Canine Caviar Hangout #13 – Holistic Approach to Pet Health

Google Hangout 13: Holistic Approach to Pet Health

In Canine Caviar Google Hangout #13 Canine Caviar President Jeff Baker, along with Dawn Barraco and Doreen Wong, speaks with Thom Somes and Chelley Wilkes of Pet Tech. Canine Caviar believes in a holistic approach to pet nutrition and is an alkaline based diet for dogs.

Doreen Wong: I want to turn the camera over to Thom to talk about his company, Pet Tech International

Thom Somes: Pet Tech is considered to be the premier company in pet CPR training on the planet and it really all started with one simple question. Going back to my personal history, I originally trained with the Michigan State Police; I put myself through college working for dozens of ambulance services. Back in 1994 I was teaching a class for the city of San Diego and a guy who had taken my class before said, “Thom, would this work on my dog?” I went “ding, ding, ding, there’s a business idea here” and that was the power of one question that changed the destiny of everyone that you see right here and 10s of thousands of pets and their pet parents.

From that we have simply evolved, we were doing first just pet CPR and first aid and found that people wanted to know what to do in the event of a medical emergency, and that’s kind of being reactive and then we realized that people coming to our classes wanted to be proactive in their pet’s health. So we started to add on more training to make it so that people can know more. We’re trying to give them the tools so that they can make the best decisions for the quality of life that they want to choose for themselves and their pets.

Doreen Wong: One of the reasons why I’m excited about today’s hangout is that I think both you and Jeff, you started your companies from a similar place, it’s a passion, a personal passion for improving the life of your pets originally and then it transferred into helping other pet owners with their pets. Jeff, can you talk about where Canine Caviar came from and sort of your mission and passion.

Jeff Baker: Canine Caviar started essentially in 1994 when I was living in Germany and working as a research scientist and the company I was working for ending up selling to an Italian firm and I ended up moving back to the United States without a job and I had a Great Dane at the time who had many issues and we were making the food for him and I actually developed it for him while I was living in Germany and my mother basically said “hey, Moguls is doing great and you wanted to do something for yourself, so just do it.” And you can’t disobey your mother so we sort of jumped in it with 2 feet and started learning afterwards.

Doreen Wong: So today is really about helping our pet parents take care of their pets from the inside and the outside and Thom you mentioned some of your trainings. And you have one training that helps pet parents detect lumps in their pets maybe early on and can help them.

Thom Somes: Basically what we do in education is we really help pet parents reframe what being a pet parent is about. Because when I was a kid it really was about, you buy a bag of puppy food the first year of the dog’s life, then you feed them dog food the rest of their life and that was it. And now we have so many choices of food and the quality and you need to know your pet’s health, so the snout to tail assessment was started because we believe there’s no part of the pet that you shouldn’t be able to touch because if you get your pet to the point where’s the no part that you can’t touch then you can help them better in an emergency, you’ll get a better groom by the groomers, so we’re talking before we started talking about kind of a holistic view, well we kind of have a W-H-O-L-E-istic view of pet care in this new millennium.

People don’t always with intent and purpose touch their pet, so going snout to tail with intent and purpose, creating a baseline so you know what’s normal, because then when something isn’t normal you say “oh, there’s something not right with my pet”. Studies have shown that it’s the woman in the household who tends to be the caretaker for pets. We have so many success stories of people finding cancer, tumors, dehydration, diabetes, all sorts of things with the snout to tail assessment and it only takes a matter of minutes and it also increases the bond that you have. The snout to tail assessment is this headline and there are so many pieces that come underneath it.

Doreen Wong: And Chelley as a Pet Tech Instructor I know that we had the privilege of having you at our very first red carpet event and we’re going to hopefully have you at our next red carpet event and Thom as well, where you were able to show our pet parents that were there, different techniques. Do you want to share a little about that?

Chelley Wilkes: I demonstrated muzzling because if an injured pet and if you have to move it and it’s in pain they tend to bite and they will bite so it’s to protect you and other people. I did a muzzling technique and I also did choking, when you find your pet choking and what to do, and then the snout to tail assessment, which is the biggest walkaway skill that you can have.

Doreen Wong: Dawn, do you want to ask a question?

Dawn Barraco: Well I don’t really have a question but I would like to confirm to everyone who’s on line the benefit of having the hands on, I really appreciate Thom taking that holistic approach because I didn’t realize that on how we pet the top of our pet’s head and maybe their back and unless we’re really looking for something we’re not going to find it. It’s the same thing with Canine Caviar, the pet food, we don’t really see what’s going on in the inside, we have to just check out what’s going on on the outside and so there’s a lot that we do to know that the skin is good the coat is good, the insides of the dog are good, so I kind of appreciate what Thom has set forth in doing, blazing a trail in an area that I’m not quite sure everyone thought about, and having that at people’s finger tips and being able to learn from others like Chelley. I have to also mention that at our red carpet Chelley told me what she did but honestly I’m not sure I quite knew the depth of it until I saw everyone’s reaction. When you see the folks who didn’t really know what she was going to do, and by the time she had her third demo, people really were asking me “When is she going to do it” so the demand is absolutely there and I appreciate the fact that Thom is so readily willing to share that with us. Here we go back to having that word “whole” again, that holistic approach that we take from the inside and that whole approach that Thom takes from the outside, I can’t think of a better handshake that can happen for the pet community. And then everything that we’re doing for the research foundation, with getting it to light and having it spotlighted and in front of people, I’m with Doreen and I feel like I’m introducing two major powerhouses of the pet community where they understand that pet care is more about just feeding your dog or petting your dog, it really is about thinking and doing what’s right and I’m just grateful that we have another opportunity to share that with people.

Doreen Wong: I’m going to turn it over to Jeff because I know on a couple of hangouts we’ve heard Jeff say that a lot of pet parents sort of come after the fact after they’re needing the special needs formula and hopefully through these hangouts we’re getting more people starting their Furr kids earlier in the life cycle of their pet. So Jeff I wondered if you could talk again about the benefits of Canine Caviar and then transition into talking about your passion and desire to push and move the Canine Caviar Cancer Research foundation forward.

Jeff Baker: Well, first, Thom, I want to say that what you guys are doing is amazing; it’s something that we need to be educated about. I remember when I was about 13 years old I went to a CPR class and from that class I’ve used it a number of times and I’ve been fortunate to be able to save a few people’s lives over the years because of people choking or different accidents, so early detection is always the key for survival, usually, so when you’re teaching some people how to early detect with their pets its truly amazing, you’re doing really amazing things for the pets. As a pet parent I definitely appreciate it, it’s really nice.

Our passion basically started as a passion for our own pets and as a research scientist I just realized that a pet’s system is not that much different than a human’s in that it needs to be an alkaline base. We’re much healthier when we have more oxygen in our bodies and our autoimmune system functions more efficiently when we’re slightly alkaline. Our whole mission has been the same for the 17 years that we’ve been in business but people are just starting to learn about the benefits of being alkaline. The more that we can educate the better. These hangouts are really nice, we get emails we try to be very open and accessible to anyone and everyone. Our focus is to create something as close to what your pet would be eating in nature without actually putting them in nature or the dangers of nature, so we feed a very simple concept and a very simple diet and we recommend rotation and the things that a wolf would naturally do.

We’re very exited to have our Cancer Research Foundation gain some legs again, when we first started it it was starting to do well and then the gentleman who was running it passed away and it kind of went dormant for almost two years and thanks to Dawn and Doreen picking up the ball and running with it it’s really gaining momentum and we’re all really really exited about it and to be able to focus on some of those things again, and education and awareness and to be a support network to people who are actually having issues with their pets.

Thom Somes: One of the things that we teach is that that which can be measured can be improved and it’s about creating a baseline with your pet. When we show the Snout to Tail Assessment in class it’s almost like they needed permission to touch their pet with intent and purpose from snout to tail, it’s like the concept never entered their brain before, it’s very interesting.

Jeff Baker: Or maybe they were even afraid? You know, like if someone isn’t trained in CPR they’re afraid to help or not sure how to help, so you’re giving them the tools that allows them to overcome that angst.

Thom Somes: That may be true. I think that their fear might be that they might hurt their pet and that’s not what they want to do. They’ll do anything not to hurt their pet of course.

Jeff Baker: And what you’re giving them is the tool to possibly save their lives, including early detection.

Thom Somes: One of the stories I tell when I speak at conventions is I tell the 3 sided coin story, is that people take our class, and something happens to their pet, and they use our skills and they save their pet’s life, that’s one side of the coin. The other side of the coin is that they take our class, they use our skills and they’re not able to save their pet’s life, and that’s a reality, we teach that you can’t save them all. We found that it helped the grieving process because they were able to try to help. And the third side of the coin is the rim is that they have the knowledge to avoid perils, how many accidents don’t happen because the person got trained, so that’s our little three sided coin. It’s amazing; we help so many that we don’t even know that we help.

Jeff Baker: Life is all about education, the more educated we are the better we are as a society.

Doreen Wong: I wanted to give Chelley and Thom and opportunity to share how people can sign up or take your courses.

Chelley Wilkes: They can actually schedule them online or email me at or go online at or if they want to become an instructor they can go to

Thom Somes: There’s 2 sides to the coin on this one here, 1, go to the website and locate a class or an instructor, if you live in a part of the country where you don’t, the next step is for you to become an instructor. How rewarding, is it, Chelley, to teach the PetTech course?

Chelley Wilkes: It’s so rewarding to meet so many pet parents that care about their pets; it’s a different audience

Thom Somes: We used to teach a lot of classes at night and they would end at 10:00 but people would hang around, telling us their pet stories, they didn’t want to leave, and they wanted more.

Doreen Wong: That’s one of the things that I really enjoy about the red carpet events that Canine Caviar hosts on behalf of the Cancer Research Foundation, you are around like-minded like-hearted people that are all sharing the love of their pets and it’s so much fun, it’s like a family barbeque and people talking about pets and family and how pets are part of the family, and the health of their pet, taking care of their pet, loving their pet and I could keep going on.

Dawn Barraco: one of the reasons why we wanted to have the hangout is to introduce Thom and Cindy and what they do, unfortunately for our sake at CC, Jeff isn’t able to make it for our next red carpet, it’s August 24 in Huntington Beach. It’s amazing when you think of the people who have pets, that includes the celebrity community, the press community, the musicians, they have pets too and they all seem to gather together especially when we’re going to talk about the cancer part of it, way too many families are getting touched by that. It is absolutely fun, we did get a comment from some of the celebrities that it did turn out to be like a family gathering, it almost was empowering, and when they left they felt empowered. The good part about having this hangout is introducing the partners we have coming out like The Pet Safety Guy, we’re very thankful that you guys are planning on coming out to Huntington beach. And then of course the dual point of view that we get on it, having CC be there to talk about the inside and having you guys there to talk about what we can do on the outside, folks cannot do anything but really walk away with a cape, you know, they’re going to be heroes when they walk away, they’re going to know what they can do for their pet and then feel like there’s a place where they can be to belong to part of the support structure. To have both of you guys so willing to spend your time to talk to the pet parents, we are in good hands, thank you guys both for this, and can’t wait until August 24 comes around because we’ve got a good show.