For over 11 years, I have been pretty obsessed with pet nutrition and the pet food industry. I crave knowledge about ingredients, how the industry works, how to feed them a species appropriate diet and try to keep up with all the new trends and alerts in the world of pet food.
Working as a Brand Ambassador for Nature’s Variety in 2007, my eyes were cracked wide open to how their food differs from the “grocery store” brand foods. Their big selling points were not using corn, wheat or soy in their products. They were also the top manufacturer of the raw frozen diet. Raw!? The only raw meat I ever came across was ground beef or chicken in my freezer! Not in pet food! What in the world, how do you feed that and how am I supposed to tell pet owners about it? Well, much to my surprise, I had so many fans of the brand come up to me and tell me how much the food has changed their pets health for the better. One dog went off insulin by going on the raw diet, allergies cleared up by switching to the grain-free Instinct line, pets were healthier and happier and pet owners were over the moon about the food! I knew I had gotten myself aligned with the right company. Educating customers on the food, how it could help their pets feel better, live better and even what not to feed their pets was my new passion. I was never, EVER going to feed my own pets or recommend to anyone else they feed Iams, Science Diet, Pedigree or Purina and a host of other junky foods again.
Thereafter, I started collecting pet nutrition books, old veterinary school nutrition books and anything pertaining to the industry and an ancestral diet. I love devouring knowledge and having such amazing reference books! But, with all my self-taught education, I still felt that people weren’t really taking me seriously by telling them not to feed their pets by-products or that they should feed their cats a high-protein diet. To me, it seems if you have a credential to your name, people take your advice more seriously. Like, you ask your doctor how to treat a certain ailment because he is a Doctor of Medicine, not your next door neighbor who owns a roofing company but enjoys reading medical journals only on Sunday’s! Clearly I was not about to go to back to college for my veterinary nutritionist degree, but there must at least be something out there that would fit my interest and lifestyle. After some looking around a few years ago, I learned of an online program offering certification as a Clinical Pet Nutritionist. I drug my feet for a bit before biting the bullet and committing my time. It was a 500 hour program in feline and dog nutrition. After successful completion, I would earn my certification and have a wealth of knowledge to boot! With having an almost three year old, a pet sitting business and home life in general, it took me a little over two years to complete. I learned so much about anatomy, how cats and dogs differ in their nutrient requirements and how to feed diets for ailments such as kidney disease, cancer and liver issues. It was also heavily based on feeding a fresh home-cooked, or raw diet which I found fantastic! Kibble isn’t the end all be all for pets’ diets. It can do more harm than good, especially in cats (see my blog post about that). Being able to help people feed a diet that hasn’t been adulterated or extruded through little holes and cooked beyond smithereens was pure joy! I do offer some recommendations on kibble, but if you want to know what to feed your pet – it is a fresh raw diet or a home-cooked one.
Since obtaining my certification, my personal veterinarian and a local holistic minded veterinarian have refereed their clients to me for nutrition counseling and supplement products as an alternative to pharmaceuticals and prescription diets. They have both told me that they received no nutrition education in school, and what they did gather was from the big companies like Royal Canin, Purina, Iams and Science Diet who would come in and shower the students with free products and coupons. These companies are telling students that a dry, carbohydrate-laden, plant-based protein diet with by-products, chemicals and synthetic vitamins is what you are to feed your pets because it is best for them. Ugh! No wonder we have so many health issues in our pets these days. Our veterinarians are amazing at treating the problem, but sadly, they aren’t able to offer up a nutritional solution to the problems. What a void in the industry! Both veterinarians are so happy they have someone to send their clients to for nutrition advice! And me too!
Hearing all that solidified I made the right decision to pursue my certification and to fill in the gaps to help pet owners feed their pets better, and let food be their medicine.
Because I am a constant learner, I also obtained my certification as a Raw Dog Food Nutrition Specialist! My head is still spinning from the plethora of awesome information!
It is my great pleasure to help your pets live longer, healthier and happier lives through the food they eat.
Paws to you,