Every once in a while, the little white-frosted cupcakes on a glass shelf at Cupcake Couture attract the wrong kind of attention.
The human kind.
“They’re totally edible for humans,” shop owner Lauren Whittle said of her Pupcakes. “But they don’t have any sugar in them, so they don’t taste very good.”
Especially if the human in question was expecting a taste of a sweet, delectable cupcake.
The Pupcakes are specially formulated for, well, pups. The cakes include dog-friendly ingredients such as peanut butter, carrots, honey and whole-wheat flour. Cupcake Couture churns out the puppy treats in two sizes, though they will make other sizes as part of a special order.
“It’s more of a treat,” Whittle said, who co-owns the shop with sister-in-law Lindsey White. “One today wanted fondant L’s in them, so I think they do them for birthdays or for a treat.”
Down on Perkins Road, Sweet Wishes Gourmet Cupcake Shoppe also bakes up batches of pet-friendly cupcakes.
Owner Sheetal Verma said she came up with the idea when talking to her shih tzu’s vet.
“We wanted something healthier than what would fall off the table,” Verma said.
Her cakes include apples, oats and honey with a yogurt-based frosting. And, not to discriminate, she also makes cakes for kitties — sans frosting.
Luca Di Martino of Latte e Miele gelato also hosts the occasional doggie birthday party, and its dog-friendly gelato is always on the menu.
His gelato contains Greek yogurt, peanut butter, honey and bananas, and can be served in sundae form on a bed of Milk Bones. “It’s a little more sour than a human ice cream, but the dogs seem to enjoy it,” Di Martino said.
His new location on Jefferson Highway, set to open in a month, will also offer gourmet dog biscuits. But dog cannot live on dessert alone.
Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar & Menu offers a full Surf Dog menu with a complementary Chilly Pup, a bowl of crushed ice and water.
Ryan Fairman, general manager, said the downtown eatery’s Canine Cuisine includes a plain hot dog, grilled chicken, a burger patty or, for brunch, scrambled eggs.
“We’re completely dog friendly,” he said, adding that most of the pooches opt for the patio seating. There’s also a bowl of dog bones at the hostess stand.
“For just about any dogs that come through, we’ve got something for them,” he said.
And, like Sweet Wishes, Lucy’s would also welcome feline diners. “No one’s tried,” Fairman said, “But if they’re on a leash, they’re welcome.”
Frederic Gaschen, a veterinary internist with a special interest in digestive diseases and the M.L. Martin Professor of Companion Animal Medicine at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, said when it comes to feeding your dog or cat, it’s best to keep the pet’s best interests in mind.
“The thing about pets, you’re always happy when they eat,” he said. “What they need is just a balanced food that will keep them going and meet their various requirements.”
Depending on the animal, Gaschen said, the occasional treat may be just fine. But it may not be such a treat for pets with a history of digestion issues.
“It’s been shown that offering new foods that the animal is not used to may be a stress to the digestional tract,” he said, stressing that if you have any doubt about a treat, check with your veterinarian first.
Generally speaking, he said foods made for humans aren’t a good idea for our four-legged friends.
“You don’t cook for a dog or a cat like you cook for a person because their requirements are very different from humans,” he said. Too much sugar is just as bad or worse for pets than it is for people, he said.
That could be why less-sugary treats were a shock to the human palate. Other human foods like chocolate, coffee, grapes and raisins and sweeteners can be toxic to some dogs, Gaschen said.
The dog-friendly menus are leading some of the eateries to give back in other, less edible ways. Lucy’s is considering working closely with area animal welfare groups and holding a Yappy Hour, where pet owners can get together and talk dog (or cat). Latte e Miele lends its talents to events like the Companion Animal Alliance Fur Ball. Sweet Wishes hosts adoption events. Its last event in July resulted in three Yelp! dogs getting new homes.
“It’s something we can do to give back,” owner Verma said.