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  • I read a pet industry digest called Looked at an article dated today about horse meat and phenobarb found in Evanger's canned dog food.This company has come under fire from the FDA before, if memory serves. I've included the link for you. My cats have been eating dry and canned Purina ProPlan for awhile (switched from Royal Canin because of formulas changes). Do you think Purina would knowingly use horse meat in their cat foods? Do I need to worry about phenobarb in my cats' food, as well? Do you know if Purina actively screens for such chemical contaminants? This kind of stuff feeds the furor that deceased pets are actively used by the pet food industry. It's all very distressing.

    My cats are my kids, so of course I worry. Thanks as always.
  • Understandably – this is wrong on several levels. This is where the quality control procedures of the manufacturer come to light. Such information is NO where on the label.

    If this “adulterated” ingredient was sold to other pet food manufacturers and went un-checked, or if Evangers has their products co-packed, unfortunately, there may be more recalls.

    If any manufacture knowingly used horse meat in the USA, it would have to be declared on the label. Horse meat in pet foods in the USA is not illegal, but it is not in the generic “meat” definition so it must be declared on the label, just like venison or alligator, etc. To have it in the food knowingly and not on the label, is a violation of the pet food regulations in most US states.

    I can attempt to address your concerns based on what I know and have seen at Purina over the last 30 yrs about their procedures for accepting or rejecting ingredients, independent testing and vetting of ingredient vendors; however, I would suggest you call and ask them directly.

    Tell them about your concerns with controlling ingredients and that you would like to know how they test their incoming ingredients and the final product before releasing from the plant.

  • You have a lot of faith in the AAFCO, yes? You said dry food will help prevent tarter on pets teeth!!! I eat dry food , my teeth still have to be brushed. So tell me, how does pentobarbital get in canned dog food, what a mystery!!! You must be a player, in the money making, lying pet food industy!!
  • “Faith in AAFCO” - that is a strange statement.  AAFCO is not a mystical being .... just an organization of with reps from all aspects of the FEED (everything but human food) industry.

    Some US states have fully, partially or not at all adopted their suggested rules into their code that regulates pet food within that state.  If you do not like the AAFCO rules in your state, speak to your state legislature who has the final decision ... not AAFCO.

    Eating dry food helps dog with tartar but as I have said many times, even when O feeds VOHC documented foods - there is nothing better than brushing the dog or cats teeth several times a week.

    Pentobarbital has appeared in certain pet food products on several previous occasions - it is not a new occurrence. Each time previously, the FDA has investigated and found that cattle, sheep, goats or pigs euthanized with the drug were incorporated into the pet food product.

    It really is not a mystery .... but does speak volumes about the lack of quality controls exercised by those particular manufacturers at the point of accepting or rejecting ingredients .... which in turn speaks to the importance of knowing your manufacturer and NOT being fixed on the label ingredient list. 

    In my 30 years as a veterinary nutritionists, I have never worked for a pet food company.

  • My 13.5 yr old cockapoo has had recurrent UTIs this year. His vet recommended prescription food. We tried the royal canin urinary but he refused it. She then recommended Hills CD. He likes it. I mix a half can of wet with 1/4 c of the dry. Since age 2 he was on Dr Harveys. I looked up Hills and saw it has terrible ratings! I am really upset because I have taken great care of him and worry this poor quality food will harm his life span. She says her patients have done well but the reviews are consistently poor. Do you have a recommendation? Is there a better grade food for urinary problems? Should I just continue?
  • People who "review" or "rate" pet foods absolutely do not know what they are talking about, have never worked in or for a pet food company, vendor or supplier.

    They all repeat each other and none of themselves actually having done any original work or investigation into this area.  Not one of them have any independent training in the areas of nutrition or medical conditions managed through diet. They are wasting my time, your money and their breath.

    I too have used c/d (dog and cat) products for more than 30 yrs ... and have had no issues ... except when the owner runs out of food, replaces it with an OTC brand, and the animal has the problem reoccur.

    I have no reservations about a dog fed c/d.

  • I have a cat diagnosed with struvite crystals and has recently had stones removed surgically. Originally he was on hills CD but it turns out he is allergic to chicken. He throws up raw chicken and cat food with chicken in it gives him dermatitis and ear infections. I've tried giving him methio form but he will not eat it anymore. Are there any food options for him? It's been extremely frustrating trying to find urinary food without chicken any ideas?
  • You and your veterinarain may consider:

    Hill's c/d multicare with Ocean Fish canned
    Rayne Clinical Nutrition Feline RSS dry and wet

    They do contain "chicken fat" or "chicken flavor" but may actually not contain any chicken protein per say and so may be tolerated better.
    Animals can only have an allergic reaction to a protein and not carbs or fats.
  • Can I use your "healthy dog" formula/recipe if the only health issue my dog has is arthritis? She is a normal weight 13 yr old border collie. Activity level is not what it once was - slowing down - mainly due to her arthritis and bilateral luxating patellas. Other than your balancing supplement, what suplements would you recommend (cosequin, omegas 3, 6, 9, ?) She does also have what I call "age bumps" popping up that my vet is not treating for (sebacious cysts) but that is all in terms of health issues. I have been using a recipe from Dr Karen Becker which includes things like organ meats, egg shell, kelp powder, hemp seed oil, ginger, sardines & mussels (as well as protein & certain veggies/fruit). Your sample recipe is much more streamlined. Is that because your recipes rely on the supplement for nutritional completeness?
  • Yes in part but more often non-professionals add too much stuff because they are not trained to formulate diets efficiently. I prefer simple b/c the owner is more likely to be compliant with a simple accurate recipe than a complicated bulky one. The supplements we use constitute less than 3% of the food in the bowl because it is concentrated and highly bioavailable.

    Yes you probably could use the Healthy Dog module if we offer the ingredients you wish to use but you can see the list before you purchase.

    For arthritis, there is a general recommendation to feed 100 mg of EPA + DHA (not just fish oil) per Kg BW of dog. Cosequin is a good product in that it has been shown effective in clinical trials fed at label directions, but if there is severe arthritis it probably will not benefit dog. In people with mild to moderate arthritis, glucosamine + chondroitin was helpful; in those with severe damage (no cartilage left) there was no benefit. 

  • You stated many times (and I agree) that an ingredient deck can not be used to evaluate the supposed quality of a pet food. My question is would you be willing to give a detailed explanation as to why this can not be done.
  • The only detail needed is that the ingredient description (AAFCO 2016 pg 210) for any one of the terms in the ingredient list is too vague to be certain of the nutritional value for 2 reasons:

    1. The "terms" used in the ingredient list although ‘defined’ are of little to no value to anyone. They are defined for the player in the industry – not veterinarians, nutritionists or pet owners.

    Example of the nasty terms rating web sites like to pick on: "by-products" (vegetable or animal type).

    First, the definition of any “by-product" is simply the second product resulting after some processing of the primary intended product. If corn meal is the primary intended product, then the oil removed is a by-product and vice versa. It means nothing more than that.

    Organ meats (kidney, livers, etc) are by-products of animal processing because the muscle meat was the first intended product. A pet food manufacturer could list "meat by-products" if the ingredient came as a mix of organ meats, or they could list the organs individually (liver, kidney, hearts, etc) on the label.

    AAFCO definitions (paraphrased):  rendered = cooked; non rendered = raw

    ‘Meat’: the clean flesh derived from the slaughtered mammals and limited to skeletal muscle, tongue diaphragm, heart, or esophagus with fat, skin, sinew, nerve and blood vessels. AAFCO 2016 pg 375.

    ‘Meat by-products’: non-rendered clean parts other than meat derived from the slaughtered mammals. May include lungs, spleen, kidney brain, liver, blood, stomach or intestines (excluding the contents of the stomach or intestine). This definitions goes on to specifically exclude hair, horns, teeth and hoof. AAFCO 2016 pg 375.

    Now people think they know what ‘meat’ is and do not think twice about eating it themselves when served up in a restaurant but do not realize that in pet food term ‘meat’ includes tongue, esophagus etc and probably would think twice before they themselves eat a hamburger made of what AAFCO has defined as ‘meat’ although still nutritious.

    The term ‘meat’ is for mammals so there are similar definitions for ‘poultry’. Another definition that people are unaware of is that “meat” can only be from beef, pig, lamb or goat. So there is no room for the exaggerated claim about horses, zoo, birds, wildlife, or game animals, etc in the meat definition.  No dogs or cats either - The FDA developed a canine and feline DNA test and then tested pet foods and found no evidence of dog or cat DNA in any pet food products. So

    ‘Meat and bone meal’ is a cooked product of mammals that includes bone but cannot include blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide, manure, stomach contents or added extraneous materials (such as what some have claimed, i.e., floor sweepings or saw dust). AAFCO 2016 pg 377.

    ‘Meal’ is simply the ground product after the water has been removed by cooking. Water has no nutrient value, expensive to ship and can always be added back. So those who are anti-meal are simply not thinking.

    There are additional calcium and phosphorous content specification on this particular ingredient so the pet food manufacturer using this ingredient can gage the amount of bone included. Some want high bone content to help with the final calcium and phosphorous content of their pet food, some do not because the calcium and phosphorous is coming from a different ingredient. There is no right or wrong here … it depends on pet food formulation desired and the other ingredients being used such that the FINAL nutrient profile meets AAFCO nutrient recommendations.

    And here is what’s worth talking about and what does separate the good from the ugly……..

    It is entirely the responsibility of the manufacturer to test each ingredient for nutrient value and a list of known contaminants before accepting and using that ingredient in their pet food product.  The better manufacturers have very specific contracts with ingredient vendors which outlines the nutrient profile, and double check the ingredient nutrient profile in their own labs before using that ingredient. So when I see specific pet food manufacturers on the FDA recall list repeatedly for things that should have been discovered at the point plant delivery and before incorporation into their product ( such as aflatoxin or most recently …. pentobarbital) speak volumes to me about their quality control (QC).

    Ingredient lists are virtually meaningless in evaluating a pet food but the reason why certain manufacturers come up on the FDA Pet Food Recall list speaks loudly about QC. The nutrient profile of an INDIVIDUAL ingredient is worthless to the pet owner and nutritionist because the nutrient profile of FINAL pet product is controlled, stated on the label and usually available upon request.


    2. If not defined specifically, then a common or usual name can be used. AAFCO 2016 pg 210.

    Many pet food manufacturer are using this 2nd 'escape' clause to attract pet owner as when they list individual fruits, e.g. apples. No doubt a common name and we all think we know what an apple is but there is NO way to known what parts of the ‘apple’ was used in the pet food: whole, skins, core, pomace, stems, pieces a by-product of making apple pies, etc are actually used in the food. Yes manufactures may have a picture of a wholesome looking shiny red apple on their website but there is no way to know if that accurately represents the ingredient used in the product – not without going to the plant to see for yourself.

    If the definitions were tight with specific nutrient profiles we would all be happier but that is simply not plausible. The people rating pet foods based on the label simply are ‘rendering’ opinions without a full education on the subject – dangerous but allowable somehow on the web. Majority of those self-anointed pet food gurus have never been in any manufacturing plant, never worked for a manufacturer or been an ingredient vendor to know firsthand of what they speak. Then most website simply copy the rhetoric on another. So now we a whole slew of website repeating the same bunk in a never ending circle - absent of any reality check or first hand knowledge.  Then pet owners visit these multiple “cut and paste made” web sites thinking they are all separate independent first-hand knowing web sites, and then the pet owner thinks they themselves have done “research” on the topic of pet foods – having read not one primary source of information. The whole thing is a house of cards…..

    Very few people are given pet food manufacturing tours, veterinary nutritionist are among that select group (myself included), and notice how those individuals do not ‘rate’ pet foods. In fact most will tell you, the ingredient list is of very limited value to them in making pet food recommendations.   Why?

    Because in the end, any one ingredient, no matter how defined, does vary widely in nutrient content. The definitions are much too vague to "rate" any one ingredient and so no one can rate the entire ingredient list and say that it represents the entire pet food product.  IF the information in the building blocks is vague and lacks detail, how can that poor quality information suddenly become a fine tuned instrument for “rating” the whole pet food product? It can’t and truth is it was NEVER intended by AAFCO that the ingredient list could be used to ‘rate’ pet foods. It is a very poor tool. The whole rating game online and in pet journals has no true value to the individual pet owner trying to do best by their dog or cat.

  • We have a 3 year old male long hair who has been diagnosed with hypercalcemia. We would like to treat the condition by diet and not by medication. Thru research and on the advice of out locale vet we first tried increasing his fiber intake with adding canned pumpkin to his food and switching his dry food to Science Diet W/D. He liked the pumpkin but his last test showed no improvement, in fact his level increased slightly.

    Our vet then suggested contacting a group called BalanceIT who provided recipes of home prepared foods and their feline -ca supplement. He will not eat the meal because of the odor that the supplement has, which they state happens in many cases. Do you have any suggestions?
  • Lowering hypercalcemia via diet is not very effective b/c there is another metabolic problem driving the calcium up.

    So dietary options are not very effective ... maybe at first but has the metabolic problem escalates the diet is of no help.

    I would not recommend relying on diet only.

  • What food do you feed your own pets?
  • One dog is on a chicken and rice product formulated from Just RIght Purina.
    The other dog I am testing for food allergies (12 wks) using the Crocodile product from Rayne Clinical Nutrition.
  • A lot of high-quality pet foods have alfalfa in them. Is this a possible health problem in terms of digestion? Its cattle food after all
  • "High - quality" is an opinion and not a fact that can be determined by reading the label or asking the manufacturer - contrary to all the buzz.

    Alfalfa is commonly a fiber diet ingredient fed to animals that have section of the gut with fermentation.

    When used in a monogastric diet, it is probably there to raise the protein and calcium on paper b/c availability of those nutrients to the dog or cat has to be seriously questioned.

  • I recently started making homemade food for my two Boston terriers. Neither have any medical conditions, both are very fit and perfectly healthy. My food consists of about 40-50% protein (pork or chicken) sweet potatoes, apples, green beans, carrots, kidney beans, peas, and olive oil. I roast all of it in a crock pot for around 8 hours and then freeze individual portions. When I feed them I add a scoop of wholistic pet organics canine complete, dogzymes ultimate, and ground eggshells for calcium. My 25 lb dog gets about 2 cups a day while the 15 lb dog gets around 1.5 cups a day. Both love the food and seem just as happy and energetic as they were on dry food. I just wanted to make sure that this is going to provide the proper caloric intake and be a good diet for my dogs.
  • Thank you for checking - most homemade diets described by owners are not complete or balanced. You have several options for checking your recipe;

    1. You can have the diet analyzed at a lab for $45 for 12 nutrients and up to $2400 for all nutrients + $300 for us to correct any imbalances.

    2. We could assess your recipe based on having very accurate gram amounts per day of each food and very good description of each food so that we can find it in the USDA Food Database and then correct any imbalances for $300.

    3. If your dogs have no long standing medical issues from the previous episode, you could simply use our automated Homemade Diet Module for $25.


    Go to You begin the process by logging into your account or opening an account for you, your pet and link it to your Vet info, then click on  ‘Homemade diets’ (upper left) dog and cat picture. Select the “all options” to see all of our ingredient options or one of several specific diet types. Hopefully, you will be able to select ingredients similar to those you are now feeding. The software will re-balance your diet properly and suggest vitamin & trace mineral supplements. The cost is $25 for the first recipe and $12 for each thereafter purchased at the same time. Recipes are available for immediate download.


    Most owners select option 3 because it gets them back on track sooner and for less money. Please let me know if you need any other help.

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