You sure do see some interesting things on the internet. Some of it is good, some of it is equivocal, and some of it is downright messed up. One of the advantages of having my own vet blog is getting to climb up on my soapbox and rant to the ether in response.
So. Here I sit, perusing Twitter, my puppy curled up by my feet. Oh look, another I hate Michael Vick T-shirt. A link to a cute cat. Someone had a bad day with an aggessive dog. And then in between those innocuous twitters was this:
Raw Meaty Bones For Healthy Pets: Why Veterinarians Give Bad …: Raw Meaty Bones. My passion i.. http://bit.lyblahblah (I decided not to link to the blog for various reasons)
Ho hum, yet another BARFER talking about how misinformed vets are about nutrition. Against my better judgment, I clicked the link. Hoo boy.
The summary paragraph of the blog I subsequently arrived at was this:
My passion is to expose and eliminate the unholy alliance between pet food companies and veterinarians. Pet food companies fund and control veterinary education, research, and practice. This unholy alliance keeps pets on a harmful diet of carbohydrates they cannot digest properly and did not evolve to eat.
Now, I’ve heard the old “vets are pet food companies’ sock puppets” before, but “unholy alliance” is a new one. It’s a term repeated enough in the blog to make me suspect a jihad against vets is brewing. I mean, really.
When I hear unholy alliance, I think of terrorists and war, of blood and riots and smoke, of chocolate bars with bacon in them. I never thought to imagine myself, prescribing s/o to a cat with crystals in her urine. I may have to go to confession for the first time in a couple of decades and confess my mortal sins.
What a read. Allow me to share with you some of the diamonds in this plethora of gems:
- “This course is taught by a pet food company representative at no charge to the veterinary college” I’m dying to know which college this refers to- not any of the ones I know of. If it does happen, it’s the exception rather than the rule.
- “Your vet is unlikely to know that dogs are a sub-species of gray wolf, with a wolf digestive system.” Yes, I thought they evolved from rhinoceroses. My bad.
- And the coup de grace: “Unfortunately, your vet is ill-prepared to advise you on any matters pertaining to diet and health, because their education omitted those topics or handed them over to commercial pet food companies. That’s the bottom line.” There you go. YOUR vet. All vets.
At least she resisted the urge to toss in the tired and true “vets get trips to Hawaii from these companies.”
Look, I’m the first person to tell you that the field could use some work. We’re kind of where people were in the 1950s when everyone thought frozen dinners were so amazing. And certainly, nutrition does not play a large role in the curriculum. Neither does ophthalmology, surgery, behavior, or anything else. We have a lot to learn in a short period of time and it all gets a pretty quick run-through. Still, everything I was taught was done so by a DVM authority in the field, not some corporate shill, and I work every day to learn more and grow as a clinician.
What chaps my hide is not the idea that veterinarians are not all experts on optimal nutrition, but the implication that this is due to some malevolent greed on our part, say, some unholy alliance or something. My understanding of nutrition, as well as everything else I do, has evolved with time and experience. Those who still recommend the same old same old do so, I believe, because they feel it’s fine. Whether or not you agree with that, I have yet to meet someone who says, “Oh yes, I firmly believe Pedigree/Science Diet/whatever is noxious but I still recommend it.”
The broad brush of “all vets have the same outdated viewpoint” negates the thousands of veterinarians who are passionate about nutrition and health, who have spent the time doing their own research and pushing for change in the field, and reduces every one to some lackwit demon in a red lab coat tallying up their “points” or whatever the hell they think we get for making recommendations. I said hell. Ha ha!
I noted in the author’s profile that she’s a breeder and a former psychology professor. I could spend the next hour typing up all sorts of nice sweeping generalizations about either of those things based on my own experience and some hearsay here and there, but I’ll resist the urge. I know there are good breeders and psychologists out there.
Have any of the vets or vet students here been taught a course by a pet food company representative? Inquiring minds want to know.