So vets know nothing about pet nutrition…

I can’t tell you how many facebook posts, twitter posts, and other associated media that basically challenges the fact that veterinarians are experts in nutrition.  Unfortunately, we’re not likely to be swayed by personal accounts, preferring to use the scientific method to determine if something is beneficial for a pet.  I’ve been getting incredibly irritated with people who are denigrating my profession simply because most of us don’t  tell them what they want to hear (or what they think is right).

Veterinarians undergo an entire semester of animal nutrition.  We’re taught how to read nutrition labels, Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) statements, and more importantly, we’re taught how to think critically.  Which means just because a food SAYS it’s nutritious doesn’t mean we’re automatically going to fall for it.

Case in point.  Today, a client comes in whose golden retriever has had at least six ear hematoma repairs due to chronic ear infections.  Which are VERY commonly caused by food allergies in dogs and cats.  I don’t know what the dog had been on previously, but based on the records, hypoallergenic diets had been discussed.  Hypoallergenic diets are specifically designed with one protein source and one carbohydrate source in order to eliminate the potential for reactions to the diet.  Most of the time, the allergen is a protein source (chicken, lamb, beef, etc) versus a plant based ingredient, but things like soy and wheat have been known to cause allergies in dogs.  Unfortunately, this dog today needed ANOTHER ear surgery to fix a hematoma that had arisen from her ear infection.

As I was getting the history from the client, I asked what diet the dog was currently on–she wasn’t sure, even down to the brand.  She was saying Hills, but didn’t know what type.  She called her husband to find out, and it turns out she was on the Blue brand dog food, chicken and rice, gluten free.  I asked her why she had chosen the chicken and rice diet, and my client said, “Because she said that chicken was lower in allergies than other diet ingredients”.  I know for a fact that any veterinarian who knows ANYTHING knows that that is a pile of BS, so I asked her who told her that.  Guess who???  The Blue food rep she ran into at the store.

These are the type of things that irritate me.  People who just want to sell you dog food with a snappy marketing campaign that know JACK ALL about pet nutrition and diseases.  I’m not saying that the pet food companies want to make your pet sick, of course not!  But they do want to sell you dog food.  And it is becoming readily apparent that they may not CARE if it’s the best thing for your pet.  Your veterinarian does sell pet food, but mostly the type that is used to treat diseases.  Your veterinarian also doesn’t make much money on those products, so there is no incentive to sell it to you if it will not benefit your pet.

The bottom line is this–no matter what anyone says, veterinarians and veterinary nutritionists know MORE about pet nutrition than most pet food companies and the general public.  If you want to get your information from another source, the Romans had a wonderful saying:  Caveat Emptor.  Let the buyer beware.

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