Manufacturing a whimsical product while taking pet safety seriously is a balance 3 Busy Dogs achieves with its Bowser Beer. The alcohol- and hops-free “beer” for dogs is a treat which owners can pour over their pet’s meals or into their water bowl to encourage pets to eat and hydrate. The company aims to educate consumers about treat safety for pets without scolding pet owners, says founder Jenny Brown. Using humor to teach and correct pet owners’ mistakes, such as giving pets human beer, has proven to encourage consumers to learn more and feed their pets healthy ingredients
How is 3 Busy Dogs addressing consumers’ demands for cleaner, healthier dog treats?
From the beginning, our criteria is to have everything made in the US. We use all US-made ingredients and all of our production is done domestically. We believe we can control the quality of our ingredients better if they’re from the US. We want to make sure our treats are healthy from the get go ingredient-wise. Early on, we worked with food scientists to help us determine the best way to produce a treat that’s shelf stable, healthy and safe for dogs. It took us more than a year to find the manufacturers that we partner with today. We maintain strict standards and we have USDA inspections of the facility performed regularly. We do our utmost to ensure the facility and our treats are maintained, safe and that the treats are something dogs will enjoy. It’s interesting that more and more treats are being made with human grade ingredients, and that’s something the older agencies weren’t used to.
How does your company determine which ingredients to use?
In the beginning, we spent one year conducting research and spending countless hours making calls to find the safest ingredients. We looked for kosher products and organic products, and we finally determined the sources we work with. When I look at potential partnerships, I make sure those companies understand we only use natural ingredients and we don’t use artificial flavoring. We did a lot of research and we know where our ingredients come from. We are very much in charge of what ingredients are used, and we oversee all of the production so that we know what’s in our treats.
Why is this focus on offering pets increasingly nutritious and clean diets so important to pet owners?
People are concerned about what they’re feeding their pets and pets will eat whatever is put in front of them that tastes and smells good. It goes back to knowing where your ingredients come from and where products are produced. Being a smaller company, we have the ability to trace our ingredients, and I think that’s an advantage. As we scale up, we’ll continue to have that in place. We don’t go outside of the US because we can’t control what is happening in the production. From the pet store standpoint, you don’t want to give pets something that’s going to make them sick. We started this as a fun product, but we take it very seriously. People laugh and say, “Oh, beer for dogs,” but our mission is to educate people. Not only are nutrients and clean diet important, it’s also important to understand what pets are sensitive to. The hops in beer are very dangerous to dogs. We really try to educate people – they know chocolate is bad for dogs but they don’t necessarily know about hops. We explain to pet owners, we use beef and chicken and not hops because they’re toxic for pets. There are people who think it’s cool to give dogs alcohol, but they don’t realize it’s unsafe for dogs. We try to do it in a humorous way so that we’re not shaking our finger at people, and emphasize the consequences of giving pets human beer. In fact, our tagline tries to keep the conversation light and is a way to break the ice “Is your dog drinking responsibly?” If you try lecturing or scolding, then people back off. Humor always helps.
What have been effective methods retailers have used to educate consumers about treat safety and how your company is ensuring treats are safe for pets?
Some of the best retailers I’ve seen have taken the time to really train their employees to really understand the products they’re carrying. When you walk into a store, you can ask anyone and everyone working there can answer your questions. That way the consumer can go in and really feel like they got the information they need without the retailer pushing one brand over another. We educate the people we’re selling them to and give them materials to help educate not only their employees, their customers too. We provide signage, our ingredients are listed on each bottle and we include information on our labels, including suggestions to try pouring the Bowser Beer over their pet’s food or into their water dish. We also emphasize that we make it from scratch. If you knew our customer base the way we do, you know that the first thing people do is they pick up the bottle and read the label because people are concerned about what they give their pets. People have so much invested in their pet and beyond the emotional investment, there’s a financial investment as well. You know how much vet bills are, and you certainly don’t want your pet to get sick, from an emotional and financial standpoint. We don’t make medical claims, we don’t make health benefit claims, we simply emphasize that our treats are all natural. What resonates is that people get it – they have their beer and their dog has their beer. It’s funny, but at the same time it’s safe beer designed for pets.