Dogs like ice cream. Actually, most dogs will eat about any kind of people food they can get their paws on, but it doesn’t always agree with their stomach. Matt and Meg Meyer noticed that their dogs, nicknamed the Rat and the Bear, would get sick after eating human ice cream, and it spurred them to start a company that produced ice cream specially formulated for dogs.
In 2010 they began their business, calling it The Bear & The Rat after their beloved canine companions. It started out as a part-time gig, but the couple went full-time last year. The dog treat startup is currently run out of the Meyers’ home.
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Until recently, they were selling four flavors of cold dog-safe frozen yogurt. The only problem with selling chilled goods is that they are difficult to ship to pet owners who want to purchase the products.
The company was able to earn $200,000 in fresh venture capital this year through an investor, and the Meyers’ used the funds to launch their first freeze-dried yogurt product for canines.
The new products have less lactose than normal ice cream and do not need to be refrigerated. However, they do contain the same healthy probiotics as human ice cream which aid in the dog’s digestion.
The treats are also low in calories, so they can be used as healthy rewards while training without owners having to worry about their pooch packing on the pounds.
Since the freeze-drying process sucks out all the moisture from the yogurt treats, The Bear & The Rat is able to sell directly to consumers through online retailers. They offer two flavors of the freeze dried treats; bacon and sweet potato carrot.
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The company’s original frozen ice cream products are made in Colorado, and the new freeze-dried treats are made in Illinois.
Since they previously only sold frozen products, the company did a majority of its previous sales as business to business transactions. They are excited about the ability to expand into the online market and are also hoping to grow their grocery sales as well. They currently only have a minimal amount of grocery retailers.
In 2012 the company got its biggest boost to date; an appearance on the hit show Shark Tank. The Meyer’s received a call a short time later from their newest investor who became interested in the company after seeing it on the show. The couple also credits the show for helping them get their products into pet industry distributors.