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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Kritter Kookies marks 25th year producing pet snacks

Kritter Kookies owner Lucy Gladhart smiles as she talks about her business on Thursday, March 19, 2020, at Kritters Kookies in Deer Park. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Lucy Gladhart isn’t worried about running out of toilet paper, it’s the shortage of 50-pound bags of flour and crates of 15 dozen eggs that has her worried.

She needs those supplies to produce Smakin’ Snax, her all-natural chicken liver pet treats. Even in the face of a pandemic, pets expect their treats.

Gladhart’s business, Kritter Kookies, is celebrating its 25th year.

“It was founded in 1995, and I bought it from the original owner 10 years ago,” Gladhart said.

She discovered Smakin’ Snax when it was sold at the Spokane veterinary clinic she managed.

“I wanted to have my own business, and this was a product I knew and believed in,” she said.

The preservative-free snacks are made with chicken liver, whole grains and no corn, soy, sugar or salt.

“Everything is made by hand. Our treats stay fresh for over a year without preservatives because I dehydrate them overnight in a commercial dehydrator,” Gladhart said. “They hold nutrients better than mass-produced treats because I bake them at a lower heat for a longer time.”

In 2011, she moved operations from Loon Lake to Deer Park, leasing a small space inside a pet-boarding facility. That’s where she and employee Tracy March bake up to 50 pounds of treats a day.

Using the original recipe, featuring high-quality, human-grade ingredients, they make more than a dozen shapes and sizes of snacks. From Tiny Snax for cats to Mini and Medium Bones for dogs, Gladhart said the treats are appropriate for any protein-eating pet, including ferrets and rats.

The liver-basted bones are especially popular.

“I baste extra chicken liver and eggs on them,” she said.

March raises Havanese dogs. As she took a tray of treats from the commercial oven, she talked about her introduction to the product.

“I bought a bag of Smakin’ Snax at Huckleberries on Monroe,” she said. “Now my dogs refuse to eat any other treat. I go through about 10 pounds of treats a month. We call it doggie cocaine.”

That kind of feedback keeps Gladhart going.

“I’m here six days a week,” she said. “We do everything here, from baking, to boxing and labeling.”

Gladhart owns a German shepherd and a red heeler.

“My red heeler is my quality control dog. She loves her treats hot out of the oven, and she loves the dough,” Gladhart said.

And, yes, Gladhart has sampled the snacks herself, as well as those made by her competitors.

Each bag of Smakin’ Snax contains one heart-shaped treat.

“I put my heart in every bag,” said Gladhart, smiling.

Kritter Kookies products can be found at area stores such as Northwest Seed and Pet (North Side), My Fresh Basket, veterinary clinics, pet grooming/boarding facilities and grocery stores, including select Yokes and Rosauers locations. Products can also be ordered online.

Business is booming.

“We grew 20% just last year,” Gladhart said. “It’s really important to buy local, especially in times like these. Thank God there’s no run on chicken liver!”