RAMSEY, N.J. -- The owner of a dog and cat health food store with three locations, its newest in Ramsey, says only in modern times have pets been feed anything but a raw food diet.
Dry, commercial pet food may have labels that say they are natural or selected by veterinarians, but ingredients could tell a different story.
Some of these contain corn, wheat flour, molasses, sugars, canola oil and other "junk" not natural to dog or cat diets, according to Katrina McQuilken, owner of Wholistic Paws.
She and husband, Karl McQuilken of Mahwah, started their company 16 years ago in Ridgewood. Their second location is in Park Ridge.
Katrina McQuilken talked to Daily Voice about the company's faithful following, pet owners who heard about its products strictly through word-of-mouth -- no advertising -- and who want to feed their animals a wholesome diet.
She insists that not only do dry pet foods prevent animals from receiving nutrition, they may even make them very sick.
The owners believe dogs and cats should only eat diets that are "species-appropriate," which contain meat, she explained.
Domesticated pets are cute and cuddly on the outside. "But inside they are wild animals and supposed to eat meat," the store's owners say on their website .
"My husband and I both had jobs. Our dog had cancer. Another had renal failure. He only had a few months to live. We started looking into feeding them holistically and changed their diets. He lived to 11 and died in his sleep," Katrina McQuilken told Daily Voice.
At the time, there were a few companies that sold whole foods for pets.
"We reached out to them and started to carry the products. We started with one freezer in our garage, then got a second freezer. People started finding out about us. That's how we got started."
Eventually, the couple opened up the first store.
"We sell frozen, complete and balanced meals; what dogs (and cats) should be eating, before dry foods came," said Katrina.
Her background is in information technology, and Karl's is in sales.
"We didn't know anything about retail, but what we were doing was our passion. Our animals are healthier. We saw our customers' animals get healthy."
"Sometimes it's sad because people come in when their dog has cancer. The dog will pass away. But then they come back with their puppy and want to start them out right. It's a beautiful business. It's wonderful," said Katrina.
Customers sometimes ask for her help in changing their pets' diets.
Food selections include an array of complete, balanced frozen meals. Everything the stores sell is free of hormones and steroids, from animals that are grass-fed, including all-meat chews, supplements and raw and freeze-dried meals.
Wholistic Paws in Ramsey is located at 60 E. Main St. For information, call the store at 201-962-3898.
For the company's website and other two locations, click here.