Our Just Be Kind Slimming Pets Vets
Arielle Griffiths MRCVS
Vet and pet owner
I am passionate about helping owners with their pets. I am a practising GP vet based in the UK, pet owner, mother and army wife, and I fully understand the strength of the human-animal bond as I have been through it myself.
When my husband was deployed to Afghanistan 10 years ago and we were living in army accommodation posted to Germany; it felt exactly the same as being in lockdown. Everything was frightening and different in a foreign country where I could not even speak the language so I could not work as a vet, and our whole family routine was unbalanced with no support network of friends or family.
I tried to focus on keeping our 2 little girls happy, but my true lifeline was our darling Labrador Slick. She needed her daily walks and everything we did made her happy. She kept us going and kept us positive and I could talk to her about anything and she just wagged her tail and smiled her beautiful happy smile with her tongue hanging to the side, and everything seemed a bit better because of her!
She was rewarded for this loyalty by being fed all the leftovers of the children’s meals. I remember even giving her chunks of birthday cake to share with us and her weight crept up and up. As a vet, I felt so guilty but I could not help myself as I held her in such high esteem.
I have also suffered with weight issues all my life – as a student at vet school, I’ve always been on the plump side and I’ve always turned to comfort eating from any stimulus – happy events, sad events, stressful times – the biscuits and chocolates have been eaten by their packetfuls – very often shared with Slick.
When she was put to sleep last year at the good age of 13 years due to crippling arthritis, I threw myself into finding the ideal diet for our little dog Ruff – a darling little crossbreed found wandering the streets as a stray in Cyprus. He doesn’t have a nasty bone in his body and as a family unit with teenagers now, he means everything to us.
I completed as many nutrition courses as I could and I listened to each and every client who walked through the door. There is so much differing information out there for us as pet owners with so much of it being dictated by the large pet food companies as they can afford the most on advertising. We are taught so little about nutrition at vet school as it is a given that the pet food companies have it all sorted for us and we just need to feed their foods, but as a Mum and pet owner and a scientist, this wasn’t good enough for me – especially listening to the concerns of my clients. I have learnt so much just by listening.
Although now living and working in the UK, I turned to Germany for advice from top vet nutritionists there as they seemed to be well ahead of us in the UK with regards to pet nutrition. I have worked with one top vet nutritionist to come up with the high fibre and extremely nutrient packed plant-based treat recipes…..and our little dog Ruff adores them. His coat is shiny, he has bundles of energy and as a dog owner and vet I just know that the nutrient immune-boosting homemade biscuits have made all the difference.
I am so passionate about this and about sharing it with you and everything I have learnt from listening to pet owners and clients as just like all of you who love their dogs more than you can say, we all want them to live for as long as possible and have the happy, healthy pain-free lives that they deserve.
Feeding ourselves and our children is difficult enough, but with the array of information out there, feeding our dogs is a minefield and we offer sensible and unbiased help and guidance at this very sensitive time.
Clare Knottenbelt BVSc MSc DSAM MRCVS
Veterinary Oncologist and pet owner
Hawk and Dove Oncology Referrals
I am committed to trying to ensure that pets are as healthy and long lived as they can be. As an RCVS specialist in Small Animal Medicine and a Veterinary Oncologist, I spend much of my time supporting owners whose pets have cancer. As one in every three dogs and cats will develop cancer it’s a problem that sadly affects so many owners.
I lost my last dog Huntly to cancer at only 9 years old and this gave me a new perspective on the emotional burden that having a pet with cancer places on your family. Huntly was sadly plagued with medical problems throughout his life and these resulted in massive weight gain followed by massive weight loss. In the end he developed a thyroid tumour in his neck which meant that it become increasingly difficult for him to breathe.
Unfortunately, our current dog Jumble has already had a mast cell tumour removed, and at 8 years old is starting to experience middle-aged spread. At this point in his life, the risk of him developing many diseases including cancer increases and if his weight isn’t kept under control, he is at greater risk of mobility issues too.
For many years I worked at the University of Glasgow and during this time became more aware of the similarities between humans and our much-loved pets when it comes to causes and prevention of disease. I was often asked what causes cancer in pets and just like in humans there is no straight answer; we know there are things we can do to try to prevent cancer such as not smoking, eating healthily and taking lots of exercise. These factors can help humans achieve a healthy life expectancy and that’s what we all want for our pets.
As a family we are determined to ensure that Jumble has the longest and healthiest life that he can. Jumble has grown up with my daughters and he provides the whole family with emotional support and gets us all up and out to take him for walks. We all want Jumble to live a long life and to remain healthy, but despite this, it has only been recently that we started to review exactly what he was being fed. It came as a shock to realise that Jumble eats so much junk food – I don’t let my kids do that, but I now understand why he has started to gain weight!
This realisation has meant that I want to support his health through his food. I know that I am not the only pet owner that feels this way and as a vet I can help support others to ensure that their furry family members can also live long and stay as healthy as possible!