Newflands founder, Fiona Robertson, has been transforming the wellbeing of pets around the world with her New Zealand hoki fish oil supplements.
It all started in New Zealand when one of Fiona Robertson's Newfoundlands, Rosie, was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Fiona is a Newfoundlands breeder and trained veterinary nurse; she read about fish oils and their benefits, and thought it could help Rosie’s condition.
With her knowledge and passion about dogs, Fiona was determined to find a good fish oil supplement. Unable to find the right one, Fiona decided to make her own, using refined, human-grade New Zealand hoki fish oil.
Rosie’s arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) improved; Fiona’s other dogs had better skin and coats too. Even Flame, her oldest dog, had increased mobility! Neighbours noticed, and soon, Newflands was born.
If you had to describe Newflands and what you do to someone in a sentence, what would you say?
Newflands helps people take the best possible care of their fur babies through New Zealand made natural supplements and treats from sustainable hoki.
What were you doing before you founded Newflands?
I was a vet nursing for a number of clinics and doing R&D for companies in the agricultural sector along with teaching.
Why is it beneficial to give dogs fish oil supplements? Is it difficult for them to get everything they need from regular dog food alone?
It is beneficial for all mammals including dogs and cats to have a lot of omegas in their diet as it supports the immune system to work properly to help with symptoms of arthritis, itchy skin and irregular heartbeats.
It can be difficult if dogs or cats don’t like fish to get the optimal amount of (DHA and EPA) part of the important omegas. Our products provide a range of ways to entice a fussy eater to get what they need to be healthy. If owners feed dry kibble it is also very hard for them to ensure optimal omegas are in their diets as dry kibble can struggle to retain these with out turning rancid over time.
Is there anything that pet owners should be particularly careful about when shopping for and feeding supplements?
Of course, I would say buy New Zealand made where ever possible and make sure what you are buying is what is on the label. Read the label carefully as some supplements are not suitable for all pets at certain stages of their life. Try to get a supplement specifically for pets as they have been designed with their special requirements in mind.
What’s been the most enjoyable surprise while you’ve been in business?
Wow! There have been a few for sure! Meeting owners whose fur babies lives have been extended and quality of life have been immensely improved due to adding Newflands products to their diet would have to be one of the top and often I find this out in places where I least expect it.
The first situation was I was at a business conference within two years of starting and I was asked what I do and the person I was speaking to knew my products. He was using them on his elderly golden retriever as it had been recommended by his vet and he was impressed by the results. It was such an awesome surprise.
And the biggest challenge?
Cashflow would have to be the biggest challenge - trying to get the product produced at a price the market will purchase at yet, still be able to afford to make it. I still work a day job to enable this to happen. I do it because I can see how much we help our fur babies and feel they deserve it after all they do for us.
You have had some fantastic reviews from customers and media. Do you have a favourite story or piece of feedback?
There are so many but one of my favourites is Toby an elderly golden retriever who visits Newflands dog park from time to time. Three years ago, his owners were saying he had slowed down at 11 and could no longer go for his 45min walks in the Waiuku forest as he was stiff and sore and wasn’t up to it. So I encouraged them to try our Newflands Hoki Oil. A few weeks later they told me he was back to his 45min walk and had increased it to 1hour 15mins with no worries. Now they use it on their other four dogs.
Do you have a typical customer?
A typical customer loves their furbaby and wants the best for them while still supporting New Zealand made and being sustainable.
If you had to give dog owners five top tips for keeping their dogs in the best health what would they be?
1) Love them and care for them as you do your own Whanau.
2) Keep them at a healthy weight (this can be done by following the WASVA body condition score) and fit with as low impact exercise as possible e.g. swimming.
3) Keep a close eye on any changes e.g. chewing on one side of their mouth when eating dinner so you can respond to them quickly. This decreases suffering and prevents secondary conditions occurring because of the neglect of the initial condition e.g. infection in the gum from a broken molar.
4) Feed your furbaby and aim for optimal health include plenty of Omegas to help with this e.g. Newflands Hoki Oil and Treats.
5) Don’t forget to keep the mind stimulated with games e.g. find the Hoki treat and challenges e.g. do the obstacle course at Newflands Dog Park this helps reduce boredom behaviours.
What are you most excited about at the moment? Do you see any big opportunities for growth or innovation with Newflands?
We have a lot to be excited about this year. We are currently signing off the new look Hoki Topper Treat label and from here we have at least one other product we will add to the range in reusable containers. There are so many other products we would love to bring to market that are fish based but we will take our time and make sure they are quality first and of course New Zealand made and full of Omegas and tasty. We are slowly expanding around the world and cover Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, USA, and the EU and look forward to continuing the growth in these areas along with entering new countries.
Learn more about Newflands here.