Local Biz Spotlight: Animal Crackers

Animal Crackers local biz Miami


Spotlight Blog: Animal Crackers

Owner: JJ Diaz

Animal Crackers is a Miami-based pet business that offers premium, all-natural and organic foods, supplements, toys, accessories, and grooming services for your pet. Founder JJ Diaz has been operating Animal Crackers out of his downtown location since October 2010. We’ve known him for years- his advice helped us calm our beautiful sharpei’s skin allergies when no amount of testing and veterinary visits helped, and he’s helped countless clients of ours with their pets’ needs. We highly recommend his services!

Healthy Food. Healthy Pet!

JJ’s adventure began when he was unsatisfied with the unhealthy food options available for his pet in the surrounding Miami area. He wanted to create a way for pet parents to have access to healthy food, so he decided to find a solution and brought to life his motto: Healthy Food, Healthy Pet!

Six years later, JJ is running a successful storefront and delivery service for all Miami pet parents and fur babies.  The business provides many local products as well as national brands. “We primarily like to offer locally sourced food made here in Florida by smaller family owned and operated companies, you can really guarantee a quality product when you’ve seen where it’s made and have a relationship with the people making it.”

In addition, JJ stays up to date with pet nutrition as a whole to keep our pets fit and healthy. “We offer products made all over the USA and Canada. It’s really important to follow the bigger companies, stay on top of who is manufacturing the food and where they source their ingredients from,” he explains. Whatever product your pet prefers, Animal Crackers has it covered!

Animal Crackers Location and Hours:

Animal Crackers has a storefront downtown where you can shop for goodies or drop your dog for a spa day to be groomed. If you need your pup picked up and dropped off for grooming, JJ’s staff is happy to accommodate.

Downtown Address: 280 NE 2nd St, Miami, FL 33132

JJ’s team is equipped with two groomers and three assistants who operate the store 6 days a week. They store is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM, Saturday, 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM. They’re closed on Sundays.

Does Animal Crackers Deliver?

Yes! Animal Crackers delivers product from Miami Shores, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, South Miami, and all neighborhoods in between. Any delivery is free for orders over $35.00. His staff has found the secret to getting around too. When delivering to the Downtown area or Brickell, you can see the team on bike or skateboard delivering treats all day. You can place your order online or give them a call at 305-374-8004.

Finding the Right Food for Your Dogs 101:

We asked JJ how he helps clients personally find the right food for their pooches, and we loved his simple yet compassionate response, “By listening to owners concerns regarding any ailments their pets may have.” How refreshing- a business owner who listens! This is someone who truly cares about the well-being of your pet.

Latest Trend in Pet Food? Farm Fresh!

Farm Fresh Pet Animal Crackers

Currently, the latest trend in Florida pet products come from Farm Fresh Pet Foods, a company based out of Hollywood, FL. JJ swears by their latest dog treat called Farm Fresh Beef Lungs, essentially dehydrated lungs for your pup to munch on. JJ also treats his own pup to kibble incorporated with Farm Fresh cooked meals and a couple of duck feet thrown in for good behavior.

What Is the Secret to the Right Diet?

We dove deeper into the quest of providing the right diet and the answer is portion control. A common issue JJ has seen in pet clients is overfeeding. JJ stresses, “It’s important to understand the ratio on the packet is a major generalization, every pet has his or her own specific needs. Overfeeding is bad for your pet and ultimately your wallet.” He suggests pet parents need to maintain control, and not cave whenever a pup begs for food. “We need to understand that your pet is always going to seem hungry.”

We agree with JJ when he contemplates all food choices for pets. “When you consider the many benefits of all natural foods, such as a healthier coat, better immunity to sickness, and overall improvement of health, the benefits of feeding your dog a healthier diet far outweighs the alternative.”

Raw Food Diets?

To add to his argument as said on the website, “Raw food diets have been shown to help the body deal with many common ailments such as flea infestations, hot spots, continual shedding, poor dental & gum health, allergies, gastrointestinal problems such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, immune disorders and degenerative diseases.” A huge factor pet parents need to acknowledge.

Diet: The Foundation of Health

JJ leaves us with a final note, “Diet is the foundation of health. The fresher the diet, the more nutrients are available for the animal’s system to utilize in building immunity, healing from illness and warding off disease.” We will take his expert advice any day! Stop by the store or place an order online. Animal Crackers is here for your pets everyday health care needs!


Miami Dog-Friendly Events: Flagler Fest & Antique Car Show

Dog friendly pet friendly events Downtown Miami

Image credit: MiamiDDA

Bring your dogs to the Flagler Fest & Antique Car Show this Saturday and say hello to our dog walkers Beccie and Nancy! They will be joining the Animal Crackers pack for a day full of exercise, doggy treats, and an agility course set up by Doggie Fun Zone in the heart of Historic Downtown Miami.

You definitely want to bring your pooch to the Doggie Fun Zone, a very special agility course that’s appropriate for dogs of all sizes and temperaments, from Dachshunds to German Shepherds. Dogs get to chase a lure through a fully enclosed raceway. This obstacle course is easy for any dog to enjoy; no prior training or experience is needed.It’s such a cool, unexpected treat to have this in Miami! A big thanks to J.J. Diaz, owner of Animal Crackers, for hiring Doggie Fun Zone for the day.

The 13th annual Flagler Fest is a family and pet-friendly event full of fun activities for all ages. Best of all, it is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. You and your pups can enjoy the collection of antique, vintage, and hot-rod cars show all put on by the Antique club of America South Florida Region (imagine all the good smells your dogs will pick up!).

You and your kids can also:

  • Take a historic walking tour with Dr. Paul George starting at 1:30pm
  • Visit the Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for free tours
  • Hang out at the Children’s Corner, where kids can get their faces painted, explore the petting zoo and bounce around in the bounce house
  • Eat lunch at one of the many downtown cafes
  • Shop around in the eclectic and vibrant boutiques and stores

Nutrition Spotlight with J.J. Diaz of Animal Crackers

Kala, our lovely Miami girl, enjoys her Acana!

It so happens that one of the most common questions we get from our pet sitting clients is about which food they should be serving their dogs. We turned to J.J. Diaz, the enthusiastic and knowledgeable purveyor of our own dogs’ special pet food, Miami native, and owner of Animal Crackers, for advice. He’s been a huge help in alleviating our Shar-Pei’s chronic skin allergies, reducing costly vet visits, and eased us into the process of buying higher quality pet food. I’m sure you’ve encountered as much information out there as we have, and might be as confused as we once were. We’ll be offering J.J.’s tips on choosing the “right” food for your pet with our series on nutrition on our blog.

The Right Protein is Key

J.J.’s first tip is to look for good, digestible protein in your dog’s food. Protein is an essential part of your dog’s diet because it delivers life-sustaining amino acids. These amino acids must come from real food and not be synthesized. Dogs can digest most protein in muscle meat, but did you know they have trouble getting these amino acids out of other, less savory animal parts? We’re talking hair, horns, and beaks- not very appetizing. Poultry by-product meal seems to be particularly hard to digest.

J.J. takes a simple approach to the matter. “Byproducts are pretty dense. Hair is already dead cells, so how much nutrition can you extract from it? Technically, if it was meant for us to eat, we’d eat it, and it’s not. So what are we doing? We’re feeding it to dogs, because it’s just a filler, and a way for us to cheaply make food. They’re absolutely not getting any real source of nutrition from that, that’s why you see a lot of dogs doing one of two things: they look skinnier than they should be from lack of good nutrition, or corn overtakes them and they look extremely bloated which is that filler aspect.” And the pet food industry is, for the most part, dedicated to being cost-effective. They are running businesses, after all.

Acana Ingredients List

J.J. breaks labels down for us

The first ingredients should be at least two different kinds of high quality meat- not a “meat byproduct”, so make sure to read your labels carefully! It’s important to find out your dog food’s digestibility. The kind of protein used will be listed in the ingredients list in descending order according to weight. For example, if chicken is the first ingredient listed, the food has more chicken by weight than any other single ingredient.

“The first five ingredients listed on the label are the main ingredients,” explains JJ. “The food needs to start off with a meat source. The best thing to do is to find something with the top three ingredients being meat- ideally, your dog needs a second or third meat within first five ingredients. In any really good dog food you’re going to have 2 meat sources within first five.”

Rotate Your Dog’s Food

Contrary to popular belief, your dog does not need to be kept on the same kibble in perpetuity. As per J.J., “It’s really bad to stick to one flavor of dog food. It’s better to rotate on protein courses, for various reasons. First, it keeps the dog excited. Second, we’ve noticed that prolonged exposure to one protein will pull an allergy and you will end up having a lot more problems finding a food to feed him that will not show allergies,even on the good foods.”

In fact, a lot of these high-quality foods are formulated to be easily switched out without stressing your pet. For example, companies like Fromm’s Four Star Nutritional offers five different flavors of food formulated in such a way that you can switch flavors for your dog and not shock his system. “The problem is that myth that everybody threw out there back in the day, when food was such crap for dogs that if it worked for you they didn’t want you to switch it because they were scared you were gonna you know either find something better or it wasn’t going to work if you tried another flavor and started buying elsewhere. They marketed it great- they had everybody scared; it’s almost like the myth that canned food is worse than dried food for your dog, which is not true. Marketing will getcha. Marketing will get you good.”

We’ve been lucky with Animal Crackers in that J.J. allows you to sample different kinds of dog food for free. J.J. holds the philosophy that people are willing to change when you allow them to try new foods slowly with your dog, to see how they react and eat towards something that tastes better. How does he know? J.J. gives a sly look. “I’ve tasted it so I know it tastes better.” That’s remarkable dedication in our book, and we love anyone that dedicated to dog nutrition and health!

If you like what you’ve read so far, you can always step into J.J.’s shop in the downtown Miami area to consult with him. Check out the Yelp reviews first, if you like, and remember to always consult with your trusted veterinarian when considering a change in diet!