Saturday, April 12, 2014

The post where I get on my soap box and rant..


So I was surfing twitter and ran across this..
and wouldn't you know it, Hill's is still putting on nutritional symposiums for vets... and vet colleges are still hosting them and giving their sponsored pitches weight and gravitas they simply do not deserve.

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)

*sigh*

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.

14 comments:

  1. My human saw a cartoon once, suggesting that politicians, like NASCAR drivers, wear their sponsors' logos on their outfits. Maybe the same should go for vets... and human doctors too.

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  2. My vets and I have an agreement that they do not push their idea of nutrition to me and I won't tell them how the "prescription diet" they have on their shelves suck. We have a very good relationship. :)

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  3. We love Sparkle's idea! We don't think that vets are malicious, but they are narrowly educated about nutrition (and by commercial interests, no less)! It's a shame that veterinary dieticians aren't readily available the way that human dieticians are. That would make a huge difference. What would happen if a vet school proposed that specialty, we wonder?

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  4. its all about money ,and money talks,shame really I guess the only vets that really understand are the one's who treat big cats at zoo's and safari parks.xx Rachel

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  5. Sometimes I think it is the path of least resistance but it is still bad science. My vet and I spoke about diet for the cats and it was wet vs dry but she didnt push brands.

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  6. *Applause* to you on your soapbox! Have you heard of Pottenger's cats? To me the vicious cycle of making our pets sicker (and more in need of veterinary care, vaccinations, teeth cleaning and drugs) over generations is the most appalling thing about the lack of nutritional knowledge most people have about their pets. That being said, I do think that the flashy bags of food in the vets office are of better quality than the discount foods at the grocery store and for some people in many parts of the country, those two places are their only options of where to shop. If consumers AND vets were to demand better options, things would finally improve for our poor nutritionally starved pets!

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  7. It is about the path of least resistance. When animals are looked at as true family members vs property maybe things will change, but I don't expect that anytime soon.

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  8. PREACH IT SISTAH! We looove Sparkle's recommendation!

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  9. I like our current vet but I don't agree with what she suggests for our boys' diet.
    I think it's important to do our own research.

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    Replies
    1. We like our vet but don't agree with what she recommends for food. We know that she, like most vets, probably doesn't know a lot about nutrition. So the mom does her own homework and feeds us what she thinks is best.

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  10. One of my biggest gripes with so many of those foods is the continued addition of cellulose. That's not cellulose from vegetables the way it should be if you're going to veer from the diet of an obligate carnivore. What the big companies use is cellulose that's made from pine trees. Yes. Pine trees. You'd better run if you see it in your human food too. If it doesn't specify "vegetable cellulose" then it's made from pine trees. They even coat shredded cheese with it to keep it from sticking together so much. Yum Yum. Would you like a toothpick with that?

    Further reading about cellulose and its effects on bodies: http://gut.bmj.com/content/25/8/805.full.pdf

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  11. That's depressing. Sounds like doctors getting all sorts of perks to promote drugs. Sigh.

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  12. guess what? My vet actually referred me to a PET NUTRITIONIST at one point for Cody AND he admitted that he didn't have enough knowledge about pet nutrition to properly advise me, that is why he referred me to a Pet Nutritionist in NY, gave me his email too......just one of MANY reasons why I adore my vet :) Yep to whomever said that your Internist is also promoting drugs that the pharmaceutical reps are "pushing" to them.......sad but true!

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  13. I'm lucky in that my vet does know a lot about nutrition for cats and a lot of other animals and he never pushes brands, because he isn't married to them and he didn't when he was. You make very good points in this post!

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