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The Inside Scoop on Swell Dog Gelato with Founder Debbie Hendrickx

Founder of Swell Gelato, Debbie Hendrickx has been donating a portion of her proceeds to SPCA International for almost 2 years now. Her incredible generosity has helped hundreds of dogs in need.

We were recently able to steal Debbie away from her extremely busy gelato production schedule to sit down for a minute to give us the inside scoop on her passion for animals and what inspired this unique set of sweet treats for dogs.


What inspired you to start Swell Gelato?

When my 18 year career in fashion retail came to an end, I considered getting into the gelato ( for humans) business as I was already a passionate gelato maker for my family.  Contemplating that idea around in my head I kept reminding myself that this was also my now or never moment to do something that involved my biggest passion in life: dogs. The idea to merge the two together came to me in the middle of a sleepless night and as soon as I thought of it, I knew that it was perfect in every way.  I have always been fond of the word Swell ( magnificent, lovely, that which is neat) so as soon as the concept of artisan gelato for dogs was born there was no question what the name of the business would be. 

What do you love most about your work?

It is hard to say which makes me happier:  seeing the dogs’ eyes bliss over when they eat a Swell Gelato or seeing the owners beam when they see how happy their dogs are. You can just feel the love these people have for their dogs. It’s this swell merry-go-round of feel good and happy – and I absolutely love it.  Nowadays, I don’t have much time to attend events, but  I am grateful for social media where people post pictures of their happy dogs eating their Swell Gelato. It’s almost just as good as witnessing it live! 

How do you choose your new flavors and recipes?

I start by focusing on a flavor dogs love and then think of a combination of ingredients that work well with that flavor. The combination has to sound delicious to me ( I am the taste tester after all.) Once I have a general idea of my concept I figure out how to make that work with dog friendly ingredients, while keeping certain fat and sugar content proportions in mind that are required for successful artisan gelato making. I try to incorporate turmeric, ginger and cinnamon wherever I can as they have such great overall benefits for dogs and humans alike. I know I got it right when the gelato makes up beautiful in my gelato machine and is equally delicious to me and my panel of dog taste testers.  

Which flavors are vegan? 

All are vegetarian but most use honey for a sweetener. The one that is 100% vegan is the Sweet Potato Molasses and it’s a favorite! 

A true labor of love, learn why Debbie is still (even with major expansion) dedicated to making each Swell Dog Gelato by hand.

Why did you decide to donate to help animals around the world through SPCA International?

I knew as soon as I started that I wanted to give back to dogs in need. In the beginning I donated to several smaller local rescues and operations, but it became really challenging for me to choose whom to fund as they all were such great causes so the donations ended up being fragmented. I knew that I could do more good by choosing one bigger organization that could put the money towards wherever it was needed most.

Where can I get Swell Gelato for my furry pal? 

You can find Swell Gelato on the East and West Coasts, while expansion throughout the rest of the country is next.


Swell Dog Gelato is widely available in grocery stores, pet supply stores and gelato shops in the following states: Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

Be sure to grab your pup some Swell Gelato at a store near you! Feel good knowing you’re treating your pet, supporting a woman-owned business and helping animals around the world – all at the same time!