Post #1: The Maiden Entry

Welcome gentle readers. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to read my thoughts, insights, and occasional ramblings on dog and cat nutrition.

If you are a skeptical reader (as you should be) I thought you would like to know a bit about my background and credentials before we get started. I am a 2002 graduate of the University of California at Davis (UC Davis) School of Veterinary Medicine, with 12+ years of veterinary practice experience (if you don’t count clinical years at school and years spent as a veterinary technician before that); I also trained as a Clinical Nutritionist at UC Davis, completing my residency and becoming a Board-certified Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (DACVN) in 2007; and I have spent the last 7+ years (if you don’t count the 3 years of residency) working as a Clinical Nutritionist in veterinary referral hospitals.

As a Clinical Nutritionist I help caregivers and veterinarians optimize health and manage chronic disease in dogs and cats through dietary interventions. These diet changes have involved everything from developing feeding plans for hospitalized patients to formulating complete and balanced home-prepared diets, from review and selection of alternative commercial diets to simply adding supplements to the existing diet, and every combination thereof. I am also licensed to practice veterinary medicine in the United States and United Kingdom; have contributed book chapters and articles for peer-reviewed publications as well as provided content for general information articles on dog and cat nutrition; and have lectured nationally and internationally on a variety of topics related to the feeding of healthy dogs and cats and the nutritional management of diseases. I have and do work with pet food companies as an independent consultant (gives me a peak behind the pet food curtain), but have no financial interest in any pet food or treat company. This means that I know the ins and outs of how to keep dogs and cats healthy, and the ins and outs of the pet food industry.

Specializing within veterinary medicine was not something I had intended for my career path. The vision I had of my future self was always as a primary care veterinarian, keeping furry bundles of joy healthy and their families happy. Everything went as planned through undergraduate and graduate school and in 2002 I officially became a licensed veterinarian. After my first year in practice though I began to recognize that much of what I was taught in vet school was reaction driven while I was more interested in preventative care. Instead of waiting to treat the obese cat for Diabetes Mellitus, I wanted to prevent the obesity and Diabetes. When people asked me how to select the best food for their dog or cat, I too was overwhelmed by the number of different options and the often conflicting information provided by pet food companies. Diet could be both cause and cure, but how to tell which was which? At the time, continued education meetings were largely focused on the latest medications, tests, or treatments. My UC Davis training had stressed the importance of evidence-based medicine, but opportunities for continued education in nutrition seemed few and far between. So in 2004 I went back to UC Davis and started a residency in Small Animal Clinical Nutrition.

Two weeks after my residency officially ended my husband and I packed up the household and the kids (2- and 4-legged) and moved cross country to New Jersey. There I joined a large referral center and established the first of its kind Clinical Nutrition Department outside of a veterinary teaching hospital. Starting a specialty practice from scratch was no small feat, but I had a supportive hospital team (Thank you Dr. DeCarlo, the entire staff at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital, and my amazing assistant Sabrina!) who helped me build my little department into a successful and indispensable part of the veterinary community in the NJ-NY-PA area. In January 2014, my husband’s career moved us across the Atlantic to the United Kingdom. I had to say good-bye to that hospital, my patients, and their families, but I take comfort in knowing that it took two Clinical Nutritionists to take over the department that I started.

This blog is an attempt to pass along what I’ve learned over the years. The views and opinions expressed are my own based on my education, training, and years of experience managing healthy and chronically ill dogs and cats. If you are an Internet troll reading this post and are thinking about stirring up trouble either now or in future, please be warned that I am the gate-keeper of all comments. I reserve the right to be offended by and refuse to post mean spirited and derogatory statements. There is no guile or artfully crafted deceit in my posts nor is there any ulterior motive in writing this blog. I am less concerned about what you feed your companion dog or cat (within the realm of safe options), and more interested in providing the tools to navigate the sometimes tricky, sometimes truthful pet food marketplace and help keep furry family members healthy for years to come.