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  • I'm looking for someone to help me understand the importance of AAFCO feeding trials. First of all, even if I go to AAFCO's website, I cannot find a document that outlines what the trial entails. Nevertheless, opinions about it abound. The main thing that caught my attention is that it is only a 6 month trial on 8 young, healthy dogs, and only 6 of the 8 have to make it to the end of the trial. How does this translate into an accurate investigation as to whether an ingredient is being under or over-supplemented and whether there will be ill effects from more chronic ingestion of other, potentially toxic, ingredients? Thanks!
  • The full AAFCO feeding trial protocol is available in the AAFCO manual ($150). See
    We do offer phone consults ($300/hr) on such topics.
    Please let me know if you would like to proceed with a consult.
  • My 13-year old black lab, 60 pounds, has been diagnosed with kidney disease. She will not eat any of the canned or dry food recommended by my vet. I located a recipe for homemade dog food for dogs with kidney disease at this website:

    My vet wants me to find out if this is a diet that is adequately balanced for my dog's nutritional needs. Are you able to evaluate the diet and make any recommendations? For example, can cooked chicken or ground turkey be substituted for the ground beef?

    The ingredients are listed below, with all items pre-cooked then mixed together, with about half pureed. Thanks in advance for your help. Charles Kenyon

    2 lbs. lean ground beef
    1 pint liquid egg whites or 12-15 egg whites
    1 lb. green beans
    1 large sweet potato
    2 cups brown rice
    2 cups pumpkin
    1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped or 3/4 cup dried parsley
    1 large apple chopped
    2 tbs. coconut oil
  • There are several different kinds of canine renal disease. This recipe is not appropriate for any of them. It is not nutritionally complete or balanced. It is excessive in protein, deficient in calcium, essential B vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, and has an inverse Ca:P ratio … which will hasten the demise of your dog even it did not have renal disease.  

    Note to the wise … see your veterinarian and shy away from those wanting to play one on the web.

  • What is the relationship between a diet's recommended portion and the complete and balanced threshold? In other words, if in order to feed the correct amount of calories for my dog's weight, I have to reduce the portion significantly, is she still getting complete and balanced nutrition?
  • Most commercial products have a 10-15% leeway built in, i.e., you can feed 10-15% less than that recommended on the feeding chart and still be within the daily recommended amount for most products.

    'Never say always and always say usually' ....

    However if you have to feed 75% or less of the recommended amount of food to get weight loss or proper weight maintenance, then you may be deficient on some nutrients and should find a more concentrated product.

    This is why weight loss diets are specifically formulated and why they are only sold through vets.

  • I looked up the ingredients of the Chef's Complete product that you recommend be supplemented and it contains 65% ash (which to me does not seem to have any nutritional value). Is there any supplement that does not contain that or at least so much of that?

    Thank you.
  • The laboratory test called 'ash' is the sum total of all the macro and micro minerals, and chelates of the vitamins.
    It is fact in the nutrients you are expecting to find in a vitamin mineral supplement.
    Every vitamin mineral supplement will have a high 'ash' content.

  • recently I was made aware of a notice from the FDA regarding grain free diets and a higher incidence of heart disease in dogs on a grain free diet. True?
    I feed my Brittany Merrick grain free back country and add Evanger's sweet potato as a wet food supplement. I have no reason to believe that she is allergic to grains but was of the mind that grain free was in general better for her. your opinion please.
  • Yes the FDA is investigating the relationship between canine Dilated Cardio Myopathy (DCM). The relationship or mechanism has not yet be clarified. Dogs do very well on grains and there is no nutritional advantage to feeding a grain free diet. It was a marketing ploy and worked!

  • Hi-I have changed my dogs food over since beginning of October to a different brand of kibble.
    The one he is on is grain free hypo allergenic and he seems to have quite a bit of wind now and then.
    How do I know if it’s the new kibble not agreeing with him? His toilet is all normal
    He is a 3 year old miniature schnauzer

    Thanks in advance
  • If you switched to a "no grain" food then you are most likely feeding a high level of legumes and they cause flatulence (gas).
    There is solid reason nutritionally for the 'no grain' fade (marketing ploy) so remove the legumes from this diet and breathe easier.
  • When we adopted our rescue dog we were told he had a sensitive stomach and have since tried several of the best dog foods available with no more than 2-3 days of relief before his diarrhea starts up again. We've decided to switch to a homemade diet and will be slowly adding ingredients (one per week) to find out what he can eat. At the moment his food consists of 80oz chicken, 40oz white rice, 29oz pumpkin, and 12oz green beans. We'll be adding cranberries, peas, and carrots over the next few weeks. I know that we need to begin adding in a calcium supplement but what other vitamins/foods do you recommend we add to his diet?
  • Diarrhea does not come from stomach issues but an intestinal problem; either small or large bowel, or possibly both. Your guessing at the ingredients to be included in a homemade diet is not advisable if you are looking for a remedy soon rather than later.

    You should be using as FEW ingredients as possible not more

    Green beans, cranberries, peas, and carrots have little to no nutritional value for the dog when attempting to balance a homemade recipe, but they do complicate/confound resolution of your medical problem.

    80% meat is TOO much

    You need a vitamin and mineral supplement - an amount dependent upon the deficiencies created by the main ingredients.

    You need a homemade diet formulated properly by a nutritionist, and if the medical issue with the intestines is significant, then you would be better off consulting with a Veterinary Nutritionist. See

  • My 8 yr old duck Toller retriever just had knee surgery. It was recommended by the orthopaedic vet surgeon that I put switch my dog to Hills j/d for joint health. I am a bit concerned about some of the top ingredients which I’ve read are of low quality and simply cheap fillers eg. brewers rice, powdered cellulose, soybean meal, just to name a few. Why do they use these if only that it is cheap? This food is considerably more expensive then what I considered was a good dog food recommended to me by my breeder.
  • You have been taking your nutrition information from the "blather" on the web.
    Those are not cheap, low nutrient dense ingredients and I personally have used the j/d product on several patients with success.
    You simply have to decide first from whom you will be taking your nutritional advice .... check credentials, licenses, diplomas and certifications and not testimonials.

  • Protein Requirements for Senior Dogs.

    I reading from the AKC Canine Health Foundation:
    “Studies show that there is at least a 50 percent increase in the dietary protein requirement in elderly dogs,” says Joseph J. Wakshlag, D.V.M., Ph.D., DACVN, DACVSMR, associate professor at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. They then referenced a Purina study about protein requirements for senior dogs.

    I'm searching but can't find any studies to support the above. Having trouble buying in to the 50% increase. I feed J/D (19.2) which is a bit on the lower end of the AAFCO recommendations. How the heck do I get to 38.4? I'd appreciate your comments on the science of protein requirements for senior dogs. Thanks! Oh by way, my 12 year old Golden does not appear to be losing muscle mass on J/D but we do a lot of core work outs using FitPaws equipment.
  • "50% more" is not 19 x 2 that would be a 100% increase but 19 x 1.5 = 28 is a 50% of 19 more.
    AAFCO makes no senior dog recommendations but min of 18% with no upper limit, so if you follow through 18x 1.5 = 27%.

    I have no doubt that due to decreases in metabolic efficiency that senior dogs have decreased ability to maintain muscle mass, but does simply feeding more of the same protein overcome that?
    I doubt that very much.

    Actually dogs (and people) do not have a 'protein' requirement. They actually only require nitrogen and specific amino acids. We just lump it all together for the non-scientists and call it protein.
    In truth if you provide more of the same specifically required amino acids in an amount that hopefully overcome decreased digestibility and metabolizability, then we should be minimizing the loss of muscle mass.  So you can beat yourself up to find a 27-28% crude protein diet but may not be providing more of the specific amino acids needed.  The crude protein # (everyone harps on) actually tells us NOTHING about the protein quality (amino acid profile relative to the dog’s need).

    I would go with what the dog shows me.
  • While trying to determine what companies are reputable and use nutritionists to help formulate their diets, companies are providing a wide variety of answers about how they develop their diets.
    Can you please tell me the validity of a PhD, DACAN, CNS, PFS in comparison to a DACVN boarded nutritionist? I know the DACVN is the ideal. If they are using a “nutritionist” with the other certifications to formulate their diets, should those diets be avoided? Specifically regarding the taurine deficiency issues currently?
  • The distinguishing features of the DACVN is that one must be a veterinarian, completed 1 yr veterinary internship and 2 yrs of a Veterinary Clinical Nutrition Residency (similar to MDs).

    The others certifications do not require a veterinary degree, although some people may also have a veterinary degree but it is not required.


    The DCM issue may not be about taurine – first of all … not all the dog cases presented to the FDA were in fact taurine deficient. And not all affected dogs got better when taurine was given back. So the mechanism is still being worked out, and will most likely be more complex than just a taurine deficient diet. That does not explain all the canine cases under investigation.


    There is no requirement that any dog food product on the market has been formulated by someone who has XYZ degree or training or experience. Only that the final nutrient profile meets some criteria preferably by FEEDING trials and not by NUTRIENT profiles. Chances are very good that if those foods that caused the DCM problem had undergone AAFCO feeding trials, the problem would have been discovered in a highly controlled research setting much sooner, and those products would not have been on the shelf for sale.  I recommend feeding foods that have passed an AFFCO feeding trial. Most pet food companies and stores do not really know the difference or down play the importance, but this recent episode highlights the real need to have the food fed tested for min 6 months BEFORE it goes on the shelf. Only the top 3-6 pet food companies do this work routinely b/c it is expensive to do: ~$50K/ product vs. a lab analysis ~$2k/product done by med size to small to even tiny mom&pop companies that most pet owners think is local, quaint and therefore best. The smaller the company the more likely the product quality controls are poor, lax or altogether missing.


    If you feed a product that has undergone/passed a feeding trial, then you really do not have to be painfully worried about the credentials of the formulator. I am of the opinion, that if your dog is healthy, then you need not be that concerned about whether the diet was formulated by a DACVN. However if your dog does have a medical condition, then yes you want a DACVN on the team of formulators.  I do think you should have be comfortable that the formulator were certified by some independent nationally/internationally recognized body. So yes the companies should use a team of certified experience formulator …….. but that is not required to make a dog food …. So it can be a distinguishing point.

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