator filled with beef, fish, lamb and venison.

“I sort of accidentally found out what was in dog food, or what’s allowed to be in dog food, and as an entrepreneur (and) dog lover … I asked myself that question, is there a better way to do this?” said Shawn Buckley, the company’s founder. “We didn’t want to have that highly processed food for our dogs.”

Instead, JustFoodForDogs sells bags of pre-prepared meals such as tuna noodle casserole, turkey and whole wheat macaroni and, what Buckley said is his company’s best seller, chicken and rice.

“We think the best thing to use is USDA-certified ingredients for humans, but nutritionally balanced for dogs,” Buckley said. “So it’s real food.”

Buckley’s storefront is not some quirky outlier. The Del Mar kitchen, which opens Saturday, is the 10th store to open since Buckley launched the business six years ago with a kitchen in Orange County that was quickly followed by another in West Hollywood.

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