Ask the Veterinary Nutritionist

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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

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  • I have a 4 1/2 year old Shorkie, her body composition is 6/9 ,10.2 lbs. She only eats chicken nothing else. How do I get a diet for her that will include the nutrients she is missing from only eating chicken breast and the right portion size? Thank you!
  • 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 / '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 / 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.
  • Hi! I have a 9 month old German shepherd husky mix, who has consistently had irregular stool. My vet recommended against raw diets because of parasites and such but I have heard so many good things about how raw diets can really help GI tract issues. I want to come back to my vet with more knowledge on this to hopefully allow her to agree and be on my side with things. He has also struggled clearing up giardia that he’s had for almost two months. We’ve taken panacure but after two rounds the vet said to wait it out. We’ve been using grape seed extract and are going to do a rutabaga cleanse as well. Do you have any insight on raw diets and GI tract help / is the raw diet going to worsen the giardia?
  • I too would hesitate to feed a young dog with an incompetent GI mucosa a raw meat or egg diet.
    There are likely other dietary option to be tried before taking such a risk.
  • What’s the best way to do a half wet half dry food diet for cats, we have four cats now so cost is a pretty big indicator in picking out food. We have them on Iams right now for dry food and we switch theirs wet food. I just don’t want to over or under feed them
  • If you are feeding a nutritionally complete and balanced dry and canned product, then you will not be altering the balance of their daily intake. If you mix in more than 10% of a single item food, treat, toppers or any product NOT nutritionally complete and balanced, then you are likely Unbalancing their total nutrient intake.
  • Hello, I have a 6 month old standard bernedoodle puppy, 50lbs, female, non-spayed. I have been feeding her Royal Canine Medium Puppy food since I got her from breeder. She’s getting 2 cups twice daily. She eats her food quickly like within seconds of placing it down. She’s been this way since I’ve had her. She also drinks a tremendous amount f water, also been this way since I’ve had her. Is this food providing her the nutrients she needs? I’ve read mixed information about this brand as it being poor nutritional value, high in carbs, and bad for any dog. I'm not sure if I should be looking at the guaranteed analysis or the dry matter. The dry matter has 30% protein, 18% fat, 3.6% fiber, 10% moisture, and 350 IU/kg Vitamin E, 393 kilocalories/ cup.
    Is this brand of food well balanced for her? If not, any suggestions for another brand?
    If brand better option, should I use the large puppy food instead of medium and how much should I be giving her? Thanks!
  • Is this brand of food well balanced for her?

    You need not get stuck in the weeds of individual nutrient concentrations, etc. If the food carries a legal claim of nutritionally complete and balanced, then it has met several independent standards. Given the food is made by Royal Canin, I have no reason to suggest a different pet food manufacturer. There is no one BEST dog food and there is no one BEST pet food manufacturer.

    If the dog’s final mature BW is expected to be OVER 65lb, then you might consider feeding a food designed for large breed growth.
  • I have been reading your "ask the nutritionist" page and really enjoy it. I found many dogs are suffering from "stones" in kidney and bladder etc and am amazed how prevalent they are. I have a 7-yr-old pug mix about 20 pounds and he has been eating Honest Kitchen base with proteins that I make for myself, including eggs and chicken mostly.

    I was wondering if you know what ingredients in commercial dog food (kibbles etc) brands or even home-cooked meals are the primary suspects/culprits for the stones? How are stones best prevented ? Thank you very much!
  • Most stones, in dogs are based on a genetic defect (oxalate, cystine, urate).
    However, struvite stones are caused by infection. Cure the infection with antibiotics, and the food rarely matters.
    So most canine stones are not caused by the food or an ingredient, but changing the food, depending on the stone type, can HELP manage the genetic defect.
  • I have a 3 year old patterdale terrier who has gastritis and chicken intolerance, i have been making her food since she was 6 mo old and I am worried she is not getting enough nutrients. Her meals consist of boiled ground meat, sweet potato, russet potato, carrot, green bean and oats. I have tried several different foods from dry to raw, she always gets diarrhea within the first 5 days of weaning this into her diet. What can I do.
    Thank you for your time.
  • Your homemade diet is not nutritonally complete or balanced.
    I suggest you have a Boarded Veterinary Nutritionist balance a recipe for you, likley using the some of the same ingredients.
  • I know the AAFCO guidelines, but what is the ideal omega 6-3 ratio for oil being added to homemade food?
    Thank you.
  • No one knows - despite claims by different pet food companies. It is not clear. It may actually be an optimal range, and that may be different in different cases (maintenance vs. growth vs a disease process). This is why independent groups such as AAFCO, NRC and FEDIAF, after assessing the scientific literature, could not make a ration recommendation. Each has made some suggestion on the concentration of individual fatty acids, and not by category. Omega 3 is a category including several different specific fatty acids. For example, ALA is an omega 3 with very likely little hepatic conversion to the more potent EPA or DHA. So within the category omega 3, there are different fatty acids and not all are beneficial. Hence if the suggested intakes of individual fatty acids is unclear – then attempting to say what is optimal by category is pretty near impossible if not useless.
  • Hello, My dog, Jackson, is a Coton De Tulear and is 11 years old. He has protein in his urine and is in the early stages of kidney disease. I am needing to change his food, but would like to stay away from commercial dry/wet food. I have made his food in the past, but since getting a second dog, have switched to Pet Fresh refrigerated food. Jackson's homemade food consisted of coconut oil, chicken livers, ground chicken, dried seaweed, eggs, brown rice, oats, sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, green beans or peas, blueberries, and after reheating his food we add fish oil. What modifications do I need to make? He usually eats two 8oz portions per day. He is 20lbs.
  • If you are buying a commercially made product: dry, canned or fresh - you cannot make the correct changes to the diet for protein losing nephropathy (PLN). Treating PLN is NOT about adding more things to the current diet but altering the nutrient profile (readjusting the formulation of ingredients) of the diet. If you want to continue feeding a fresh food, then you will have to make it yourself (homemade) or have a specific recipes made and sent to you.
  • I am getting a new dog soon (no known health issues) and I have a serious gluten allergy. Even cross-contamination or breathing gluten can affect me. Could you take a look at this brand link [omitted] and tell me if this is nutritionally complete and/or if there might be any other issues? Thank you so much.
  • The product has a complete and balanced claim for all dogs except growing large breed dogs. However the issue for you is NOT only is this dog food gluten free but is the food made in a gluten free plant. It is unlikely that this company has its own dry dog manufacturing plant and more likely the food is made by a Co-packer. If the Co-packer makes dog food for other companies that use gluten grains, then likely all dog foods made in that plant contain some gluten. Cross contamination is highly likely. Depending on your level of sensitivity, you may want to make your dog's food yourself in your own kitchen. 
  • Hello, I feed my dogs a good high quality kibble but also add in raw food, and other things like duck feet, quail eggs etc. i don’t want to go 100% raw because having them on kibble still makes it easier when we are gone camping for a week, rushing in the morning before work and what not. My question is, I don’t know how much raw food I should be adding to my dogs kibble. My lab is 8 months old, and eats 1 1/3 cup 3 times a day. I take out about 1/3 cup of kibble to add his raw but I just eyeball it. I’m very worried about making him overweight. My other dog eats 1/2 twice a day, I also take out some kibble and add raw to his dinners but again, just eyeball it. It would be nice to know how much raw to kibble exactly I should be feeding. Thanks!
  • We do not recommend feeding raw meat or eggs to household pets.
    Most kibble are nutritionally complete and balanced. If you any ADD single food items (raw or not) to the kibble, you are then Unbalanced the nutrient profile you just paid good money for.
    At best most commercial kibble have a 10% margin, so at best you can risk adding up to 10% of any food without Unbalancing the diet.
    Simply put, either feed the kibble or balanced homemade recipe. You can mix two balanced diets, in any portion you wish. 
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