About Our Team: Danielle

I’ve provided compassionate care in the pet industry with my educational and professional background working with domesticated and exotic animals for over 15 years.

I am a lifetime animal handler of many different companion animals, including exotic and non-traditional pets, and livestock beginning as a small child. I’ve always had an affinity with animals.

I’ve worked on a prestigious equine breeding farm, in veterinary clinics as a Certified Veterinary Assistant, and I’ve gained the fundamental skills needed to effectively triage and assist veterinary professionals in the practice of veterinary care and science.

I’ve worked in pet stores caring for many different species following specific feeding and cleaning protocols, while also maintaining knowledge on products pertinent to their care.

I then ventured on my own and opened my grooming salon where all pets, not just dogs, were welcomed. In a trade that is unregulated, I prevailed as a lifelong student personally committed to ever expanding my skills, incorporating state of the art equipment and using only the best quality products. I worked diligently to provide pets with a positive, gentle and personal grooming experience with both extensive knowledge and experience.

Throughout my career, I have worked with many dogs with special needs, but perhaps the most complex case of them all has been my own – my heart and soul dog – Sheepdog Riggs. The true inspiration at times for honing my skills, and restructuring my business in order to honour his legacy as Soul Dog Synergy.

In 2017, an 8 month long battle to uncover a diagnoses (officially a Hepatopathy with a secondary copper toxicity disease: micronodular hyperplasia, dissecting fibrosis and cirrhosis) of my “heart dog” – Old English Sheepdog, Riggs, forced me to focus towards my passion in nutrition. I was told many things from, “we don’t know”, “we can’t help you,” to “figure it out”, leaving me stranded with an ill dog. Though, as part of his treatment protocol, I knew lifelong follow up and dietary management was important. With only two board certified veterinary nutritionists in Canada, and neither one accepting new clients, and no veterinary professional who had encountered such a complex case, I desperately researched for help. Ultimately I had no choice but to start educating myself as I quickly enrolled back to school as time was of the essence for Riggs’ health. I started my journey into science based small animal clinical nutrition and I have not stopped. The more I learn, the more I learn I have more to learn.

I knew nothing about the disease. Nobody did. Riggs was my responsibility. We needed answers. How could this happen? I did everything right. I was determined to learn everything I could, not only so that I could make knowledgeable decisions about his care, but to find the right people who could help us.

Due to the rarity of Riggs’ issues, with the lack of support and knowledge available nor received at the time of his diagnosis and former issues, combined with my extreme interest, and never giving up on him, returning to school was an inevitable decision (although scary). This education has helped me personally with understanding our concerns and has led us to where we are today. I feel confident that at the end of Riggs’ journey,  I did everything I could for him. He is now 13 years old.

I am committed to lifelong learning and professional development in the fast-paced changing field of animal nutrition and the pet industry. It is of particular importance to stay current, as well as an opportunity for advancement.

I am proactive in continuing education as this asset greatly benefits my clients, as well as my fluency in my discipline to not only reinforce the knowledge already gained, but especially in the fast-paced changing field of animal health and nutrition. It is important to adapt as our pet’s needs are ever changing, as well.  Though, as animals as my largest teacher, we have more to learn from animals than animals have to learn from us.

Animals are not just our companions, they’re are teachers, too. It’s important to recognize that our animals are our mirror in what we look like – that their issues become our issues, and our issues become their issues. We want to recognize that our responses can create or exasperate diseases; the human-animal bond is a very real phenomenon.

 Synergistically Yours,
– Danielle & Sheepdog Riggs

Professional Summary

  • An enthusiastic pet specialist with over 20 years of experience in animal care
  • Experienced with various species
  • Passionate about promoting a high standard of animal health and well-being
  • Motivated by advancement opportunities and committed to professional development

Skills

  • Animal care
  • Medication administration
  • Bathing and grooming
  • Fundamentals of animal nutrition
  • Committed to professional development

We are committed to lifelong learning and professional development in the fast-paced changing field of animal nutrition and the pet industry. It is of particular importance to stay current, as well as an opportunity for advancement.

Education

Delivered by Dr. Gregg Takashima and Dr. Lisa Weeth

Discussing clinical cases of things that can go wrong when diets are incomplete for the individual animal; relating to the human/animal bond. The role of diet and the main purpose of food; to get nutrients into the body while evaluating traditional and non traditional diets.

Hosted by Dr. Charlotte Grey MA hons Vet MB MRCVS

Interpretation of formulating and auditing canine diets accurately based on science and appropriate guidelines. This course gives you an overview of canine nutrition and their nutrient requirements needed to accurately formulate recipes using food nutrient profiles, an online spreadsheet/software and nutrient guidelines (FEDIAF or NRC).

Hosted by Dr. Charlotte Grey MA hons Vet MB MRCVS

This course helped gain a deeper understanding of common causes of liver disease in dogs, common treatment options and dietary management.

Hosted by Jenny Ryoo with Better Cells the creator of RFN Spreadsheet

This course was a review of the basics of formulation for healthy, adult dogs.

Created by Savannah Welna, Cert. ACN, Cert. ACF, supported by veterinarians and nutrition professionals

Due to lack of support of nutritional guidelines being considered in previous nutrition programs, I enrolled to reinforce my knowledge already gained. This is a science based approach using appropriate nutrient guidelines of raw and homemade diets for companion animal feeding.

University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus

These courses are offered by Farm & Food Care’s IMPACT program, based on the Canadian Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Livestock. They are nationally developed guidelines of farm animals in Canada and serve as an understanding of animal care to promote sound management and welfare practices for housing, care, transportation and other animal husbandry practices.

Academy of Natural Health Sciences

The final program following the cert. programs of canine and feline nutrition. This course further addressed nutrient requirements of companion animals. It is great for beginners as my knowledge of canine and feline anatomy, physiology, and diseases were reinforced. It lacks a science based approach, particularly for appropriately and safely balancing homemade and raw diet formulation and proper caloric calculations. Clinical nutrition for dogs and cats, including prescription diets, sports nutrition,  breed-specifications, herbs, supplements, and complementary therapies were taught. Further instruction was based upon herbology, homeopathy, drug, and supplement interactions while preventing nutrient depletion. Final evaluations were based on client health assessments, nutritional interpretations, legal guides, and counseling practicum.

Academy of Natural Health Sciences

This course offered a basic beginning of understanding feline nutrition, nutrients in a cat’s diet, commercial diet choices and alternatives and natural remedies. It had a focus on how to improve overall health and nutrition, particularly with homeopathic remedies and supplementation. It lacks a science based approach with evidence, particularly for appropriately and safely balancing homemade and raw diet formulation and caloric calculations.

Academy of Natural Health Sciences

This course offered a very basic beginning of understanding canine nutrition; nutrients in a dog’s diet, unique dietary needs, nutritional concepts, commercial diet choices and alternatives; loosely balancing homemade and raw diets, natural remedies, how to improve overall health and nutrition, homeopathic remedies and supplementation. It lacks a science based approach with evidence, particularly for appropriately and safely balancing homemade and raw diet formulation.

Hosted by ODGA Guest Speaker Dogs of Pride

DogPort Academy of Dog Grooming

Received a diploma of highest honours after successfully completing training in all breed pet dog grooming in order to become a professional dog groomer.

Veterinary Assistant Certification Program

Successfully gained the fundamental skills needed to effectively assist veterinary professionals in the practice of veterinary science to receive a diploma. I am also able to care for patients’ basic needs and perform receptionist duties.

Active Enrollment in Career Advancement & Affiliations

Delivered by Jerold Bell DVM – Chair of the WSAVA Hereditary Disease Committee

Exploring advances in veterinary genetics of dogs and cats; common genetic diseases and approaches we can take to alter the expression of genetic disease in predisposed animals. The course also covers genetic screening for pet and breeding animals and the different types of genetic tests now available. Discussion of the concepts and methods of genetic counseling for pet and breeding dogs and cats in order to improve the genetic health of animals through appropriate pre-breeding health screening and assessments.

This course was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Purina Institute.

Key aspects of WSAVA’s Global Nutrition Guidelines allow screening nutritional assessments and how to determine body and muscle conditioning scores. Extended evaluations and how to interpret the findings of nutritional assessments; while preparing and monitoring hospitalized and non- hospitalized pets. Frequently asked clinic questions are simulated.

This course was delivered by Dr Marie-Claude Blais during the WSAVA World Congress 2019 in Toronto, Canada.

Regularly attend workshops, summits, symposiums, seminars, and conferences pertinent to industry standards.

Professional and peer mentors in the veterinary field have allowed me to develop valuable transferable skills

Invested in different learning formats such as university continuing education programs (by course), authoritative and credible publications, videos, and lecture series.

We are proactive in continuing education as this asset greatly benefits our clients, as well as our fluency in our discipline. 

On a regular basis, not only have we received authoritative certification programs, but are involved in trusted programs with deeper knowledge more relevant to our practice.

Synergistically Yours,

Danielle

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