Keeping PETS out of vets since 2011

The Natural Dog Seminar 2020, 3-Day Spectacular!

The Natural Dog Seminar Returns... And Have We Got A Show For You!

Fri 23rd- Sun 25th Oct, Glenview Hotel, Wicklow

As the raw movement continues to grow in popularity, the every-two-year Natural Dog Seminar returns to Ireland to an even hungrier market than it left. Raw sales are clearly exploding. However, as more and more players pile into the market and as the opposition does its best to sully the waters, there can result in a mish-mash of information. For these reasons, there is so much to do. 

The first day, Dr Nick Thompson (founding member of the Raw Feeding Vet Society) and me, Dr Conor Brady (this is my site, don’t you know?!) will guide you through the entire subject, from why to how, with all the myths and questions tackled in between. Day 1 is targeted at both the novice raw feeder as well the young vet or canine professional eager to expand their knowledge base to facilitate their clients. 

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The second day is more advanced where we get introduced to some new and innovative concepts, including a reframing of the microbiology debate  and for the first time, cats get their own slot! We can’t forget about them. We will also get a practical demo Canine First Aid Ireland in case you find yourself in the unfortunate position of witnessing a choking dog. 

On Sunday, we have two different practicals lined up for you. First, Jo and Claire return to show us how to make our own herbal cures. The girls put you in groups of 6 or 8 gathered around your own work stations where you get a chance to get your hands dirty (and yes, you can take your homework home with you!). I missed their set in Switzerland (in a fancy glass garden centre, if you don’t mind) and I heard it was excellent. It gives you a chance to see how the experts work, arming you with the knowledge you need to go home and do it yourself. Their set is always so informative, great craic and now interactive. I can’t wait to hear how to make my own trauma gel! 

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Jo in action in the Natural Dog Seminar in 2018

After lunch we have the wonderful Caroline Ingraham. I first met Caroline last year at a seminar in Switzerland. Caroline is the founder of Zoo Pharmacognosy, this is the practice of allowing animals to self select their own herbal remedies from a selection presented to them. It is utterly fascinating, but I have gushed about Caroline a number of times before (e.g. please check out my previous article about Caroline demonstrating that Zoo Pharmacognosy is alive and well in humans too) but now we all get to see her in action with some dogs-in-need. We are very lucky to have her and you will be blown away, I promise

As solid theory can be a bit much we break up the the days with coffee and scones, giving you a chance to browse the natural pet exhibitors at the back of the wall, or just sit and digest. A light lunch of soup and sambo (vegetarians catered for, as are coeliacs – please enquire) will be provided with spectacular views over the Glen of the Downs. And this year you will be arriving to a very swanky goodie bag!!!

Tickets cost €80 per day. Discounts are available for students and businesses sending more than two staff. Please email us for more information. 

What we're going to cover...

Day 1 Raw Beginners

raw dog food

We begin with a brief introduction, who we are and what we’re doing here. We end with asking you what it is you need from the day (this you will scribble down on a pad and hand up the front, we will ensure to get to them throughout the day).  

This is the most important question in canine nutrition because what you feed an animal is paramount to both their physical and mental well being. So why is it that we are all so confused about what a dog should eat day-
to-day? It’s unforgiveable but very understandable. If a zoologist was presented with a dog for the first time, there are a variety of tools at their disposal to answer this question. They can look at the evolution of the dog: where did he come from and what are his relatives eating; they can look at the diet studies: what do dogs eat when they are left to their own devices; and they can look at the biology of the dog, at his digestive morphology, which quickly tells us what they are geared up to eat. As any zookeeper will tell you, once you have the answer you are practically obliged to feed the animal his normal species-appropriate diet if good health and longevity is what you’re after.

After 25 years of pondering how to make the infinite world of raw food fit into the palm of his hand, Nick has whittled it down to five basic elements. He will present his quintet of take-home messages for the most basic
foundations of any raw food diet. The best place to start raw feeding your dog is by letting a reputable
manufacturer of a raw all-in-one foods do the initial work. It’s nice, though, to know how they choose ingredients and blend their formulations to help you understand what and you’re feeding and why. These principles will allow you to transition, when and if you feel ready, into the world of DIY raw food, making up meals at home with confidence, knowledge and clarity. Welcome to the raw food revolution!

I begin with a quick few notes on meat sourcing – how to pick the good stuff and avoid the bad. It’s a pretty dark industry when you look into it. I save you the trouble.

One of the most hotly debated topics in what dogs eat is around plant matter. Essentially how much, of what, if at all?! When you understand why the confusion in the diet studies, the question itself becomes easier to answer. Here we tease apart what the literature says, picking out some outstanding examples where small amounts of plant material can be fed to dogs, often to their great benefit, and then show you how to do it properly. We end by discussing the recent trends of vegetarian and vegan dogs and some leftover do’s and don’ts. Once you start feeding species-appropriate food, you will naturally begin to question everything else you put inside them, and possibly in you too! 

Last in line is pet treats. This is a minefield so here we teach you how to spot the good from the bad and the downright ugly, and offer up 3 or 4 fantastic tips for making your own: twice as nice at half the price!

‘Oh, raw feeders always go on about the benefits of raw feeding, but where’s the evidence?’, is something you’ll hear sceptics repeat in every conversation about raw. But are they right or just spouting hot air? The proof for raw is new, up-and-coming, it’s incomplete, but there are scientific studies we can look at to back up what we raw feeders see with our eyes every day, often within weeks of starting raw – improved teeth, gut function, breath, windiness, energy, stool quality and…the list is endless.

‘Complete and Balanced meals’ is a mantra the conventional nutrition world invented many years ago. We’re going to look at what this means to the raw feeder. We’re going to teach you how to create a diet to avoid excesses and deficiencies in protein, fat and carbohydrates, but at the same time, ensuring enough, but not over-doing, minerals and vitamins. Fear not, it’s a lot easier, and a lot more fun than it sounds!

Folk new to raw feeding come with a certain amount of fear to the table. This fear has been carefully instilled in you (and your vet) to make you believe that overly complicated, ultra-processed and over-priced bag of crackers is worth the money you are currently wasting on it. By far the biggest fear pushed by vested interests is the risk of hazardous microbiology (which saves talking about nutrition or health so easily). So here we spend time talking about the risks of BOTH dry versus raw dog food from that very perspective. We go through the bug threat of each product, showing you the figures, the deaths, the recalls, and allow you to make up your own mind of what is safe and what is not for your pet.  

Feeding raw meaty bones is vital to your dog. I don’t use that term lightly as they have many benefits. Of course, as with all foods, certainly the big hard ones, feeding meaty bones necessitates a little care, and we show you how to do it whilst ensuring the safety of your pet. We go through the reasons for the confusion and recommend the best bones for your dog to start off on.

At this stage the questions will be building in your minds. We address the top 10. This includes how to introduce raw and how much to feed as well as tweaking diets for different types such as puppies, seniors and fatties. 

Our assisstant will have gathered all your questions and should we have missed any doozies we can fly through them here. We’re happy to stay until 5:30 so if you have any questions or concerns, now’s the time to get the both of us!

Day 2 Raw Intermediate

If yesterday was a comfortable stroll through the lowlands of canine nutrition, now we take it to the next level and start walking uphill a little!  With you more experienced raw feeders, you often come equipped with more complex and challenging questions. Here we welcome you all, give you a brief intro to the day and then get straight into it…

Nick has been the president of the Raw Feeding Vet Society in the UK. In that time he built the organisation from the ground up. Nick and his group are now at the forefront of the knowledge battle in this area. Along the way  he has learned a lot, met some great people and encountered numerous obstacles. Here we are introduced to just a few of them. Nick shows us some of the most influential people and companies out there and finishes by introduceing us to Answers Pet Food. 

Following on from Nick’s introduction, I’m going to begin by highlighting why the revolutionary Answers Pet Food dominated my thinking for the last quarter of 2019. It’s fair to say this company finds itself at the forefront of meat cleanliness…and at war as a result. Most of us are aware that the “bad bacteria” threat is one used intensively but selectively by the dry food industry. Let he who is without sin and all that. After we highlight some inadequcies there I introduce you to the world of probiotics and why they are not only scary but so very, very vital to keep happy (as in the opposite of dead!). It’s a world that is only now beginning to unfold some of it’s secrets We take a quick look at what it is they do and how to keep them at their best. We then look at what’s going on in dogs, discussing how different diets can alter the flora and investigate what might be the ideal pre and probiotic for them. 

The time has come to address the purring elephant in the room. Why does Dogs First just focus on dogs? Well, no more! In this segment Nick introduces us to the world of raw feeding cats. For them, you need to make a few tweaks. They not only need a slightly different diet to dogs but they can be divils to switch over. Nick loves cats and years consulting with the top experts  in this area means he has gathered all the interesting tips and factoids that you will need to get your moggy in peak physial condition. 
Balance. One word. A whole lot of controversy. Raw isn’t balanced. How many times have you heard that one? The word is used so vehemently by the dry food industry (which is somewhat ironic considering the product they stand over, which we take a look at), that the notion of  “balance” now risks being relegated to the nonsense realm along with “complete” or “veterinary prescribed”. But balance remains a very important concept. In this section, we take a look at why it’s so important to vary the proteins you offer to your little meat eater. We will discuss the myriad of different bioactive compounds rarely discussed but commonly found in different parts of the animal, going deeper than simply protein, fat and carbs. We end by discussing the unknown epigenetic effects of a great diet (and finally what this might look like) and why vegetarian diets cannot work.

Jenny Hale & Karina Kerrigan are going to demonstrate what to do in the unlikely event your dog should choke on a food item. They will then help you choose the most suitable raw bones for your dog.

The number 1, 2 and 3 reasons for visiting the vet today are recurring skin, ear and gut conditions. Most likely, if you are here today, around half of you jumped to real food as you had a dog with a health condition, and for most of you it for the reasons stated. Sadly, while a quick change to any raw will solve a lot of your issues, very often it is not as simple as that. 

Food sensitivity is a very tricky little condition and here we get into it in detail. We begin with teaching a little of the difference between allergy and intolerance, essentially two separate issues and it’s the latter most (previously dry-fed) dogs are affected by. Using the literature we discuss the top antigens in dogs and why they cause them so many problems and why studies show dry food cannot solve the problem for you. We ten take a look at the various tests (blood, saliva, skin-prick, hair) used to detect food allergies in your dogs. We next get into the “what to do” which involves how to run the ideal exclusion diet.

We finish with all the little added natural bits I would not only add in along the way to ensure you fix that gut and get your dog back to full digestive potential and thus good health, but also remedies and products that migth help with the upsets you might experience along this road to recovery.

Case studies are a highly convincing way of reassuring people they’re on the right track and few vets have more of them Nick. Nick walks us through one or two case studies, encompassing some of the top maladies out there, including renal disease and obesity with special focus on diagnosis, diet and of couse, treatment.

By this time our assisstant will have gathered all your questions. We will leave as much time as possible for this bit as the questions from the intermediates are usually brilliant. We’re happy to stay until 5:30 so if you have any questions or concerns, now’s the time to get the both of us!

Day 3 - Herbs and Zoo Pharmacognosy Pracicals

Natural Dog Food Seminar

This will be mercifully brief as we’ll introduce each of the practicals before you do them!

Hands on herbs workshop: delegates will learn about plants, herbs & oils by making their own healing skin rinse, digestive patties, trauma gel & home grown herb boxes under the guidance of Veterinary Herbalist Jo Arbon. All materials are provided for this session except containers and plants for the herb garden which are available for delegates to select and purchase from the garden centre on the day. Delegates are also welcome to bring their own containers/herb boxes with them, Soil for planting on the day will be provided by the garden centre.

Before we jump head first into Zoo Pharmacognosy, you have to first understand what it is and how it works. Caroline is a fabulous speaker. Here she gives us some basic theory and really thrilling case studies. She ends with a class demonstration to convince you all Zoo Pharmacognosy is not just for the four-legged animals. A brilliant 90mins this.

We will change up the room a bit and gather around Caroline as she works her magic on a needy dog. 

We will change up the room a bit and gather around Caroline as she works her magic on a needy dog. 


About our speakers...

Caroline Ingraham

caroline ingraham

Caroline is amazing. I had the pleasure of sharing a meal with her last year in Switzerland where both of us were talking. I had heard the hype but as usual, you dont really get it until you sit down and listen to them. Caroline is the founder of Zoo Pharmacognosy, which is the practice of allowing animals to self-heal, whether physical or emotional, with herbs and herbal remedies presented to them. She found that animals can tell us know which plant medicines they need, where they need it and will even dose themselves accordingly. It’s utterly fascinating to watch. She has worked on kangaroos, polar bears, brown bears, elephants, tigers, rhinos, primates and pets. Caroline has featured in many scientific journals and articles and has written numerous books on the subject.

Dr. Nick Thompson

Dr. Nick Thompson ukholisticvet

Nick needs little introduction at this stage. Right out of the traps, Nick was sharp enough to question some conventional veterinary principles. Within months of qualifying in 1992 he began training in homeopathy in 1993 at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital with the Faculty of Homeopathy.  In 1998, he completed a year long-course in with the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society. Nick has written for some of the best magazines and journals out there. Highly respected in the natural vet world, he has only recently passed on the gauntlet of President of the Raw Feeding Veterinary Society after five years at the helm to focus on spreading the raw message globally through a dizzying array of relationships he has now built up.

Jo and Clare

Jo and Claire of Holistic Hound, Pic courtesy of the
Jo and Clare, courtesy of the

I love Jo and Claire, not just for their depth of knowledge but their ability to transmit some solid info in a wonderfully accessible presenting style. I have worked with and listened to these guys a number of times. In fact, it was listening to them that stopped me posting on herbal stuff. I realised I knew practically nothing! While both are Master Herbalists, Jo is also a qualified veterinary herbalist, studying with both Dr. Jimmy Symmonds (co-founder of the British Association of Veterinary Herbalists BAVH) and more recently the wonderful Caroline Ingraham (founder of Applied Zoopharmacognosy). She is also a qualified Canine First Responder and trained in ttouch. Holistic Hound was established back in the UK in 2005 and since then, their herbal business continues to leap from success to success.

My favourite bit of theirs is when they do practical, a hands-on demo of what to do and how to do it. You go home not only armed with the best way to do things but the stuff you created in class! Love it. It’s during the fun that the best info percolates in. You gotta check them out.

Dr. Conor Brady,

  • Degree in zoology and a doctorate studying the effects of nutrition on the behaviour and gut morphology of animals
  • Guide dog trainer and supervisor for five years
  • Began the Natural Dog Seminar in 2010, in Perth, WA.
  • Started Ireland’s first raw dog food company in 2011
  • Had some success on Dragons Den in 2013
  • Began working independently from 2014 as a canine nutritionist – writing, speaking and now lecturing on all things canine nutrition and natural health
  • Author of Raw Science, the first in-depth scientific appraisal fo the raw v dry debate. It will be available at the seminar!
  • Owner of a nutty cocker spaniel that my wife says we need help with but I’m too stubborn to ask for.

Venue & Accommodation...

Glenview Hotel & Leisure Club. Directions: Junction 9 off the n11.

This is where the event is on. We were here last time too. Accommodation is expensive in Wicklow. The Glenview averages around €130 per night (with a good breakfast). It’s a very nice place mind, nice pool, loving views etc. I can get you 8-10% discount if you mention you’re part of the seminar.

Glenview Hotel Wicklow

Wilton Hotel, Bray. 3 star hotel not too far from venue. Nice too. Slightly cheaper than the Glenview but when you factor in taxis (and general niceness) I’m not sure there’s any saving here.

There are also a range of B&B’s close-ish to the venue. The best, which is also the closest, is the Horse & Hound. Actually, this place is just a b, no breakfast included, but the rooms are fab, you will save money and it’s an EXCELLENT pub (and my local!).

There is also loads of AirBnB places. Recommend you check them out (click the map below for some options for 3rd-5th April 2020…


Upcoming Events...

Can’t make this one? We might be coming to a town near you soon…

Bradford, UK: 29th Feb – 1st March
Wembley, UK: 28th-29th March
Sweden 17th-18th April
Montreux, Switzerland: 26th – 27th Sep