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DogAware is officially retired as of January 1, 2024. The site will continue to be here, but it hasn't been regularly updated for some time now. Some of the information on this site, such as that on kidney disease, is still relevant and useful. Information on how to select commercial foods is still good, but recommendations for individual foods are too far out of date to be very useful.

This site is filled with links, many of which have broken over time. You can search for the information online to see if it is still available, or you may be able to find the old link in the Internet Archive (aka The Wayback Machine). The Search function on my site is broke

You can still contact me (see my contact info at the bottom of the page).

Welcome to! exists to pass along what I've learned in more than a decade spent investigating canine nutrition and health. See below for Updates, News, and Seminars.

Information is divided among the following sections:

I welcome feedback and am also willing to answer questions as best I can about your dogs. If you have any problems, questions, suggestions or comments, please


May 2020: Diet, Dogs, and DCM, my article on this topic, was published in the November issue of Whole Dog Journal and is now available on my website.

September 2016: I have revised my recommendations for vitamin E supplementation based on some newer studies. See Vitamin E for my current recommendations.

August 2015: Just added a section about the new SDMA test that IDEXX is offering for early detection of kidney disease in dogs, along with general information everyone needs to know when their dog is diagnosed with kidney disease.

I am no longer writing very much (I have always had trouble writing, and this problem has recently become worse). Here are some of my articles and topics to which I refer people most often:

I've created a Facebook page for my web site. "Like" this page to find out when new articles or seminars are posted or any major changes to the web site are made.


April 2022: Copper toxicity is becoming more common in dogs. This issue appears to have started when AAFCO began requiring the use of copper sulfates or chelates in vitamin-mineral premixes, which are far more bioavailable than the previously utilized copper oxide. This was done despite there being no evidence to suggest clinical copper deficiency was a problem at the time (Hepatic copper concentrations in 546 dogs (1982–2015)). In addition, maximum thresholds for copper were removed from AAFCO guidelines in 2015, but the maximum was so high (250 mg/kg DM) that reinstating it (rather than a lower maximum) would likely not be helpful. Note that FEDIAF, the European equivalent to AAFCO, limits copper to 28.0 mg/kg DM (equivalent to 112 mg/1,000 kcal). More info:

March 2021: WARNNG! The EPA has received more than 75,000 adverse event reports linked to Seresto flea and tick collars, including 1,700 pet deaths. While no causative factor has been determined, these collars have received more incident reports than any other pesticide pet product. Until more is known, it would be safest to avoid using these collars. See Seresto allegedly linked to nearly 1700 pet deaths, EPA monitoring situation for more info. Also see my page on Flea and Tick Control for alternatives.
Note that veterinarians are disputing these reports, saying they may be linked to counterfeit products rather than actual Seresto collars, and noting that many of the reports of adverse events appear random (ruptured eardrum?), with no particular pattern. See Veterinarians temper flea-collar fears raised by news report.

January 2020: Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine (WSU) has discovered a gene that causes some dogs to have trouble with certain anesthesia drugs. Greyhounds and related breeds (Whippets, Italian Greyhounds, Borzoi and Scottish Deerhounds) are commonly affected, but they've also discovered the gene in a small number of Golden and Labrador Retrievers, as well as mixed-breed dogs. Affected dogs may benefit from special anesthesia protocols developed for greyhounds. WSU is continuing to study this issue, as well as to develop a simple test to identify affected dogs. The research team is currently seeking volunteer golden retrievers and greyhounds to participate in a one-day study at the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital to continue their study of drug breakdown in these dog breeds. See WSU study aims to prevent adverse drug reactions in dogs for more information.

March 2019: FDA Alerts Pet Owners and Veterinarians About Potentially Toxic Levels of Vitamin D in 33 Varieties of Hill’s Canned Dog Food in Expanded Recall

I don't often post about recalls, as there are other sites that do a much better job of keeping track of them (see Poisoned Pets and Truth About Pet Food). However, the recently expanded recall from Hill's of both prescription and regular canned diets has me incensed over this company's lack of testing and controls over their foods.

This recall involves toxic levels of vitamin D, which can cause illness and death. The company originally recalled 25 different canned foods (including 14 prescription diets) on January 31st after finding that "samples of the dog food contained excessive, potentially toxic amounts of vitamin D. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for dogs, but very high amounts can cause serious health problems like kidney failure or death." 48 days later, they added an additional 19 canned foods (including 11 prescription diets) to that list, "after the FDA requested that Hill’s test samples of foods it had produced that were not part of the original recall."

It is unbelievable to me that not only are Hill's quality controls so bad that they did not figure out that the supplement mixture they were using contained toxic levels of vitamin D, or that their foods had the same, until complaints began coming in about dogs getting sick and dying, but even after that, they failed to ensure that the rest of their products were not also affected, even though, according to their own website, "This expansion relates to the same vitamin premix that led to the Jan. 31 voluntary recall." By the way, don't let the use of the word "voluntary" fool you into thinking that Hill's did the right thing themselves; all pet food recalls are considered voluntary because the FDA lacks the ability to enforce them, though they can pressure companies to do so, as they clearly did with Hill's.

It's hard to know if the other prescription food companies (Royal Canin, Purina) are any better -- they all charge exorbitant prices for foods with poor-quality ingredients -- but if you need to feed a prescription diet, I would choose one of theirs over Hill's. An alternative would be to get a free recipe for a homemade veterinary diet from Balance IT, which requires your vet's approval (but they make it very easy to get).

Many of the recommendations regarding a link between certain diets and heart disease in dogs (see July 2018 below) urge consumers to avoid foods produced by small companies and instead rely on the larger companies to ensure that our dogs are getting proper nutrition, but it's clear that the big companies aren't trustworthy. While smaller companies may lack resources and sometimes knowledge, larger companies put the interests of shareholders ahead of our dogs.

As always, I recommend rotating between different brands of foods using different protein sources, if at all possible, to help protect your pets from nutritional inadequacies or excesses that may occur in any particular brand of food.

May 2018: Apoquel is a newer drug approved by the FDA in 2013 for treatment of itching and scratching linked to environmental allergies (atopy). In May, 2018, the FDA wrote a warning letter to Zoetis, saying, "This website makes false or misleading representations about the risks associated with APOQUEL. .. . CVM requests that Zoetis, Inc. immediately cease the dissemination of the APOQUEL promotional items described above and any other materials that fail to accurately represent the risks associated with the use of APOQUEL." You can find a link to the letter on the FDA's Compliance and Enforcement site under "2018 Letters" or here's a direct link to the letter itself.

Also see My clinical experience with Apoquel (oclacitinib), updated 3/22/18, written by a veterinary dermatologist, for more information about Apoquel. See January 2017 news item below about Cytopoint, another even newer treatment for environmental allergies in dogs, and for a link that compares the two drugs.

January 2017: Cytopoint, a new drug from Zoetis for the treatment of atopic dermatitis (environmental allergies) in dogs, was recently approved by the FDA. Cytopoint is a monoclonal antibody, a new form of treatment that may be safer than other drugs used to treat allergies in dogs, such as corticosteroids (prednisone), Atopica (cyclosporine) and Apoquel. Cytopoint is given by injection every four to eight weeks. Note that Cytopoint was formerly known as Canine Atopic Dermatitis Immunotherapeutic. See Cytopoint Versus Apoquel For Your Itchy Dog - Which Is Safer, Which Is More Effective, Can I Use Both? for more information (also see May 2018 news item above for more info on Apoquel). Share your experience with Cytopoint and read about that of others on my DogAware Facebook page.

Update: In 2018, the FDA expanded Cytopoint's approval to include allergic dermatitis for any reason, including flea and food allergies, rather than just atopic dermatitis (environmental allergies).

January 2017: Galliprant (grapiprant) from Artana Therapeutics is now available. Galliprant is a new type of non-cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibiting, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) in the piprant class. Using a new mechanism of action, this therapeutic directly blocks one of the key receptors involved in pain and inflammation — the EP4 prostaglandin receptor. Galliprant was approved by the FDA in 2016 to treat pain and inflammation in dogs with osteoarthritis. It can be used by dogs unable to tolerate other types of NSAIDs, including dogs with liver and kidney disease. Share your experience with Galliprant and read about others on my DogAware Facebook page.

The FDA issued a warning letter in May 2018 regarding misleading promotional claims for Galliprant, stating, "NSAIDS as a class are known to be associated with particular risks in dogs. These risks include clinical signs associated with gastrointestinal toxicity such as vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, and decreasing albumin and total protein. These same risks have been identified in association with GALLIPRANT treatment in dogs, and these findings are included on the FDA-approved labels for the product." See the section on NSAIDS on my Chronic Pain web page for more info.

Certain dogs, particularly those from herding breeds, have a genetic mutation called MDR1 that causes sensitivity to ivermectin and many other drugs. Grapiprant (Galliprant) is a substrate of P-glycoprotein transport, and so giving more than one dose may have serious adverse effects on these dogs if the drug is not cleared from their systems as quickly as it is with normal dogs. There is no information available about Galliprant's effect on dogs with the MDR1 mutation, so it should be used with great caution in these dogs. See Dogs with a Drug Problem for more information.

March 2016: Hill's Prescription Derm Defense Diet introduced. Wait, I'm not recommending this food, but their comments about the diet may be helpful for those whose dogs are fighting environmental allergies:

Hill’s Prescription Diet Derm Defense pet food for dogs with HistaGuard complex is formulated to reduce signs of environmental allergies by helping disrupt the internal allergy response and create a barrier against future episodes. HistaGuard complex, a blend of antioxidants, egg and phytonutrients containing quercitin, helps continuously normalize the immune response to allergens. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants such as vitamin E help reduce inflammation and support skin rejuvenation to aid healing, while omega-6 fatty acids help restore the skin barrier.

You can add eggs (cooked or raw) to any diet. Phytonutrients are found in vegetables and fruits, or can be given as supplements (quercitin is a phytonutrient). See Adding Fresh Foods to a Commercial Diet for guidelines. Fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) is particularly helpful for dogs with allergies of any kind, since it both relieves inflammation and helps to regulate the immune system. This food includes very high amounts of vitamin E (about 200 IUs per 1,000 calories) plus lipolic acid (another antioxidant). See Natural Anti-Inflammatories in my Arthritis article for more information. Note that most diets include ample omega-6 fatty acids, which come from poultry fat and plant oils, and too much omega-6 can contribute to inflammation, so I don't recommend adding more unless you're feeding a very low-fat diet or a homemade diet that does not include poultry (or uses only skinless breast, which has very little fat).

April 2015: An outbreak of canine influenza in Chicago and surrounding areas is from a new strain of canine influenza. We don't know how effective the vaccine will be against this new strain, but veterinarians are encouraging owners to vaccinate dogs in the area, as even partial immunity might be enough to save a dog's life. See the Canine Influenza section of my Vaccinations web page for more info.

March 2015: Veterinarians are now seeing reports of the same Fanconi-like syndrome in dogs who have consumed jerky treats made in the United States with U.S. ingredients. See American-made jerky tied to illness in dogs and my Recall page for more information.

Recent drought conditions are likely to lead to higher levels of aflatoxin, a dangerous mold byproduct, in corn. The first recall due to aflatoxin occurred in February 2013, and there will likely be more. Avoiding foods that contain corn will help to protect your dogs from this toxin. See the following for more information:

Omega-3 Fats May Help with Weight Loss in Pets
Recent studies in both humans and dogs have shown that the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, found in fish oil, promote weight loss and help dieters feel more satisfied. I recommend giving an amount of fish oil that provides about 300 mg EPA and DHA combined per 20 to 30 pounds of body weight daily.

See News Archive for additional news items.

Seminars and Talks

See Dog Seminars Directory and Puppyworks for listings of dog seminars on various topics around the world.


Eternal gratitude to web site designer extraordinaire , who got me started with Dreamweaver and helped spice up my web site design with color and graphics.

Thanks to Terry Journey, Wind Dancer Design, for my logo and banners.

Thanks to Nancy Kerns, editor of the Whole Dog Journal, for allowing me to use some of her wonderful photographs on my site.

Thanks to award-winning professional pet photographer Pam Biasotti, You Had Me at Woof Photography, for allowing me to use her wonderful images of my dog, Ella.

I regret that I no longer have much time to respond to questions. See my Contact page for more information. My name is Mary Straus and you can email me at either or


Rocky is a Yorkie-Poodle mix who had suffered from digestive problems his whole life. Click on his image to read about the diet his owner finally found to help him.
Pashoshe Fisher, a Chihuahua, was a wonderful, joyful companion to his owner for 19 & a half years. He was on a high quality raw diet for over half his life.
This is Ella, my Norwich Terrier.