Over the last twenty years I have worked both proactively with adult dogs and growing puppies, and with complex cases like IBD, PLE, cancers, heart diseases, pancreatitis, Cushing's, Addison's, skeletal diseases, bladder stones, liver diseases, behavioral issues, epilepsy and more. I'm grateful for all the referrals from both holistic and traditional veterinarians, behaviorists and dog trainers.
The practice has grown to include Jody Zesko who works with me formulating diets daily.
My canine nutrition journey began in 1997 when our nine-month old Cavalier puppy, Zoey, was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Her case was so severe that euthanasia was suggested. We searched for answers and tried many approaches – traditional and holistic – but Zoey wasn’t responding. It became clear that popular books and belief systems weren’t enough.
The feeling of desperation that all pet parents experience when a diagnosis is received, prompted me to take courses that included animal nutrition, physiology, diseases and parasites and I became certified in Animal Health Care by the University of Guelph. Zoey’s response to the dietary changes was wonderful - in fact, she amazed some specialists! What she taught me became the foundation of this work. NRC (National Research Council) is a very powerful tool when applied specifically and deliberately for one dog. It was at about that time in my journey with Zoey that I became fortunate to develop a rapport with Ana Grum DVM, PhD who became a mentor and guide for many years.
Seeing Zoey's results prompted a few veterinarians to refer clients and it was through those people and the lessons their dogs taught that I realized there was a need for facts about canine nutrition being easily available. Nobody should have to dig for that kind of information, so I wrote the book I wished had been available to me - K9Kitchen.
My interest in canine nutrition emerged from my involvement in human nutrition and natural health. When my husband and I welcomed our first puppy in 1997, it made sense that she could benefit from fresh foods.
I’ve now fed fresh foods to all my dogs for over twenty years, exploring various feeding methods from cooked generic recipes in books, percentage based homemade raw and various commercial raw products. I was eager to share this passion for fresh food feeding -a relatively “new” concept - and in 2005 opened one of Calgary’s first natural dog shops specializing in raw foods.
Over the next 8.5 years I enjoyed providing guidance to other dog parents eager to feed fresh foods to their dogs. As the store wound down in 2013, I took the opportunity to study to eventually provide the qualified advice I felt was missing in the industry. With the goal of formulating diets for dogs in health and disease, it became clear that the National Research Council guidelines should be utilized to truly ensure that a diet meets a dog’s needs. Once I started feeding my own dogs with this approach, I felt empowered and finally had the peace of mind that I hadn’t realized was missing previously. This was truly feeding my dogs for optimal health.
I’ve enjoyed working with Monica and her wonderful roster of canine clients since January 2018.
Our Nutritional Philosophy:
Targeted and personalized nutrition is a powerful approach for dogs with health concerns, as well as healthy dogs. By taking into account breed(s), age, lifestage, and lifestyle we have the opportunity to truly address the whole dog.
Each dog is an individual and needs to be fed that way. Certain breeds and individuals are predisposed to particular ailments that may be addressed by dietary modifications. Itchy skin, runny eyes, gastrointestinal problems and a myriad of other complaints can often be traced to dietary sensitivities.
Addressing disease may require a unique change in diet plans. The notion of there being one perfect way to feed all dogs is a myth -some will thrive on an all raw diet, others will do best on cooked foods, and yet others will do well eating a combination of both. The choice is based on the dog owner's comfort level with a particular method of feeding and the dog's tolerance level of that choice.
Proactive nutrition gives your dog the best chance at circumventing diseases that seem to come with “old age” or that are associated with their breed(s). The importance of balanced nutrition cannot be overstated – we utilize the guidelines of the National Research Council in all our diet plans which allows us to target all required nutrients, while taking into account your individual dog and their health status.
We continually stay on top of new research in human and canine nutrition. Our approach is multifaceted -science based yet flexible as we honor the individual dog, and combines precision and targeted nutrition while utilizing functional additions of antioxidant rich foods.