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    Stories & News

    Why does the American Veterinary Medical Association propose the vote against raw food?

    By Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM

    Why I will never recommend  processed pet food As a veterinarian who has been promoting raw diet for more than 15 years, I am used to seeing processed pet food companies try to discredit it. However, despite all their efforts, the natural and raw pet food movement is on the rise and it is no coincidence. Early in my career, I didn’t question processed pet food companies teaching vets that only their processed food was safe. However, as time progressed, I started to see a rising number of my patients suffering from allergies, obesity, diabetes, pancreatitis, kidney and liver disease and cancer. At first, I didn’t see the connection with processed food and as if blindfolded, I continued to frequently prescribe special  diets. Then in the mid 90’s I started seeing a few of my clients switching their dogs and cats to raw or cooked natural food. At first, I didn’t know what to think, but then I started to see some dramatic recoveries and a general improvement of health in almost all my raw fed patients. Skin problems started to disappear, the sleepless nights of clients who had dogs with chronic diarrhea became few and far between and cats with kidney disease improved on natural foods. It was then when I started to question the motives of  processed pet food companies. To remedy my initial confusion about what was going on, I  started to pay more attention to the ingredients in food and I started to see that something was seriously wrong with the so called “scientifically formulated” diets. Note: Originally, I included the names of prescription pet food formulas on this list. However, my legal council advised me against this and I agreed. My plan is to provide with information and not to participate in legal battles. If you want to check common processed food formulas, just go to the websites of major pet food companies to see what ingredients they use. Here are a few examples: LIVER DISEASE DIET  Brewers Rice, Pork Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), Dried Egg Product, Soybean Meal, Powdered Cellulose, Flaxseed, Pork Protein Isolate, Chicken Liver Flavor, CARDIAC DIET Water, Chicken, Whole Grain Corn, Rice, Pork Liver, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), Sucrose, Chicken Liver Flavor WEIGHT CONTROL DIET Corn, corn gluten meal, chicken meal, barley, rice hulls, powdered cellulose, natural flavors, wheat gluten, chicken fat, dried beet pulp, fish oil, sodium silico aluminate, KIDNEY DIET FOR CATS Brewers rice, whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, soybean meal. FOOD ALLERGY DIET Brewers Rice, Hydrolyzed Chicken Liver, Hydrolyzed Chicken, Soybean Oil (preserved with BHA, propyl gallate and citric acid), In summary, it didn’t  take me long to realize that pet food companies’ claims  that processed was better was a multibillion dollar marketing plot.  One does not see cats and dogs graze in a corn field and suggesting that grain is better for carnivores is like saying that meat is the best food for horses or rabbits. Unfortunate alliance Many well informed dog and cat lovers know that pet food companies use low-quality, species-inappropriate ingredients to make hefty profits. They are also profiting by developing special diets for diseases caused by poor quality processed food.  They knew how valuable the connection with veterinarians could be and that is why these diets are offered  exclusively to vets (who they also educate). One rarely sees a veterinary conference that is not be sponsored by either a drug or processed pet food company.  Here are a few examples: World Veterinary Dermatology Conference 2012, World Small Animal Veterinary Association, Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and finally  American Veterinary Medical Association.  As an insider, I know that it is very scary for many colleagues to branch out and start recommending raw pet food.  The most common reasons are lack of available education and persistent anti-raw food propaganda led by the processed food giants. Most people are aware that there are strong ties between the veterinary and pet food industry.  As an insider, I know that it is very scary for many colleagues to branch out and start recommending raw pet food.  The most common reasons are lack of available education and persistent anti-raw food propaganda led by the processed food giants.  Many veterinary clinics make as much as 1/3 of their income from pet food and when you consider the 70 – 85% overhead of an average veterinary practice you can understand that the processed food sales may be essential to a veterinary practice’s survival. However, it is pretty obvious that  strange symbiosis is no longer working for the well informed pet guardian.  It is not the 80′s – the hey days of processed pet food.  With Facebook and internet,  people share their experiences with natural and raw foods and this may be the main reason why processed pet food sales in North America are falling. Fear-based marketing In my opinion, this is the main reason why the American Veterinary Medical Association has announced a proposed POLICY AGAINST RAW OR UNDERCOOKED ANIMAL-SOURCE PROTEIN IN CATS AND DOGS.  In it they say that raw or undercooked animal-source protein may be contaminated with a variety of pathogenic organisms.  While it is true that raw food contains bacteria, the studies ignore the fact that dogs and cats have evolved to eat raw meat and internal organs.  In 15 years of recommending a raw diet, I have not seen one single client with reported salmonellosis. Dogs and cats are naturally resistant to intestinal pathogens and can’t be compared to humans. Cats often eat mice that are frequent carriers of salmonella and other bacteriae without any ill effects. Let's be real, dogs sniff and eat worse things than a piece of raw meat. In 15 years of recommending a raw diet, I have not seen one single client report salmonellosis. Dogs and cats are naturally resistant to intestinal pathogens and can’t be compared to humans. Cats often eat mice that are frequent carriers of salmonella and other bacteriae without any ill effects.   Lets be real, dogs sniff and eat worse things than a piece of raw meat. Pet food companies have tried to take advantage of people’s fear of bacteria and use it as their weapon to boost their declining sales. This is their only choice because most people know that wholesome meat and vegetables are better than Brewers Rice, Pork Fat, Dried Egg Product, Soybean Meal, and Powdered Cellulose. There are numerous testimonials to be found on the internet from people whose dogs have been saved by raw food and from what I have seen in the practice, natural food and whole food based supplements can easily add two to five years of life on average. No food is perfect and even raw pet food feeding requires a degree of knowledge to do it right. To learn about feeding and preparing a raw or cooked diet for your dog sign up here for a free course. [[advertisement product="rawdiet-ad" /]] The main reason pet food companies choose to use bacteria scare tactics instead of 'nutritional benefits of their food' is not many people would see their food nutritionally more valuable than wholesome fresh food.  It is also undeniable that over the past several years, there have been numerous commercial pet food recalls. The greatest paradox is that processed pet food carries statistically higher health risks than raw food. Here is an example from JAVMA describing one of these incidents. Thousands of pets died in 2007 and 2008 from the melamine-tainted pet food scandal. We must not be silent I have never been into politics and most of the time I try to stay away from it. However, In the case of processed food, I can’t be quiet because when I look in the eyes of my dog Skai, the idea of losing him prematurely because of processed food makes me realize the extent of the grief that others experience unnecessarily. We veterinarians, including the AVMA, have to decide if we'll continue to side with the transparent marketing tactics of pet food companies or stay on the side of our patients and clients as we promised when we graduated.  When it comes to the proposed policy against raw food, I urge all veterinarian to learn more about the benefits of raw and natural food before dismissing it. I've no doubt that every colleague who examines a group of raw fed and a group of processed food fed senior dogs will clearly see the benefits of pet food as nature intended. It is not any different than in human nutrition. P.S. Are you looking for ways to make a difference? MAKE A DONATION TO the  Healing Foundation, a registered non-profit organization that focuses on holistic healthcare and nutrition research and animal welfare. The video below features Skai and Peggy. They are raw fed and were born in August 2001. I hope that this video will make you laugh because it never hurts to bring a little bit of humor to solve a serious situation. The Dog and the Butcher by Jonathan Holt from Jonathan Holt on Vimeo. © Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM

    Stories & News

    Two veterinarians write on the topic of raw diet, is it safe or not?

    By Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM

    Why I can say a raw diet is not dangerous for dogs I have just come across the response of a Victoria veterinarian, Dr. Chris Collis, in regards to the article “This raw deal is a good one” from the Dec. 10 Times Colonist and I feel obligated to respond. I too am a veterinarian, with 24 years of clinical experience. In the early days of my practice, I also believed what I was taught by processed pet food companies that their food was the best. However, as years progressed, I observed an alarming trend where feeding processed food and even special diets was not enough to keep my patients healthy. I continued to see a rising number of patients suffering from allergies, obesity, diabetes, pancreatitis and a variety of organ dysfunctions and cancer. The paradox was, that even though I knew that eating processed food is not good for people, I somehow blindly believed what I was told - kibble was the best. In the mid 90’s, I started to see a few of my clients switching their pets to raw or cooked natural diets. At first, I was concerned, but when I started to see some dramatic recoveries and general improvement in most, I started to question commercial diet companies and their intentions. After 15 years, I have no doubt that pets eating wholesome food live longer, look younger, move better and need to see a vet less frequently. In fact, my own cat Mina has been on raw food since she was eight years old and is now 21. My dog Skai, who turned 10 in August 2011, has never been on processed food and is doing very well. I have enclosed a brief video of him and his sister, who is also fed raw. It was shot a few months after his 10th birthday.  It is not my intention to get into a lengthy debate about who is right or wrong because diversity of opinions is a good thing. [[advertisement product="rawdiet-ad" /]] However, I cannot agree that commercial diets are the safest because we all know about the hundreds of cats and dogs that were irreversibly damaged or died from the effects of tainted commercial pet food.  It is true that the quality of any pet food is important and that it may vary depending on the knowledge, skills and integrity of the manufacturer. However, unlike processed kibble manufacturers who, as my colleague mentioned, use second-grade ingredients, raw food companies frequently use first-grade, human-quality, non-medicated meat and organic vegetables in their products. I completely agree that it is important to feed a balanced diet to our dogs and cats and ideally it should be us veterinarians who help pet guardians to do so. Strangely, we appear to have abandoned our common sense of what healthy food is and blindly follow the pet food companies, while some of our clients know better. According to the statistics of recent years, veterinary visits and processed pet food sales are in decline, despite the rising number of dogs and cats. It is possible that the pets of people who have embraced the feeding of wholesome fresh diets are healthier. And that some people may be afraid to see their vets and tell them they feed raw. When it comes to bacteria, I have not seen one single client who reported salmonelosis when feeding raw meat. I have also come to accept that dogs and cats are naturally resistant to intestinal pathogens and that they are not humans. Cats often eat mice that are frequent carriers of salmonella and other bacteriae without any ill effect and let's be real, dogs sniff and eat worse things than a piece of raw meat. With respect and gratitude, Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM, North Vancouver, BC _________________________________________________________________   Re: “This raw deal is a good one,” Dec. 10 by Dr. Chris Collis, DVM   I have been a veterinarian for 22 years. The article on the pet food venture has me profoundly concerned. I’m a big advocate of small business, but the raw pet food business is fraught with substantial risk.The article neglected the dangers associated with feeding raw meat to our pets. A nutritionally balanced, consistent quality and biologically safe food requires an understanding of biology, nutrition, biochemistry, disease and quality control. There is no routine standard testing of pet food by government agencies.All pet foods are made from the discarded waste of the human food industry, including those contaminated with salmonella, e.coli and campylobacter. Commercial diet “cooking” destroys the infectious diseases and additional testing ensures the freedom of foreign material, mould and chemical toxins.An ill pet fed a raw diet entering our hospitals would be handled as a potentially infectious communicable disease risk and a quarantine protocol would likely be instituted for the protection of our staff.The use of commercial diets are the safest, most complete and balanced way to feed 99 per cent of our pets. I wait in anticipation to see the end of this fad and can only hope that the catalyst for its inevitable demise is not the death of a toddler from a raw food feeding pet owner who thought they were doing the right thing.Who would want this type of risk on their conscience?Chris Collis B.Sc.(Agr.), DVMVictoria © Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM

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