Ask the Veterinary Nutritionist

Do you have a specific question related to pet nutrition?

Our database contains nearly 1000 questions asked by other pet owners and veterinarians.  Enter a search term, then use the "topic" filter if you would like to narrow your search further.

If you don't find an answer here, please submit your question.  An ACVN Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist (PhD, DVM, DACVN) will directly respond to your questions as best as possible.

Submit Question

  • 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.

  • i have a 5 yr old yorkie/chihuahua - healthy, but could lose about 1/2 lb - would like to know why so many people tell me that she should be on a high protein, high fat, low carb, grain free food that has a ton of calories in it - when i feed her these foods and IF she eats them, i cut back on the amt served so she won't gain but she is always hungry - she weighs 10.5 lbs and she is not fat - she gets 4 - 20 min walks/day
    currently i'm feeding royal canin adult (pet store formula) - and of course i'm told that it's crappy food, simply garbage, Is it really that bad for a little house dog - thank you
  • Fair question ..... my best answer is most people do not know enough about nutrition and are simply spouting off the last marketing blitz they heard ....  
    You are correct on both points, and would suggest you avoid the recommendations of the masses when it comes to feeding your dog.  If you need a feeding dose of the Royal Canin product for weight loss, let me know specifically which food and the dog's ideal body weight if you have not already gotten that info from your vet.

  • I have a 6 1/2 year old intact male rough collie. He weighs 65 pounds. His veterinarians all say he is at a healthy weight (they feel him first and then say it!) He only eats 917 calories a day (3 1/3 cups) of Science Diet Oral Care Adult dry dog food (275 calories per cup.)

    My question: Is he getting enough nutrients eating only 917 calories a day? Seems like so little.
  • We calculate the initial food dose using a generic dog equation, however, for any individual dog this generic equation can be off by +/- 50%. The daily intake of calories for 65 lbs using that equation is 1064 kcal/d. So if your dog requires 917 kcal/day to maintain a healthy wieight, that  (-14%)  is very reasonable to me. Yes the diet is nutritionally complete and balanced which means all of the other nutrients are balanced properly with calorie intake.  
  • Hi. I have a 4 year old neutered male cat that was prescribed Hill's prescription c/d dry food for life after having an emergency visit to the vet for struvite crystals. He has been on it for about 2 years now and is getting fatter and more lazy. I would love to switch him to a homemade whole food diet, but have no clue what diet would be best for him or how to make the switch in a healthy manner. I do not want to put him in harms way when switching his diet, and would love to work with a nutrionist to make him a new diet.
    What kind of diet would be best for him?
  • The c/d product works very well in these cases but does contain more fat than he apparently needs. The Hill's w/d is a lower fat options with the same struvite prevention features.
    Most fat cats do well on canned w/d fed at a rate to induce optimal body weight although an indoor neutered male cat will probably never lose weight back to optimal.

    A homemade diet is difficult to get to be as low in magnesium as recommended which limits your options and you will have to give some medication to acidify the urine.  Unfortunately, the only way you will know that the homemade is not working will be another FLUTD episode which may or may land him in the hospital. I would recommend against it.
  • Our dog was recently diagnosed with lung cancer. Tumor was removed and we have started chemo, but I would like to take a holistic approach. When I asked the Oncologist about nutrition, it was recommended that I check out your site. Like others, I have heard about the low carb, component of cancer diets. I was going to start the Hills N/D. Are there any studies out there on dogs with lung cancer? Any nutrition recommendations. I have no issue with making homemade food. THank you for your time.
  • To date, the only canine cancer that seems to respond to low CHO high fat is lymphoma. So there are no nutrition studies to my knowledge in dog with lung cancer. IF  your dog can tolerate a high fat diet, then Hills n/d would be a reasonable option because it contains other more likely (but less talk about) benefits in inhibiting tumor growth. IF your dog cannot tolerate the high fat diet n/d, then yes a homemade diet designed specifically for you dog based on medical records, etc would be advisable.
  • Our 9 year-old Welsh Corgi has had struvite bladder stones twice in the past two years. This round is finally over. Our vet recommended that we ask you the following questions. What over the counter or prescription acidifying diet food /food brands would you recommend now that the bladder infection and stones are gone, and urine in clean? Would you also recommend probiotics and cranberry supplements? If so, which ones would you recommend? Many thanks for your assistance.
  • Urine pH is no longer thought to be of great importance in minimizing struvite stones:

    1. To inhibit UTIs - so if the dog has any redisposing factors - those should resolved. An example would be a overweight female dog where voiding urine completely is problematic.
    2. RSS is now the measure by which we assess the probability of stone formation in the urine, but that is difficult to measure and so ....... the only ones who can (b/c they are so motivated) are pet food companies selling such foods. An example is Royal Canin SO - probably moderate calorie if the dog is overweight..

    If you are still wanting to feed an acidifying diet, the Hill's c/d and w/d canned have successfully produced a dilute low pH urine in most dogs.  If you are looking for an OTC food that will acidify the urine, there are none to my knowledge that make that claim and have substantiated it. So I would not recommend cranberries or probiotics.
987 Results Found 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10Next   Page 1 of 99