How a Former MIT Engineer Became a Human-Grade Dog Food Mastermind · The Wildest

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Behind the Brand

How a Former MIT Engineer Became a Human-Grade Dog Food Mastermind

Katie Spies tells The Wildest how she’s changing the nutrition game with her human-grade raw pet food company.

by Maia Welbel
November 21, 2023
a dog waiting to eat Maev food
Photo Courtesy of Maev
The letter "W" from the Wildest logo

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Your always-hungry pup will accept just about anything as a snack or meal (especially if there’s peanut butter involved), but you’re obviously more concerned with the nutritional info on the side of the package than they are. With growing interest in raw-food diets these days, you both have choices that will satisfy you.

At the top of the list of raw-food brands you could consider is Maev. It’s a vet-formulated, human-grade raw pet food brand committed to transparency, safety, and most importantly, helping dogs be as healthy and happy as they can be. 

But before we — or rather, your dog — dig in, let’s take a look at what a raw-food diet for dogs really is. It typically consists of meat, fruits, and vegetables that have undergone minimal heat and processing. Its proponents laud the diet’s positive effect on energy, digestion, coat health, joint function, and more. 

Putting your pooch on a raw diet isn’t as straightforward as you might think. For one thing, food-safety standards for meat sold at grocery stores are set with the assumption that it will be cooked before it’s consumed. We can’t go feeding our dogs raw chicken breast straight from the butcher counter because it might harbor harmful germs.

Additionally, dogs need the right balance of macro and micro-nutrients to stay healthy and thrive. Making sure your dog gets what they need on a raw-food diet requires comprehensive planning and expertise. So, while preparing pet food at home can be a fun DIY project, if you’re serious about switching to raw, you may want to leave it to the pros.

Enter: Katie Spies, an MIT engineer and founder and CEO of Maev, who’s got the raw-food lifestyle on lock. Below, The Wildest chats with Spies about how a raw-food diet helped her pup, going from a MIT engineer to a dog walker, and keeping her pet supplies (and her life) organized. 

How is Maev dog food different from what you typically find on pet store shelves?

Maev is a raw-food diet for dogs that is both safe and convenient. Maev Raw Food pours directly from the bag — stored and served frozen — so it’s as convenient as kibble. [We use] whole-food ingredients that are distinguishable to the naked eye. We’ve always found that quality control is a lot easier when the beef looks like beef. Our food is protein rich, has no fillers, no additives, and no processing; we flash-freeze it at negative 14 degrees Fahrenheit to lock in nutrient quality.

Maev began after you started whipping up raw dog food in your kitchen. What initially led you to DIY-ing your pup’s meals?

In 2015, I rescued an Italian Greyhound named George. He started having seizures shortly afterward, and my veterinarian struggled to find a solution. We tried everything from medications to environmental changes. Eventually, they suggested changing his diet. Once I started feeding George raw food, the seizures stopped, and I watched his health issues resolve within about 30 days. His digestion, energy balance, and behavior visibly improved. Fewer energy spikes, less anxiety and reactivity, and more regular BMs.

At what point did you decide to make it into a business? 

I was frustrated when I couldn’t find what I was looking for in stores (food with no fillers, clean proteins, moderate fats, etc.), and I had to spend Saturdays making it myself. But within a few months, I had met about a dozen pet parents in similar positions who wanted me to make food for their dogs, too. For convenience, I individually froze all of the ingredients so that I wouldn’t have to thaw or microwave anything at mealtime. Overtime, I worked with holistic vets and incorporated supplements as well. 

In that first year of making food for George and others, I had no plans to build a dog food company, nor did I expect to find myself so burnt out at work. However, the next few years came with many surprises, and I ended up quitting my job to become a dog walker as a way to find my purpose. Eventually, everything pointed to Maev. I wish I had come to this conclusion faster! 

What has been most challenging about launching and running a raw pet food brand?

As a raw pet food brand, one of the largest challenges is customer education. Most dog owners don’t get quite as excited about the science behind their dog’s gut health or biochemistry as our team does, so there’s a challenge in how we communicate the benefits.

What have you found the most rewarding?

The most rewarding part of working on Maev is the countless dog owners who leave testimonials, rave reviews, video posts, referrals, and track us down on the street to tell us how life changing this product was for their dog. Dogs are so expressive, so hearing peoples’ stories about their dogs’ personalities will never get dull for me. 

Is there anything new on the horizon for Maev?

We are working on so much! We’re doing more IRL events, especially in our very dog-friendly hometown of Austin, Texas. And we’re working on some exciting new products. More to come soon!

author Maia Welbel

Maia Welbel

Maia is a freelance writer focused on using storytelling to help people treat our planet with more compassion. She lives in Chicago with her perfect pets, Maxx the dog and Rubie the cat. Find her on and @mwelbel.

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