Yesterday, I read two articles by Sarah J. Wooten, DVM, who shared her thoughts on the film Pet Fooled, a documentary that shed light on the pet food industry.
- Hey doc, have your veterinary clients been fooled by this doc(umentary)?
- Responding to client reactions about Pet Fooled (Susan Thixton left a stupendous comment on this one)
Spoiler Alert, she didn't like it.
“I found most of this shock-you-mentary jaw droppingly inflammatory and inaccurate.” ~ Sarah J. Wooten, DVM for DVM360.com
I was disappointed in her review of Pet Fooled because…
1 – Sarah implies that the movie is inaccurate. If this were true, wouldn't there be lawsuits? I happen to know first hand that Kohl Harrington employed people for the sole job was to fact check everything in the movie before it was released.
2 – I expected that as a veterinarian, Sarah would have more sensitivity to families who lost a pet. By calling that segment of the film “rehashing,” she showed, to me, a level of disrespect to people who lost loved pets which resulted in the 2007 melamine recall after the pet food industry and FDA were initially unresponsive.
3 – In her follow-up article, Sarah compares feeding kibble to cats to humans eating crackers. I prefer to compare feeding kibble to pets to humans eating fast food daily – we all know that eating a steady diet of processed foods is bad for us; however, I gather from her review that Sarah is down for feeding processed foods to pets.
4 – Also in the follow-up article, Sarah claims that the film Pet Fooled says that dogs are wolves. Ummmm, no it doesn't. Dogs are descended from the Grey Wolf, which is common knowledge. She should redirect her finger pointing to Blue Buffalo, who has an entire ad campaign showing dogs running with wolves – to a bowl of kibble.
5 – Sarah ends her review by stating that this is a great time to open up lines of communication between veterinarians and their clients on the topics of raw feeding, Pet Fooled, and dog nutrition. However, she follows up this review with an article that serves to dismiss client questions with more misinformation. If euthanized animals aren't put into pet food, please explain the pentobarbital that was in Evanger's canned “beef,” enough to kill a dog.
What stuck with me about Sarah's review of Pet Fooled was the 2017 survey of raw feeders that lead to the conclusion that raw feeders don't trust veterinarians. Let's delve into that a little bit.
A Raw Feeder Survey About Trust
In March 2017, the “Survey of owner motivations and veterinary input of owners feeding diets containing raw animal products” was released.
CLICK HERE to read more about the survey.
Basically, three individuals, Morgan, Willis, and Shepherd, surveyed a little more than 2,000 pet owners who said that they either feed a raw food diet or have fed the diet at some point and surveyors concluded that these pet owners did most of their homework online and didn't trust their vet. I'm sure that this rubbed a few veterinarians the wrong way given their years of education and experience. And I wonder if that's why we saw the string of anti-raw feeding articles and videos this year.
- My response to Psychology Today's thoughts on raw feeding.
- My response to “Trust Me, I'm a Vet”
- Sam Ratcliffe of Vegas Rock Dog Radio's reading of Trust Me, I'm a Vet
I don't recall this survey being promoted on social media, however, I'm not on Facebook ALL DAY LONG so maybe I missed it, along with everyone else in my circle of friends, colleagues, and followers. I wonder if a true sampling of the pet lover community had been conducted – maybe 200,000 instead of 2,000 – would they have received the same results?
Why I Don't Trust Veterinarians
It's true that some raw feeders don't trust veterinarians, but this shouldn't be a surprise and it's not limited to raw feeders. I first began to distrust a veterinarian when he dismissed my questions, told me rescue dogs were a problem, and kept pointing to his framed degrees and asking “how many years of experience do you have?” I was feeding Blue Buffalo at the time.
Saying that raw feeders don't trust veterinarians after speaking to a few people is like saying that women don't trust car salesmen or mechanics. Of course, I can dig up a few women to share their awful experiences, but if I expanded my survey, I'd be impressed by the women who know a lot about cars – check out All Girls Garage on the Velocity channel.
My distrust of veterinarians, or of any professional, starts when I feel ignored and disrespected. Since my first veterinarian experience as a dog mom, I have met many vets who are wonderful and I trust immensely because they listened to me. Today, I take my dogs to two holistic veterinarians who support my choice to feed raw, are conservative on vaccinations, and are knowledgeable on canine nutrition and alternative medicine. However, I do know a few traditional vets that I trust with my dogs' care.
Traditional Veterinarians Who Support Raw Feeders
Smokey Point Animal Hospital – when I let them know that we feed a raw food diet, I was told that it was important that I was careful and did my homework and the staff admitted that my dogs were healthy. They tolerated my endless questions, listened when I talked about my dogs' personalities and needs, and have been wonderful to our animals.
Diamond Veterinary Hospital – the folks at Diamond didn't bat an eye lash when I told them we feed our dogs a raw diet. They have a policy of not judging people for choosing to feed raw, instead, they believe in listening to and educating their clients. I brought Scout in because he had a high fever. The veterinarian at Diamond did everything to keep our dog alive, keeping us in the loop the entire way. Eventually, we were referred to a specialist and VCA – our vet at Diamond got us in immediately.
VCA Lynnwood Animal Hospital – when we walked into VCA, they were aware that we were raw feeders and that I did a lot of homework on dog health and nutrition. Although I was worried about my dog, I was elated to have an intelligent conversation with the veterinarian and her assistant about my dog's condition and recovery. They were amazing. Not once did they talk down to me or make me feel like I had made my dog sick.
Banfield Pet Hospital Doesn't Support Raw Feeders
My opinion about Banfield Pet Hospital is based on one negative, inflammatory experience at the Seattle Pet Expo. There may be many Banfields around the country that are very welcoming to raw feeders. The Banfield veterinarians who manned the booth at the 2016 Seattle Pet Expo had the following to say about raw feeders:
- We're morons who think that raw feeding is better than kibble and canned food.
- We're disgusting because we don't clean our dogs' dishes.
- We're ignorant because we don't add corn (he later corrected it to corn meal) to our dogs' raw meals.
And they weren't the only people who were anti-raw feeding. The veterinarians from the Bird & Exotic Veterinary Clinic of Seattle weren't very welcoming either. One vet refused to sit on a panel with me so her partner took her place and proceeded to speak negatively about raw feeding despite the fact that I didn't bring up the topic.
It's experiences like these that make people distrust veterinarians.
Learning to Trust Your Veterinarian
I was screwed over by a mechanic and my insurance company. My car should have been totaled after an accident, however, they “fixed” it and shortly after I settled the claim, the engine fell out of my car. Yes, you read that correctly. Who paid for that repair? Me. For a while, I didn't trust mechanics or insurance companies. So when I found a new mechanic, I explained my distrust and he promised to take care of me – and he did. When I found a new insurance agent, I explained my distrust and he promised to take care of me – and he did.
I'm lucky because I live in an area of the country that is crawling with holistic veterinarians. Darwin's Pet, Northwest Naturals, and other local raw feeding brands are in my back yard. Raw feeding isn't a fad or trend here; it's an option that many pet owners are making to treat health conditions that traditional veterinarian care and commercial dry and canned pet food couldn't cure.
I have found that honesty is important when it comes to a fruitful relationship with a veterinarian. When meeting a new vet, I make an appointment for myself, explaining who I am (the person who Googles everything in the middle of the night), what I feed my dogs (raw meat, bone, and organs), and what I need from my veterinarian (patience, education, and support because I want my dogs to live forever). While some veterinarians are turned off by people who often turn to Dr. Google, we'll find that there are many veterinarians have more patience for our brand of Crazy Dog Mom/Dad if we make it clear that we will consider and respect their feedback, experience, and education.
A good veterinarian welcomes questions, is open to advancements in the dog rearing world, and never makes a client feel stupid for exploring ways to raise healthier, happier dogs. While it may not be easy, it's important to clue our vets in on all aspects of our dogs' lives, including their diet. Because they need to have the full picture when they're treating an illness or injury.
By being upfront when Scout had his fever, we were able to discuss his white blood cell count (which tanked), how to keep his gut healthy when he was on antibiotics, and when I could put him back on raw (I cooked for him when he was sick). I was not in the mind space to Google all of that information because I was worried sick about my dog.
A positive that came out of Scout's illness, besides meeting some great vets, is that the vets who helped him got to see a very healthy, raw fed dog, so maybe our visit made it a little easier for the next raw feeder who walks into their exam room.
My Review of Sarah J. Wooten's Article
I found her article to be inflammatory (by claiming Pet Fooled to be inaccurate) and full of misinformation (scroll up to see a few of the things Sarah missed the mark on). I do agree with Sarah's statement that Pet Fooled “could open up lines of communication between veterinarians and pet owners.” It's time that we begin to discuss dog nutrition and health with our veterinarians and with the pet food industry.
One way to start this discussion is to stop dismissing pet owner concerns and concerns, as I feel she encourages in her follow-up article that list of responses to clients who have seen Pet Fooled. If she truly wants to garner trust and open lines of communication between veterinarians and their clients who are raw feeders (or considering raw feeding), try meeting us half way by…
- Learn why we feed raw.
- Learn more about what we're feeding our dogs and why.
- Learn about the benefits of raw feeding for dogs.
- Take the time to speak with several raw feeders, examine their dogs, and learn how we make our dogs' food.
I don't expect her to trust Dr. Karen Becker and Dr. Barbara Royal and believe that raw feeding is biologically appropriate for dogs, however, I ask that she not be so quick to dismiss raw feeding as a healthy alternative to dry and canned dog food.
- P.S. I wonder why Dr. Wooten didn't interview Kohl Harrington for her articles.
- P.P.S. Read Susan Thixton's take on Dr. Sarah Wooten's articles over on The Truth About Pet Food.