Veterinary Study of Skin and Coat Improvements in 73% of Dogs Fed The Honest Kitchen’s Grain Free Fish Diet, Zeal

Honest Kitchen Skin & Coat Vet Study

We were super excited to participate in a small veterinary feeding trial recently,in conjunction with holistic veterinarian Diana Drumm, DVM, CVA, CVCP, at the Animal Healing Center, here in San Diego. The study looked at eleven dogs who were suffering with significant skin and coat problems and itching. The dogs participating in the study were fed our grain free fish diet, Zeal and did not receive any medications, supplements, medicated shampoo or topical medicated skin products. Click here to view the entire study.


A dehydrated fish based diet was fed to dogs identified by their owners to be 5 out of 10 or less on a Pruritus (standard itch, appendix 1) Scale for 12 weeks in order to determine if the condition of skin and coat improved and itching was abated. Eight of the eleven participants’ (73%) skin issues improved, with three (27%) out of those eight’s symptoms resolving completely, as well as several additional, unexpected positive physiological or behavioral findings in a total of nine (81%) of participants.


Owners’ weekly journaling tracked itch level on provided standard scale, and most owners provided additional impressions about the participant’s particular area of concern.

Over the 70 days of participation, a total of eight (73%) out of eleven owners reported some or complete improvement in the dog’s itching. Five of those owners recorded a reduction in participant’s itch, and three of those owners recorded complete elimination of participant’s itch.

Three owners recorded no improvement in participant’s itch, and no owners recorded increase in participant’s itch. Negative impressions included two out of eleven owners reporting participant’s increased gas, two owners reporting significant increase in number of participant’s bowel movements per day, and 1/11 owner reported diet preparation to be inconvenient.

Unexpected additional positive findings of note include: two out of eleven owners reported complete elimination of dog’s reverse sneezing, two owners noted improvement in dog’s limping and general mobility, three owners report significant increase in dog’s energy, one owner reports positive personality change with dog’s typically shy and fearful demeanor becoming one of engagement with family and friends, and one owner reported resolution of dog’s described habitual air licking.

Although not a focus of this case series, two thirds of the participants experienced needed weight loss. Five out of eleven participants experienced no weight loss, with the remaining six experiencing from 3.8% to 10% overall, needed, body weight loss in the 70 days on the novel diet.

One participant was removed from the study for greater than 15% weight loss between rechecks, and three dogs were removed for failure to report for rechecks.


The majority of owners’ impressions were that of improvement in participant’s itch level and improvement or resolution of dermatologic disease in one or more specific anatomic areas of concern. Although further study with larger cohorts is needed, these preliminary findings are encouraging for improving the comfort and quality of life for dogs that suffer from diet related dermatologic issues.

Click here to download a PDF of the study

Click here to download appendix 1

Click here to download appendix 2

Click here to download appendix 3

The study was conducted by Diana D. Drumm, DVM, CVA, CVCP:
Dr. Diana Drumm practices at the Animal Healing Center in San Diego, CA. She provides compassionate holistic care for individuals’ and families’ four legged companions to enhance the well-being at both ends of the leash.

Meet the Author: Lucy Postins

Lucy Postins is founder of The Honest Kitchen as well as its Mother Hen and CEO. She is a companion animal nutritionist who started The Honest Kitchen in her kitchen in 2002. She is passionate about advanced nutrition and holistic health including complementary modalities such as herbalism and homeopathy. Considered an expert in her field, Lucy frequently writes articles for local and national media, conducts radio interviews and educational spots, and occasionally holds educational seminars for pet owners on the importance of good nutrition. She also recently authored Dog Obsessed, a guide to a happier, healthier life for the pup you love.

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