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The Roots:

Where My Journey Began

Happy Trails Pets pet health fordog and cat allergies

Now, I've been struggling to write this. As I sit here and stare at my blank screen, trying to put my thoughts into words...tears come pouring through. I know why it has taken so long... Guilt.


And still a smidgen of denial.

My first dog was a Black Lab puppy that we found at a local shelter when I was a teenager. We named him Slugger and he was the last pick of the litter!

For 10 years I've held so much hurt over what happened to him.

What we went through. The decisions I made.


But it's time to talk about it. At least a little bit.


There's a deep-seated reason to why am so passionate about the care of animals.


And he is that reason.

When I first got him home, I went and bought him good food (or so I thought), I trained him daily, eventually to be off-leash.

He was my rock and my best friend.

He loved playing ball, swimming, and most of all: running through the woods and rolling in turkey poop!


Truth is, I didn't know a lot back then about the care of animals... especially any type of holistic care.

One day we noticed he had an upset tummy. And then more upset tummy days.

For years he battled a GI disease, of which I termed Doggy Crohn's Disease. 


When he first got sick, we were in and out of the vet CONSTANTLY.

Slugger had trouble digesting food.

He would frequently vomit undigested kibble.

He had diarrhea often.


Some days he would refuse to eat, but still growled if I went near his full dish that I left out for him... In case he felt better later.

He needed exploratory surgery by the time he was 2 years old for his digestive problem, in which we never got an answer.

Long story short:

We were let down by conventional medicine.

A standardized system that only viewed the symptom as the problem.


At his worst, he was on:

  • Antacids

  • Steroids

  • Ulcer medications

  • Prescription canned food 

  • B-12 injections & IV fluids (at home)


I'm sure there was more... I still have his records in a box of his things. Maybe I'll go through it one day when I'm ready again. 


It was a ring around of medications after medications. Which were not working, and I could see the toll it was taking on his health...


A medication to cover up these symptoms, more tests, more medications to cover up those symptoms from the last medications, new issue develops, more tests... New medications...


You get the picture...

At his worst,

I was pureéing his food, and crushing up & syringing his medications... Just to get everything in him.


Some days were good. Others had me in tears wondering if things would ever improve for him.

I knew there had to be something else. Something that would actually assist his body in HEALING, and not just cover up the symptoms.


I searched the internet day and night for answers. I started researching food options, essential oils and various supplements as alternatives, but it was SO much to learn, and I had no idea what I was doing or what exactly I was looking for.

Can you relate to this? I totally get it. The struggle of the unknown with a sick pet, and all you want to do is make them better.


Eventually found myself on the path to college for Veterinary Technology wanting to learn more, help animals, and make this a career.


It became an obsession, and a passion.


Little did I know what school would teach me.... Or not teach me...


I ended up spending more time doing self study.... researching alternative therapies.

Things that weren't really taught as conventional treatments.

Sadly, we were only taught about two brands of food (which were pushed pretty heavily as the end-all-be-all), but I knew there was more out there, something better, more natural, and more nutritious... I just had to look for it!

Through my employer at the time, I was introduced to raw food diets and essential oils.


My dog's health was a roller coaster. He ultimately took a turn and got sicker while I was about half-way through attending school, and unfortunately I did not have the knowledge-base, or resources I needed at the time to help him.

Why did my boy have to suffer? 

He was my light. My best friend. 


As a troubled teenager... He was my rock.


Fall has always been my favorite time of year.

It's a time to wind down, settle into traditions, rest and some would say hibernate. 


We adopted Slugger in the Fall. He was just 8 weeks old. 


He also took his last breaths in the Fall... Right around Thanksgiving.


I try to help people see through the veil of illusion that has been set forth in western medicine... But maybe it would help some to know:

That I have walked in their shoes.


Some days... I crawled through the dirt road of sorrow and helplessness as I watched my pet struggle with an illness. I've held guilt for not knowing better.


Surely his health probably started declining by having leaky gut from his inadequate diet, over-vaccination, stress and perhaps even poor genetics.


He was given conventional (chemical) pesticides year-round, yet still ended up getting Lyme AND Anaplasmosis.


I could go on... As it's all still so vivid in my memory... The days and nights I spent by his side.


I remember gazing into his eyes one day as I hugged him saying:

"I promise I'll try everything I can for you."


Tears keep flowing...  While I try to, yet again, make peace with my young self who was ill-equipped at the time to provide him what he needed. I didn't know any better, and I wonder what things would be like if I knew then, what I knew now.

He crossed the rainbow bridge while I held him in my lap, apologizing through the unstoppable waves of tears.


But I promised him something that day:

His legacy would live on, and I would eventually help other animals in a way that I couldn't help him at the time.

Then and Now

dog and cat health nutrition and behavior consultations pets with allergies

Shortly after he passed, I adopted a little 13 week old dog, who we named Maddie from a different shelter. And by shortly, I mean 4 days! She technically named herself, as we were all mentioning names and trying to agree one one... she cocked her head at Maddie, so it stuck!

The second I laid eyes on her, I knew we were in for a journey of a lifetime!

I got her home and immediately gave her a bath, picked up the best food for her, and we got started on training.

I now have a spunky, energetic and thriving dog who I have done things with a bit differently by.

But I'm still learning! No, I wasn't always as natural-minded as I am currently. I still gave her toxic flea & tick medications for awhile, among other things. I have even been talked down to by some veterinarians for not using their toxic prescription food for urinary incontinence and crystals. *Maddie also previously had some allergy symptoms like hives that she no longer has because we have worked hard on diet and detox over the years.

Over the years, I've had many people come to me for help with their pets.

Whether it's a simple food question, or their pet has a chronic condition and they are looking for advice on alternative therapies. Some people just want to know how to have a civil conversation with their veterinarian.

I was always happy to give my best to those who are willing to listen, and often times I would hear:

"Wow, you should really do this for a living!"

And so, my consultation business was born!

I now try to be the person that I had always wished I had on my own journey with my pets! I founded Happy Trails Pets with a mission: To provide various health and wellness services, including individualized consultations, on pet health and education to those who are seeking one-on-one support from a veterinary professional!

P.s. I also love traveling, hiking, art, cooking, gardening, writing/ poetry!

Through the years

With endless hours of studies, and experience, I've compiled quite a plethora of knowledge.. to say the least.


I'm determined to give owners the tools and knowledge they need to help their pets thrive.


While most establishments focus on treating symptoms, I prefer to focus on supporting the whole body health through proper nutrition, supplements, and alternative therapies (along with convention methods if necessary)

I prefer to ask WHY something is happening... And how can we assist the body to regain it's balance; not just cover up symptoms.

If you choose to use conventional medicine as a main treatment option for you pet, just know that alternatives can still be used to support the body, and whole body nutrition still plays a crucial role in overall wellness.

Though one of my main focuses is nutrition, I have also extensively studied behavior and training. This includes advocating dog and kid safety and educating parents and children how to safely interact with animals!

I believe a happy family, unity, and even co-existing, cannot happen unless everyone is on the same page and there is a proper leader to promote accountability and guidance.

As a daily activity, I implement different training protocols and routines with my dog. I have found that short, frequent training helps best. 

I also take notice to our feline friends, as they can develop behavioral problems as well! These can be especially challenging- but fun! Cats are a bit of an elusive mystery which takes a bit of sleuthing sometimes, as dogs tend to be a bit more straightforward.

With past experience working in shelters, the veterinary clinic and with animal welfare organizations, I can assure that comprehensive and compassionate care will be set forth to help owners in need no matter what they are dealing with.

A New Chapter

Quality of Life & A Changing Perspective

Quality of Life:
It's all About Perspective

What do you think of when you hear quality of life?


No, I'm not strictly talking about those later years when you need to start addressing and evaluating the quality of life for your senior pet...


I'm talking about the actual quality of your dog or cat's life (at any age) and YOUR quality of life.


Stay with me on this one...


Over the years I've talked to MANY dog and cat owners from all walks of life.


From the first time puppy owner, to rescuing dozens of cats over their lifetime, to becoming dog breeders, to fosters, and more.


Some struggle with their dog's anxiety, others leash walking, perhaps their cat has hairballs, or maybe skin allergies and even those cases of a sensitive stomach.


What do all of these people have in common?
They want the best quality of life for their animal.

One of the main concerns people message me about:

Allergies and their pet's diet! 


It's no secret that the majority of pet dogs and cats have some sort of health issue:

  • Allergies

  • Obesity

  • Dental disease

  • Diabetes

  • Chronic ear infections

...and so much more.


Interestingly enough, all these seem to be heavily prevalent in humans as well.

Maybe it's the shared lifestyle of overly processed food, lack of exercise, chronic stress, and toxic household chemicals.


Some people may think that I've always been some holistic dog owner, turned vet tech, turned business owner. And while that's partially true, my story is probably not what you'd think.


I started out 100% trusting to western medicine. Believing everything my dog's veterinarian told me. Giving any medication they prescribed and not really thinking anything of it. Come a time when that all began to change... As the benefits of conventional methods started to halt, and my dog's health began to worsen...


I started asking questions.

I started on a quest for help, and most of all:


Throughout college, I was fairly natural-minded. I believed in raw food diets, and essential oils. But I was still 100% on board with chemical flea/ tick products and very pro-vax (like extremely).


It wasn't up until I got pregnant that I really started questioning these areas as well... Was I really going to put this toxic liquid flea/tick medication all over my dog and have my baby potentially being exposed to it? So I switched Maddie to the chewable tablets instead. Protecting my own health, while still poisoning her?! Ugh! What was I thinking?!


Maddie has been fairly healthy all her life besides some food allergies, some skin stuff, anal gland problems, as well as urinary crystals and even incontinence. I refused to accept a veterinarian's recommendation of prescription diets, and hormone replacement therapy. Because I knew the ingredients and risks, and my gut was telling me no! Not only that, but I knew I had other options.

All of her issues have since resolved from being extremely dedicated to finding the underlying cause and addressing it.

With ZERO Rx intervention.

But I won't lie: it took a couple years to balance everything out.


During that time I also endured my own health battle. Mysterious pains, stomach problems, sudden food reactions and hypersensitivity to just about everything. For awhile, I became a hermit and trapped into very restricted diets and a loop of thoughts that only worsened my condition. Doctors gave me a 'variety of potential diagnoses' but even they had no idea what was going on. Interestingly enough, with no answers: they still had a bottle of prescription pills to give me!!



It wasn't until I really started addressing my (leaky) gut health, dysbiosis, and (most importantly) my stress levels and mindset (especially as a new mom) that things began to improve. I'm happy to say that now a little over 5 years later, I can eat some of the foods that once sent my body into a downward spiral (in moderation of course)!

I know first hand how complex allergy symptoms and nutrition can be. Not only for pets, but also for humans. And I'm aware of the many areas that need to be addressed at different times in order to peel back the layers of the onion.

It's not enough to only focus on the symptom. We must always focus on what is CAUSING the imbalance in the first place. Whether that be diet, stress, environment, etc.


My point here is:
That things take time and a thorough evaluation.


And we can't always rely on doctors (human or veterinary) for the answers. Because let's face it, most don't have time to look deep enough into the root cause (unless they are a functional or naturopathic practitioner). Many doctors still don't even believe that leaky gut is a thing... Even the Mayo clinic now acknowledges it as a legit condition that causes many of the diseases humans face today.


Fast forward a few more years as I became even more crunchy (kudos if you know the term) and a new light bulb struck:
The horror I saw as more and more pet owners were let down, lied to, fear-mongered and ridiculed by their veterinarians for the choices they chose (or didn't choose). Dog and cat owners are wanting to provide healthier diets and use natural alternatives to chemical and prescription products. They are open to learning.


Why is that such a big deal?!

Most often people seem distraught by seeking help and continually having zero answers for their pet's ailments. And I understand that 100%.

Again, why? Because standardized medicine fits patients into a tiny box. Doctors rely on a set of symptoms and a series of algorithms to pinpoint a diagnosis and prescribe a medication (and even a highly processed Rx diet) to take care of those symptoms.


During these past years, I had become so anti-western medicine it's kind of hard to believe (even for me).

Is Holistic the Only Way? 


Absolutely not.

In late 2019, came the birth of my blog.

An educational hub for pet owners (like you) to be informed with the choices they make regarding the care of their dogs and cats.


I began writing about many controversial topics, the truth behind most standard methods of care, my experiences, the heartaches of other pet owners, and more. I wanted people to simply be informed and know that they had options.

That the standard way wasn't the ONLY way.


Through the pandemic, I started joining Facebook groups to help in an even more profound way. People have been stuck at home, vet clinic openings were limited..

Dog and cat owners have been desperate for connection and most of all:


It was fitting. And things started flourishing.


But something struck me one day and it changed my views (yet again) forever:


I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a post about a dog with allergies, go figure right?!


So, I sifted through the comments. One gal explained the difficult struggle with her dog's allergies and mentioned how they found such great relief using APOQUEL and steroids...


*Most of you should know that I'm pretty darn anti- APOQUEL...


Naturally I replied to her comment and explained the dangers of the new drug and a few alternatives she could try with the link to my blog post about this subject.


I was shocked by what she said.


She gently explained to me that she had tried it all. All the food changes, raw diets, holistic remedies, herbs, probiotics, you name it. At this point, it was about the quality of life for her dog... And her own sanity in the matter. She was exhausted and heartbroken over her dog's suffering. She decided that for her dog to obtain a good quality of life where he wasn't ripping his skin to shreds with chronic itching and chewing: was in choosing conventional medications.


My heart broke.

I get it. I really do.

It's not that she wasn't informed on alternatives, it's that she had already attempted everything she could.


Sometimes our best isn't enough.
Sometimes natural routes are not enough when so much damage has already taken place.


I felt that 10 years ago on the conventional side when things just weren't working.


But little did I know people experienced this in the holistic side as well.


I try my best to be as unbiased as possible, but I'm only human and we all have our downfalls at times. Sometimes emotions get in the way, too.


Why Am I Telling You This Story?


Because this scenario really opened my eyes to a whole new light. A light that had yet again paved the way for new openings in learning. As much as I love holistic modalities of care and the natural relief that I have personally seen and experienced time and time again...


There's always a time and place.


For conventional.

And for holistic.


And sometimes, we can serve patients and clients better when we choose an integrative (a mix of conventional and holistic) approach. It can yield great results! Often times I see a method of integrative care work best. The use of conventional methods WITH holistic care modalities. Such as doing a short course of steroids to get symptoms under control while we work on correcting the diet. 


No matter which side you choose, or if you're somewhere in the middle.

No matter what you decide.

No matter what your views are.


I Support You.


Some cases that I have are purely proactive. Meaning an owner with a healthy pet, wanting to learn more ways to keep their pet healthy for many years to come.


Other cases, are more severe.


Maybe it's an owner who has tried just about everything.


Are we always successful? No.

Some, yes. But not all.


I'm sad to say. But I'm keeping it 100% real with you.


As much as I'd love to help every animal on earth in a natural way, it's just not possible.

My motto that I hold for all clients is this:
If I don't have the answers, I'll find them... and if I can't find them... I will find someone else who can.
And I'll still be here for you.


Sometimes people choose to try (or go back to) only conventional methods of care, like prescription medications. And that's okay.


It's all about the complexity of some cases that present themselves.


I've had dog owners from all over the world contact me for help.
One of which had worked with an internationally recognized holistic veterinarian (who I personally adore!) ...another had worked with a holistic nutritionist. To no avail.

Sometimes, things just don't work out the way we intend or hope they do.


The point is, you tried.

We tried.


And all options were extended, so now:
The choice must be the quality of life.


For the animal.

And the owner.

I hold no judgement for the method you choose, so long as that decision is based on reputable information given to you, so that you can make an informed decision in confidence.

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