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  • Is it true or a myth that consumption of raw bones by dogs is "safe" while cooking bone fragments found in commercial raw diets makes them indigestible, prone to splintering and unsafe for dogs?
    I have never been sure if the above statements are myths or truths with regards to cooking/feeding bones to dogs.
  • Per usual with big bold general statements ... they contain a speck of truth, usually taken out of context and then buried somewhere within the specifics.

    Feeding raw whole bones:

    Nutritionists and Dentists alike do not recommend feeding whole raw or minimally cooked (sufficient to kill surface bacteria) bones. They are stronger than most canine molar teeth hence dogs can and do fracture their teeth which then leads to other problems. There is no nutritional value to them b/c they cannot be digested well and occasionally get stuck in GI somewhere …. Usually the esophagus just as it passes over the heart b/c the esophagus narrows there ….  which then requires some type of endoscopy or surgery to remove and depending on how long the obstruction was in the esophagus, the dog will have some degree of a permanent stricture in the that area.  So the net results of feeding such bones is of no benefit to the dog but can cause long lasting harm.

    Some bones when cooked for a very long time will become demineralized and hence soft & pliable but then they have lost any of the "purported" oral health value and contain little or no calcium (which makes them hard) so basically they become just a source of collagen protein digested in the small intestine.

    Some "raw" dog food products do contain bone chips and some contain ground bone. Neither of which has any of the "purported" oral health value but may provide a source of minerals. If the bone particle size is so small that intestinal enzymes can digest the protein matrix around the minerals, then the minerals may be available for intestinal absorption.


  • I am interested in getting a 3 month old standard poodle on a cooked home made food diet. I need guidelines for how to make sure the diet is balanced through puppy stage but also into adulthood.
  • Yes ... I do homemade diets for growth through our Nutrition Consult service.


    You may begin the consultation process yourself online at any time. If necessary, we can send you forms to complete and return to us instead. I will need more information about your particular pet, dietary history and current medical data to make specific suggestions. Diets for growing pets are done individually and include food intakes up to approximately adult weight. We most often can incorporate current dietary recommendations and principles into one diet and complete that request within 5 business days of receiving all the necessary information.


    We can, on paper, balance most any reasonable dietary request. The HM diet 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. The HM formulations usually involve a cooked meat, cooked grain, +/- vegetables and a single, readily available specifically designed vitamin/mineral supplement. We give the daily food amounts in grams for each animal.


    Please go to the web site, open an account adding your pet’s and vet’s information, then click on the "Nutrition Consult” ..   “for pet owners” and complete the requested information.  We work as a specialty 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 (fax 800-649-2043, post or email at your request.  


    We will send our written letter of recommendations to your veterinarian via fax. You will be asked to provide this contact information. Our charge for a personalized Nutritional Consultation is $300 for your first pet, but then $150 for second pet needing a different diet or $50 if the second in the same household can eat the same diet but a different amount. Most times, we can design a diet that accommodates more than one dog or cat in the household if needed. We also offer a $100 "stat" fee if you need the recommendations in a very short (48hr) turnaround of us receiving the medical record from your veterinarian.


    This fee covers review of medical information, product research, and a diet formulation. It also covers all questions you may have about our diet recommendations. Please understand there is an additional charge of $100 to reformulate another diet if you should later request a major change in ingredients, foods or supplements that were not previously specified or if the pet should develop another medical condition.


    Adding 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 (Chef’s Complete or BalanceIT are two examples). However, other supplement options are possible if appropriate.  Our guarantee is that our dietary recommendations will be nutritionally complete and balanced for your pet’s medical condition.


    Let me know if you have trouble ordering the consult online.

    Thank you for your interest,

  • I have a lovely 5 month old Labrador Retriever. He is on Zignature White Fish, 2 cups 2 times per day. He has enormous poops 3-4 times a day, it seems like more comes out than goes in. Is there a better food for him? Does the grain free food cause large poops? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
  • On two points, that product may not be appropriate:
    1) it says appropriate for "all stages" which means growing puppies but you have a large breed dog KNOWN to have a high incidence of Developmental Orthopedic Disease (DOD). I would suggest you feed a food designed for Large Breed Growth as he enters his rapid growth phase as a preventative measure. The pet food companies who have studied this disease the most and for the longest time are Hill's and Purina. So I would suggest one of their large breed puppy formulations.
    2) the ingredients are high in fiber ... "Peas, Chickpeas, Pea Flour, Flaxseed, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal" ...........  dog is defecating that fiber.  
    "Does the grain free food cause large poops"?

    Inadvertently yes if they replace the CHO source with high fiber non-grain ingredients. White potato would be low fiber non-grain option.
    Grain / No grain in a pet food is not relevant to preventing DOD ...not much of anything else. It is just a 'very successful' marketing gimmick of no real nutritional consequence. Don't be fooled or distracted by it.
  • I've got two senior dogs (about 11 years old and about 7 years old). I'd like to give them chews regularly to help keep their teeth clean, so I checked out the VOHC website. I saw that the VOHC recommends Greenies, as well as a couple of other chew-type products, which look like rawhide chips.

    My dogs haven't been diagnosed with kidney disease, but I'd like to maintain the health of their kidneys as well as I can. I've got them on a dog food that's not high in phosphorus (Hill's Ideal Balance, mature dog formula). If I supplement their diets with a daily Greenie, should I worry about how the addition of that treat might affect kidney function? Or am I getting a bit carried away with my protect-the-kidneys plan?
  • The Greenies are a relaviatively low phoshorous product with ~0.5% which is compatible with renal disease.
  • For a dog over seven years old, what percentage of phosphorus (on a dry matter basis) would you recommend be in its diet. Thank you. And, thank you again for having such a wonderful website and service.
  • Given most dogs over 5 have some subclinical renal changes, I would suggest having a phos level closer to the AAFCO min which is 0.5% DMB which is still ample just not excessive.
  • My dog was placed on prescription food (Royal Canin RP) over one year ago because he was itching, loosing fur, biting feet, ext. A few weeks after being placed on the food, everything cleared up. At that time he was approximately 13 months. Now he is almost 2.5 years and seems to be going through the same thing of itching, biting feet, and loosing fur around ears, around arm pits, bottom of chest, and ankles. Is it possible that he has become allergic too his prescription dog food?
  • Possible ... I would call the RC 800# and discuss any changes that has taken place in the Rabbit diet over the last year. If indeed there has been a change, they can identify for you rather than have you guess and start jumping around to different foods. You may also consider the dog has some environmental allergy component for this time of year or an indoor irritant. You may consider an environmental (excluding food) blood allergy test. The blood food allergy test is not worth the paper it's printed on but the environmental test is fairly good.

  • I see that you rate Royal Canin among the better foods but do you not think their "breed specific" range is taking it to extremes? I don't think significant differences in nutrient needs exist among dog breeds and what's more, as an example, their Bulldog ingredient, guaranteed analysis and metabolisable energy (Kcals/Kg) differs completely between their UK/EU product v USA.
  • I am not a fan of the breed specific nutrient profiles as we do NOT know to that level of fine detail yet. At this time, the breed specific products are adjusted for the most likely or common disease conditions in that breed which we know from years of epidemiological data.

    I cannot address the difference between countries other than to say that there are "rules and regulations" that differ significantly between countries and it is very common for a company to have different versions of the same product with the same name in different countries because of those regulations. They actually have the same problem in the US because different states have different regulations. For more specifics, I suggest you speak with RC directly - just call the 800#.

  • Hi, I have two male neutered cats and I was wondering if a homemade diet would be better for them. I want them to eat more natural and healthy food but I don't want to unbalance their diet. How can I be sure I give them all the things they need?
  • The recipes purchased from us are guaranteed to be nutritionally complete and balanced according to AAFCO or NRC as they do contain a supplement.

    Things are not so clear cut .....

    1. Feeding a homemade diet has not been documented to the "better" or "healthier" than feeding a commercial product if the recipe is nutritionally sound and followed consistently.

    2. The recipe is no more or less "natural" than a commercial product depending on your interpretation of what is "natural"

  • I've gone over to feeding my dog homemade raw diet. The recipe i use calls for 5.25 lbs of chicken necks and 3.25 lbs of boneless chicken thighs plus a 1.5 lbs of different organ meat. (this is just the meat mix, they get veggies and vitamin supplements as well) I can't find chicken necks locally and have been using 8.5 lbs of bone in chicken thighs. My dog has been doing great with this, but I'm getting a puppy in a couple weeks and am very concerned about her not getting enough calcium. Do I need to supplement bone meal into their diets to get more calcium? If so how much more calcium?
  • I believe your current diet is still calcium deficient for both an adult and puppy.
    "Bones" do not correct an inverse Ca:Pho ratio - often suggested but nutritionally incorrect.
    Your diet is also missing several essential trace minerals .... probably Vit A and D which help to regulate calcium metabolism, so I would not suggest you continue the diet until it is nutritionally corrected for either dog.
  • My 5 year old afghan hound has had a couple of bouts with colitis, one hemmorhagic gastroenteritis. Vet has suggested an "easily digestible" food. She has been on hills ID GI now for several months and doing well but I fear this is not nutritious long term. She doesn't have much pep. Is there something "easily digestible I could feed with better nutrition, or supplement this current prescription food with something?
  • No there is no such supplement - I would not add blindly add any supplement at this time 

    The Hill's i/d has been shown for decades to be a nutritionally complete and balanced diet so once a food has passed this criteria there is little to improve upon ....
    One cannot evaluate a pet food by reading the label .... don't fall for that marketing gimmick.

    Having said that, in my experience, including specific types of fibers improves colitis. If you have not yet try different fiber types to further improve the dogs response to the i/d, I would suggest seeking advice in this direction. 
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