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My interview with Rebecca Remillard, PhD, DVM, DACVN, founder of PetDiets.com

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PetDiets.com logo

PetDiets.com logo

courtesy PetDiets.com

Board-certified veterinary nutritionists are veterinarians who have undergone additional training and clinical work to be credentialed by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN).

In this interview, meet Rebecca Remillard, PhD, DVM, DACVN, founder of PetDiets.com and Veterinary Nutritional Consultations, Inc. The first interview in this series was with Sally Perea, DVM, MS, DACVN from Balance It.

Disclaimer: I do not have any affiliation with the companies interviewed. The interviews a a way to get an in-depth look at the company and what they offer. As always, for specific questions about your pet, please speak to your veterinarian.

Question: PetDiets.com was founded in 1989, well ahead of the 2007 pet food recalls. Have you seen increased diet requests from pet owners in recent years due to the recalls?

Dr. Remillard: There has been a steady increase every year in the interest to feed a homemade diet since I started practicing Clinical Nutrition in 1987. I have been formulating diets for vets and owners of pets with a medical condition through Veterinary Nutritional Consultations, Inc. (founded in 1987, incorporated in 1993), primarily by word of mouth or vet referrals. The web site (Petdiets.com) for pet owners to request a diet recommendation - commercial &/or homemade - for their pet with a medical condition opened in 2000.

Since the 2007 recall specifically? Initially in March 2007 through to the end of the year, there was a significant bump up in request. Since then, I think the trend has gone back to a steady overall increase seen since 1990. I would say that still the primary motivation clients most often cite for wanting to feed a homemade diet is because the pet has become ill.

Question: Do you provide custom diets for other pets besides dogs and cats?

Dr. Remillard: I have a separate business for Equids called Equus Health Solutions, LLC.

Question: Who more commonly uses your site, veterinarians seeking nutritional counseling for medical cases, or pet owners seeking healthy pet diets?

Dr. Remillard: Neither really - We have two options to our web site:

      'Homemade Diet' option is primarily used by pet owners to obtain a guaranteed nutritionally complete and balanced diet for their healthy adult dog or cat after selecting from a defined list of ingredients. Vets are using this site for their own pets and to obtain generic homemade diets for their healthy patients.
      The 'Nutritional Consultation' option allows for both owners with pets having a medical condition(s) and vets to request a recommendation (commercial and/or homemade). About 75% of the request originates with the owner who must provide a veterinarian's contact info. The owner must request their own medical records be faxed to us. The nutritional recommendations go to that vet first who then is responsible for passing the information onto the client. Requests from Vets for a particular patient has grown significantly since Jan 2008 from nearly zero to about 25% of the monthly requests.

So to your specific question: the majority of requests originate from the owner seeking a homemade diet for a sick pet, second most common request is from vets for a patient that will not eat the prescribed therapeutic commercial food (or the O refuses to feed the therapeutic diet) or for whom there is no commercial option, such a low fat, renal diet that also helps to prevent urate stones.

Question: Are dog recipes or cat recipes more commonly requested on your site?

Dr. Remillard: Dog by about 4:1

Question: I see that you can make commercial product recommendations, homemade diet recipes, and a combination of commercial diet and homemade. If the owner of a healthy pet signs up for the "Diets for Health Pets" consultation, will all three options be available?

Dr. Remillard: This option only provides homemade diets and only applies to healthy adult neutered pets. All other 'healthy' situations are done individually through the Nutrition Consultation option. "Homemade Diets: Use our interactive online tool to create and download homemade diets for your healthy cat or dog.”

I concur with Dr. Perea’s statement about mixing a balanced homemade diet with a balanced commercial diet. It is far better to mix two balanced diets in any combination than it is to attempt to balance a commercial diet while adding single table food items.

Question: You require that Balance IT supplements for dogs and cats be used for homemade diets.

Dr. Remillard: 'Homemade Diet' option strongly suggests the one in all BalanceIt supplement. We do not receive any financial gain when recommending BalanceIT supplements. We simply believe this is the best dietary supplement option for owners making homemade diets for their pets. In fact I freely consulted on it as a general concept early on during its inception.

However, about 25% of the clients for a variety of reasons do not elect to use or stay with this product, so we automatically include very specific OTC options with every homemade diet purchased through the 'Homemade Diet' option. We do not want the owner to leave out the supplements.

Question: Is there an alternative if the client or veterinarian wishes to use another product?

Dr. Remillard: There is no other single product that will do the job. The client must use several OTC products (pill form) combined to cover the same nutritional intake of vitamin and minerals.

Question: Do you followup to make sure that the supplements are part of the diet?

Dr. Remillard: Not directly. I can check the BalanceIT web site and see if the client bought the supplement but no longer do that. I include the following instructions in every letter: 'A nutritional review is recommended twice a year. If your pet is eating a homemade diet exclusively for longer than 6 months, we recommend you keep a 3 or 5-day diet history, and send that information back to us for re-evaluation, particularly if substitutions have been made to our original recipe.'

To learn more: please visit the PetDiets.com web site.

Thank you, Dr. Remillard. I appreciate your time answering my interview questions.

All photos courtesy of PetDiets.com / VNC, and used with permission.

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