By Claudie Benjamin
Just as humans have become increasingly concerned about nutrition over the past 30 years, this trend follows for dogs and cats.
Sophia Angelakis has owned and managed pet food and supply centers in NYC over these decades and has developed definite guidelines about how pet nutrition needs could be better served. For this reason, in addition to her location at 224 West 72nd Street, she has just opened a fourth Pet Market at 132 West 72nd Street between Columbus and Broadway. The key focus here will be on nutrition. She has never sold pets. “I think people should either buy from a breeder or get a rescue pet.”
As confusing as it is for humans to decide what foods and supplements their bodies need, and which elements to avoid, they do have the option of consulting physicians, dietary consultants and nutritionists and other certified experts with long experience in holistic care. Humans can also access many highly specialized professionals with expertise on how to treat specific conditions and diseases from a nutritional view.
Most pet owners are more on their own about what advice to trust and when to eye with suspicion. Breeders may advocate for kibble. Does slow cooked kibble make a difference? Is grain-based dog food OK? The government ratings of pet food change – should you throw away what you’ve been feeding your pet? How much variety in foods do you give your pet? Sophia believes a certain amount of variety is necessary to avoid the pet getting allergies. So, how do you manage this?
Fancy innovative makers of dog snacks tempt pet owners to buy biscuits and treats with comfort food and delicacy names that tempt pet owners to try a bit themselves. Do you ask your vet who may be promoting a particular brand? Or, do you count on the advice of a friend who owns a very old, healthy dog even though that dog is at least three times smaller than your own young dog?
Sophia does care about providing sound nutritional advice. And she’s just hired a pet nutritionist who will be available on certain days at each of the four Pet Markets including the new one on 72nd Street.
As an adolescent, Sophia came from Greece to the US with her family. When she and her husband opened the first home of the Pet Market West 72nd Street in 1991, they had not yet started their family. Living on the Upper West Side, they had four cats. There was one small pet store in the neighborhood but none with a full selection of pet foods and supplies. Sophia says, “In the beginning, we knew nothing about pets. We bought what pet owners suggested. We were guided by them.” Today, the sales team is very knowledgeable. They are known for their friendliness. Just ask for a ball for your teething puppy and you will find an advisor who seems truly interested in helping you find just the right thing.
Sophia says the informed nutrition-minded pet parent has great options. Raw, freeze-dried kibble cooked at low temperatures, and a lot of good supplements and toppers to add to the pet’s nutrition. Treat samples are offered at the store so you can check if the treat is something that tempts your pet.
Nutrition-wise the selection of options has been given a great deal of thought. Sophia is disdainful of the traditional milk bones, which were once standard, thought to be healthy because the name included the word “milk” but which actually have no nutritional value. By contrast, Sophia invites customers to consider handmade healthy treats produced by two women in the tri-state area and one in Canada. “On the wellness end of our products, we carry a variety of medicines, vitamins, and accessories that range from vet recommendations to holistic natural remedies,” says Sophia. “We understand the need to have both solutions as each pet and owner is different.”
Cat owners may be baffled by the array of supplements including enzymes and probiotics available for their healthy feline. On the other hand, she says a lot of cats develop urinary problems from having too much magnesium and ash in their diet. You want a friendly advisor with patience. Sophia says the options may need decoding and that’s exactly why the pet nutritionist will be on hand!
Business Hours WEST 72ND ST: Monday-Saturday 10am-7pm / Sunday 11am-6pm