Why are vets still peddling junk food?

One of the most articulate and professionally credentialed veterinary voices today on the root causes of the latest pet food recall, Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins, made quite a splash in Canada in June when the California-based veterinarian spoke to a Toronto gathering.

Have a listen and a read. Dr. Hodgkins is speaking out a great deal on the folly of putting faith in labels that make claims about foods being 100 percent nutritionally complete, and gaining long overdue attention for the myth that the feeding trials used to determine minimum requirements are meaningful. Did you know, for example, that feeding trials test maybe eight animals–and a couple are allowed to drop out or die–and continue for perhaps between 10 weeks and six months. Can anyone keep a straight face and say that these kinds of tests really tell pet food companies what a food must contain to sustain the long-term health of an animal?

And you might pay special attention to her comments about the reason that so many vets are reflexively opposed to raw feeding. And why you may see so many rows and rows of bags of dry food for sale at your vet’s office. Sobering stuff.

My vote? Now is the perfect time to speak up and open a dialogue with your own vet about what you feed. As much as I despise what this latest recall has wrought, the silver lining in this cloud is that no vet who’s had his or her head in the sand on diet issues can seriously argue that commercial pet food (including the stuff sold from clinics) is safe and nutritionally complete.

Give your vet a copy of the 2002 article by Dr. Debra Zoran. Suggest s/he have a look at Dr. Hodgkins’s awesome new book. Gently ask for an explanation about why so much dry food is sold in the clinic.

More and more vets are getting on board and recognizing that abdicating nutritional decisionmaking to the pet food companies doesn’t offer their clients what they deserve and are, increasingly, demanding.

Make the demand.

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