Frequently Asked Questions
I found your site after reading about dog food on the internet and would like to learn more about improving my dog's diet. Are you a K9 Nutritionist and can you help me?
I have completed coursework in Animal Nutrition as part of a study program for my certification in Animal Care.
After researching dog food and studying nutrition independently for some years, I wanted to know what kind of academic education is actually available in the field of pet or dog nutrition. As I found out, there is actually no such thing as a "canine nutritionist". The closest job description I found was that of veterinary nutritionists, veterinarians with a PhD in animal nutrition who are certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition. Only very few of them exist, and most of them work for, or are affiliated with, the pet food industry.
Then there are Pet or Animal Nutritionists, who work in the pet food industry. They hold a PhD in small animal nutrition at the very least and their responsibility is to supervise research and development of commercial products, maintain ingredient and product data and provide direction for product evaluation.
Groomers and trainers can become certified through professional associations such as for example the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) or the National Dog Groomers Association (NDGAA). However, so far no reputable organization has been formed to educate or certify people specifically in the field of canine nutrition.
For all the above reasons I prefer to describe what I do as canine care and nutrition consulting.
My goal is to provide unbiased information to people who are interested in learning about better alternatives in care and nutrition for their dogs, and to help them overcome the fear of doing wrong when going against conventional recommendations. At the same time I recognize the progress scientists have made in research fields like for example nutrition, treatment of diseases and parasite control, and consequently my advice is based on sound principles rather than widespread, unfounded claims rampant in many places on the internet.
If you'd like help with your dog's diet, please contact me to book a consultation.
Do you have a list of high quality dog foods or supplements that you recommend?
No, I do not provide a list of "Top 10 foods" or anything similar. The reason is that there are hundreds of products out there, some better than others, but I can not possibly guess which ones would be suitable for your dog and situation. Just like humans, all dogs are individuals with different requirements and just because some do well on a particular brand does not mean it's ideal for every dog.
When you book a consultation, I will set up a client file and send you a detailed questionnaire so I can learn as much as possible about you and your dog. After you complete it and send it back to me, you will receive detailed suggestions for improvements for about as much money as you would pay for a bag of high-end dog food. This package includes a list of quality food, treat and supplement products suitable for your dog's individual needs as well as answers to other food-related questions you may have.
I am feeding my dog store bought dog food. Do I need to give any supplements or should I save my money?
Once again the answer is it depends on what you are feeding your dog, what his or her individual needs are and whether any health issues should be addressed. Generally speaking, multivitamin or mineral products are unnecessary if you feed commercial food, but there are specific supplements that complement a dog's diet quite nicely. I can make customized recommendations after you complete a questionnaire.
I've seen an ad on TV where a vet said dogs should be kept on on Heartworm/Flea meds all year long. Is that true?
It's true for those geographical regions where the risk of heartworm or flea infestation is present year-round. If you live in an area where mosquitoes or fleas are not active all year, or in a situation where infestation is very unlikely, your dog's body will be better off not having to process potent chemicals constantly.
Some products will also remain effective when given in smaller doses or less frequently than every 30 days. Together we can assess your situation and come up with a treatment plan you'll feel more comfortable with.
My puppy is still not housebroken, and he's already five months old. Is this normal? How can I fix this problem before my patience runs out?
It's definitely not normal that a 5 month old puppy is still not reliable indoors. Normal, healthy puppies brought home at 8 weeks old are absolutely capable of understanding where it is appropriate to eliminate, but they are often confused by their well-meaning owners who simply send the wrong signals and don't establish a daily routine that makes success easy.
Pet store puppies and those purchased from commercial kennels have not had an ideal start in life and can be more of a challenge to house train, since from a very young age on they were forced to sleep and play in the very same area they had to use for eliminating - concrete runs and pet store cages. The same often applies to puppies or older dogs rescued from squalid living conditions or kennel lives, so the "normal" label doesn't apply to them and they may require a different approach to potty training.
In my experience, and that of the people who have followed my house training routine, it seldom takes longer than two weeks to train a puppy to be 95-99% reliable, meaning if you implement a proper routine, send the right signals and pay attention to your dog, there will rarely be accidents, if any at all. For the more difficult cases, I will provide specific modifications.
I have an overweight dog who desperately needs to lose weight and my vet recommended a prescription food that contains mainly corn meal and peanut hulls, is this really the way to go? I don't feel comfortable feeding this to my dog.
Peanut hulls in "weight loss" dog foods don't have any nutritional value whatsoever and only provide bulk to fill up your dog. Think of it as similar to adding a few shredded sheets of newspaper to your morning cereal - your stomach will feel full and you might eat less, but do you want to eat, and will such a meal leave you satisfied?
If your dog needs to lose a few pounds, there are better, healthier ways to accomplish that than depriving him or her of tasty, healthy food. For many dogs who lead a leisurely life in comfort, their meals are something to look forward to, something that livens up their daily routine and gets them excited. Why take that away from them?
To lose weight, a dog must consume less calories than the body needs to maintain weight, so you have to either decrease food intake or increase exercise, or both. If a dog is so overweight that normal exercise (walks, playing fetch etc.) would pose a risk of injury, modifying the diet is the only viable approach outside of low-impact exercise like swimming.
While not all commercial foods contain poor quality fillers like peanut or soybean hulls, most pet food companies still steer consumers to low-protein, low-fat food formulations full of unnecessary carbohydrates, which are not really conductive for weight loss but provide a large profit margin for manufacturers because grains are cheaper than meat ingredients, especially good quality ones.
Luckily it's not difficult at all to make a few changes to your dog's diet that will help him or her to reach the ideal weight while still providing healthy, tasty, food without questionable ingredients. Talk to me about it so you can get started.
Last updated 4/3/08 2:39pm, © Sabine Contreras 2006-2012, all rights reserved.