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  • Author or Editor: Cailin R. Heinze x
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Objective—To establish comprehensive reference ranges for plasma amino acid and whole blood taurine concentrations in healthy adult cats eating commercial diets and to evaluate the relationships of age, sex, body weight, body condition score (BCS), dietary protein concentration, and dietary ingredients with plasma amino acid and whole blood taurine concentrations.

Animals—120 healthy adult cats.

Procedures—Blood samples and a complete health and diet history were obtained for each cat, and reference intervals for plasma amino acid and whole blood taurine concentrations were determined. Results were analyzed for associations of age, breed, sex, body weight, BCS, use of heparin, sample hemolysis and lipemia, dietary protein concentrations, and dietary ingredients with amino acid concentrations.

Results—95% reference intervals were determined for plasma amino acid and whole blood taurine concentrations. A significant difference in amino acid concentrations on the basis of sex was apparent for multiple amino acids. There was no clear relationship between age, BCS, body weight, and dietary protein concentration and amino acid concentrations. Differences in amino acid concentrations were detected for various dietary ingredients, but the relationships were difficult to interpret.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—This study provided data on plasma amino acid and whole blood taurine concentrations for a large population of adult cats eating commercial diets. Plasma amino acid and whole blood taurine concentrations were not affected by age, BCS, or body weight but were affected by sex and neuter status. Dietary protein concentration and dietary ingredients were not directly associated with plasma amino acid or whole blood taurine concentrations.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To measure thiamine concentrations in commercial canned foods formulated for cats as an initial assessment of the variation among canned foods and to determine the effects of flavor (fish vs nonfish) of the food, texture (paté vs nonpaté) of the food, country of manufacture, and size of the company on thiamine concentration.

Design—Prospective cross-sectional study.

Sample—90 canned, nontherapeutic diets formulated for cats (1 fish and 1 nonfish flavor for each of 45 brands).

Procedures—Each canned food was homogenized, and thiamine concentration was analyzed with a fluorometric method.

Results—Thiamine concentration was below the minimums of the Association of American Feed Control Officials in 12 of 90 (13.3%) foods and below the recommended allowance of the National Research Council in 14 of 90 (15.6%) foods. Paté foods had significantly lower thiamine concentrations than did nonpaté foods, and foods from smaller companies had significantly lower thiamine concentrations, compared with concentrations in foods from larger companies. Flavor of food and country of manufacture were not significantly associated with thiamine concentration.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—A wide range of thiamine concentrations was found in the foods evaluated. Thiamine concentration in a substantial percentage of commercially available canned foods was below the amount recommended for adult cats. Additional research on interlot and intralot variation in thiamine concentrations of foods formulated for cats is warranted. Companies should implement strict quality control and analysis practices regarding food products. Clinicians should consider thiamine deficiency as a differential diagnosis in a cat with acute neurologic dysfunction.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


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.

Design—Web-based cross-sectional survey.

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.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To evaluate marketing claims, ingredients, and nutrient profiles of over-the-counter diets marketed for skin and coat health of dogs.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Sample—24 over-the-counter dry and canned diets marketed for skin and coat health of dogs.

Procedures—Data on marketing claims and ingredients were collected from diet packaging and manufacturer websites. Concentrations of selected nutrients were obtained by contacting the manufacturers and were compared against minimum values for Association of American Feed Control Officials Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for adult dog maintenance based on calorie content.

Results—Most diets incorporated marketing terms such as digestive health, sensitive, or premium that are poorly defined and may have limited relevance to skin, coat, or general health. The types and numbers of major ingredients (ie, potential to contribute protein to the diet) differed. The total number of unique major ingredients in each diet ranged from 3 to 8 (median, 5.5), but the total number of unique ingredients in each diet ranged from 28 to 68 (median, 38). Concentrations of nutrients associated with skin and coat condition also differed widely.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that the large variation among over-the-counter diets marketed for skin and coat health may cause confusion for owners during diet selection. Owners of a dog with dermatologic problems should consult their veterinarian to select a good-quality diet that meets specific nutrient goals. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2015;246:1334–1338)

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association



To assess the clinical accuracy of 2 serum-based assays and 1 saliva-based assay for detection of adverse food reaction (AFR) in dogs without clinical signs of disease.


30 healthy client-owned dogs.


Dog owners completed an online survey to collect comprehensive information about their pets' diet history. From each dog, serum and saliva samples were obtained and submitted for AFR testing by means of 3 assays that assessed the immunoglobulin response to 24 foods. Assays A and B measured food allergen–specific IgE concentrations in serum, whereas assay C measured food allergen–specific IgA and IgM concentrations in saliva. Descriptive data were generated, and Fisher exact tests were used to assess the respective associations between positive test results and specific food ingredients to which dogs were exposed.


Assays A, B, and C yielded positive results for 26, 18, and 30 dogs, respectively. All dogs had positive results for at least 1 assay. The median (range) number of foods or ingredients to which dogs tested positive was 10.5 (0 to 24) for assay A, 1 (0 to 13) for assay B, and 12.5 (4 to 22; IgM) and 3 (0 to 24; IgA) for assay C. Positive test results were not significantly associated with prior food exposure.


Saliva and serum assays for AFR often yielded positive results for apparently healthy dogs and are not recommended for clinical use. Elimination diet trials remain the gold standard for diagnosis of AFR in dogs.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To compare the nutrient composition of commercially available dog milk replacers with that of dog milk.

Design—Prospective, cross-sectional study.

Sample—5 dog milk samples and 15 samples of commercial dog milk replacers.

Procedures—Dog milk and milk replacers were analyzed for concentrations of total protein, essential amino acids, sugars, total fat, essential fatty acids, calcium, and phosphorus. Energy density was calculated. Results from milk replacers were compared with the range of the concentration of each nutrient in milk samples from mature dogs as well as the National Research Council (NRC) recommendations for puppy growth.

Results—Milk replacers varied widely in caloric density and concentration of nutrients such as calcium, protein, and fat. Calcium concentration was lower in 14 of 15 milk replacers than in the dog milk samples. Docosahexaenoic acid was undetectable in 12 of 15 milk replacers but present in all dog milk samples. All milk replacers had numerous essential nutrients outside of the range of the dog milk samples, and many had concentrations of amino acids, essential fatty acids, calcium, and phosphorus less than the NRC minimal requirement or recommended allowance. Compared with NRC recommendations, some dog milk samples had concentrations of total protein, linoleic acid, calcium, or phosphorus less than the recommended allowance.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that there was substantial variation in nutrient composition of 15 dog milk replacers and that some products were closer approximations of dog milk than others. Nearly all products would benefit from more appropriate calcium, amino acids, and essential fatty acids concentrations and better feeding directions.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To evaluate recipes of diets recommended for animals with chronic kidney disease (CKD), compare nutritional profiles for those recipes to requirements for adult dogs and cats, and assess their appropriateness for the management of CKD.

Design—Evaluation study.

Sample—Recipes of 67 home-prepared diets promoted for use in dogs (n = 39 recipes) and cats (28) with CKD.

Procedures—Recipes were analyzed with computer software to determine calories, macronutrient calorie distribution, and micronutrient concentrations and were assessed for appropriateness for the management of CKD.

Results—Assumptions were required for the analysis of every recipe, and no recipe met all National Research Council nutrient recommended allowances (RA) for adult animals. Compared with RAs, concentrations of crude protein or at least 1 amino acid were low in 30 of 39 (76.9%) canine recipes and 12 of 28 (42.9%) feline recipes. Choline was most commonly below the RA in both canine (37/39 [94.9%]) and feline (23/28 [82.1%]) recipes; selenium (34/39 [87.2%] canine and 9/28 [32.1 %] feline recipes), zinc (24/39 [61.5%] canine and 19/28 [67.9%] feline recipes), and calcium (22/39 [56.4%] canine and 7/28 [25.0%] feline recipes) concentrations were also frequently below recommendations. The median phosphorus concentration in canine and feline recipes was 0.58 and 0.69 g/1,000 kcal, respectively.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Many problems with nutritional adequacy were detected, and use of the recipes could result in highly variable and often inappropriate diets. Many recipes would not meet nutritional and clinical needs of individual patients and should be used cautiously for long-term feeding.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association