Doggy Food Style

Montreal Business Follows Organic Fad

Liane Veronneau poses with her Boston Terrier, Luna, one of the inspirations behind Nutrie-Balance.

The gap between first and third world countries just got a little wider—organic food is now readily available for the dog world.

Growing concerns about the ill effects of processed food products and genetically modified organisms have consumers turning toward fresh and organic options for Fido.

For Montreal mutts, Nutrie-Balance is the answer. Offering an alternative to regular dog food is the mandate of Nutrie-Balance, a Montreal-based company whose products are made from regional meat and vegetables with as few processed ingredients as possible.

Owner and founder Liane Veronneau, 25, says her pet dogs Ruby and Luna are the inspiration behind the company, as their respective health issues prompted her to create her own homemade recipe.

“Ruby always gained weight very easily, so I started to make her food myself and I found that it became easier to control her weight and that her coat was shinier,” said Veronneau.

Then came Luna, a Boston terrier plagued with serious digestive problems. “Luna was very sick but when I started to feed her my own food, her health improved. I’d always wanted to start a business and I knew that was it.”

The graphic designer-turned-entrepreneur consulted animal nutritionists and modified her original recipe to fulfill the nutritional needs of canines. The main product of the line is the dog pâté, which is sold frozen and can be fed to adult dogs of all breeds and sizes “as a substitute for canned dog food, as a supplemental feeding or simply as a tasty meal.”

Scott Silverman, owner of pet supply retailer Nutri-Dépot d’Animaux, says customer response is great—and dog response is even better.

“Dogs love it. It’s good for their health and we’ve had no problems with allergies,” he said. Even dogs that stick up their muzzle at other food brands won’t turn down the homemade-style cuisine, he added.

“It’s wonderful for difficult dogs that sometimes don’t even want to eat the high-quality products we carry. Maybe only one dog in 10 won’t eat Nutrie-Balance, so we’re very happy about that.”

While Veronneau admits getting her foot in the door wasn’t easy, she’s managed to quickly make a name for herself. Since the company was launched last October, it multiplied its number of partner stores from three to 26, located throughout the province.

Soon, the products will be manufactured, relieving Veronneau from the task of cooking enough pâtée and treats to supply these stores. A raw line, formulated to imitate what dogs would be eating in the wild, is in the making.

Concordia marketing students from the John Molson School of Business are collaborating with Nutrie-Balance to organize a fundraising event tentatively scheduled for Nov. 26 or Dec. 3, whose proceeds will be donated to an animal shelter. More details of the fundraiser will be posted on its popular facebook page.

“We have a very active online community on our Facebook page, which has grown from basically my friends to more than 300 members,” she laughs. “It’s really fun and it’s nice to see how people have been connecting with us.”