Diets for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

This article focuses on providing cavalier King Charles spaniels the dietary nutrition they need to best prepare them for fighting the genetic disorders they may be expected to develop.

The quality and types of foods cavaliers are fed can be very important for their genetic health. Since CKCSs are pre-disposed to some very serious progressive health conditions -- mitral valve disease being the primary one -- we believe it is advisable to feed our cavaliers the best diets aimed at strengthening their hereditary weaknesses, such as their hearts, kidneys, liver, and blood circulatory system.

For these reasons, in this article, you will find that we recommend feeding cavaliers home-prepared diets, including raw or lightly cooked meat and vegetables when possible, under the guidance of veterinarians who are knowledgeable about canine nutrition and, most importantly, are not biased against home-prepared meals. By preparing your cavaliers' meals yourself, with proper supplements for heart-health, you  can assure that they are getting the best nutrition possible.

Avoid dry dog food -- kibble -- entirely

If you cannot deal with preparing your cavaliers' meals from scratch, at the very least we urge you to never Kibble Bowlfeed them dry foods, such as extruded pellets called kibble, as any part of their daily diets. Dry dog foods are particularly inappropriate for our cavaliers, and all dogs, because dry foods require a high percentage of carbohydrates just to bind the other ingredients together. The Association of American Feed Control Officials' (AAFCO) 2010 Pet Food Nutrient Profiles shows that dogs do not require carbohydrates in their diets, and according to the National Research Council's Committee on Animal Nutrition 2006 report, "there appears to be no requirement for carbohydrates provided sufficient protein is given." So kibble is designed for the convenience of the manufacturer and contrary to the best health interest of the dog.

Also, commercial dry foods may contain many forms of toxins, including aflatoxins, heterocyclic amines, acrylamides, and PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), a chemical used as a flame retardant.

Cavaliers need complete proteins from animal sources (muscle meats from mammals, poultry, fish, eggs), which provide all of the essential amino acids. Plant-based foods which may provide some proteins, are not sufficiently healthful alone for dogs.

All meats and vegetables should be as fresh and un-processed as possible. The MVD-affected dog's food should not be overly processed, such as dry dog foods (kibble) are, because each step in that processing removes natural nutrients esssential for a complete, well balanced diet. Meats should be changed periodically, such as each month, to assure that the dog is ingesting nutrients from a variety of sources.

Grains may be included or not, depending upon the other health issues of the dog, but grains never should be relied upon as the main sources of proteins for dogs. Royal Canin dry foodAn example of a truly unhealthful food for cavaliers to avoid is Royal Canin's "Cavalier King Charles Adult Dry Dog Food". According to Royal Canin, this food's major ingredients are:

"Brewers rice, wheat gluten, chicken by-product meal*, corn, chicken fat, wheat, natural flavors, dried plain beet pulp, fish oil, pea fiber, dried tomato pomace, vegetable oil, rice hulls".

Notice that there is no muscle meat included in this list, at all. The sources of protein are grains -- rice, wheat, corn. "Chicken by-product meal" by definition* does not include muscle meat. So, this food is not providing the cavalier with all of the essential proteins from natural sources, which are necessary for the dog to be as healthy as possible.

* The Association of American Food Control Officials (AAFCO) defines "poultry by-products" as: "non-rendered clean parts of carcasses of slaughtered poultry, such as heads, feet and viscera, free from fecal content and foreign matter except in such trace amounts as might occur unavoidably in good factory practice. If the product bears a name descriptive of its kind, it must correspond thereto."

Feed biologically appropriate commercially-prepared frozen or canned dog foods

So, if you cannot prepare your dogs' food at home, we recommend that you feed biologically appropriate commercially-prepared frozen or canned or freeze-dried dog foods with ingredients which are primarily human-grade* real meats, followed by fresh vegetables. Biologically appropriate dog foods are often rich in protein or meat-first in their ingredient listings, and low in carbohydrates or preferably grain-free. Then add to those meals, cardiac supplements designed to keep the dogs' hearts strong.

* "Human-grade" means that the food has been subject to USDA inspections and is deemed edible by humans. It therefore does not consist of "by-products" from rendering plants, diseased animals, road kill, or rendered "animal fat".

Dr. Becker's Primer on Dog Food Ingredients ListsIn a video primer on how to tell if a particular dog food is wrong for the species, here is Dr. Karen Becker explaining how to interpret the ingredients list on a bag of dog food.



Obesity is the most common nutritional disease in dogs and can lead to a range of illnesses and diseases. Cavalier King Charles spaniels are pre-disposed to obesity, according to evidence garnered in Overweight cavalier King Charles spanielsa 1986 veterinary research study of dogs in the United Kingdom and confirmed more recently in a 2007 report, a 2010 report, a 2013 presentation,and a 2021 review, among several others.

Joseph Demers, DVM, CVA, CVH, a renowned holistic veterinarian, states:

"Another reason for overweight pets is what we feed our pet friends. Commercial pet food is anywhere between 45 percent to 65 percent carbohydrates (grains). Grains are the least expensive part of pet food and can fill the animal Fat Rubyquickly. Dogs and cats are more carnivores than we humans are, and we are feeding them almost as much grain (or more) than we humans eat. I feel that this high carbohydrate commercial pet food is the worst food we can feed our pet friends. Our pet friends need fresh meats, not dehydrated meat by-products. I also feel vegetables are an excellent source of fiber and moisture as well as sources of natural vitamins and minerals for our pet friends.
"I feel most commercial foods use poor quality proteins, and destroy even those with high temperature cooking."

In a couple of other breeds -- the flat coated retriever and the Labrador retriever -- a mutation in the pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) gene may be the underlying cause of greater adiposity, weight, and food motivation. See this March 2024 article. Whether the CKCS has a similar genetic mutation as a cause remains to be determined.


Body Condition Scoring

Grossly Obese CKCSCanine obesity commonly is measured by a scaling system called Body Condition Scoring (BCS). BCS is used to evaluate the relative proportions of animal fat, called adiposity, at specific body locations and compare those to a lean musculoskeletal system. The 5-point BCS scale ranges from 1 point (emaciated) to 5 points (obese), as follows:

1 = Emaciated. Ribs, lumbar vertebrae, pelvic bones and all body prominences evident from a distance. No discernible body fat. Obvious absence of muscle mass.

2 = Thin. Ribs easily palpated and may be visible with no palpable fat. Tops of lumbar vertebrae visible. Pelvic bones less prominent. Obvious waist and abdominal tuck.

3 = Moderate. Ribs palpable without excess fat covering. Abdomen tucked up when viewed from side. This usually is the ideal BCS score.

4 = Stout. General fleshy appearance. Ribs palpable with difficulty. Noticeable fat deposits over lumbar spine and tail base. Abdominal tuck may be absent.

5 = Obese. Large fat deposits over chest, spine and tail base. Waist and abdominal tuck absent. Fat deposits on neck and limbs. Abdomen distended.

Here are two charts you can use to determine whether your cavalier is over-weight, under-weight, or just the right weight: First, the 5-score chart:

5 Point Dog Body Condition Scoring Chart


There is also a more complex, 9-point BCS scale, which veterinary nutritionists are more apt to use.

AAHA Body Condition Score (BCS)


Body Weight - Body Length - BCS Body Length - Body Weight BCS


Home-Prepared Diets

Cavalier chowing downThere are advantages and disadvantages to feeding cavaliers home-prepared meals. The advantages include being able to feed the best foods and supplements for the particular health needs of the dogs. For example, nearly all CKCSs may be expected to develop mitral valve disease (MVD). Home-prepared meals can be tailored to provide ingredients which help strengthen the heart, kidneys, and liver to enable the dog to better compensate for the damage which MVD can cause. The less processed a dog food is, the easier it is for the dog to digest it, and the more dehydrated a food is -- such as dry food -- the more stressful it is upon the dog's kidneys and liver to assimilate it. Also, by selecting the ingredients -- particularly organic ones -- of your dog's diet, you can avoid the genetically modified foods (GMO, for Genetically Modified Organism) that compose substantially all of commercial dog foods. By feeding kibble, we are allowing our dogs to be "lab rats" for these under-tested grains known to cause cancers in the real lab rats.

Disadvantages to home-prepared foods include the risk of not offering well-balanced meals with proper supplements. That is why it is important that any home made diets be reviewed by nutrition specialists, such as well-qualified holistic veterinarians.

Phosphorus - Calcium - RatioCalcium Deficiency: Most all sources of proteins, especially meats, contain much higher levels of phosphorus and lower levels of calcium. Dogs are equipped to maintain a normal ratio of calcium to phosphorus -- usually a ratio of 1.1 or 1.2 calcium to 1.0 phosphorus. As phosphorus levels in the dog's blood rise due to an insufficiency of calcium, the body draws calcium from the bones to keep that ratio in balance.

A tragic example of the consequences of not feeding a properly balanced diet is this March 2021 case study: A pair of University of Liverpool veterinary clinicians report treating a 5-month old Bernese mountain dog for severe bone pain and inability to stand. The puppy had been fed only raw chicken and beef. They diagnosed nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism due to dietary calcium insufficiency. After five days of in-hospital treatment, the puppy was able to walk stiffly. A re-evaluation appointment was scheduled for four weeks later, but the owner failed to fed the dog a prescribed diet, and the patient was euthanized three weeks later. Read more about the importance of adding calcium, below.
Sources of information

Home-prepared foods also can be time-consuming to prepare, and the ingredients can be more expensive than commercially-prepared foods. If you are a cavalier owner who may be interested in feeding your dog home-prepared meals, whether cooked or raw foods, we strongly recommend that you begin by reading this linked article ("Integrating Basic Chinese Food Therapy into Daily Practice") by Dr. Constance DiNatale, and especially consider her advice that each dog first should be examined by an holistic veterinarian to weigh the clinical signs, tongue and pulse evaluation, and environmental effects to help determine the types of food to provide needed support.

Holistic veterinarian Dr. Judy Morgan gives this advice about preparing dog food recipes: “I will not formulate a diet for somebody unless I've seen all the veterinary records and I've gone through them and I know what it is that we're dealing with.”

Also, consider researching recipes in books on the subject, such as:

Dr. Becker's Real FoodDr. Becker's Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats, by Dr. Karen Becker. You may order it on-line by clicking the book cover at the right or click here.


Natural Dog Care

Natural Dog Care: A Complete Guide to Holistic Health Care for Dogs, by Celeste Yarnall.  You may order it on-line by clicking the book cover at the left or click here.


Dr. Pitcairn'sDr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, by Richard H. Pitcairn D.V.M. and Susan Hubble Pitcairn.  You may order it on-line by clicking the book cover at the right or click here.


Canine Nutrigenomics: The New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum HealthCanine Nutrigenomics: The New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum Health, by W. Jean Dodds and Diana R. Laverdure. Using functional foods to achieve ideal weight, conquer disease, and create radiant health from inside out. You cannot change your dog’s genes, but you can change how those genes behave when you read this book. You may order it on-line by clicking the book cover at the left or click here.

Monica Segal & FriendsIf, after doing your research, you are determined to feed your cavalier a homemade diet, then, before you prepare that first meal, be sure to consult with a well-qualified, licensed veterinarian who practices holistic care, or a veterinary nutritionist*, to develop recipes which are both well-balanced and suitable for the health needs of your cavalier. A list of holistic veterinarians may be found here.  A list of board certified veterinary nutritionists may be found here.

* Most "board certified veterinary nutritionists" appear to be irrationally biased against feeding raw food diets to dogs, so care must be taken when consulting with any of them, that you are being given objective advice which does not sound like it is being given by kibble-peddling marketeers for pet food manufacturers which fund most all research conducted by veterinary nutritionists.

Another option is to contact Monica Segal (above right), a certified animal health nutrition consultant and author, who also happens to own cavaliers herself. She moderates the Yahoo! Group K9Kitchen and has an interactive website for providing nutritional advice on home-prepared diets for your dogs and other pets.

Dr. Karen BeckerDr. Karen Becker (right), who authored Dr. Becker's Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats, above, has written an excellent summary of how to make sure you are feeding balanced nutrition to your dog. She writes:

"There should be four primary components in a nutritional program for your dog or cat, including:

•Meat, including organs
•Veggie and fruit puree
•Homemade vitamin and mineral mix
•Beneficial additions like probiotics, digestive enzymes, and super green foods (these aren’t required to balance the diet, but can be beneficial for vitality)

"A healthy dog’s diet should contain about 75 percent meat/organs/bones and 25 percent veggies/fruit (this mimics the GI contents of prey, providing fiber and antioxidants as well). For healthy kitties, the mix should be about 88 percent meat/organs/bones and 12 percent veggies.

"Fresh, whole food provides the majority of nutrients pets need, and a micronutrient vitamin/mineral mix takes care of the deficiencies that do exist, namely iron, copper, manganese, zinc, iodine, vitamin D, folic acid, taurine and Biotin (for cats).

"Keep in mind that just because nutritional deficiencies aren’t obvious in your pet doesn’t mean they don’t exist. A considerable amount of research has gone into determining what nutrients dogs and cats need to survive. At a minimum, you do a disservice to your pet by taking a casual approach to insuring he receives all the nutrients he requires for good health. The kitten who is the subject of this article is a good example of a pet whose breeder meant well and didn’t see any immediate damage to the animal, yet the kitten became acutely ill on the raw chicken-only diet.

"If you’re preparing homemade food for your pet, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of insuring the diet you feed is nutritionally balanced. It doesn't matter whose recipe you follow, but it does matter that it's balanced."

Dr. Sean DelaneyDr. Sean Delaney (left), a board certified veterinary nutritionist, provides a list of his pros and cons about feeding home-prepared diets:

"Homemade recipes have several advantages over commercial food, but they also have several disadvantages. (In general, this author recommends commercial foods as a first method of feeding pets.)

"Advantages of home-prepared diets:

• Highly digestible
• Create recipe appropriate for multiple diseases ...
• Meet particular client’s needs
• Increased knowledge about ingredient sourcing

"Disadvantages of home-prepared diets:

• Generally more expensive
• Can be time consuming to make
• Food data may not match food used
• Experimental, no feeding trials
• “Diet drift” – client changes recipe

"Homemade recipes can be successfully used for pets, but there are many nutritional issues that the client and veterinarian must be aware of. Recipe evaluation with clinical nutrition software and/or a board certified veterinary nutritionist is recommended as are frequent health checks to ensure appropriate performance of the diet and client compliance with the specific recipe(s)."

Adding calcium to each recipe is vital to any dog's health

Phosphorus - Calcium - RatioCalcium is an important ingredient for many of the dog's bodily systems and functions, including bone and tooth formation, blood clotting, enzyme activation, muscle contraction, skin and hair growth, and nerve impulse transmission. Most all sources of proteins, especially meats, contain much higher levels of phosphorus and lower levels of calcium. Dogs are naturally equipped internally to maintain a normal ratio of calcium to phosphorus -- usually a ratio of 1.1 or 1.2 calcium to 1.0 phosphorus, by weight. As phosphorus levels in the dog's blood rise due to an insufficiency of calcium, the body draws calcium from the bones to keep that ratio in balance.

Avoid recipes that do not tell you how much and what types of calcium to include, to offset the excess phosphorus level in each type of protein included in the recipe. For example, one popular book of recipes of home-made dog foods, Yin & Yang Nutrition for Dogs (2017 ed.), contains dozens of recipes for home-made dog foods, but only one of them includes calcium in the list of ingredients. None of those other recipes in that book should be followed without adding the appropriate amount of calcium, which, unfortunately, the authors of that book fail to specify at all in the ingredients lists of each recipe. Calcium CitrateDietary calcium insufficiency is a common and dangerous consequence of not adding appropriate quantities of digestible calcium to each meal.

When preparing dog foods from scratch, it is essential that this ratio be calculated accurately and that sufficient calcium powder be added to the recipe to balance the excess phosphorus in the protein sources. To do this properly, if the recipe does not tell you how much calcium to add, you first must determine how much excess phosphorus is in the protein source in the recipe. Then calculate, using the ratio, how much calcium to add. Calcium citrate is an excellent source of calcium to use as a supplement, such as this NOW product. Dogs are able to digest calcium citrate much more thoroughly than other forms of calcium, such as calcium carbonate.

Examples of excess phosphorus levels in meats: Beef: 859 mg/lb net phosphorus over calcium. Non-beef (turkey, chicken, beef organs): 1100 mg/lb net phosphorus over calcium.

See this tragic March 2021 case study: A pair of University of Liverpool veterinary clinicians report treating a 5-month old Bernese mountain dog for severe bone pain and inability to stand. The puppy had been fed only raw chicken and beef. They diagnosed nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism due to dietary calcium insufficiency. After five days of in-hospital treatment, the puppy was able to walk stiffly. A re-evaluation appointment was scheduled for four weeks later, but the owner failed to fed the dog a prescribed diet, and the patient was euthanized three weeks later.

Eggs shells are a poor source of calcium in dogs' diets

Egg shells are composed mainly of calcium carbonate, which is an antacid and is used medically to treat heartburn. Calcium carbonate reduces the amount of acid in the stomach by stopping the enzyme pepsin that creates acid to digest food. The active ingredient in the antacid Tums is calcium carbonate.

When egg shells are the source of calcium in a dog’s diet, the undesirable side effect is that dog’s digestive system acids are neutralized, and much of the ingested foods, particularly meats, do not get fully digested. So, no matter how finely ground the egg shells may be (and they should be as fine as a talc-like powder), they are more likely to interfere with the dog’s digestion than to serve to balance excess phosphorus in the meats in the recipes.

Commercially packaged egg shells are coated with a preservative which makes them far less desirable as a calcium supplement than calcium citrate.

Feeding raw food

Eating MeatSome social media gurus who advocate feeding dogs raw meats, seem to have almost a cult following among some dog owners. Their motto could be "Raw or nothing at all!" Even a regional USA cavalier rescue group requires that the dogs it rescues and places, must be fed a raw diet.

The fact is that not all dogs should be fed raw foods, rather than at least slightly cooked foods. Not all dogs are gastronomically able to digest raw meats and vegetables adequately.

Veterinarians who practice holistic medicine and have thoroughly examined their patients, may or may not recommend adding raw meats to the dogs' diets, depending upon their findings of the physical conditions of their patients. Search webpages for finding holistic veterinarians in the United States and Canada are located here, and in the United Kingdom, here.

Whether to cook meats or not may also depend upon the potential health hazards of eating them raw. While beef (but not ground beef) purchased from retail butchers and grocers usually may safely be fed raw to dogs, even store-bought pork and poultry are known to contain harmful bacteria which could do the dogs much more harm than good. An extreme example (but also a lesson to be learned) is the case of a cavalier which developed life-threatening lung disease resulting of being fed raw deer meat obtained from a butcher.  See this March 2023 article. The meat was infected with the Paragonimus bacteria commonly found in freshwater snails. The bacteria caused lesions in the lungs which resulted in the lungs periodically collapsing. The cavalier unerwent lung surgery to repair the damage caused by the lesions.

The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) provides this advice for handling raw food diets:

"For the protection of both you and your pet, the FDA recommends the following when handling or using raw meat, poultry or seafood, for use in a pet’s diet:

US Food  & Drug Administration (FDA)• Keep raw meat and poultry products frozen until ready to use.
• Thaw in refrigerator.
• Keep raw food diets separate from other foods. Wash working surfaces, utensils (including cutting boards, preparation and feeding bowls), hands, and any other items that touch or contact raw meat, poultry or seafood with hot soapy water.
• Cover and refrigerate leftovers immediately or discard safely.

"In addition:

• For added protection, kitchen sanitizers should be used on cutting boards and counter tops periodically. A sanitizing solution can be made by mixing one teaspoon of chlorine bleach to one quart of water.
• If you use plastic or other non-porous cutting boards, run them through the dishwasher after each use."

Clean food bowls after each meal

To avoid bacterial contamination, dog food bowls should be thoroughly cleaned after each meal. Studies have Corelle 10-oz. glass bowlfound that dog food and water dish bowls allowed to sit around without at least daily cleaning, can collect harmful bacteria almost instantly. See this December 2023 article.

Tempered glass bowls, such as Corelle’s 10-ounce bowls, are ideal for feeding meals to cavaliers. Consider having several on hand, using a freshly cleaned one for each meal.


Choosing a Diet Specialist

American College of Veterinary NutritionistsAmerican Holistic Veterinary Medical AssociationThere are many well-qualified holistic veterinarians who specialize in canine dietary nutrition.  See their search webpage here.  But there are very few board certified veterinary nutritionists in the United States and Canada -- only about 77 by our last count (see list here) -- and few, if any, may be supportive of home-prepared meals comprised of human-grade ingredients.  For most of these nutritionists, objective advice about non-commercial diets is not their forte. Many of them are willing tools of the commercial dog food manufacturers. Just read their website's Frequently Asked Questions section and find out for yourself.*

* For example, the FAQ page includes this obviously false statement: "At this time, the vast majority of purported benefits of feeding raw foods remain unproven, while the risks and consequences have been documented."

The key to selecting an objective, un-biased veterinary nutritionist is to find one who's nutrition education has not been financed by any commercial dog food manufacturers, and who's research has not been funded by any commercial dog food manufacturers, and, most importantly, who's waiting room is not a sales office for bags of dry dog foods. Good luck with that!

We do not advocate that all home-prepared dog food meals should be served uncooked. That depends upon the overall health of the dog. Most healthy dogs will thrive on raw diets. But for some dogs, especially those with compromised immune systems, raw meats may not be a safe option. That is why we advise that before any dog is fed a raw diet, the owner consult with a well-qualified holistic veterinarian who specializes in canine dietary nutrition. A major problem with the advice given by most veterinary nutrtitionists is that they oppose feeding any dogs any raw foods at any time, and they almost always recommend commercial dry foods -- kibble -- with grains and by-products as the main ingredients. Their biases and conflicts-of-interest outweigh good, solid canine nutrition advice.

A typical example of the bias of veterinary nutritionists is the recently published Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets, Second Edition by Dr. Patricia A. Schenck. In that book, Dr. Schenck starts off in the first chapter stating:

"Some recipes call for the use of raw ingredients. Raw ingredients often contain bacteria that would normally be destroyed by cooking (see Chapter 2, Food Safety). The practice of feeding uncooked diets should be discouraged."

Thus, as far as Dr. Schenck is concerned, the case for a raw diet is closed. Her logic is that (a) raw food may contain bacteria; therefore (b) owners should not feed any raw food to their pets. So, clearly to the those interested in feeding raw food diets, her book would be a waste of money. It is very unfortunate that as late as 2010, veterinary nutritionists such as Dr. Schenck can be so ignorant and closed-minded about raw diets.

A predictable argument these anti-raw-diet nutritionists raise, as Dr. Schenck makes above, is that uncooked food is a health hazard. It is as if these "experts" are unaware that pet owners would actually handle uncooked food on a daily basis even if they had no pets at all. Further, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration found in 2012 that outbreaks of Salmonella infections in humans have been linked to commercial dry dog foods.* In the four month period from April through July 2012, over sixty commercial brands of dog and cat food were recalled, nearly all for "Salmonella contamination".

* Read report here. Also, consider this: "The starches, rancid fats, and sugars in kibbled foods provide much better food sources for bacteria than the proteins in raw meat."

Dr. Sherry Lynn SandersonAn extreme example of bias against homemade raw food diets is veterinary nutritionist Dr. Sherry Lynn Sanderson (right) of the University of Georgia veterinary college. In her un-referenced 2009 paper, "Raw Diets: Do They Make You Want To BARF?" -- a clever-by-half title by which she sophomorically conveys her bias -- she tosses objectivity aside and ridicules, as misguided simpletons, dog owners who feed raw food to their pets. This paper is such an unscientific attack that it could make you wonder if grants from dog food companies could be her department's only source of research funding.*

* "Hill's [Pet Nutrition, the maker of Science Diet kibble] provides financial and educational support to nearly every veterinary college in North America, as well as to veterinary students attending those institutions. This commitment to the profession includes Hill's sponsored teaching programs, residencies and faculty programs in veterinary schools and teaching hospitals all over the world." DVM Newsmagazine. Aug. 2004;35(8):38.

For example, in her paper she denies that the high intensity pressure process (HPP) of turning raw food into dry kibble can destroy the nutritional value of the food. Side-stepping the vast evidence that it does*, she defends the commercial dog food companies by stating that "It is well known that antioxidants are more available in cooked foods, such as tomatoes or carrots, compared to the same foods that are uncooked." When was the last time you saw tomato or carrot listed among the top ingredients of typical dog kibble?

* See (""Proteins are denatured. High levels of pressure, such as those used in the HPP process, have been shown to result in the denaturation of proteins. Beneficial bacteria are destroyed. Unfortunately, the HPP process doesn’t differentiate between disease-causing and beneficial bacteria. Risk of recontamination remains. Most (if not all) pet food recalls are due to recontamination — meaning the bacterial contamination occurs sometime after processing. HPP will destroy bacteria present in the food prior to processing but cannot protect the food against recontamination after processing."  And, also, see:  Most dry dog foods are cooked twice: once when the protein is dehydrated and processed into meal), and a second time when the mixture is extruded to form bite-sized kibble. This extreme processing also changes the structure of proteins and destroys vitamin A, vitamin E and the B-group vitamins.  The lack of natural moisture in dry food requires the dog’s body to provide sufficient moisture to reconstitute the food in the digestive tract. This unnaturally stresses the kidneys, liver, and metabolic system.  Click here for citation.

Dr. Sanderson's fervent defense of the over-use of corn as a main ingredient in many commercial foods demonstrates how little scientific evidence she has to work with. She writes:

"If one considers that corn was a main staple in the diet of Native Americans* for many years, it is difficult to understand how critics can claim that corn is a filler used in pet foods."

Her point? She offers no clue. Chickens eat more corn than the American Indian ever did, but neither humans nor fowl are dogs. Corn is not a natural source of food for dogs, is very difficult for them to digest and assimilate, and is of little nutritional value to them. In the short digestive systems of dogs (and cats), plant proteins are far less digestible than meat proteins. Dr. Sanderson ignores the well established, scientific fact that canines need a lot less grains and a lot more meat protein than humans do. Most importantly for dogs with heart issues, grain-based, non-meat diets have shown to result in an L-carnitine deficiency.

* Dr. Sanderson's un-documented statement that American Indians subsisted mainly on corn demonstrates ignorant stereotyping. This type of claim is evidence that board certified veterinary nutritionists are biased (Who seriously believes that corn is a better protein for dogs than meat?) and that these "specialists" really have nothing of value to offer dog owners concerned about healthful  nutrition for their pets. Their "professional opinions" may border on malpractice.

Dr. Sanderson concludes her attack by confidently stating: "There is no scientific evidence that raw diets are superior to any commercial canned or dry diets. In contrast, the literature is full of decades worth of research supporting the health benefits of commercial pet foods." That simply proves the point that nearly all research into dog foods is funded by commercial pet food companies, and that objectivity in this area of veterinary research loses to those who issue the grants.

Dr. Lisa M. FreemanAnd, Dr. Sanderson is not unique. Another board certified veterinary nutritionist, Dr. Lisa M. Freeman (right) of Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, also sings the praises of commercial dry dog foods in which corn and soybeans are the major sources of protein, instead of real meat. She writes in "Answering Owners' Questions About Pet Foods" (as if she actually is trying to be helpful to those owners), this incredible statement:

"Some owners are concerned about using diets that contain any vegetable-based proteins, such as soybean or corn. These are NOT added as fillers and contain important nutrients. There is no reason why 'grain free' foods are better for either dogs or cats."

Dr. Freeman is so in the tank* with commercial kibble brands and against homemade and raw diets that she has convinced her veterinary school, Tufts University's Cummings School, to ban raw food from its small animal hospital, using the scare tactic of "for safety reasons". When Dr. Freeman participates in published, peer-reviewed works, she is forced to make conflict-of-interest disclosures such as this one:

"Dr. Freeman reports ... grants and personal fees from Nestlé Purina Pet-Care, personal fees from The Nutro Company, personal fees from P&G Petcare, and grants and personal fees from Royal Canin outside the submitted work."

* Note that her ban notice is sponsored by one of the major manufacturers of commercial kibble dog food.

Dr. Joseph WakshlagAnother example of the alternate universe of veterinary nutritionists is Dr. Joseph J. Wakshlag (left) of Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, who absurdly said in an interview about dog food that: "... often by-product is as good, maybe even a better source of over-all nutrition ... better off eating by-product than chicken breast."

Elsewhere, he also wrote: "My preferred method of feeding presently is kibble." The ignorance about canine nutrition in that one sentence is breath-taking, but it neatly summarizes the mindset of most veterinary nutritionists.

To the contrary of all this pro-kibble hype from these so-called "nutritionists", research studies that have not been funded by commercial pet fund manufacturers have reached the opposite -- and more obvious -- conclusion that balanced home-prepared meals are much more healthful for our dogs than commercial diets prepared by pet food conglomerates. For example, in a 2003 Belgium study of 522 dogs, the researchers found that dogs fed a species-appropriate homemade diet lived 32 months longer on average than dogs fed commercially available dog foods.

On The CouchIn 2006, another rare insightful research article on this topic focused on what motivates cat owners to feed their cats vegetarian diets. The conclusion reached was, "Vegetarian diets are fed to cats primarily for ethical considerations." In other words, cat owners do not feed their cats meat because those owners (or more likely, their veterinarians) have an emotional aversion to either killing livestock or to eating meat themselves. Perhaps this sort of personal psychological analysis would explain the absurdly irrational advice of veterinary nutritionists that corn, grains, and by-product kibble diets are better for our carnivorous dogs than real meat.*

* By the way, prior to 2013, Hill's Science Diet kibble cat food did not contain any meat, either.

On August 3, 2012*, the American Veterinary Medical Assn. (AVMA) voted overwhelmingly to condemn the feeding of human-grade raw diets to dogs and cats. Not surprisingly, the AVMA's meeting was heavily funded by Hill's and by Purina, two producers of junk dog food. So, if you are serious about developing a homemade diet and seek the advice of a dietary specialist, be very careful if you decide to ask a veterinary nutritionist for that advice. Most holistic veterinarians will have a much more receptive attitude towards your request.

* According to the AVMA website, in just the four months preceding this AVMA vote, over 60 commercial brands of dog and cat food were recalled, nearly all for "possible Salmonella contamination". Despite these massive recalls of kibble and canned pet foods, AVMA chose to condemn only pet owners for feeding healthful, human-grade raw food diets to their dogs and cats. Pet owners have been feeding raw diets to their dogs and cats for decades, yet to date, not one documented case of raw pet food causing illness in humans has been reported.

Dr. Jennifer LarsenHowever, even a board certified veterinary nutritionist occasionally will let a nugget of "raw" truth filter through. Dr. Jennifer Larsen (right) at the University of California, Davis, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, stated in August 2012 that:

"Raw diets are very popular and have their advantages and disadvantages, she said. They are palatable, highly digestible, the owner can control the ingredients, and the high fat content supports a nice skin and coat. Disadvantages are questionable nutritional adequacy and food safety."

We do not dispute that raw diets, or all home-prepared meals, should be properly balanced. And, as with any home-prepared foods, for humans and pets alike, hygiene rules should be followed. But speaking of diets being properly balanced, in a June 2013 report examining 129 dog food recipes prepared by veterinarians (!), only 8 of them -- just 6.2% -- met at least one of three essential nutrient guidelines. The results confirm that most veterinarians have been ill-trained in companion animal nutrition.

Kibble or Steak?One study which most of these so-called nutrition specialists probably will try to tear apart is a February 2017 article, in which a team of Italian investigators tested eight boxer dogs, four of which were fed a diet which included 70% raw human-grade beef, with four fed dry kibble. After 14 days, they switched the groups. They did the usualy feces-poking examinations over a period of 28 days, and then concluded that:

"The administration of MD [raw based] diet promoted a more balanced growth of bacterial communities and a positive change in the readouts of healthy gut functions in comparison to RD [commercial extruded] diet."

In an October 2017 article, Dr. Dottie LaFlamme, another "board certified veterinary nutritionist", makes these outlandish claims in a journal distributed to primary care veterinarians:

•"While a gluten-free pet food can be good, avoiding wheat gluten is not necessary for cats and dogs". (Her subtle point here is to dispute the concerns that kibble manufacturers substitute wheat and other grains as the main sources of protein, instead of real, fresh, edible meat.)

•"Meat, poultry and fish don’t have to be whole to be nutritious." (Here she is referring to ground up "meal" with who-knows-what is really in it.)

•"Meat by-products are highly nutritious." (This is another excuse for avoiding real, fresh, edible meat as the main source of protein. Meat "by-products" include things you would throw away if you were gutting fresh game or plucking a chicken. We are referring to things like feathers, digestive organs, anything that the butcher would discard.)

It appears she intends these to be used as talking points to argue with knowledgeable pet owners who wisely question the nutritional values of wheat-based protein; meat, poultry, and fish meal; and meat by-products. Do not fall for this load. It is an effort to justify the worst ingredients in typical dry dog food -- kibble.


PillsHeart-Healthy Supplements

Heart-healthy supplements to consider giving to cavaliers include:

Vitamins & Oils For All Cavaliers -- With or Without MVD:

A good multi-vitamin, like VetriScience Canine Plus MultiVitamin, which provides vitamins C, D, and E.

Fish oils for Omega 3s. An ounce of canned sardines, four meals a week provides sufficient Omega 3s.

Vetri-Science Cell Advance 880 Immune Health Antioxidant Support.

Early-to-Late Stage Alternative Heart Support Supplements:

 • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10 or ubiquinone or ubiquinol) -- read about it here.

D-Ribose -- read about it here.

Late Stage Heart Support Supplements:

Flavonex, a salvia and gingko extract herbal supplement made by Health Concern.

Renal K+ (potassium gluconate), by Vetoquinol USA, is an oral powder potassium supplement to support the kidneys.

Remember This:

Holistic supplements should be taken only if prescribed by a licensed veterinarian who also is holistically trained. Search webpages for finding holistic veterinarians  in the United States and Canada are located here, and in the United Kingdom, here.


Obesity Medications

Dirlotapide (Slentrol) -- see 2007 study -- is a diet drug approved by the FDA for canines that are at least 20% overweight. It is a selective microsomal triglyceride transfer protein inhibitor, which blocks the assembly and release of lipoproteins into the bloodstream. The drug induces the dog to eat less, because it causes reduces fat absorption and sends a signal from lipid-filled cells lining the intestine that the dog's appetite is satisfied.

After the dog has reached its goal weight, the drug's manufacturer, Pfizer Animal Health, recommends continued use for up to three more months, while appropriate levels of food intake and physical activity are determined to maintain the dog's optimal weight.

Adverse reactions associated with this treatment include vomiting, loose stools, diarrhea, and lethargy. It should not be prescribed for dogs with liver disease or in dogs receiving long-term corticosteroid therapy.

Mitratapide (Yarvitan)  by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, is a similar drug but is authorized only for shorter periods, in conjunction with dietary management and behavior modification. According to the manufacturer’s data, the product can lead to a 5 to 10 percent reduction in body weight during usage as instructed.


Research News

April 2023: Cavalier develops life-threatening lung disease from bacteria in raw deer meat. Dr. Aritada YoshimuraIn a March 2023 article, Japanese clinicians (Aritada Yoshimura [right], Daigo Azakami, Miori Kishimoto, Takahiro Ohmori, Daiki Hirao, Shohei Morita, Shinogu Hasegawa, Tatsushi Morita, Ryuji Fukushima) report a case study of a cavalier King Charles spaniel with chronic coughing and recurrent collapsed lung (pneumothorax). Diagnosis by x-rays and computed tomography (CT) showed multiple lesions (open wounds) in the right lung and gas in the chest cavity. The owner told the clinicians that the dog had been fed raw deer meat four months earlier, which had been purchased from a on-line butcher. The dog underwent surgery to remove the lesions and resect the lung. They diagnosed the dog with "parasitic granulomatous pneumonia due to the parasite Paragonimus ohirai, a bacteria commonly found in freshwater snails. The dog also was medicated with praziquantel. Over a year following treatment, they report that the dog was doing well with no signs of recurrence.

July 2022: Nine healthy dogs fed only Hill's Prescription Diet h/d dry food developed steady activation of their renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS). Dr. Jessica L. WardIn a July 2022 article, Iowa State Univ. researchers (Samantha Sotillo, Jessica L. Ward [right], Emilie Guillot, Oliver Domenig, Lingnan Yuan, Joseph S. Smith, Vojtech Gabriel, Chelsea A. Iennarella-Servantez, Jonathan P. Mochel) fed nine healthy dogs a low-sodium diet of Hill's Prescription Diet h/d dry food for five days. Their levels of sodium reached such low levels that it resulted in steady activiation of the dogs' renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS). The researchers intentionally wanted to activate the RAAS in order to conduct a study of dosages of benazepril, an angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor (ACE-I).

EDITOR'S NOTE: Excessively low sodium levels is an electrolyte disorder called hyponatremia.

July 2021: Feeding puppies dry foods or processed foods may lead to skin allergies as adults, study shows. Dr. Manal B. M. HemidaIn a July 2021 article, an international team of veterinary researchers (Manal B. M. Hemida [right], Siru Salin, Kristiina A. Vuori, Robin Moore, Johanna Anturaniemi, Sarah Rosendahl, Stella Maria Barrouin-Melo, Anna Hielm-Björkman) studied 4,022 dogs in Finland, to investigate the association of puppyhood diets with with later allergy/atopy skin signs (AAAS), as reported by the dogs' owners in answers to a questionnaire. They based their study upon the “microflora hypothesis,” which argues that early life exposures to beneficial nonpathogenic microbes can alter the dog's microbiome development, influence the innate and adaptive immune system, and cause permanent consequences for the dog's health. Forty-six food items and the ratio of four major diet types -- raw food, dry food, other commercial dog food, and home cooked food -- were tested for their association with AASS incidence later in life. They report finding that:

• Puppies which consumed at least 20% of their diet as raw food, or below 80% of their diet as dry food, showed a decreased prevalence of skin allergy signs as adults.
• Puppies which consumed no raw food or 80% or more of dry food, showed an increased prevalence of skin allergy signs as adults.
• Puppies which consumed no other processed commercial dog food, showed a decreased prevalence of skin allergy signs as adults.
• Puppies which consumed at least 20% of their diet as other processed dog food, showed an increased prevalence of AASS as adults.
• Eating raw tripe, raw organ meats, human meal leftovers, and fish oil supplements as well as eating more that 20% of the diet as raw and/or less than 80% of the diet as dry, in general, showed a decreased prevalence of skin allergy signs as adults.
• Dogs fed fruits, mixed-oil supplements, dried animal parts, and dogs that drank from puddles, showed an increased prevalence of skin allergy signs as adults.

They concluded that their findings agree with the microflora hypothesis. They stated:

"We conclude that eating raw tripe, raw organ meats, fish oil supplements and human meal leftovers during puppyhood were identified as significant potential protective factors of AASS incidence. In contrast, eating fruits, mixed oil supplements, dried animal parts, and drinking from puddles outside during puppyhood were detected as significant potential risk factors of AASS incidence. These findings are further backed up by the diet ratio analysis where consumption of different feeding patterns during puppy age showed that even if the dog eats 80% of its food as dry, adding a minimum of 20% of the food as raw, significantly decreased the risk of AASS later in life. A concept of early exposure to beneficial bacteria by serving “real foods” and avoiding sugary fruits might be usable as an AASS prevention action. However, the study only suggests a causal relationship but does not prove it. Diet intervention studies are required to further elucidate the in-depth association between dietary factors such as raw and dry foods, human meal leftovers and beneficial dosing of oils and the development of AASS."

March 2021: Puppy fed only chicken and beef developed nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism due to dietary calcium insufficiency. Dr. Catarina AmorimIn a March 2021 article, a pair of University of Liverpool veterinary clinicians (Catarina Amorim [right], Heather Jones) report treating a 5-month old Bernese mountain dog for severe bone pain and inability to stand. The puppy had been fed only raw chicken and beef. They diagnosed nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism due to dietary calcium insufficiency. After five days of in-hospital treatment, the puppy was able to walk stiffly. A re-evaluation appointment was scheduled for four weeks later, but the owner failed to fed the dog a prescribed diet, and the patient was euthanized three weeks later.

Skeptical CavalierHealth.orgEDITOR'S NOTE: This is a sad and very painful example of why it is so important for dog owners -- especially of puppies -- to feed only properly balanced meals. This case emphasizes that the diet (only chicken and beef) was raw. But this is not about whether the food is cooked or not. It is about balancing the meat -- all of which is high in phosphorus and low in calcium -- with supplemental calcium. Attaining the proper calcium-to-phosphorus ratio is rather complex, and if you don't know how to do it, then don't make up recipes which are not approved by knowledgeable dietary specialists, like qualified holistic veterinarians.

March 2021: Cavaliers rank 7th in prevalence of obesity in UK in 2016 study. Camilla PegramIn a March 2021 article by a team of Royal Veterinary College researchers (Camilla Pegram [right], E. Raffan, E. White, A. H. Ashworth, D. C. Brodbelt, D. B. Church, D. G. O'Neill), the frequency and breed predisposition for dogs being overweight in the UK in 2016 was reviewed, using the VetCompass database. They stated that:

"Obesity has been reported as a modern day epidemic in companion animals (Kipperman & German 2018) and is the most common nutritional disorder seen in dogs, resulting from a chronic excess of energy intake in food relative to energy expenditure."

The study included a random sample of 22,333 dogs from a population of 905,544 dogs under primary veterinary care during 2016 in the UK. They found that breeds at increased risk of overweight status compared to crossbreds were (1) the pug, (2) beagle, (3) golden retriever, (4) English springer spaniel, (5) border terrier, (6) Labrador retriever, (7) cavalier King Charles spaniel and (8) cocker spaniel.

November 2019: Heart supplements reduced left atrial size and mitral regurtitation in MVD-affected dogs over 6 months. Dr. Allison HeaneyIn a November 2019 article, a team of Purina researchers (Qinghong Li, Allison Heaney [right], Natalie Langenfeld-McCoy, Brittany Vester Boler, Dorothy P. Laflamme) compared the effects of adding heart supplements to placebo in a 6-month long study of dogs in Stages B1 and B2 of mitral valve disease (MVD). Nineteen MVD-dogs participated -- 17 Beagles and 2 minature Schnauzers -- and were divided into two groups -- 10 in the treatment group and 9 in the placebo group. Two dogs in the treatment group also were treated with MVD medications, and three dogs in the placebo group received MVD drugs. The supplements added to the diet of the treatment group dogs consisted of:

• medium-chain triglycerides
• longchain omega-3 fatty acids
• lysine and methionine (carnitine precursors)
• vitamin E (an antioxidant)
• magnesium
• taurine

At the conclusion of the six months, the average left-atrial-to-aorta ratio (LA/Ao) of the treated group dogs decreased slightly, while the LA/Ao of the placebo dogs increased. (Increases in the LA/Ao ratio in MVD-affected dogs indicates an enlarging left atrium due to MVD.) The average left atrial diameter (LAD) of the treated dogs reduced slightly, while the LAD of the placebo dogs increased. They noticed no significant changes in the sizes of the left ventricles of any of the MVD-affected dogs. The researchers concluded:

"Our study demonstrated that dietary intervention with a blend of nutrients designed to address metabolic changes associated with MMVD in dogs was able to slow or reverse cardiac changes in dogs with early, preclinical MMVD. This study did not provide the opportunity to extrapolate effects from any single nutrient within the CPB. Rather, we believe the key nutrients acted synergistically to achieve the documented efficacy."

Skeptical CavalierHealth.orgEDITOR'S NOTE: This study indicates that supplementing MVD-affected dogs with certain vitamins and minerals may slow the progression of the MVD and even reverse heart enlargement. We recommend that MVD-affected cavaliers be given a combination of such supplements, based upon holistic veterinarians' advice. See our list of heart-healthy supplements here.

October 2018: Cornell Univ. researchers find nine dry dog foods contaminated with glyphosate herbicide. Glyphosate CartoonIn a December 2018 article, a team of researchers (Jiang Zhao, Steven Pacenka, Jing Wu, Brian K. Richards, Tammo Steenhuis, Kenneth Simpson, Anthony G. Hay) from Cornell University tested nine dry dog foods and nine cat foods from 8 manufacturers for glyphosate, the pesticide in RoundUp, and found all 18 foods contaminated with the weed killer. See the list of foods here. Glyphosate has been declared a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and other toxic outcomes also reported in scientific research literature include genotoxicity, neurotoxicity, teratogenicity, liver, kidney, and gut bacteria toxicity. The glyphosate concentrations in the tested foods were higher than those reported for average human diets. They conclude that the tendency of dogs to eat more as a percent of their body weight than humans do, combined with higher glyphosate levels in their food suggests that the dogs' exposure to glyphosate may be 2.7 to 28 times higher on a body weight basis depending on the brand.

August 2018: Japanese researchers devise body weight and body length measurements ratio to determine dogs' body condition score (BCS).  In an August 2018 article, a team of researchers (Akiko Koizumi, Rina Aihara, Honoka Asakawa, Momoko Sakurada, Kazuya Otsuji) from Teikyo University of Science in Japan studied the body length measurements and weights of 42 dogs (including one cavalier King Charles spaniel) of 19 breeds, ot analyze correlation with the ideal body weight (IBW). They included size, sex, and body fat percentage in their analyses. They report finding a high correlation between IBW and the dog's length (between the episternum and the ischial tuberosity). BCS was estimated based on the difference between IBW and current body weight. They conclude that these results suggest that a simple morphometric measurement can be a practical alternative to the conventional BCS assessment. (See Body Weight - Body Length - BCS chart above.)

June 2018: Italian researchers find only one of 15 dry dietary elimination pet foods lists correct ingredients. Dr. Rebecca RicciIn a June 2018 article, a team of Italian researchers (Rebecca Ricci [right], Daniele Conficoni, Giada Morelli, Carmen Losasso, Leonardo Alberghini, Valerio Giaccone, Antonia Ricci, Igino Andrighetto) studied 40 dog and cat foods designed as dietary elimination diets -- 15 dry foods and 25 wet foods -- to determine if they listed the correct ingredients and did not contain any unlisted animal species ingredients. They found that only one of the 15 dry foods correctly matched their animal species ingredient list, and that only nine of 25 wet foods did so. The most frequent contaminants identified in dry and wet foods were pork, chicken and turkey. The researchers did not identify the brands or product names of any of these dog foods.

June 2018: Veterinary nutritionist Lisa Freeman suggests grain-free or exotic dog foods are causing dilated cardiomyopathy. Dr. Lisa FreemanIn a June 2018 blog article, veterinary nutritionist Dr. Lisa Freeman (right), suspects that "boutique", grain-free, and/or "exotic" diets may be causing dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. She admits that there is no evidence to support this accusation, and that, "It’s not yet clear if diet is causing this issue." She states that "The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine and veterinary cardiologists are currently investigating this issue."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Dr. Freeman's comments appear to be an attempt to leak information -- which may or may not be factual -- from on-going research, which raises an ethical question if she is participating in that research. She is notorious for advocating meatless dry dog food diets (kibble) with corn and/or soybean as the sources of protein. For example, she stated:

"Some owners are concerned about using diets that contain any vegetable-based proteins, such as soybean or corn. These are NOT added as fillers and contain important nutrients. There is no reason why 'grain free' foods are better for either dogs or cats."

So, when she refers to grains in dog food, she is talking about making corn and soybeans the dogs' protein. All in all, her current article is based upon no research evidence (much less peer-reviewed), and she admits that fact, if you dig down deep enough. That makes her headline totally misleading ("A broken heart: Risk of heart disease in boutique or grain-free diets and exotic ingredients"). She should at least have put a question mark at its end, instead of a period. When Dr. Freeman does participate in published, peer-reviewed works, she is forced to make conflict-of-interest disclosures such as this one:

"Dr. Freeman reports ... grants and personal fees from Nestlé Purina Pet-Care, personal fees from The Nutro Company, personal fees from P&G Petcare, and grants and personal fees from Royal Canin outside the submitted work."

We can think of no veterinary specialty that could find itself as hopelessly conflicted as that of veterinary nutritionists and their "college", the ACVN. When you consider the financial tentacles of Hills and these other kibble pushers named in the quote above, wiggling through the veterinary schools and waiting rooms of general practice vets, just imagine how much more these manufacturers spend on veterinary nutritionists, especially those involved in dietary research at vet schools. That is why we discount the value of ACVN members and advocate holistic veterinarians as the best source of dietary advice.

April 2017: CKCSs are over-represented in UK survey of overweight dogs. Duh!In an April 2017 article reporting resuts of an on-line questionnaire survey covering details of 11,154 UK dogs (age, sex, neuter status, breed), current body weight, whether or not the dogs were overweight, lifestyle, activity and behavior. A total of 1,801 owners (16.1%) reported that their dogs were overweight. They were significantly heavier more likely to be neutered, older, and of certain breeds (the cavalier King Charles spaniel, Beagle, bull terrier, bulldog, Chihuahua, golden retriever, Labrador retriever, and pug). The owners of overweight dogs also reported that their dogs were exercised less frequently and for shorter periods of time than those reported not to be overweight.

March 2017: Italian researchers find 70% raw beef diet bests dry kibble in producing healthy gut functions. Kibble or Steak?In a February 2017 article, a team of Italian investigators (Sandri M, Dal Monego S, Conte G, Sgorlon S, Stefanon B) tested eight boxer dogs, four of which were fed a diet which included 70% raw human-grade beef, with four fed dry kibble. After 14 days, they switched the groups. They did the usualy feces-poking examinations over a period of 28 days, and then concluded that:

"The administration of MD [raw based] diet promoted a more balanced growth of bacterial communities and a positive change in the readouts of healthy gut functions in comparison to RD [commercial extruded] diet."

May 2016: Gene researchers find a POMC gene mutation in Labradors is associated with obesity and greater food motivation. Dr. Cathryn S. MellershIn a May 2016 article, a large team of genetic researchers* studied 310 Labrador retrievers, assessing their weight and their desire for food. They found that 23% of the dogs carried at least one copy of a mutant form of the pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) gene, which encodes proteins that help switch off hunger after a meal. For each copy of the mutant gene, a dog was on average 1.9 kilograms heavier than Labradors with no copies of the variant.

* Eleanor Raffan, Rowena J. Dennis, Conor J. O’Donovan, Julia M. Becker, Robert A. Scott, Stephen P. Smith, David J. Withers, Claire J. Wood, Elena Conci, Dylan N. Clements, Kim M. Summers, Alexander J. German, Cathryn S. Mellersh (right), Maja L. Arendt, Valentine P. Iyemere, Elaine Withers, Josefin Söder, Sara Wernersson, Göran Andersson, Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, Giles S.H. Yeo, Stephen O’Rahilly.

November 2015: Content analysis of 17 commercial pet wet foods show misrepresentations in most of their ingredient lists. Examine the label; then cross your fingers.In a December 2015 article investigating the animal species contents of 17 popular wet (canned) pet foods, major falsehoods were discovered in the ingredients lists of nearly all of the products. For instance:

• In 82% of the products, the DNA of animal species not listed among the ingredients were found in products.

• 41% of the products advertised "with beef" in their brand names or otherwise prominently on their labels, yet the major protein sources were chicken and pork. These included canned products by Purina and Pedigree/Mars

• A third of the foods which advertised "chicken" in their brand names or on their labels contained more beef or pork than chicken. One Hill's product listed "chicken" in its ingredients but contained no chicken at all.

• One Pedigree product claiming "14% whitefish" among its ingredients contained no fish at all.

• One Aldi product claiming to be salmon and listing fish first in its ingredients and not any chicken actually was 92% chicken.

These misrepresentations of the ingredients of commercial canned foods may have serious consequences for dogs and cats which are allergic to certain protein sources and are not supposed to consume them.

July 2015: Cavaliers were among 14 breeds found overweight in study of Crufts winners.CRUFTS In a July 2015 study of 960 winning dogs in 28 breeds at Crufts from 2001 to 2013, the researchers (Z. R. Such, A. J. German) compared specimens in 14 obese-prone breeds and 14 non-obese-prone breeds. Forty cavalier King Charles spaniels were included among the obese-prone. Of those 40 CKCSs, 33 were determined to be of ideal weight and 7 (18%) were found to be overweight. The most likely to be overweight were the pugs, basset hounds, and Labrador retrievers, and the least likely were standard poodles, Rhodesian ridgebacks, Hungarian vizslas, and Dobermanns.

June 2015:  US veterinarians prove they remain useful tools of Hill's Pet Nutrition by endorsing it's junk food. Kibble is Junk Food for DogsIn a June 2015 report, a team of researchers from Lincoln Memorial University and the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and two employees of Hill's Pet Nutrition proved that throwing $$$$$ around can get Hill's veterinary journal endorsements of its "prescription diet" junk food. In this case, Hill's funded a study of its Canine Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution kibble, a mess allegedly designed to take pounds off of overweight dogs, that is loaded with wheat, corn, pea bran and soybean meals, and "cellulose" (the equivalent of sawdust, which is intended to give the dogs that "full feeling").

They conclude: "This study confirmed the effectiveness of the NWMF [Canine Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution kibble] in weight management of client-owned dogs. Owners reported significant improvements in dog’s quality of life without negative side effects", which, of course, is exactly the conclusion Hill's intended from the beginning of its heavy financial investment in the "study".

EDITOR'S NOTE: This study proves two things: (1) So-called veterinary nutritionists remain clueless about good nutrition for companion animals; and (2) They have no shame when it comes to accepting money from Hill's Pet Nutrition.

Dr. Joseph WakshlagOctober 2014: Joe Wakshlag is making some progress in his education about feeding dogs what they need. In a September 2014 presentation before the commercial petfood industry, board certified veterinary nutritionist Dr. Joe Wakshlag (right) concedes that "working dogs" -- dogs which are active in physical exercise activities such as agility, fox hunting, sled dogs, etc. -- need "highly digestible animal based protein". So far, so good. But he does not reach the obvious conclusion that ALL dogs should get their protein from highly digestible animal based protein, instead of the grain based kibble that he otherwise advocates.

September 2014: Only 60% of tested commercial pet foods correctly identify meat ingredients. Pork is the most frequent hidden ingredient. In an April 2015 study of 52 commercial pet foods, only 31 of them correctly identified the meat ingredients. 31% of the foods contained meat species not included on the product label. Pork was the most common meat not identified on the ingredients lists. In the Chapman University study, DNA was extracted from each product and tested for the presence of eight meat species: beef, goat, lamb, chicken, goose, turkey, pork, and horse.

September 2014: Survey of 2,000+ breeders shows half (wisely) do not trust veterinarians for nutrition advice. In a September 2014 study surveying 2,067 dog breeders in the USA and Canada, researchers Kevin M. Connolly, Cailin R. Heinze, and Lisa M. Freeman found that 49.3% do not consult veterinarians for advice in feeding their dogs. Breeders feeding home-prepared diets were particularly distrustful of vets' advice. The researchers should not be surprised by the results. Why should they expect breeders to seek helpful, objective nutrition advice from vets who litter their waiting rooms with bags of kibble they are trying to sell to their patients' owners?

The researchers report that "Unsubstantiated health and marketing information influenced diet selection of many breeders." This indicates the researchers' predictable bias against healthful raw food and home-prepared diets. The study concluded that the solution is for vets to take "a more proactive role in directing dog breeders and other pet owners toward scientifically substantiated sources of diet information", meaning to steer breeders away from home-prepared diets and towards the commercial dog foods which finance and control the biased research into canine nutrition.

Skeptical CavalierHealth.orgEDITOR'S NOTE: This study confirms that veterinary nutritionists cannot be trusted as objective scientific researchers. Their goal here clearly was to advance the indoctrination of dog owners about feeding dog foods which their commercial dog food sponsors manufacture. The researchers of this study all are at Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, a school notoriously underwritten by low quality dog food companies such as Hill's. For example, researcher Dr. Lisa M. Freeman, as noted above, irresponsibly has advocated commercial dry dog foods in which corn and soybeans are the major sources of protein, instead of real meat, insisting that they are not fillers and that "there is no reason why 'grain free' foods are better for either dogs or cats."

Dr. Constance DiNataleMay 2014: Dr. Constance DiNatale explains basic Chinese food therapy in developing dog food recipes. In a May 2014 article, Dr. Consttance DiNatale (right), an holistic veterinarian with expertise in food therapy, provides details into how to determine what ingredients should be incorporated into howe made recipes, based upon the observed clinical signs, including the dog's tongue and pulse evaluations, to holistically treat dogs in need of food therapy.

April 2014: New dog genome research debunks evolutionist theory that dogs have adapted to Kibble or Steak?carbohydrates. In a January 2014 report by an international team of genetic researchers, and in a May 2014 article reviewing the January study and two previous studies published in 2013 (see March 2013 report), the researchers and reviewer conclude that there is insufficient evidence to support the previous papers' conclusion that post-domestication selection of dogs from wolves by mankind had changed the dogs' genes into carbohydrate cravers. Canine nutritionists have argued, without solid evidence, that dogs have evolved from carnivores to omnivores as a result of their companionship with humans over thousands of years. The most recent study, which examined a much greater number of wolf and dog genomes, is substantially more comprehensive than previous ones, and indicates that the number of amylase genes were not fixed or stable across diverse wolf and dog genomes, and that no consistent pattern for dietary evolution exists at all.

February 2014: Pet food specialist links dry kibble to increase in pets' cancer. In a December 2013 article in Food Safety News, Barbara Royal, D.V.M., of The Royal Treatment Veterinary Center in Chicago, is concerned about how dry kibble is processed:

“The extrusion process (a high heat processing), creates two potent carcinogens, a heterocyclic amine and an acrylamide, which will be in every extruded kibble food, but certainly not be on the label. It is a byproduct of  the extrusion process, and because it is not an ingredient that is added, it need not be put on the label,” she explains.

“So owners are unaware that, with every bite, they are feeding a potent carcinogen. I believe that this is one reason we are seeing such an increase in cancers in our pets.”

December 2013: Obesity negatively affects dogs' cardiopulmonary function, study confirms. In a December 2013 report, an international team of veterinary researchers (Australia, Belgium, and Italy) confirms what long has been suspected, that obesity in dogs significantly harms cardiopulmonary function, including heart rate and blood oxygen saturation. The study included twelve overweight dogs, including one cavalier King Charles spaniel and six lab Beagles. They concluded:

"Therefore, results of the present study allow us to strongly recommend owners of obese dogs to target an ideal BW [body weight of] BCS 5/9* for their dogs."

*BCS 5/9 refers to the Body Condition System 9 point scale above.

December 2013: Wild-eyed hysteria reigns among veterinary nutritionists over feeding healthful raw diets. In a December 2013 JAVMA screed in which they admit a total lack of any substantive Wild Eyed Mikefactual research, "board certified veterinary nutritionists" Lisa M. Freeman, Marjorie L. Chandler, Beth A. Hamper, and Lisa P. Weeth, all ardent first defenders of their programs' big money  financiers -- the crappy kibble manufacturers like Hill's and Purina -- parade out a list of "potential" horrible consequences of daring to feed our dogs a healthful diet of home-prepared raw meats and vegetables. They also warn veterinarians to "counsel" raw-feeding pet owners on the "risks" (which they admit they do not know).

So, we may expect these baseless scare tactics to spread exponentially each time we take our dogs to gullible vets who chose not to do their own research about the extraordinary health advantages of feeding properly balanced, home-prepared diets of fresh meats and vegetables. The Bottom Line: do not count on these so-called "board certified veterinary nutritionists" for knowledgeable, objective advice about formulating well balanced raw diets for your dogs.

SHAZAM!October 2013: Obese dogs exercise less! SHAZAM! In an October 2013 study of 39 dogs, the researchers reached the totally unsurprising "preliminary" conclusion that "obesity is associated with lower vigorous intensity physical activity". This comes on the heels of the April 2012 study finding that dogs' weight gain is tied to their quantity of food intake, and the June 2012 study finding that the quality of life is reduced in obese dogs, but improves after weight loss.

Toxic Dog FoodSeptember 2013: Dry dog food manufacturers continue to lie about ingredients in their prescription allergen diets. In a May 2013 study of twelve dry (kibble) dog foods especially marketed for dogs with food allergies, an Italian research team found that ten of the kibbles (83.33%) contained protein and/or fat sources not disclosed in the ingredients lists. While the report does not disclose the names of the manufacturers or the brands of the kibbles, the researchers state that they came from five international dog food companies and consisted of eleven novel protein diets and one hydrolysed diet.

Examples of false advertising included two advertised as containing only duck but were contaminated with fish and mammal proteins; two advertised as containing only rabbit but were contaminated with bird and fish; one advertised as containing only deer but was contaminated with bird and fish proteins; and one advertised as containing only lamb but was contaminated with bird proteins.

The researchers conclude:

"The discovery that commercial limited antigen diets contained ingredients not declared on the label is discouraging because feeding an actually food-hypersensitive dog a product unpredictably contaminated with a potentially allergenic protein may preclude significant remission of symptoms and mislead the clinician in diagnosing AFR. The observation that more than 80% of the selected diets were contaminated signifies that the risk of a dog failing to recover during the dietary elimination trial is high, and this raises questions regarding the diagnostic validity of the products used. ... The results of our study suggest that feeding dogs commercial limited antigen diets may not prevent them from ingesting potential allergens. ...

"In conclusion, the use of ten of twelve pet foods tested herein as limited antigen diets may not reliably rule out a diagnosis of AFR, and the use of home-cooked diets should be considered whenever the dog fails to respond to dietary restriction."

This very disturbing report is consistent with a similar study published in August 2012 in which was found that ten of twenty-one commercial dog foods had falsified their ingredients. See a summary of that 2012 report here.

June 2013: Only 6.2% of vet-prepared dog food recipes met minimum essential nutrient guidelines. In a June 2013 report, US researchers examined 129 veterinarian-prepared dog food recipes and found only 8 (6.2%) that meet at least one of three essential nutrient guidelines. The results suggest that most veterinarians have been ill-trained in companion animal nutrition.

March 2013: US researchers find false crude fiber percentages reported on commercial dog food ingredients lists. A team of University of California at Davis nutritionists studied 20 canned and 20 dry dog foods for fiber concentration. They reported in their April 2013 article that ingredients lists on the packages were unreliable as indicators of the actual fiber concentrations and compositions of the dog foods.

Examine the label; then cross your fingers.August 2012: 10 of 21 tested commercial dog foods falsified their ingredients. In an August 2012 report, ten of twenty-one tested commercial dog foods either contained ingredients specifically excluded on the label or did not contain ingredients specifically advertised on the label. For instance, a food labeled as containing venison instead contained beef and pork and no venison or deer meat at all; a food labeled "lamb" contained pork instead of lamb; a food labeled "chicken meal" contained pork instead. Foods labeled "no gluten" or "grain-free" in fact contained gluten and grain levels four times higher than allowable amounts. Commercial pet food companies are notorious for switching main, advertised ingredients, depending upon costs of those ingredients. This August 2012 report clearly substantiates that fact.

August 2012: Netherlands' obesity in show dogs study finds cavaliers in the 4 to 5 "ideal" range of the 9-point BCS. In an August 2012 Netherlands study of 1,379 show dogs (128 breeds), including 18 CKCSs, the cavaliers averaged a 9-point Body Condition Score of  4.67, which puts them squarely in the middle of the "ideal" range of 4 to 5. The 18 cavaliers were scored between 3 and 6. Overall,18.6% of the show dogs had a BCS >5, and 1.1% of the show dogs had a BCS>7.

June 2012: Royal Veterinary College (RVC) conducts study of the influence of diet on improving seizure control. The RVC is working with a small animal health and wellness company to confirm the efficacy Royal Veterinary College (RVC)and safety of a novel diet in the management of dogs with idiopathic epilepsy being treated with phenobarbitone and/or potassium bromide. To confirm the efficacy of this new diet, RVC seeks to recruit dogs which are suspected of having idiopathic epilepsy, with these qualifications: (a) dogs which have a seizure frequency of at least three seizures in the last three months; and (b) dogs receiving phenobarbitone and/or potassium bromide treatment. For more information, contact RVC by clicking here, and/or downloading this brochure.

DUH Squared!June 2012: Another duh! UK research paper title says it all: "Quality of life is reduced in obese dogs but improves after successful weight loss." See summary of the report here in the Veterinary Journal, again.

Duh!April 2012: Well, duh! UK study concludes dogs' weight gain is tied to quantity of food intake. A team of UK veterinary dieticians with nothing more pressing to do, spent 4.5 years studying the diets of 33 dogs and found that limiting weight gain was directly related to limiting food intake. See the summary of this report in the Veterinary Journal.

February 2011: Four out of four venison diet dog foods also contained common pet food proteins. In a US diet study report, manufacturers of four (out of four tested) commercial dog foods that claim to contain only venison as a protein really included other common pet food proteins.

May 2010: Introducing the Heart Diet. UK cardiologist Simon Swift noted at a 2010 symposium that:

"Interestingly, asymptomatic dogs fed a 'heart diet' had a reduction in heart size. The 'heart diet' included decrease sodium, increased levels of arginine, carnitine and taurine as well as supplementation with omega 3 fatty acids. Whether this translates into a delay before heart failure develops remains to be proven."

The Heart Diet was reported in a 2006 article by Drs. Lisa M. Freeman (board certified veterinary nutritionist) and John E. Rush (board certified veterinary cardiologist), and by Peter J. Markwell (senior veterinary nutritionist at a UK dog food company). They fed "a moderately reduced sodium diet enriched with antioxidants, n-3 fatty acids, taurine, carnitine, and arginine" for four weeks to fourteen dogs, including cavaliers, with asymptomatic mitral valve disease. Another fifteen asymptomatic dogs, including cavaliers, were fed a placebo. They found that the dogs on the heart diet had measurable reductions in heart size, including the left-atrial dimension and left-ventricular internal dimension.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A downside of this 2006 study was that, as might have been expected when veterinary nutritionists are involved in the research, the food fed in both diets consisted of "commercial, extruded, dry dog foods", i.e., kibble. Another downside, as expected, is that the study was funded by Mr. Markwell's employer, a kibble manufacturer.

November 2007: Royal Canin sponsors study finding Royal Canin's Satiety Support diet is best for weight loss. In a November 2007 report, researchers from the Royal Canin Research Center in France compared three dry food diets (kibble) -- (1) their own Satiety Support diet, (2) their own Obesity Management diet, and (3) Hill's Pet Nutrition's r/d diet. All three foods were heavy in cellulose and other nutritionally worthless fillers intended to give dogs "that full feeling", along with corn and wheat. Royal Canin's Satiety Support, a diet both high in protein and fiber reportedly was found by the Royal Canin researchers to be the most effective of the three products in satisfying appetite and thereby reducing the dog's inclination to begging and scavenging. They also compared the diets for satiety, digestibility and palatability. 

August 2007: Pfizer finds its Slentrol is effective in reducing dogs' weight. In a study sponsored by Pfizer, Inc., the manufacturer of dirlotapide (Slentrol), a weight-loss product for overweight canines, the researchers found that "dirlotapide ... was effective in reducing body weight in client-owned overweight dogs in the absence of dietary restriction or increased exercise. Dirlotapide treatment was found to be clinically safe, and although emesis and diarrhea occurred in a few dogs, all cases resolved spontaneously."  Of the 245 dogs involved in the study, 5% were CKSCs.


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Veterinary Resources

Obesity in pet dogs. E. Mason. J.Vet.Rec. 1970;86:612-616. Quote: "In a survey of 1000 dogs over one year of age attending as outpatients in a hospital clinic, 28% were obese. The incidence of obesity was higher in females (32%) than in males (23%). In both sexes the incidence increased as the dogs approached middle age, from 12 to 34% in males and from 21 to 41% in females. Incidence differed among breeds. Dogs given proprietary dog biscuits or meal as part of their diet showed a higher incidence of obesity than those which were not. Dogs getting table scraps or other home-prepared food as the main part of their food showed a higher incidence of obesity than those fed on proprietary canned dog meat. The incidence was higher (44%) among dogs owned by obese people than among dogs owned by people of normal physique (25%) and was higher (34 to 37%) among dogs of people in middle and elderly age groups than among dogs owned by people under 40 years of age (20%). The owners of 31% of the dogs classified as obese considered their dogs to be normal, not obese."

Study of obesity in dogs visiting veterinary practices in the United Kingdom. Edney, A.T.B., Smith, P.M. Vet. Rec. 1986;118:391–396. Quote: "A total of 8268 dogs were surveyed in 11 veterinary practices in the United Kingdom during a period of six months in 1983. The primary purpose of the survey was to assess the level of obesity on a five point scale with properly identified criteria. Information on the clinical condition of each dog was also recorded as well as proportions of food types fed, particulars of breed, sex, age, sexual status and the dog's name. Results showed that 21.4 per cent of dogs in the survey were judged to be obese and 2.9 per cent gross; 1.9 per cent were judged as thin, 13.5 per cent lean and 60.3 per cent were optimum. Labradors were found to be the most likely breed to become obese. Neutered females were about twice as likely to be obese as entire females. The same trend was evident with neutered males. Circulatory problems were associated with dogs over 10 years old and those which were gross, rather than obese. A similar trend was discernable with articular/locomotor problems. Skin and reproductive problems showed little relationship with age or obesity. Neoplasia was much more prevalent in dogs over 10 years old but had little relationship with either sexual status or obesity rating. There was a high rate of usage of prepared food for all categories. The amount of fresh food fed decreased rapidly as the proportion of canned food increased, but the obese and non-obese dogs showed very little difference in the type of food fed."

Body Condition and Energy Intakes of Dogs in a Referral Teaching Hospital. David S. Kronfeld, Susan Donoghue, Lawrence T. Glickman. J.Nutrition. Nov. 1991;121(11):S157-S158. Quote: "Our aim was to assess body condition in dogs presenting to a veterinary hospital and compare that to dogs in the same hospital receiving nutrition support. ... The data suggest that body condition scores from a population of dogs presenting to a large referral teach ing hospital vary with breed and age. These differences should be considered when assessing nutritional status of patients and when prescribing energy intakes for sick dogs."

Effect of age and body weight on neurohumoral variables in healthy Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Eriksson A.S., Järvinen A.-K., Eklund K.K., Vuolteenaho O.J., Toivari M.H., Nieminen M.S. Am.J.Vet.Res. November 2001;62(11):1818-1824.  Quote: "Objective: To evaluate the effect of age and body weight on several neurohumoral variables that are commonly altered in heart failure in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Animals: 17 healthy privately owned Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, 10 males and 7 females, ranging in age from 0.4 to 9.7 years, and ranging in body weight from 6.6 to 12.2 kg. Procedure: The clinical condition of the dogs was evaluated by physical examination, thoracic radiography, and echocardiography. Plasma nitrate and nitrite (P-NN), N-terminal atrial natriuretic and brain natriuretic peptides (NT-ANP and BNP, respectively), endothelin (ET-1), urine cyclic guanosine monophosphate (UcGMP), and urine nitrate and nitrite (U-NN) concentrations were analyzed. Results: Plasma concentrations of NT-ANP and P-NN increased significantly with age, but plasma NT-ANP and P-NN also correlated significantly, irrespective of age. A modest increase of left atrial size did not explain the increase of NT-ANP and P-NN with age. Concentration of ET-1 correlated positively with heart rate; heart rate did not change with age. Weight had a negative impact on NT-ANP, P-NN, and U-cGMP concentrations and left atrial relative size. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance: Age-matched controls are essential for evaluation of NT-ANP and PNN concentrations and left atrial size. Weight may alter reference values of plasma NT-ANP, P-NN, and urine cGMP concentrations. Natriuretic peptides can be used as further evidence that heart failure exists. The increased plasma concentrations of NT-ANP (but not BNP) and P-NN with aging reflect neurohumoral physiologic changes that must be distinguished from pathologic changes in patients with heart failure."

Relations Between the Domestic Dogs’ Well-Being and Life Expectancy. Lippert, G., & Sapy, B. Prince Laurent Foundation Price. 2003. Quote: "Study of the influence of food served to the dog on the average age of death: We took into consideration three categories of food: (1) Home made; (2) Mixture (A mix of home made and industrial food); (3) Industrial (Retail sold dog food). The difference between the 2 extremes amounts to more than 32 months (approximately 3 years). This difference is important (F Value: 6.67; Pr>F: 0017). Food is consequently of great importance for the life expectancy of the dog. We can consider that home made food is a protection factor for the domestic dog."

Prevalence of obesity in dogs examined by Australian veterinary practices and the risk factors involved. P. D. McGreevy, P. C. Thomson, C. Pride, A. Fawcett, T. Grassi, B. Jones. Vet.Rec. May 2005. Quote: "A study was undertaken to determine the prevalence of obesity in dogs examined by veterinary practices across Australia, and to determine the risk factors involved; 1700 practices were asked to complete a veterinarian opinion survey, and of the 428 practices that responded, 178 were selected to complete an RSPCA Australia Pet Obesity Questionnaire, together with additional practices selected by Australian State and Territory RSPCA societies. This questionnaire was sent to a total of 209 practices which were asked to record details of eligible dogs, and the reason why they had been examined during the previous month. Fifty-two (24·9 per cent) of the practices responded and provided data on 2661 dogs, of which 892 (33·5 per cent) were overweight and 201 (7·6 per cent) were obese. A further 112 dogs (4·2 per cent) were classified as thin or very thin, but these were excluded from subsequent analyses. Of the remaining 2549 dogs, approximately half were female and 1905 (74·7 per cent) were neutered. The dogs’ weight category was influenced by several factors. Breed influenced the importance of sex and neutering as risk factors. The prevalence of overweight and obese dogs combined was 41 per cent; the prevalence increased with age up to about 10 years old, and then declined. Rural and semirural dogs were more at risk of obesity than urban and suburban dogs. ... Breeds of dog with a high risk of becoming obese include cocker spaniels, labrador retrievers, collies (Mason 1970), long-haired dachshunds, Shetland sheepdogs, Cairn terriers, bassett hounds, Cavalier King Charles spaniels and beagles."

Prevalence and risk factors for obesity in adult dogs from private US veterinary practices. Lund EM, Armstrong PJ, Kirk CA, Klausner JS. Intern J Appl Res Vet Med. 2006;4(2):177-186. Quote: "Using a cross-sectional study design, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in dogs over 1 year of age seen by US veterinarians during 1995 was determined. Risk factors for overweight and obesity were also determined from the following variables: age, breed, gender, body condition score, food type, reported concurrent disease, and geographic region. Thirty-four percent of adult dogs (n = 21,754) were overweight or obese. From multivariate analyses, overweight dogs were more likely to be older, of certain breeds (Cocker Spaniel, Labrador Retriever, Dalmatian, Dachshund, Rottweiler, Golden Retriever, Shetland Sheepdog, Mixed-breed), neutered, and to consume a semi-moist food as their major diet source. In addition, overweight adult dogs were most likely to reside in the Pacific, South Central, East North Central, or Northeast regions of the United States and be diagnosed with hyperadrenocorticism, ruptured cruciate ligament, hypothyroidism, lower urinary tract disease, or oral disease. Obese dogs were more likely to be older, of certain breeds (Shetland Sheepdog, Dachshund, and Golden Retriever), neutered, and to consume "other" foods (meat or other food products, commercial treats, or table scraps), homemade, or canned foods as their major diet source. Also, obese adult dogs were more likely to live in the Pacific or Northeast region of the United States and be diagnosed with hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, pancreatitis, ruptured cruciate ligament, or neoplasia. Practitioners can use these data to counsel dog owners on obesity prevention, especially owners of dogs with ≥1 risk factors for overweight/obesity, and to strongly advocate for the maintenance of canine patients at an ideal body condition."

Aflatoxicosis in dogs and dealing with suspected contaminated commercial foods. Katherine A. Stenske, Joanne R. Smith, Shelley J. Newman, Leslie B. Newman, Claudia A. Kirk. JAVMA. June 2006;228(11):1686-1691. Quote: "Despite protective measures and protocols to ensure safety of food components and accuracy of recipe preparation, food contamination and misformulation accidents have resulted in morbidity and fatalities of animals. ... An outbreak of aflatoxicosis was reported in at least 100 dogs consuming a commercial food manufactured [by Diamond pet food] in the southeastern United States. Of the dogs examined at our university facility, 8 were confirmed with aflatoxicosis and served to illustrate the variability in clinical signs of acute aflatoxicosis as well as to highlight the appropriate steps for appropriate notification of the manufacturer and regulatory agencies, documentation for each animal, and confirmation of the involved toxin."

The Growing Problem of Obesity in Dogs and Cats. Alexander J. German. J. of Nutrition. July 2006;136(7):1940S-1946S. Quote: "Obesity is defined as an accumulation of excessive amounts of adipose tissue in the body, and is the most common nutritional disorder in companion animals. Obesity is usually the result of either excessive dietary intake or inadequate energy utilization, which causes a state of positive energy balance. Numerous factors may predispose an individual to obesity including genetics, the amount of physical activity, and the energy content of the diet. The main medical concern of obesity relates to the many disease associations that accompany the adiposity. Numerous studies demonstrated that obesity can have detrimental effects on the health and longevity of dogs and cats. ... The effect of genetics is illustrated by recognized breed associations in both dogs (e.g., Labrador Retriever, Cairn Terrier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Scottish Terrier, Cocker Spaniel) and cats (e.g., Domestic Shorthair). ... The problems to which obese companion animals may be predisposed include orthopedic disease, diabetes mellitus, abnormalities in circulating lipid profiles, cardiorespiratory disease, urinary disorders, reproductive disorders, neoplasia (mammary tumors, transitional cell carcinoma), dermatological diseases, and anesthetic complications. The main therapeutic options for obesity in companion animals include dietary management and increasing physical activity. Although no pharmaceutical compounds are yet licensed for weight loss in dogs and cats, it is envisaged that such agents will be available in the future. Dietary therapy forms the cornerstone of weight management in dogs and cats, but increasing exercise and behavioral management form useful adjuncts. There is a need to increase the awareness of companion animal obesity as a serious medical concern within the veterinary profession."

Evaluation of cats fed vegetarian diets and attitudes of their caregivers. Lorelei A. Wakefield, Frances S. Shofer, Kathryn E. Michel. J.Am.Vety.Med.Assn. July 2006;229(1):70-73. Quote: "Objective: To determine motivation and feeding practices of people who feed their cats vegetarian diets as well as taurine and cobalamin status of cats consuming vegetarian diets. Design: Cross-sectional study. Animals: 34 cats that had been exclusively fed a commercial or homemade vegetarian diet and 52 cats that had been fed a conventional diet for ≥ 1 year. Procedures: Participants were recruited through a Web site and from attendees of a national animal welfare conference. Caregivers of cats in both groups answered a telephone questionnaire regarding feeding practices for their cats. Blood was obtained from a subset of cats that had been fed vegetarian diets. Blood and plasma taurine and serum cobalamin concentrations were measured. Results: People who fed vegetarian diets to their cats did so largely for ethical considerations and were more likely than people who fed conventional diets to believe that there are health benefits associated with a vegetarian diet and that conventional commercial cat foods are unwholesome. Both groups were aware of the potential health problems that could arise from improperly formulated vegetarian diets. All cats evaluated had serum cobalamin concentrations within reference range, and 14 of 17 had blood taurine concentrations within reference range. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance: Vegetarian diets are fed to cats primarily for ethical considerations. Results of this study should aid practitioners in communicating with and providing advice to such clients."

Lifelong diet restriction and radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis of the hip joint in dogs. Gail K. Smith, Erin R. Paster, Michelle Y. Powers, Dennis F. Lawler, Darryl N. Biery, Frances S. Shofer, Pamela J. McKelvie, Richard D. Kealy. JAVMA. Sept. 2006;229(5):690-693, Quote: "Objective: To evaluate the effects of diet restriction on development of radiographic evidence of hip joint osteoarthritis in dogs. Design: Longitudinal cohort study. Animals: 48 Labrador Retrievers from 7 litters. Procedures: Forty-eight 6-week-old puppies from 7 litters were paired with littermates by sex and weight, and each pairmate was randomly assigned to 1 of 2 groups of 24 dogs each. Starting at 8 weeks of age, 1 group was fed ad libitum (control fed) and the other was fed 25% less (restricted fed) of the same diet for life on a pairwise basis. The dogs' hip joints were radiographed in the standard ventrodorsal hip-extended view at multiple intervals prior to 1 year of age and at annual intervals thereafter on the basis of birth anniversary. A board-certified radiologist unaware of group assignment scored the radiographs for evidence of osteoarthritis. Results: Prevalence of radiographic evidence of hip joint osteoarthritis in all dogs increased linearly throughout the study, from an overall prevalence of 15% at 2 years to 67% by 14 years. Restricted-fed dogs had lower prevalence and later onset of hip joint osteoarthritis. Median age at first identification of radiographic evidence of hip joint osteoarthritis was significantly lower in the control-fed group (6 years), compared with the restricted-fed group (12 years). Conclusions and Clinical Relevance: Restricted feeding delayed or prevented development of radiographic signs of hip joint osteoarthritis in this cohort of Labrador Retrievers. Lifetime maintenance of 25% diet restriction delayed onset and reduced severity of hip joint osteoarthritis, thus favorably affecting both duration and quality of life. In addition, the data indicated that development of hip joint osteoarthritis was not bimodal in these dogs but occurred as a continuum throughout life."

Effects of Dietary Modification in Dogs with Early Chronic Valvular Disease. Lisa M. Freeman, John E. Rush, and Peter J. Markwell. J Vet Intern Med, Sep 2006;20:(5)1116–1126.  Quote: "The potential benefits of nutritional modification in early canine cardiac disease are not known. We hypothesized that echocardiographic, neuroendocrine, and nutritional variables will differ between dogs with asymptomatic chronic valvular disease (CVD) and healthy controls, and that a moderately reduced sodium diet enriched with antioxidants, n-3 fatty acids, taurine, carnitine, and arginine will alter these variables in dogs with CVD. Echocardiography was performed and blood was collected. After baseline comparison with healthy controls, all dogs with CVD were fed a low-sodium run-in diet for 4 weeks, reevaluated, and then randomized to receive either the cardiac diet or a placebo diet for 4 weeks. RESULTS: At baseline, dogs with CVD (n = 29) had significantly lower circulating sodium, chloride, arginine, and methionine concentrations and higher plasma concentrations of atrial natriuretic peptide compared to healthy controls. In dogs with CVD, plasma aldosterone concentration and heart rate increased significantly after 4 weeks of eating the run-in diet. The cardiac diet group (n = 14) had larger increases in levels of cholesterol (P = .001), triglycerides (P = .02), eicosapentaenoic acid (P < .001), docosahexaenoic acid (P < .001), total omega-3 fatty acids (P < .001), vitamin C (P = 0.04), alpha-tocopherol (P < .001), and gamma-tocopherol (P < .001) compared to the placebo diet group (n = 15). The cardiac diet group also had larger reductions in maximal left-atrial dimension (P = .003), left-ventricular internal dimension in diastole (P = .03), and weight-based maximal left-atrial dimension (P = .03). CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL IMPORTANCE: Observed changes in both blood variables and echocardiographic measurements warrant additional studies on dietary modifications in dogs with early CVD."

Hey Doc, What Do You Think of My Home-Prepared Diet? Sean J. Delaney. No. American Vet. Conf. 2006.

Evolutionary Nutrition for the Dog. Sarah Godfrey, David Ruish. Going to the Dogs Inc. 2006. Quote: "Since cats and dogs are carnivores, we can conclude, in this case, that the more processed/cooked/rendered the food is, the less valuable it is, as is all naturally occurring food."

Obesity Management in Dogs. Sherry Lynn Sanderson. NAVC Clinician's Brief. April 2007:27-33. Quote: "Certain breeds of dogs are predisposed to obesity, including Labrador retriever, dachshund, sheltie, cocker spaniel, beagle, basset hound, Cavalier King Charles spaniel, and cairn terrier dogs. The incidence of obesity in dogs increases after 2 years of age and plateaus at about 6 to 8 years of age. Obesity is more common in females than males."

Prevalence of obese dogs in a population of dogs with cancer. Lisa P. Weeth, Andrea J. Fascetti, Philip H. Kass, Steven E. Suter, Aniel M. Santos, Sean J. Delaney. Am.J.Vet.Research, April 2007;68(4):389-398. Quote: "Breeds of dog with a high risk of becoming obese include cocker spaniels, labrador retrievers, collies (Mason 1970), long-haired dachshunds, Shetland sheepdogs, Cairn terriers, bassett hounds, Cavalier King Charles spaniels and beagles."

Developments continue in recall of pet food. Veterinary Research News. Am J Vet Res June 2007; 68(6):579–80.

Managing Canine Obesity: a New Therapeutic Approach: Canine obesity – an overview. J. Gossellin, J. A. Wren, S. J. Sunderland. Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 30(1): 1-10, August 2007.

Managing Canine Obesity: a New Therapeutic Approach: An evaluation of dirlotapide to reduce body weight of client-owned dogs in two placebo-controlled clinical studies in Europe. J. Gossellin, J. A. Wren, S. J. Sunderland. Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 30(1): 73-80, August 2007.

Dietary Energy Restriction and Successful Weight Loss in Obese Client-Owned Dogs. Alexander J. German, Shelley L. Holden, Thomas Bissot, Rachel M. Hackett, and Vincent Biourge. J. Vet. Internal Med. Vol. 21(6): 1174–1180 (Nov.-Dec. 2007). Quote: "This clinical study demonstrated body composition changes during weight loss in dogs. Conventional programs produced safe weight loss, but marked energy restriction was required and the rate of loss was slower than in experimental studies."

A High-Protein, High-Fiber Diet Designed for Weight Loss Improves Satiety in Dogs. Mickaël Weber, Thomas Bissot, Eric Servet, Renaud Sergheraert, Vincent Biourge, and Alexander J. German. J. Vet. Internal Med. November 2007; 21(6):1203–1208. Quote: "Hypothesis: A diet formulated to contain a high content of both protein and fiber is more satiating than diets that contain only high fiber or high protein. ... Methods: Three diets (high protein [103 g/1,000 kcal] high fiber [60 g/1,000 kcal] [HPHF]; high protein [104 g/1,000 kcal] moderate fiber [35 g/1,000 kcal] [HP]; moderate protein [86 g/1,000 kcal] high fiber [87 g/1,000 kcal] [HF]) were tested. Voluntary food intake was measured in 5 sequential crossover studies, and palatability was assessed with food preference tests. ... Conclusions and Clinical Importance: The HPHF diet had a satiating effect as evidenced by reduced voluntary intake compared with HP and HF diets, and has the potential to lead to greater compliance in weight-loss programs."

Determining the optimal age for gonadectomy of dogs and cats. Margaret V. Root Kustritz. JAVMA; 12/1/07; Vol. 231(11):1665-1675. Quote: "Obesity is the most common nutritional disorder of dogs and cats, with a reported incidence of 2.8% among the entire dog population. It is a multifactorial problem. Risk factors include breed, with an increased incidence of obesity in ...Cavalier King Charles Spaniels... ."

Complications of Overnutrition in Companion Animals. Alexander James German. NAVA Clinician's Brief. March 2008. Quote: "Breed associations include the retriever breeds (Labrador, golden retriever), Cairn terrier, cavalier King Charles spaniel, and cocker spaniel for dogs; domestic shorthair cats are also overrepresented. Neutering is an important risk factor because it may lead to behavioral changes that result in increased food intake and decreased activity (ie, overnutrition)."

Obesity in Dogs and Cats: A Metabolic and Endocrine Disorder. Debra L. Zoran. Vet. Clinics of N. Amer.: Small Anim. Practice. March 2010;40(2):221–239. Quote: "The dog breeds with increased risk of obesity are the Labrador retriever, Boxer, Cairn terrier, Scottish terrier, Shetland sheepdog, Basset hound, Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Cocker spaniel, Dachshund (especially long-haired), Beagle, and some giant breed dogs."

AAHA Nutritional Assessment Guidelines for Dogs and Cats. Kimberly Baldwin, Joe Bartges, Tony Buffington, Lisa M. Freeman, Mary Grabow, Julie Legred, Donald Ostwald, Jr. J. Amer. An. Hospital Assn. July 2010 46(4): 285-296.

ELISA testing for common food antigens in four dry dog foods used in dietary elimination trials. D. M. Raditic, R. L. Remillard and K. C. Tater. J.Anim.Physiology & Anim.Nutrition. Feb 2011;95(1):90-97. Quote: "This study evaluated four over the counter venison dry dog foods available from one on-line retail vendor for potential contamination with common known food allergens: soy, poultry or beef. An amplified, double sandwich type enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test of soy, poultry and beef proteins were performed by an independent accredited food laboratory. The ELISA test for poultry protein was found to be unreliable when testing in dry dog foods because false negatives occurred. ELISA testing of control diets for both soy and beef proteins performed as expected and could be useful in antigen testing in dry dog foods. Three of the four over the counter (OTC) venison canine dry foods with no soy products named in the ingredient list were ELISA positive for soy; additionally one OTC diet tested positive for beef protein with no beef products listed as an ingredient list. One OTC venison diet was not found to be positive for soy, poultry or beef proteins. However, none of the four OTC venison diets could be considered suitable for a diagnostic elimination trial as they all contained common pet food proteins, some of which were readily identifiable on the label and some that were only detected by ELISA. Therefore, if the four OTC venison products selected in this study are representative of OTC products in general, then the use of OTC venison dry dog foods should not be used during elimination trials in suspected food allergy patients."

Obesity in dogs, Part 1: Exploring the causes and consequences of canine obesity. Christopher G. Byers, Cindy C. Wilson, Mark B. Stephens, Jeffrey Goodie, PF. Ellen Netting, Cara Olsen. Vet.Med. April 2011. Quote: "Breed predisposition: Recent data in various animal species provide new insight into the genetic basis of obesity.19-21 A significant breed predisposition to obesity has been shown in certain breeds including Cairn terriers, West Highland white terriers, Scottish terriers, Shetland sheepdogs, basset hounds, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, dachshunds, beagles, cocker spaniels, and Labrador retrievers."

Oxidative Stress in Dog with Heart Failure: The Role of Dietary Fatty Acids and Antioxidants. Emmanuelle Sagols and Nathalie Priymenko. Vet.Med.Int'l. Apr. 2011;2011:180206. Quote: "In dogs with heart failure, cell oxygenation and cellular metabolism do not work properly, leading to the production of a large amount of free radicals. In the organism, these free radicals are responsible of major cellular damages: this is oxidative stress. However, a suitable food intake plays an important role in limiting this phenomenon: on the one hand, the presence of essential fatty acids in the composition of membranes decreases sensitivity of cells to free radicals and constitutes a first protection against the oxidative stress; on the other hand, coenzyme Q10, vitamin E, and polyphenols are antioxidant molecules which can help cells to neutralize these free radicals. ... In practice, dietary feed for cardiac insufficient animals are only supplemented with essential fatty acids with an omega 6/omega 3 report which can vary from 2 to 10. Regarding the antioxidant molecule supplementations, they are often absent or below the contributions needed to have benefit for the heart. This is probably due to the difficulty to preserve a sufficient amount of antioxidants during the manufacturing process. In these conditions, the establishment of a home-made ration could be the best means to have a proper antioxidant supplementation although more complicated for the owner."

Pet food recalls and pet food contaminants in small animals. Bischoff K, Rumbeiha WK. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. March 2012;42(2):237-50. Quote: "There were 11 major pet food recalls in the United States between 1996 and 2010 that were due to chemical contaminants or misformulations: 3 aflatoxin, 3 excess vitamin D3, 1 excess methionine, 3 inadequate thiamine, and 1 adulteration with melamine and related compounds and an additional 2 warnings concerning a Fanconilike renal syndrome in dogs after ingesting large amounts of chicken jerky treat products. This article describes clinical findings and treatment of animals exposed to the most common pet food contaminants."

Long-term follow-up after weight management in obese dogs: The role of diet in preventing regain. A.J. German, S.L. Holden, P.J. Morris, V. Biourge. Vet.J.; April 2012; 192(1):65-70. Quote: "Regain after weight loss is widely reported in humans, but there is little information on this phenomenon in dogs. The current study aim was to determine long-term success of a weight loss regime and those factors linked with regain. Thirty-three obese dogs, that had successfully lost weight, were included, all enrolled between December 2004 and May 2009. After weight loss, dogs were switched to a maintenance regime and follow-up weight checks were performed periodically. A review of cases that had completed their weight programme was held during the summer of 2010 and a follow-up check was subsequently conducted, where dogs were reweighed and information was collected on current feeding practices. Median duration of follow-up was 640 days (119–1828 days). Fourteen dogs (42%) maintained weight, 3 (9%) lost >5% additional weight, and 16 (48%) gained >5% weight. Dogs fed a purpose-formulated weight loss diet regained less weight than those switched onto a standard maintenance diet (P = 0.0016). Energy intake at the time of follow-up was significantly higher in those dogs fed a standard maintenance diet, compared with those that had remained on a purpose-formulated weight loss diet (P = 0.017). These results suggest that weight regain occurs in about half of dogs after successful weight loss. Long-term use of a purpose-formulated weight management diet can significantly limit regain in the follow-up period, likely by limiting food intake."

The Controversy Between a Raw Food Diet and a Kibble Diet: Is a Raw Food Diet Healthier for our Pets? Jody Freeland. Spring 2012. American College of Applied Science. Quote: "...dogs are carnivores and should eat raw meat."

Quality of life is reduced in obese dogs but improves after successful weight loss. A.J. German, S.L. Holden, M.L. Wiseman-Orr, J. Reid, A.M. Nolan, V. Biourge, P.J. Morris, E.M. Scott. Vet.J. June 2012;192:428-434. Quote: "The current study aim was to use a questionnaire to determine health-related quality of life (HRQOL) both before and after weight loss, in obese client-owned dogs. Fifty obese dogs were included, and represented a variety of breeds and genders. Prior to weight loss, owners were asked to complete a validated standardised questionnaire to determine HRQOL. Thirty of the dogs successfully completed their weight loss programme and reached target, and owners then completed a follow-up questionnaire. The completed questionnaire responses were transformed to scores corresponding to each of four factors (vitality, emotional disturbance, anxiety and pain), and scored on a scale of 0–6. Changes in the scores were used to explore the sensitivity of the questionnaire, and scores were correlated with responses to direct questions about quality of life and pain, as well as weight loss. Dogs that failed to complete their weight loss programme had lower vitality and higher emotional disturbance scores than those successfully losing weight (P = 0.03 for both). In the 30 dogs that completed, weight loss led to an increased vitality score (P < 0.001), and decreased scores for both emotional disturbance (P < 0.001) and pain (P < 0.001). However, there was no change in anxiety (P = 0.09). The change in vitality score was positively associated with percentage weight loss (rP = 0.43, P = 0.02) and percentage body fat loss (rP = 0.39, P = 0.03). These results indicate demonstrable improvement in HRQOL for obese dogs that successfully lose weight. ... In practice, dietary feed for cardiac insufficient animals are only supplemented with essential fatty acids with an omega 6/omega 3 report which can vary from 2 to 10. Regarding the antioxidant molecule supplementations, they are often absent or below the contributions needed to have benefit for the heart. This is probably due to the difficulty to preserve a sufficient amount of antioxidants during the manufacturing process. In these conditions, the establishment of a home-made ration could be the best means to have a proper antioxidant supplementation although more complicated for the owner."

Effects of Surgical Sterilization on Canine and Feline Health and on Society. MV Root Kustritz. Reprod Dom Anim 47 (Suppl. 4), 214–222; Aug. 2012. Quote: "Surgical sterilization of dogs and cats is a well-accepted measure for population control in some countries, but is considered unethical as an elective surgery in other countries. This is a review of what is known regarding positive and negative effects of gonadectomy surgery on individual animals and on societal management of unowned dog and cat populations. ... Metabolic Disorders: Obesity: In retrospective studies, up to 2.8% of the canine population has been demonstrated to be obese, with up to 50% of gonadectomized dogs and cats designated as obese (Mason 1970; David and Rajendran 1980). Increase in indiscrimate appetite was reported in spayed bitches in one study but in another study of spayed and castrated dogs, no change in food intake or depth of back fat was reported by 15 months of age (O’Farrell and Peachey 1990; Salmeri et al. 1991a). Risk factors other than gonadectomy include housing of the animal; increasing age; ownership by an overweight person or a person over 40 years of age; and breed, with the beagle, cairn terrier, cavalier King Charles spaniel, cocker spaniel, dachshund and Labrador retriever among those breeds at greatest risk (Mason 1970; Edney and Smith 1986; Crane 1991; Sloth 1992; Colliard et al. 2006)."

Are your pet food labels accurate? Laura K. Allred. August 2012.  Quote: "The need for increased attention to identifying animal proteins and grains was highlighted in a recent survey of 21 commercial dog foods performed by our laboratory in Florida. Ten of the foods were purchased in local grocery stores and 11 were purchased in local specialty pet stores. Five of the foods were chosen specifically because they claimed to be gluten-free, while the remainder was an equal mix of large and small brands. All the products were tested for the presence of beef, pork, poultry, turkey, sheep, horse and deer content using the US Department of Agriculture protocol, which is a qualitative enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) method that can detect both muscle and organ tissue from the designated species. The samples were also tested for gluten using a quantitative ELISA. The test results were then compared to the ingredient label on the package. We found eight foods that tested positive for an animal protein not listed on the ingredient label: two False Pet Food Labeling Table 1instances of undeclared beef/sheep, five of pork and one of deer. Conversely, in two instances, foods claiming to contain venison tested negative for deer content but positive for beef, sheep or pork. Two foods used a general term, meat and bone meal, rather than listing a specific protein source. Both of these foods tested positive only for pork content, but these were not considered instances of mislabeling. Twelve of the 21 foods tested listed no gluten source (wheat, rye, barley or related grains) in their ingredient list, and five were specifically labeled as gluten-free or grain-free. Five of the 12 foods with no listed gluten source, including two of those foods promoted as gluten- or grain-free, tested positive for gluten at greater than 80 ppm. This level is far above FDA’s proposed limit of 20 ppm for gluten-free labeling in human foods. Overall, there were 12 instances of mislabeling in 10 of the dog foods tested; two foods had more than one labeling issue."

Effect of Weight Loss in Obese Dogs on Indicators of Renal Function or Disease. A. Tvarijonaviciute, J.J. Ceron, S.L. Holden, V. Biourge, P.J. Morris and A.J. German. J.Vety.Inter.Med. Dec. 2012. Quote: "Background: Obesity is a common medical disorder in dogs, and can predispose to a number of diseases. Human obesity is a risk factor for the development and progression of chronic kidney disease. Objectives: To investigate the possible association of weight loss on plasma and renal biomarkers of kidney health. Animals: Thirty-seven obese dogs [including three cavalier King Charles spaniels] that lost weight were included in the study. Methods: Prospective observational study. ... A weight management protocol was then instigated, using either a high protein high fiber [Royal Canin's Satiety Support, a dry food with sawdust as the primary ingredient] (35 dogs) or high protein moderate fiber [Royal Canin's Obesity Management] (2 dogs) weight loss diet. ... Three novel biomarkers of renal functional impairment, disease, or both (homocysteine, cystatin C, and clusterin), in addition to traditional markers of chronic renal failure (serum urea and creatinine, urine specific gravity [USG], urine protein-creatinine ratio [UPCR], and urine albumin corrected by creatinine [UAC]) before and after weight loss in dogs with naturally occurring obesity were investigated. Results: Urea (P = .043) and USG (P = .012) were both greater after weight loss than before loss, whilst UPCR, UAC, and creatinine were less after weight loss (P = .032, P = .006, and P = .026, respectively). Homocysteine (P < .001), cystatin C (P < .001) and clusterin (P < .001) all decreased upon weight loss. Multiple linear regression analysis revealed associations between percentage weight loss (greater weight loss, more lean tissue loss; r = −0.67, r2 = 0.45, P < .001) and before-loss plasma clusterin concentration (greater clusterin, more lean tissue loss; r = 0.48, r2 = 0.23, P = .003). Conclusion and Clinical Importance: These results suggest possible subclinical alterations in renal function in canine obesity, which improve with weight loss. Further work is required to determine the nature of these alterations and, most notably, the reason for the association between before loss plasma clusterin and subsequent lean tissue loss during weight management."

The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet. Erik Axelsson, Abhirami Ratnakumar, Maja-Louise . Khurram Maqbool, Matthew T. Webster, Michele Perloski, Olof Liberg, Jon M. Arnemo, Åke Hedhammar, Kerstin Lindblad-Toh. Nature. March 2013;495:360-364. Quote: "The domestication of dogs was an important episode in the development of human civilization. The precise timing and location of this event is debated1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and little is known about the genetic changes that accompanied the transformation of ancient wolves into domestic dogs. Here we conduct whole-genome resequencing of dogs and wolves to identify 3.8 million genetic variants used to identify 36 genomic regions that probably represent targets for selection during dog domestication. Nineteen of these regions contain genes important in brain function, eight of which belong to nervous system development pathways and potentially underlie behavioural changes central to dog domestication6. Ten genes with key roles in starch digestion and fat metabolism also show signals of selection. We identify candidate mutations in key genes and provide functional support for an increased starch digestion in dogs relative to wolves. Our results indicate that novel adaptations allowing the early ancestors of modern dogs to thrive on a diet rich in starch, relative to the carnivorous diet of wolves, constituted a crucial step in the early domestication of dogs."

Nutritional Sustainability of Pet Foods. Kelly S. Swanson, Rebecca A. Carter, Tracy P. Yount, Jan Aretz, and Preston R. Buff. Advances in Nutrition. March 2013;4:141-150. Quote: "Often based on consumer demand rather than nutritional requirements, many commercial pet foods are formulated to provide nutrients in excess of current minimum recommendations, use ingredients that compete directly with the human food system, or are overconsumed by pets, resulting in food wastage and obesity. Pet food professionals have the opportunity to address these challenges and influence the sustainability of pet ownership through product design, manufacturing processes, public education, and policy change. A coordinated effort across the industry that includes ingredient buyers, formulators, and nutritionists may result in a more sustainable pet food system."

Evaluation of fiber concentration in dry and canned commercial diets formulated for adult maintenance or all life stages of dogs by use of crude fiber and total dietary fiber methods. Amy K. Farcas, Jennifer A. Larsen, Andrea J. Fascetti. J.Amer.Vety.Med.Assn. April 2013;242(7):936-940. Quote: "Objective: To assess differences among reported maximum crude fiber (CF), measured CF, and measured total dietary fiber (TDF) concentrations, and determine fiber composition in dry and canned nontherapeutic diets formulated for adult maintenance or all life stages of dogs. Design: Prospective cross-sectional study. Sample: Dry (n = 20) and canned (20) nontherapeutic canine diets. Procedures: Reported maximum CF concentrations were obtained from product labels. Concentrations of CF and TDF were measured in samples of the diets for comparison. For each diet, percentages of TDF represented by insoluble dietary fiber (IDF) and soluble dietary fiber (SDF) were determined. Results: For dry or canned diets, the median reported maximum CF concentration was significantly greater than the median measured value. Measured CF concentration was significantly lower than measured TDF concentration for all diets. Median percentage of TDF (dry-matter basis) in dry and canned diets was 10.3% and 6.5%, respectively (overall range, 3.9% to 25.8%). Fiber composition in dry and canned diets differed; median percentage of TDF provided by IDF (dry-matter basis) was 83.4% in dry diets and 63.6% in canned diets. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance: Among the evaluated diets, measured CF concentration underrepresented measured TDF concentration. Diets provided a wide range of TDF concentration, and proportions of IDF and SDF were variable. In the absence of information regarding TDF concentration, neither reported maximum nor measured CF concentration appears to be a particularly reliable indicator of fiber concentration and composition of a given canine diet."

Evaluation of recipes of home-prepared maintenance diets for dogs. Jonathan Stockman, Andrea J. Fascetti, Philip H. Kass, Jennifer A. Larsen. JAVMA June 2013; 242(11):1500-1505. Quote: "Two hundred recipes were obtained from 34 sources (133 recipes were obtained from 2 veterinary textbooks and 9 pet care books for owners [four of these sources were authored by board certified veterinary nutritionists], and 67 recipes were obtained from 23 websites). Of these, 129 (64.5%) were written by veterinarians, whereas the remaining 71 (35.5%) were written by nonveterinarians. ... Only 3 recipes provided all essential nutrients in concentrations meeting or exceeding the NRC RA, and another 2 recipes provided all essential nutrients in concentrations meeting or exceeding the NRC MR; all 5 of these recipes were written by veterinarians. Nine recipes provided all essential nutrients in concentrations exceeding the AAFCO nutrient profile minimums for adult dogs; 4 of these also met or exceeded the NRC RA or NRC MR. Of these 9 recipes, 8 were written by veterinarians. Overall, most (190/200 [95%]) recipes resulted in at least 1 essential nutrient at concentrations that did not meet NRC or AAFCO guidelines, and many (167 [83.5%]) recipes had multiple deficiencies. ... Most of the veterinarian-written recipes had at least 1 nutrient deficiency. ... Formulation of recipes for home-prepared diets requires expert input to minimize the risk of problems, and we recommend that recipes for home-prepared diets for dogs be obtained from or evaluated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists or veterinarians with advanced training in nutrition who are experienced and able to understand and address these concerns."

Behavioural Factors in Canine Obesity. Sarah Heath. WSAVA 2013 Congress. Quote: "Influencing Factors: It is known that a number of canine breeds are predisposed to develop obesity e.g., Labrador retriever, Cairn terrier, Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Scottish terrier, cocker spaniel. Neutering is also an important risk factor by causing behavioural changes, which can lead both to an increased food intake and decreased activity. Gender itself is also a predisposing factor in some canine studies, with females over-represented. Other recognised associations in dogs include indoor lifestyle, inactivity, and middle age. Dietary factors can also predispose to obesity with both the number of meals and snacks fed and the feeding of table scraps being key. Behavioural factors also play a part in the development of obesity."

Identification of undeclared sources of animal origin in canine dry foods used in dietary elimination trials. R. Ricci, A. Granato, M. Vascellari, M. Boscarato, C. Palagiano, I. Andrighetto, M. Diez, F. Mutinelli. J.Anim. Physiology & Anim. Nutrition. May 2013;97(s1):32-38. Quote: "Failure to respond to commercial limited antigen diets can occur in dogs kept on a dietary trial for the diagnosis of adverse food reaction (AFR). The aim of this study was to assess twelve canine dry limited antigen diets (eleven novel protein diets and one hydrolysed diet) for potential contamination by ingredients of animal origin not mentioned on the label. The validity of the two methods adopted for the detection of such food antigens was also evaluated. Each dietary product was analysed by microscopy analysis using the official method described in Commission Regulation EC 152/2009 with the aim of identifying bone fragments of different zoological classes (mammalian, avian and fish) and by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the identification of DNA of animal origin. Discrepancies between the results obtained by PCR and/or microscopy analysis and the ingredients listed on pet food packages were found. Only in two pet foods did the results of both analyses match the ingredients listed on the label. In the remaining ten samples, microscopy detected bone fragments from one or two unpredicted zoological classes, revealing avian fragments in six of ten samples followed by those of fish in five of ten and mammalian fragments in four of ten. In two samples, microscopy analysis identified a contamination that would have otherwise passed unobserved if only PCR had been used. However, PCR confirmed the presence of all the zoological classes detected by microscopy and also identified the DNA of an additional unexpected zoological class in two samples. Dogs might fail to respond to commercial limited antigen diets because such diets are contaminated with potential allergens. Both PCR and microscopy analysis are required to guarantee the absence of undeclared animal sources in pet foods. Before ruling out AFR, a novel protein home-made diet should be considered if the dog is unresponsive to a commercial regimen."

Obesity in show dogs. R. J. Corbee. J.Anim. Physiology & Anim. Nutrition. Oct. 2013;97(5):904-910. Quote: "Obesity is an important disease with a growing incidence. Because obesity is related to several other diseases, and decreases life span, it is important to identify the population at risk. Several risk factors for obesity have been described in the literature. A higher incidence of obesity in certain breeds is often suggested. The aim of this study was to determine whether obesity occurs more often in certain breeds. The second aim was to relate the increased prevalence of obesity in certain breeds to the official standards of that breed. To this end, we investigated 1379 dogs of 128 different breeds [including 18 cavalier King Charles spaniels] by determining their body condition score (BCS). Overall, 18.6% of the show dogs had a BCS >5, and 1.1% of the show dogs had a BCS>7. There were significant differences between breeds, which could be correlated to the breed standards. It warrants firm discussions with breeders and judges in order to come to different interpretations of the standards to prevent overweight conditions from being the standard of beauty. [among the 18 CKCSs, the average BCS was 4.67 and the BCS range varied from 3 to 6.]

Associations between obesity and physical activity in dogs: a preliminary investigation. R. Morrison, V. Penpraze, A. Beber, J. J. Reilly, P. S. Yam. J.Sm.Anim.Pract. Nov. 2013;54(11):570–574. Quote: "OBJECTIVES: To assess whether obesity has any association with objectively measured physical activity levels in dogs. METHODS: Thirty-nine dogs wore Actigraph GT3X accelerometers (Actigraph) for 7 consecutive days. Each dog was classified as ideal weight, overweight or obese using the 5-point body condition scoring system. Total volume of physical activity and time spent in sedentary behaviour, light-moderate intensity physical activity and vigorous intensity physical activity were compared between body condition categories. RESULTS: Valid accelerometry data were returned for 35 of 39 dogs recruited. Eighteen dogs were classed as ideal weight, 9 as overweight and the remaining 8 as obese. All dogs spent a significant proportion of the day sedentary and obese dogs spent significantly less time in vigorous intensity physical activity than ideal weight dogs (7 ±3 minute/day versus 21 ±15 minute/day, P=0·01). CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Obesity is associated with lower vigorous intensity physical activity in dogs, as is also thought to occur in humans. These preliminary findings will help inform a future, larger study and may also improve our understanding of the associations between obesity and physical activity in dogs."

Current knowledge about the risks and benefits of raw meat–based diets for dogs and cats. Lisa M. Freeman, Marjorie L. Chandler, Beth A. Hamper, Lisa P. Weeth. JAVMA Dec. 2013;43(11):1549-1558. Quote: "Although commercial RMBDs [raw meat based diets] and ingredients are covered by FDA regulations and can be recalled if contamination or other problems are detected,the feeding of contaminated home-prepared RMBDs that include foods intended for human consumption may go undetected because foodborne illnesses in dogs and cats are rarely tracked unless associated with human disease. There are no data on the number of dogs and cats fed human foods that have been recalled, nor the number of dogs and cats that have become ill after eating a contaminated human food. Although data are available on the number of recalls, the lack of data on recalls because of contamination of commercial and home-prepared RMBDs does not mean that such diets are safe. ... The potential risk for human disease has been clearly documented. However, further research is needed to quantify the actual risk and prevalence of disease associated with feeding RMBDs to pet dogs and cats. ... Additional studies are needed to provide information that will allow a better understanding of the long-term health effects of RMBDs for dogs and cats. In the absence of reported studies, an animal eating a home-prepared diet (raw or cooked) should undergo an annual physical examination and health screening, which should include serum biochemical analysis (with thyroxine concentrations), hematologic analysis, and urinalysis. ... Owners that elect to feed a commercial or home-prepared RMBD should be counseled on the risks to themselves and their pets as a result of this feeding strategy, and the conversation should be documented in the medical record."

Effect of Body Weight Loss on Cardiopulmonary Function Assessed by 6-Minute Walk Test and Arterial Blood Gas Analysis in Obese Dogs. J. Manens, R. Ricci, C. Damoiseaux, S. Gault, B. Contiero, M. Diez and C. Clercx. J.Vet.Internal Med. Dec. 2013. Quote: "Background: Few studies show the detrimental effect of canine obesity on cardiopulmonary function (CPF). The 6-Minute Walk Test (6MWT) is a noninvasive exercise test easy to perform in clinical settings. Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of obesity and body weight loss (BWL) on CPF assessed by the 6MWT and arterial blood gas analysis. Animals: Six experimental Beagles and 9 privately owned obese dogs [including one cavalier King Charles spaniel] were enrolled in a diet-induced BWL program. Methods: Arterial blood gas analysis and 6MWT were repeated in obese subjects (BCS 8-9/9), in the middle of BWL (overweight, BCS 6-7/9), and in lean dogs (BCS 5/9). Heart rate (HRp) and oxygen saturation (SpO2) were measured by pulse oximetry before the 6MWT, at midtest, and during a 5-minute recovery period. Results: Twelve dogs completed the BWL program (initial BW, 27.3 ± 2.9 kg; final BW, 20.85 ± 2.9, lsmeans ± SE, P ≤ .001). BWL caused a significant increase in 6MWT walked distance (WD; obese: 509 ± 35 m; overweight: 575 ± 36 m; lean: 589 ± 36 m; P ≤ .05). Resting arterial blood gas results were not influenced by BWL. Including all time points, obese dogs showed higher HRp and lower SpO2 compared to overweight and lean dogs. SpO2 at the end of the walk was significantly lower in obese dogs. Conclusion and Clinical Importance: Obesity negatively affects 6MWT performances in dogs. The 6MWT may be used to demonstrate the efficacy of BWL to improve CPF and quality of life in obese dogs. Although BWL induced significant improvement of cardiopulmonary parameters before ideal BW, WD improved until the end of the BWL program."

Genome Sequencing Highlights the Dynamic Early History of Dogs. Adam H. Freedman, Ilan Gronau, Rena M. Schweizer, Diego Ortega-Del Vecchyo, Eunjung Han, Pedro M. Silva, Marco Galaverni, Zhenxin Fan, Peter Marx, Belen Lorente-Galdos, Holly Beale, Oscar Ramirez, Farhad Hormozdiari, Can Alkan, Carles Vilà, Kevin Squire, Eli Geffen, Josip Kusak, Adam R. Boyko, Heidi G. Parker, Clarence Lee, Vasisht Tadigotla, Adam Siepel, Carlos D. Bustamante, Timothy T. Harkins, Stanley F. Nelson, Elaine A. Ostrander, Tomas Marques-Bonet, Robert K. Wayne. PLOS Genetics. Jan. 2014;10(1):e1004016. Quote:"To identify genetic changes underlying dog domestication and reconstruct their early evolutionary history, we generated high-quality genome sequences from three gray wolves, one from each of the three putative centers of dog domestication, two basal dog lineages (Basenji and Dingo) and a golden jackal as an outgroup. Analysis of these sequences supports a demographic model in which dogs and wolves diverged through a dynamic process involving population bottlenecks in both lineages and post-divergence gene flow. In dogs, the domestication bottleneck involved at least a 16-fold reduction in population size, a much more severe bottleneck than estimated previously. A sharp bottleneck in wolves occurred soon after their divergence from dogs, implying that the pool of diversity from which dogs arose was substantially larger than represented by modern wolf populations. We narrow the plausible range for the date of initial dog domestication to an interval spanning 11–16 thousand years ago, predating the rise of agriculture. In light of this finding, we expand upon previous work regarding the increase in copy number of the amylase gene (AMY2B) in dogs, which is believed to have aided digestion of starch in agricultural refuse. We find standing variation for amylase copy number variation in wolves and little or no copy number increase in the Dingo and Husky lineages. In conjunction with the estimated timing of dog origins, these results provide additional support to archaeological finds, suggesting the earliest dogs arose alongside hunter-gathers rather than agriculturists. Regarding the geographic origin of dogs, we find that, surprisingly, none of the extant wolf lineages from putative domestication centers is more closely related to dogs, and, instead, the sampled wolves form a sister monophyletic clade. This result, in combination with dog-wolf admixture during the process of domestication, suggests that a re-evaluation of past hypotheses regarding dog origins is necessary."

New Dog Genome Research Nixes Evolutionary Paradigm. Jeffrey Tomkins. Acts & Facts. May 2014;43(5):9. Quote: "Evolutionists believe that when humans first domesticated wolves these canines were hunters and therefore primarily meat eaters. Then humans and dogs, over time, became more dependent on the high-starch foods of agriculture—providing a type of “selective pressure” on the dog genome. One recent study seemed to support the idea that post-domestication selection altered the dog genome. Researchers concluded that, compared to wolves, a variety of regions in the dog genome showed evidence of changes in genes associated with the digestion of carbohydrates (starches). With some digestive enzymes, such as amylases that encode enzymes that break down starch, the number of copies of those genes can vary in the dog genome. In particular, researchers in this study reported that modern dogs, which would benefit from more amylase genes because of their high-starch diet, had more copies of them in their genome compared to wolves. However, this initial study was soon debunked by additional, more comprehensive research that examined a much greater number of wolf and wild dog genomes. The researchers discovered that the copy number of amylase genes was actually not fixed or stable across diverse dog, wolf, and wild dog genomes—but instead varied widely. In fact, as the data set for dog genomes has increased, it is now apparent that no consistent pattern for dietary evolution exists at all. The evolutionary lingo for such an observation is that the patterns are now called “complex” instead of showing evidence for selection. Several evolutionists recently published a review of these two research papers, stating, “These results suggest a more complex pattern of amylase copy number variation in dogs and wolves that reflects our long-standing relationship with dogs, but may not have resulted during early domestication.” The use of the term “complex pattern” means that no evolutionary trends could be detected for these genes. The concept of natural selection has once again lost steam as a viable model proving evolution—even within a single group of interfertile animals. And a recent supporting argument for it that seemed at first to be backed by hard science has now fallen in the wake of the genomics revolution."

Integrating Basic Chinese Food Therapy into Daily Practice. Constance DiNatale. IVC J. May 2014. Quote: For thousands of years, Chinese practitioners have used food as medicinal therapy and for preventative care. The main focus of the diet is to support digestion, and secondly to affect other issues that need addressing. A diet should usually include Bland or Neutral properties, and then have other foods added to give balance. Clinical signs, tongue and pulse evaluation, and environmental effects help determine the TCVM pattern(s) that need support. RAW OR COOKED? Many holistic veterinarians prefer a raw meat diet, while others feel that animals do better with fresh cooked food. A good rule of thumb is that the more compromised the gastrointestinal tract, the easier cooked food will be to digest. Food can become progressively rarer as the gut heals. Also, in TCVM, raw food is considered Damp and Cool. This does not refer to the temperature or hydration of the food, but rather the effect it has on the body. Chicken is considered Warm, but if it is fed raw, it is not as Warming and may exacerbate any Damp conditions in the body. An animal with erythematous skin, that pants a lot and feels damp to the touch, may have aggravated Damp signs with raw chicken, whereas cooked chicken may exacerbate Heat signs. Ideally, a Neutral to slightly Cool food could be chosen, such as rabbit or turkey. It could be fed cooked if there are a lot of Damp signs, or rare to raw if Heat signs are more prevalent than Damp signs. The following are three examples of how TCVM would address specific patterns by pairing with food combinations. ...

Investigation of dietary factors with possible associations with canine degenerative mitral valve disease. J.L. Sauer, L.M. Freeman, J.E. Rush. J.Vet.Int.Med. July 2014;28(4):1354. Quote: "The pathophysiologic cause of degenerative mitral valve disease (DMVD) remains unclear. Although there are a number of ways in which diet could play a role in DMVD, including the serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine [5HT]) pathway, dietary factors related to the development of DVMD have not been investigated. Therefore, the objective of this study was to measure dietary amino acids, choline, carnitine, serotonin, and ergovaline as possible factors that could play a role in the pathophysiology of DMVD. Thirteen commercially-available diets were selected for analysis based on a previous study comparing dogs with and without DMVD and diet histories from clinical cases. Diets were analyzed for macronutrients; amino acids; ergovaline; the indoleamines, 5HT and melatonin; choline, and free L-carnitine. There was a wide range in the concentrations of all analytes in the diets tested. No essential amino acids were below the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) minimums. Taurine, although not an essential amino acid for dogs, was below the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profile for taurine in 9 of 13 diets. Tryptophan ranged from 0.19-0.59% dry matter (median = 0.28% dry matter). All 13 samples tested had undetectable ergovaline concentrations. One sample tested positive for 5HT, and melatonin was detected in 8 diets. There also was wide variation (3-fold and >100-fold difference, respectively) in choline and free L-carnitine concentrations among diets. Additional research is needed on the effects of varying dietary intake of tryptophan and other amino acids, 5HT, choline, and carnitine on cardiac valve metabolism."

Nutrition for Working and Service Dogs. Joseph Wakshlag, Justin Shmalberg. Vet. Clin. Small Anim. July 2014; 44:719-740. Quote: "Conformation, genetics, and behavioral drive are the major determinants of success in canine athletes, although controllable variables, such as training and nutrition, play an important role. The scope and breadth of canine athletic events has expanded dramatically in the past 30 years, but with limited research on performance nutrition. There are considerable data examining nutritional physiology in endurance dogs and in sprinting dogs; however, nutritional studies for agility, field trial, and detection are rare. This article highlights basic nutritional physiology and interventions for exercise, and reviews newer investigations regarding aging working and service dogs, and canine detection activities."

Feeding practices of dog breeders in the United States and Canada. Kevin M. Connolly, Cailin R. Heinze, Lisa M. Freeman. JAVMA. Sept. 2014;245(6):669-676. Quote: "Objective: To determine the proportion of dog breeders who fed diets meeting the Association of American Feed Control Officials regulations for nutritional adequacy for reproduction and growth and to investigate factors that influenced feeding practices of breeders. Sample: 2,067 dog breeders from the United States and Canada. Procedures: A self-administered, anonymous, Web-based questionnaire was used to collect information on breeder demographics and feeding practices during 3 life stages of dogs: adult maintenance for nonpregnant dogs, gestation-lactation, and puppy growth. Appropriateness of commercial diets for each life stage was determined by respondent-reported nutritional adequacy statements on product labels. Data were also collected regarding breeder criteria for diet selection and sources of nutrition information. Results: A substantial number of breeders reported feeding commercial diets not intended for that life stage during gestation-lactation (126/746 [16.9%]) and puppy growth (57/652 [8.7%]). Additionally, approximately one-seventh of breeders reported feeding home-prepared diets for ≥ 1 life stage. Unsubstantiated health and marketing information influenced diet selection of many breeders. Veterinarians, although generally viewed as a trusted source of nutrition information, were consulted by only 823 of 1,669 (49.3%) breeders and were viewed less favorably by breeders feeding home-prepared diets, compared with the opinion of breeders feeding commercial diets. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance: Veterinarians should consider taking a more proactive role in directing dog breeders and other pet owners toward scientifically substantiated sources of diet information and in explaining the importance of current nutritional standards for reproduction and early development of dogs."

The new age of working dogs. Joseph J. Wakshlag. 2014 Petfood Forum presentation. Sept. 2014. Quote: "Nutrition research in working dogs has focused primarily on sprinting Greyhounds and endurance sled dogs. More recent investigation into other sporting arenas like agility (and like events), olfactory task oriented dogs (detection dogs and foxhounds) suggest other areas need to be addressed for optimal performance. Unfortunately in the past 10 years as performance endeavors have changed and evolved, little research has been performed examining nutrition and its role in these athletic endeavors creating a need to dispel myth and mold research findings into every day practices remains a challenge. ... Dietary protein helps maintain musculoskeletal integrity and appropriate total protein, albumin and red blood cell status. The hematocrit and serum albumin tend to decrease with training and racing which appears to be a result of the overtraining syndrome in endurance dogs. Adequate protein intake may be helpful in ameliorating this condition. Studies examining protein consumption and its role in maintaining red blood cell counts and hematocrit in training sled dogs have postulated that approximately 24-30% of the metabolizable energy (60-80g protein/1000 kcals) should come from highly digestible animal based protein. In sprinting dogs, the picture is similar whereby around 24% of the ME should come from high quality protein sources with some studies suggesting that more may be deleterious to performance in sprinting dogs."

Identification of meat species in pet foods using a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay. Tara A. Okuma, Rosalee S. Hellberg. Food Control. April 2015;50:9-17. Quote: "Product mislabeling, adulteration, and substitution are increasing concerns in highly processed foods, including pet foods. Although regulations exist for pet foods, there is currently a lack of information on the prevalence of pet food mislabeling. The objective of this study was to perform a market survey of pet foods and pet treats marketed for domestic canines and felines to identify meat species present as well as any instances of mislabeling. Fifty-two commercial products were collected from online and retail sources. DNA was extracted from each product in duplicate and tested for the presence of eight meat species (bovine, caprine, ovine, chicken, goose, turkey, porcine, and equine) using real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with SYBR Green and species-specific primers. Of the 52 tested products, 31 were labeled correctly, 20 were potentially mislabeled, and 1 contained a non-specific meat ingredient that could not be verified. Chicken was the most common meat species found in the pet food products (n = 51), and none of the products tested positive for horsemeat. In three cases of potential mislabeling, one or two meat species were substituted for other meat species, but major trends were not observed. While these results suggest the occurrence of pet food mislabeling, further studies are needed to determine the extent of mislabeling and identify points in the production chain where mislabeling occurs."

Association of Obesity with Serum Leptin, Adiponectin, and Serotonin and Gut Microflora in Beagle Dogs. H.-J. Park, S. E. Lee, H. B. Kim, R.E. Isaacson, K. W. Seo, K. H. Song. J.Vet.Int.Med. November 2014. Quote: "Background: Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5HT) is involved in hypothalamic regulation of energy consumption. Also, the gut microbiome can influence neuronal signaling to the brain through vagal afferent neurons. Therefore, serotonin concentrations in the central nervous system and the composition of the microbiota can be related to obesity. Objective: To examine adipokine, and, serotonin concentrations, and the gut microbiota in lean dogs and dogs with experimentally induced obesity. Animals: Fourteen healthy Beagle dogs were used in this study. Methods: Seven Beagle dogs in the obese group were fed commercial food ad libitum, over a period of 6 months to increase their weight and seven Beagle dogs in lean group were fed a restricted amount of the same diet to maintain optimal body condition over a period of 6 months. Peripheral leptin, adiponectin, 5HT, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF-5HT) levels were measured by ELISA. Fecal samples were collected in lean and obese groups 6 months after obesity was induced. Targeted pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene was performed using a Genome Sequencer FLX plus system. Results: Leptin concentrations were higher in the obese group (1.98 ± 1.00) compared to those of the lean group (1.12 ± 0.07, P = .025). Adiponectin and 5-hydroytryptamine of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF-5HT) concentrations were higher in the lean group (27.1 ± 7.28) than in the obese group (14.4 ± 5.40, P = .018). Analysis of the microbiome revealed that the diversity of the microbial community was lower in the obese group. Microbes from the phylum Firmicutes (85%) were predominant group in the gut microbiota of lean dogs. However, bacteria from the phylum Proteobacteria (76%) were the predominant group in the gut microbiota of dogs in the obese group. Conclusions and Clinical Importance: Decreased 5HT levels in obese group might increase the risk of obesity because of increased appetite. Microflora enriched with gram-negative might be related with chronic inflammation status in obese dogs."

Exogenous thyrotoxicosis in dogs attributable to consumption of all-meat commercial dog food or treats containing excessive thyroid hormone: 14 cases (2008–2013). Michael R. Broome, Mark E. Peterson, Robert J. Kemppainen, Valerie J. Parker, Keith P. Richter. JAVMA. January 2015;246(1)"105-111. Quote: "Objective: To describe findings in dogs with exogenous thyrotoxicosis attributable to consumption of commercially available dog foods or treats containing high concentrations of thyroid hormone. Design: Retrospective and prospective case series. Animals: 14 dogs. Procedures: Medical records were retrospectively searched to identify dogs with exogenous thyrotoxicosis attributable to dietary intake. One case was found, and subsequent cases were identified prospectively. Serum thyroid hormone concentrations were evaluated before and after feeding meat-based products suspected to contain excessive thyroid hormone was discontinued. Scintigraphy was performed to evaluate thyroid tissue in 13 of 14 dogs before and 1 of 13 dogs after discontinuation of suspect foods or treats. Seven samples of 5 commercially available products fed to 6 affected dogs were analyzed for thyroxine concentration; results were subjectively compared with findings for 10 other commercial foods and 6 beef muscle or liver samples. Results: Total serum thyroxine concentrations were high (median, 8.8 μg/dL; range, 4.65 to 17.4 μg/dL) in all dogs at initial evaluation; scintigraphy revealed subjectively decreased thyroid gland radionuclide in 13 of 13 dogs examined. At ≥ 4 weeks after feeding of suspect food or treats was discontinued, total thyroxine concentrations were within the reference range for all dogs and signs associated with thyrotoxicosis, if present, had resolved. Analysis of tested food or treat samples revealed a median thyroxine concentration for suspect products of 1.52 μg of thyroxine/g, whereas that of unrelated commercial foods was 0.38 μg of thyroxine/g. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance: Results indicated that thyrotoxicosis can occur secondary to consumption of meat-based products presumably contaminated by thyroid tissue, and can be reversed by identification and elimination of suspect products from the diet."

Translational value of animal models of obesity—Focus on dogs and cats. Melania Ostoa, Thomas A. Lutz. European J. Pharmacology. July 2015;759:240-252. Quote: "A prolonged imbalance between a relative increase in energy intake over a decrease in energy expenditure results in the development of obesity; extended periods of a positive energy balance eventually lead to the accumulation of abnormally high amounts of fat in adipose tissue but also in other organs. Obesity is considered a clinical state of impaired general heath in which the excessive increase in adipose tissue mass may be associated with metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. This review discusses briefly the use of animal models for the study of obesity and its comorbidities. Generally, most studies are performed with rodents, such as diet induced obesity and genetic models. Here, we focus specifically on two different species, namely dogs and cats. Obese dogs and cats show many features of human obesity. ... Strong breed predispositions to obesity were found in Labrador retrievers, Boxers, Cairn terriers, Scottish terriers, Shetland sheepdogs, Basset hounds, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Cocker spaniels, Dachshunds, Beagles. ... Interestingly, however, dogs and cats differ from each other in certain aspects because even though obese dogs may become insulin resistant, this does not result in the development of diabetes mellitus. In fact, diabetes in dogs is typically not associated with obesity because dogs present a type 1 diabetes-like syndrome. On the other hand, obese cats often develop diabetes mellitus which shares many features with human type 2 diabetes; feline and human diabetes are similar in respect to their pathophysiology, underlying risk factors and treatment strategies. Our review discusses genetic and endocrine factors in obesity, discusses obesity induced changes in lipid metabolism and includes some recent findings on the role of gut microbiota in obesity. Compared to research in rodent models, the array of available techniques and tools is unfortunately still rather limited in dogs and cats. Hence, even though physiological and pathophysiological phenomena are well described in dogs and cats, the underlying mechanisms are often not known and studies investigating causality specifically are scarce."

Effectiveness of a New Weight Management Food to Achieve Weight Loss and Maintenance in Client-owned Obese Dogs. Undine Christmann, Iveta Bečvářová, Stephen Werre, Hein P. Meyer. International Journal of Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine. 2015;13(2):104-116. Quote: "Objective: To evaluate weight loss and maintenance parameters in dogs fed a new weight management food (NWMF) [Ingredients: Wheat, poultry meat meal, maize gluten meal, maize, pea bran meal, soybean meal, cellulose, tomato pomace, digest, flaxseed, beet pulp, animal fat, coconut oil, minerals, DL-methionine, L-lysine, carrots, L-carnitine, rice, vitamins, taurine, trace elements, L-tryptophan, beta carotene. Naturally preserved with mixed tocopherol and citric acid. Brand name: Hill’s Prescription Diet Canine Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution, dry.] and to assess the owner’s perception of the dog’s quality of life. Design: Prospective, uncontrolled/unmasked clinical trial. Animals: One hundred sixty two overweight/obese, otherwise healthy, client-owned dogs [including 6 cavalier King Charles spaniels]. Procedures: Initial evaluation included physical examination, nutritional assessment, ideal body weight (IBW) determination, and weight-loss feeding guidelines development. Monthly follow-up evaluations (for 6 months) encompassed determination of BW, body condition score (BCS), body fat index (BFI), muscle condition score (MCS), and feeding practices. Quality of life assessment by owners included dog’s level of energy, happiness, appetite, begging behavior, flatulence, stool volume, and fecal score. Results: Ninety four percent of the dogs lost weight with an average weight loss of 14.5% (SEM, 1.1%) over 6 months and an average weekly weight-loss rate of 0.7% (SEM, 0.04%). The mean weight loss period duration was 127 days (SEM, 4.3 days). Thirty nine percent of dogs achieved IBW (0.39, CI: 0.31-0.48) over the study’s course. Fifty five percent of dogs ate more calories from NWMF than the recommended daily energy requirement for weight loss, the majority of these dogs still lost weight. BCS and BFI decreased over time compared to baseline. Owners perceived an increase in energy and happiness in the dogs that lost weight without changes in appetite or begging behavior. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance: This study confirmed the effectiveness of the NWMF in weight management of client-owned dogs. Owners reported significant improvements in dog’s quality of life without negative side effects."

Best in show but not best shape: a photographic assessment of show dog body condition. Z. R. Such, A. J. German. Vet. Rec. July 2015. Quote: "Previous studies suggest that owners often wrongly perceive overweight dogs to be in normal condition. The body shape of dogs attending shows might influence owners’ perceptions, with online images of overweight show winners having a negative effect. This was an observational in silico study of canine body condition. 14 obese-prone breeds [including the cavalier King Charles spaniel] and 14 matched non-obese-probe breeds were first selected, and one operator then used an online search engine to identify 40 images, per breed, of dogs that had appeared at a major national UK show (Crufts). After images were anonymised and coded, a second observer subjectively assessed body condition, in a single sitting, using a previously validated method. Of 1120 photographs initially identified, 960 were suitable for assessing body condition, with all unsuitable images being from longhaired breeds. None of the dogs (0 per cent) were underweight, 708 (74 per cent) were in ideal condition and 252 (26 per cent) were overweight. Pugs, basset hounds, and Labrador retrievers were most likely to be overweight, while standard poodles, Rhodesian ridgebacks, Hungarian vizslas, and Dobermanns were least likely to be overweight. [Of 40 cavaliers, 18% were overweight and none were underweight.] Given the proportion of show dogs from some breeds that are overweight, breed standards should be redefined to be consistent with a dog in optimal body condition."

Dietary considerations for dogs suffering from cardiac disease. Marge Chandler. October 2015. Vet Times.

Investigation into the animal species contents of popular wet pet foods. Isabella R Maine, Robert Atterbury, Kin-Chow Chang. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica. December 2015;57:7. Quote: "Background: The use of the generic term 'meat and animal derivatives' in declared ingredient lists of pet foods in the European Union is virtually universal. In the wake of the 2013 'horse meat scandal' in the human food chain, we examined the presence and authenticity of animal sources (cow, chicken, pig and horse) of proteins in a range of popular wet pet foods in the United Kingdom. Findings: Seventeen leading dog and cat foods were sampled for the relative presence of DNA from each of the four animal species by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. No horse DNA was detected. However, there was detection at substantial levels of unspecified animal species in most products tested. In 14 out of 17 samples, bovine, porcine and chicken DNA were found in various proportions and combinations but were not explicitly identified on the product labels. Of the 7 products with prominent headline descriptions containing the term “with beef”, only 2 were found to contain more bovine DNA (>50%) than pig and chicken DNA combined. Conclusions: There is a need for the pet food industry to show greater transparency to customers in the disclosure of the types of animal proteins (animal species and tissue types) in their products. Full disclosure of animal contents will (a) allow more informed choices to be made on purchases which are particularly important for pets with food allergies, (b) reduce the risk of product misinterpretation by shoppers, and (c) avoid potential religious concerns." 

Influência da obesidade, restrição energética e castração na microbiota intestinal de cães e gatos. (Influence of obesity, energy restriction and neutering on the gut microbiota of dogs and cats). Manuela Marques Fischer. Doctoral thesis; Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. 2015. Quote: "Treatment methods for obesity in dogs and cats focus on calorie restriction. either by restricting the calorie intake of the animal, or by feeding energy diluted diets. However, these methods often fail, requiring additional strategies to promote weight loss. The objective of this study was to investigate differences in the gut microbiota between lean and obese animals and determine whether neutering and/or weight loss are associated with changes in the microbial populations. In the first experiment. the composition of the faecal microbiota was evaluated in lean intact, lean neutered and obese neutered cats, before and after weight loss. The obese cats were submitted to six weeks of energy restriction and showed less fat body mass after weight loss (p<0.001). aHhough the body weight has not changed {P>0.05). Firmicutes followed by Bacteroidetes were the predominant bacterial phyla in all groups. The lean neutered cats had a bacterial profile of what one would expect from the obese cats, With greater abundance {P<0.05) of Firmicutes and lower abundance (P<0.05) of Bacteroidetes. There were no significant differences between lean intact and obese neutered. The microbe populations of obese cats showed very few changes with weight loss. In the second experiment, testing was performed when the dogs were lean, after ad libitum feeding to promote weight gain and after weight loss. Serum concentrations were analyzed: glucose. cholesterol, triglycerides, albumin. creatinine, alkaline phosphatase (ALP), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), total proteins (TP), insulin and leptin. Faecal samples were analyzed to determine the abundances of Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. Triglycerides, cholesterol, albumin, PA, ALT and TP were greater (P<0.05) in obese dogs when compared to the lean. The abundance of Badieroidetes was greater (P<0.001) in the lean group and the phylum Firmicu1es showed no differences among the groups (P>0.05). After weight loss. the levels of cholesterol and TP and the abundance of Bacteroidetes remained unchanged statistically. In conclusion, differences in the faecal microbiota were observed among the groups of both studies. However, in the study with cats, obesity seems not to inftuence the growth of diverse populations of microrganisms."

A Deletion in the Canine POMC Gene Is Associated with Weight and Appetite in Obesity-Prone Labrador Retriever Dogs. Eleanor Raffan, Rowena J. Dennis, Conor J. O’Donovan, Julia M. Becker, Robert A. Scott, Stephen P. Smith, David J. Withers, Claire J. Wood, Elena Conci, Dylan N. Clements, Kim M. Summers, Alexander J. German, Cathryn S. Mellersh, Maja L. Arendt, Valentine P. Iyemere, Elaine Withers, Josefin Söder, Sara Wernersson, Göran Andersson, Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, Giles S.H. Yeo, Stephen O’Rahilly. Cell Metabolism. May 2016. Quote: "Sequencing of candidate genes for obesity in Labrador retriever dogs identified a 14 bp deletion in pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) with an allele frequency of 12%. The deletion disrupts the β-MSH and β-endorphin coding sequences and is associated with body weight (per allele effect of 0.33 SD), adiposity, and greater food motivation. Among other dog breeds, the deletion was only found in the closely related flat-coat retriever (FCR), where it is similarly associated with body weight and food motivation. The mutation is significantly more common in Labrador retrievers selected to become assistance dogs than pets. In conclusion, the deletion in POMC is a significant modifier of weight and appetite in Labrador retrievers and FCRs and may influence other behavioral traits. Highlights: •A POMC mutation is common in the obesity-prone Labrador retriever breed of dog. •It disrupts β-MSH and β-endorphin production, both implicated in energy homeostasis. •Mutation is absent from other breeds except related flat-coat retrievers. •The mutation is associated with weight, adiposity, and food motivation in both breeds."

Canine cardiac diets: efficacy unproven. Anton C. Beynen. Dier-en-Arts. January 2017;1(2):18-21. Quote: There is no evidence that sodium restriction improves clinical signs in canine cardiac disease. Worse still, there are good reasons for contraindication. As cardiac patients often have arrhythmias, fish oil supplementation seems beneficial. L-carnitine and taurine alone have not been tested under controlled conditions. The above-mentioned L-carnitine doses are not met by commercial cardiac diets.

Raw meat based diet influences faecal microbiome and end products of fermentation in healthy dogs. Sandri M, Dal Monego S, Conte G, Sgorlon S, Stefanon B. BMC Vet. Res. February 2017;13(1):65-75. Quote: Background: Dietary intervention studies are required to deeper understand the variability of gut microbial ecosystem in healthy dogs under different feeding conditions and to improve diet formulations. The aim of the study was to investigate in dogs the influence of a raw based diet supplemented with vegetable foods on faecal microbiome in comparison with extruded food. Methods: Eight healthy adult Boxer dogs were recruited and randomly divided in two experimental blocks of 4 individuals. Dogs were regularly fed a commercial extruded diet (RD) and starting from the beginning of the trial, one group received the raw based diet (MD) and the other group continued to be fed with the RD diet (CD) for a fortnight. After 14 days, the two groups were inverted, the CD group shifted to the MD and the MD shifted to the CD, for the next 14 days. Faeces were collected at the beginning of the study (T0), after 14 days (T14) before the change of diet and at the end of experimental period (T28) for DNA extraction and analysis of metagenome by sequencing 16SrRNA V3 and V4 regions, short chain fatty acids (SCFA), lactate and faecal score. Results: A decreased proportion of Lactobacillus, Paralactobacillus (P < 0.01) and Prevotella (P < 0.05) genera was observed in the MD group while Shannon biodiversity Index significantly increased (3.31 ± 0.15) in comparison to the RD group (2.92 ± 0.31; P < 0.05). The MD diet significantly (P < 0.05) decreased the Faecal Score and increased the lactic acid concentration in the feces in comparison to the RD treatment (P < 0.01). Faecal acetate was negatively correlated with Escherichia/Shigella and Megamonas (P < 0.01), whilst butyrate was positively correlated with Blautia and Peptococcus (P < 0.05). Positive correlations were found between lactate and Megamonas (P < 0.05), Escherichia/Shigella (P < 0.01) and Lactococcus (P < 0.01). Conclusion: These results suggest that the diet composition modifies faecal microbial composition and end products of fermentation. The administration of MD diet promoted a more balanced growth of bacterial communities and a positive change in the readouts of healthy gut functions in comparison to RD diet.

Overweight dogs exercise less frequently and for shorter periods: results of a large online survey of dog owners from the UK. Alexander J. German, Emily Blackwell, Mark Evans, Carri Westgarth. J. Nutri. Sci. April 2017;6(e11):1-4. Quote: Canine obesity is now the number one health concern in dogs worldwide. Regular physical activity can improve health, and owners are advised to exercise their dogs on a regular basis. However, limited information exists about associations between overweight status of dogs and walking activity. An online survey was conducted between June and August in 2014, coinciding with the broadcast of a national UK television programme, exploring dog behaviour. Information gathered included signalment, overweight status, and owner-reported information on duration and frequency of dog walking. The University of Liverpool Ethics Committee approved the project, and owners consented to data use. Simple and multiple logistic regression analyses were used to determine associations between overweight status and dog walking activity. Data were available from 11 154 adult dogs, and 1801 (16·1 %) of these were reported as overweight by their owners. Dogs reported to be overweight dogs were more likely to be neutered (P < 0·0001) and older (P < 0·0001). Various breeds were over-represented including beagle, Cavalier King Charles spaniel, golden retriever, Labrador retriever and pug (P < 0·0001 for all). Both frequency and duration of walking were negatively associated with overweight status (P < 0·0001 for both). On multiple regression analysis, duration and frequency were independently and negatively associated with the odds of being overweight, along with a range of other factors including age, neuter status and breed. This study has identified associations between overweight status and exercise. In the future, studies should determine the reason for this association, and whether changes in walking activity can influence weight status.

Decoding Pet Food Labels: Helping Pet Owners Read the Fine Print. Dottie LaFlamme. Clinician's Brief. October 2017;15(10):66.

A broken heart: Risk of heart disease in boutique or grain-free diets and exotic ingredients. Lisa M. Freeman. June 2018. Quote: Heart disease is common in our companion animals, affecting 10-15% of all dogs and cats, with even higher rates in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Doberman Pinschers, and Boxer dogs. Most nutritional recommendations focus on treating dogs and cats with heart disease and there is much less information on the role of diet in causing heart disease. However, a recent increase in heart disease in dogs eating certain types of diets may shed light on the role of diet in causing heart disease. It appears that diet may be increasing dogs’ risk for heart disease because owners have fallen victim to the many myths and misperceptions about pet food. If diet proves to be the cause, this truly is heart-breaking to me. ... Dilated cardiomyopathy or DCM occurs in cats where it is associated with a nutritional deficiency. ... There is suspicion that the disease is associated with eating boutique or grain-free diets, with some of the dogs improving when their diets are changed. ... Is diet the cause? It’s not yet clear if diet is causing this issue.

Undeclared animal species in dry and wet novel and hydrolyzed protein diets for dogs and cats detected by microarray analysis. Rebecca Ricci, Daniele Conficoni, Giada Morelli, Carmen Losasso, Leonardo Alberghini, Valerio Giaccone, Antonia Ricci, Igino Andrighetto. BMC Vet. Res. June 2018;14:209. Quote: Background: Although the European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF) stated that labels must be accurate and provide detailed information on the ingredients, mislabeling of pet food has been documented by several authors. This phenomenon is of particular concern when related to products used as elimination diets for the diagnosis of adverse food reaction (AFR) in dogs and cats because the presence of undeclared ingredients may negatively interfere with the trial and prevent the veterinarian from making an appropriate diagnosis. The aim of this study was to shed light upon the problem of contamination and mislabeling in both dry and wet novel protein diets (NPDs) and hydrolyzed protein diets (HPDs) using a microarray-based commercial kit which tests for the presence of 19 animal species. Results: Of the 40 analyzed products (9 dry NPDs, 22 wet NPDs, 6 dry HPDs and 3 wet HPDs), ten presented a content that correctly matched the label, while five did not contain the declared animal species, twenty-three revealed the presence of undeclared animal species, and two had a vague label that did not allow the evaluation of its accuracy. The most frequently contaminants identified in both dry and wet pet foods were pork, chicken and turkey. The presence of undeclared animal species was higher in dry than wet pet foods; furthermore, a lower number of contaminating animal species was identified in HPDs than NPDs (4 vs 10), and a lower number of contaminated HPDs (6 out of 9, 67%) than contaminated NPDs was detected (24 out of 31, 77%). Thirteen out of 14 brands tested presented at least one mislabeled product. Conclusions: Mislabeling seems to be a widespread issue in pet foods used as elimination diets. Contamination can occur in all types of products used for the purpose, although dry NPDs are the main issue. Due to the high risk of contamination, particular attention should be given to both the selection of raw material suppliers and the production process. Figure 1

Possibility of morphometric body condition scoring in dogs. Akiko Koizumi, Rina Aihara, Honoka Asakawa, Momoko Sakurada, Kazuya Otsuji. J. Pet Anim. Nutrit. August 2018;21(2):89-94. Quote: The body condition score(BCS)is a subjective and semi-quantitative assessment of the nutritional status of dogs. The method, though popularly used, is not always accurate, and scores can vary among observers. In the present study, we examined if an objective morphometric analysis could be used to estimate BCS in dogs. Three anatomically defined body lengths were measured in 42 dogs of 19 different breeds [including one cavalier King Charles spaniel], size and sexes and analyzed for correlation with ideal body weight(IBW), which was estimated by current body weight and body fat percentage. As a result, a high correlation was found between IBW and the length between the episternum and the ischial tuberosity. Using the regression expression, theoretical IBWs were calculated. BCS was estimated based on the difference between IBW and current body weight. These results suggest that a simple morphometric measurement can be a practical alternative to the conventional BCS assessment.

Detection of glyphosate residues in companion animal feeds. Jiang Zhao, Steven Pacenka, Jing Wu, Brian K. Richards, Tammo Steenhuis, Kenneth Simpson, Anthony G. Hay. Environ. Pollution. December 2018;243(B):1113-1118. Glyphosate List 18 FoodsQuote: The widespread adoption of genetically modified, glyphosate-tolerant corn and soybeanvarieties in US crop production has led to a dramatic increase in glyphosate usage. Though present at or below regulatory limits currently set for human foodstuffs, the concentration of glyphosate in companion animal feed is currently unknown. In the present study, 18 commercial companion animal feeds from eight manufacturers [see list at right] were analyzed for glyphosate residues using ELISA. Every product contained detectable glyphosate residues in the range of 7.83×101–2.14×103 μg  kg−1 dry weight, with the average and medians being 3.57×102 and 1.98×102 μg kg−1 respectively. Three products were tested for within-bag variation and six were tested for lot to lot variation. Little within-bag variation was found, but the concentration of glyphosate varied by lot in half of the products tested. Glyphosate concentration was significantly correlated with crude fiber content, but not crude fat or crude protein. Average daily intakes by animals consuming feeds containing the median glyphosate concentration are estimated to result in exposures that are 0.68–2.5% of the Allowable Daily Intake (ADI) for humans in the US and EU, which are 1750 and 500 μg kg−1respectively. Consumption of the most contaminated feed, however, would result in exposure to 7.3% and 25% of the above ADIs, though the relevance of suchan exposure to companion animals is currently unknown. Companion animal feeds contained 7.83×101–2.14×103 μg  −1 glyphosate which is likely to result in pet exposure that is 4–12 times higher than that of humans on a per Kg basis. ... We found glyphosate in all 18 companion animal feeds examined. The concentrations ranged from 7.83 x 101- 2.14 x 103 μg Kg-1. The mean and median concentrations were 3.57 x 102 and 1.98 x 102 μg Kg-1respectively. Glyphosate concentration correlated with the fiber content of the feeds, but not with either fat or protein, suggesting a plant origin. The glyphosate concentrations in the companion animal foods we tested were higher than those reported for average human diets, but within the maximum residue limits currently set for human foodstuffs (European Food Safety Authority, 2015; Office of the Federal Registry, 2017). The tendency of companion animals to eat more as a percent of their body weight than humans do, combined with higher glyphosate levels in their food suggests that their exposure to glyphosate may be 2.7-28 times higher on a body weight basis depending on the feed. The impact of such exposures on companion animals is currently unknown. Future studies should focus on understanding the long-term impacts of these low-dose exposures on companion animals.

Dietary intervention reduces left atrial enlargement in dogs with early preclinical myxomatous mitral valve disease: a blinded randomized controlled study in 36 dogs. Qinghong Li, Allison Heaney, Natalie Langenfeld-McCoy, Brittany Vester Boler, Dorothy P. Laflamme. BMC Vet. Res. November 2019;15:425. Quote: Background: Myxomatous mitral valve disease (MMVD), the most common naturally-occurring heart disease in dogs, is associated with alterations in energy metabolism, oxidative stress and inflammation. Energy deprivation plays a causal role in the development of heart failure. This study was designed to determine if a cardiac protection blend (CPB) of nutrients containing medium-chain triglycerides [MCTs] as an alternative energy source, fish oil to reduce inflammation, antioxidants, and other key nutrients important to cardiac health and function could slow or prevent MMVD progression. Nineteen dogs with early stage MMVD [17 Beagles and 2 miniature Schnauzers] and 17 breed-, age-, and sex-matched healthy dogs [15 Beagles and 2 miniature Schnauzers] were enrolled for a 6-month blinded, placebo-controlled study. Dogs in each cardiac health group were randomly assigned to either control diet (CON) or CPB-supplemented diet [MCTs; longchain omega-3 fatty acids; lysine and methionine (carnitine precursors); vitamin E (an antioxidant); magnesium; and taurine]. Echocardiography was performed at baseline, 3 months and 6 months. Results: No changes were found in healthy dogs. While MMVD-CON dogs had an average 10% increase over baseline in left atrial diameter (LAD) and left atrial to aortic root ratio (LA/Ao) at 6 months, MMVD-CPB dogs showed 3% decreases, resulting significant diet by time interactions (P=0.037, P=0.005, respectively). More MMVD-CON dogs progressed from stage B1 to B2 during the study. A positive correlation was found between 6-month changes in LAD and blood pressures in MMVD-CPB dogs (systolic: P=0.050, diastolic: P=0.035) but not MMVD-CON dogs. Conclusions: Our results demonstrated efficacy of CPB-based dietary intervention in reducing LA size and mitral regurgitation, and in slowing or preventing the progression of early MMVD in dogs.

Obesity in canines: prevention is better than cure. Nicola Acherman. BSAVA Cong. 2020:195. April 2020. Quote: Obesity is viewed as a chronic medical disease, it cannot be cured only managed. Even once all the required weight loss has been achieved, management of bodyweight will atways be needed. Any predisposition also needs to be viewed in the same format. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Pugs have a huge disposition to be overweight and/or obese. ... Weight and body condition score checks should be performed and recorded on regular intervals. Owners should be actively encouraged to weigh their pet at regular intervals so that any weight gain can be monitored.

Frequency, breed predisposition and demographic risk factors for overweight status in dogs in the UK. C. Pegram, E. Raffan, E. White, A. H. Ashworth, D. C. Brodbelt, D. B. Church, D. G. O'Neill. J. Sm. Anim. Pract. March 2021; doi: 10.1111/jsap.13325. Quote: Objectives: To evaluate the prevalence and risk factors for overweight status in dogs under primary veterinary care in the UK. Materials and Methods: A retrospective study design was used to estimate the 1-year (2016) period prevalence of overweight status. The clinical records were randomly ordered and manually validated for dogs with overweight status during 2016. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression modelling were used to evaluate associations between risk factors (breed, brachycephalic status, adult bodyweight, bodyweight relative to breed-sex mean, age, sex-neuter and insurance) and overweight status. Results: There were 1580 of 22,333 dogs identified as overweight during 2016. The estimated 1-year period prevalence for overweight status recorded in dogs under veterinary care was 7.1% (95% confidence interval 6.7–7.4). After accounting for confounding factors, eight breeds showed increased odds of overweight status compared with crossbred dogs. The breeds with the highest odds included the Pug (OR 3.12, 95% confidence interval 2.31 to 4.20), Beagle (OR 2.67, 1.75 to 4.08), Golden Retriever (OR 2.58, 1.79 to 3.74) and English Springer Spaniel (OR 1.98, 1.31 to 2.98) [cavalier King Charles spaniel ranked 7th]. Being neutered, middle‐aged and insured were additionally associated with overweight status. ... Pugs, Beagles, Golden Retrievers, English Springer Spaniels, Border Terriers, Labrador Retrievers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Cocker Spaniels were at significantly higher risk of overweight status compared with crossbreeds. ... Clinical Significance: Targeted overweight prevention strategies should be prioritised for predisposed breeds, such as Pugs and Beagles. The findings additionally raise questions about further preventative efforts following neutering. The prevalence estimate suggests veterinary professionals are underreporting overweight status and therefore could be missing key welfare opportunities.

Generalized osteopenia and pathological fractures in a puppy fed a raw meat diet. Catarina Amorim, Heather Jones. BSAVA Congress 2021. March 2021. Quote: This case report highlights clinical implications of feeding an unbalanced raw meat diet and accounts for the importance of owners’ compliance whilst instituting a dietary plan. A 5-month old male entire Bernese Mountain Dog was referred with a history of lethargy, intermittent lameness and marked difficulties in walking. The patient was first first seen by the referring veterinarian 4 weeks prior to referral for occasional right pelvic limb lameness. ... The patient was fed a homemade diet diet consisting of a mixture of raw chicken and ground beef. Orthopaedic and neurological examination were rather challenging due to marked osseous pain. The animal was unable to stand and displayed generally non-repeatable pain responses when the bones were palpated or the joints manipulated. The most significant pain responses were elicited on extension of both stifles and palpation of the thoracolumbar spine. The animal was still ambulatory but incredibly reluctant to do so and would vocalise on every attempt. ... Based on the patient’s clinical presentation and initial diagnostics the presumptive diagnosis was nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism. ... Dietary calcium insufficiency or hyperphosphatemia inducing hypocalcaemia are generally the most common causes of NSHP. ... Prior to discharge, 5 days after initial presentation, the animal was able to ambulate even though stiffness and kyphosis persisted. A re-evaluation appointment was scheduled in 4 weeks for repeated imaging and PTH essay. Unfortunately, the prescribed diet was discontinued at home and the patient was euthanized 3 weeks later given permanent skeletal deformities. ... The potential risks of providing a nutritionally incomplete and unbalanced diet, especially during a growth, cannot be overemphasized especially with recent trends in feeding home prepared raw diets.

Puppyhood diet as a factor in the development of owner-reported allergy/atopy skin signs in adult dogs in Finland. Manal B. M. Hemida, Siru Salin, Kristiina A. Vuori, Robin Moore, Johanna Anturaniemi, Sarah Rosendahl, Stella Maria Barrouin-Melo, Anna Hielm-Björkman. J. Vet. Intern. Med. July 2021; doi: 10.1111/jvim.16211. Quote: Background: The increased prevalence of atopic dermatitis (AD) in dogs necessitates research in its disease etiology. Objectives: To explore the association between puppyhood dietary exposures and prevalence of owner-reported allergy/atopy skin signs (AASS) after the age of 1 year. Animals: Four thousand and twenty-two dogs were eligible, 1158 cases, and 2864 controls. Methods: This cross-sectional hypothesis-driven observational study was extracted from the DogRisk food frequency questionnaire. Forty-six food items and the ratio of 4 major diet types [raw food, dry food, other commercial dog food, and home cooked food] were tested for their association with AASS incidence later in life. ... [The] “microflora hypothesis,” has been proposed. It argues that early life exposures to beneficial nonpathogenic microbes can alter the individual's microbiome development, influence the innate and adaptive immune system, and cause permanent consequences for the individual's health. ... The prevalence of adult AASS within the group of dogs for which we had information of their puppy diet at 2 to 6 months of age differed in the consumed ratio of raw food, dry food, other commercial dog food, and home cooked food. Most of the dogs consumed a mixture of these 4 diet groups. Consumption of at least 20% of the diet as raw food, or below 80% of the diet as dry food were significantly associated with a decreased prevalence of AASS in dogs, while no consumption of raw food or 80% or more of dry food significantly associated with an increased prevalence of AASS in dogs. Similarly to dry food, also other processed commercial dog food significantly associated with a decreased incidence of AASS when not fed at all, while they associated with an increased prevalence of AASS in dogs when consumed at 20%. ... The model was adjusted for age and sex. Results: Eating raw tripe, raw organ meats, human meal leftovers, and fish oil supplements as well as eating more that 20% of the diet as raw and/or <80% of the diet as dry, in general, were associated with significantly lower AASS incidence in adulthood. In contrast, dogs fed fruits, mixed-oil supplements, dried animal parts, and dogs that drank from puddles showed significantly higher AASS incidence in adulthood. Conclusions and Clinical Importance: ... We conclude that eating raw tripe, raw organ meats, fish oil supplements and human meal leftovers during puppyhood were identified as significant potential protective factors of AASS incidence. In contrast, eating fruits, mixed oil supplements, dried animal parts, and drinking from puddles outside during puppyhood were detected as significant potential risk factors of AASS incidence. These findings are further backed up by the diet ratio analysis where consumption of different feeding patterns during puppy age showed that even if the dog eats 80% of its food as dry, adding a minimum of 20% of the food as raw, significantly decreased the risk of AASS later in life. A concept of early exposure to beneficial bacteria by serving “real foods” and avoiding sugary fruits might be usable as an AASS prevention action. However, the study only suggests a causal relationship but does not prove it. Diet intervention studies are required to further elucidate the in-depth association between dietary factors such as raw and dry foods, human meal leftovers and beneficial dosing of oils and the development of AASS.

Dose-response of benazepril on biomarkers of the classical and alternative pathways of the reninangiotensin-aldosterone system in dogs. Samantha Sotillo, Jessica L. Ward, Emilie Guillot, Oliver Domenig, Lingnan Yuan, Joseph S. Smith, Vojtech Gabriel, Chelsea A. Iennarella-Servantez, Jonathan P. Mochel. Res. Square. July 2022; doi: 10.21203/ Quote: Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEI) such as benazepril are commonly prescribed in both humans and dogs with heart disease to mitigate the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS); however, the dose-dependent effects of benazepril on comprehensive RAAS components remain unknown. In this study, nine purpose-bred healthy dogs received three different dosages of oral benazepril (0.125 mg/kg, 0.25 mg/kg, or 0.5 mg/kg) in a randomized crossover design following induction of RAAS activation by consuming a low-sodium diet ... (Hill's Prescription Diet h/d; 17 mg sodium per 100kcal, 0.08% sodium on a dry matter basis) at 23:00 PM once daily for five days to attain a steady activation of RAAS. ... Blood samples were collected at serial time intervals after benazepril dosing to measure plasma benazeprilat (active metabolite of benazepril) and serum RAAS biomarkers. Blood pressure and echocardiogram were performed at baseline and after each benazepril administration. Time-weighted averages for RAAS biomarkers for 12 hours post-dose and hemodynamic variables were compared between dosing groups using Wilcoxon rank-sum testing. Compared to the lowest dosage of benazepril (0.125 mg/kg), the highest dosage (0.5 mg/kg) resulted in lower time-weighted average values of angiotensin (Ang) II (-38%, P = 0.004), Ang1-5 (-53%, P = 0.001), ACE-S (surrogate for ACE activity; -59%, P = 0.0002), and ALT-S (surrogate for alternative RAAS activity; -22%, P = 0.004), and higher values of AngI (+ 78%, P = 0.014) and PRA-S (surrogate for plasma renin activity; +58%, P = 0.040). There were no relevant differences between dosing groups for blood pressure or echocardiographic variables. Knowledge of dose-dependent alterations in biomarkers of the classical and alternative RAAS pathways could help inform clinical trials for dosage optimization in both dogs and humans.

The effect of obesity and subsequent weight reduction on cardiac structure and function in dogs. C. Partington, H. Hodgkiss-Geere, G. R. T. Woods, J. Dukes-McEwan, J. Flanagan, V. Biourge, A. J. German. BMC Vet, Res, September 2022; doi: 10.1186/s12917-022-03449-4. Quote: Background: In people, the cardiovascular effects of obesity include systemic hypertension, cardiac remodelling and both systolic and diastolic dysfunction, whilst weight reduction can reverse myocardial remodelling and reduce risk of subsequent cardiovascular disease. To date, variable results are reported in studies of the effect of obesity and controlled weight reduction on cardiovascular morphology and function in dogs. This prospective study aimed to assess cardiac function, heart rate variability, cardiac biomarkers and body composition before and after weight reduction in pet dogs with obesity. Twenty-four client-owned dogs [including three cavalier King Charles spaniels (13%)] referred for weight management due to obesity were recruited. To assess the cardiac effects of obesity, body composition analysis (by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, DEXA) and cardiovascular assessment (echocardiography, Doppler blood pressure, electrocardiography, cardiac biomarkers) were performed prior to weight management. Twelve dogs completed the study and reached target weight [including two of the CKCSs], receiving a further cardiovascular assessment and DEXA. A Wilcoxon-signed rank test was used to compare each variable pre- and post- weight reduction. Results: Median (interquartile range) duration of weight loss was 224 days (124–245 days), percentage weight loss was 23% (18–31%) of starting weight. Median change in body fat mass was -50% (-44% to -55%), whilst median change in lean mass was -7% (+ 1% to -18%). Before weight reduction, diastolic dysfunction (evidence of impaired relaxation in all dogs), increased left ventricular wall thickness and mildly elevated systolic blood pressure (14/24 ≥ 160 mmHg, median 165 mmHg (140–183)) were common features in dogs with obesity. However, systolic left ventricular wall dimensions were the only variables that changed after weight reduction, with a decrease in both the systolic interventricular septum and systolic left ventricular free wall. There was no evidence of decreased heart rate variability in dogs with obesity, and no change in cardiac biomarker concentrations with weight reduction. Conclusions: Canine obesity results in diastolic dysfunction and left ventricular hypertrophy, the latter of which improves with significant weight and fat mass reduction. Further studies are required to clarify the clinical consequences of these findings.

A case of a dog with paragonimiasis after consumption of raw deer meat. Aritada Yoshimura, Daigo Azakami, Miori Kishimoto, Takahiro Ohmori, Daiki Hirao, Shohei Morita, Shinogu Hasegawa, Tatsushi Morita, Ryuji Fukushima. J. Vet. Med. Sci. March 2023; doi:10.1292/jvms.22-0443. Quote: A 6-year-old castrated male Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was referred to the Animal Medical Center, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, for examination and treatment of recurrent pneumothorax. Chest radiography and computed tomography showed multiple cavitary lesions in the caudal right posterior lobe. These lesions were surgically excised via thoracotomy. Subsequent histopathological examination revealed paragonimiasis. In the postoperative review, we found that the owner had fed raw deer meat to the dog four months earlier. Deer meat has attracted attention as a source of Paragonimus in humans. To our knowledge, this is the first report of Paragonimus infection in a dog due to deer meat consumption. ... Paragonimus infects the lungs of mammals including humans, dogs, and cats, causing chronic respiratory diseases and paragonimias is. In humans, paragonimiasis is typically foodborne, and the main route of infection is by oral ingestion of raw or undercooked freshwater crustaceans, a second intermediate host. Currently, 1 million individuals are infected every year worldwide, thus Paragonimus remains an important paras te in public health. In contrast , in veterinary medicine, paragonimiasis in dogs and cats has been reported in various parts of the world, albeit sporadically. Freshwater crustaceans are thought to be the infection source. However, in recent years, paragonimiasis has been frequently observed in wild boar-hunting dogs, indicating that wild boar meat could be a source of Paragonimus in dogs. To the best of our knowledge, no deer meat-derived Paragonimus infection has been reported in dogs. In this report , we described a domestic dog with recurrent spontaneous pneumothorax after Paragonimus infection caused by eating raw deer meat purchased by the owner. ... In Paragonimus infection, eggs are expelled from the lungs through coughing. The prepatent period for Paragonimus in dogs is approximately 5- 7 weeks. This was consistent with the timing of the dog’s asymptomatic period and the onset of progressive coughing. Therefore, we concluded that severe granulomatous pneumonia and cavitary lesions were caused by Paragonimus infection from raw deer meat, resulting in recurrent pneumothorax. We administered praziquantel orally at a dose of 25 mg/kg, three times a day for two consecutive days, as an additional postoperative treatment, since Paragonimus may be present outside the resected area. At 390 days postoperatively, the dog was doing well with no signs of recurrence.

Pet feeding habits and the microbiological contamination of dog food bowls: effect of feed type, cleaning method and bowl material. Federica Raspa, Achille Schiavone, Daniele Pattono, Davide Galaverna, Damiano Cavallini, Marica Vinassa, Domenico Bergero, Alessandra Dalmasso, Maria Teresa Bottero, Emanuela Valle. BMC Vet. Res. December 2023; doi: 10.1186/s12917-023-03823-w. Quote: Background: Safe pet feeding practices and food bowl hygiene measures are important for minimising the risk of microbiological contaminations in the domestic environment. This study compares the practices reported by dog and cat caregivers, and investigates whether cleaning method, feed type or bowl material affects the microbiological contamination of dog food bowls. Results: Data from 351 dog caregivers and 186 cat caregivers were collected via an online survey. The majority of dogs (70.7%) were fed twice daily, whereas cats (43%) were mostly fed ad libitum. The most common material for dog food bowls was metal (67.1%) versus plastic (38.1%) and metal (37.6%) for cats. Dog food bowls were most frequently cleaned after each meal (35.7%); whereas for cats, 21.5% were cleaned after each meal, 22.7% once a day and 19.3% 2–3 times a week. Total mesophilic aerobic bacteria counts (TMABc), Enterobacteriaceae counts and pathogenic bacteria (Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., Verotoxigenic E. coli [VTEC]) were assessed for 96 dog food bowls. TMABc were higher in metal vs. plastic bowls (p < 0.001) and in those used for wet food vs. dry food (p = 0.0397). Enterobacteriaceae counts were higher in bowls washed by hand vs. dishwasher (p = 0.0515), whereas no differences were found between hand washing vs. dry wiping. Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp. or E. coli VTEC contaminations were not detected. Conclusions: The surveyed Italian dog and cat caregivers reported different habits concerning feeding frequency, food bowl material and cleaning frequency. Wet food and metal bowls were associated with higher levels of microbiological contamination of dog food bowls. Furthermore, in relation to wet washing methods, contaminations were likely to be greater following hand washing than they were following the use of a dishwasher. Practical guidelines for safe feeding practices and hygiene measures are needed to minimise the risk of microbiological contaminations in domestic environments.