WSAVA food guidelines - should we trust them?

I was on on the r/dogs subreddit. There was a discussion on dog food that became quite heated. It seems that most people on that forum are huge advocates of the WSAVA dog food guidelines. The WSAVA approved dog foods are from brands such as Purina, Hill’s Science, Royal Canine, Eukanuba and Iams. Purina Pro Plan is a favourite amongst the WSAVA supporters, which has a rating of 46% (Large Athletic Adult Optimum) on this website.

I did more research on the guidelines. I was also a bit curious why the large dog food manufacturers are the only ones approved by the WSAVA. It turns out these companies sponsor WSAVA. Also, the guidelines seem to favour large companies as one of their criteria is that you need to employ a qualified nutritionist with a PhD. Smaller companies cannot afford to hire one full-time, but may heavily consult with an external nutritionist, but this would disqualify them.

After going down this rabbit hole, I became more confused. Personally, I feed my dog raw. The ingredients are simple, natural, unprocessed and the brand I purchase is deemed “complete”. However, according to the WSAVA this is not recommended and could be potentially be harmful to my dog. I wouldn’t eat heavily processed food, so why should my dog? I am not a scientist nor a vet nutritionist, so am I over simplifying it?

I’d like others thoughts, especially those who are professionals in this area. Thanks!

Hello and welcome to the forum. That must have been an interesting discussion. I can only speak from a personal perspective. I have had dogs for many years and don’t recall much discussion from vets about diet. I’ve learned about it from my own research but am too old now to pursue a qualification.

Vets are busy people and it’s much quicker/easier to offer a bag of food rather then spend time in talking about the issue. Also, some might not have a special interest in diet. Many people think that it is wrong that the nutrition element of vet student training is sponsored by big companies and on the face of it I would have to agree.

David’s resource article Dog Feeding Guide is a good read. The general advice is that if the dog is thriving on the food it is given then there should be no need to change. That being said, arguably many pet owners come to an interest in their dog’s diet when problems arise.

Like you, I am not influenced by those veterinary guidelines and make my own choices based on the knowledge that I have acquired over time. Unfortunately, as you have found, many people are influenced by this sponsorship and buy food accordingly. Many years ago I did the same. Hopefully this website helps pet owners make better choices in food, resulting in healthier dogs.


If you make comparisons about the way vets work with GP’s, then I think the onus is on the dog owner or the patient to find out about nutrition.

I see more and more people who have been diagnosed with stroke, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, joint pain and other conditions, who have been prescribed medication, sometimes for life. Since I am often supporting people with appointments, it shocks me that there is often no reference to diet and life style at all. I am sure that in a lot of cases the conditions could improve or even go completely with good nutrition. In my experience most GP’s are focused on treating the condition with drugs and will sometimes give some limited advice about nutrition at best. Even then, it is sensible to remember that some big business industries like diary or meat often sponsor medical advice websites. I know at one time, one of the breast cancer websites was promoting some red meat and diary in their recommended menu plans. Guess who sponsors them? They are still promoting dairy as something which may reduce the risk. Other studies have shown the opposite to be true. I am not a scientist but I think it always pays to know who sponsors who and question whether or not any advice given is objective.

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Thank you both for your thoughtful replies. I completely agree that it is good to do your own research and question the advice provided.

My dog has had tummy issues since he was a young pup. We tried all types of food: wet, kibble (both cold pressed and Royal Canine sensitive stomach as advised by our vet) and homemade. Some were better than others but his tummy was not 100%. We tried raw and his tummy issues disappeared very quickly and he consistently had solid poos. I never thought I would be so happy about my dog’s poos! Lol. I am not an advocate of raw but it works for my dog and he is doing so well.

I have recently become very fascinated by dog nutrition. I had no idea it was such a debated topic until recently.

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It’s good that your dog is thriving on a raw diet. As with many other dog owners, you found your way into the subject due to health issues so something good came out of it. I know what you mean about poos - one can become a tad obsessive. :o I agree that dog nutrition is fascinating. There are so many opinions though and as you have discovered, it can cause a few disagreements or so-called ‘hot topics’.

interesting, I use to puppy walk for guide dogs, and guide dogs and the puppies are fed royal canin, mostly , dried food, may be it is easier for the guide dog owner to feed this sort of food.
When I got my own dog, he was on royal canin, I found this website and was not happy to keep him on this food, as it was not good for him so started to look for a better option.
Oh boy what a mind field it all was. I tried different dried foods but my dog did not do well on dried foods, and Red setters have a sensitive tummy at the best of times. After trying lots of different types of dog food, he is now on butter nut box, he is now putting on weight and doing very well on it, it is not cheap, but a agree you are what you eat.

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