We all know the health advantages of eating unprocessed foods, so why not offer those same benefits to our pets?
That’s the idea behind “Donna’s Treatery,” a line of natural pet treats created by Donna Burden in her Mattituck kitchen.
“The treats are all natural,” Burden said. “I use a lot of organic ingredients; there are no preservatives.”
Burden began making treats a few years ago when one of her cavalier spaniels, Sophia, developed an allergy to store-bought dog food.
“She wound up with stomach issues the first year I had her,” Burden said. “I took her to the vet and he said we had to put her on a special diet. So I asked what do I do for treats? All the treats out there have all these ingredients in them that are so hard to pronounce. If I’m not going to eat it, why would I let my dog eat them?”
Burden began making her own dog treats from scratch using whole wheat flour and organic vegetables from MarGene Farms in Mattituck and Sang Lee Farms in Peconic. This summer she began making cat treats and her own jerky as well.
“I use pumpkin when in season and oat bran flour for the cat treats, as well as catnip flowers from a farm in Oregon,” she said. “I do the jerky myself and there’s only four ingredients; rosemary, sage, sea salt and chicken. I do it slowly in a dehydrator, so it’s at a constant 160 degrees for 12 hours. I also do a beef and liver jerky and dehydrate organic vegetables like sweet potato and brussells sprouts. Everything comes from whatever farm I can get it from.”
When friends began asking for her dog treats, Burden happily obliged. But it wasn’t until several recalls involving pet treats made the news that Burden realized there was a market for her treats. Today she gets orders from as far away as South Carolina and Florida.
“I try to be as healthy as possible,” she said. “For my banana and peanut butter treats, I use organic peanut butter. I have treats made with oatmeal because oatmeal is good for a dog’s coat and I make treats with honey and ginger, which are great for a dog’s digestion.”
Prices for Donna’s Treatery treats range from $6.95 for four ounces, to $11.95 for an eight-ounce package and $21.95 for one pound.
“I have a customer in Ronkonkoma who orders three pounds at a time,” Burden said. “I don’t know how many dogs she has, but every couple of months she calls and orders more.”
Business has been so good that, in addition to branching out into cat treats, Burden now roasts her own peanuts and dries fruits like cranberries into treats for dogs.
“I have two treats for cats, one is shrimp with organic catnip flowers, another with salmon,” she said. “For the salmon treats I use cat grass which I grow myself. I started small with the cats because they’re so finicky. I only do four and eight ounce sizes. The jerky I’d been toying with for a year and a half and now it’s one of my best-sellers. That and anything with peanut butter, because dogs love peanut butter!”
Donna’s Treatery ships the treats next-day mail since they have such a short shelf life. While Burden has considered selling in stores, she prefers handling them herself so she can control and ensure their freshness.
Donna’s Treatery will have a display at The NOFO Wellness Center on the following days: Monday, Dec. 14 – 6 a.m. to noon; Tuesday, Dec. 15 – 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Thursday, Dec. 17 – 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Monday Dec. 21st – 6 a.m. to noon; Tuesday, Dec. 22 – 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Thursday Dec. 24 – 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. The NOFO Wellness Center is located at 320 Depot Lane in Cutchogue.
To order from Donna’s Treatery, call (631) 255-8628 or visit donnastreatery.com.