Healthy Treats, Happy Pets

Written by Claire Suttles

Dogswell® rose to fame for its innovative ability to create great tasting treats that help keep pets healthy. “For more than ten years, Dogswell® has been making high-quality food and treats that both taste good and do good,” explains Dogswell® CEO, Rob Leibowitz.
The mission began in 2004, when the company founders launched the business in order to deliver an innovative concept to the pet treat market. The entrepreneurial pet lovers wanted to provide a treat that could help promote wellness. Their first major product, Dogswell® Happy Hips, is a unique chicken breast jerky treat fortified with glucosamine and chondroitin to help promote hip and joint health, particularly in dogs suffering from hip dysplasia. The product was an instant hit, propelling the company to success.

Since then, the business has led the movement toward functional treats. “Only Dogswell® starts with high-quality ingredients like real meat, fruits and vegetables, then adds nutrient-rich blends of vitamins and minerals such as omega-3 fatty acids to help support healthy eyes, skin and coat health,” Mr. Leibowitz reports. “As pet parents ourselves, it is our mission to make pets as healthy and happy as they make us.”

Because the company only uses high quality, premium ingredients, Dogswell® caters to the premium segment of the category. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and the higher price points reflect the product’s worth. The company’s typical customer is a discerning pet parent who considers their pet a member of the family and as such, does not sacrifice when it comes to the health and wellbeing of their pets.

“Also, while Dogswell® appeals to many involved pet parents, our appeal has a heavy concentration with the fastest-growing segment of pet owners, Millennials,” says Vilma Livas, Marketing Vice-President. “We believe Dogswell® delivers on their expectation for products and ingredients that reflect their own personal health and wellness goals – they want to feed their pet as well as they feed themselves.”

New Developments and Products
Dogswell® acquired Natural American Pet Products in early 2015, enabling the company to take its chicken breast jerky to the next level. “This acquisition allowed us to vertically integrate our growing and innovative US sourced Chicken Jerky business,” Mr. Leibowitz explains. “We now make our own Chicken Breast Jerky under a patent-pending process. Our new and improved US Chicken Jerky began shipping in January in our best-selling Dogswell® Happy Hips and Dogswell® Vitality recipes. Using only high-quality chicken breast, we’re excited to share that the product is 100% USA-made and sourced.”

The company has been working tirelessly on several innovative new products over the last year as well. “Innovation is in Dogswell®’s DNA, having launched the first-ever fortified jerky treat, so we’re always working on new and exciting products.” Whatever the product under development, the team always sticks to its core guidelines. “We are fanatic pet parents committed to making pets as healthy and happy as they make us,” Ms. Livas explains. “This mission guides all of our new products and innovation pipeline.”

Last January the team launched Dogswell® Vitality Meatballs. “These innovative treats feature real, high quality meat as the first ingredient, flaxseed and vitamin A to help support holistic wellness, and are soft and easy-to-break, making these savory, tender treats an instant hit with pets and pet parents alike.” These new treats are available in Chicken, Lamb and Beef recipes – all of which feature “real veggies you can see.”

The company also introduced Dogswell® Duets™ last year. Launched under the Dogswell® Vitality line of treats, Duets™ are a dual-flavored treat that are specially designed for use as a training aid. Rich in protein and fortified with Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Vitamins A&E, Duets™ come in two recipes: Chicken & Peanut Butter and Bison & Cheddar.

The bite-sized treats are carefully designed not to pack on any extra pounds. “At only six calories per treat, Duets™ are a perfectly portioned training treat,” Ms. Livas points out. “Pet parents are seeking treats that are both healthy and low-calorie.” This is particularly true for people with small breeds. “Given the appreciable increase in the small dog population, pet parents are seeking treats made with the needs of smaller dogs in mind.”

The team also launched Boundless® Chews last year. “New to our product line-up, Dogswell® Boundless® brings consumers a USA-made, highly digestible, grain-free line of chews to the treating aisle,” says Ms. Livas. Available at Petco, the treats are offered in two flavors and three different sizes for small, medium, and large breeds. The chews are made with added calcium and specially-designed to keep pets occupied while providing an oral care benefit.

Nutrisca® Wet Cat Food is another new Dogswell® product. Nutrisca® has already earned a strong following by delivering a product without the typical carbohydrate fillers. “Nutrisca® was one of the first brands in the United States to offer a grain-free and potato-free formula,” Ms. Livas shares. Nutrisca® Wet Cat Food joins Dogswell’s existing Nutrisca® product lines: Wet and Dry Dog Food, and Dry Cat Food. The new line of Cat Food, Nutrisca® Truly Shredded® Chicken and Truly Flaked® Seafood Entrees comes in a variety of 12 different recipes. “All recipes contain protein as the first ingredient, and probiotics for proactive wellness.”

Industry Trends
“Pet parents continue to demonstrate an unbridled desire to treat their pets as members of the family,” says Ms. Livas. “This is a macro trend that we do not see dissipating any time soon. This deep emotional bond between owners and their pet family members has, and continues to fuel demand for high quality, functional foods and treats in a big way. Pet parents view trading up to more premium offerings as one way to do what they can to promote health and wellbeing for their family. After all, for these pet parents, feeding their pets good food and treats is an expression of love!”

This emotional bond and resulting “trade up” has created a trend also known as ‘premiumization.’ “Premiumization of pet food and treats can take many forms but typically delivers a recipe that is high in protein, grain-free and borrows from many current human food trends,” she explains. This move toward premium pet products typically comes “at the expense of value priced offerings” – a phenomenon that puts Dogswell® in a lucrative position. “As a premium, high quality pet food and treat brand, Dogswell® offers a wide assortment of premium products to help retailers capture the consumer’s desire for more premium food and treats made with real, simple and natural ingredients.”

There is also a growing consumer interest in pet products that help promote specific healthy longevity. Once again, Dogswell® has been out in front of this trend from the very beginning. “As a functional treat brand, Dogswell® supports pet parents’ quest for better nutrition by fortifying each and every single product,” Ms. Livas points out. “We add vitamins and minerals to help support proactive wellness, making it easier to provide pets treats that not only taste good but do good too. The goal is to introduce treats that pet parents feel entirely good about feeding their pets. For example, Dogswell® premium treats include meat or poultry as the #1 ingredient – making them a purposeful snack.”

As a trailblazer in great tasting, all natural, functional treats, Dogswell® has positioned itself for lasting success. “Our mission is congruent with what consumers are seeking today,” Ms. Livas summarizes. “We are extremely optimistic about our ability to deliver what consumers are and will be seeking with premium, real meat first, innovative treats that taste good and do good… Our future is bright and our outlook is positive.” And the team is just getting started. “As a pet category innovator and leader, we will continue to have exciting innovations to announce in the coming months and years.”



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