Sunday, 18 November 2018 12:24

Case Reports: Dietary Success with Nutriscan

Balanced nutrition is now recognized as the key factor in providing for health and longevity of human and animal populations. Achieving this balance depends upon each individual’s genetic and geographical needs and lifestyle.  However, nutritional imbalance and food intolerances are seen more than ever today, with the rising number of environmental challenges,

The following three case examples illustrate how diagnosing food intolerances with Nutriscan and then removing any reactive foods from a pet’s diet has a successful outcome:

Case #1

Brandy   5 years old, entire female, 40 pounds, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

  • Very itchy puppy scratching, skin rashes and loss of patches of hair
  • Hypoallergenic shampoos and wearing a T-shirt didn’t help much
  • Reactive foods identified with Nutriscan and removed
  • 2 weeks later scratching abated
  • More reactive foods arose, especially soy
  • Strict dietary control has kept her healthy as an adult

Healthy and happy after reactive foods were removed from her diet



Case #2

Rosie   6 years old, spayed female, 35 pounds, Border Collie mix

  • Intense itching on limbs and feet, dry cracked foot pads, constant rubbing of face, muzzle and around eyes
  • 10 Nutriscan reactive foods removed from diet
  • 3-5 weeks later, itching and rubbing subsiding; face and limb redness fading and healing; foot pads softened
  • 2 months later, almost healed and happy
  • Inhalant and contact allergens addressed as well

Red and itchy face before Nutriscan testing

Rosie - Before


Face almost completely healed after removing foods identified by Nutriscan as reactive


Rosie - After


Case #3

Jojan   19 years old, spayed female, Silver Domestic Shorthaired Cat

  • Experienced intermittent weight loss and poor appetite
  • Thyroid profile was normal
  • Food reactivities on Nutriscan were Cow’s Milk, Corn, and White-Colored Fish
  • All sources of these foods in diet and supplements (including cornstarch) were removed
  • Gave only homemade diet of grass-fed meats plus some vegetables and blueberries
  • Mood and appetite improved and has remained good

Sleek haircoat, calm, and good weight after Nutriscan adjustment of diet




The debate about the most accurate and predictive clinical and laboratory diagnosis of food adverse reactions in companion animals has been ongoing for two decades.  Should we rely upon the patient’s clinical response and outcome, patch testing, extended food elimination trials, the presence of allergen-specific serum antibodies, direct bowel surface food-sensitivity testing and fecal immunoglobulin levels, or the novel validated saliva-based Nutriscan test described here? 

Food patch testing was recently reported to be reliable as a tool to identify suitable ingredients for an elimination diet due to its high negative predictability. However, patch testing also is time-consuming, expensive and because of its low positive predictive value cannot identify offending allergens. Most pet owners would prefer faster and easier performed diagnostic tools.

Intradermal tests with food components or tests for food-specific serum immunity have so far failed to reliably identify dogs with adverse food reactions and thus cannot be recommended for this diagnosis in clinical practice. Measuring serum antibody levels to specific food ingredients does not correlate well with clinical patient outcomes or dietary re-challenge studies.

Many commercial pet foods contain meat and flavorings not listed or specified on the label. Current studies have examined the presence of these undeclared ingredients which:

  • critically assessed published discrepancies between ingredients and labeling in commercial pet foods, including those with “novel” or “limited” ingredients and containing micronized hydrolysates
  • found that the median mislabeling was 45 % of tested diets with a range of 33-83% for the “novel/limited” ingredients ones that are used for food elimination trials, and one hydrolyzed diet

The authors concluded that before ruling out a food component as an allergen, a novel protein home-made diet trial should be performed, if the dog is unresponsive to a commercial regimen.

The data summarized above are further confounded by the fact that many pets also receive a variety of supplements, preventive pharmaceuticals such as those for heartworm, flea and tick exposures, as well as puppy and periodic booster vaccines. These products usually contain meat, especially beef, pork and chicken, as well as other flavorings and several types of fish oils, and nearly all vaccines contain fetal calf serum.

The problem is more complicated when veterinary therapeutic and supplement items and over-the-counter products may not accurately list the ingredients or their antigen sources on the label or product insert. When recommending food elimination trials, only non-flavored oral or topical therapies, pill pockets, and supplements should be used. Additionally, gelatin capsules may contain either beef or pork proteins and should not be administered during a trial.

In summary, Hemopet’s patented test for food-specific antibodies in saliva is available worldwide for dogs, cats and horses. The test is easy to perform and noninvasive, and thus is very acceptable to pet owners.  The cases described above attest to its reliability and efficacy.

For more information on Nutriscan, please visit the official website at

Selected Reading

Dodds WJ. Diagnosis of canine food sensitivity and intolerance using saliva: report of outcomes. J Am Hol Vet Med Assoc 2017/2018; 49:32-43.

Dodds WJ. Challenges in food quality, safety and intolerances. Timely Top Clin Immunol 2018; 2 (2):16-20.

Olivry T, Mueller RS.  Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (5): discrepancies between ingredients and labeling in commercial pet foods.  BMC Vet Res 2018: 14:24-28.


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Dogs and cats, like humans, are susceptible to certain diseases transmitted by viruses and bacteria. To protect against these invaders, the body has a number of defense mechanisms. The first barriers are the skin and mucous membranes that are found in the airways and intestines. Saliva and stomach acids also ensure that certain pathogens are cleaned up. In addition, there are the white blood cells that move through the body and attack intruders that have penetrated the first barriers.

Finally, the body has an immune system that focuses on specific pathogens. The parvovirus is an example of this. The body’s immune system is subdivided into cellular and humoral defenses. In the case of cellular defenses, viruses and certain bacteria that have already penetrated into the dog's cells are rendered harmless. The humoral defense takes place in the blood and body fluids. An important part of titer testing is the presence of different types of antibodies. The most important for titer determination being the IgG antibodies.

In dogs, we can measure these IgG antibodies in the blood for the following diseases: Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Parvo and Distemper. For cats, we measure antibodies for Feline Panleukopenia, Herpes and Calici.

What does such titer determination exactly mean?

The titer of antibodies in blood is the dilution of the blood, whereby these antibodies are still detectable. The blood is diluted and if antibodies are still detected at the highest dilution, this is a high titer. If antibodies are detected at low dilution, this is a low titer.

What is important to know is that the height of the titers is not important, but only the presence of the antibodies. There is no point in vaccinating a dog that still has antibodies that have developed after a previous vaccination. The titers will not be increased. In such a case, we are talking about unnecessary and / or superfluous vaccination.

There are a number of options for determining titers. This can be done in a laboratory by using virus neutralization or a hemagglutination inhibition test. Also available is test that vets can perform themselves. This is VacciCheck and is accepted by WSAVA as reliable, with a good predictive value.


VacciCheck is an in-clinic ELISA-titer test that measures the antibodies in the above-mentioned diseases.

ELISA is the abbreviation for Enzyme-linked ImmunoSorbent Assay. It is a test (assay) in which an antibody reacts (immuno) to an antigen (for example parvovirus) that is bound to a plastic surface (sorbent). To make this reaction measurable, an enzyme (enzyme-linked) is used to generate a color reaction.

The great advantage of this test is that only one drop of blood is needed, and that the result is known after 23 minutes. It is not harmful to the animal and less painful than a vaccination. The result is shown on a white plastic strip with a maximum of 4 gray dots, the upper of which is the positive reference dot. It always gives the same value regardless of the color (3). Then follow the dots for the diseases on which are tested. If the dots are the same color or darker than this reference dot, this means that the titers are positive. A shade lighter than the reference dot is weak positive, the rest is negative. The values ​​range from 0 to 6. Zero and one is negative, two is weak positive, three and four is positive, five and six is high positive.

A different titer can therefore be measured for each disease and, depending on the titer height it would be necessary or not, to vaccinate.

As we obviously want to ensure that our animals do not get sick and can not infect other animals, we will vaccinate at a score of 0 and 1.


If the titers for Hepatitis are negative, then we have no choice other than giving the dog the complete cocktail (DHP). The vaccine against hepatitis is not available separately.

If the titers for Parvo are too low, then we vaccinate the dog with a separate Parvo (P) vaccine.

If the titers for Distemper are too low, then we vaccinate the dog with a cocktail of Distemper and Parvo (DP). In some countries, the Distemper vaccine is not available separately (e.g. Belgium and The Netherlands).


If the titers for Panleukopenia are negative, our only choice is to give the cat the full cocktail (Panleukopenia, Calici and Herpes). The vaccine against Panleukopenia is not separately available.

If the titers for Calici and Herpes are too low, then we vaccinate the cat with a cocktail of Calici and Herpes.

It would be wonderful if the vaccine producers were to market individual vaccines. The demand for Testing antibiody titers (or titer determinations) is increasing at an amazing rate. The vaccine producers could respond perfectly to this, ensuring that dogs and cats are not superfluously vaccinated.

Titer determination makes sense in many aspects, the most important of all, listed below.

When breeding dogs and cats, it would be wise to have titer determination well before the pregnancy to see if the bitch or female cat has antibodies. If positive, then chances are that the pups and kittens will receive these antibodies via the colostrum and are maternally protected. If the bitch or cat has no antibodies, she can still be vaccinated before the pregnancy

  • Titer determination is highly recommended for pups and kittens, so determining the right time for effective vaccination.
  • Already vaccinated dogs and cats can also benefit. From 3 to 4 weeks after each vaccination, a titer determination can be made to see if the vaccination has actually been effective. Even if the package leaflet of a vaccine indicates that it has been registered for 3 years, one still does not know, without titer determination, if the vaccination has ensured that your dog or cat is protected. In addition, there are also animals who do not respond to a vaccination in any case. This is known as “non-responders”.
  • In the vaccination schedule for all dogs and cats to see if a (re) vaccination is needed.
  • Dogs and cats with an unknown vaccination status such as animals from abroad, animals that are found, and go to a shelter etc., would certainly benefit from VacciCheck testing. Titer testing of pups and kittens would be good for the general pet population. For example, For example, there are often doubts if puppies and kittens coming from Eastern European puppy or kitten farms have been correctly vaccinated. In this case titer testing gives us a clear answer. It is the same case with pups and kittens with false vaccine labels which are brought into Belgium and the Netherlands. Distemper and Parvo are prevalent in Eastern Europe and pose a serious threat to our pet population.
  • VacciCheck, as a titer test, will determine whether dogs and cats have been in contact with a particular disease and have perhaps contracted it.
  • For dogs and cats who have had adverse effects at a previous vaccination, for example, an allergic reaction.
  • Sick animals, and / or animals on medication, that suppresses the immune system, would do well with titer testing. Most medication package leaflets suggest that sick animals may not be vaccinated.
  • Titer testing on older pets is valuable.

It is important that the veterinarian officially states the titration in the European passport of the dog or cat. The values per disease must be stated, as well as the date of titering and the date when a titer determination must be made again. In many cases, the strip is stuck in the passport as proof.

In short, the titer determination is the ultimate means of testing as to whether your pet is protected against infectious and fatal diseases, determining the right time for vaccinating and / or avoiding unnecessary vaccinations.

There are numerous occasions where our pet animals come together - at shows, competitions, animal events, dog schools or dog parks, and we would not want our pet to develop any illness, so unnecessary, so easy to prevent.

 The vaccine label in a cat and dog passport, says nothing about the degree of protection.

 Measuring is knowing! We do want to know that our pets are protected.

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 17 July 2018 08:11

How to Avoid FIP in Your Cat

Introducing a pedigree kitten who has not been tested for FCoV antibodies to your existing cats is playing Russian roulette with their lives

I recently heard about a lady who had seven cats and who introduced a new purebred kitten without first testing the kitten’s blood for FCoV antibodies.  It turned out that the kitten was infected with feline coronavirus (FCoV).  FCoV is the virus that causes FIP in a small percentage of cats who get infected.  However, it wasn’t the kitten who developed feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) …yet … it was one of her other cats. 

What surprised me about this story was that the homeowner was no stranger to FIP—she had already lost a cat to FIP and so she should have known just how dangerous this virus can be.  She had previously worked to make her household free of coronavirus—yet she introduced a new, untested, purebred kitten, perfectly aware of the risks of doing so: knowing that the prevalence of feline coronavirus in breeding catteries is extremely high. 

Introducing an untested kitten or cat—and especially a purebred— is like playing Russian roulette with a loaded gun pointed to her cat’s head. Who knows how many cats this lady will lose before this virus is through with her? 

On the other end of the kitty parent spectrum, my heart was absolutely uplifted to see a Facebook post by Maria Bonino: she has a known feline coronavirus (FCoV) carrier cat called Natalie—shown below top right: the beautiful calico cat.  Most cats mount a successful immune response and eliminate the virus, but some infected cats remain outwardly healthy, but shed coronavirus in their faeces continuously—Maria has one of those cats.  Maria also wanted to obtain a new kitten—two new domestic shorthair kittens, in fact—which came into a rescue shelter near her.  Here is a screenshot of Maria’s Facebook post:

Maria S Bonino FB PSC
Maria S Bonino FB PSC

You can see Maria’s grey kitten, Lupo in the photo above and the photo of Natalie, her FCoV carrier cat, the tortoiseshell. Amongst the small photographs is her black kitten, Perseus. On Maria’s Facebook page she proudly displayed the FCoV antibody negative certificates of Lupo and Perseus a year after introduction to her household: this was proof that she had kept them safe from the virus and had prevented them being at risk of dying of FIP. 

Careful vacuuming and lots of litter trays protected the kittens from becoming infected with coronavirus

Maria was also no stranger to FIP, having lost her beloved Luca some years before to FIP, but she had a different attitude to the person described above: she vowed to never again lose a cat to this virus. Maria vigilantly kept the kittens away from Natalie’s litter tray and she was very careful about hygiene: in her house each cat has their own litter tray, she vacuums diligently using high powered cordless vacuum cleaners, with one vacuum cleaner which she ONLY uses in Natalie’s room and not elsewhere in the house (to avoid contaminated microscopic cat litter particles on the vacuum cleaner itself being transported to the kitten area).  She uses World’s Best Cat Litter because it tracks a lot less than other litters and has some activity against FCoV. Every month she sends samples of her cats’ faeces to the University of Glasgow Veterinary School Laboratory in Scotland to monitor their FCoV shedding—or rather complete lack of virus shedding, apart from Natalie. Maria’s Facebook post was in celebration of her success—she proudly displayed her blood test results from the University of Glasgow, showing that the kittens had antibody titres of zero to FCoV: in other words they had not even been exposed to a few particles of this very infectious virus!  This result was proof that she hadn’t even allowed a single particle of infected cat litter to blow under the door into the rooms where the kittens were housed!  Wow!

FCoV Immunocomb from Biogal

The FCoV Immunocomb gave the best overall results in a study I conducted comparing many available FCoV antibody tests.  For screening cats for possible infection, one wants a test which is as sensitive as possible: the Immunocomb was 100% sensitive – it didn’t miss any sample with FCoV antibodies – it had the highest sensitivity of any of the tests examined.  The kit is complete and can be used in the veterinary practice, it doesn’t require complex technology to read the results – just an ordinary scanner.

FCoV antibody test any new cat or kitten to save the lives of your existing cats

If you are planning on buying a pedigree kitten, or a shelter cat or kitten, and you already have cats, PLEASE get your existing cats and the new kitten tested for FCoV antibodies BEFORE you bring him or her into your household: if you do not, you could be inviting Death into your home. 

If you won’t test your cats, at least have them vaccinated against FIP before introducing a new cat

If you refuse to test, then at least get your existing cats vaccinated with the FIP vaccine Felocell FIP (Zoetis) before bringing in the new kitten.  The vaccine doesn’t protect 100% of cats, but it does prevent FIP in about 75% of cats who would otherwise have died.

How you can help to End FIP: share this blog, put up a poster

Cats die of FIP because people are not aware of it until too late.  We have beautiful posters warning people of the risk of FIP which you can download, print out and put up in a place where cat lovers are likely to see them.  The posters are available from

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