New Diets from Veterinarian Recommended Solutions

Veterinarian Recommended Solutions has teamed up with Joe Wakshlag MS, DVM, PhD, DACVN, DACSMR and Justin Shmalberg DVM, DACVN, DACVSMR ( to formulate and commercialize a differentiated line of Veterinary Therapeutic Diets. With the input of an advisory board made up of nutritionists, internists, oncologists, dermatologists, and surgeons, the approach to the development of these diets was based on a scientific exploration of food-based medicine and market research into consumer appeal. The first example of this ethos is demonstrated in Canine and Feline DIGEST™, a highly digestible diet for gastrointestinal distress that features a blend of soluble and insoluble fiber to promote enterocyte recovery. This fiber blend uses both pumpkin and psyllium as moderately fermentable sources coupled with the highly fermentable fructooligosaccharides (FOS) from chicory root to promote microbial short-chain fatty acid production, particularly butyrate which is associated with increased enterocyte regeneration. This coupled with turmeric’s natural anti-inflammatory properties in the local environment and the soothing properties of ginger, acting synergistically to improve GI health and well-being. This diet is a low residue, grain-free formula with 86% (canine) and 87% (feline) digestibility. These diets have shown to reduce stool volume and improve fecal scores in field tests. The diets contain psyllium and pumpkin with a blend of fibers to promote beneficial acid fermenting bacteria. Chicory root fructooligosaccharides (FOS) to increase beneficial short-chain fatty acid production in the GI tract. The diets are formulated to be appropriate for all life stages including large breed growing dogs. The feeding trials suggest 75% of dogs prefer VRS Canine DIGEST™ over their normally fed food.  DIGEST™ contains higher protein than the leading competitor diets using all-natural chicken as the number one ingredient combined with turmeric for local anti-inflammatory actions and ginger as a natural anti-nausea ingredient.

This same formulating philosophy was used to create a novel and differentiated kidney diet for dogs and cats. RESTORE™ provides the same general principles of phosphorus restriction, modified protein, and enhanced long chain amino acids that you expect to see in a kidney support diet, while using high-quality ingredients that your clients demand for their pets. We have incorporated lower phosphorus ingredients and natural chitin from crab shell to implement a phosphorus binding effect. We utilize fresh chicken and egg as the primary ingredients, with more protein than competitor’s diets to support lean body mass. RESTORE™ is designed for IRIS stages 1-3 for all dogs and IRIS stages 1-4 for cats. Omega-three fatty acids from fish are highly enriched to help improve glomerular function and our concentrations are 2.5 to 10 times higher than out competitors. Coupled with these foundational principles, RESTORE™ contains soluble fibers to “trap” nitrogen in the feces; is high in vitamin D to help prevent depletion, and promotes a more natural pH with potassium citrate to ameliorate the mild acidosis of kidney failure. Overall, this new and innovative diet will provide a firm nutritional foundation for treating your patient’s kidney disease with ingredients that will appeal to your clients.

PROTECT™ is VRS’s combined skin and joint health diet for dogs and cats with the highest EPA/DHA formula in the therapeutic market. Canine PROTECT™ can also boast the highest protein content of any joint formula on the market to promote lean body mass. PROTECT™ can be fed to young and old pets alike with a 1.5:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio with less than 1.6% calcium as fed, making it entirely appropriate for large breed dog growth. It is fortified with vitamin E, vitamin C and the antioxidant lutein for the older dog with degenerative joint disease. PROTECT™ can be a first attempt as a limited ingredient diet for food-related skin and GI problems because of the high omega three fatty acid content and the limited protein source coming only from fish. The diets are fortified with the anti-oxidant Vitamin C and lutein to help with immune stimulation and oxidative damage in joints. The limited ingredients from white fish and potato make this diet a good first choice for suspected food-related skin and GI problems. For those pet owners looking for a grain, corn, soy and wheat free product, PROTECT™ is an excellent choice.

TRANSFORM™, is formulated for dogs with food intolerance, food allergy, or any skin and coat issues. This dermatologic diet has the highest protein level of any dermatologic support diet on the market, using alligator meat and organic coconut as novel protein and carbohydrate ingredients to which most dogs have not been exposed to previously. Alligator is the first ingredient and the food is grain-free. In trials at the University of Florida, the food had a 95.1% acceptance rate and a reduction in clinical signs of patients with food allergy and those with atopic dermatitis were noted. As with all VRS diets, there are increased levels of EPA and DHA to help reduce inflammatory mediators responsible for skin and coat issues. The nutritionists formulated the diet with blackcurrant seed oil providing therapeutic levels of GLA, which has been shown to inhibit LOX which should help to alleviate allergic symptoms. No other dermatologic diet uses this approach. The moderate fat concentrations and elevated protein content and energy density of the diet, allows long-term feeding of the diet to overweight patients.

Tone™ is a weight loss or weight maintenance alternative with the benefits of low fiber (decreased fecal volume) and low fat (reduced calorie density) content for dogs and cats. Indications include: weight loss, weight maintenance, pancreatitis, hyperlipidemia, chylous effusions and other conditions responsive to fat restriction.  TONE™ is an exciting diet because of its industry-leading high protein content (126 g/Mcal) which is well above that shown to protect lean body mass during weight loss (>75 g/Mcal). Elevated protein also helps to burn more calories (dietary thermogenesis). TONE also has a low-fat concentration (21 g/Mcal) which lowers the calorie density and is suitable for the management of pancreatitis or hyperlipidemia. This also makes TONE™ a good choice for the dietary management of diabetes mellitus in the dog. Pork heart is the first ingredient, which is the leanest fresh meat source available, allowing for animal products to be the first two ingredients. Pork heart is also sustainable, being a product not commonly consumed by humans. Additional amounts of carnitine support fat metabolism in the mitochondria and normal metabolism. One of the most common consumer complaints of weight loss diets is the increased frequency of defecation and increased stool volume. VRS resolved this issue by formulating a lower crude fiber content, reducing fecal volume compared to other therapeutic weight loss diets and conforms to pet owner’s expectations for digestibility. The added fish oil provides the anti-inflammatory fatty acids EPA and DHA which may play a role in weight loss. Green tea extract and cinnamon are included to influence metabolic rate, based upon preliminary studies in dogs.

Lastly, FELIVORE™, a high protein, feline specific diet that meets the obligate carnivore’s demand with a diet that is over 50% protein with the top 5 ingredients being animal-based protein sources.  This is a diet that is appropriate for the diabetic cat that needs a limited carbohydrate approach to managing the disease.  This diet is appropriate for clients interested in this high protein approach for all cats.  The diet has been formulated for all life stages, so it can be introduced during the kitten visit to be fed for the life-time of your patient.

Take some time to introduce yourself to these diets at to examine the potential for your patients.  We hope you find that the mission of Transparent Nutrition is a bit closer to the mission of your clinic.

Submitted by Steve Mehler DVM, DACVS


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