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  • 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.

  • My vet said she put her 16 year old Lab on Hills Science Diet J/D food because a rep convinced her it would change her dogs life. It turns out after 50 days it did. It was then prescribed to my dogs. After researching this food I have found Science Diet is not a quality product. currently my dogs are on a five-star food that they are doing very well on. I supplement them with Dasuquin but I understand the benefits of having the glucosamine and chondroitin supplements in the kibble. But do I have to give up the quality of my food to get this? Can you recommend a food that is grain-free and can also provide benefits for my senior dogs with arthritis?
  • There is NO independently regulated dog food rating scheme. It is arbitrary and in my opinion is consumer fraud. Secondly, there is NO way to evaluate a food based on the ingredient list. This has been perpetuated by those who actually no very little about the pet food industry for if they did know the industry well, they would know that AAFCO does not allow quality ratings on ingredients, etc. The whole idea that one can rate a product based on a list that was not intended to indicate quality is the consumer fraud. The 5 star means actually nothing of real value = bogus. Crowd sourcing information by the uninformed is useless.


    On the other hand, when you read the sci literature completed on clinical trials done feeding j/d by independent University veterinary specialists the product speaks for itself in that it actually does change the metabolic profile of inflammation in these older painful dogs. I go with science over gossip every time. 

  • I’m transitioning my 65# Bully to a raw diet. Dr Becker’s “Real Food for Healthy Dogs & Cats: Simple Homemade Food” is my starting point as her approach is balanced with various meat mixes, fats, bone, and minerals. What is your take on a raw diet
  • Simple:
    1. We do not recommend feeding raw given there are NO documented nutritional advantages (often said/repeated but no independent documentation available in 10+ yrs) however the risks of food poisoning are real and has been documented. I have seen adult dogs die of food poisoning.
    2. Dr. Becker is not a nutritionist. Given she has no ACVN nutritional training and most general vets cannot properly balance a homemade diet - buyer beware. See uses Steve Brown's software who is not a veterinarian or nutritionist but does sell raw diet products.
    3. In a JAVMA, Vol 242, No. 11, June 1, 2013 review of 200 homemade recipes for adult dogs easily available to pet owners, some written by 'vets', 95% of recipes resulted in at least 1 essential nutrient at concentrations that did not meet NRC or AAFCO guidelines, and 83.5% recipes had multiple deficiencies.

  • Found you via skeptvet site
    Golden - 12 years - 2 x Agility Champion (wear & tear). Recent spinal x-rays revealed "impressive" spinal stenosis. Managing quality of life with pain meds. My question is: I've been feeding him Hills J/D for the past 6 years and wondering if further supplementing with fish oil, glucosamine etc would have any benefit (in your opinion). Thinking J/D is already formulated for maximum benefit. Thank-you
  • The issue is that we do not know the optimal or maximum effective dose of either. Having said that, the amount in j/d (in combination with the other attributes) did change the DNA foot print of inflammation to favor the dog, so we know that dose does have some positive effects. There is no evidence to my knowledge in this case that more is better, on the other hand, more would not be harmful if the dog would eat it.  So I do not know, and I really can't suggest how you would know (objectively) after giving more for 4 or more weeks. 

  • I have fed only grain free foods for years to my 5yr old lab mix and 8-10 yr old golden mix. Out of caution just had their taurine levels tested and both came back in the critical low range. Vet has recommended taurine supplements, but was at a loss to recommend a food other than something not grain free. I would appreciate any suggestions, so many foods out there not clear on what would be good.
  • At this point, I would simply do the taurine supplementation as recommended because the exact relationship between DCM and grain free foods is not clear. In fact, to date, not all dogs with DCM eating grain free were taurine deficient. Please recheck with your vet. And so changing to another grain free product may not resolve the problem.  
  • I am concerned about the new discovery of DCM related to Grain-Free diets, I have Dobermans, 2 of them. Where can I turn to figure out what to feed these guys? I’ve have lost my other 2 to DCM in the last 18 months.
  • Your first stop should be with your Veterinarian and together you may consider having a cardiac consult and measuring their blood taurine levels. Not all dogs with DCM fed grain free diets have had low taurine levels and not all dogs with DCM got better with taurine supplementation. So it is more complicated than simply a taurine deficiency in some cases. All are still working it out. But first start with an evaluation of your dogs.

  • Is there anything high quality for a food that has no fish oil or anything fishy for my Anatolian Shepherd mix. She has been eating Blue Wilderness but we found she is allergic to fish in any form. Please, any input is very appreciated.
  • "a high quality dog food" is in the eye of the beholder and nothing more. There is no lack of personal opinion or self-proclaimed pet food experts or made up "rating systems" by those who wanna be a nutritionist in their next life but none are valid. There is NO official system of evaluation or certification on pet food product quality. Can we just put that aside?

    For your dog, yes there are of non-fish dog foods

  • My 11 year old mini poodle is on Royal Canin Fish & Potato RX canned for food allergens (beef and soy, via elimination diet) and fat intolerance (she gets acid indigestion symptoms). She is under the care of a Veterinary Dermatologist for food and environmental allergies.

    Would you recommend getting her Taurine levels checked to be safe? Is that file with the UC Davis info only for Golden Retrievers?

    Thank you. We will be discussing this with her primary care vet as well.
  • If you are feeding the Royal Canin adult PW canned food, if you look in the ingredient list, you will see that Taurine has been added to that food. A large international company like Royal Canin with an army of Veterinary Nutritionist has known of this potential problem for quite some time, tests their food accordingly, and colony dogs fed their food. DCM can occur in any dog however G Ret seems to be more vulnerable – possible a breed susceptible.  I do not know for certain if they are accepting samples from non G Ret.

  • Is there someone, even for a fee, that can analyze what I am feeding my dog and tell me if it is deficient is any way?
  • Please know that if you concocted your own homemade diet or obtained it from a book or off the net from someone who is not a veterinary nutritionist, there is a 95% chance the diet is not nutritionally complete and balanced according to a 2013 UC Davis study

    You have several options:

    1.     We can analyze your homemade recipe and correct it for $350 – includes nutrient corrections

    2.     You can send it off to the Lab for the full (~32 nutrient) AAFCO profile for $2500 – does not include nutrient corrections

    3.     You can send it off to a Lab for a partial (~10 nutrient) profile for $50 - does not include nutrient corrections

    4.     You can purchase a recipe online where you select the ingredients close to what you are currently feeding for $25 is correct from the start.

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