Woof it down

PowerBark co-owner Beth Arnold says her family and dogs, Louie and Riley, love living in Hoover.

PowerBark co-owner Beth Arnold says her family and dogs, Louie and Riley, love living in Hoover. (Photo/Jon Goering)

Pet owners are taking their dogs with them everywhere – from road trips to the office. So, their pups are constantly away from home during normal meal times.

To help both owners and dogs with their hectic schedules, Beth Arnold and Leslie Fhima created PowerBark meal bars.

A former professional figure skater, Arnold understands how important it is to have a healthy lifestyle. So, it was a natural transition when she decided to become a registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist.

Arnold focused on patients who struggled with eating disorders and weight management issues – something she saw regularly while on the ice rink.

And it was her skating ties that helped create PowerBark.

Arnold met up with her longtime friend, Fhima, during a figure skating reunion in Chicago in 2009. While catching up, the two started talking about their jobs and dogs.

Fhima, a personal trainer, regularly took her dog Sadie with her to clients’ homes. But that often meant Sadie would miss her regular meal times.

With a problem to solve and Arnold’s nutrition background, the two became partners and started working on a pet food solution.

They started testing different ingredients and combinations to come up with the perfect meal-replacement bar for dogs. The Association of American Feed Controls Officials (AAFCO) has strict rules on what dog food must contain, and it took seven to 10 analyses in a three-year period from them before the bar’s formula was perfected in 2013.

“The food has to have the right amount of protein, among other things,” says Arnold, who worked with an AAFCO consultant through the process. “There are a lot of similarities with what we eat.”

But the AAFCO wasn’t the only one who had to give approval. They also had to check with their furry customers. Of the dogs tested, 98.6 percent enjoyed the bars. Even Arnold’s two pups, Riley and Louie, can’t get enough of them.

“As soon as they hear me crinkle the wrapper, they come running,” Arnold says. “They love the bars.

The PowerBark bars, which are manufactured and assembled in the United States, are made from natural ingredients with added vitamins and minerals. They are gluten, wheat, soy and corn free.

The bars are complete meals for dogs, not a treat. A bar is one meal for a 30-pound adult dog. So if the dog is 10 pounds, they will need 1/3 of the bar for one meal. And the average lab will need two bars in the morning and two at night.

The meal-replacement bars, which are $4 each, are perfect for hiking, camping, hunting, road trips, tailgating, pet day care or taking them to the office. A case of PowerBark is $48 when purchased online. The bars are interchangeable with regular dog food, so they won’t cause problems when dogs eat them during excursions.

Instead of trying to measure out the dog’s food, owners can just pack some bars when they need to go somewhere. As the PowerBark motto says, they are “a meal on the run for the dog on the go.”

“Just like how energy bars became convenient for us, PowerBark bars are something to grab and go for them,” she says. “Anything that’s trending in the human world will make its way to the dog industry. We like to humanize our pets. They’re an extended part of our family.”

The women also have some dog treats in the works, which will be coming out soon. They’re planning to launch two kinds: grain-free and meat treats. Going forward, they want to continue to create new flavors and bar sizes.

This woman-owned business has come a long way since the two reunited in Chicago.

“It’s really great we’ve been able to do all of this,” says Arnold, who now works on PowerBark full time. “We’ve launched a business that we believe in so much. There are ups and downs with being an entrepreneur, but I don’t have any regrets – and I’ve learned so much.”

While the company is important to Arnold, her family comes first. Her husband and three daughters have been behind her the entire time. “They are proud of me,” Arnold says. “It’s important for me to show my daughters hard work is worth it.”

The bars can be purchased at Powerbark.com, Amazon.com and local stores like Ed’s Pet World, First Avenue Rocks, Piggly Wiggly and Organic Harvest, Mountain High Outfitters and the Greater Birmingham Humane Society gift shop. They are also available in stores in Minnesota (where Fhima lives), New Mexico, Texas and California.

[This article originally appeared in the May issue of Hoover’s Magazine. Pick up your free copy at one of these locations.]

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