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  • My daughter's 3 yo Great Pyrenees/Husky mix. He recently had emergency gastric surgery due to intestinal narrowing/blockage. The Vet put him on Royal Cannin prescription diet for the "rest of his life". It has such a poor rating, with questionable ingredients that I would like suggestions for alternatives. She is happy to cook for him and would feel better not using this food.
    Thank you.
  • The rating systems of dog food on the web are bogus/made-up and pretty much useless except to make me laugh & cry at the same time.

    You should not base any important decision about pet foods based on these ratings.... Have you checked the credentials of the people offering those ratings?

    Ingredients have pros and cons - most of the information on the web about individual ingredients is also not true but if you have a specific ingredient in question, I can help you with the legal definition of that ingredient.

  • I am using a homemade diet for my cat containing rice protein powder, among other ingredients. Should I be concerned about arsenic in the rice powder?
  • You will have to contact the manufacturer about the arsenic content in the product you are using ... because the amount varies so widely, only they would know unless you want to have it analyzed yourself.

     Please note: that no official government (FDA, USDA) agency said the levels of arsenic in rice was toxic. In 2013, they simple said yes there is arsenic in rice, like many foods as it comes into the plant from the water and soil, AND we do not know the level at which toxicity should be set. 

     See this FDA article: and stay tuned.

  • I really am glad I have found your website. I find your information refreshing. I never did jump on the "grain free" band wagon, but have found myself starting to be swayed by all the "super foods" and "holistic" hype. I have decided to return to my original (for many years and through many dogs!) belief that the main stream dog food companies know what they're doing. My question is this.... while I definitely appreciate that any dog food that has been formulated to meet AAFCO standards will technically sustain a dog, aren't there still variations in how absolutely healthy a dog food is? Specifically, I wonder about the dog foods that contain sugar and high fructose corn syrup, etc. Isn't it better to feed a food without those things, even though dogs seem to love them? Also those semi moist foods just don't seem like they could be healthy to me. My dog loves the stuff and I can't bring myself to serve it! Thank you!
  • Aren't there still variations in how absolutely healthy a dog food is?

    Yes ... "healthy" is a subjective measure mostly although Vets can certainly measure certain metabolic parameters and for those we have "normal" ranges.

     Isn't it better to feed a food without those things, even though dogs seem to love them?

    There is nothing inherently wrong with corn in moderation so I am not concerned with it.

     If the semi moist product has a "meet or exceeds AAFCO complete and balanced for the adult dog" then nutritionally it is fine .....

    The ingredients are different in an effort to get that diff texture and shelf live, etc.

    Palatability is no measure of nutritional adequacy. 

  • I have a 4 yr old Maltipoo, she had an infection and was found crystals on her urine so the vet gave her some antibiotics and was prescribe to eat Royal Canin So food for life. She has been in this diet for a 1.5 yrs. I want to know if this the right diet for her, and this food has all the supplements that she needs. I read the ingredients and I am not sure about this decision Royal Canin So Uninary. I will really appreciate your help.
  • Yes it is the right diet recommendation.

    Yes it is a nutritionally complete diet.

    No supplements are needed.


    However, struvite crystals in the dog are caused by a bacteria.... the first line of defense is to eliminate and prevent UTIs.

    Diet can help but it is not the final answer .... Prevent UTI's is the most effective treatment.


    If this was a first and only time occurrence of an infection and crystals in a young dog, you may consider discussing other options with your vet.

    If this problem has happened more than 2-3 times, then I would suggest continuing to feed the SO diet.

  • My 14 year old cat has recently been diagnosed with diabetes. The vet has suggested feeding her Hills w/d food. However, I have read that Hills Prescription Diet food contains a lot of carbohydrate, which will be detrimental to her blood sugar levels. What is your opinion on this?
  • One has to be much more specific when talking about "carbs" and there are 3 types. It is far more complicated than most vocal cat owners, pet store clerks and bloggers realize.

     IF the cat is diabetic AND overweight or obese, yes either the Hill's w/d or Purina OM are good choices.

    Carbs as fiber do not raise blood glucose, in fact have been shown to lower it in cats, dogs and people.

    Losing excess weight has been shown to lower, and in half the cases eliminate, the need for insulin in overweight cats. So weight loss is important.


    IF the cat is diabetic AND underweight or at optimal body weight, then the Hill's m/d or Purina DM might be a better choice.  
    This diet contains too many calories and fat, for the cat to lose weight correctly.

  • Is it true or a myth that consumption of raw bones by dogs is "safe" while cooking bone fragments found in commercial raw diets makes them indigestible, prone to splintering and unsafe for dogs?
    I have never been sure if the above statements are myths or truths with regards to cooking/feeding bones to dogs.
  • Per usual with big bold general statements ... they contain a speck of truth, usually taken out of context and then buried somewhere within the specifics.

    Feeding raw whole bones:

    Nutritionists and Dentists alike do not recommend feeding whole raw or minimally cooked (sufficient to kill surface bacteria) bones. They are stronger than most canine molar teeth hence dogs can and do fracture their teeth which then leads to other problems. There is no nutritional value to them b/c they cannot be digested well and occasionally get stuck in GI somewhere …. Usually the esophagus just as it passes over the heart b/c the esophagus narrows there ….  which then requires some type of endoscopy or surgery to remove and depending on how long the obstruction was in the esophagus, the dog will have some degree of a permanent stricture in the that area.  So the net results of feeding such bones is of no benefit to the dog but can cause long lasting harm.

    Some bones when cooked for a very long time will become demineralized and hence soft & pliable but then they have lost any of the "purported" oral health value and contain little or no calcium (which makes them hard) so basically they become just a source of collagen protein digested in the small intestine.

    Some "raw" dog food products do contain bone chips and some contain ground bone. Neither of which has any of the "purported" oral health value but may provide a source of minerals. If the bone particle size is so small that intestinal enzymes can digest the protein matrix around the minerals, then the minerals may be available for intestinal absorption.


  • I am interested in getting a 3 month old standard poodle on a cooked home made food diet. I need guidelines for how to make sure the diet is balanced through puppy stage but also into adulthood.
  • Yes ... I do homemade diets for growth through our Nutrition Consult service.


    You may begin the consultation process yourself online at any time. If necessary, we can send you forms to complete and return to us instead. I will need more information about your particular pet, dietary history and current medical data to make specific suggestions. Diets for growing pets are done individually and include food intakes up to approximately adult weight. We most often can incorporate current dietary recommendations and principles into one diet and complete that request within 5 business days of receiving all the necessary information.


    We can, on paper, balance most any reasonable dietary request. The HM diet 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. The HM formulations usually involve a cooked meat, cooked grain, +/- vegetables and a single, readily available specifically designed vitamin/mineral supplement. We give the daily food amounts in grams for each animal.


    Please go to the web site, open an account adding your pet’s and vet’s information, then click on the "Nutrition Consult” ..   “for pet owners” and complete the requested information.  We work as a specialty 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 (fax 800-649-2043, post or email at your request.  


    We will send our written letter of recommendations to your veterinarian via fax. You will be asked to provide this contact information. Our charge for a personalized Nutritional Consultation is $300 for your first pet, but then $150 for second pet needing a different diet or $50 if the second in the same household can eat the same diet but a different amount. Most times, we can design a diet that accommodates more than one dog or cat in the household if needed. We also offer a $100 "stat" fee if you need the recommendations in a very short (48hr) turnaround of us receiving the medical record from your veterinarian.


    This fee covers review of medical information, product research, and a diet formulation. It also covers all questions you may have about our diet recommendations. Please understand there is an additional charge of $100 to reformulate another diet if you should later request a major change in ingredients, foods or supplements that were not previously specified or if the pet should develop another medical condition.


    Adding 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 (Chef’s Complete or BalanceIT are two examples). However, other supplement options are possible if appropriate.  Our guarantee is that our dietary recommendations will be nutritionally complete and balanced for your pet’s medical condition.


    Let me know if you have trouble ordering the consult online.

    Thank you for your interest,

  • I have a lovely 5 month old Labrador Retriever. He is on Zignature White Fish, 2 cups 2 times per day. He has enormous poops 3-4 times a day, it seems like more comes out than goes in. Is there a better food for him? Does the grain free food cause large poops? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
  • On two points, that product may not be appropriate:
    1) it says appropriate for "all stages" which means growing puppies but you have a large breed dog KNOWN to have a high incidence of Developmental Orthopedic Disease (DOD). I would suggest you feed a food designed for Large Breed Growth as he enters his rapid growth phase as a preventative measure. The pet food companies who have studied this disease the most and for the longest time are Hill's and Purina. So I would suggest one of their large breed puppy formulations.
    2) the ingredients are high in fiber ... "Peas, Chickpeas, Pea Flour, Flaxseed, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal" ...........  dog is defecating that fiber.  
    "Does the grain free food cause large poops"?

    Inadvertently yes if they replace the CHO source with high fiber non-grain ingredients. White potato would be low fiber non-grain option.
    Grain / No grain in a pet food is not relevant to preventing DOD ...not much of anything else. It is just a 'very successful' marketing gimmick of no real nutritional consequence. Don't be fooled or distracted by it.
  • I've got two senior dogs (about 11 years old and about 7 years old). I'd like to give them chews regularly to help keep their teeth clean, so I checked out the VOHC website. I saw that the VOHC recommends Greenies, as well as a couple of other chew-type products, which look like rawhide chips.

    My dogs haven't been diagnosed with kidney disease, but I'd like to maintain the health of their kidneys as well as I can. I've got them on a dog food that's not high in phosphorus (Hill's Ideal Balance, mature dog formula). If I supplement their diets with a daily Greenie, should I worry about how the addition of that treat might affect kidney function? Or am I getting a bit carried away with my protect-the-kidneys plan?
  • The Greenies are a relaviatively low phoshorous product with ~0.5% which is compatible with renal disease.
  • For a dog over seven years old, what percentage of phosphorus (on a dry matter basis) would you recommend be in its diet. Thank you. And, thank you again for having such a wonderful website and service.
  • Given most dogs over 5 have some subclinical renal changes, I would suggest having a phos level closer to the AAFCO min which is 0.5% DMB which is still ample just not excessive.
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