Get To Know: Lou Lowry of DoPaw

Pet food is no small business, in fact, New Zealand is the fourth largest exporter of pet food to China. Editor-in-chief Amber and her Griffon dog, Chilli, sat down with DoPaw pet food founder, Lou Lowry, and her labrador, Mila, to talk about all things canine and how treating yo’self should also apply to our best friends. Hugely passionate about animals with a Masters in Animal Science we discovered (in between lots of dog cuddles and slobbers) if there’s one woman to ask about dog food ‒ it’s Lou.

I assume you’re a dog person and not a cat person...
I’m both! I had cats first, then we had a German Shepherd growing up and now, we have two Labradors and three cats.

You founded pet food brand DoPaw, but how did you come up with that great name?
During University, I was a dog-blog writer for the Dog Writers Association of America, so I got to write about dog breeds, dog nutrition, that kind of thing. During this time,, I was like oh, I’ll just do my own little blog - I did DoPaw. Fast forward to when I started my pet food company, I was going through the lawyer about trademarking and she said that the best way to go about it was to create a name out of thin air. So I said, ‘what about DoPaw?’.

What does a day in the life of you and your pets look like?
Wake up and take them for a walk. Or I’ll take them to the doggy day care bus and they’ll go to daycare for the day, go on forest walks and things like that, it’s so sweet. Then I’ll settle in and get the DoPaw orders done for the day, packaging them up. What a lot of people don’t know is I actually make all the treats myself. My day involves rolling meatballs, linking sausages, the not so glamorous side of it but all in-house, so I do all of that. And then the rest of the day I will be preparing more stock for the retail orders and even getting wholesale orders ready now because we are getting into retailers. Then I will finish the day with admin and then making my hubby and I dinner, which is mostly just pasta because that’s basically all I eat. And then, just snuggling with the animals at night with wine. 

So you’re in the kitchen a lot?
[Laughs] Heaps yeah. Our dogs love coming home from being out and it just smells like meat!

Do you find other dogs come up to you in the street because the scent is on you too?
[Laughs] Yes, it’s so cute. Where we do the kitchen, it’s not at my house, it’s at an MPI approved kitchen, so human grade, but there’s dogs that go past when they walk and they always stop and just stare in. I think they can smell it.

All DoPaw products are human grade, does that literally mean that if we got stuck on a desert island, we could eat DoPaw if we had to?
Yeah definitely! I mean there’s heart and kidney in it but yes all made in a human grade way ‒ which is one of the hardest things to find. A lot of places just wouldn’t make it like human grade but we needed that, we didn’t want to settle for something that wasn’t. You can eat it like I mean you probably wouldn’t enjoy it that much, but you could on a deserted island!

You’re a bit of a Nigella of dog food. Is it as tasty to dogs as chocolate as to humans?
100%. We’ve even had like the fussiest of dogs just love, love the food. We just love innovating and creating pet treats that are just so different to raw food that’s out there. Because if you think of raw food, it’s always like minced or in cubes, and it’s not very, very tasty or nice to look at. So we wanted to make something that is really good for your dog, looks great and it’s easy to handle. No one really wants to be handling raw meat!
You have special dog food cookies, meatballs and sausages, what is next?
A key thing we’re working on are little love bites sort of thing, really sweet hearts. A cute little topper or snack that has all the goodness in it. Another product we’re going to be releasing later in the year is kind of like a toddler pouch sucky but for dogs.

 It’s quite alarming what is used in some dog food, what was important to you when looking into ingredients?
When I was first looking into getting into raw pet food, I went on Google and I was like ‘ok that’s everything I don’t want to do’. We got in contact with a nutritional consultant, just to make sure that all the claims we were making were absolutely, 100% correct. And the first thing we contacted her about was our oil because I wanted to make sure the amount in there was enough to provide pups nutritional benefits, and she said, “I am so happy to hear that because a lot of companies slap the green label on their product and say it contains Omega-3 when it doesn’t contain enough.” So I found that really surprising. We wanted to be truthful with our claims.

What’s next for DoPaw? Will you branch out into cats?
100%! That’s why I put in the main slogan, “Made with love for all pets!” Definitely want to go into cat food and just just keep expanding, keep growing and coming out with new treats. I eventually export too. China is one of the main pet food markets and so is the US and then of course, the UK and Australia.

This is our paradise found edition of remix, what is your idea of paradise?
Dogs, wine or cocktails, Italy and pasta. All my favourite things.