RI’s Three Paws Up dog treats are tasty, but save some for your dog

Amy Iaciofano with her son Liam and her dog Bella. The Providence Journal/Sandor Bodo
Amy Iaciofano with her son Liam and her dog Bella. The Providence Journal/Sandor Bodo

“These are delicious. Are you sure they’re dog treats?”

So I exclaimed when I tasted “PBB” dog treats from Three Paws Up with my dog Raven. Boasting a pleasant peanut aroma, the treats are nutty and savory with a touch of banana-based sweetness and a hint of cinnamon. These crispy treats could satisfy both human and canine snacking needs, especially if you care where Fido’s food comes from.

Made here in Rhode Island, Three Paws Up treats are hand crafted, fresh baked, and made to order, all from locally sourced and often organic ingredients. Each snack is made with six ingredients or less and packed in recyclable packaging. The secret to the treats’ texture — and the crunch that dogs love — is a slow dehydration process.

Three Paws Up dog biscuits are tasty enough for humans to enjoy, too. The Providence Journal/Sandor Bodo
Three Paws Up dog biscuits are tasty enough for humans to enjoy, too. The Providence Journal/Sandor Bodo

Amy Iaciofano started Three Paws Up in 2012, a few years after her brother passed away unexpectedly. “His death taught me to really live,” says Iaciofano. “I started exercising, eating healthy, and it made me look at what Bella, my dog and running partner, was eating too.” A self-taught cook, Iaciofano set to work researching canine nutrition, developing recipes, baking test batches, and seeking out taste testers with wagging tails.

Iaciofano named the company for the three taste testing pups who gave the first batch of treats an enthusiastic “three paws up.” She says, “I’ve gotten feedback that picky dogs who don’t usually eat treats love them.” Iaciofano is continually researching new flavors, such as a grain-free option and a parsley-based treat to promote fresh breath.

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While she bakes with dogs in mind, Iaciofano is attuned to the needs of their owners. Consumers increasingly seek local and organic options. As a result, certified organic food is now a $40-billion industry with options available in 75 percent of grocery categories. This trend holds firm for dog food and treats, which face the same food safety concerns as any other food produced in our globalized food system.

A commitment to quality and safety is at the heart of Three Paws Up. “High quality foods are better for performance, taste better, and have health and nutritional benefits,” says Iaciofano. “You have to fuel your body for it to function properly and the same goes for dogs’ snacks and pet food.” When shopping for pets, Iaciofano advises animal owners to check ingredient labels just like they would for any other food. “Definitely no preservatives!” she says. “Many of the brands in large stores have a longer shelf life due to preservatives. Look for simple ingredients.”

What’s more, Three Paws Up actively supports animal-friendly causes and promotes pet rescue efforts. “There are so many beautiful, loving dogs waiting for their homes,” says Iaciofano. “Spreading the word is important. My social media is a big platform for pet adoption.”

Three Paws Up treats come in a range of flavors including peanut butter, peanut butter banana, pumpkin, and apple berry.

Details: Treats can be purchased from threepawsup.com, at the Providence Whole Foods at 261 Waterman St., and Muttley Crew at 265 Putnam Pike in Smithfield.

Emily Contois is a food writer and Ph. D. candidate in American Studies at Brown University. She also holds graduate degrees in public health nutrition and gastronomy and blogs at emilycontois.com.