Q&A With Dr. Katy Nelson Part 1: Food’s Role in your Pet’s Health

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Dr. Katy Nelson is a practicing veterinarian, the host of the Pet Show with Dr. Katy on Washington DC’s ABC affiliate, and a tireless advocate for keeping pets fit and healthy using a combination of proper feeding and exercise. Dr. Katy was recently chosen as one of the nominees to be America’s Favorite Vet, by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF), the charitable arm of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Which makes this a perfect time to check in and learn more about Dr Katy and what she is focused on these days. In Part 1, we hear Dr. Katy’s thoughts on the role food plays in overall health, both in terms of quantity and quality.


drkatyanddogsSlimDoggy: A former Surgeon General of the U.S. once said that 80% of all disease is due to poor diet. Do you feel similarly with respect to pets?

Dr. Katy: I absolutely believe you are what you eat. Many diseases in pets stem from either the type (poor quality or ill suited) or the amount (too much!) of food that they eating. With ill-advised feeding, we are setting up the body for failure, whether it is our own body or our pet’s body.


SD: Do you have any tips for pet owners when it comes to choosing a pet food? What about serving sizes?

DK: The biggest point I like to make with my clients is that there is really no single perfect food for a pet. Have the conversation with your vet about the disease conditions if any, your pet has as well as an honest assessment of their weight. Use this info to find appropriate food choices.

Don’t buy a food because of the pretty picture on the label or because it is cheap. Saving a few dollars on food now might end up costing a lot more in the long run if that food contains unhealthy ingredients or is simply not a good fit with your pet. Always ask yourself, am I feeding the right thing for my pet? Lastly, keep in mind that it is possible that you might need to feed each of your pets something different.

I am also suggesting that my clients become more aware of the ingredients and macronutrient profiles of their pet’s food. Both dogs and cats require diets higher in meat and fish protein and lower in carbs which can lead to improved digestibility with less fat storage and waste.   I also recommend foods that have little or no artificial ingredients- things like artificial preservatives or colorings that at best offer no nutritional value and at worst can be harmful to your pet’s health. Fresh food over processed food.


SD: OK, I’ll ask. Do you have a favorite pet food brand?

DK: There are a lot of good food choices out there for sure. Much more than there were even 10 years ago. I have had a lot of success with the FreshPet line of products, which are generally lower in carbs and free of artificial preservatives (which is why they are refrigerated).


SD: Like with humans, pets are at risk for an assortment of diseases when they are overweight. Can you share some of the more common issues you see in your practice that are directly related to the pet being overweight?

DK: We all know that pet obesity is a major issue. Obesity can lead to many diseases including diabetes, joint and heart disease, gastro intestinal issues, skin conditions and even cancer. Obesity is a serious and inflammatory condition that impacts all systems in body.

As doctors, we used to look at fat as a storage mechanism. Now, our view of fat is more than that. We look at fat as a hormone factory that creates inflammatory chemicals that can wreak havoc on a body.



SD: What is the funniest thing that has happened (thus far) in your vet practice?

DK: I was just four weeks out of vet school and had 2 appointments back to back. The first chart said “tick removal on cat” and the second one was itchy ears for a dog. I walk into the first exam room and there is no cat but a man in running shorts. He pulls up the leg of his shorts and asked me to remove the tick! (I gave him the tools and he did it himself). After this odd experience, I walked into the next room where there were 7 tiny white Maltese dogs. All scratching like crazy.   It was easy to diagnose that they all had scabies (like mange). The owner, a fairly large women, then proceeded to pull her dress up and showed me her own rash and asked me if the prescription for the dog would work on her!


SD: Being nominated to be America’s Favorite Vet sounds like quite an honor. For those who don’t live in the Washington DC area (and thus may not know you), what do you think are your strongest qualities that would make you the perfect winner of this award?

DK: The AVMA is trying to make people aware of all of the facets of veterinarian medicine. There is a lot more to vets then just the exams. Vets are part of the military, they are involved in research to cure disease, and many are out spreading the word about how to ensure that our pets can live the longest and healthiest lives possible. As someone with years of media experience, I have the training to be the spokesperson for the next year. And to really inspire people and to help them help animals.


SD: Where can people go to vote for you?

DK: Voters can go to americasfavoriteveterinarian.org to vote. I appreciate all the help and support and frankly, am honored just to be nominated!


In part 2 of our interview with Dr. Katy, we will hear Dr. Katy’s thought on exercise as well as learn about a special project she is working on to help a family in Newtown CT, the location of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting.

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  1. It’s great to hear a vet willing to talk strongly about the importance of good nutrition. It is a poor economy to spend less on dog food and more on things that won’t have near the affect on their future health.

    And I’m very pleased to see her shout out to FreshPet. We’ve had really excellent results with it. And I’m thrilled to finally see a high quality dog food option in grocery stores.
    Pamela recently posted…Why Do We Love Dogs So Much?My Profile

  2. Love to hear about excellent vets. We haven’t been fortunate enough to live in an area with stellar vets.
    It’s Dog or Nothing recently posted…Windees For the WinMy Profile

  3. Great interview Slim, looking forward to PT2
    Cathy Bennett recently posted…S’MORES | MONDAY MISCHIEFMy Profile

  4. We love healthy food and lifestyles as you know, and a great vet is a must as well. We are fortunate to have all three components finally.
    Emma recently posted…One Can Equal Two In Dog SchoolMy Profile

  5. What a great interview! And the scabies had me laughing pretty hard. 🙂 Sounds like an amazing vet.
    Flea recently posted…All Natural Sausage SticksMy Profile

  6. wow! What an info filled post! Wonderful!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Huskies LOVE Damien’s Best Dog Toys!My Profile

  7. What a great interview! Thank you for sharing. We all get to witness some not so nice things in the clinic, I had to look at a creepy guy in a speedo one day, burned my retina’s!
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…A Canine Cowboy Cookout Chewy StyleMy Profile

  8. Oh my goodness, I couldn’t imagine showing my vet a rash, or asking him to remove a tick! That was quite the start to her career!
    Looking forward to part 2.
    Jan K recently posted…Monday Mischief – Oh, Deer!My Profile

  9. Great interview. I laughed at her first experiences! A day in the life of a vet!
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Do Your Dogs Mark Their Territory?My Profile

  10. Sounds like an interesting practice. Our vet must think we are very dull….lol.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Storm Does A Nice Job On A TripleMy Profile

  11. Excellent information. That part about looking at fat “as a hormone factory that creates inflammatory chemicals that can wreak havoc on a body” made me want to get up and go for a walk. 🙂
    Miss Harper Lee recently posted…Sinking My Teeth into Tasty TuesdayMy Profile

  12. Great interview and Golden Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to read the Part II of the interview. Golden Woofs

  13. Great interview! I can’t imagine the crazy stories vets could tell about all of us humans 🙂
    Sue recently posted…Brotherly Love | Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

  14. Great interview, and I adored the “funny stories”!
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