For the Dogs

Side by Side makes some of the best food in town, but it’s not for you.

By Elizabeth Guest

Recently, my three-year-old son sidled up to the dog bowl at Aunt Lydia’s house to share tasty morsels of kibble with her Havanese named “Dude.” Now, if Dude was lucky enough to dine on Side by Side, a pet food crafted by local entrepreneur Marney Zafian, I might have squatted down and joined them in their meal. Or maybe waited to serve it for dinner at the table. Zafian’s product is made from the finest whole-food ingredients, a premier pet food for animal health and well-being.

“We’re finally recognizing that our animals are dying due to their diets,” explains Zafian, a certified Veterinary Technician, a certified holistic chef for small animals and a self-taught practitioner of Chinese food therapy. “One out of every two dogs is getting cancer, which is an absurd statistic, and I want to change it.”

Nowadays, we serve ourselves farm eggs with yolks so gold they look like they were touched by King Midas, incomparable to the pallid eggs in styrofoam cartons that used to suffice. We’re finally realizing that fresh, nutritious food is important for our pets, too, and that over-processed pet food laced with fillers and artificial additives is causing debilitating diseases. Side by Side seeks to change the pet food market by bringing a better balance of healthy, real ingredients to the diets of our animals. “It’s about challenging the pet food industry and offering a better product while educating people to feed their pets like they deserve to be fed,” says Zafian.

Side by Side offers custom pet food diets that promote wellness and vitality. Ingredients get sourced from small, organic farms and ranches. For example, the Comfort-Diet cooked dog food combines 30 ingredients such as duck hearts, ocean fish, parsley, chard, coconut oil, chia seeds, alfalfa grass, and many more you’d recognize from the aisles of your grocery store or serve your family for dinner.

The Comfort-Diet is specific to dogs with itchiness and separation anxiety and promotes clearing internal heat and reduces inflammation. An assortment of other meals may be more appropriate for pets with other symptoms. Side by Side also offers supplements for hips and allergies, toppers to entice more finicky animals to indulge, one hundred percent all-protein treats, and trail mixes for on-the-go nutrition.

Zafian also takes considerable care in selecting cooking techniques. Different cooking temperatures are suitable for different animal’s constitutions. However, all of Side by Side’s products are minimally processed to promote easy digestion and maximum nutrient absorption.

The company recently started co-packing from Wisconsin, the most progressive state for health-conscious pet food. For Zafian, the Wisconsin branch of Side by Side handles the bulk of production of online items, and is a more cost-effective hub than Telluride. She is also partnered with a holistic veterinarian there who oversees harvesting techniques and production, followed by packaging and distribution.

Zafian maintains a kitchen in Telluride to test new recipes and play around with different flavor profiles. She might be found making jerky from Colorado bison one day or responding to a client’s urgent need on another. For example, when an Arizona client contacted her that her dog was in distress and allergic to the chicken broth available online, Zafian put on her pot mitts and stewed up a batch of duck broth for them. “If somebody needs something and it’s hard to get, I can always help,” says Zafian. “It’s not about finding something that simply fits; I want to find the best fit for the animal.”

The same can be said about Zafian’s relationship with business partner Carol Bramson, a businesswoman with more than twenty-five years of experience in the natural food industry. The duo united after Zafian was chosen for the 2016 Telluride Venture Accelerator program that helps launch local businesses. Bramson saw Side by Side’s potential and became the business mind for helping the company grow while being sensitive to the enterprise’s carbon footprint on the planet. “We’re dedicated to expanding the company in the most ethical way,” says Zafian. “We want to offer the best customer service to help hundreds, if not thousands, of dogs be healthy as a result of the products and education we offer.”

Zafian encourages anyone interested in catering to their pet with Side by Side to submit an online nutritional assessment at The nutritional questionnaire determines an animal’s individual needs and guides pet owners to select the right recipes to help their animals thrive.

Or stop by the Side by Side shop in the breezeway next to High Pie Pizzeria on main street. Pet owners can find it at 100 West Colorado Avenue, while their canine companions can merely follow their noses to the freshest pet food in town.