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  • I care for a 4 year old Swedish Valhund. Atopic dermatitis which used to be seasonal is now year round. Controlled with meticulous bathing, benadryl and course of Prednisone tapers as needed. Dog has been Acana and Natural Balance limited ingredient diets. Upon asking for a more complete w/u first thing the vet recommends is Purina H/A WHY would a dog food with preservatives, corn and soy oil sourced from GMO's and minerals "sourced world wide including CHINA" be recommended in a case like this?
  • Given the problem is now year round, the allergen inciting the reaction is probably not environmental such as grass, trees, insects, etc. It could be in the house wherever the dog lives year round or more likely in the food. The dog is reacting to a protein of a certain type and size - not a preservative, carb or mineral. It could be allergic to corn protein or the glycoprotein preservative; however, this is extremely rare (1 documented case in the literature - despite the prevalence pet owners are claiming.
    The immune system only reacts to a protein (contrary to popular google mythology) - the source of this protein could be in the food, in the house or the dog herself (auto immune). Source of the ingredients (China, India or USA) does not change the dog's reaction to this protein. Method of production (GMO, free range, organic, etc) does not change the dog's reaction to this protein. So thsese are not relavent issues when attempting to diagnosis food allergy.
    The Purina HA is one of several dog foods where the food protein itself has been hydrolyzed = broken into small fragments known (on average) to be too small for the antibodies to detect.  This methodology is not new to dog foods.
    The best known way to find the source of this protein is to feed a novel (kangaroo, ostrich, venison, etc) or hydrolyzed (HA) protein for 3 months. If the food successfully controls the symptoms, then you have a diagnosis of food allergy and know the origin of the protein, not which protein was inciting the dog's immune system - just that is can be found in dog food. If the HA does not control the symptoms, then you MAY not have a food allergy … the negative is not conclusive …. It may in the environment all year round like fleas in the house, the dog may be reacting to the larger pieces of soybean, so if you got partial success feeding HA, you should them feed a novel protein food.
    Most dogs get better when fed HA for 3 months IF the allergen was a food protein. If the allergen is elsewhere then feeding the specialized food will not change the symptoms. There is no blood test recognized to diagnose food allergy – despite some being offered by some labs.
  • I have a four month old lab pup. She is currently on Pro Plan sport 30/20. This is what the breeder was feeding and said to switch to a food with 26/16 at 4 months. She recommends Pro plan, but I am not sure I want to keep her on an all stage formula. I was going to switch to Wellness large breed puppy, but I am concerned there is too much calcium, it is min 1.2 and max 1.5. The Pro plan is min 1%, but doesn't disclose the max. I have read that manufacturers do not need to put the max on the guarantee, so I am concerned that it may not be 1%, but rather a higher amount. I am confused as to what to believe and how to figure out what would be best to feed my pup. I had an older lab that had multiple joint issues and I want to try to avoid that at all costs. Any insight would be very helpful, thank you in advance.
  • All good points ... correct the max Calcium is not required on the bag but if you call Purina 800# they should be willing to tell the target max calcium on the specific product you have.
    I think a lower fat and calcium kept in the 0.9-1.5% is wise. We do not know exactly the calcium % at which problems will occur. We do know that 3% creates many problems. AAFCO allows the max therefore to be up to 2.5%.  Having said that, most nutritionists would agree that about 1-1.5% is not harmful and safe. Secondly you want to feed a lower fat or lowest kcal/cup ..... to help control the growth rate now and prevent obesity later. I would suggest you select the food with the lower kcal/cup (350-375 kcal/cup), lower fat and higher fiber, if the calcium is about the same on both products.
  • I went to a pet store the other day to see if they carried royal canin - the owner asked me why in the world i would i was feeding that garbage to my dog, and am i trying to kill her. i promptly left and went to the vet clinic and stated my experience, after talking with the vet about food, the vet and i decided to feed lexee a straight canned food. royal canin. since it is so difficult to get her to eat dry, Apparently it's common in Yorkies. I am so frustrated with these so called holistic, organic biased dog owners, that they have become so narrowed minded about dog food. They think that dog food, the high end kind is a cure all for every medical issue or their dog won't get sick. My last big dog, a rough collie was fed orijen all his life, he had cancer twice. Well, the food didn't save him. Sorry but i needed to vent.
  • I understand, agree and you are not alone. Basically the pet store pushed the products with the highest return to them .... as if that was a measure of nutritional adequacy.
  • Hi, I have 2 cocker spaniels, a one year old and a 9 week old, both male. I want to change their diets, the one year old has been on royal canin for a year and I have been feeding the 9 week old the same food as the breeder (eukanuba). I know that both of these foods are not the best for my dogs. Having done hours of research I am very confused as to the best food for my pups - I want to feed a high quality kibble, and at the moment am thinking of Simpsons 80/20 for both (obviously the puppy one for my 9 week old). This contains no grains, and comes highly recommended, however I know that some vets don't like the 'no grain' trend. I then looked at Gentle dog food, which contains some brown rice - however they don't make a specific puppy food - they say that it is suitable for all ages. Is it a good idea to feed my dogs a 'no grain' diet? If not please can you recommend a very good kibble which does contain grains? Many thanks for any advice.
  • I agree there is much contradictory free information on the web about every and any dog food.  Please know that much of it is marketing and not accurate. Veterinary nutritionist have a few criteria when evaluating a dog food.
    The criteria have been put together in an Owner Information packet found at and more specifically for dog owners at To be perfectly honest and straight with you, the Iams Eukanuba and Royal Canin products are from among the best companies currently making dog food, and in fact are one in the same company because Mars (owns Royal Canin) recently bought Iams.
    For how to select a pet food advice from Veterinary Nutritionists, see
    The "no grain" issue has some long term sustainability problems associated with it but for the moment if the 'no grain' product is 'complete and balance' then you can feed it with some confidence for nutritional adequacy at least.
    So my response to you although not what you may have expected or have heard from others and marketing pros …. I would stay with these companies and products until there is some problem in your dogs that would indicate a different food may be warranted. The products you mentioned are not sold in the US to my knowledge and so I am not familiar with them.  I cannot find an independent body that has certified them as nutritionally complete and balanced on their web sites. Iams and Royal Canin are sold in the US, are independently monitored and certified to be nutritionally complete and balanced. So they appear at this point to be the better product options.
  • I have a 7 year old male cat who weighs 14 pounds. I have been feeding him a raw diet (since 1/1/14) consisting of the following recipe: 3 lbs ground hormone free turkey thighs, 4 oz organic chicken livers, 2.3 T. bone meal powder, 2 t. Taurine powder, 5 salmon oil capsules, 2 vitamin E capsules (200 IU / cap), 1 multi-vitamin B capsule, 2/3 t. Lite Salt, 1 cup distilled water all mixed up. Served with sprinkling of nutritional yeast and feline digestive enzyme as a seasoning (very little on top of the yeast). A fasting blood sample revealed increased triglycerides at 223 mg/dL. Note that right before that blood sample was taken, I switched the meat ratio to 2 pounds turkey thigh and 1 pound turkey breast to cut down on the fat (an earlier non-fasting blood sample was taken). So I don't know if it takes time to reduce the triglycerides. Do you think this diet has caused my cat problems? I have a vet appointment 11/10/14 and I don't want to switch to conventional food or put him on drugs. He and my other cat (waiting on his blood sample to compare) seem to like this food and appear to be very healthy and active. I'm worried because I spent a fortune in canned food that they would like for a while then stop eating. I don't trust the kibble diet. Please help. Thanks so much.
  • Yes most likely the diet is responsible for the higher than normal TGs but that is not really a problem. More importantly, I can tell you the diet as you have described has an inverse Ca:Phos ratio which is not healthy long term as it will lead to bone fractures. It is also unnecessarily complicated, e.g., your cats do not need digestive enzymes or the distilled water, is more expensive and time consuming than need be. All while not being nutritionally complete according to AAFCO or NRC.   Secondly please note:  cats appearing healthy and having normal routine blood work is not indicative of a healthy nutritionally complete diet and does not verify a nutritionally complete and balanced diet.
    I would highly recommend feeding the cats a nutritionally balanced HMD, that's get your current recipe corrected. Feeding raw or cooked is purely your choice as there is no nutritional differences if the diet has been properly balanced as it is a food safety risk, not a nutritional issue.
    If you need more help, please let me know.
  • I am currently involved in a discussion with several others who claim that the commercial raw diets that use HPP (high pressure pasteurization) are much safer to feed than dried and canned commercial foods. They cite the many recent recalls of both dry and canned pet foods due to things like salmonella, and say that both pets and humans are at a much higher risk of getting things like salmonella from a commercial (cooked) pet food than they are from a raw food. Are there any statistics on this - one way or the other? Thank you for your time.
  • Sorry there are no direction comparisons done by an independent source available to my knowledge. HPP does kill some (not all) of the microbes.  I would disagree with any conclusion that HPP is safer than canned when assessing risk before adjusting for total volume produced (millions of tons of canned food produced vs. a couple of thousand tons of raw HPP food yearly). A few recalls done in the interest of caution does not allow for a solid conclusion. One more point to consider when doing the comparison and that is 1) are all companies are checking the food, and 2) are all companies are reporting. Likely the answer is no. So in perverse reverse logic, I am glad to see a company reporting as having a recall of any type occasionally b/c then I have no doubt they are checking and reporting ..... and no company has no mistakes. Thank you for asking an important question.
  • I have a 10year old Wheaten Terrier. He just had his annual blood work done and everything is great. However, a year ago he weighed 42 lbs, three months ago he weighed 39 and now he weighs 37.5 lbs. His appetite is just fine. I feed him Fromm's kibble. My vet wants me to stop by and weigh him every 2 weeks to keep an eye on it. Your thoughts?
  • Yes I would agree closer monitoring of his weight is needed, and whether the diet needs to be changed depends on his body condition score and the reason for the weight loss.  Body condition score will help determine if the weight lost is fat or muscle. Older dogs do lose muscle mass as do older people.
  • I work with a local Siberian Husky Rescue group and often have foster dogs with skin issues. I currently have a dog with itching from an undetermined cause, although I believe the cause is either a food allergy or a nutrient-responsive condition. A change in diet and supplementation with Vitamins A and E, zinc, fish oil, and safflower oil have reduced the itching by about 80-90%. I previously noticed an increase in itching after removing Vitamin A from the regimen and I would now like to try increasing the current dosage to see if this is perhaps the key to eliminating the itching. The dog is currently receiving two 10,000 IU Vitamin A (from cod liver oil) capsules per day. Could you please tell me the maximum safe amount of Vitamin A for long term usage in IU/kg/day? I thank you in advance for your help and I look forward to seeing your answer, which I will also provide to my veterinarian.
  • Nutrient deficiencies are not generally associated with the clinical sign of itching. Dermatitis is most often associated with depressed immune response which then allows a mite to infest, or a hyper immune response to a dietary protein.

    "Vitamin A for long term usage in IU/kg/day?"
    I am not sure which unit of Vit A you are accustom to using or whether you mean kg of body weight or kg of food, but here are some estimates:

    1. NRC sale upper limit for an adult dog is 2099 RE per BW kg ^0.75 which for a 50 lb dog = 21,848 RE units or 109,240 IUs.
    2. AAFCO is 187,500 IU per MCal of food as you should count the amount in the food as well. A 50 lb as adult dog takes in about 1 Mcal per day

    I would be more concerned about a Vit D toxicity occurring before a Vit A toxicosis when using Cod Liver oil.
    You may improve skin integrity but I think you still will need to find the cause of the itch which if seasonal will be more of an environmental allergy and not food related.
  • I’m feeding my 5 yr old Yorkie/Chihuahua Hill's w/d canned dog food (she hates dry). The can is 13 oz and has 329 calories. She is 10.5 lbs and I would like her at 9.5 lbs. I don't know for sure how many oz a day I should be feeding her. Can you help me with this please? - Thanks
  • Sure .... If I assume she is spayed with no medical reason for her weight gain, and if she fits the generic equation well ..... my first best recommendation would be 200 kcal/day which is about 235 grams per day. Weighing out the food in oz is not accurate enough for feeding such a small dog. I suggest you purchase a digital gram scale ($25) and weigh out 115 grams twice a day and then weigh the dog every week.
  • Can you please recommend a quality canned food for a dog that has renal disease but no crystals? It doesn't have to be hypo-allergenic but she's allergic to beef and chicken, and I highly suspect soy and wheat. And perhaps now pea and potato (white) as well as she's been exposed to those in her previous diet (post kidney disease). Are there any canned commercial renal diets that exclude all those ingredients: chicken, beef, wheat, soy, pea, and potato? And possibly corn.

    Since there are SO many limiting factors, would it be advantageous to try allergy testing for these ingredients before buying a commercial renal diet or paying to have one formulated by you? I've always been told that allergy testing is pretty inconclusive, but we don't have many options left to us.
  • "Are there any canned commercial renal diets that exclude all those ingredients: chicken, beef, wheat, soy, pea, and potato? And possibly corn."
    Have you considered Rayne Clinical Nutrition products? Canine Moderate protein Ocean fish and sweet potato?

    "Would it be advantageous to try allergy testing for these ingredients before buying a commercial renal diet?"
    No the test is not good enough by which to formulate a diet. 

    All dog foods appropriately adjust for renal disease will be sold ONLY through Vets. The OTC pet food regulations do not allow for the phosphorous to be low enough for most dogs with renal dysfunction.

    Yes we can formulate one with novel ingredients the dog may not have previously eaten .... or using common ingredients that then allow you to test whether or not the dog truly has food reactions.

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