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Canine Nutrition Series: Big Apple vet believes in integrative medicine, animal rights and “pushing the envelope”

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Welcome back to our fourth Canine Nutrition blog thread piece. This week we are joined by New York allopathic veterinarian Phillip Raclyn, DVM CVA. Trained as an allopathic veterinarian and practiced as such for twenty years, Dr. Raclyn is founder and chief of staff of VETSnyc, two veterinary practices on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and one in Yorktown Heights (Westchester).

He has earned his Certification in Veterinary Acupuncture through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society and has had extensive post graduate training in Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine. He is a member of the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, AVMA, NYCVMA, American Association of Feline Practitioners, PeTA, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, and the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture. He has been a Teaching Assistant for the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society certification course.

Considered and expert and valued resources in the arena of animal wellness, Dr. Raclyn is often asked to make frequent appearances on television, radio and print media. He has also been featured as one of the only veterinarians in the New York Magazine BEST DOCTORS issue.

To find out more about Dr. Raclyn, please see his VETSnyc website. We thank him for taking the time to address our Canine Nutrition questions.

The following is the canine nutrition Q&A session between Dr. Phillip Raclyn and myself:

Q. Roughly how many Kcal’s may a dog have per day?

A. Approximately 30kcal / lb

Q. What factors into the amount allowed: Age, size, breed, activity level etc…

A. Working dog vs couch potato. Weight loss or gain desired. It’s better for older dogs to be thinner to keep the pressure off the joints

Q. Is there a formula that dog guardians can use to help figure this out? Or should they speak with their vet?

A. Most vets can’t do this for them. They can go to an online site with vet nutritionists who can formulate diets for them.

Q. Should owners follow the guidelines on the bag/container of food, or is that unreliable?

A. It’s usually reliable.

Q. Do you think that “free feeding” is an acceptable way to feed dogs?

A. Depending on the dog. Many dogs will eat themselves FAT

Q. Raw vs traditional vs home-cooked? Is one better? Why?

A. I don’t think RAW is important. Home cooked, good quality ingredients more important. We don’t eat raw often, and not many nutrients are lost in cooking unless its overdone.

Q. Are “table scraps” acceptable ? If not, why? If so, what are the parameters?

A. YES, within reason.

Q. Would healthy foods that are found in the ingredients of the dogs current diet acceptable.


Q. High quality, healthy such as low fat/lean meats, raw/steamed veggies and whole grains?

A. YES, but less grains are better. More protein is better, except for dogs who have liver or kidney disease.

Q. Dog foods: are some better than others? If so, what should dog guardians look for in finding good quality foods?

A. No byproducts, no chemicals, mostly protein and fat, low carbs and grains.

Q. Supplements: Daily vitamins, minerals? Is this necessary if dog eats a healthy diet? When would they be required?

A. Multi-Vitamins are nice, not essential.

Q. “Joint supplements” are becoming very popular and people are giving them to their dogs without consulting – is this a good choice?

A. YES, but you have to use a good quality product.

Q. Holistic medicine vs traditional? Both good? One better than another? Complementary?

A. The best is integrative, using both with good judgment about which type of medicine works best for which problem.

Q. Interactive food toys: Good? Bad?

A. Good

Q. Should dogs be on a specific feeding schedule? If so, all throughout his or her life? Or during certain periods only? (puppy/senior/lactating)

A. Flexibility is usually best, but I have no strong opinion about this.

Q. For dogs that do not have food allergies, is it okay for s/he to have a variety of kibble/wet food brands and not just the same one all the time? Is it okay to vary the protein base?


Q. Are there some foods/supplements that can help prolong a dogs life?

A. YES, see my web site regarding nutritional supplements for dogs.

Q. Allergies: seems that “food allergies” is commonly diagnosed but without actual testing. How is it best to determine a dog really has a food allergy? Actual testing? Or is a subjective diagnosis acceptable?

A. NO testing is accurate. Only elimination can give a diagnosis

Q. Treats for training: Are there some that are better than others? Healthy vs “empty calories”?

A. Freeze dried meat of chicken is best.

Q. How can dog owners provide same nutrition without adding extra calories if using foods to train their dogs? (Besides using the dogs kibble)

A. USE meat or chicken. Not empty calories. Not fattening.

Q. When is it time for a dog owner to seek assistance from their vet?

A. As soon as possible. Waiting is usually counterproductive

To follow our blog series on Canine Nutrition and the do’s and don’ts of what to feed your dog, begin with our introductory post on canine nutrition. You will see additional links to each post by our canine nutrition expert’s. To continue following the blog series make sure you’ve signed up to receive them. You can do this directly on our inquisitive canine blog website.

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