So I was surfing twitter and ran across this..
Thanks Ontario Vet College for hosting the Hill's Nutrition Symposium last Sunday! I had a great time at my alma... http://t.co/kWt2HSZvVU
— Susan Little, DVM (@catvetsusan) April 8, 2014
Those of us who take up the cause - that commercial cat foods might not be all you are told that it is - learn that vets do not actually study "feline nutrition" so turning to your vet to find out what foods you should feed your cat is kinda like going to the guy who paints your car telling you what gas to buy. People who go into the veterinarian field do take a nutrition class, but from everything I have been told it is an animal nutrition class and focuses a lot on large animals: cows, horses, etc while minimally touching on pets. Yes, they can continue on to focus more on different aspects of nutrition, but it is not required.
Remember your own MD doctor did not study nutrition, and refers you to a registered dietitian when you have questions of nutrition.. only more often than not the vet doesn't do that. Vets often rely on the nutritional information they are given by major pet food companies in the form of hand outs, pamphlets, fliers, and yes, continuing education courses such as that mentioned above. I do not want to believe that a majority of the vets do this maliciously, but because colleges continue to allow pet food companies to 'teach' nutrition, they simply rely on them because it is easy. The pet food companies also take on the legal issues if there is a problem with the food, which also covers a number of other issues for a vet. So, they are told by their collage these companies are right, they get gobs of information from the company saying they are right, they get the legal coverage, and they make money when they sell the product. Who can turn that down??
I do hope you take a minute and go to the website for this "continuing education" "class" mentioned in Dr. Susan's tweet.. does it look like it was hosted by Hill's?? It doesn't to me, but yet Dr. Susan says that it was hosted by them, and they are prominently featured in the only photo there. (There is some more information and more pictures on this Facebook page)
Gee. I wonder what foods this symposium is going to say is the appropriate food to be feeding. And for the love of all things scientific, why oh why is there a topic in this symposium for feeding OBLIGATE CARNIVORES that lists 'carbs' before proteins???
Topics included: “Feline Feeding Management: It’s Not Just the Food,” and “Cats, Carbs and Protein: From Research to Cinical Practice.”
(and yes, that is exactly how it is written on their website.. typo and all)
So when you hear someone talking about the importance of nutrition in your cat, and they tell you the vet is in the pocket of "big pet food" - this is why. This has been going on forever, and it apparently has no intention of stopping.
I know it is an over generalization to say "your vet knows nothing about feline nutrition" and it does a disservice to those vets that do take the time when we say things like that.. and maybe you are one of the lucky ones who has a vet who actually learned what an obligate carnivore is and figured out feeding a diet high in corn, or wheat, or potatoes, or peas, or cranberries, or squash, or spinach....oh lets just go with plant based ingredients or I could be here all day... is not a good idea and decided to do a little more reading on the subject. If so, you have one of the good ones. Bring your vet some flowers or brownies next time you go in and say thank you.
If you aren't one of those people. If your vet's lobby is covered in Hill's or Royal Canin, or bags of dry food, with lots of sponsorship looking logos all over the place, take what ever advice on food they give you with a grain of salt. There are a lot of great resources out there to help you understand what your options are for what ever your vet is suggesting and you really should look into them even if you end up following your vet's advice. Remember, your vet works for you.. if you ever feel that you are in a situation where that is not the case, feel free to find a new vet.