Why I will never recommend processed pet food
As a veterinarian who has promoted raw diets for over fifteen years, I am used to seeing companies that try to discredit processed pet food. Despite their best efforts, the natural and raw pet food movement is on the rise and that is no coincidence.
Early in my career, I didn’t question companies teaching processed pet food to veterinarians that only their processed food was safe. However, as time went on, I started to see an increase A large number of my patients suffer from allergies, obesity, diabetes, pancreatitis, kidney and liver disease and cancer. Initially I did not see the connection with processed food and, as if blindfolded, I continued to regularly prescribe special diets.
Then, in the mid-1990s, I noticed some of my clients switching their dogs and cats to raw or cooked natural foods. At first I didn’t know what to think, but then I started seeing dramatic recovery and overall improvement in health in almost all of my raw-fed patients. Skin problems began to disappear, the sleepless nights of clients with dogs with chronic diarrhea became scarce and cats with kidney disease improved with natural food.
It was then that I began to question the motives of processed pet food companies. To clear up my initial confusion about what was going on, I started paying more attention to the ingredients in foods and began to see that there was something seriously wrong with the so-called “scientifically formulated” diets.
Note: I originally included the names of prescription pet food formulas in this list. However, my legal counsel advised against this and I agreed. My plan is to provide information and not engage in legal battles. To check out commonly used processed food formulas, visit the websites of major pet food companies to see what ingredients they use.
Here are a few examples:
LIVER DISEASE DIET Brewer’s rice, pork fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), dried egg product, soy flour, cellulose powder, linseed, pork protein isolate, chicken liver flavor,
HARD DIET Water, chicken, whole grain corn, rice, pork liver, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), sucrose, chicken liver flavor
WEIGHT MANAGEMENT DIET Corn, corn gluten meal, chicken meal, barley, rice hulls, cellulose powder, natural flavors, wheat gluten, chicken fat, dried beet pulp, fish oil, sodium silicoaluminate,
KIDNEY DIET FOR CATS Brewers rice, whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, soy flour.
FOOD ALLERGY DIET Brewers rice, hydrolyzed chicken liver, hydrolyzed chicken, soybean oil (preserved with BHA, propyl gallate and citric acid),
In summary, it didn’t take long for me to realize that the pet food companies claims that processing was better was a multi-billion dollar marketing conspiracy. You don’t see cats and dogs grazing in a corn field and suggesting that grain is better for carnivores is like saying that meat is the best food for horses or rabbits.
An unhappy alliance
Many knowledgeable dog and cat lovers know that pet food companies use low-quality and species-inappropriate ingredients to make big profits. They also benefit by developing special diets for diseases caused by poor-quality processed foods. They knew how valuable the connection with veterinarians could be and that is why these diets are offered exclusively to veterinarians (whom they also train).
It’s rare to see a veterinary conference that isn’t sponsored by a pharmaceutical or pet food processing company. Here are a few examples: World Conference on Veterinary Dermatology 2012, World Veterinary Association for Small Animals, Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and finally American Veterinary Medical Association.
As an insider, I know that it is very frightening for many colleagues to recommend raw pet food. The most common reasons are the lack of available education and the continued anti-raw food propaganda led by the processed food giants.
Most people are aware that there are strong links between the veterinary sector and the pet food industry. As an insider, I know that it is very frightening for many colleagues to recommend raw pet food. The most common reasons are the lack of available education and the continued anti-raw food propaganda led by the processed food giants. Many veterinary clinics earn as much as 1/3 of their income from pet food and when you consider the overhead costs of 70 – 85% from an average veterinary practice, you understand that sales of processed foods can be essential to the survival of a veterinary practice.
However, it is quite clear that strange symbiosis no longer works for the knowledgeable pet caregiver. This is not the 1980s, the heyday of processed pet food. Of Facebook and the Internet, people are sharing their experiences with natural and raw foods and this may be the main reason why sales of processed pet food are declining in North America.
In my opinion, this is the main reason why the American Veterinary Medical Association announced a proposal POLICY AGAINST RAW OR UNDER-COOKED ANIMAL PROTEINS IN CATS AND DOGS. In it, they say that raw or undercooked animal proteins can be contaminated with a variety of pathogenic organisms. While it is true that raw food contains bacteria, the studies ignore the fact that dogs and cats have evolved to eat raw meat and internal organs. In the fifteen years that I have been recommending a raw diet, I have not seen a single client with a reported salmonellosis. Dogs and cats are naturally resistant to intestinal pathogens and cannot be compared to humans. Cats often eat mice, which often carry salmonella and other bacteria, without any ill effects. Let’s face it: dogs sniff and eat worse things than a piece of raw meat.
In the fifteen years that I have been recommending a raw diet, I have not encountered a single client with salmonellosis. Dogs and cats are naturally resistant to intestinal pathogens and cannot be compared to humans. Cats often eat mice, which often carry salmonella and other bacteria, without any ill effects. Let’s face it: dogs sniff and eat worse things than a piece of raw meat.
Pet food companies have tried to capitalize on people’s fear of bacteria and use it as their weapon to boost their declining sales. This is their only choice because most people know that healthy meats and vegetables are better than brewer’s rice, pork fat, dried egg product, soy flour and cellulose powder. There are countless testimonials on the internet from people whose dogs have been saved by raw food and from what I have seen in practice, natural diets and whole food supplements can easily add an average of two to five years to life on average.
No food is perfect and even feeding raw food to pets requires a certain amount of knowledge to do it right. Sign up to learn more about feeding and preparing a raw or cooked diet for your dog here for a free course.
The main reason pet food companies choose to use bacteria deterrent tactics instead of “nutritional benefits of their food” is that not many people find their food more nutritionally valuable than healthy fresh food. It is also undeniable that there have been numerous commercial pet food recalls in recent years. The biggest paradox is that processed pet food carries statistically higher health risks than raw food. Here’s an example of this JAVMA describes one of these incidents. Thousands of pets died in 2007 and 2008 from the effects of the disease melamine-contaminated pet food scandal.
We must not remain silent
I have never been into politics and usually try to stay away from it. However, in the case of processed food, I cannot be silent, because when I look into the eyes of my dog Skai, the idea of losing him prematurely due to processed food makes me realize the depth of grief that others unnecessarily experience. We veterinarians, including the AVMA, must decide whether we will continue to side with the transparent marketing tactics of pet food companies or remain on the side of our patients and clients as we promised when we graduated.
When it comes to the proposed policy against raw foods, I urge all veterinarians to learn about the benefits of raw and natural foods before dismissing them. I have no doubt that any colleague examining a group of senior dogs fed raw and processed foods will clearly see the benefits of pet food as nature intended. It is no different than in the human diet.
I hope the video below will make you laugh, because it never hurts to bring a little humor to lighten up a serious situation.
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM