A couple months ago, I published my thoughts on a veterinarian's review of the film Pet Fooled and quickly received an interesting response from an individual who goes by the name RawIsDumb…
“You're another ignorant moron who thinks they know more about canine nutrition than actual animal nutritionists. Good luck with all that.”
I didn't bother getting into a back and forth with this person because (1) I don't think “RawIsDumb” is their real name and (2) this year I vowed to stop attempting informative discussions with people who hurl insults. This person isn't interested in my point of view or having a chat about raw feeding; as you can see from the comment, this person only wanted to create conflict.
However, I did find the comment interesting, because…
- I didn't realize Dr. Wooten was an animal nutritionist. I do know that she's a veterinarian journalist, however, none of the profiles I read on her mentioned that she went further in her education to become a certified animal nutritionist.
- Most of what I've learned about canine nutrition comes from other dog owners, not veterinarians. While I have listened to and taken the advice of several holistic veterinarians and nutritionists, my day to day Raw Feeding Curriculum is unofficially managed by more experienced raw feeders.
This brings me to the question of today's post – do we know more about canine nutrition than veterinarians?
Learning About Raw Feeding
I began feeding my dogs a raw food diet in 2013. This wasn't a recommendation made by a veterinarian – in fact, our veterinarian was treating food intolerances with antibiotics. No, this was a decision I made after everything the vet did for my dog failed epically, creating a lifelong health issue for Rodrigo. In 2013, my dog had a laundry list of health issues that were cured with a balanced, raw diet that I manage today.
- Food intolerances
- Environmental allergies
- Skin rashes
- Chronic ear infections
- Itchy paws
- Yeasty skin
- Joint issues
- Chronic diarrhea and loose stool
The more I learned about raw feeding, the more it made sense to me. I don't buy the party line that dogs are omnivores and I don't believe that evolution has made kibble biologically appropriate. I do believe that our dogs' lifespan is decreasing while the number of chronic illnesses in our dogs are increasing and I believe the commercial diets being peddled by the pet food industry are partly to blame.
But until recently, raw dog food wasn't something you could pick up at the store. And due to the cost, many raw feeders choose DIY over commercial raw – so how do we learn to feed a raw balanced diet without a nutritionist to guide us? Many of us are lucky to learn from holistic veterinarians and nutritionists; most of us are also learning from other raw feeders.
Veterinarian's Education in Animal Nutrition
One of the arguments for not following a traditional veterinarian's advice on animal nutrition is that their education in this area is brief and is sponsored by the big kibble brands. This is why so many veterinarians recommend prescription diets instead of fresh food.
But is this true?
“I’ll be the first to agree that some veterinary institutions don’t provide enough nutrition training; however, even those institutions have curriculum that incorporates critical thinking, research, and the importance of continuing education.” ~Amy Farcas DVM DACVN for DrAndyRoark.com
“I graduated in 1992 from the University of Saskatchewan, College of Veterinary Medicine. I invested thousands of hours, training to diagnose and treat disease and perform surgery. There was training in pharmacology, anatomy, epidemiology and emergency care; my training covered nearly all aspects of veterinary medicine, including large and small animals. But something very big was left out: nutrition. I was taught nearly nothing about nutrition and I am of the opinion that most veterinarians also know very little about nutrition.” ~ Andrew Jones DVM for Dogs Naturally Magazine
“Veterinarians receive very little nutritional training. The training they do receive is often advocated by or even administered by the pet food companies. Their nutritional training comes from the incorrect view that dogs are omnivores (see omnivore myth) and can safely be maintained on a grain-based diet, even when scientific research has proven that canines and felines have no evolved need for carbohydrates and fiber (see the Carbohydrates myth for further detail).” ~ RawFed.com/Myths/Vets
“You don't need a degree in nutrition to help veterinary clients make good pet food choices. All it takes is the desire to learn and a willingness to start the conversation with clients.” ~Heather Biele, DVM, DVM360.com
Despite the lack of formal education in canine nutrition, I do believe that the majority of veterinarians know more about animal nutrition than I do – I'm not completely delusional. Even with a minimal focus on nutrition, a veterinarian's formal education trumps my Google searches.
So why can't we get together on this?
The disconnect happens, in my opinion, when a veterinarian is unwilling to continue to learn and evolve. Choosing instead to criticize the rest of us who want to learn more about our pets, instead of guiding us. While I'm seeing a definite shift in the veterinarian community, I'm still seeing professionals promoting a lack of tolerance when it comes to raw feeding.
Why Raw Feeders Don't Trust Veterinarians
At the Seattle Pet Expo in 2016, a group of veterinarians from Banfield Pet Hospital spoke eloquently about their thoughts – not positive – of raw feeders. Only one was willing to discuss their comments with me (we were on the opposite side of their booth promoting raw) and he insisted that my raw diet couldn't be balanced because I didn't add cornmeal.
This is who we're supposed to trust?
And Dr. Sarah Wooten stated that it's false that pet food companies have put roadkill, euthanized animals and diseased animals in pet food because it's not legal to do so. The law surrounding the use of euthanized animals in pet food did not prevent a dog from dying earlier this year. Dr. Wooten's statement was in an article dated August 11, 2017, SIX MONTHS AFTER it was determined that Evanger's sold euthanized horse meat to their customers and called it beef.
This is who we're supposed to trust?
What Raw Feeders Want
I transitioned my dogs to raw feeding because I want them to live long, healthy lives. Despite the hours of research I do on raw feeding, I'm not a nutritionist or a veterinarian. I know that I can't do this on my own. Therefore, I work with two local holistic veterinarians, I'm connected socially to several other holistic veterinarians, and I'm active in the raw feeding community (both locally and online).
I'm fortunate because I live in an area where holistic veterinary medicine is a growing field and raw feeding isn't a trend. Not everyone lives in this type of community.
What raw feeders want is open communication with their veterinarian. The ability to ask questions without being misled or dismissed. Many of us would love to guided by our veterinarian in canine nutrition, working together to create a balanced diet that meets our dog's specific needs. This requires veterinarians to move out of their comfort zone and explore raw feeding and holistic medicine as an alternative for pets. With so many pro-raw veterinarians in the field and “anecdotal” evidence of the benefits of raw feeding, why would anyone turn down the opportunity to expand their knowledge and provide more for their four-legged clients?
Many of us would love to be guided by our veterinarian in canine nutrition, working together to create a balanced raw diet that meets our dog's specific needs. This requires veterinarians to move out of their comfort zone and explore raw feeding and holistic medicine as an alternative for pets. With so many pro-raw veterinarians in the field and “anecdotal” evidence of the benefits of raw feeding, why would anyone turn down the opportunity to expand their knowledge and provide more for their four-legged clients by educating their owners?