With all the focus on my new herbal course, I’ve been neglecting to talk about the two canine nutrition courses I’ve run for years, seems like they are well known and I always have a steady stream of new students along with graduates. That said, I think it’s time to re-cap what the Formulation course offers, who it is suited for and why it can take you much further than simply reading a book or even several, on the topic.
First – with so many people home feeding dogs these days, many are happy with online recipes or popular methods such as the Prey Model Raw. Some will hire a consultant such as myself and use the recipes provided, and that’s that. Others, however, develop a keen interest in the topic, and desire to learn much more. This is where a course of study can be incredibly helpful, and where the Dietary Formulation course comes in.
To start; I was not, personally, taught by anyone how to formulate diets using the NRC Guidelines, as I teach in the course. I have a background in nutrition that spans 40 years, but my formal training in canine nutrition came much later and did not teach me formulation. I taught myself over a period of several years, and when I started doing this work professionally, I did mainly proactive diets and diets for cancer. As I learned more about the special needs of dogs with diabetes, uroliths, Cushing’s and Addison’s disease, renal, hepatic, digestive and cardiovascular disease and more, I added that type of case to my repertoire. Fifteen years of both daily practise and research, as well as ongoing training, I can now not only formulate any type of diet, including complex cases wherein the nutrient indications of one illness seem to oppose that of a second or third, I can teach others how to formulate, from the ground up, with detailed information on each level. My training in herbalism has enabled me to understand constitutional types and food energetics as well as biochemical makeup, so each recipe is balanced in a way that is very specific to the individual.
And I did not learn this skill from one book, or from two, or from twenty, for that matter. I learned it by a full-on immersion into this topic, through interactions with some of the leading veterinarians in North America, through formal education in human nutrition as well as canine, from formulating diets for profoundly sick dogs and spending whatever length of time it took to do it not just well, but optimally.
I had no course or teacher to walk me through any of this. I wish I had! So now, I can offer it to others.
A few reasons why the Canine Dietary Formulation course may be of interest, and useful far beyond the simple reading of books and websites.
- first, some people get a little intimidated by math, period. It can be very useful to have someone there to demonstrate the calculations, give feedback on your work and help you when you feel stuck. A trained practitioner, who can be trusted to know this material, is vastly more reliable than asking on an Internet group; even some of the best ones will have people’s opinions as much as factual, reliable information.
- simply following the NRC recommended levels is not going to provide optimal recipes, it takes a little more know-how than that. As a quick example, if you stick strictly to the RA (Recommended Allowance) for protein, you will find the total recipe ends up with much more carbohydrate then we like to use for healthy dogs (therapeutic cases may indicate a higher level, but I’m not teaching therapeutic nutrition in this course). It takes a little more finesse, and I’m here to share what I know about how to work with those numbers, when to go somewhat above, how to personalize the recipe.
- working methodically can be incredibly helpful for people, to start with the understanding of one aspect of formulation and then building on it. Several students who have come into the course after reading on their own for many years, have said “It wasn’t all new material, but it was material pulled together in such a way as to finally make sense of it all”. Now that’s what I like to hear. Those for whom the whole topic is new, often do best to start with the Basics of Canine Nutrition and add the Formulation course as they learn more.
- it’s popular to say that the term”complete and balanced” doesn’t mean anything, but I beg to differ. It’s essential that a home prepared recipe, cooked or raw, be both. In this course you won’t just learn the bare-bones of nutrient requirements, but come to understand ratios and nutrient interactions, to provide a much more sophisticated understand than simply “make sure you add a supplement”.
- the Internet has filled people’s heads with notions about diets that range from just plain silly to potentially disastrous. It’s true you can gain some clarity on these from a good group or book, but what I have seen in even the top students in my courses is, they will pop up from time to time – outdated, unsubstantiated, half understood ideas (all starch causes intestinal inflammation, dogs cannot digest carbohydrates, all allergies are to carbs and so on). This course can keep you clear of all that we can discuss these notions, any validity they have, where they come from and use research to verify it all.
- interacting with not just your Instructor but a whole group of other keeners, is fun, as well as very useful for reinforcing knowledge. Dogs all share similar basic nutrient requirements, but they are very much individuals, and here is where the core knowledge of requirements and how to formulate gets so interesting; seeing what has worked for others, and that many times more than one thing can work. The course endeavours not *just* to teach the science but to invite discussion on the whole topic.You will not, ever, get that from a book, even the excellent ones on our Recommended Reading list. I offer detailed commentary on your assignments as needed, which I have repeatedly heard, was the most helpful aspect for the student.
Again, a course like this is not something for everybody, it’s not intended for the average owner who just wants to know a bit more about canine nutrition, for example. It’s geared towards those who want to really master the NRC method and work with both foods and supplements to develop truly balanced and excellent recipes for dogs. It’s an incredibly valuable resource for those who wish to formulate diets for dogs professionally (although legally, I have to say this is ‘non-vocational’, that means little when in fact it is teaching a skill that can be applied to anyone consulting as a nutrition advisor for canines).
I’ll be sharing a full Course Description on the site here soon. https://www.thepossiblecanine.com/product/canine-nutrition-diet-formulation-course_m
“…even though I’ve not finished the course(s)…JUST LIKE in behavior & training, a book or a dozen books may certainly be a place to start, but it’s not the be-all, end-all. Having a well-versed mentor/instructor with tons of EXPERIENTIAL knowledge is vital.”
Canine Dietary Formulation student Jennifer Hime
“I love reading and I have read tons of books on nutrition – but depending which ones you read, many contradict each other. There are so many thoughts and positions on pet nutrition, it’s hard to figure out what is truly accurate. I put tremendous value on the knowledge of someone with first hand experience, who has been working successfully with clients for a long period of time. I also put value on a professional helping me use critical thinking in cases. All dogs are different so you have to be able to adapt and even use intuition.”
Canine Dietary Formulation student Jody Zesko
“The Diet Formulation For Dogs course is excellent and best of all you can take your time and do it at your own pace . The course is very well structured and everything is covered from the ground up. Starting with Digestion and Energy, moving onto Macronutrients, Proteins, Carbohydrates, Fatty Acids , Micronutrients, Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements, with lots of practical work along the way. Each module builds on the last one with the aim to give you the confidence and the knowledge to feed a complete and balanced diet by the time the course is completed. If you love the thought of feeding your dog fresh foods but worry about getting the nutrient requirements correct. This is the perfect course for you.”
Canine Dietary Formulation student Michaela Morton
“Cat’s work and constant devotion inspire me daily and I am proud to be a student now, working through the Basic Nutrition course and the Formulation course. One day I look forward to the Herb course too. Her curriculum is extensive and working at my own time is very helpful.” Canine Dietary Formulation student Laurie Sue Bakay