For the past five years, I’ve been the proud dog mom of a Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Lucy. She’s cuddly, sweet, sometimes bossy, and currently the love of my life. I would do anything for her.
Giving Lucy the best of the best has been a priority for me since the moment I adopted her from a shelter. I wanted to make sure she ate healthy food and treats, played with eco-friendly, healthy toys, and was being constantly stimulated through the games we played and time we spent together. However, I didn’t have the time to make her food, treats, and toys myself, so I turned to the dog wellness world for help. Lucky for us there’s been significant growth in the number of dog wellness startups over the past few years. Lucy and I were able to try out products from most of the startups that are currently in the business. Here are our favorites:
Ollie is hands-down our favorite canine wellness startup. Unlike the dry dog food you’ll find in stores (often terrible for your pets), Ollie is made from real, fresh meat, fruits, grains, and vegetables. Ollie understands that every dog is different, so each meal plan is portioned for your dog’s breed, weight, and physical activity.
The meals come pre-portioned, so you don’t have to worry about feeding your dog too much or too little. Lucy loves the taste and variety of Ollie’s meals, and is always excited for mealtime. We opted for the chicken recipe first but also tried the beef and Lucy loved it just as much (they also offer turkey & lamb). I especially appreciated the resealable tub that comes with the first order, in which you can store any leftover food. It fits easily in any fridge and reduces waste.
Price: The price will depend on your dog. The website says prices starts at just $3 a day for small dogs. Lucy’s plan came out to $29/week, but I got a 50% discount for my first two weeks which was convenient to make sure it was worth it (spoiler alert: it was).
Pros: Tailored to fit your dog’s nutritional needs, Ollie dog food satisfies even the pickiest dogs. The ingredients work together to improve digestion, skin health, and a shiny coat.
Cons: The price is expensive, but well worth it. Ollie’s customized meal plans help maintain healthy weight and in turn, lead to a longer life span.
The Verdict: Ollie’s a keeper. With Ollie, you get to spend less time at the vet, and more years with the best version of your dog.
First launched as a human mattress company, Casper also makes dog beds. Designed for maximum canine comfort, these beds are made from a combination of pressure-relieving memory foam and durable support foam. Because dogs instinctively scratch and circle before they lie down, Casper dog beds feature extra material near the top, so Lucy can’t accidentally (or purposefully) rip it up like she would with her old dog beds. Lucy’s bed also has foam bolsters surrounding the mattress, helping her to feel secure and serving as a place for her to lay her head down. With Casper, Lucy is the queen of comfort. She loves snoozing in her memory foam bed even more than she likes cuddling in mine!
Price: Casper’s beds range between and $125-$225 for small, medium and large dogs.
Pros: Casper’s 30 night trial and free returns make trying Casper’s dog beds worth it. These beds can withstand chewing and provide your pup the most comfortable sleep money can buy!
Cons: While these dog beds are durable and include memory, they don’t come cheap!
The Verdict: If you want your pooch to sleep on a cloud, Casper is your pick! Perfect for dogs with joint or back problems.
Similar to 23andMe, Embark is the best dog DNA test currently on the market. As an official research partner of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Embark not only tells you your dog’s breed and ancestry, but can also test for over 175 genetic health conditions and traits. When Lucy took the test, all I had to do was swab the inside of her cheek and then mail the sample back to Embark in a prepaid envelope. Three weeks later, we received the results: Lucy was 100% Cavalier King Charles and disease-free! This was a huge relief for me, as I’ve always been a bit of a hypochondriac, and was worried about Lucy’s health. It was also really cool to learn that Lucy was 100% Cavalier King Charles, because I wasn’t sure after having gotten her from a shelter.
Price: Embark’s dog DNA test costs $189 for insights on breed, health, and ancestry.
Pros: Compared to other genetic tests in the market, Embark gives the most in-depth breed makeup analysis. Comprehensive genetic health screening, Embark predicts genetic age and weight as well as details on maternal and paternal lineages.
Cons: Embark is definitely one of the more expensive DNA tests, but also the most comprehensive. Embark only identifies breeds from North America and not ideal if you have a dog with foreign ancestry.
The Verdict: There’s a relatively long turnaround time with all genetic tests, but Embark is worth the wait. Embark’s large database helps give you the most detailed report of your dog you can get!
First started as BarkBox, BARK is one of the more well-known dog startups out there, and for good reason! Their treats and toys are loved by dogs everywhere, and come in lots of different subscription options depending on your dog’s needs. Lucy has a lot of energy, and is a big chewer, so I subscribe to BARK’s SuperChewer option. This subscription has sturdier toys, which is good for making sure Lucy gets to actually enjoy her toys, instead of tearing through them after just a single day. I feel good knowing Lucy is chewing on high quality, American-made chews and treats, instead of something made with lower quality ingredients that could be bad for her. There’s a lot of variety in the boxes, which Lucy also loves!
Price: The 12 month BarkBox plan cost $21/month while the 1 month BarkBox Plan cost $29/month.
Pros: You get your money’s worth every month! You can expect high quality treats and chews made in the USA and Canada in every box. Allergy friendly boxes free of wheat, corn, and soy make BarkBox an easy pick.
Cons: There are no multi-pet boxes. If you own multiple pets, you won’t be able to customize the box for different pup preferences.
The Verdict: Barkbox delivers top products that’ll have you dog smiling all month long. Subscribe to the SuperChewer option for pets that love destroying toys!
There are a lot of startups out there for dog products, and a lot of them are really great! These are just a few of me and Lucy’s favorites, but we’ve tried dozens more that we’ve liked over the years. If I had to only pick one, I’d have to choose Ollie. Lucy’s health is so important to me and Ollie ensures that she’s always eating the best food possible which leads to both short and long term benefits. It’s definitely a little more expensive than commercial dog food, but it’s exponentially better and completely worth the price.
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