Ask the Veterinary Nutritionist

Do you have a specific question related to pet nutrition?

Our database contains over 1200 questions asked by 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, submit your question and a nutritionist will respond to your questions as best possible. Email responses will come from intelligen@aciemails.com.

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  • Hello. Our 9-year-old Lab is a little overweight at 70 pounds. The vet and I would like to see him lose a few pounds. He has numerous allergies that don't allow for a well balanced dry dog food. We gave him a limited ingredient food, but it still had potatoes which he is allergic too and he still put on weight. He ate raw food for about 5 years which he did great in but last year something happened, and he took a turn for the worse and we determined it was based on the raw diet (developed hypothyroidism due to diet) which we have since reversed. I started to cook him food with fresh boiled turkey breast, veggies, sometimes a little fruit and add in a plant-based Omega oil and Thrive pro-gut powder. My question is, I don't know how many oz's of food to give him in order to ensure he gets his necessary nutrients but at the same time, loses a few pounds. Your calculator online only asks about canned or dry dog food. Are you able to provide me with that information? Thank you.
  • Yes we certainly can help with those questions but only within a Nutrition Consultation for legal and ethical reasons.
    As described, your current diet is not nutritionally complete or balanced.  Before we can give you the amount of food per day or help the dog lose weight, the diet must be corrected.
    You may begin at www.PetDiets.com / Services / Nutrition Consult, select ‘Pet Owner’, and then select a consultation type. The fee is $500 (USD) which includes a teleconsult (phone or video) conference with a nutritionist. Written recommendations are sent to you and your veterinarian within days of the conference. Follow-up questions can be handled by phone or email and there are no additional fees for fielding questions or helping to resolve immediate unforeseen problems.
     
  • I left you a voice message yesterday, but decided that it might work better for you to send you my questions this way.

    I have a 9 year old Golden Female, weight 72 lbs.  She usually hikes/walks with me about 3 - miles per day, but I have noticed that she is starting to have a little more difficulty getting up after lying down and/or if I walk her more than 4 miles/day.  We haven't taken x-rays, but 2 vets suspect it is arthritis. 

    Question 1:  Which supplement would you recommend for her (Comfortable Senior, Mobility, etc.)?
    Question 2:  What is the shelf life (if unopened and properly stored)?
    Question 3:  From what countries do you source your ingredients?

    History: We have been cooking her meals and using your Canine Complete for 3 years.  Historically she has had a sensitive digestive system, but so long as we stick with her diet. We feed her twice a day, consisting of pork, sweet potato, brown rice, white rice + Canine Complete (1.5 scoops) + 1/2 cup of Prescription Diet W/D and give her Visbiome Probiotics (once/day). This seems to have cleared up all her issues and she has responded super-well!!  The only other issue is that she has had 3 seizures over the past 18 months and we have put her on Levetiracetam XR (3,000mg/day).
  • Ofter older dogs with mobility problems respond very well to trimming off excess weight and having a lean body mass. We most often recommend having the dog lose weight to a BCS of 4/9. This reduces the mechanical strand on the joints and reduces the overal subclinical systemic inflammation.
     
  • Hello,
    I have a jackapoo, been feeding her a canned wet food but now I am cooking for her. She seems much healthier her coat is more shiny her teeth are much cleaner, the food i am cooking for her is minced turkey, beef or chicken, ox liver or heart, beef liver, chicken liver, green bean, broccoli, sweet potato, rice, carrots, zucchini, celery, a tiny bit brussels sprouts and egg shells powder. My question is what else should I add from the minerals, vitamins or nutrition's. I am scared that she is not getting enough of them and might have problems when she is older. Please advice me. Thank you
  • My question is what else should I add from the minerals, vitamins?  YES.
    It appears that the diet as you have described it is not nutritionally complete or balanced according to current AAFCO and/or NRC recommendations. It is deficient vitamins and trace minerals and has an inverse Ca:P ratio.
     
    If your pet has no medical issues, we have two options for owners to obtain a balanced homemade recipe for their adult healthy pets.
     
    1. Go to www.petdiets.com / 'Services’ / ‘Homemade Recipes, review the process, click on ‘start your homemade recipe’ at the bottom. Log into or open an account. You may select “See all ingredient options” to see all food options or one of several specific diet types (high or low calorie, etc.). Most likely, you will be able to select the main ingredients similar to those you are now feeding. The software will re-balance your recipe properly and suggest a vitamin & trace mineral supplement. The cost is $25 for the first recipe and $12 for each thereafter purchased at the same time. Recipes are available for immediate download after payment.
     
    1. If you do not want to use the automated module, want specific foods to be included, want your current recipe analyzed as is or the pet has a medical condition, we can balance a homemade recipe specifically for you. Go to www.PetDiets.com / Services / Nutrition Consult, select ‘Pet Owner’, review the process, click on ‘continue’ at the bottom and later select a consultation type: “Check and balance a homemade diet for my heathy pet”. The fee is $500 (USD) that does include a teleconsult (phone or video conference with a nutritionist).
    Please give us a call if you have more questions about the consultation process.

     
  • I am filling out the application to become a client to figure out a diet for my dog. How do I bypass the question select a receipt type as I don’t know the answer. Thats why we are looking to you for help on a diet for Lucy
  • You are in the DIY (Do It Yourself) recipe module. For legal and ethical reasons, we can only make dietary recommendations within a Nutrition Consultation. State Veterinary Medical Boards do not want veterinary advice automated and have regulations against it. Hence as licensed Veterinarians we cannot make dietary recommendations outside of a formal Nutrition Consultation.

    If you wish to stay in the DIY module, your options are:
    1) ask your Vet for advice. Feed for two weeks and then re-evaluate your dog's weight.
    2) select the "moderate calorie". Feed for two weeks and then re-evaluate your dog's weight.
    3) select the "Diet types explained" and choose one similar to the food you are currently feeding. Feed for two weeks and then re-evaluate your dog's weight.
    4) select "See all ingredient options" and create your own recipe. Feed for two weeks and then re-evaluate your dog's weight.

    If you wish to have a Nutrition Consultation, go to www.PetDiets.com / Services / Nutrition Consult, select ‘Pet Owner’, and review the process, click on ‘continue’ at the bottom and later select a consultation type: “Check and balance a homemade diet for my heathy pet”. The fee is $500 (USD) that does include a teleconsult (phone or video conference with a nutritionist). The same is true if your pet has a medical condition but select then "Homemade diet only".

    Please give us a call if you have more questions about the consultation process. 
     
  • Hello, I searched but didn’t find answers to my questions:

    My 8 year old female car just had 6 sterile struvite stones removed from her bladder- one was causing a blockage. Lab results from the surgery showed NO infection.
    She is well hydrated and on a high quality, species appropriate diet (95 % meat canned and raw with added water).
    I actually have 2 questions.
    One is looking for a cause.She is otherwise healthy, but due to a congenital issue, has motility/constipation issues . I have given her Miralax reluctantly for years after probiotics, enzymes, fiber, pumpkin etc all failed to help. I was wondering if the miralax pulling liquid into the bowel could have affected her urinary tract and led to the stones? I understand it can be hereditary, but it was just a thought.

    Second, prevention of reoccurrence is obviously my top priority. I will not put her on a low protein diet or prescription food. To that end, acidifying the urine and limiting phosphorous and magnesium seem to be the keys (as well as maintaining hydration. Is that correct? If so, would it make sense to consider adding a phosphorous binder like epakitin and an acidifier like l-methionine? Is there any way to limit magnesium? I can’t seem to find a good list of sources as far as specific animal proteins or organs or bones which may be more of a source. She currently eats f commercial raw food which contains pretty much everything including blood and organ meat.

    thank you so much!! I have a holistic vet, but even he thinks I overthink things lol.

    I just want to do everything I can to try to prevent this problem without what I consider compromising her health in other ways (with species inappropriate, low quality, and ultimately, in my opinion and experience as a layperson who tries to do her own research extremely unhealthy food.

    oh- one last thing. I read in an answer that UTI testing needs to be repeated, would that be the case even if the results were from samples taken during surgery? I was told initially that bacteria was present in her urine pre-surgery, but that that was not accurate. The surgeon said urinalysis often shows no bacteria and then infection IS found during surgery, but I just wanted to be sure I shouldn’t ask her to be retested. She was on a broad spectrum antibiotic for about 3 weeks pending the results but I was told to d/c after the labs from the surgery came back.

    Thank you so much again for this wonderful resource!
  • UTI can be related to struvite stones but often not involved in feline cases whereas about 99% of canine struvite cases have UTIs.
    If the urine was sterile, the stones should also cultured. IF the cat was put on antibiotics, then please follow the advice of the Veterinarian who prescribed that med.

    Yes dietary fiber additons do pull water into the bowel. Whether this is causing a problem with the urine production, I cannot say.

    It does not matter whether the food is fed raw or cooked. There are several well formulated " prescription food' that have for decades demonstrated effectivness in the management of FLUTD. Yes they all limit P and Mg to some degree, and some have added Na but all acidify the urine. I woud not suggest adding a phos binder, as these diets are already lower in P. There are no specific proteins to feed or not feed, as all animal proteins lower urine pH. You will have to check the "dietary claims" on the food you are feeding. 

    I suggest you also visit: https://indoorpet.osu.edu/cats for other informaiton important in the management of FLUTD.

     
  • I have 2 American bullies. One is female, spayed, 6 years, current weight 52lbs. The other is male, intact, 2 years, current weight 55lbs. They are mother and son. Both suffer from allergies. The female has chronic skin infections and occasional ear infections. The male to date has suffered from one ear infection, and odor of the skin. I was introduced to a vegan diet called V-Dog (dry kibble) and both dogs have been on for 2 months. Since then neither pet is on medications and allergy symptoms have significantly decreased. If I was to continue keeping them on a vegan diet what are the recommended supplements and yearly blood tests to screen to be sure they are not protein deficient, and the Taurine, L-Carnitine & B12 are sufficient? Thank You!!
  • The product claims to be formulated (meaning on paper or by lab analysis) to meet AAFCO. The issue is nutrient bioavailability which can only be tested in a feeding trial which the company has not done. You are doing that work for them …. presumably you would report a problem to them if there was one and if you knew it was diet related – right ?????
    Because the claim on the product is ‘complete and balanced’, there are no specific supplements to recommend – the product is supposed to be ‘complete’. It would be an educated guess which nutrients are likely to be deficient in the animal due to low bioavailability that is hampered by the fiber content of the ingredients and ingredient interactions. Protein quality and trace mineral bioavailability would be commonly suspected with fiber ingredients. Given the legume ingredients, yes taurine and carnitine would be of interest if the dogs were showing signs of heart disease.

    There are no specific tests to recommend, annually or otherwise, regardless of what food the dogs are eating. The tests done by GP vets cannot be used to directly assess the diet nutrient profile or bioavailability. Measuring a ‘blood’ concentration for most nutrients does not reflect whole body status. For example, blood macro mineral and trace mineral levels are NOT indicative of whole body levels because there are storage sites in the body and compensation mechanisms in play that ensure the blood concentrations are maintained until the very end. There are very specific tests that can be conducted for some nutrients when a specific nutrient deficiency or toxicity is suspected but these tests are highly specific, expensive, and done only at certain labs or facilities. One can indirectly assess protein status by looking at RBC and serum protein parameters but these are again NOT specific to dietary protein quality or quantity.  

    As for taurine, carnitine, and B12, you can ask your vet to run specific tests for these and, for these nutrients, blood levels are reasonable assessments of whole body status. Taurine and carnitine are listed in the ingredient list, but because there is no AAFCO requirement (min or max) for these nutrients in dogs, the amount in the diet is decided by the manufacturer. There is an AAFCO B12 min, and presumably, the company verifies the nutrient profile of their product before shipping out to distribution, and the B12 concentration either meets or exceeds AAFCO min.
    Again, what’s in the bag may or may not be sufficiently bioavailable to the dog. Hence, nutritionists much prefer to see that a product has passed a (6 month) AAFCO feeding trial because that speaks to not only an adequate concentration in the diet but also to nutrient bioavailability.
     
  • My 14 years old 5 pounds shi poo with a heart issue who's on med 3 times a day and he have a weak digestive system where he would have bloody stool and vomit from time to time. We recently did a consultation at a pet store where there's a non-licensed person who has been working with nutrition for years. She instructed us to switch him to a raw diet and gave us a list of 10 other supplements to give him at the same time. My dog started bloody stool 2 days after the switch and today he's not active and vomit too. That person kept telling me that it's safe because all the supplement for organic that they are not medicine, and that the bloody stool is related to the transition of food (bacterial in his body does not balance with the raw food), so need to keep giving him the same diet plan to strengthen his guts. I would really want to seek for your opinions and advice, thank you soooo much in advance
  • I strongly suggest you seek professional advice from someone who is certified and/or held accountable to a licensing board. Quacks abound in nutrition and the information given is not sound advice. Independent governing and oversight of those handing out veterinary and/or nutritional advice have been established to help pet owners know who is and who is not properly trained. The AVMA has established and oversees nutritional training programs: see ACVIM, ACVN. There is a Veterinary Medical Licensing Board in each state to help you find the right person when your pet has a medical problem. Why would you follow the advice of a pet store clerk who has no veterinary or nutritional training when your pet as a medical problem? Would you take the advice of a GNC clerk if you had major GI disease/pain? Their advice is free for a reason – it has no valve and they have products to sell you.
     
  • HI! I have a 14 year old female Rat Terrier with Cushing's. I have read responses to other questions and know that she does not need to be on a special diet. She does not have lots of teeth left, so I make her a soft diet meal from scratch. I use either boil fat free ground chicken or ground turkey, mix in some oats as she prefers them to rice, and some broccoli. It was once recommended to me that she eat 250 calories per meal so I measure those ingredient to be around there. My vet suggests a vitamin and mineral supplement so I was going to get the one listed on your site Chef’s Canine Complete - Vitamin and Trace Mineral mixture by My Pet Grocer. Is this plan nutritionally sound?
  • Yes the diet does need a vitamin mineral supplement to be nutritionally complete.
    I would suggest that if you want the exact amounts of each ingredient to feed per day for her body weight, you may use the automated Homemade Recipe module.

    Go to www.petdiets.com / 'Services’ / ‘Homemade Recipes, review the process, click on ‘start your homemade recipe’ at the bottom. Log into or open an account. You may select “See all ingredient options” to see all food options. Most likely, you will be able to select the main ingredients similar to those you are now feeding. The software will re-balance your recipe properly and suggest a vitamin & trace mineral supplement. The cost is $25 for the first recipe and $12 for each thereafter purchased at the same time. Recipes are available for immediate download after payment.
     
  • I have a slightly over weight lab mix at 64 lbs which we want to get down to at least 60lbs. She has tore her cruciate ligament and had to have a tplo sx 6 weeks ago. the vet recommended you guys for recipes to get her to lose weight, thats fine. How many cups daily for her for the ground beef or turkey recipes? Do i cut out her kibble all together with these recipes? And is there any supplements that can help her with regaining muscle mass that will not elevate her kidney/liver levels. I currently give her coconut oil and fish oils daily with phycox. Thank you
  • Yes we certainly can provide specific instructions but only within a Nutrition Consultation for legal and ethical reasons.
     
    We understand your problem and have experience in these areas. We are most willing to make dietary recommendations which may include a homemade diet OR other commercial products for your overweight dog with orthopedic disease. When your pet has a medical condition, the dietary recommendations should be done specifically for that patient. For a pet with medical condition(s), you may begin at www.PetDiets.com / Services / Nutrition Consult, select ‘Pet Owner’, and then select a consultation type. The fee is $500 (USD) which includes a teleconsult (phone or video) conference with a nutritionist. Written recommendations are sent to you and your veterinarian within days of the conference. Follow-up questions can be handled by phone or email and there are no additional fees for fielding questions or helping to resolve immediate unforeseen problems.
     
    Diet recommendations for pets with a medical condition are done individually. We will need more information about your particular pet, dietary history, and current medical data to make specific suggestions. We most often can incorporate current dietary recommendations and principles into one diet and complete that request in less than 5 business days of the teleconsult.
     
    IMPORTANT: We work as a nutrition consultant to your veterinarian. Your primary care veterinarian is a vital partner in the care of your pet and must provide us with the most recent or relevant medical records (MR) (fax 1800.649.2043 or email VetNut@att.net) at your request. Per AVMA and most state regulations, you the owner must request to have your records sent to us. You can check with us at any time to see if we have received the medical records after you have made that request of your local or specialty veterinarian(s). All nutrition consults must involve a local or specialty veterinarian with whom you have established a Veterinarian/Client/Patient relationship (VCPR) per state Veterinary Medical Board regulations. We will attempt to obtain the signed VCPR form for you after we have received the MR. The VCPR is not optional and cannot be sidestepped. You will be asked to provide your Veterinarian’s this contact information in the consult form. Providing us accurate contact information will aid us in obtaining your VCPR in a timely fashion.
     
    We can, on paper, balance most any reasonable dietary request. The fee covers the review of the medical record, product research, and recipe formulation. The homemade recipe instructions are quite detailed yet give options and allow for substitutions if appropriate for the medical problem(s). Unique dietary requests for individual patients are what we do best. We give the daily food amounts in grams for each food per day but you can make batches for several days if you wish. The homemade formulations involve protein and energy sources, vegetables if appropriate, and a single, readily available specifically designed vitamin/mineral supplement. Adding vitamin and mineral supplements to homemade diets for dogs or cats can be cumbersome and difficult to do properly. We most often suggest a veterinary all-in-one supplement designed specifically for dogs or cats fed a homemade diet.  However, other supplement options (human over-the-counter products) are possible if appropriate. Most times, we can design a diet that accommodates more than one pet in the household if needed.
     
    Recheck appointments if requested are $250 for 30 minutes. There is an additional charge of $250 to reformulate the diet ingredients or supplements are changed or if the pet should develop another medical condition. We guarantee that our dietary recommendations will be nutritionally complete and balanced for your pet’s medical condition(s) according to the most current dietary recommendations and based on clinical experience.
     
    Please let us know if you have trouble ordering the consultation online or have additional questions.
     
  • Hi, I recently lost my Westie. He was just under 11 years old. I cooked and baked for him. I made organic meals supplemented it with multi vitamins and omega fish oil. He enjoyed excellent health but was diagnosed with kidney disease a couple of months ago which triggered an autoimmune disease. I am planning on making homemade meals for the new pup. Please advise how I can make a balanced homemade meal for the new pooch. Thank you very much.
  • We are sorry for your loss. Unfortunately, balanced homemade recipes do not protect against the occurrences of the major diseases that take our pets.

    Yes, we do puppy (and kitten) commercial or homemade recipe formulations with food dosage and weight projections through the first year of life but not through the automated homemade recipe module given the multitude of variances. The consultation fee is $500 (USD) which includes a teleconsult with the nutritionist, written recommendations. Follow-up questions can be handled by phone or email and there are no additional fees for fielding questions or helping to resolve immediate unforeseen problems. There is an additional charge of $250 to reformulate the diet if a major change in ingredients or supplements that were not previously specified, at maturity, or if the pet should develop a medical condition. See additional information at https://www.petdiets.com/content.aspx?ContentID=1744  or go to www.PetDiets.com / Services / Growth Consult, select ‘Pet Owner’, review the process, click on ‘continue’ at the bottom.

    IMPORTANT: We work as a nutrition consultant to your veterinarian. Your primary care veterinarian is a vital partner in the care of your pet and must provide us with the most recent or relevant medical records (MR) (fax 1800.649.2043 or email VetNut@att.net) at your request. Per AVMA and most state regulations, you the owner must request to have your records sent to us. You can check with us at any time to see if we have received the medical records after you have made that request of your local or specialty veterinarian(s). All nutrition consults must involve a local or specialty veterinarian with whom you have established a Veterinarian/Client/Patient relationship (VCPR) per state Veterinary Medical Board regulations. We will attempt to obtain the signed VCPR form for you after we have received the MR. The VCPR is not optional and cannot be sidestepped. You will be asked to provide your Veterinarian’s this contact information in the consult form. Providing us accurate contact information will aid us in obtaining your VCPR in a timely fashion. We will send our written recommendation to you and your veterinarian by fax and email.

    Please give us a call if you have questions about the consultation process.
     
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