My cookbook & supplement are recommended by many board certified veterinary dermatologists across Canada, including the dermatology groups at the veterinary colleges. Dr. Doreen Houston has referred veterinarians to me for custom home-made recipe formulation. Dr. Houston is the head of veterinary technical services for the Royal Canin/MediCal Veterinary Diets in Canada. I was hired by Mark Morris & Associates (Hills) to write the section on Canadian pet food labeling for the 5th edition of their Small Animal Clinical Nutrition textbook (c2009). I have been an invited speaker at 10 regional veterinary conferences in Canada, as well as the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association National Conference in 1998. I was an invited speaker at the New Brunswick Veterinary Medical Association Conference in October 2010. I am well known and well respected in the Canadian veterinary community.
I worked for Mars Inc (Waltham/Royal Canin/MediCal Veterinary Diets) from 1991 until the end of 2004. As Technical Services Manager, I was the person who trained the Waltham veterinary sales teams in both Canada and the US. Those sales teams comprised both veterinarians and technicians whose job it was to call on clinics and detail our veterinary diets to practitioners. My role was all-encompassing. I wrote the copy for the sales materials; I created the in-clinic seminar presentations; I oversaw the agency that did the creative design (Publicis); I trained the sales teams on how to present the materials and seminars to clinic staff. I also provided technical support for the Canadian team, meaning that veterinary practitioners who had questions about individual cases were referred to me for nutritional recommendations. I am happy to provide references to confirm this.
I've been formulating pet food recipes for more than 20 years. I formulated my first commercial cat food in 1987. I worked as a Product Development Manager for several commercial pet food companies before being hired by Mars in 1991. I've also worked in quality assurance and I've run a pet food analytical laboratory. Since 2004, I have earned a living as a pet nutrition consultant. I have formulated commercial pet foods for clients in Canada, Australia, the UK, and Latvia. I know pet food formulation - it's what I do for a living.
I am not at all suited for academia. However I have successfully completed graduate (PhD level) courses in veterinary nutrition, human nutrition, immunology and veterinary pathology. Although I did not complete my PhD, as a PhD candidate in veterinary nutrition, did successfully complete my qualifying examination (5 x 2 hour written exams with 1 4 hour oral exam assessed by 5 faculty members with expertise in nutrition, clinical nutrition, physiology and pathophysiology). I was the only non-D.V.Sc.Pathology student permitted to enrol in a graduate level course in Veterinary Pathology at the Ontario Veterinary College. I earned 85% in that course. I have taught pet nutrition to undergraduate students at the University of Guelph, as well as to veterinary students at the Ontario Veterinary College. I have a solid grounding in physiology, biochemistry, cell biology and pathology. Can you stand up at a blackboard and scribble out the biochemical pathways involved in branched chain amino acid metabolism? That was one of the questions I was asked in my PhD qualifying exam. I love biochemistry, I love physiology and I love pathology. I mostly love how nutrition builds from, and integrates concepts from, these different sciences. If you don't know biochemistry and physiology inside-out, you really don't know nutrition.
Ultimately, the proof is in the pudding. I would like to refer you to a Case Report published in the March issue of my newsletter (see page 11). This case report was written by a veterinarian whose own dog developed cancer cachexia as a result of lymphoma/chemotherapy. This dog was losing weight despite increased calorie intake, changes of diet, including feeding a commercial veterinary cancer diet. This dog was down to a body condition score of 1/5 and was fading away. I formulated a custom home-made recipe for this dog based on current nutritional research in both dogs and humans with cancer. Here are two paragraphs taken verbatim from this veterinarian's case report:
"I started cooking a custom home-made recipe by Hilary Watson on November 28th, 2009 and, although transitioning slowly, Bailey had more energy within 3 days of starting the new diet. Over the next 4 weeks this dog put all his former weight back on and an extra 5 lbs. His temporal muscles filled back out to normal, and he returned to a happy, active, spunky golden retriever with a coat that has never been this shiny and smooth.
I truly feel that Bailey would have been euthanised due to quality of life and wasting away towards
the end of November had he not had this nutrition change and dramatic response. I owe
Hilary a lot for helping my dog get back to his normal active, happy self."
Reversing cancer cachexia doesn't happen by accident. There was no room for trial-and-error guesswork. This dog was dying. My recipe literally saved his life. This is what this is all about for me - using nutritional expertise to solve real health problems and improve the quality of life of dogs.
Dogs give us so much and ask for so little in return. It is a privilege to be able to use my expertise to make a real difference in the lives of these dogs and their owners. This is my life's work. I am proud of what I have accomplished.