Good treats that have dogs coming back for more

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Susie, Clare and Ben with labrador-cross Harlow… “We are passionate about our dogs! And we have always wanted them to be as happy and healthy as possible,” Clare says. Photos: Senthan Thani

Partners in Rascals Treats, Susie and Ben Hanns and Clare Guest wanted to feed their dogs what they preferred to eat themselves – whole, healthy, cruelty-free food with a low environmental impact. In this sponsored post they explain how they did it.

WITH such big love for the cheeky doggos in their lives, long-time friends and co-founders of Rascals Treats, Susie and Ben Hanns and Clare Guest naturally wanted to feed their pups the most delicious, nutritious food they could.

Amid fears of pet-food contamination and unhealthy, unregulated dog food, plus their desire to feed their dogs what they preferred to eat themselves – whole, healthy, cruelty-free food with a low environmental impact – Susie and Ben started experimenting a few years ago with making their own dog treats at home.

“We started making homemade treats, just for fun as a healthier option and for something different,” says Susie.

“We love chickpeas so that was the starting point, and we experimented from there.”

The friends have four dogs between them. Clare has Labrador-cross Harlow and an Old English sheepdog called Morris, and Susie and Ben have Gilbert, a German Shepherd cross, and the newest family member Ruby, a red heeler.

“We are passionate about our dogs! And we have always wanted them to be as happy and healthy as possible,” Clare says.

The cooking experimentation progressed to using roasted veggies, chia seeds and herbs, and the friends would share recipes, eventually buying a dehydrator and making bigger batches of the colourful, crunchy treats.

Susie said they would give out samples whenever they had friends with dogs visit, and had such a great response that in 2019, they decided to open a business selling the plant-based treats.

“Our friends’ dogs absolutely devoured the treats and the owners loved that they were plant-based and nasties-free,” says Susie.

“We did a lot of testing and research, and refined the recipes until we knew we had an amazing product.”

Rascals Treats launched officially in June with the friends taking a break from the public service and jumping wholeheartedly into business ownership.

Rascals Treats… “food for dogs, not dog food”.

All three business partners enjoy the hands-on aspect of cooking their unique product, as well as learning all the exciting and challenging elements of running a small business.

“We’re happy we did this, it’s amazing to be involved in the decision-making from start to finish, to believe in our product and express our creative sides,” says Clare.

With a passion for the environment, they wanted to have as low an impact as possible and to be sustainable, so they chose compostable packaging to enable them to be plastic-free.

“We create so much compost through Rascals Treats and barely anything goes into landfill, so the whole business sits well with what’s important to us,” says Ben.

“This year we became an accredited ACT Government Actsmart business recycler, which recognises that our company is actively recycling, reducing waste and making sustainable decisions.

“We’re also an Australian owned and made company, and it’s important to us that we support local.

“We all know the time is now to be aware of the environment, to consider what we’re creating in the world and to waste as little as possible in the process. We’re proud to be part of a smart, sustainable business.”

Ben, Susie and Clare all follow a plant-based diet and share a passion for animals and the environment, promoting positive animal welfare.

Ben says a goal of their business is to influence change across the entire pet food industry to produce high-quality, healthy and ethical pet food to improve animal welfare, environmental outcomes and the wellbeing of pets.

“Our dog treats are real, human-grade food, with only fruit, veggies, pulses and herbs and are free from nuts, oil, grains, artificial colours and flavours,” he says.

“In fact, the funny thing is,” says Clare, “owners will often try the samples at markets themselves, before giving them to their dogs!”

The Rascals’ range includes four dog-treat varieties, Bitch Peas, Pump It Up, On the Beet and Date Night (date, blueberry and banana for sweet-toothed pups), as well as a meal booster to supplement whatever your pooch loves to eat, and a new carrot and capsicum flavour that’s in the trial stage.

“The treats are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and we know the positive benefits veggies have on dogs’ digestion,” says Susie.

“Rascals is vet-endorsed on our website, and we’ve heard anecdotally some amazing stories of dogs with digestive issues that love our treats. It’s so good to hear from happy customers and get positive feedback.”

Ultimately, the three love dogs and their antics, and feature stories of cheeky puppies on every pack.

“Dogs just make us smile, there’s nothing better than getting to pat and play and meet as many doggos as we can through our work!”

Rascals Treats are available in Canberra and Australia-wide, and can be found at the Handmade Markets (next one is 21-22 March) and select IGAs across Canberra.
Visit rascalstreats.com.au, find them on Instagram @rascals_treats or Facebook
@rascalsdogtreats for more info.

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