Canadian startup Dog-Eh! introduces a brand new line of dog food supplements, taking health & wellness trends recently seen in human nutrition, and applying them to our furriest family members.
Startup founders Amanda Wattie & Frank Fuchs are on a mission to help people make the most out of every day with their dog. Based on background experiences at the intersection of dog agility training and government regulations, the team is launching its first 3 dog food supplements which are uniquely Health Canada approved, and manufactured in a human-grade supplement facility.
"When we look at the supplement industry at large, if we look back 10 years from where we are today, we see it's really in its infancy," shares Frank. The co-founders go on to explain how common health & wellness trends we see today in human nutrition are just as desirable for pet nutrition also. "Less fillers, pure ingredients, fewer ingredients, and less unpronounceable ingredients are a big part of what we're seeing health food markets skew towards," shares Frank. "This dog food movement is really just following the movement in human food."
"People are starting to shift and realize, whoa, why are there 30 ingredients on the back of a bag of dog food?” - Frank Fuchs, Co-Founder, Dog-Eh!
"We came up with three separate products that fit three specific niches," shares Amanda. The three products - Skin & Coat Plus, Joint Support, and Metabolism Support - are available today at www.dog-eh.com, with direct-to-consumer shipment options available. Compared to traditional dog nutrition, the founders believe their products bring a breath of fresh air. "There's no fillers, no byproducts, no preservatives, no colouring, NOTHING that people are now trying to stay away from!"
The problem Dog-Eh! is solving is how traditional dog foods are made for the masses. "They're not necessarily made for your specific dog, so there's always going to be something that's lacking," shares Amanda.
"There's so many different issues that can pop up with dogs. Even if you go to the best breeder that has all the tests there, still, things end up happening. We're trying to make it super simple for everyone to simply sprinkle our supplements on top of your dog food, tailored specifically to your dog's individual needs." - Amanda Wattie, Co-Founder, Dog-Eh!
Amanda is not your ordinary dog-lover. She's a dog agility competitor and trainer, working with dogs and people across North America & Europe, with deep passion, connections and industry insight. "We're hearing the buzz around certain trends and things that have been used for years…that perhaps your every-day pet owner just doesn't know about.” As Amanda explains, dog agility is very similar to horse jumping, with the addition of tunnels & teeter totters, where the human acts as a GPS guide, running the dog through an obstacle course in the fastest time possible. This experience gives Dog-Eh! an edge.
"Being involved in competitive dog sports, I become really in tune with my dog's movement. Because I'm so acutely aware, I'm able to tell if there's a slight minor difference in his gait. Two years ago with my dog Winnie, I was so in tune with his movements, I was able to save his life.” - Amanda Wattie, Co-Founder, Dog-Eh!
Not only does Amanda participate in dog agility, but she's also involved in dog training, obedience training online & in-person, and trains a wide variety of pets on TV, film sets & commercials!
"Right now, I'm actually filming a movie that my dog Winnie is co-starring in. It's been a lot of fun, and my dog's certainly enjoying the extra attention!" - Amanda Wattie, Co-Founder, Dog-Eh!
With a freshly launched dog supplement brand, it's easy to forget how this young startup arrived in this position. Both Frank & Amanda came from competitive, athletic backgrounds. For Amanda, it's a bit of a comeback-story. In 2017, Amanda underwent a major back injury where she couldn't feel from the waist down for a period of time. Amanda's new-found motivation was to do all the things that made her happy, including dog agility competitions at the national level. Both Amanda & Frank independently fell in love with the concept of personal growth, meeting one another virtually at a Tony Robbins seminar online. Frank had gotten himself a "COVID puppy," and the two bonded nicely as friends around the topic.
Interestingly enough...the co-founders still haven't met face-to-face! "One of the silver-linings of COVID is that with all the technology we have today, you can start anything from anywhere, really," Frank enthusiastically shared. "We can run things sort of virtually, and that's the way we like it, especially during a global pandemic."
The goal of the business is consistent & clear, with the words "quality of life" frequently stated.
"These pets become members of your family and you want them to have the same quality of life you do," explains Frank. You want to try and extend that quality of life and just let them be happy, healthy dogs for as long as they can, by your side, included in everything."
"Our WHY is right on our website; it's to help people make the most out of every day with their dogs." - Frank Fuchs, Co-Founder, Dog-Eh!
"We want to build a brand that people trust," shares Amanda, emphasizing the opportunity for Dog-Eh! to take a thought leadership role in the pet nutrition industry. "With the pet supplement industry in its infancy, there's no clear brand that consumers trust, there’s no Kleenex of pet supplements, and that's why we're trying to nurture this valuable, resourceful community,” she explains in regards to their growing social media community and available resources.
Solving challenges is a core part of any business startup. "We've run into a couple of issues with minimum order quantities, and getting Health Canada approvals on our ingredients & dosages is no easy thing," Amanda shares. Fortunately, Frank's skill-set provides a nice complement to Amanda's. "Frank's vast knowledge in government policies & regulations really helped us go through Health Canada approvals with relative ease," she proudly states."
No team has everything, Frank admits. And this is where North Forge East came timely into play.
"North Forge East has been a guide, helping us overcome roadblocks, specifically with funding minimum order quantities. Just having people like Shane Li as a mentor has been huge for us. It's great to have the outside input, especially from people that really know what building and launching a new brand & business looks like." - Frank Fuchs, Co-Founder, Dog-Eh!
Amanda acknowledges the value of letting strategic people in to help build the startup business.
"I think a lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking they have to go at it alone. It doesn't need to be this way. It doesn't need to be as difficult as you make it. It can be so much easier when you open that door, and work collaboratively with organizations like North Forge East - an organization designed to help startups as a guiding light. They're so educated on all the little nuances that happen, all the things that tend to trip entrepreneurs up, and there's very little that surprises them.” - Amanda Wattie, Co-Founder, Dog-Eh!
"It takes a community to raise a startup, so why not reach out to one like North Forge East!" shares Frank.
Having launched just weeks ago (December 2021), it's an exciting time at Dog-Eh!. With a social media following, celebrity shout-outs, and promotional campaigns, the startup is poised for growth through 2022.
When asked what Dog-Eh!'s initial customers look like, Frank shared "it's been younger, educated consumers really pushing for the limited ingredient, health-focused products." And so far, the 3 flagship products have impressed. "It's really the shock-factor that the product is exactly what it says," Amanda adds.
"There's only three ingredients in each of your products?! Tell me the others!"
"No, that's it."
"No, no, really, what else? What additives? What fillers? What artificial colouring?"
Dog-Eh!'s dog food startup story is only beginning. For those interested in learning more & following Amanda & Frank's fun, educating brand, visit the website and follow along on social media.