Ask the Veterinary Nutritionist

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Our database contains nearly 1000 questions asked by other 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, please submit your question.  An ACVN Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist (PhD, DVM, DACVN) will directly respond to your questions as best as possible.

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  • I have a female dog who has been diagnosed with struvite stones. please can you tell me what tit bits I can use for training purposes?

  • Anything you want .... struvite in the dog is caused by a urinary tract infection .... which is an antibiotic deficiency and not a dietary issue.
  • What is your opinion on the claim that brands like Purina use 4-D animals and euthanized cats and dogs? Why do you feel that such a ridiculous rumor was started?
  • There is an anti-big business, anti-big pet food sentiment for some reason(s).
    The euthanized cats and dogs issue was laid to rest in 2005 when the FDA tested pet foods for canine and feline DNA and found none.
    Basically not enough people can or do read the scientific literature.

  • Do you use certified nutritionists?
  • Yes. See our "about us" page for details.
  • The recipe I ordered suggests wheat germ, crude, flakes and Chef's Canine Complete. I currently include fish oil, powdered egg shells and organ meats in my dogs diet which your calculator does not allow consideration. I don't wish to include supplements such as Canine Complete because I don't recognize the ingredients. This is why I make the food rather than buy commercial. Can you provide a recipe where needs are met without supplements? Any layman with a little research can come up with a recipe using supplements! Thank you in advance for your help.
  • Can you provide a recipe where needs are met without supplements?
    Sorry it cannot be done ..... IF you wish to formulate a diet according to AAFCO and/or NRC nutrient recommendations for adult dogs.

    Yes you can slam any thing together but if you wish to actually meet the nutrients needs in thier proper ratio to not only each other but the caloric density, one has to use synthetic formulations of the vitamins. One can easily look up the ingredient names online and quickly see what the common nutritent name is, in fact most ingredients in that supplement supply more than one nutrient. 

    I have been attempting to properly balance Homemade recipes for client owned dog for nearly 30 yrs, and although asked many times to do it using only "whole" foods, I have not yet been able to do so..... I have 15-20 colleagues who basically do the same type of work, and none of them have been able to do so either. So if you really meet AAFCO or NRC stated nutrient intakes ..... please show us all how it is done!

    "Any layman with a little research can come up with a recipe using supplements!" Apparently not so .... In an independent study of 200 homemade recipes for adult dogs made available to pet owners through the internet and books, only 5 (2.5%) were nutritionally balanced correctly, and those 5 were formulated by veterinarians with advanced training in nutrition. This study was conducted by the School of Veterinary Medicine at University of California and published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Assoc. June 2013 if you care to see more detail.

  • I have a two year old large Choc lab with allergies. I'd like to know if you know of a good quality food with limited ingredients. I don't care about the price, just want to find a food that will be of best quality and that will help with his allergies.
    Thank you,
  • If the dog does have food allergies, then your only option is a list of products that have been tested and specifically guarantee to be clean other proteins (routine contaminates).
    This leads you to the veterinary therapeutic market ... no OTC pet food can or does make this claim.

    Secondly, despite what you read everywhere ..... there is no "quality" assessment that can be of pet food based on the label. There is also no unbiased independent system of evaluating pet foods .....
    Each self-appointed expert has designed their own system of evaluation which may or may not include assessments that are important to you and your dog.
    So I have to ask by what criteria do you consider a pet food high vs low quality before I can begin to help to select a product.
  • My dog is a very picky eater which is why she eats mostly homemade people food. Our Vet gave us this site so that we could continue a homemade diet but assure we are not missing nutrients. Her general diet has been salmon, chicken and rice or ground beef and rice. Rice is not always included. She has not wanted to eat any vegetables when I add them. She is 9 1/2 and has not had any problems until now. We moved 2 months ago and she has been vomiting. Vet has done blood work and x ray then gave her Pepcid which is not helping. I plan to call Vet today or tomorrow as she will not even eat any food I give her the past three days but would appreciate any suggestions you have for a balanced homemade diet when she will eat again and anything now that I may try to get nutrients. I have spent a lot of money over the years on dog food and rarely eats it. Thank you.
  • I understand ... I can help balance your homemade diet ... but first must know whether the dog has a medical condition or not ... and if so what is the diagnosis.
    If not, then you can use our automated Homemade Diet module to select the foods you are currently feeding and a balanced recipe ($25) with a supplement will be prescribed.
    If yes, then you will need a Nutrition Consult ($300) for me to do the recipe formulation manually specific to the diagnosis.
  • If a dog is given a 50 calorie treat on a certain day, should the amount of dog food given for that day be reduced by 50 calories? Thank you.
  • Yes if the 50 kcal is more than 10% of the daily energy need.
  • Do you have any knowledge of the supplement U-Stew? The website for this product is I have been making homemade food for my dog consisting of ground turkey, eggs, and frozen peas and carrots and then adding this supplement. My vet said that he is not versed well enough specifically in canine nutrition to tell me if this is filling our dog's nutritional needs. We have a 6 yr old neutered Welsh terrier weighing 24.5 lbs. Thank you very much for any insight or help you are able to offer.

  • This is not a supplement.
    This a pre mix meant to be mixed "with water, cooked meat, and optional vegetables in the amounts and proportions stated in the literature."   "It is not....... meant to be a sprinkle-on vitamin supplement."

    Made in Canada - where there are no regulations regarding whether a pet food is nutritionally complete or not.
    I cannot find any nutritional adequacy statement on the web site or the qualifications of the person responsible for designing this mix and recipes.
    Yes the nutritional profile (as fed basis) is available but there is no comparison the US AAFCO or NRC dog or cat daily nutrient intakes.
    $55 for 2 lbs is way overpriced for all that it is not ..... 
    I would say unless you can have your recipe with this product nutritionally profiled, compared with the US redceommendations/standards, and guaranteed .... you do not know if your dog's nutritional needs are being met.  
    Yes there less expensive, nutritionally complete options from US Veterinary Nutritionist. 

  • Hello. I have a 14 week biewer yorkie puppy and would like to switch his food. I currently have him on Royal Canin puppy dry food but he has thrown up quite a few times on it & after researching it I am not happy with the ingredients & would like to switch him to something more high quality. There are so many dog foods out there that it is overwhelming. I was interested in Orijen but have read that too much protein may not be good for dogs so I am not sure if I should get it or not. Do you have any recommendations for a good puppy food for my little guy? Thank you!
  • I do but Royal Canin is one my list. Apparently you are reading too many wanna-be-nutritionist web site that profess they can evaluate a pet food by reading the ingredient list = no so!

    So I am going to send you to ...... Scroll down to "Tools for Pet Owners"

  • I have 2 field bred active healthy golden retrievers whom I have been feeding whole raw food from a reputable supplier locally since last May. They are doing well & upon visiting our vet she suggested that their diet may not be balanced & I might find more information here. One does have an elevated ph in her uruine but has had one urine infection prior to feeding raw and had no infection present with the elevated ph level. We treated with a round of antibiotics for precaution which she has just finished today. Do you have suggestions.
  • Simple.
    Ask your reputable local supplier if the diets you are feeding meet the "AAFCO adult maintenance" claim.

    If they say 'yes'  - you are ok to feed the products from a nutritional stand point.

    If they say 'no' or 'no but' or have no idea what you are asking them  ....... . you should be concerned.  

    High meat diets as most raw products are will cause a very low pH highly concentrated urine.

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