Gourmet food and acupuncture for your dog

- Twice a week, Cavapoo puppy Jax gets a special delivery.

"We're always ordering in, we're getting our groceries delivered, so it only seemed natural that now the option is available for pets as well," said Jax's owner Aly Kirsch.

Kirsch subscribes to Doggy Chef (http://www.doggychef.com), one of a growing number of start-ups that deliver homemade, human-grade dog food direct to customers' doors: no kibbles and nothing canned.

Think beef quinoa meatballs, chicken and broccoli with brown rice and basil truffle treats.

"It looks appetizing to me," said Kirsch. "Sometimes I feel like he's eating even better than we are."

Deborah Goldberg launched Doggy Chef this spring after graduating from the Institute of Culinary Education, only to decide she wanted to cook gourmet food for dogs.

"It's like Whole Foods for dogs," she explained. "Some of our options are gluten-free, some are grain-free, some are poultry-free. So there is something for every dog."

Goldberg now cooks for about 150 dogs in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Meals range from $4.95 a dish to $150 a month for twice-weekly delivery.

"People are investing so much effort and money in staying healthy, exercise, eating organic for themselves," Goldberg said. "So they wanna do the same for their dogs"

When it comes to spending on our pets, some people will spare no expense. The American Pet Products association found Americans spent $60 billion on everything from food, to vet care, to services for their pets last year. That number is only expected to rise.

As far as the health and wellness of our pets, gourmet food is only the tip of the iceberg.

Dr. Tracy Akner (http://www.acupunctureforyourdog.com) is an animal acupuncturist who makes dozens of house calls across Manhattan each week.  She charges $275 a visit. and treats animals with everything from chronic digestive and orthopedic problems to anxiety.

Her patients include Bosi, a six-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who has been getting treatments for years for a heart condition and inflammatory mouth condition.

Akner has been doing acupuncture on pets for a decade but says the specialty has taken off in recent years.

"I definitely get more and more calls," she said. "I think there are people who have a really really intense connection with their pet and take care of them the way they would take care of a child or themselves."

"Acupuncture, massage, custom cooked meals, it's all part of a health and wellness program that's for our pampered pets," said Dana Humphrey, who is known as the Pet Lady and tracks the latest industry trends and products.

"There's no limit to what you can do to spoil your pet these days," Humphrey said. "They're becoming our family members, family members sleep inside, they sleep on the bed, they eat good food, it's just a different way we're looking at the way the pet is in the household."
 

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