Toronto can't stop buying cakes and cupcakes for their dogs
As the old adage goes, dogs are a human's best friend – so it only makes sense to buy your four-legged bestie a cake on their birthday, right?
Over the past few years, Toronto has been seeing an influx of businesses catering to luxurious baked goods made just for dogs – a trend that has long been on the rise in America.
The newest company in Toronto to make custom cakes and cupcakes for canines is Mattie and Finnegan, a project started by a vet industry professional Denise Angus and Lynda Paul, owner of It's The Icing On The Cake, a Leslieville bakery (for humans).
The company gives partial proceeds to the No Hungry Pets Project, which supplies pet food to local food banks, and bakes nine and half-inch cakes and cupcakes for any celebratory occasion.
Parties in the parks, post-surgery celebrations, adoption anniversaries – known to pet parents as "Gotcha Days" – are just a few examples of events worth buying a $40 cake baked with recipes of ingredients like apples, carrots, or liver.
"Pets have become kids for many people, they are treated on the same calibre as children," says Denise, who says plenty of owners throw parties for their pets where other dogs are invited to share the cake.
Some even order treats for their terminally ill pets on the day of their euthanization, she says, as a healthy alternative to cheeseburgers and ice cream as a final meal.
Mattie and Finnigan also sells half-dozens of cupcakes for $19.50 and custom cakes which you can pick up at Lynda's Leslieville bakery, though the company also offers free delivery on all their doggie products.
"The younger generation is the biggest market," says Denise, though she's noticed older long-time pet owners start to hop on the trend as well.
The Instagram factor plays a big part in the demographic: for many younger customers, the value of posting an adorable picture of their "pet kid" and their birthday cake on social media is as satisfying – if not more – for owners than the cake itself.
Serene Chin, owner of the Markham-based dog goods bakery Pawsalicious, also says the majority of her customers are millennials.
"It's usually [people in their] early twenties to early forties," she says.
Selling between 15-25 cakes a week, many of Pawsalicious' clients are people who don't have children and who like to splurge once in a while on their pet kids.
Those who do have children find it easy to adopt dogs into the family given their pack-animal nature, says Dr. Richard Benjamin, who owns Kleinberg Vet Hospital.
"A lot of people want to feed the dogs the same thing they feed their family," says Dr. Benjamin, who has noticed baked goods quickly replacing old treats like milk bones.
"We have to be careful because there are certain dogs that have health issues, so you need to look at food sensitivities."
While Mattie and Finnegan uses healthy ingredients like turmeric, cinnamon, veggies and fruits, and Pawsalicious boasts itself as organic and gluten-free, owners should still be paying extra attention to packaging.
Dogs, who have as many allergies as humans, should stay away from treats that are high in sugar, fat, and excess protein like beef liver, says Dr. Benjamin.
"It should be more of a complement than occupying the majority of their diet for that day," he says, recommending that doggie cakes or cupcakes be given throughout the day in small portions rather than all at once.
"One extra cube of cheese for a dog is like an extra cheese burger for us," he says. "It looks small for us but for these guys it's a lot."
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