Let’s face it…Tahoe pets live the best life. Between the lakes, rivers, mountains, hiking trails, and outdoor accessibility, there’s nothing to complain about with our dogs and other types of beloved furry friends. Giving them a high quality of life makes us happy too, which is why we only want the finest things for our animals. Just like people, keeping a healthy and nutritious diet will help our pets live longer and be able to continue doing the activities we love to do which is why what we all put in our bodies is so important.
Fortunately, a few Reno/Tahoe businesses that pamper their pets have figured out how to make their own food for them, creating a way for a dog or cat lover to only buy the best, most delicious food while also supporting local businesses.
Shrimply Blue is saving Lake Tahoe one dog treat at a time by harvesting the invasive Mysis shrimp out of the lake and turning them into delicious dog desserts. Mysis shrimps are packed with healthier omega-3 fats than salmon and mixed with other natural ingredients such as sweet potato, garbanzo flour, and flaxseed.
Mysis shrimps were unfortunately introduced into Lake Tahoe in the 1960s to improve recreational fishing, but they ended up eating the Daphnia zooplankton, the tiny little algae and fine sediment eaters that helped keep the lake clean. The declining zooplankton population ended up creating less food for native fish species and diminishing the lake’s clarity. That’s why by pulling the Mysis superfood out of the lake and repurposing it into dog treats, we can work hand-in-paw to restore the lake’s clarity as well as provide our pups with a healthy snack.
The Shrimply Blue team is still in the process of testing its recipes and bringing it to market. As of early March, Shrimply Blue had its latest batch of cute little edible dog bone-shaped prototypes made of potato starch, oat flour, peanut oil, chickpea flour, Mysis, and molasses. Visit Shrimply Blue online for more information.
sierra tails, truckee
Committed to feeding Tahoe pets healthy food, Sierra Tails Co-Owner Jeffrey Lynn has been making her own dog and cat food and treats for a few years now. Lynn and her three partners at this women-owned business have since expanded to make close to 300-450 lbs. of pet food out of a commercial kitchen in Reno, which they then deliver to their 80-plus customers in the North Lake Tahoe region.
What sets Sierra Tails apart from other dog food companies is that not only is it locally made, but they take whole foods such as carrots, blueberries, flaxseed, meat, kelp, and seasonal vegetables (like broccoli, asparagus, and sweet potato) cook it for a while and blend it down in a special process that makes it easy to digest. Sierra Tails uses four kinds of meats in its food (chicken, pork, beef, and turkey) cooked in Insta Pots so that their pet food retains its nutrients.
“They’re filled with everything dogs benefit from. A lot of the organic dog food has a lot of good ingredients in them, but it’s not broken down enough for them to actually digest the nutrients…chunks of carrot, say, go out the same way they went in,” Lynn explains.
Currently Sierra Tails only sells its dog and cat food directly through its website, but they are hoping to generate enough of an interest in its products to double manufacturing to the point of producing close to 800 lbs. of food per week.
Eventually Lynn wants to create recipes and a YouTube channel to show people how to make their own healthy pet food.
“I have a degree in nutrition and I’m always doing a lot of research. Kibble is killing our dogs. The two main problems with kibble are number one, companies cook the ingredients at high heats that strips the nutrients out and then they have to add in vitamins. And number two, a lot of the time the ingredients in kibble come from rendered sources or are not high quality.
“I try to educate people on the importance of feeding your dog healthy food. Do what you can for them so that they live longer,” Lynn says.
Sierra Tails cooks animal bones for eight hours to the point where they can make a pudding out of it, and there are no additives or supplements in any of its food. “It’s 100 percent the same food you and I eat,” she adds.
my dog’s addiction, reno
Cookies, cakes, pup pops, donuts, and more line the case next to the register at the Pet Station in Incline Village that look so good you may be tempted to bite into one or two yourself. These are the My Dog’s Addiction pet treats that Annie Wong makes at her home-based business in Sparks and are currently sold at all Pet Station locations in Reno, the Tahoe basin, Gardnerville and even in pet stores as far north as Redding down to Napa, California.
“I started baking dog treats about nine years ago for our three small retail pet supply stores. Our customers would often come in looking for special treats and gifts for their dog’s birthdays and holidays. We started making cookies that were healthier for dogs…using ingredients like beef broth and honey to make them tasty. They were a hit, so we branched out into cakes, cupcakes, and cake pops. Our cakes are a dogfriendly version of carrot cake, using peanut butter, fresh carrots, and cream cheese for frosting,” Wong says.
In 2020, Wong sold its stores to Pet Station, and they kept My Dog’s Addiction bakery items in its stores.
“My dogs are my family, and I love spoiling them. Our goal is to make fresh, healthy treats to help others to spoil their dogs too!”
bone-ito bakery, reno
Bone-ito in the new Village at Rancharrah in Reno is a contemporary cute pet store complete with meat market and farmers market displays, and it also makes its own dog treats that are usually based around a theme or whatever holiday is coming up whether it’s St. Patrick’s Day or the Fourth of July. Bone-ito Owner Staci Alonso has been making mouthsalivating cookie-shaped concoctions of honey, wheat flour, and peanut butter for their store herself ever since it opened in October 2021.
The idea to have a dog bakery originally started through Noah’s Animal House down in Las Vegas in 2007, which was the first full service pet facility on the campus of a domestic violence recovery center. Alonso began making homemade dog treats as an escape and they became popular at the shelter. Therefore, when Alonso opened Bone-ito in Reno in 2021, she incorporated a bakery into the design.
“All of our pet recipes have been approved through the nutrition lab and are made with all natural human-grade ingredients,” Alonso says.
Walk into the store’s bright interior and you’ll see that the entire store revolves around celebrating pets. An entire display near the front showcase birthday toys and treats, complete with a DIY dog cake mix with peanut butter frosting ingredients included.
“We do a lot of birthdays…we have two very girly female dogs that had a teacup themed party, and one that was cowboy-themed…this is a happy place,” Alonso adds.
The shop is laid out in a way that instantly boosts one’s mood and makes it near impossible to walk out of there without a gift.
There are three main recipes that she uses to make the treats, including a grain-free and non-peanut butter choice (consisting of apples and cinnamon). She found her pet recipes online, and tested them through trial and error, fine tuning them over the years.
When I mentioned that some treats look so good that I’d be tempted to eat them myself, Alonso says, “They’re human grade; we sell treats that we’ve all tasted that are good”.