At K9 Trail Time we use a holistic approach for the health of our active dogs and so we think EVERYTHING should be taken into consideration when you want to keep your dog in tip top condition. A big part of this is feeding and nutrition, so who better to have on our expert panel than a bona fide canine nutritional expert! We hope you find our interview with Dr Jacqueline Boyd interesting and it gives you ‘food’ for thought!
Tell our followers a little bit about what you do, how you got into it, how long you have been doing it and your experience / or qualifications?
I’m currently (as of June this year!) the Nutritional Consultant for Skinner’s Pet Foods, although was a university lecturer in animal and equine science at Nottingham Trent University for the last 11 years. I graduated with my BSc (Hons) Zoology (Parasitology) in 1998 and moved into an MSc in Animal Nutrition, followed by a PhD in Genetics, specifically looking at aspects of development in hosts and parasites and how insulin signalling genes regulated this. Throughout my studies, I was deeply interested in how to manage animal health, welfare and performance and obviously nutrition is a key part of this. I’ve worked with pigs, dairy cattle, sheep, beef cattle in a practical and advisory nutrition role, as well as with laboratory animals in diet trials. My real interest is however in companion species, especially dogs and I have extensive practical experience in a range of canine disciplines, as well as my scientific background. I have cocker spaniels who keep me firmly grounded in reality and the practical applications of animal and nutrition science!
What does a day in the life of you consist of?
My job role is an exciting and varied one, albeit a new one! I undertake nutritional consults and provide advice and support to owners and customers – this is always fascinating and really interesting. Research, development, product review and keeping abreast of scientific developments is important too and I work with the marketing and customer support teams to disseminate knowledge and share information. This also involves attendance at key events we sponsor and have trade stands at. I’m also responsible for developing training material for our staff to ensure best and most current practice. So far, my job is varied, flexible and gives me an opportunity to use both my practical and theoretical knowledge to make the world a little better for dogs and their people
Share with us your proudest moment so far
From a career point of view, when I see the application of any information I have delivered/disseminated/taught or researched, that makes me proud but also massively humble! It’s great to hear positive reports from people based on advice given and also seeing students I have worked with move on to bigger things (many are now also working in nutrition!)
From a canine point of view, I’ve been lucky to have amazing dogs, but two key successes are – my first cocker spaniel, Megan got me to Crufts in 2007 as part of the Irish International Agility Pentathlon Team and one of my current spaniels, Molly won The Field magazine’s “Naughtiest Gundog” award last year!!
What are your top 3 tips connected with what you do for our followers and their active dogs?
- You ALWAYS take home the best dog – never forget that your dog is your buddy as well as your competitive partner 😊
- Feed according to fact, not fad! – Canine nutrition is a hot topic but just because something works for one person/dog, does not mean that it will work for you. Science is continually helping us make better dietary choices and developments that impact on health and welfare and being aware of this is key. Lots of factors impact on dietary choices for our dogs!
- You cannot manage what you do not monitor – whether this is weight, body condition score, exercise tolerance, food intake etc. As a scientist, monitoring biological characteristics is key to managing them, especially for our canine athletes.
What are your plans for the future?
I feel hugely privileged to be able to share and indulge my knowledge and passions in my job. My overall aim is to continue to try and make the world a better place for dogs and their owners by improving health, welfare and the human-dog bond. I also want to continue working my cocker spaniels in agility and in the field as gundogs and work towards my personal ambition of a homebred, dual Field Trial and Agility champion! I might never make it, but I intend to have a lot of fun trying!
How can our followers get in touch with you?
I can be contacted at Skinner’s on firstname.lastname@example.org or in person at many agility events and or Game fairs where Skinner’s has a stand.