Ask the Veterinary Nutritionist

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  • I am a Licensed Veterinary Technician doing research on pet nutrition. I am trying to implement dietary recommendations as the 5th vital assessment for our clients. I have been emailing multiple food manufacturers asking 8 questions suggested by AAHA. I have to admit it is becoming overwhelming. I am trying to make non-bias in company recommendations. I would like to be able to put together a list of brands and specific foods by Hill's, Royal Canin and Purina. But also other companies that are not owned by major marketing businesses. This list would be tailored for healthy pets and in each life stage. Can you assist me in suggestions of companies and specific brands. As you know the food marketing tactics have gotten out of control and as much as we educate clients they can still be stuck in the marketing. Thank you for your time.
  • I agree and sympathize with you .... probably the question that most easily separates out companies I can recommend from those I have less or far less confidence in is the question about do you have your own pet food manufacturing plant. This question alone will separate out about 5% from the ~300 manufactures in the US.

    I cannot keep tract of products or brands (> 5000), so I concentrate on the company - if the company meets certain expectations (like stringent quality control procedures) then I have to assume that follows through to their products. In my opinion, if a company makes dietary therapeutic products for VETS to use in the management, treatment or diagnosis of diseases, then most likely they do no less in the production of their OTC foods. And Do not fall for those claims that they have never been on the FDA Recall list .... to me it means they are not testing or looking and so more dangerous.

    So now your list should be down to less than 10 companies. Then I separate out the good from the ugly but watching their commercials.... and ask myself.... did that commercial just make my life easier in educating clients or much more difficult? If they just made a 'marketing contrary to science or reality' statement and made my job more difficult - they are off my list. If they make an incredible claim ... I call them up and ask for the data.... if they send me to the scientific literature to read more ... I am all ears about new stuff. If they give me more marketing gobbly-gook - they are out! 

    Most of the WSAVA questions are valid but a few are not in my opinion. These are the things I look for and ask about.

  • How do I cook chicken hearts for two small dogs who don't eat raw? I want to retain as much of the taurine and nutrients as I can. Also how much and how often would I feed them this? Especially for one dog who has heart failure.
  • If your dog has cardiomyopathy due to a taurine deficiency - which can be easily measured in the blood, then you should be feeding a taurine supplement and not relying on cooked meat.
    You can cook chicken hearts by steaming in water but the taurine content will be unknown and should not be used to treat taurine responsive heart disease.  
  • I am looking to give my dog a product called curcumin by a manufacturer call Mercola, It is pure 95 curcumin which is the main ingredient in turmeric. I am interested because I heard curcumin can shrink the heart, and my dog has heart disease/failure. So would this 95 percent curcumin be safe or would it be better to buy organic turmeric powder from the grocery store? Also would I still add oil and pepper to the curcumin to make it more easily absorbed?
  • There are no safety studies in dogs for this herb.
    There is no evidence that such herbs work in dogs depsite what people (who have a product to sell you) will tell you.
    Beware very aware. Herbs are not harmless and only rarely helpful.
  • I have a cat who is constipated. She prefers dry food and doesn't like to drink much. I feed her as much wet food as I can but she's more of a grazer rather than eating a whole helping of food all at once. Once the wet food dries, she won't eat it. She's on blue buffalo food. The dry food is the "healthy weight, indoor, hairball" type. My vet said she needs more fiber. So she sells me a food that has less? The royal canin gastrointestinal formula. I'm reading through the ingredients list and finding that the royal canin has less than my food. But I'm not a vet. Nor a nutritional expert. But I can't help but feel like my vet just sold me a food they sponsor. Anything you can tell me?
  • To be fair only "crude fiber" is on the bag which best measures insoluble fibers and does not include soluble fiber types.
    Most indoor hairball formulas use insoluble fibers so it makes sense that your vet suggested a different fiber type to try as soluble fibers tend to help feces hold more water.
    So give the Royal Canin with a different fiber type a try ..... finding the right fiber mix can only be done by trial and error.
  • what would you recommend to feed an obese beagle with numerous allergies? the weight gain came from previous steriod treatment. his allergies are responding well on hills z/d diet but we have been informed this is high in fat content and could be why he isnt loosing weight despite good exercise and strict food management. Can you recommend any other hypoallergenic, lower calorie complete dog food we could try? much thanks.
  •                                                                                                                 g fat/Mcal
    1. Purina Veterinary Diets
      1. HA Vegetarian, dry                                                                26
      2. HA Chicken Flavor, dry                                                         32
    2. Hill’s Prescription Diets                   
      1. Canine z/d Low Allergen, dry                                                33       
      2. Canine z/d ULTRA Allergen-free, dry                                  34
      3. Canine z/d Ultra Allergen-free, can                                       35                               
    3. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet
      1. HypoAllergenic, canned                                                         39       
      2. HypoAllergenic small dog dry                                               42
      3. UltAmino dry                                                                         43       
      4. HypoAllergenic, dry                                                               48     
    If you need less fat, then you will need a homemade diet.
  • I have owned two German shepherds in the last twenty plus years and have a new puppy coming. With my second shepherd I bought into the marketing hype of the high priced designer dog foods and spent tons of money on the like of EVO, Wellness Core and others. I couldn't shake the belief that if I fed my dog a less expensive food like Iams or Pro Plan that he would get sick or get cancer. I am slowly coming around.

    May I ask though, do I need to be concerned with quality of ingredients? For instance If turkey or chicken is the meat source do I need to be concerned with where the meat source is raised or if it is human grade? Do dog food companies like Science Diet use diseased or dying or dead animals in their foods. I would love to feed a less expensive food and not have to worry that I am killing my dog/ Thanks
  • You cannot in any way "assess" the ingredients by reading the label....
    Only the manufacturer can do that at the time they decided to accept or reject the ingredient delivery.
    So you have to investigate manufacturers and not ingredient lists.

  • My collie has had bouts of pancreatitis and the vet has recommended Hills I/D Digestive Care Low Fat dry food. I purchased a small bag at the vet and looked at the ingredients on the bag and they have by products. I have been feeding him Blue Buffalo Chicken and Brown Rice. Have been doing research online and a lot of places say that Hills is junk food and the vet pushes it to make a profit. Would like to know what the best food for him would be, so that I can purchase at my local pet store. Thank you for your time and expertise. Elaine
  • Blue Buffalo also has been using by-products but saying otherwise. See Blue Buffalo vs Purina 2016 Pet Food Lawsuit.

    It sounds more like you have been "reading" not "researching" and unfortunately have not been going to web sites with accurate info.
    When reading online, you are responsible the detecting who and who is not qualified to make a statement about pet food formulation.
    I have no issue with feeding by-products has they can be the most nutritious parts (liver, kidney, heart, etc).
    If your dog needs a low fat diet with ~6% fat on a dry matter basis then you should be feeding Hill's, Purina or Royal Canin as they produce the lowest fat diet available

  • I have a 28-month-old Chihuahua that is on Fromm Small Breed Adult dog food he's the perfect size. I just purchased another Chihuahua puppy she is now 12 weeks old I'm having a very hard time feeding them the adult wants the puppy food the puppy wants the adult food My vet suggested I just switch the adult Chihuahua to the puppy food as it will only be for a few months my fear is he may put on weight and I know a few ounces to a Chihuahua can be serious. The company that makes the dog food Fromm suggested that I switch them both to their four star all stage food. I don't understand how one dog food can give a puppy the nutrients and vitamins it needs without making the adult dog overweight
    Any suggestions would be most appreciated
  • You are correct on both issues. "all stage foods" over feed the adult dog.
    If you adult is at an otipamla body wieght, you need to protect that.
    I would suggest simply feeding the puppy in a crate (separtate but nearby) until adulthood.
  • Is Rimidyl safe to buy online. My vet will have me sign an Internet waiver to do so
    Her bottle $139 for 60
    Internet $36.50 for 180
  • That does sound ridously cheap for the real thing at the same dose.

    I suggest only buying from an online pharmacy with Vet-VIPPS Accreditation

    Vet-VIPPS Accreditation Program

    vetvipps_187pxThe Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites program (Vet-VIPPS) was developed to accredit online pharmacies that dispense prescription drugs and devices for companion and non-food producing animals and assure customers that they are purchasing drugs and devices from an online pharmacy that is properly licensed and complying with state and federal laws and regulations. Pharmacies displaying the Vet-VIPPS Seal comply with Vet-VIPPS criteria, which address a customer’s right to privacy, authentication and security of prescription orders, adherence to a recognized quality assurance policy, and provision of meaningful consultation between customers and pharmacists.

    Soon to be:

    The .Pharmacy TLD Program – Taking Consumer Reassurance to the Next Level

    In 2014, NABP launched the .Pharmacy Top-Level Domain Program to provide an even easier and safer way for consumers to identify legitimate online pharmacies and pharmacy-related resources. .Pharmacy is a TLD like “.gov” or “.edu,” but only legitimate internet pharmacies and pharmacy-related websites are allowed to use it. In today’s digital environment, .pharmacy is the way to turn the tide against sophisticated criminals who build authentic-looking sites and can easily duplicate verification logos to trick unsuspecting consumers into thinking they are visiting a legitimate online pharmacy. With .pharmacy, the “seal of quality” is built into the web address.

    As with all NABP programs, vetting for .pharmacy applicants is thorough and requires those seeking approval to prove that they are operating safely, legitimately, and in accordance with program standards. And once NABP has granted approval, the Association continues to monitor registered sites to be sure that they adhere to program standards and operate legitimately.

  • Hi, concerning dry food for cats - if a cat is known to not like drinking water), would you recommend canned food instead of dry for that cat. Thanks very much
  • I would not say cats do not like drinking water .... they drink water as they need it.
    Personally, dry foods fit the GI physiology of the cat better ... they will drink more water if fed dry food and drink less if fed canned which is not a comdenation or promotion of either type of cat food - just a fact.
    Healthy cats will not become dehydrated.
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