womens day

Celebrating Women's Impact on the Pet Industry

March 11, 2024 Megan Sprinkle, DVM

In the world of pet care, women stand as pillars of talent and leadership. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it is important to shine a spotlight on the remarkable contributions women make within the pet industry. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 67.3% of veterinarians identify as female.1 Moreover, 86% of all pet groomers and 61.1% of dog trainers are women.2,3 As women drive a significant portion (80%) of consumer spending,4 they also play a crucial role in the pet industry, mirroring this broader demographic trend.

Women’s influence in the pet industry is undeniable. From pioneering entrepreneurs to visionary executives, women shape the pet ecosphere in profound ways, driving advancements, and fostering innovation. Numerous women-owned and women-founded pet businesses have left an indelible mark on the industry, and this article highlights some of those female leaders who are redefining the pet industry.

Pet Food

- Jiminy’s: Founder and CEO, Anne Carlson started the first insect protein focused dog food and treat company inspired by sustainability. Anne brings many years of pet industry experience.

- Love, Nala: Founders, Shannon Ellis and Pookie Methachittiphan started a cat food company named after their feline Instagram star, Nala.

- Open Farm: Co-founder and CEO, Jacqueline Prehogan couldn’t find what she wanted in a pet food, so she developed her own in 2014 with an emphasis on ethically sourced and humanely raised sustainable cat and dog food. She also heads Canada Pooch, creating premium apparel and functional pet gear.

- PawCo: Founder and CEO, Mahsa Vazin, PhD, a former scientist at Impossible Foods, is the creator of the first plant-based fresh dog food company.

- Portland Pet Food Co.: Founder, Katie McCarron has started multiple businesses including Academic Network, a national education program for international food and pharmaceutical companies. Katie was inspired by her senior Stand Poodle, Rosie, and in 2014 founded PFFC with dog treats and complete meals.

- Stella & Chewy’s: Founder, Marie Moody named the company after her two dogs. To help with her dog, Chewy’s, health issues, Marie pursued her passion for pet nutrition.

- Solid Gold: Sissy Harrington McGill's pet nutrition journey began in 1974 with her Great Dane. According to their website, even at the age of 86, Sissy McGill continues to work five days a week at her retail store in California.

- The Honest Kitchen: Founded in 2002 by Lucy Postins, The Honest Kitchen created the world’s first FDA-verified human-grade pet food.

- ZIWI USA: Mary Helen Horn is the president and executive director of ZIWI USA. Mary appeared on the 2022 Pet Age’s Power 50 list. She joined Ziwi with 25 years of experience in the pet industry.

Pet Treats & Supplements

- Ava’s Pet Palace: Founded by Ava Dorsey, who launched this pet treat business at the age of 8, the brand emphasizes simple, organic, and all-natural ingredients.

- Bright Planet Pet: Founder and CEO, Katherine Ellison recently signed with Petco to distribute plant-based dog treats in 850 stores across all 50 states.

- Pet Cakes by Lucky Paws LLC: Founder and CEO, Melinda Kirk Stenger started as a newcomer to the pet industry yet started the first organic and microwavable treats for dogs and cats.

- Stachios: This company is an entirely women-owned and run business. Founded in 2016 with the founder stepping down in 2019, Michele Pennington took over as president. This company makes medication administration “wrap ups”, soothing sauces, dental treats, soft chews and more.

- In Clover Research: Founded in 1996, by biochemist Rebeca Rose, this woman-owned supplement company uses evidence-based research and natural ingredients to formulate proven, innovative pet supplements. They were a founding member of the National Animal Supplement Council and Rebeca was on the Board of Directors for 6 years. They were a “First Follower” of the Pet Sustainability Coalition where Rebeca is on the Board of Directors and an executive committee member. .

Pet Toys & Beds

- Cat Cave Co.: A family-owned company founded by Holly Hudson and her brother, James. Holly employs talented women in Nepal who can hand-felt anything from organic wool. Their brand prioritizes all natural organic materials and ethically sourced wool.

- KONG: Kathy Decker 'KD' Frueh joined KONG in the early 2000s and helped expand the brand. She is the president of this successful dog toy company.

- The Foggy Dog: Founder, Rose Shattuck was motivated to create pet products that were locally sourced and sustainable. This company uses recycled materials to create their products including dog beds and cat toys.

Pet Supply, Sales, and Manufacturing

- Alphia: Heather Govea is the Chief Strategy Officer of Alphia, the largest manufacturer of pet food and treats. Heather can be found on the Pet Age Power 50 list for the pet industry.

- Antelope: Founder and CEO, Wendy Wen leads this omni-channel pet consumer platform with a unique buy-and-build strategy.

- Bell Rock Growers and Pet Greens: Catherine Hoffmann is the co-founder and co-owner of this family-owned and operated farm in San Marcos, California. Founded in 1996, they are a certified organic grower of an industry-exclusive line of pet products Powered with Green Nutritionâ.

- Maxbone: Founded by Parisa Fowles-Pazdro, who was recognized as a top 2022 entrepreneurial influencer by Insight Success. You can find food, bowls, sweaters, toys, and treats on this platform.

- Only an Ocean: Jolanda van der Basch is the co-founder of this product resource site for pet retailers and distributors. Jolanda was one of the Pet Age’s 2021 Women of Influence award winners.

Animal Health & Technology

- Blue Pearl Pet Hospice: Founded by Shea Cox, DVM, she wants every family to know that hospice care is available for pets and believes there is huge impact for pets and their families.

- EpiPaws: Founded by scientist Dr. Andria Beal, the first product offering that can tell you your pet’s age. Dr. Beal also expresses a vision beyond age estimation, so definitely a company to watch.

- Pet King Brands Inc: In 1998, president and founder, Pamela Bosco introduced the veterinary world to ZYMOX, a well-known enzyme-based pet care solution containing products for skin, ear, and oral health.

- Sylvester.ai: Founder Susan Groeneveld is pioneering AI technology to detect feline emotions, pain, and other health concerns in cats.

- W.F. Young: Jaime McKinley is the president of this 130-year-old family-owned company that is a global leader in animal health products.


Well-known figures such as Oprah, Sarah Blakley, and Melinda Gates exemplify how women business owners can make a huge impact globally. These advocates not only empower current female leaders but also boldly pave the way for future ones. At BSM Partners, we proudly support women in the pet industry and beyond, recognizing the ample room for innovation they can bring.


  1. American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Stats as of December 31, 2023. https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/reports-statistics/market-research-statistics-us-veterinarians
  2. Pet Groomer Demographics and Statistics in the US. Zippia. https://www.zippia.com/pet-groomer-jobs/demographics/
  3. Dog Trainer Demographics and Statistics in the US. Zippia. https://www.zippia.com/dog-trainer-jobs/demographics/
  4. Male vs Female Spending Statistics [Fresh Research]. Gitnux Marketdata Report 2024. https://gitnux.org/male-vs-female-spending-statistics/#:~:text=Women%20drive%2070-80%25%20of%20consumer%20spending%2C%20while%20men,are%20only%20responsible%20for%20a%20fraction%20of%20it.

About the Author: Megan Sprinkle, DVM works at BSM Partners on the Special Services team in Product Innovation and is co-host of BSM Partners’ podcast, The Pet Industry Podcast. Dr. Sprinkle is inspired by innovation and entrepreneurship and can talk endlessly about the power of podcasting. She is a new Georgian and lives with her husband and Great Dane, Eva.

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