New Horizons Veterinary Behavior Solutions

300 Somonauk St.
Park Forest, IL 60466


Ask the Nutrition Experts!!

Pet Nutrition: Myths versus Science
Click on our Nutrition Facts web page for more info

We have seen a concerning trend of our clients seeking nutritional consultations with pet store owners and employees, breeders, and trainers. Some of these folks do have good basic information.  Unfortunately many are perpetuating myths based on minimal education and anecdotal evidence.  As with all pet health and behavioral issues, at Deer Run Animal Hospital, we seek to get the best information for our clients from the very best experts. 

We admit that as general veterinary practioners we are your pet's " family physican" and while we handle many issues, we cannot be experts in all fields.  We do treat many aspects of your pet's health, including basic nutrition.  But even with our veterinary medical education and experience, we do not always have the most in depth information regarding pet nutrition and current trends.  We do however know who can best answer our questions and yours, when it comes to pet nutrition.  We look to these experts often for the best advice for our clients. 

When evaluating nutritional information, consider the source!  The best information is not going to come from the pet stores and the gourmet pet food shops.  The best information with scientific evidence behind it is going to come from the American College of Veterinary Nutrition and its board certified membership.


This organization board certifies veterinarians who have pursued advanced study in the field of nutrition for at least 3 years beyond the standard veterinary education.  Becoming a veterinary nutritionist is not easy.  Click this link to the  American College of Veterinary Nutrition-FAQs webpage to learn more about the training and expertise of veterinary nutritionists and other nutritional information.

So when evaluating food recommendations, find out if the person giving the recommendation is board certified by the ACVN.  Most of the veterinarians that pursue ACVN board certification also have Ph.D. degrees in addition to their DVMs, showing their intense educational pursuit in  the field of nutrition.  There is NO way a pet shop owner, or breeder can have this wealth of knowledge unless they too are DVMs, Ph.Ds., and are Diplomates of the ACVN.  The true experts will have a lot of letters after their names ensuring you that the knowledge they give you is based on documented science, and not based on myths and anecdotal evidence.

It is time to take pause and think. It is time to reconsider the often ill advice of the unsupervised internet.  We need to consider feeding our beloved pets foods that have been scientifically studied, rather than feeding a food that was designed by a hollywood actor, or formulated by a fly-by-night food company without an adequate record of quality control.  Buyers should beware when terms such as  "holistic," "no by-products," "all natural," and "organic" are put on the labels of pet food. This terminology has no strict definition or regulation. It is not that we are opposed to these ideas and concepts, but we need to make sure they are not being mis-used as marketing ploys.   

Here is a listing of ACVN Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionists in the United States.

Fortunately there are accessible and convenient ways you can seek the knowledge and experience of ACVN Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionists.  There are several excellent websites that offer much information for free.  Some of these sites also offer consulting for a fee services for specific cases.  Or if you would like to home cook a fresh nutritious diet for your pet, these are the experts to ask!

Meet Rebecca Remillard, DVM, Ph.D, DACVN  of 

Click on the PetDiets.comMyths webpage.   Also check out Dr. Remillard's Nutrition Article Archive Library. is another great website that helps owners that wish to use fresh ingredients and home cook for their pets.  The site can help owners home cook regular well balanced maintenance diets as well as diets specially formulated to treat special health problems such as food allergies or kidney disease. This site is provided by a group of veterinary nutritionists; Sean Delaney DVM, MS, DACVN, Jennifer Larsen DVM, Ph.D., DACVN, Sally Perea, DVM,MS, DACVN and a European nutritionist, Cecilia Villaverde, DVM, PhD, DACVN, DECVCN. Some diet infomation at the site is provided free of charge, some is for a fee.

The Veterinary Nutrition Support Services at Univ of California-Davis also has an informative website.  We have worked with these nutritionists in the past to develop diets for special needs patients.  Click on this link to learn about the The Veterinary Nutrition Specialists at the Univ of California-Davis.UC Davis

UC Davis Client Info Sheets on Nutritional Mgmt of Disease

There is also  a Veterinary Nutrition Support Service--at The Ohio State University
Tony Buffington, DVM, MS, Ph.D., DACVN heads the Ohio State Service.

Some other great nutritionists to watch for when reading or searching the internet are:

Joe Bartges, DVM, Ph.D., Dipl ACVIM, ACVN of the University of Tennessee

Lisa Freeman, DVM, Ph.D., ACVN of Tufts University

John Bauer, DVM, Ph.D., ACVN of Texas A&M University.  Dr. Bauer is the foremost authority in the use of omega 3 fatty acids for the treatment of numerous veterinary medical conditions including allergic dermatitis, kidney disease, arthritis, and heart disease.  Dr. Bauer will soon be publishing the latest dosing recommendations for omega 3 supplementation for these various conditions.  To benefit most of these conditions fairly high doses are needed and we anxiously await a paper that will be published in the fall of 2011.  Please see the Nordic Naturals website for more information on omega 3 fatty acids.

AAFCO Association of American Feed Control Officials is another important nutritional organization that is important to know about.

AAVN American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition--Nutrition Resources

ACVN American College of Veterinary Nutrition-FAQs

 FDA Handout on How to Read Pet Food Labels Reading pet food labes is incredibly complex. They are not as simple as they first appear and without proper knowledge you will end up comparing apples to oranges.  Manufacturers do not make it easy for us.

Now that you have learned about the experts, lets move on to what they say about common myths about pet foods on our Nutrition Facts web page.