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My Journey from Confused Pet Parent to “Pet Food Diva”

It’s been a 12+ year labor of love… And it all began with the love of a dog.

His name is Chase, and he’s snoozing next to me as a write this. As I glance over and absorb his peaceful presence, my heart swells with love. I want the very best for him in every way. He is at least 13 years old now (I’m not sure – he is adopted), and I give thanks every day that he is healthy.

Chase the Dog

In fact, most people who meet Chase for the first time think he is a youngster, and I just smile and say that we tell him that he is four years old, so that’s all that matters. 🙂

While Chase has mellowed quite a bit over the last couple of years (i.e. – he’s not nearly as crazy!), he still retains his youthful spirit. On many days you can spot him sprinting down the street, with me at the backside of the leash holding on for dear life.

I tell you all this because Chase is the catalyst for my passion, my mission and my life’s purpose: to create a grass-roots movement leading to global change in the way we feed our companion animals.

You see, Chase wasn’t always so full of health and vigor. When I first adopted him from the local shelter on January 6, 2002, he far from radiated optimum health. It didn’t take long for me to realize that Chase suffered from a multitude of skin and gastric conditions. When petting him, patches of his fur would often fall out in my hand.

One day, after returning home after a couple of hours out, I opened the door and was hit with a horrible smell. My poor Chase had had diarrhea everywhere – and I do mean everywhere. Ten hours later, the house was back to its previous state of cleanliness, but it was clear that Chase needed more than a good scrubbing to get him into shape.

My journey to heal Chase began, logically, with our veterinarian.

Let me be clear: I love Chase’s vet. He has been my supportive partner in his medical care for the past 12 ½ years. In my opinion, he is the kindest, warmest, most compassionate veterinarian there could ever be. If all healthcare providers cared about their patients to the same extent, our human & animal patients would be much better off.

Over the years, he has undergone his own evolution into incorporating more holistic healing methods into his practice because, as he says, “they work.” But back in 2002, he was very “mainstream.” His solution for Chase’s issues was the typical course of antibiotics & steroid shots.


The Awakening

I have always been interested in natural health.

Because of that interest, I knew enough to realize that these treatments were mere bandages covering up a deeper health problem percolating within Chase.

Not only would these treatments not cure Chase; they would create their own complications that could further exacerbate his already tentative state of health. I knew there had to be better solutions out there; and so, our journey began.

Back then, there wasn’t much literature available on natural healing for dogs, or on the role of nutrition in canine health.

Therefore, my research started with the classics, including works by Dr. Richard Pitcairn and Dr. Shawn Messonnier. The information put forth by these holistic veterinary pioneers made a great deal of sense to me.

The physiological balance of our dogs and cats begins systemically, which means that we must heal them from the inside out by reducing or removing toxic influences and nourishing their bodies with wholesome, proper nutrition.


The Work

As a writer, I felt the desire to spread what I had been learning to others.

I began writing articles on canine health and nutrition – many of which have been nominated for awards by the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA). Today, I am a regular contributor to most of the top national dog magazines, as well as a monthly dog food columnist.

Over the past several years I have been blessed to interview many of the leading veterinarians and researchers in the world on a variety of animal health topics, and I have amassed a great deal of knowledge on the chronic diseases plaguing so many of our beloved animal companions.

I was also blessed to be introduced by an editor to a truly great woman – a pioneer in the world of holistic animal care who is not afraid to stand up and speak up for what she believes in and what is best for animals – Dr. Jean Dodds, the founder and owner of Hemopet animal blood bank and Hemolife diagnostic testing lab.

The introduction to the renowned holistic veterinary authority Dr. Jean Dodds became a turning point in my life.

In a partnership that stems from a deep mutual respect and likeminded approach to companion animal health, Dr. Dodds and I have written two groundbreaking books together.

Our first book, The Canine Thyroid Epidemic: Answers You Need for Your Dog (Dogwise Publishing, 2011), received the Maxwell Medallion for Best Care/Health Book of 2011 by the DWAA, as well as the Eukanuba Canine Health Award for that same year.


The Mission

Through the years, one overriding aspect of health and wellness has continued to stand out from the rest – nutrition.

While optimum nutrition of course integrates into a multi-tiered approach to holistic health – one that involves healing every aspect of the animal and includes eliminating unnecessary vaccines, environmental toxins and emotional stress – years of research has led me to conclude that even if all these other aspects are in place but the nutrition is inferior, inadequate, improper or, worse yet, containing harmful ingredients, the body simply cannot thrive.

This revelation led to my second book co-authored with Dr. Dodds. Canine Nutrigenomics: The New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum Health is the result of more than two years of intensive research into the emerging field of nutrigenomics, the science of how nutritional ingredients “speak” to our cells and alter gene expression to create either inflammation and chronic disease or vibrant health.

What I learned throughout this amazing odyssey is that much, if not most, of our health is determined by lifestyle choices – most notably food and diet.

Thanks to The Human Genome Project and genome projects involving mapping and sequencing the dog, cat and other animal genomes, we now know that while we can’t change our underlying genetic code that’s in our DNA, we can change the way our genes “express” (turn on or off).

Responding to environmental signals, unhealthy gene expression leads to a myriad of chronic inflammatory diseases, ranging from arthritis to cancer, while healthy gene expression enables the body to fight off disease and live in a state of optimal health and balance.

Concurrently with writing the book, Canine Nutrigenomics: The New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum Health I embarked upon a new and exciting academic journey to receive a Masters in Animal Science. During the three-and-a-half years of intensive and highly challenging course work, I gained a deep understanding of the science behind animal nutrition and how each dietary aspect affects not only dogs and cats, but also horses and even cows and pigs!

My dissertation, which earned the mark of Distinction from the university, focused on the sources of information people turn to when making decisions about which foods to feed their companion animals.

I am using the knowledge I gained to help educate people all around the globe to create a greater awareness of how nutrition affects their beloved pets, and how even simple changes in the foods we feed them can create a massive health impact and add many joyful and vibrant years to their lives.


The Movement

The system of how we feed our companion animals is broken.

While just a handful of global pet food companies control what most of our dogs and cats eat, obesity and a host of chronic diseases are skyrocketing. We are doing our beloved companions a disservice, yet many of us don’t know where to turn for accurate information – information that isn’t just based on “personal opinion” or marketing propaganda.

Now, that information is available, right here, on PetFoodDiva.com.

Here, you will find numerous ways to improve your pet’s nutrition and life, as well as non-nutritional ways to detox their environment and support a holistic approach to health and vitality.

Here is what you can expect to find as I continually expand and update the site’s educational resources:

  • My blog will provide the latest information on numerous nutritional and health-related subjects, including discussions regarding the latest scientific studies.
  • Video tutorials will educate you on a variety of topics to create optimum health in your four-legged companion.
  • Video interviews with experts will further expand your knowledge base.
  • eGuides and eCourses will provide you with the opportunity to delve deeper and learn more about specific nutritional components.
  • Private consultations will enable you to work one-on-one with me to create custom formulated and balanced diet plans to meet your dog’s individual needs and address his current health issues.

So, what exactly is a Pet Food Diva?

By my definition, it is a confident, savvy person who doesn’t just “follow the pack,” but instead applies the latest nutritional information to help her four-legged companion express vibrant, optimum health from the deepest cellular level. The best part is, you can find that information here!

So, come join my Pet Food Diva revolution and Think Outside the Bowl™. Together, one dog and cat at a time, we will change the way we feed our companion animals and reverse the disturbing trend of obesity and chronic illness. Your pet will thank you for it!

Oh, there’s just one more thing I want you to know, and it’s very important…


Credentials and Training

All the good intentions in the world can’t help our pets unless these good intentions are accompanied by the education, scientific knowledge, research and experience to back them up.

Here is a synopsis of my credentials, which have been many years in the making:

  • Bachelor of Arts, Tufts University, Medford, MA, magna cum laude.
  • Master of Animal Science, Charles Sturt University, Australia.
  • Dog health writer and columnist, Dog Fancy, Natural Dog, Whole Dog Journal, Dogs USA, Puppies USA, DogChannel.com and more for close to 10 years.
  • Dog food columnist, Dogster magazine.
  • Co-author of award-winning book, The Canine Thyroid Epidemic: Answers You Need for Your Dog (Dogwise Publishing, 2014 to 2015). Received the Best Care/Health Book of 2011 from the Dog Writers Association of America and the Eukanuba Canine Health Award.
  • Co-author of the Amazon best-selling Pet Food Book, Canine Nutrigenomics: The New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum Health (Dogwise Publishing, January 2015).
  • Founder, The Happy Dog Spot, an award-winning Web site that provides free information to help dog parents take better care of their canine companions.
  • Formulator of canine diets for individual and commercial clients around the world. I work with dogs suffering from a myriad of health conditions, including severe food intolerances, gastrointestinal issues, chronic kidney disease, diabetes and more. Through the power of optimum nutrition based on the principles of nutrigenomics, my canine clients often experience startling improvement.