‘Big’ grand opening for ‘small paws’ nutrition center

Hills Pet announces new nutrition center aimed at small and miniature dogs.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition held the exclusive grand opening for a new $30 million, 25,000 square foot nutrition innovation center focused on the needs of small dogs — ‘Small Paws’ — as well as a new Engagement Center for veterinarians and other pet caregivers. 

The opening of the Small Paws Innovation Center makes Hill’s the only pet food company in the U.S. with an innovation center specially designed for small and mini dogs. It will be a place to study their nutrition as well as behaviors, genetics, genomics, and microbiomics to support development of food to meet the special needs of small and miniature breeds, which represent more than half of pet dogs in the U.S. and around the world. 

The Engagement Center will host seminars, continuing education programs and other activities for thousands of veterinary students and professionals each year. 

“Hill’s is excited to announce the opening of an expansion of our global Pet Nutrition Center to focus on the special needs of small dogs and also to enhance our involvement with those who care for pets through the new innovation center,” said Hill’s President Jesper Nordengaard. “We are always investing in technology and development to serve the nutritional needs of pets as well as learning from veterinarians, customers and caregivers through their experiences. This is how we fulfill our mission to help enrich and lengthen the special relationships between people and their pets and live our goal of transforming lives.” 

“This is a great day for the Hill’s team and all the small dogs that will benefit from the innovation. We are especially grateful to Kansas’s leaders and the amazing talent in the Animal Health Corridor who help make Hill’s the best at what we do,” added Nordengaard. 

The new Small Paws center will include state-of-the art facilities and be home to 80 small dogs under 20 lbs who will have the benefit of specially formulated nutrition developed to their unique needs. The center will be devoted to exceptional veterinary care and offer a variety of indoor and outdoor enrichment activities that the dogs can choose during the day, including outdoor Bark Parks play yards. 

“All around the world, there’s a steady increase in the popularity of small dogs. Our investment in this specialized facility will help us develop food with the taste and aesthetics that small dogs prefer and that works best with their distinctive behaviors and unique physiology,” said Dave Baloga, Vice President, Science & Technology for Hill’s. “The Small Paws Innovation Center will allow us to better understand their needs and discover new ways to help them lead happy, healthy lives.” 

The grand opening event featured remarks from Mr. Nordengaard, Mr. Baloga, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, and Noel Wallace, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Colgate- Palmolive, parent company of Hill’s. Joining in the grand opening were Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam; Shawnee County Commissioner Kevin Cook; Bonnie Rush, Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University; Matt Pivarnik, CEO, Greater Topeka Partnership; and many other distinguished guests.

In addition to the newly expanded Pet Nutrition Center, Topeka is home to Hill’s global headquarters, a manufacturing facility, and the Hill's Pet Nutrition Bark Park, located in Gage Park, which Hill’s supported with a $175,000 donation to the Parks for All Foundation last month. Hill’s has operated in Kansas for nearly 80 years, and also has a manufacturing plant in Emporia and recently announced plans to build a new plant in Tonganoxie in Leavenworth County. The new facility will be built on 80 acres in Tonganoxie Business Park and is to be completed by 2023. 

Pet health professionals visiting the Small Paws Innovation Center will be able to interact with Hill’s scientists, ask questions, and hear deeper explanations of the science and biology of pets.

An observation deck on the upper floors will allow veterinarians and other partners to view the small dogs in their environment interacting with their toys and each other. 

The center will also include educational elements to highlight Hill’s industry- leading work in four areas: predictive biology and the microbiome; product development and taste; quantified health and pet wearables; and personalized health and DNA Genomics. 

For media inquiries, please contact Hill’s Pet Nutrition at [email protected]

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