Published On: Thursday, 11 January 2018

Making Dough from Dough: Foley Dog Treats Bag Success

Making Dough from Dough: Foley Dog Treats Bag Success
Happiness for this pooch is healthy treats, made with human-grade ingredients, by Nanaimo-based Foley Dog Treat Company.

NANAIMO - Best Friends deserve the best.

Many pet owners agree, which is why Nanaimo-based Foley Dog Treat Company is a dramatic local success story. Over the past eight years, the company has grown from a home-based, tucked-in-the-basement business to an international supplier of quality dog treats in Canada and the U.S.

Foley is now completing the certification to expand into the European Union.

Foley wants the Foley Dog Treat Company to transform the pet treat industry. She believes owners deserve safe treats for their pets. That means treats made from quality, human-grade ingredients.

She isn’t alone. Her success is riding – in part – on a growing wave of pet owners who don’t want to play Russian roulette when dispensing treats. Tragic reports of dogs dying from unknown ingredients used in the loosely regulated pet treat industry, combined with frequent recalls of pet products after those deaths, confirm the need for caution.

“The dog food and treat industry is riddled with unhealthy treats,” Foley said. “Foley Dog Treats has a following of people who were looking for healthy products and couldn’t find them.”

When pet owners choose Foley’s dog treats, they get more than an excited pooch. They are assured locally sourced, real food baked into scrumptious nibbles. The treats are grain-free because dogs can be allergic to wheat and gluten upsets their stomachs. Instead, she uses chickpea flour, which adds additional protein, and flax. All products are preservative-free.

She doesn’t use chicken because many dogs are allergic to it. Instead she uses human-grade, hormone free meats including bison, venison, duck, beef, elk and turkey. Even kale makes it onto the ingredient list.

Foley’s Nanaimo-based production plant resembles a bakery for humans: clean and organized with giant mixers, dough rolled out by hand, cutters, and closet-sized ovens with roll-in baking racks. The company employs 10 people.

DogTreatsPhotoCollage2WEB(l-r) Production of Foley’s high quality dog treats starts with human food-grade ingredients mixed in an industrial mixer. Dough is kneaded and rolled out by hand and then baked on racks in a closet-sized bakery oven. Thorough drying, both in the oven and in drying room baskets, keeps treats naturally preserved with no chemicals. Chopped into bite-sized chunks, the treats are bagged and shipped across Canada and into the U.S.

The plant can produce 22,000 bags of dog treats a month, which equals “a lot of happy dogs,” Foley said. A year ago she was supported by Community Futures in expanding her operation. She has now almost outgrown her 2500 square foot space and is preparing to expand again.

She attributes her company’s success to basics. “I offer a really high quality product. I don’t skimp on ingredients, and I deliver it at a decent price.” She feels this should be the standard for dog treats, instead of an exception.

“I make dough from rolling dough,” she quips.

Pet food quality is a widespread issue because the lucrative product is dominated by four to five large companies. Although different brand names may be used, the product inside is produced in the same few factories. This is why recalls often spread across multiple brands.

Regulation is almost non-existent. “There is no regulation of dog treats in Canada and dog food must only meet minimal agricultural feed quality standards,” Foley says. For pet owners who want to ensure their pets receive quality food, the only option is to seek out smaller scale providers who choose to produce good quality food.

Foley produces three brands of treats for dogs: FoleyBites, Dog’n It, and Vitality Dog. She also distributes West Coast Canine Life, a Canadian-made high quality dog food.

As the owner of two dogs, Foley understands why owners want the best for their pets. Her dogs often join her in the front office, which is warmed by the aromas flowing from the back shop ovens. “They’re the happiest dogs on earth.”