Ask the Veterinary Nutritionist

Do you have a specific question related to pet nutrition?

Our database contains over 1200 questions asked by 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, submit your question and a nutritionist will respond to your questions as best possible. Email responses will come from

We believe pets make us better people.
Donations provide nutritional consultations to disabled military and seniors citizens with sick pets.
If you wish to make a contribution for the information you have received, please click to donate.

Thank you for your contribution!

  • Would like some information from a nutritionist standpoint regarding grain free and higher protein diets. I am currently feeding my 2 year old chocolate Labrador the Nulo line of dry food. This product contains a dry matter protein basis of 33-34%, is advertised as grain free and obtaining 80% or more of their protein from animal sources. The product also utilizes a probiotic. My concern comes from varying responses regarding grain free diets and higher protein diets. I am receiving information that higher protein may cause renal problems after years of exposure. However I have also located information debunking this statement. When it comes to grain free, I have been told by a veterinarian that they have removed more bladder stones in animals that are on grain free diets. That being said, my dog has tolerated the Nulo well and has no issues eating this product. However I would like a non-biased nutritionist standpoint on what is the recommended amount of protein for the diet, are there dangers of higher protein diets over 30%, and are there harmful effects of going grain free such as the statement of urinary PH changes and stone formation. My current veterinarian has recommended we transition to Royal Canin Labrador. I do notice several byproducts and grains in this formula label when compared to the Nulo. Any thoughts or recommendations regarding either of these products would be greatly appreciated as this process is quite confusing and we simply want to provide good nutrition for our dog that will not be harmful later in life. Thank you. Brandon.
  • 1) 'I would like a non-biased nutritionist standpoint on what is the recommended amount of protein for the diet. 'Generally most adult dogs do very well on 20-30% protein DMB diet. NRC and AAFCO recommend at 8% and 18% respectively using a high quality protein source, i.e., excellent amino acid profile. The marketing rhetoric has driven the protein levels in food to extremes which are not environmentally sustainable, so that too will take a 180 degree turn eventually. 

     2) 'are there dangers of higher protein diets over 30%.' None documented to date.

     3) 'are there harmful effects of going grain free such as the statement of urinary pH changes and stone formation.' Yes high protein (not necessarily grain free) lower urine pH which turns the grass yellow and IF the dog should catch a UTI or inherently was going to form a stone anyway, then it will form. Low pH does not cause a UTI, does not prevent UTI and does not cause stones if the constituents of the stone are not in the urine.

     4) Despite the blather on the web, there is no substantive reasons to avoid a products from a reputable company (Royal Canin being one) simply b/c it contains a by-product. Some by products are the most nutritious.

     No dog food product can be properly assessed by reading the label - that is not what the label was designed to do. Most self-proclaimed experts and those with made-up pet food rating systems based on the label are delusional and driving the rest of us to tear our hair out because the label information is not the way to evaluate or rate a dog food. Like using an adjustable wrench to take out a screw ... Who does that ????

     Try to differentiate statements made for marketing vs scientific reasons, and if it's too good to be true ... it probably is.

  • I have a 9 year old maltese/yorkie breed.
    During his younger years my dog Louie itched for some reason.He was not tested for allergy but the vet suggested not to feed my dog chicken but feed him lamb or venison which I did. I have been feeding him dry foods which is lamb in the morning and home cooked lamb for dinner. I don't buy canned foods because I don't like how it smell. His food is cooked very well and scoops out the fat just like our home cooked meal. It has mixed vegetables (carrots, sweet potato, 10% of oatmeal or rice, green peas, broccoli or beans, no salt. How do I know if my dog is getting a balanced diet. He is about 16 lbs.
  • The diet as you have described it is not complete or balanced. 
    If your pet has no medical issues other than needing to avoid chicken, we have an automated module for owners to obtain a balanced diet for their healthy pet.


    Go to You begin the process by logging into your account or opening an account for you, your pet and link it to your Vet info, then click on 'Services:’ drop down to “Homemade Diet Recipes’. Select the “See all ingredient options” to see all of our food options or one of several specific diet types (high or low calorie, etc.). You may select ingredients similar to those you are now feeding. The software will re-balance your diet properly and suggest vitamin & trace mineral supplements. 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.


    Thank you for visiting!

  • is science diet a good alt. to c/d by hills my dog was just operated on for stones and dr wants her to eat c/d by hills is there something cheaper that i can buy also what type of treats can she eat her name is roxy
  • I would suggest that the Science Diet product is not specifically designed to prevent crystals and/or stones.

    Depending on the stone type, the Prescription Diet line c/d has been specifically designed, tested and has been shown to help prevent crystal formation.

    The additional $$ paid for the food has been shown to decrease your overall medical costs related to dealing with crystals or stones.

    The only question when b/c it is a 'pay me now' or 'pay me later' scenario with stones.

    Again the best web site is

  • My dog just had bladder stones removed and the vet prescribed "prescription food" for urinary health. I have compared the ingredients with regular dog food. Is prescription food better? Also is Raw food any better?
  • Raw is never better for stone prevention.
    Yes the prescription diets that prevent stone formation work in such that reading the label and/or comparing the ingredients DOES NOT tell the whole story:
    Do not waste your time reading the ingredient list. The dog food Advisor may have time on his hands for such a folly - most of do not.

    The type of diet and the features you are looking for all depends on the stone type.
    An excellent web site for canine and feline stones and crystals is
  • We have an 11 month old black lab. A few months back he had giardia and after he completed his treatments & had negative samples still had softer stools especially at night. At the vets recommendation switched his food from Fromm Large Breed puppy to a sensitive skin & stomach (American Natural Premium). His stools are better than before but his gas is enough to clear a room & his stools have a very strong odor. He has had negative stool samples so I'm not concerned about that. His food has always had chicken and am wondering if chicken could be contributing to his loose stools & gas/stool strong odor & if you have any recommendations. Although the American Natural Premium is not a puppy specific formula & he's almost a year do we need to feed him a large breed puppy since I know labs still are still growing after a year. Thank you.
  • At this age you can feed a large breed adult food.
    Odds are very good the current food contains soybean which does give some dogs flatulence.
    If you read the label and there is a soybean product listed, then try a large breed adult food with no soybean noted in the ingredient list
  • I am considering buying whole small Salmon or Arctic Charr fish for my Dogs to eat as occasional snacks as a treat.
    The product is whole fish that was previously frozen and then dehydrated and packaged for sale. I have a few friends that buy these treat for their dogs (and cats) and they find that their animals LOVE it. Would love your opinion. I am focusing on fish for Omega-3 benefits. Humans loves it, my pets should too.

  • Omega 3 fatty acids may not be viable after dehydrating the product, and certainly not at the dose recommended for therapeutic action.

    If fish is fit for human consumption (cooked)  - OK
    If not fit for human consumption (not cooked), you run the risk of giving your pet a salmon parasite.
    Salmon Poisoning Disease is a potentially fatal condition seen in dogs that eat certain types of raw fish.
    Freezing and dehydration may not kill the Salmon parasite called Nanophyetus salmincola.

  • I have an 12 week old pitbull puppy who currently weighs 17 lbs or 7.7kg. I’m really looking to feed her raw diets and I’ve heard scary stories about calcium deficiencies and not getting ratios right. What is a prime example of what a puppy of her age and breed and weight, should be eating. With that example, how many times should I be feeding her?
  • The recommended nutrient intakes are not a secret. It has been estimated by 3 diff independent organizations (AAFCO, NRC, FEDIAF). You can buy any one or all of these guidelines if you want to know the details.
    OR you could simply look on the back of the product and locate the claim of "complete and balanced" according to "feeding trials" for "growing dogs".
    IF anything less, then you might want to reconsider a different product.

    Dogs under 3 months probably do well on 4 meals/day
    Dogs 3-6 months do well with 2 meals/day
    Dogs >6 months may be fed twice a day but after 1 year could be fed once a day.
  • Is there cross-reactivity between chicken/turkey and ostrich meat?
  • The honest answer is NO ONE knows and the gold standard is the feed the proteins to that dog and see the response.
  • My vet gave me a recipe to feed my four dogs: pound of ground turkey, 2 cups broccoli, 2 cups spinach and two sweet potatoes. She told me to add a VetriSCIENCE multivitamin. They are fed twice a day. In the morning they are also given 1/4 hard boiled egg and some blueberries. In the afternoon, they have a teaspoon each of puréed kale, carrots and green beans. They also take a mushroom supplement and VetriSCIENCE DMG Pro for immune health. Is this balanced? I am concerned they aren't getting a balanced diet. Thanks.
  • Did you ask your vet if the recipe was balanced?

    If the vet did not have a veterinary nutritionist check the nutrient profile and balance of this recipe...... it is highly unlikely (less than a 5%) to meet either current AAFCO or NRC recommendations for dogs.

    One cannot dream up a concoction of foods. It takes additional training, skill and rather expensive software to do it correctly.

    Based on the diet as you have described it, in my experience, the diet is most likely unbalanced and has deficiencies.

  • I am a practicing veterinarian. I always recommend hydrolyzed or novel protein diets as a food trial for allergic dogs. I am often met with owners telling me they are using "grain free" food as a food trial. Did I miss something in vet school, or is grain not what causes allergies in food but rather the protein source?

    Thank you!
  • You are correct .......... the immune system only responds to a protein, not a carb or fiber or vitamin or mineral.

    The no grain marketing bliz is out of control .... so hold on to the basic principles you learned and stay strong!

    It is extremely rare (1 case in the literature) where a dog was positively reactive to isolated rice protein. The only other case in the literature is a study where dogs become allergic to purified corn protein after it had been injected IV - like a vaccine. But again it was the protein fraction – not the carb.

    The one exception clinically is when the small bowel is so inflamed and denuded that it has lost its mucosal enzymes with the normal epi cells. This is where the final end stage CHO digestion enzymes normally reside. So end stage Carb digestion can be lost with IBD and that partially digested dietary carb passes to the Large Bowel and ....... diarrhea, gas, pain etc .... will occur. So I prefer to restart severe IBD cases with a novel protein and a moderately low carb content, usually use sweet potato, and as the SI mucosa heals, the end stage carb digestive enzymes will return as the epi cells come up from the crypts and mature on lengthened villi and enzymes function returns, etc.

    Make sense?

1245 Results Found FirstPrevious 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14Next   Page 9 of 125