Queny Villanueva traded designer fashion for dog wellness.
The 20-year Bloomville resident and native of Columbia launched SavvyBeast Dog Treats, a gourmet pet food and treat line, in the mid-2000s.
“The business was inspired many, many years ago when my first dog, Kico, got sick from cancer (in 1992),” Villanueva said. “Then the next one had cancer, also, so I started researching and I worked for (veterinarian and author) Dr. Martin Goldstein and ran his practice. I was able to research, learn and practice and see that animals really can change their life by adding good nutrition. You’d be surprised by how one ingredient can change their life, their energy, their well-being and immune system. So, you’re giving them more life by giving them good, nutritional food.
“I used to work in fashion in New York, but in all those years, I was fixing and practicing and doing stuff on the side, because my dream was to eventually have this business,” she continued. “So, everything started in 2012 with the license and registration.”
According to savvybeastpet.com, Villanueva’s youth in South America informed her approach to pet nutrition. Villanueva said she emigrated in her teens.
“Growing up, she did not have to worry about food additives, by-products, or food processing because her father cultivated almost everything that the family ate,” the site states. “It was only after her move to the U.S. that she learned how many additives and by-products are unnecessarily processed into both human and animal foods. Her early passions—animals, cooking and healthy eating — positioned her perfectly for a transition into nutritious, artisanal pet treats. But she started small, by cooking food for her pet dogs.”
Villanueva progressed from her kitchen to Cornell University.
“For years, Queny worked formulating healthy dog treats, with trips to the lab to guarantee her recipe met the highest standards possible,” the site states. “The Cornell University Department of Foods and Science teamed Queny up with one of the premier food scientists in the world and she combined his knowledge with her know-how and passion to create DogStars.”
DogStars, Villanueva said, formed the base of her line.
“That was the first product I developed with scientists, and that product gives the pet a boost with ingredients and is very good for pets with allergies, because it’s made with sweet potato and chia and coconut oil and real meats, like beef, chicken, turkey and lamb,” she said. “So, it’s high protein, but with other ingredients to settle the pet’s stomach. That was developed like an energy treat, then we have beef jerky, which we use black angus beef for, and we work with farmers around here. We do buy all our meats from the farmers up here, and the meats are FDA approved. We buy the same meat that we use for ourselves, so it’s very high quality. That one has been very successful.
“About six months later, we launched our one-ingredient treats, which are beef heart and beef liver,” Villanueva continued. “All our treats are dehydrated, so all the vitamins and everything are more powerful when you dehydrate. About six or seven years ago, we started with our salmon oil, which is wild Alaskan salmon oil, for pets with itching or problems with their coats. That has omega and promotes immune system health and supports joints. It’s extra nutritious … and that is a very big seller.”
Customers, Villanueva said, represent a mix of local and nationwide pet owners.
“We have a store on Amazon and Etsy and Shopify,” she said. “We don’t have a store that people can come to and buy our products, but Green Earth (in Oneonta) was our first store that bought our treats, and they were very supportive of us. They helped me so much from the very beginning; they are like family.
“Good Cheap Food (in Delhi) has it, and in Roxbury at Good Grocer, a new store that opened, and in Stamford at the farmers’ co-op,” Villanueva continued. “In Kingston, we have it at Lucas Pet Supply and … we have wholesalepet.com wholesale our treats to boutiques. Most of our customers are in New York, California, Texas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Florida. We have a lot of customers, but a lot are here in New York.”
Villanueva said pet owners consistently express appreciation for her approach.
“At the Green Earth, they sell really well, and the new store, the Good Grocer, has been selling super well,” she said. “Amazon is the biggest seller of our salmon oil, beef jerky and one-ingredient treats. And for us, in our Shopify store, it’s everything.
“We have a lot of great reviews, and people really congratulate us for doing something good and the fact they don’t have to worry about what the ingredients are,” Villanueva continued. “They’re simple ingredients and our ingredients are things that actually help the pet; it’s not funny or funky names that no one can read.”
Villanueva said she hopes to build her brand with a continued focus on quality.
“We want to launch a lot of products that are high-protein meat products,” she said. “We are working on a few new products that are already formulated. And the other goal that we have is to be able to sell our products to a lot of stores so pets can benefit from them. And I want to be able to, someday in the future, produce products for other people that might want to sell them in their company. You can reach a lot more pet parents that way. I hope that I can inspire others to follow their dreams to make a change in our furry kids’ lives when it comes to healthy food for them.”
For more information or to place an order, visit savvybeastpet.com or contact email@example.com.