MaximumK9 Nutrition was started because of my infatuation with the care and well being of dogs. Since I was a young boy I’ve had a love for animals. I would spend all of my free time interacting with them, especially with dogs. By the time I was 7 years old I had already been the owner of many small pets, however I still had a strong desire to be a dog owner.
One day, I accompanied my cousin to the local shelter while he was picking out his new dog. During this visit I came across a very special connection with one that caught my eye. It was a 3-4 year old female German Shepherd mix that had clearly been seriously abused. She was sitting in the back of her kennel in a submissive state. This dog had a permanently inflamed, broken leg that was caused by her abusive past. She had also just had a litter of puppies two months prior. Her name was Athena and I just had to bring her home.
I begged and pleaded with my parents to allow me to and finally my wish was granted. At that moment, I was definitely the happiest seven year old boy in the world. Due to all the abuse that she endured, it took many months of providing TLC and socialization in order to help Athena rehabilitate. It was a long road but the day came when she turned into a young boy’s best friend. This early experience was key in developing my passion for improving the life of dogs. The outcome was extremely rewarding and from that moment on, I was addicted. In the years to follow, I adopted, inherited and purchased many different dogs.
Through the years, I have been fortunate enough to be given many different opportunities to explore and develop my relationship and love for dogs. When I was young, I gained valuable experience working at a boarding facility. I was also the one to call if you needed a dog sitter or help with training, all in which I did for fun. As I grew older, so did my passion and I had the desire to be more involved in the dog community. This is when I joined a local Schutzund Working Dog Club. This experience grew my addiction and I quickly became intrigued with the ability of working dogs. Luckily enough, I was offered the opportunity to become trained in and work with K9 explosive detection dogs. I jumped on this offer and later became certified with multiple bomb dogs. I worked as a K9 explosive detection handler in many of the seaports in New York City. I truly enjoyed the education and later took a 230 hour hands-on certification course in dog training. Today I continue to attend many dog related seminars, workshops and sport competitions.
Throughout my life time, I have dealt with my fair share of dog related health issues. They have included things like allergies, skin irritations, dry coats, dental and gum disease, digestion problems, cancers, elbow/hip dysplasia and ligament damage. During this time, I had made many visits to the veterinarian’s office and spent countless dollars dealing with these problems. After a while, I began to notice a pattern with all of my dogs. They were all experiencing similar issues and the treatments were not really improving their conditions. One thing would get better and another problem would develop. I was given no real answers to why these things were occurring which led me to my research. I wanted to discover preventive measures that I can take in order to avoid these health issues in my own dogs. While researching, I came across interesting information provided by nutritionists, veterinarians and dog lovers explaining the importance of a dog’s diet and how it relates to many underlining health issues. I have always fed my dogs the “expensive” store bought, dry dog food. I was led to believe that it was the best food on the market so I did not think twice to change or improve seemingly quality ingredients. Well, was I wrong!
My research led me to information regarding different feeding methods, like home cooked meals and raw diets. This quickly gained my attention and I wanted to learn more. I read many books and articles about the BARF diet (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food). This diet is based on human grade whole foods including raw meat, bones and other healthy ingredients such as fruit and vegetables.
Today’s domesticated dogs have the same digestive system as any wild dog. These wild dogs mainly eat raw meat and bones. When I realized this, I thought to myself, we are feeding our dogs foods that contain tons of carbohydrates and chemical preservatives, no wonder they have heath problems. It seemed like common sense. I furthered my research by interviewing professional breeders and dog handlers that have had their dogs on raw diets for years. They all said the same thing; they would never go back to feeding them commercial dog food. This all started making sense to me and I had the desire to experiment.
I have to admit, I was a little nervous at first about feeding my dogs raw meat. I was hesitant because of all the things you hear about bacteria, so I transitioned them slowly. I started by continuing with the kibble, but then supplementing it with fresh veggies and cooked meat. Then I added cooked fish, fruit and cooked eggs.
My dogs absolutely loved the new menu and the variety kept them extremely excited. Within a few months my dogs showed definite signs of positive physical change. They had much more energy and their coats seemed to be thicker and shinier. I was very impressed but I knew I had to take it to the next level by implementing a raw diet. The first step that I took was adding raw eggs and raw marrow bones to my concoction and everything went great. I then moved forward and started adding raw meats. My dogs responded to the change very positively and they were completely satisfied with their meals.
I have been feeding a raw diet to my dogs since the 1990’s. The results are unbelievable. My dogs have increased energy levels, their coats and skin remain shiny and healthy, their teeth are white, their breath has no foul odor, they consume less water throughout the day, they defecate in smaller amounts and best of all they’re in good health. Because of these incredible changes, visits to the veterinarian have become fewer and further apart. It’s absolutely amazing!
Over the years, I have experienced different aspects of the raw food industry. I have done everything from making my own food blends, purchasing assorted raw bases from local suppliers and supplementing when needed, purchasing raw complete diets from retailers and I have even become a distributor for a raw food brand. I have had positive results with all of the above, however there’s a fluctuating labor to cost ratio which made me swing from one extreme to the other. I have come to realize that the complete diets are the easiest way to feed your dogs a nutritious meal, although they are the most expensive. Buying a raw base of meat, bone and adding veggies and supplements to it tends to be cheaper, but also more work. My best advice to someone would be you just have to figure out what works best for you and your pet.
Due to trial and error combined with research, involvement and dedication, I had gained experience, however the experience gained was nothing more than basic logic. The answer I was looking for had been staring me in the face the entire time. There was no such experiment needed or scientific nutritional analysis; it was just good old fashion nature working best. Dogs were designed to eat a certain way, but big business spent many years and a lot of marketing dollars to steer people away from what nature intended.
I believed that all dogs, both big and small, from pets to working dogs, and athletes to show dogs would greatly benefit from a raw natural diet. My goal is to continue to enhance the quality of a dog’s life by offering products and information that caters to their natural desire.
Joseph S. Secreti,