Ask the Veterinary Nutritionist

Do you have a specific question related to pet nutrition?

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  • 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.
     
  • HI! I have a 14 year old female Rat Terrier with Cushing's. I have read responses to other questions and know that she does not need to be on a special diet. She does not have lots of teeth left, so I make her a soft diet meal from scratch. I use either boil fat free ground chicken or ground turkey, mix in some oats as she prefers them to rice, and some broccoli. It was once recommended to me that she eat 250 calories per meal so I measure those ingredient to be around there. My vet suggests a vitamin and mineral supplement so I was going to get the one listed on your site Chef’s Canine Complete - Vitamin and Trace Mineral mixture by My Pet Grocer. Is this plan nutritionally sound?
  • Yes the diet does need a vitamin mineral supplement to be nutritionally complete.
    I would suggest that if you want the exact amounts of each ingredient to feed per day for her body weight, you may use the automated Homemade Recipe module.

    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. 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.
     
  • I have a slightly over weight lab mix at 64 lbs which we want to get down to at least 60lbs. She has tore her cruciate ligament and had to have a tplo sx 6 weeks ago. the vet recommended you guys for recipes to get her to lose weight, thats fine. How many cups daily for her for the ground beef or turkey recipes? Do i cut out her kibble all together with these recipes? And is there any supplements that can help her with regaining muscle mass that will not elevate her kidney/liver levels. I currently give her coconut oil and fish oils daily with phycox. Thank you
  • Yes we certainly can provide specific instructions but only within a Nutrition Consultation for legal and ethical reasons.
     
    We understand your problem and have experience in these areas. We are most willing to make dietary recommendations which may include a homemade diet OR other commercial products for your overweight dog with orthopedic disease. When your pet has a medical condition, the dietary recommendations should be done specifically for that patient. For a pet with medical condition(s), 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.
     
    Diet recommendations for pets with a medical condition are done individually. We will need more information about your particular pet, dietary history, and current medical data to make specific suggestions. We most often can incorporate current dietary recommendations and principles into one diet and complete that request in less than 5 business days of the teleconsult.
     
    IMPORTANT: We work as a nutrition 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 (MR) (fax 1800.649.2043 or email VetNut@att.net) at your request. Per AVMA and most state regulations, you the owner must request to have your records sent to us. You can check with us at any time to see if we have received the medical records after you have made that request of your local or specialty veterinarian(s). All nutrition consults must involve a local or specialty veterinarian with whom you have established a Veterinarian/Client/Patient relationship (VCPR) per state Veterinary Medical Board regulations. We will attempt to obtain the signed VCPR form for you after we have received the MR. The VCPR is not optional and cannot be sidestepped. You will be asked to provide your Veterinarian’s this contact information in the consult form. Providing us accurate contact information will aid us in obtaining your VCPR in a timely fashion.
     
    We can, on paper, balance most any reasonable dietary request. The fee covers the review of the medical record, product research, and recipe formulation. The homemade recipe 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. We give the daily food amounts in grams for each food per day but you can make batches for several days if you wish. The homemade formulations involve protein and energy sources, vegetables if appropriate, and a single, readily available specifically designed vitamin/mineral supplement. Adding vitamin and mineral 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.  However, other supplement options (human over-the-counter products) are possible if appropriate. Most times, we can design a diet that accommodates more than one pet in the household if needed.
     
    Recheck appointments if requested are $250 for 30 minutes. There is an additional charge of $250 to reformulate the diet ingredients or supplements are changed or if the pet should develop another medical condition. We guarantee that our dietary recommendations will be nutritionally complete and balanced for your pet’s medical condition(s) according to the most current dietary recommendations and based on clinical experience.
     
    Please let us know if you have trouble ordering the consultation online or have additional questions.
     
  • Hi, I recently lost my Westie. He was just under 11 years old. I cooked and baked for him. I made organic meals supplemented it with multi vitamins and omega fish oil. He enjoyed excellent health but was diagnosed with kidney disease a couple of months ago which triggered an autoimmune disease. I am planning on making homemade meals for the new pup. Please advise how I can make a balanced homemade meal for the new pooch. Thank you very much.
  • We are sorry for your loss. Unfortunately, balanced homemade recipes do not protect against the occurrences of the major diseases that take our pets.

    Yes, we do puppy (and kitten) commercial or homemade recipe formulations with food dosage and weight projections through the first year of life but not through the automated homemade recipe module given the multitude of variances. The consultation fee is $500 (USD) which includes a teleconsult with the nutritionist, written recommendations. 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. There is an additional charge of $250 to reformulate the diet if a major change in ingredients or supplements that were not previously specified, at maturity, or if the pet should develop a medical condition. See additional information at https://www.petdiets.com/content.aspx?ContentID=1744  or go to www.PetDiets.com / Services / Growth Consult, select ‘Pet Owner’, review the process, click on ‘continue’ at the bottom.

    IMPORTANT: We work as a nutrition 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 (MR) (fax 1800.649.2043 or email VetNut@att.net) at your request. Per AVMA and most state regulations, you the owner must request to have your records sent to us. You can check with us at any time to see if we have received the medical records after you have made that request of your local or specialty veterinarian(s). All nutrition consults must involve a local or specialty veterinarian with whom you have established a Veterinarian/Client/Patient relationship (VCPR) per state Veterinary Medical Board regulations. We will attempt to obtain the signed VCPR form for you after we have received the MR. The VCPR is not optional and cannot be sidestepped. You will be asked to provide your Veterinarian’s this contact information in the consult form. Providing us accurate contact information will aid us in obtaining your VCPR in a timely fashion. We will send our written recommendation to you and your veterinarian by fax and email.

    Please give us a call if you have questions about the consultation process.
     
  • 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 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! 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.
     
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