Friday, February 27, 2015

Our Long National Pet-Feeding Nightmare Is Coming To An End

Pets are great, but feeding them? It’s a challenge on par with the space program, and few have really mastered how to feed a dog.

There are so many variables to consider — what kind of animal is this? is it hungry? how much food should I give it? — that most of us just give up and don’t feed our pets at all, leaving them to fend for themselves and find nutrition from couch cushions and strips of carpeting, like they do in the wild.

But no longer. A solution to the problem of feeding animals is being pieced together by Petnet, a Los Angeles tech company that has developed a kind of pet-feeding robot that connects, as all things must, to your iPhone.

And today, the company said its robot will grow more intelligent:

Petnet(io) announced today that it has entered into an agreement to acquire SlimDoggy Inc., giving Petnet access to SlimDoggy’s world class pet food database and patent pending technology which the company plans to incorporate into its “Smart” line of pet products. Together, Petnet and SlimDoggy aim to make feeding a pet and selecting appropriate pet food as simple and convenient as possible. The acquisition allows Petnet to leverage the data and methodologies SlimDoggy has developed into an innovative pet feeding system that empowers pet owners to improve the overall health of their pets through proper diet.

“Petnet will be integrating the SlimDoggy pet food database of almost 6,000 dog and cat foods, as well as our patent pending feeding and food analysis algorithms into all of the Petnet Smart products,” SlimDoggy said in an announcement of its own.

The Petnet SmartFeeder device costs $199, although the company says limited supplies mean you’ll need to reserve one (“request an invite”).

But once you’re let into the exclusive circle, the SlimDoggy acquisition means a whole new layer of data-enabled dog feeding. “The amount and type of pet food is the single biggest decision a pet owner can make to impact their pet’s health. With the long and confusing pet food labels, consumers are left to guess when trying to make intelligent, healthy food and portion control decisions,” said Steve Pelletier, SlimDoggy’s founder.

“We are excited to work closely with Petnet to improve the way pet food is served, evaluated, and purchased, all the while helping to keep pets as healthy as possible.”

SlimDoggy, which has a sister site called SlimKitty, says its founding inspiration came from a 105-pound labrador named Jack, who managed to drop 25 pounds by eating based on SlimDoggy algorithms. “Little did we know that there are a lot of dogs like Jack,” the company says on its site. “We decided to share our work and create an iPhone App (Android version coming soon) and attack the dog obesity problem head on.”

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Pets: DIY Natural Frozen Dog Treats

In honor of Valentine's Day and our favorite four-legged family member, we pulled out the heart-shaped Ikea ice tray again this year to whip up some super simple and natural frozen treats. Peanut butter and Greek yogurt are some of Basil's favorite goodies, so we came up with this fun twist on the frosty paws recipe we like to make for him. What's great about these treats is how simple they are to make and store. They require minimal and completely natural ingredients, can be made in large batches to store in a freezer bag.

For those unfamiliar, a frozen dog treat might sound a little odd. We've found that Basil loves cold treats and when frozen, they take a little longer for our big guy to enjoy. Our doggie daycare actually tipped us off to their age old trick of putting a peanut butter stuffed kong toy in the freezer to make it last twice as long.

You'll need plain organic Greek yogurt, natural peanut butter, a heart shaped ice tray (really any ice tray will do, we got ours from Ikea) and a spoon. Also — can anyone tell me exactly how Basil knows every time we're getting ready to make something especially for him? It's like his spidey canine senses kick in and he beelines for the kitchen:

Spoon a small amount of peanut butter into the base of the ice tray. You can heat up the peanut butter first to make it easier (and not so messy) to spoon in. The more you add, the thicker the top layer on the treats will appear. You can play around with different amounts to get varying final results:

Next up, dollop heaping spoonfuls of the yogurt to cover the peanut butter in each mold:

Press yogurt down into the molds using the back of your spoon to make sure they're packed. This will help seal the peanut butter and yogurt together in the final treat. You can even gently "drop" the tray a few times in order to encourage further settling. If you have excess yogurt in any of the molds, gently scoop away until level with mold and pop into the freezer for at least 4 hours:

Once frozen, remove tray and pop out individual frozen treats — voila!