Don’t listen to what your vet has to say about feeding your dog: vets know virtually nothing about animal nutrition.
How can I make these bold claims?
Well I’m also a veterinarian and I practiced small animal medicine and surgery for nearly 20 years.
I graduated in 1992 from the University of Saskatchewan, College of Veterinary Medicine. I invested thousands of hours, training to diagnose and treat disease and perform surgery. There was training in pharmacology, anatomy, epidemiology and emergency care; my training covered nearly all aspects of veterinary medicine, including large and small animals.
But something very big was left out: nutrition.
I was taught nearly nothing about nutrition and I am of the opinion that most veterinarians also know very little about nutrition.
My education came from the food company representatives; those that sponsored events while I was a student, and later the food reps that visited the veterinary practices I worked in.
The food reps encouraged veterinarians to sell their ‘veterinary only’ food, as it was deemed exclusive, and could be sold with a higher mark up. It was seen as a good way to add income to the practice, and get clients coming repeatedly back through the door. I was told that the pet food was ‘good quality’, backed by ‘scientific research’, and so much better than those grocery store brands.
As a veterinarian, from university to conferences, the food company representatives told me repeatedly to avoid home diets and raw feeding as these were ‘unbalanced’ and potentially harmful.
In practice however, I was regularly meeting clients who fed raw and home prepared diets to their dogs; they were passionate about their dogs, and insisted that this ‘alternative’ food was healthier.
I couldn’t argue, for most of these dogs were healthier and had shinier coats, cleaner teeth and fewer medical issues.
In all of my years in practice, I never saw one dog present with a disease linked to feeding ‘unbalanced’ food.
Then came the pet food recall
Over 5,600 pet food items were recalled in 2007, thanks to the chemicals melamine and cyanuric acid which were imported in corn gluten, rice gluten, and wheat gluten.
These chemicals caused kidney disease and kidney failure in dogs and cats. More than 4,633 pets were reported dead in the PetConnection database. In total, over 14,000 pets had been reportedly affected in some way or another by the tainted food.
In 2007, I chose to write about the pet food recall in my daily newsletter. There were some remarks that the British Columbia Veterinary Medical College (BCVMA) took exception to.
Veterinarians claim not to be influenced by the reps, but clearly they are…there are many less expensive generic versions of some pretty big name pharmaceuticals that are not being prescribed.
Most veterinarians have ZERO training in nutrition.
I’ve been influenced by pet food companies representatives in the past.
I spent little time learning about pet food quality or nutrition.
It wasn’t until my own dog died of cancer that I really started to question the quality of my ‘veterinary only’ food.
In the midst of the pet food recall the conventional dietary mantra is: Don’t give clients home recipes!
The best diets are the balanced commercial diets found in a bag or can…Right.
Over 4000 dead dogs and cats, and over 15,000 sick pets as a result of “balanced” commercial pet food.
A Panel was struck with the BCVMA and here is what they had to say about my take on the pet food recall:
The Panel found Dr. Jones’ statements to be manipulative, unverifiable and in extremely poor taste. The effect of his statements was to shed unfavorable light on the profession as a whole. The tone was haughty, sarcastic and derogatory. The panel finds that Dr. Jones violated ss 8, 26, and 27 of the Code of Ethics (Bylaws).
Clearly many of my former colleagues do not agree with my beliefs, but they can’t impose those on you. You are free to feed your dog what you feel is the healthiest food, despite what your veterinarian may say.
Over the last nearly 20 years of veterinary practice, I have seen thousands of dogs and spent much time thinking about disease and what is causing it. There are many reasons for the increasingly common serious dog diseases, but I believe the biggest single factor is food.
Good nutrition is key to the health of our dogs
The best way for you to understand this is by thinking about your own health.
Imagine shopping in a grocery store.
The inside aisles are cookies, chips, food in cans, in bags; food that lasts a long time, not needing refrigeration.
The outside aisles have fresh fruit, vegetables, milk, meat and bread; the healthier, fresh items.
If you are to eat a varied, balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables – those from the outside aisles – you are far more likely to be healthy and avoid disease.
If you primarily eat from the inside aisles, the pop, chips, cans and bags, you are far more likely to be sick.
Our dogs are no different, yet most dogs are exclusively fed from the inside aisles; dry, unvaried, non-nutritious kibble. Feeding a natural, varied, healthy diet is one of, if not the single most important, changes that you as a pet owner can make for the long term health of your pet.
Our dogs’ ancestors ate much differently in the wild. Dogs consumed their entire prey and their diet was rich and varied. The bones they chewed on helped keep their teeth clean.
Unfortunately pet food companies have failed to take some of these basic facts into account, to the detriment of our pets’ health.
Commercial kibble is often composed of grains (including corn and wheat), fat, by-products, fillers, artificial colors, artificial preservatives, and in some cases, contaminants and toxins.
The dog food industry is now dominated by large multinational consumer corporations who, in my opinion, are far more interested in profit than the health of your pet. The entire pet food industry is not on the whole very ethical. Not only do they produce some pretty unhealthy stuff, they also do some pretty unethical things.
The pet food industry is an extension of the human food and agriculture industries. Pet food provides a market for animal fat, grains considered unfit for human consumption and similar waste products to be turned into profit. This waste includes intestines, udders, etc., and possibly diseased and cancerous animal parts.
Your veterinarian is extremely knowledgeable, able to diagnose the most obscure disease, and can perform the most intricate surgery but they likely know very little about dog nutrition. This was highlighted during the pet food recall when nearly 5000 pets died. In the midst of this, the conventional veterinary mantra was to avoid all home and raw diets, labelling them as unbalanced and unsafe. It turned out that the commercial diets were not safe.
My suggestions are for you to do your own research, become knowledgeable about the basics of animal nutrition, and feed a variety of fresh, healthy foods to your dog.