Oak Park pet shop opts for natural products
Oak Park Natural Pet and Fish manager Scott Arient with pet food made from nutrient-dense ingredients, which his store carries. | Meredith Morris~for Sun-Times Media
Pet for the holidays?
Thinking about giving the gift of a pet this holiday season? Don’t do it, Oak Park Natural Pet and Fish manager Scott Arient urges.
Opt for a gift certificate and let people make their own selections. For aquarium novices, pick up a 10-gallon tank starter kit – no fish, no decorations – for $80.
Including your pet in the holidays? For a dog, Arient recommends a dried duck foot (79 cents). The hottest dog treat in his shop right now, he sells about 200 a week. For a cat, consider Stella and Chewy’s freeze-dried food ($24 for 12 ounces).
“The cats really respond and like it, and they’re getting their enzymes,” Arient said.
Updated: December 30, 2012 6:35AM
OAK PARK — Mood in the tank? Come to Oak Park Natural Pet and Fish for its array of fish and abundance of pet toys and treats.
Oak Park Natural Pet and Fish opened its doors at 23 N. Harlem Ave. in March 2011, said manager Scott Arient. Previously, Arient owned Scott’s Pet Store in Westchester for more than two decades. He decided to launch an Oak Park venture because of the area’s lack of specialty aquarium stores and profusion of dog and cat owners, Arient said.
“We try to get unusual fresh and saltwater fish and live corals,” he said, adding that the store also caters to medical offices, businesses and homes by installing and maintaining display aquariums.
One long-time Westchester customer, Rodney Edwards of Chicago, is pleased to have Arient in Oak Park.
“I wanted to get into another kind of fish and wanted to talk with Scott because he’s a wealth of knowledge. It’s nice that he’s so much closer now,” Edwards said, eyeing an African cyclid.
The brightly colored freshwater fish is a good choice for new aquarium enthusiasts because it’s affordable ($7-$30) and easy to keep, Arient said. Another stand-out for beginners is the glow fish, a freshwater fish bred in vibrant red, purple, green and orange. At less than $10, it’s hardy and content to live in a relatively small tank.
In addition to fish, Oak Park Natural Pet and Fish offers natural, grain-free dog and cat food – dried, canned, frozen and freeze-dried. Shoppers can also find a range of dietary supplements and other pet care products.
For pet health, Arient is an advocate of freeze-dried food.
“You wouldn’t see it in a grocery store. The advantage is that there is no heat involved in the process,” he said. Heat, used to manufacture dried pet food, removes the nutrients from proteins.
At about $24 for a 12-ounce bag of freeze-dried cat food, or $68 for a 20-pound bag of grain-free dried dog food, Arient said the cost of natural pet food generally balances with that of processed brands because animals require less of the nutrient-dense products.
Natural products also benefit animal health.
“There are people who come in who are already aware of this, but others who come in for fish and say, ‘Hey, I have a dog.’ We introduce them to it and they’re surprised at what a difference it makes,” he said.
Customer Manal Ramadan, of Elmwood Park, selects natural food for her cat.
“She’s a picky eater, but I also want to get her good quality,” she said. “This store has the brand I like and that’s hard to find.”
As a vegetarian, Ramadan struggles with the concept of animal protein-based pet foods. But though vegetarian products exist, they aren’t nutritionally complete for carnivorous pets, especially cats, Arient said.
Oak Park Natural Pet and Fish is open Mondays through Fridays, from 10 a.m.-8 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.