The dictionary defines "dogma" as an authoritative creed within a group or organization. For Healthy Dogma, a family-owned petfood brand newly introduced this year and based in Michigan, the dogma is all-natural, unique ingredients such as kelp, medicinal mushrooms, colostrum, flax seed, tart cherry extract and probiotics in petfood premixes, treats and supplements for dogs. "Both our treats and kelp supplements are in reusable plastic cups and are top shelf safe for the dishwasher," says Darby Peters, vice president of marketing for Healthy Dogma. "We consider our products dog friendly and environmentally savvy. Thus far we have had a great response to our new products and packaging."

The new packaging also has its own QR code so customers with smartphones can scan the code and go directly to the company website to read more about that particular product, see additional photos and read customer reviews. "Our packaging is something you do not see any of our competitors using," explains Peters. "Our products are re-sealable and easy to travel with, making them superior to many of our competitors. We also mix and package each product in house. This gives us the opportunity to see our entire assembly line in progress." At any point in the production process Tom Peters, Healthy Dogma president, can walk over and check on each product to make sure it is being mixed and packaged up to their standards.

Peters also says the company has experienced phenomenal growth by focusing on creating high-quality products. "We research relentlessly for premium ingredients for our supplements, treats and food," she says. Peters says customer service has helped establish a credible reputation with Dogma customers. "We always answer the phone and you will rarely get a recording when calling us. Chances are if you call right now either Tom, Mary Beth (vice president) or myself would answer!" And being such a small company, with no investors, stockholders or people outside of the company to report to, is another aspect Peters points to as a key to success. "Our investors are the customers who purchase our products; they are investing in us, and we in turn are investing in their pets, trying to provide for a healthy lifestyle for their dogs and cats."

The Dogma family-team first entered into the pet business with K9CriticalCare, a website that catered to dogs with serious illness. They first created K9CriticalCare seven years ago because the family dog, Banjo, was diagnosed with cancer. "We searched for supplements and food, but weren’t satisfied with the options, so we created our own line of supplements and dehydrated foods for dogs with serious illnesses as a response. We were the first company to sell medicinal mushroom extract supplements for dogs," claims Peters. "Our line of critical care supplements has been so successful we began developing a line of all-natural supplements calibrated to meet the needs of healthy dogs, and Healthy Dogma was born.

"We love hearing that our supplements have helped so many dogs with serious illnesses, but this year we changed our focus to helping healthy dogs stay healthy. This is more of a long-term process, but the reward is a healthy dog that will be in your life a long time." And Peters is very optimistic about the new brand's future, seeing the organization shifting from K9CriticalCare to Healthy Dogma. "We don’t have much to complain about and we have a lot to be thankful for. We see a larger market with healthy dogs and plan to expand our Healthy Dogma line to be available in more independent stores around the country." The company is also currently formulating a new dehydrated dog food, wholesome meals with just the addition of water.

"Being a small business spreading the word about our company can be challenging," confesses Peters. "We have a lot of great, loyal customers and we would love to expand even further. We try to keep in contact with customers and potential customers with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Mail Chimp. We always are looking for new ways to reach out." Healthy Dogma will also be exhibiting for the first time this fall at the H.H. Backer Pet Trade Show (Booth #4215).

"We view the petfood industry as a rapidly growing market," Peters says when asked about the current state of the industry. "The most recent round of recalls has the industry in a shakeup, but honestly, we see a lot of opportunity in that. People are more aware of what their pets are consuming, and it’s only a matter of time before they start to make healthier choices for their own pets."

Business Basics

Headquarters and Facilities: Lake Orion, Michigan, USA

Officers: Tom Peters, president; Mary Beth Darby, vice president; Darby Peters, vice president of marketing

Brands: Healthy Dogma, K9CriticalCare

Distribution: Online and through Wholesome Pet, who distributes in the Midwest, United States

Employees: 7