Veterinary Nutrition Indoctrination
Hills, Purina, and Iams are ingrained into the consciousnesses of every veterinarian from their professional infancy to their grave. Processed food is in our blood – Yuck. How can you expect a veterinarian to be open to the idea that real, raw food is anything but dangerous for pets?
Veterinary college programs include nutrition training which would seem to be a great thing. The basis of well-being is a healthy diet. We cannot expect our pets to build strong bodies with powerful immune systems without the needed raw materials.
Additionally, we now know that nutrients turn on and off genes and often control the genesis and progression of disease. Unfortunately, the nutrition education in veterinary schools is heavily influenced by pet food manufacturers. This gives veterinarians a skewed view of nutrition.
Veterinary students learn about dog and cat nutrition from a book written by a major pet food company. The nutritionist that teaches them has usually had their education underwritten by a major pet food company. Major pet food companies provide free food for vet students and also the teaching hospitals where they are learning about veterinary norms.
Who has money to fund research into pet nutrition? You guessed it, the major pet food companies. Most continuing education for veterinarians regarding nutrition is sponsored by pet food companies. They also have an obvious presence in the exhibit halls of all veterinary conferences.
The Last Thing on Our Minds
Out in practice, most veterinarians do not give much thought to a pet’s diet. We’ve been trained that the pet food companies know what they’re doing, so why question it. Nutrition is complicated with all those nutrients needing to be perfectly balanced. The pet food companies have the experts to get it done right. Besides, we are so busy keeping up with new drugs and surgical procedures that there just isn’t much time for the trivialities of nutrition.
Any vet who does think of diet is going to go with what they know – processed foods. And, the pet food companies have a scientifically prepared diet for just about every disease. Never mind that the ingredients are totally foreign to the animals consuming them. Industry-sponsored studies show these foods are best.
It is a shame that many veterinarians have lost their common sense. It should be obvious that a diet of strictly processed food could never provide all the nutrients that an ancestral diet does. We know for ourselves that eating more fresh foods and less processed foods is the healthiest path. How could the same not be true for our animal patients?
Is There Hope?
My hope is that the grassroots, raw pet food movement will cause more vets to see the light as they encounter healthy animals being fed these diets. Perhaps the conventional nutrition programming can be unlearned and the eyes of veterinarians opened to the truth.
Have you had any interesting conversations about nutrition with a vet?
In the past, I’ve simply not told my vet what I fed my dogs. A rotational diet seemed to keep my raw food program underwraps. During my last visit, I decided why not tell the truth? Perhaps she would put two and two together and realize my raw diet was keeping my 12 year old Lab looking great. During the exam, she commented that she was pleased with his weight; his teeth looked great with only a little staining on his canines; and wondered why he only had one lipoma that wasn’t getting bigger. When his senior blood work came back everything was perfect! I decided that instead of preaching; I would continue to serve as an example. Too bad all vets don’t have your way of looking at nutrition.
Our conventional vet knows we feed raw. He doesn’t approve, but he tolerates it. (Really, what choice does he have?) I have read an ingredient label off a can he was selling …out loud. (He looked as if he was unaware of the contents!) The can was an interim food for my sick older dog with IBD. I weaned her off and put her on raw ostrich and eventually rabbit and she just celebrated her 15th birthday and has been episode free for about 2 years!! Yes, we’ll stick with raw. (Don’t get me started on the vaccine convo I had with our conventional vet!! That’s a whole different story!) I should add that our other vet who does acupuncture on our older dog applauds our choices. Nice to have someone in the vet community who sees behind the curtain….
Recently I had an yearly exam on my dog and discussed diet with the vet and she was shocked at the difference the raw diet was making in my 4 year old shep/lab mix. Since starting raw he has stopped taking daily pain meds and twice monthly pain shots. She (the vet) commented that her practice wanted to start prescribing raw diets to clients but didn’t have first hand knowledge of the benefits. Well after examining my dog Chipper and seeing the improvements in his health over 6 months she would start promoting the benefits of a raw diet to her clients and associates.
Wow, that is great! I’m glad to hear that raw feeders are speaking out and proving the benefits with real life examples. Keep up the great work! If your vet is truly interested in seeing research about raw feeding I would be happy to send them references from lectures I give to vets. Just have her contact me through this site.
I’m sssooo lucky to have a Vet who feeds raw, too!!!!!!!!!!!! Yeehaw!
I’m sure that my local vets think I’m somewhat of a heretic because I sell and promote raw, species appropriate diets to their clients. Even when we have startling lab results due to a diet switch and appropriate supplementation, they’ll tell their clients that raw = bad. But, my customers are getting smarter and more educated all the time and are seeing such concrete results from diet changes, that they basically either ignore the barbs or, in several cases, switch to a holistic vet. Thanks, Dr. Doug, for being one of the leaders of the revolution!