Not so long ago the idea of lacing petfood with dandelion, kelp and herbs, dosing pets with liquid garlic or using aromatherapy oils to fight infection was regarded as somewhat peculiar, if not downright daft. Now, natural, healthier alternatives for pets are starting to be taken seriously, fuelled by the tide of interest in healthier human lifestyles. Confirmation of this can be seen in the number of mainstream brands which are now starting to include ingredients with natural or functional claims. Denes is a pioneer of the natural petcare movement. Founded in 1951 by vet Buster Lloyd-Jones, whose patients included royal corgis and Winston Churchill's pets, Denes supplies a range of canned and complete dry petfoods, licensed herbal medicines and supplements, primarily to vets, specialist outlets and health stores. Its food is claimed to be free from artificial colours, flavourings and preservatives and includes a canned gourmet range for cats with thyme, watercress and parsley to improve taste and aroma, and a super premium dry product, rich in chicken, kelp and alfalfa, said to be suitable for animals with food allergies or digestive problems. There are similar ranges for dogs. Marketing manager Cara Courage reports rising interest in Denes products. "The market is ready for our products now. We're not in the multiples, but we'd like to be. Our Probiotic+ Powder for cats and dogs, launched late last year and which is the animal equivalent of Yakult, is doing extremely well, surpassing our expectations. Owners are realising that dietary supplements can help their pets' wellbeing." {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}