Ask the Veterinary Nutritionist

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  • How many recipes should be purchased?? I've heard variety is important in a dogs diet too - that feeding the same food over and over can lead to allergies. I started feeding my mini dachshund dog a diet which was recommended on Dinovite. It was 10lbs hamburger meat with five cups cooked white rice and 18 eggs with shells then you added their multi-vitamin supplement and drizzeled fish oil on top. He did great for about a year. Now he is losing his hair on his chest and neck. I'm afraid I did him more harm than good so I'm looking for some correct healthy recipes to get him back on track. Do you know much about Dinovite? Thanks! I"m very interested in purchasing some recipes but not sure how many--lol.
  • 1.  I've heard variety is important in a dogs diet too - not necessary if the recipe is nutritionally complete and balanced.
    2. that feeding the same food over and over can lead to allergie - absolutely false
    3. Dinovite is not going to complete and balance your homemade diet.

    It appears that the diet as you have described it is not complete or balanced - it lacks essential vitamins and is probably calcium /pho imblaanced.
    If your pet has no medical issues, we have an automated module for owners to obtain a balanced diet for their healthy pet. I would suggest one recipe (beef and rice) should be sufficinet. Hair loss can be a nutritional deficiency for sure but it may take 3-4 months to fully recover once the diet has been corrected. You may also consider having the dog tested for several hormonal disorders with your local vet. 
    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 'Services:’ drop down to “Homemade Diet Recipes’. Select the “See all ingredient options” to see all of our food options or one of several specific diet types (high  or low calorie, ect). You may 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 after payment.
    Thank you for visiting!
  • I have a 6 month old border terrier. I currently feed him 1 cup of Orijen puppy food per day. I also add coconut oil & fish oil to his food as well as give him 1/2 tablet of Hardypet complete multivitamin. My question is if I'm overdoing the supplements? Are these supplements (specifically the Hardypet complete) needed if I'm feeding him a high quality food like Orijen?
  • If the Orijen puppy food  has an AAAFCO statement that indicates the product is complete and balanced for canine growth or puppies,then yes you do not need a vitamin supplement. 
    The dog does not need coconut oil either ... even thought it is all the rage ... it is highly overrated for normal healthy dogs. Fish oil is helpful but only if it contains EPA and DHA ....
    Buyer beware of the supplement market!

  • I have a cat that was just diagnosed with a urinary blockage. The vet recommend C/D is that the best food to feed
  • May be the best. If the blockage contained struvite crystals for sure Hill's c/d or a similar diet (Royal Canin) will help.
    In fact the cost of the food over the life time of a cat with that condition was found to be less than the all the ER visits combined over the same time period.
    Yse it does work if the blockage contained struvite cyrstals.
  • My 13 yr Dalmatian with DM recently had a bout of salmonella from eating raw, frozen organic chicken from a well known dog food company. After a trip to the ER and a round of metrodazinole he is well.
    I have decided to cook for him and forego the raw food. His hind leg disability requires me to assist him most times with the use of a harness and the cleaning up from diarrhea was very difficult. Any suggestions for recipes and supplements I need to achieve a healthy diet for him. He is not a stone former and loves chicken. I have stayed away from beef his entire life bc he is a dal. Thank you!
  • I am most willing to formulate a HM diet for your diabetic dog. 
    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 pets with a medical condition are done individually. 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 patient.
    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,
  • My older dog's starting to look a bit stiff, and his vet recommended looking into supplementing his diet. Cosequin seems like a good choice. Can I give both that and a fish oil supplement at the same time? He's on Hill's Ideal Balance for mature dogs and, though he isn't concentrating his urine as well as he once did, urinalysis and bloodwork values are still in the normal ranges. He has chronic bronchitis (cause unknown) but is otherwise healthy. Thanks in advance!
  • Yes you can give both supplements at once.
    You may also consider feeding HIll's j/d - excellent product for older dogs.
  • I've read that it's wise to reduce phosphorus intake for older dogs (mine's 10-12 years old). I've also read that older dogs likely need more protein than younger ones. So I'm looking for a lower phosphorus but higher protein diet. Turns out it's quite difficult to find one. What do you recommend?
  • I agree a lower phos is prudent for older dogs. Higher protein level is more unlikely and not well understood. In fact, the older dog needs a better amino acid profile and not more total protein of a poor quality.
    Anyway ... the best conservative pet food manufacturer is Hill's and Royal Canin in my opinion. If you looked at their older dog: Healthy Advantage™ Mature Adult Canine Dry this is a food designed specifically for older dogs and yet no needed to be sold through a Vet. There is also NO reason not to feed a moderate renal diet to older dogs such as Royal Canin MP. The phosphorous is lower than the AAFCO regs, so it has to be sold through vets but still a complete and balanced diet.

  • I have a 10 yr diabetic schnauzer with hyperlipidemia. She has lived with me for the past 3 years. She has had one episode of pancreatitis early on and none since. I feed her 3 1/2 oz. of boiled chicken breast with 3/4 cup of Hill's WD dry twice daily 12 hours apart. She receives 9 1/2 unit of Novolin N BID. My concern is her weight. She weighs bout 15lbs, down from 16lbs. She has very little muscle mass and looks emaciated. Her Internist who manages her diabetes thought Royal Canin Gastrointestinal LF dry was too high in fat and preferred WD.
    After doing some research I'm not convinced the Royal Canin is so much higher in fat. Royal Canin is quite a bit lower in fiber vs WD. I was wondering if I slowly switched to Royal Canin would this help her to gain some weight back.
  • Hill's w/d (dry) has 3.6 g fat and 3.5 g fiber per 100 kcals.
    Royal Canin low fat (dry) has 1.9 g fat and 2.5 g fiber per 100 kcals.
    So w/d has more fat and more fiber than RC Low Fat.

    "switched to Royal Canin would this help her to gain some weight back"
    I do not think so, in fact feeding the RC Low Fat may allow further weight loss (fewer calories) and because of the lower fiber content, blood glucose control may deteriorate as well which would accelerate weight loss. 
    If the hyperlipidemia, pancreatitis and diabetes are well managed on w/d, I would stick with it. It is a good product. If the dog is losing weight AND hungry, then you can feed 25% more food at each meal. See if she eats it all and then reweigh her in 2 weeks. If she is losing weight but will not eat more food, then chances are the weight loss/ muscle loss are due to aging.
  • Is canola meal an acceptable ingredient in a commercial dog food? Thank you.
  • Yes I beleive so, but to confirm you should call the AAFCO official in your state. You may find out who that may be at
  • Hi. I, like many others, am going crazy trying to find a good, healthy dry dog food for my 3 dogs. The information and misinformation out there has me totally confused. It is my understanding that, in order to assure a food is "complete and balanced", you must see those words printed on the bag, in addition to the AAFCO statement. Is that fact or fiction? Many dog foods do not have that printed on their bags or on their websites.

    If you have a list of recommended dog food manufacturers, that would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks!
  • As I understand your question: the answer is false.
    The complete and balanced claim (can be) but need not be anywhere else on the bag except IN the AAFCO statement if indeed the manufacturer is making that claim. 
    AAFCO statement alone is sufficient to understand the nutritional claim being made on any product unless the product is CLEARLY marked as a treat or supplement.

    I do have recommended manufacturers but often get slammed for it, so I direct owners to There you will find the tools by which to select a reputable manufacturer, and so you will come to the same list.
  • I recently heard that the definition of natural dog or cat foods may not be as "natural" as we may think. What is a Natural pet food? Thank you for clearing this up if you can!
  • Here is the official AAFCO definition for "natural" for pet food:

    NATURAL - A feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subjected to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices. 

    So there is some processing (heating, rendering, etc) of the ingredients allowed. Ingredients may not in their 'natural' whole food state. The key is that chemically synthetic ingredients are not allowed although the AAFCO committee did suggest that synthetic vitamin and mineral could be used.

    Example: you may see shark cartilage on the label instead of chondroitin sulfate but chondroitin sulfate is the active ingredient that helps joints. Some people want to take the shark cartilage which contains anywhere from 1 to 21% chondroitin sulfate while other people want the active ingredient itself.

    Remember that AAFCO is not regulatory agency, and each state dictates its own pet food rules so all of this may differ depending on which state you live.

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