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Doggie Health Food Shop, Groomer Relocates Nearby

A local dog groomer and boutique says goodbye to bling and hello to heath food.

Your dog, who took a ride with you along the dreaded Seven Bridges Road detour, wants you to know something he caught wind of on Silverside Avenue. In that little building by the train tracks, someone is hiding dehydrated lobster meat.

The Dogspaw' of Little Silver, once the PawPalace of Red Bank, set up shop in Little Silver this month after owner Dana Ujobagy heard one too many complaints from her customers about parking in downtown Red Bank. It was time to move on.

But the move didn't just give Ujobagy off-street parking, it gave her more square footage and the chance to shift her business model, which once focused on doggie bling, to take advantage of health food trends in the industry.

"My passion, and the trends of what people were spending on dogs, started swaying to holistic dog food," Ujobagy.

Ujobagy said that she was drawn into the movement personally when she lost two boxers prematurely, both to cancer.

That's when, she said, "I started to look at the ingredients in their food."

What she found was corn, soy, wheat, chemicals and bi-products. Her findings led the now owner of six dogs to change their diets to holistic foods not found on the shelves of grocery stores.

Then came the pet food recall out of China seven years ago. "I saw a lot of dogs affected by that," she said. And so did her customers who began coming to her looking for guidance.

Though her retail store offers everything from birthday cakes and toys for your dog, the focus of the store is less doggie accessories, she said, and more holistic health options like frozen or dehydrates raw foods and holistic treats. Ujobagy now sees her main mission as one of education.

"I open [customers'] eyes to what they are feeding their dogs," she said. Often she said customers will come to her saying their dog has rashes or food allergies or even cancer, and she will show them how those ailments could be a result of poor diet. Ujobagy also gets referrals from Fair Haven veternarian Dr. Gregory Heins.

Where PawPalace had about one small rack of health foods for dogs, the Little Silver location now has almost half her business dedicated to a wide variety of food and treats. Soon she said she will start carrying her own private label brand.

Click here to view the brands. For a large bag of dog food customers can expect to spend about $10 more a bag, but Ujobagy said they will get back that money in savings on vet bills and pet longevity.

Ujobagy has plans to expand the business soon to dog walking and day care, for which she built a separate room in the store.

What hasn't changed much is that about 60 percent of Ujobagy's business is dog grooming with spa packages titled Posh Puppy, Bow Wow Bubble Bath and Rover Royalty, to name a few. Services run from $25 to about $60.

Ujobagy said her Dogspaw' offers perks different from other pet groomers like all natural products, private suites for pets prior to grooming and orthopedic mats in the bathing area for dogs with sore joints.

Customer Christie Spielmann told Patch that she drives 40 minutes from her home in Millstone to bring her two special needs dogs to The Dogspaw' because, she said, "They have compassion. They care about the animals."

It's worth the long trip Spielmann said because her dogs are important her. "These are my kids."

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