Interview with the Pet Nutritionist

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We were given the exclusive opportunity to speak with Petcurean’s Health and Nutrition Specialist. Read our interview with Michele Dixon, Pet Nutrition Specialist.

Petcurean is a small, family-owned pet food company in Canada. When they contacted us and asked if there was anything we’d like to ask their Pet Nutrition Specialist, we were thrilled! We are currently still reviewing foods in our food review series and there are so many questions and misconceptions when it comes to feeding your Yorkie. We kept it short and simple and asked the questions we were most interested in knowing the answers to. Michele Dixon, Health & Nutrition Specialist at Petcurean, was happy to answer our questions.

What is the right amount of protein in a food for a healthy adult Yorkie?

There is no set amount of protein required for Yorkies that differ from other dogs, however many seem to do better on a more traditional protein and fat level. This may be because higher fat and protein levels are not well tolerated.

Typically when dogs eat a commercial dog food, carbohydrates and fat are utilized for energy. Conversely when a dog is fed a higher protein, lower carbohydrate diet, like the GO! Fit + Free, the protein (and fat) is utilized for energy. Making protein available for energy happens through the body’s process called gluconeogenesis, where the protein is turned into glucose. The residual protein will then be excreted in the urine. Protein and carbohydrates provide equal amounts of energy in the form of calories, while fats supply 2-1/4 times the calories.

What ingredients are most commonly the cause of food allergies in dogs?

Although itchy skin and loose stools are often attributed to allergies, food allergies in dogs are actually rare – however food intolerance or sensitivity is actually quite common. In fact, food intolerance is the third most common sensitivity condition in dogs and often can be easily remedied with a change in diet. Food sensitivities are usually seen from as early as 2 hrs and up to 72 hrs after eating, so it can be difficult to connect symptoms with a food or foods eaten several days previously. There is a very high correlation between delayed food sensitivity and the amount and frequency of the food consumed.

Traditional food allergy tests measure antibodies that typically show in more acute allergic reactions to foods. This is the reason why people often do not find testing successful, as the issue is an intolerance or sensitivity. New testing measures antibodies on the bowel’s mucus surface, and thus more directly correlates to symptoms of bowel (GI tract) disease, as the GI tract is the largest immune organ.

Some of the most commonly indicated ingredients are beef, wheat, corn and soy. In order to determine a food intolerance or sensitivity through a food trial, feed your dog a novel food source for 12 weeks. A novel food source would be a protein that your dog had never eaten before. An example could be GO! Sensitivity and Shine Salmon or Duck. Regardless of the diet used, it must be the only thing the dog eats for 12 weeks. This means no treats; absolutely nothing but the special food and water.

How do I determine how many calories my dog should eat in a day?

As metabolism varies between dogs, the best way to determine the right number of calories for your dog is to use the feeding guidelines and adjust based on body weight and activity level. Using the calories on a label is not the best way to determine how much your pet should eat in a day, or whether a particular food will result in weight gain or loss.

What is the best way to transition between foods when changing from one food to another?

It’s important to slowly transition your pet to a new food so their system has a chance to adapt to the change. The transition period should be at minimum ten days and could take upwards of two weeks depending on your pet’s sensitivity to change. On day one, introduce 10% new food / 90% old food. Keep the food at this ratio for two or more days. Next, increase the ratio to 20% new food / 80% old food for two or more days. Repeat increasing in increments of 10% until you’re feeding 100% of the new food.

If your pet experiences any kind of digestive upset during this time, try slowing down the process to let his/her digestive tract adjust to the new food. Some vomiting and/or diarrhea can be normal when introducing new foods as the digestive process and the naturally occurring bacteria your pet’s body requires is a complex and delicate system. If your pet experiences any vomiting and/or diarrhea, be sure to reduce the amount of new food the next time you feed and overall, slowing the transition period down even more.

If you’d like to see if any of Petcurean’s foods are right for your Yorkie, you can visit the Petcurean food selector to find the formula that is right for you. When I tried the food selector, Petcurean suggests Now Fresh Grain Free Small Breed for Catherine. I will have to check it out and add it to our next food review!


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