Rewarding your dog with yummy treats is part of the fun of owning a dog. But your dogs don’t have to be limited to grocery store boxed brands of treats—our region has a great selection of specialized treats that your dog will love.
While you may have given your pup ice cream in the past, he likely did not digest it very well as dogs are generally lactose intolerant. With this in mind, Jessica Kury opened Salty Paws in Lawrenceville in November, Pennsylvania’s very first dine-in sundae bar especially for dogs.
“What makes our ice cream special is that it is lactose free; there is a very simple ingredient panel that is easy on the digestive system. We replace the milk with goat’s milk or whole milk that is lactose free,” she explained.
Kury makes the ice cream in-house, serving eight primary flavors and about four rotating flavors. Regular menu items include maple bacon and cheddar cheese flavors, while specialties can include peanut butter banana swirl and vanilla blueberry. “We don’t add white, processed sugar; some of the treats are naturally sweet, such as the blueberry and the carob,” she said.
Salty Paws also offers a selection of bakery-style treats, such as decorated dog cookies in various shapes and flavors. “Everything I have is very natural and really high quality. I am not carrying things that are overly processed or what you will find in bigger boxed stores,” said Kury.
She also has a bone bar, where dogs can sniff out such simple and easily digestible treats as bully sticks or no-hide treats.
Although Salty Paws has to-go containers, they encourage dogs to come in and eat their ice cream in person, as the store is even designed for dogs. “Every detail has been looked at from their perspective. Even the store color is blue, a color that dogs can see well. I love that they have a special place that they can go to; it’s really fun and a great adventure for them,” said Kury.
Salty Paws also hosts events for dogs, including breed socials, birthday parties and Gotcha Day celebrations.
Another ‘for dogs only’ treat haven is Three Dog Bakery in Sewickley. While the shop offers other brands of healthy, baked dog treats, they primarily sell Three Dog-branded items.
Owner Lee Ann Carey said that the bakery makes dog cakes from mixes supplied from their headquarters, the ingredients of which include wheat flour, wheat bran, whole egg and baking powder; at the store they add applesauce and water.
“We also have different frosting options, such as carob, peanut butter, and vanilla with coconut,” she said.
Customers can choose from a variety of home baked goods, such as ‘snickerpoodle’ cookies and ‘peanut mutter’ cookies, as well as items in the cold case, including carrot cakes, donuts, cannoli and drooly dream bars.
Dogs are welcome in the store, and Carey even has regular customers who stop in daily for treats. She sometimes holds breed socials and fills specialized orders, and in keeping with the Pittsburgh cookie table tradition, she recently completed a wedding cookie table for dogs only.
According to Carey, specialized dog treats and dog bakeries/ice cream bars are trending for two simple reasons. One, and probably the most basic, is that people love their pets and view them as members of the family and therefore want them to have healthy, fresh treats.
The other is ingredient transparency. “People like to know what their dogs are consuming,” said Carey.
Toni Shelaske is the owner of Healthy Pet Products, with locations in McCandless, Cranberry and the South Hills. The store’s focus is on natural and healthy food and treats for pets. Fulfilling a lifelong goal, Shelaske recently launched her own brand of healthy dog treats called Toni Unleashed.
Shelaske collaborates with Paws Gourmet Bakery, a Washington State-based manufacturer that makes dog treats with superior human-grade ingredients with no preservatives, soy, corn, or fillers.
“They are part of the 3/50 Project, whose mission is to save independent local brick and mortar stores that our nation was built on. Therefore, they do not allow sales online and only sell to small, independent retailers,” said Shelaske. “Both of these philosophies are in line with what we stand for, so we are thrilled to be a part of one of their stores.”
The company has many recipes from which to choose, as well as the capability for store owners to create their own recipes. At Healthy Pets, Toni Unleashed offers such goodies as Pizza Bites and Healthy Hearts as well as a selection of bones and chews.
Although treating your dog is enjoyable, both from the pet owners’ and the dogs’ perspective, Shelaske cautions owners to be mindful of how much their dogs are eating.
“I think treats should primarily be used as reward-based treats and not overdone, because 50 percent of our pets are overweight,” she said. “You really have to monitor how many treats you give; some people don’t factor those in as calories.”