Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Complete Care for Companion Animals

Jun 24, 2013 03:25AM

Taking care of a companion animal can be a challenge. The Big Bad Woof, a local retail pet supply store, serves as a community resource to the guardians of socially conscious pets. It offers  access to organic, holistic and premium raw diets and a wide range of alternatives including holistic supplements.

Co-owners, Pennye Jones-Napier and Julie Paez opened the store in 2005, after having a dog that was diagnosed with diabetes. They began doing their own due-diligence to help the animal, by gradually changing her diet. During their research, they were astounded to see how many pet foods contained corn, which breaks down into sugar and spikes the gluten levels. Their quest for quality pet foods, free of by-products and artificial enhancements, transpired into what The Big Bad Woof is today. 

The Big Bad Woof is committed to providing nutritious foods for all companion animals, be it dogs, cats, birds, fish or other small mammals. Paez explained, “When we opened up, we looked for products made in the USA and carried very little that was made overseas.” A year after opening the store, a pet recall required many stores to discard shelves full of products. The Big Bad Woof sent back less than 500 products and earned praise throughout the community for being minimally impacted. “I credit that to the fact that we chose carefully. That was the first indication we were on the right track,” Paez expressed. She urges pet owners to read the ingredient panel carefully when searching for pet foods. The first four ingredients are the most important and should all be a type of meat. When the ingredient list begins with meat, corn, corn gluten and another non-meat ingredient, the meat content has disappeared from the meal. “If the first four are not all meat, your pet is basically eating filler,” Paez added.

In addition to premium, holistic, organic and raw foods, The Big Bad Woof is dedicated to sustainable business practices and carrying the best in eco-friendly pet supplies. People commonly forget about cleaning products and how they may effect their pet. Animals have no escape from products filled with harsh chemicals and toxins. “Their sense of smell is 10,000 times more acute then ours,” said Paez. Residue from cleaning products can get caught in their paws, fur and can often have severe consequence. Paez shared, “I have a pit bull that’s extremely sensitive to toxins. The company I use for home cleaning used a harsh product, and the dog swelled up. We had to use a steroid to get the swelling to go down.” Pet owners should also be mindful of shampoos that are strongly scented. The Big Bad Woof carries products that are minimally scented or have no scent at all. 

Whether a dog, cat or small mammal needs travel gear, supplements, chew toys or a winter jacket, The Big Bad Woof carries several options to choose from. Their selection is built from Fair Trade items, and merchandise sourced from local and North American companies, with preference given to small manufacturers and minority owned companies. To further reduce its carbon footprint, the store requests that companies limit the amount of packaging used to ship products into the store. Paez finished, “We really look to support smaller USA companies as much as we possibly can. We hope to add additional stores of our own to continue carrying out our message of healthy food and healthy supplements for companion animals.”

The Big Bad Woof is located in Washington, D.C., and Hyattsville, M.D. For more information, visit

Sharon Hadden, writer and editor, is a self-proclaimed natural-preneur and social media maven.  


Global Brief
Health Brief