Ask the Veterinary Nutritionist

Do you have a specific question related to pet nutrition?

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 intelligen@aciemails.com.

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  • There's so many opinions on how to select a dog food brand that is properly formulated, and I would love to hear from someone who actually is qualified to formulate dog food. What would be your criteria for pet owners looking for a properly formulated and balanced dog food? And given the lack of transparency often concealed by clever marketing, is there any fresh food dog company you would recommend as being properly formulated and a good source of nutrition for dogs?
    Thank you so much!
  • I will refer you to this page: https://www.petdiets.com/Library/Pet-Foods/About/AAFCO on selecting a pet food.

    Our most recent collaborations with fresh pet food companies, where we have formulated the recipes, are as follows:

    1. A Pup Above Dog Food  

    2. Paul's Custom Pet Foods LLC

    3. Fetch Fresh

    4. Four-Legged Foodie

    5. Get Joy

    6. The K9 Kitchen LLC

    7. Nine and Line


     
  • So we are switching our 3 goldens from bagged food to homemade food, I put fish oil in, we cook Brown rice, mixed ground turkey ground hamburger, fruits,peas, spinach, Green beans They love it and seem to have more energy are we missing Anything? Should we put ground flax seed?
  • It appears that the diet as you have described it is not nutritionally complete or balanced according to current AAFCO and/or NRC recommendations. It is deficient vitamins and trace minerals and has an inverse Ca:P ratio.
     
    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 www.petdiets.com / '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 www.PetDiets.com / 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, my vet referred me to your site. 4 yo female spayed cat - Evangeline - has a high normal creatinine. "The kidney values show a high normal creatinine: 1.9. BUN is normal at 28" :( They want us to do 50% current food, 50% kidney diet. Deciding on commercial food vs. home cooking. A few questions:
    1. Will diets be cooked recipes? Not sure about raw food.
    2. Can I make in bulk and freeze?
    3. What is the cost to formulate recipe?
    We have 3 pets, would love to cook for all, more intimidated by cooking for the dogs since they are larger (more pounds of food feels intimidating. Rex is 8yo. Franklin is a senior female, almost 12, we adopted 6 months ago. Dogs don't have current health issues and are current with vet. What's the cost for their recipes if needed? Thank you so very much!
  • Hello Ms. Stutz

    All diets are for cooked recipes; we do not recommend raw foods.
    You can make recipes in bulk and freeze.  These instructions would be included.
    The cost for a consultation is $500 which includes a video/phone consult with a nutritionist and a diet formulation.

    To have a consult for two dogs in addition to the cat:  The consult recipe for dog #1 would be $500.  If the second dog is able to eat the same recipe as #1 the cost is $100 for the admin and medical record review.  If the second pet requires a different formulation the cost for a the second diet is $300 including the consult fee.

    Sincerely,
    Sandra Durkee
  • Hello. Our 9-year-old Lab is a little overweight at 70 pounds. The vet and I would like to see him lose a few pounds. He has numerous allergies that don't allow for a well balanced dry dog food. We gave him a limited ingredient food, but it still had potatoes which he is allergic too and he still put on weight. He ate raw food for about 5 years which he did great in but last year something happened, and he took a turn for the worse and we determined it was based on the raw diet (developed hypothyroidism due to diet) which we have since reversed. I started to cook him food with fresh boiled turkey breast, veggies, sometimes a little fruit and add in a plant-based Omega oil and Thrive pro-gut powder. My question is, I don't know how many oz's of food to give him in order to ensure he gets his necessary nutrients but at the same time, loses a few pounds. Your calculator online only asks about canned or dry dog food. Are you able to provide me with that information? Thank you.
  • Yes we certainly can help with those questions but only within a Nutrition Consultation for legal and ethical reasons.
    As described, your current diet is not nutritionally complete or balanced.  Before we can give you the amount of food per day or help the dog lose weight, the diet must be corrected.
    You may begin at www.PetDiets.com / Services / Nutrition Consult, select ‘Pet Owner’, and then select a consultation type. The fee is $500 (USD) which includes a teleconsult (phone or video) conference with a nutritionist. Written recommendations are sent to you and your veterinarian within days of the conference. Follow-up questions can be handled by phone or email and there are no additional fees for fielding questions or helping to resolve immediate unforeseen problems.
     
  • I left you a voice message yesterday, but decided that it might work better for you to send you my questions this way.

    I have a 9 year old Golden Female, weight 72 lbs.  She usually hikes/walks with me about 3 - miles per day, but I have noticed that she is starting to have a little more difficulty getting up after lying down and/or if I walk her more than 4 miles/day.  We haven't taken x-rays, but 2 vets suspect it is arthritis. 

    Question 1:  Which supplement would you recommend for her (Comfortable Senior, Mobility, etc.)?
    Question 2:  What is the shelf life (if unopened and properly stored)?
    Question 3:  From what countries do you source your ingredients?

    History: We have been cooking her meals and using your Canine Complete for 3 years.  Historically she has had a sensitive digestive system, but so long as we stick with her diet. We feed her twice a day, consisting of pork, sweet potato, brown rice, white rice + Canine Complete (1.5 scoops) + 1/2 cup of Prescription Diet W/D and give her Visbiome Probiotics (once/day). This seems to have cleared up all her issues and she has responded super-well!!  The only other issue is that she has had 3 seizures over the past 18 months and we have put her on Levetiracetam XR (3,000mg/day).
  • Ofter older dogs with mobility problems respond very well to trimming off excess weight and having a lean body mass. We most often recommend having the dog lose weight to a BCS of 4/9. This reduces the mechanical strand on the joints and reduces the overal subclinical systemic inflammation.
     
  • Hello,
    I have a jackapoo, been feeding her a canned wet food but now I am cooking for her. She seems much healthier her coat is more shiny her teeth are much cleaner, the food i am cooking for her is minced turkey, beef or chicken, ox liver or heart, beef liver, chicken liver, green bean, broccoli, sweet potato, rice, carrots, zucchini, celery, a tiny bit brussels sprouts and egg shells powder. My question is what else should I add from the minerals, vitamins or nutrition's. I am scared that she is not getting enough of them and might have problems when she is older. Please advice me. Thank you
  • My question is what else should I add from the minerals, vitamins?  YES.
    It appears that the diet as you have described it is not nutritionally complete or balanced according to current AAFCO and/or NRC recommendations. It is deficient vitamins and trace minerals and has an inverse Ca:P ratio.
     
    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 www.petdiets.com / '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 www.PetDiets.com / 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.

     
  • I am filling out the application to become a client to figure out a diet for my dog. How do I bypass the question select a receipt type as I don’t know the answer. Thats why we are looking to you for help on a diet for Lucy
  • You are in the DIY (Do It Yourself) recipe module. For legal and ethical reasons, we can only make dietary recommendations within a Nutrition Consultation. State Veterinary Medical Boards do not want veterinary advice automated and have regulations against it. Hence as licensed Veterinarians we cannot make dietary recommendations outside of a formal Nutrition Consultation.

    If you wish to stay in the DIY module, your options are:
    1) ask your Vet for advice. Feed for two weeks and then re-evaluate your dog's weight.
    2) select the "moderate calorie". Feed for two weeks and then re-evaluate your dog's weight.
    3) select the "Diet types explained" and choose one similar to the food you are currently feeding. Feed for two weeks and then re-evaluate your dog's weight.
    4) select "See all ingredient options" and create your own recipe. Feed for two weeks and then re-evaluate your dog's weight.

    If you wish to have a Nutrition Consultation, go to www.PetDiets.com / Services / Nutrition Consult, select ‘Pet Owner’, and 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). The same is true if your pet has a medical condition but select then "Homemade diet only".

    Please give us a call if you have more questions about the consultation process. 
     
  • Hello, I searched but didn’t find answers to my questions:

    My 8 year old female car just had 6 sterile struvite stones removed from her bladder- one was causing a blockage. Lab results from the surgery showed NO infection.
    She is well hydrated and on a high quality, species appropriate diet (95 % meat canned and raw with added water).
    I actually have 2 questions.
    One is looking for a cause.She is otherwise healthy, but due to a congenital issue, has motility/constipation issues . I have given her Miralax reluctantly for years after probiotics, enzymes, fiber, pumpkin etc all failed to help. I was wondering if the miralax pulling liquid into the bowel could have affected her urinary tract and led to the stones? I understand it can be hereditary, but it was just a thought.

    Second, prevention of reoccurrence is obviously my top priority. I will not put her on a low protein diet or prescription food. To that end, acidifying the urine and limiting phosphorous and magnesium seem to be the keys (as well as maintaining hydration. Is that correct? If so, would it make sense to consider adding a phosphorous binder like epakitin and an acidifier like l-methionine? Is there any way to limit magnesium? I can’t seem to find a good list of sources as far as specific animal proteins or organs or bones which may be more of a source. She currently eats f commercial raw food which contains pretty much everything including blood and organ meat.

    thank you so much!! I have a holistic vet, but even he thinks I overthink things lol.

    I just want to do everything I can to try to prevent this problem without what I consider compromising her health in other ways (with species inappropriate, low quality, and ultimately, in my opinion and experience as a layperson who tries to do her own research extremely unhealthy food.

    oh- one last thing. I read in an answer that UTI testing needs to be repeated, would that be the case even if the results were from samples taken during surgery? I was told initially that bacteria was present in her urine pre-surgery, but that that was not accurate. The surgeon said urinalysis often shows no bacteria and then infection IS found during surgery, but I just wanted to be sure I shouldn’t ask her to be retested. She was on a broad spectrum antibiotic for about 3 weeks pending the results but I was told to d/c after the labs from the surgery came back.

    Thank you so much again for this wonderful resource!
  • UTI can be related to struvite stones but often not involved in feline cases whereas about 99% of canine struvite cases have UTIs.
    If the urine was sterile, the stones should also cultured. IF the cat was put on antibiotics, then please follow the advice of the Veterinarian who prescribed that med.

    Yes dietary fiber additons do pull water into the bowel. Whether this is causing a problem with the urine production, I cannot say.

    It does not matter whether the food is fed raw or cooked. There are several well formulated " prescription food' that have for decades demonstrated effectivness in the management of FLUTD. Yes they all limit P and Mg to some degree, and some have added Na but all acidify the urine. I woud not suggest adding a phos binder, as these diets are already lower in P. There are no specific proteins to feed or not feed, as all animal proteins lower urine pH. You will have to check the "dietary claims" on the food you are feeding. 

    I suggest you also visit: https://indoorpet.osu.edu/cats for other informaiton important in the management of FLUTD.

     
  • I have 2 American bullies. One is female, spayed, 6 years, current weight 52lbs. The other is male, intact, 2 years, current weight 55lbs. They are mother and son. Both suffer from allergies. The female has chronic skin infections and occasional ear infections. The male to date has suffered from one ear infection, and odor of the skin. I was introduced to a vegan diet called V-Dog (dry kibble) and both dogs have been on for 2 months. Since then neither pet is on medications and allergy symptoms have significantly decreased. If I was to continue keeping them on a vegan diet what are the recommended supplements and yearly blood tests to screen to be sure they are not protein deficient, and the Taurine, L-Carnitine & B12 are sufficient? Thank You!!
  • The product claims to be formulated (meaning on paper or by lab analysis) to meet AAFCO. The issue is nutrient bioavailability which can only be tested in a feeding trial which the company has not done. You are doing that work for them …. presumably you would report a problem to them if there was one and if you knew it was diet related – right ?????
    Because the claim on the product is ‘complete and balanced’, there are no specific supplements to recommend – the product is supposed to be ‘complete’. It would be an educated guess which nutrients are likely to be deficient in the animal due to low bioavailability that is hampered by the fiber content of the ingredients and ingredient interactions. Protein quality and trace mineral bioavailability would be commonly suspected with fiber ingredients. Given the legume ingredients, yes taurine and carnitine would be of interest if the dogs were showing signs of heart disease.

    There are no specific tests to recommend, annually or otherwise, regardless of what food the dogs are eating. The tests done by GP vets cannot be used to directly assess the diet nutrient profile or bioavailability. Measuring a ‘blood’ concentration for most nutrients does not reflect whole body status. For example, blood macro mineral and trace mineral levels are NOT indicative of whole body levels because there are storage sites in the body and compensation mechanisms in play that ensure the blood concentrations are maintained until the very end. There are very specific tests that can be conducted for some nutrients when a specific nutrient deficiency or toxicity is suspected but these tests are highly specific, expensive, and done only at certain labs or facilities. One can indirectly assess protein status by looking at RBC and serum protein parameters but these are again NOT specific to dietary protein quality or quantity.  

    As for taurine, carnitine, and B12, you can ask your vet to run specific tests for these and, for these nutrients, blood levels are reasonable assessments of whole body status. Taurine and carnitine are listed in the ingredient list, but because there is no AAFCO requirement (min or max) for these nutrients in dogs, the amount in the diet is decided by the manufacturer. There is an AAFCO B12 min, and presumably, the company verifies the nutrient profile of their product before shipping out to distribution, and the B12 concentration either meets or exceeds AAFCO min.
    Again, what’s in the bag may or may not be sufficiently bioavailable to the dog. Hence, nutritionists much prefer to see that a product has passed a (6 month) AAFCO feeding trial because that speaks to not only an adequate concentration in the diet but also to nutrient bioavailability.
     
  • My 14 years old 5 pounds shi poo with a heart issue who's on med 3 times a day and he have a weak digestive system where he would have bloody stool and vomit from time to time. We recently did a consultation at a pet store where there's a non-licensed person who has been working with nutrition for years. She instructed us to switch him to a raw diet and gave us a list of 10 other supplements to give him at the same time. My dog started bloody stool 2 days after the switch and today he's not active and vomit too. That person kept telling me that it's safe because all the supplement for organic that they are not medicine, and that the bloody stool is related to the transition of food (bacterial in his body does not balance with the raw food), so need to keep giving him the same diet plan to strengthen his guts. I would really want to seek for your opinions and advice, thank you soooo much in advance
  • I strongly suggest you seek professional advice from someone who is certified and/or held accountable to a licensing board. Quacks abound in nutrition and the information given is not sound advice. Independent governing and oversight of those handing out veterinary and/or nutritional advice have been established to help pet owners know who is and who is not properly trained. The AVMA has established and oversees nutritional training programs: see ACVIM, ACVN. There is a Veterinary Medical Licensing Board in each state to help you find the right person when your pet has a medical problem. Why would you follow the advice of a pet store clerk who has no veterinary or nutritional training when your pet as a medical problem? Would you take the advice of a GNC clerk if you had major GI disease/pain? Their advice is free for a reason – it has no valve and they have products to sell you.
     
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