My vet is claiming I am abusing my dog by putting him on a raw diet. Help!

Dog Food Advisor Forums Raw Dog Food My vet is claiming I am abusing my dog by putting him on a raw diet. Help!

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  • #89248 Report Abuse
    Jessica K

    My dog (1year old 12 pound Dachshund mix) has had a number of allergic reactions to different brands of kibble including Blue Buffalo and Merrick so my last vet asked if I wanted to try to switch him to a raw diet. After some research, we decided to switch him over and follow the raw meaty bones diet guidelines. Since then, he has been primarily fed either chicken legs or wings with eggs, organ meat and some vegetables to supplement. I have recently started to add goat milk and/or kefir when I can.

    I was planning on switching his primary source of bone/protein around to fish or beef but haven’t gotten a chance to do so.

    He was due for his vaccines and because I moved, we took him to a new vet. Once she found out that he was on a raw diet of mostly chicken wings and legs, she flipped out and told me I was abusing my dog. I asked her what I was doing wrong or if she had recommendations on a different raw feeding style but she ignored me and told me that if I didn’t switch him back to kibble, that she would take him away. I tried to explain his allergic reactions and even politely asked about what to do if he was on a kibble diet and had an allergic reaction but she gave me no answer.

    Am I genuinely doing something wrong? Is this somewhat of a common reaction and has anyone dealt with a similar situation before?

    His allergic reaction mostly consists of a skin reaction but he does have the occasional ear infection. His skin reaction starts off with him turning bright pink/red, bumps and then blisters.
    The original vet recommended the chicken wings and legs because of his size. I did manage to find him turkey necks once (rather hard to find in my area) but had to cut it into smaller chunks.

    #89249 Report Abuse

    Regarding the allergies, consider seeing a veterinary dermatologist:

    By Klaus Loft, DVM
    Angell Dermatology Service

    Anyone who suffers debilitating environmental allergies tied to changing seasons, pet dander or household dust mites knows first-hand the misery of a scratchy throat, itchy eyes or painful rashes.

    Not everyone knows, however, that our pets can experience similar allergic reactions — and other very bothersome dermatological issues. But our pets need not suffer in silence. Modern veterinary science has evolved such that advanced, comprehensive treatments are now available to treat a range of skin conditions.

    Top pet dermatological issues

    Our four-legged friends suffer from some of the same skin issues as we do — and several that we do not. The most common conditions we see at Angell include:

    •Parasites, such as mites, fleas and mange (scabies)
    •Infectious diseases, such as Staphylococcal pyoderma (“Staph”) skin infections, yeast and fungal infections and skin fold infections
    •Systemic diseases, such as autoimmune diseases
    •Skin cancer, such as Squamous cell carcinoma, cutaneous lymphoma, Mast cell tumors
    •Allergies, such as flea allergy dermatitis, adverse food reactions, environmental allergies, etc.

    All of these conditions can become serious and, if untreated, dramatically reduce quality of life. But the tremendous strides made in veterinary innovation, however, is very good news for our pets. Specifically, the testing and treatments for allergies now rivals human healthcare in its sophistication, quality of care and long-term health outcomes.

    Unlike humans, dogs and cats cannot tell us about their dermatological health issues. So we as pet owners must look for the signs. The most common indicators that a pet is suffering from some kind of allergy involve frequent episodes of ear infections, red raised or open sores on the skin, constant licking or biting of paws or groin — sometimes causing wounds that will not go away.

    Allergies present a particular challenge because there can be hundreds (even thousands) of potential allergens that impact pet health, from foods to pollen from grasses, weeds, trees, dust mites and more. Today’s specialty veterinary hospitals have access to the very latest diagnostic tests to get to the bottom of what’s ailing our pet. Among these tests is the Intra Dermal Test (IDT).

    IDT is generally considered the gold standard of testing for identifying allergens that cause pets to suffer from chronic skin and/or ear diseases. IDT involves injections of a series of concentrated allergens into the skin to determine which of them generate allergic reactions in a given animal. The use of fluorescein — a chemical that illuminates the inflammation caused by the injected allergens in order to visualize the strength of individual reactions — is key to accurately diagnosing pet allergies, and is just one of the many ways veterinarians use new technologies to improve care and diagnostics.

    The results of IDT (as well as a review of the pet’s medical history) can then inform comprehensive immunotherapy treatments to relieve suffering. Veterinary dermatologists rely on IDT to build customized treatment plans for patients called Allergen Specific Immuno Therapy or “ASIT” for short.

    ASIT involves a series of injections specifically created for the allergic animal’s skin. These injections, of diluted allergens, are designed to make a pet less sensitive to their allergens over time. In most cases these injections must be continued for life to reduce symptoms, but they are highly effective. Seventy to 90 percent of pets experience a reduction in symptoms as a result of ASIT treatment. These treatments can be delivered even more easily via droplets under the tongue, perfect for pet owners who are squeamish about giving injections to their pet.

    This treatment is very new to the North American field of medicine (both human and veterinary) and underscores just how far innovation in veterinary medicine has come.

    When it’s time to see the vet

    Many pet owners are understandably concerned about taking their animals to the veterinarian because the cost (to say nothing of the fear some animals experience when going do the doctor) may outweigh any perceived reduction in suffering. To help pet owners know when it’s time to bring Fido to the doctor I’ve compiled my “Top Ten” list of dermatological symptoms that should never be ignored:

    •Intense itching of the skin (head shaking, running the face into the carpet, furniture, etc.)
    •Biting at the skin that creates red, raw crusting areas of the skin
    •Multiple ear infections (head shaking, odor from ears, scratching at the ears with hind legs)
    •Paw licking or chewing and frequent infections of the skin in the webbed skin of the paws
    •Staining of the fur of the paws and nails on multiple feet
    •Reoccurring skin infections in the groin, under the shoulders, perianal areas (on or under the tail)
    •Greasy scaling skin and/or fur with odorous skin
    •Hair loss, or thinning of the fur
    •Dark pigmentation of the skin that is chronically infected
    •Sudden depigmentation of skin

    Allergies and other dermatological issues can be as frustrating for pet owners and their veterinarians as they can be for pets. I encourage any pet owner whose animal is experiencing any of these symptoms to consult with their veterinarian.

    #89250 Report Abuse

    If the symptoms have been going on for more than 1 year/4 seasons and have not responded in a significant way to treatment by a veterinarian. Consider making an appointment with a dermatologist.

    This subject comes at least once a week. People are reluctant to go to a specialist because they are concerned about the cost, and yet they end up spending much more going back and forth to the regular vet and trying all kinds of gobbledygook remedies.

    Environmental allergies.
    excerpt below from:
    “Food Allergies are probably over-diagnosed in dogs (they account for, perhaps 5-10%). Hypoallergenic diets are occasionally, but not frequently, helpful in canine atopy cases but you should always give them a try. Food intolerances are more common – but considerably more likely to result in digestive disturbances and diarrhea than in itching problems”.

    Mail-in hair and saliva tests do not test for allergies and tend to be inaccurate. Food sensitivities fluctuate. Food allergies are rare.


    #89251 Report Abuse
    Jessica K

    I totally understand. I will look into finding a dermatologist as soon as I can but it is most likely that the nearest one from me will be at least a 4 to 5 hour drive away.

    What made sense about the diagnosis to me was that as soon as I put him on the raw diet, all symptoms subsided. He was put back onto kibble temporarily (about a month) and the same reaction occurred.

    #89252 Report Abuse
    Diane W

    More and more we are finding out the dangers of vaccines as well…undigested proteins, injected into the body can and do eventually cause an allergic reaction to that protein. I found this article to be very helpful:

    #89253 Report Abuse

    Environmental allergies wax and wane, they get worse with age.

    Tried raw diets and bones, ended up at the emergency vet x2 ($)
    No thank you. To each his own.

    PS: I am sure there is a veterinary dermatologist closer to you. Just ask your current vet for a referral……or maybe she can suggest treatment for the Canine Atopic Dermatitis your dog appear to be suffering from (based on your description of symptoms)

    #89254 Report Abuse

    So, he’s been eating raw and doing well on it. His allergy issued subsided once you began the raw diet. He’s still on raw and is doing well on it. Right?

    Your new vet was a jerk to you. I’m sorry you had to lose your former vet in the move.

    No, you’re not doing anything wrong. I would just look for a raw feeding community for support and possibly not discuss nutrition with this current vet.

    Are there any holistic vets near your new home?

    #89258 Report Abuse

    Sensitivities can definitely cause a wide range of reactions including itching and excessive ear wax which can lead to infections. They just recently released research showing that a cramping disease can be caused by food sensitivity to gluten in Border Terriers. They can mess with every organ including the skin.

    Feeding raw is NOT analogous to animal abuse — far from it. However feeding an unbalanced diet can cause significant issues later on. As an example — chicken (especially dark meat like legs and the fat) are excellent sources of omega 6 fatty acid linoleic acid. This is absolutely needed in the diet for proper skin health. You can overfeed it though and in doing so create inflammatory type responses. Omega 6 has to balanced with omega 3. The diet is probably deficient in trace minerals as well.

    When feeding raw it’s best to vary the diet with different protein sources and veggies. This gives a wider array of nutrients. There are also commercial balanced diets available. These have to meet the same standards as kibbled diets as far as nutrient profiles.

    There are TONS of vets that recommend raw but all, that I am aware of, recommend either balancing the diet using a recipe, premix or commercial OR feeding a wide variety of foods to capture all the nutrients necessary for proper health. There are some fantastic support groups on Facebook etc that can help with this if interested.

    I’ve been feeding raw for a very long time to both healthy and ill (including foster dogs) with GREAT success!! It does take some thought into getting it right but it’s not difficult.

    GOOD LUCK!!!

    #89264 Report Abuse

    I’d ignore the vet. If you must keep this vet, just tell them if you are happy with what you’re doing. I have one vet that was persistent but I finally told him that I did my research and am comfortable with my decision.

    Chicken is not enough….find other proteins. Red meat (beef, venison, goat, pork, mutton) should make up more of the diet than white meats. Hare today and raw feeding Miami have a good selection of proteins.

    • This reply was modified 7 years, 6 months ago by InkedMarie.
    #89268 Report Abuse

    If you can find a new vet, I would. It is highly unprofessional for a vet to threaten someone like that. Thankfully as far as I know, she has no grounds to have him taken from you.

    I do however agree with what Shawna said about needing it to be balanced.

    #89281 Report Abuse

    “Most veterinarians do have at least a semester course on nutrition in general. And a lot more information on the subject is scattered throughout other courses in vet school. So the idea that we know nothing about the subject is simply ridiculous. However, it is fair to acknowledge that most veterinarians are not “experts” in nutrition, if by this one means they have extensive specialized training in the subject. The real “experts” in this area are board-certified veterinary nutritionists, individuals who have advanced residency training in nutrition and have passed the board certification exam of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition.”
    Excerpt from:

    PS: I would listen to a vet that has examined my pet before taking advice from well-meaning strangers on the internet.

    #89282 Report Abuse

    She switched her dog to a raw diet as a recommendation of, and under the guidance of her former vet.

    #89283 Report Abuse

    Yes, but the most recent veterinarian that has examined the dog does not agree. It is not clear how long ago that recommendation (according to the poster) was made, things can change. You do not know what the examining vet saw or if the poster’s recollection of the conversation was accurate.

    PS: If the poster is not comfortable with the current vet, see another one, get some lab work done, see what the concerns are.

    #89285 Report Abuse
    Jessica K

    Hey everyone! Thank you for all of the replies!

    Dog foodie:
    Before I went to this new vet, yes, he was still being raw fed and perfectly fine on it. His skin reactions had completely subsided (with the exception of whenever he ate something off the floor, sigh) and he has not had an ear infection since. I live in the middle of nowhere so I don’t think there would be a holistic vet in my local area, but I’m sure there’s one not too far from where I live. I’ll look into it, thanks!

    Shawna & Inked Marie:
    After posting, I spoke to a couple of other local vets in the area who have all told me the same thing you guys have – chicken is fine but not on its own and that I would need to rotate proteins.

    My dog is only a year old. He was being monitored for his allergies and diet change from November to April by my former vet. His labs after we made the change came back normal and was given a good bill of health. His weight and condition has not changed since. The new vet did not even give him an exam – I only went in for this vaccines. She asked about his diet, refused to give me any advice on making adjustments to his diet, and then claimed I was abusing him. I do understand what you mean about taking advice from other strangers online but I just wanted to see if anyone else had a similar experience. I am already working with another vet and we have a consult tomorrow morning.

    #89287 Report Abuse

    What an asinine excuse for a vet.

    I’m sorry, but whether or not she supports or advocates raw feeding, saying your abusive and she will have your dog taken away is unprofessional, cruel, and screams “ballistic.”

    I’d print this out and leave it on her desk, personally.

    #89294 Report Abuse

    Let us know how the consult goes!

    #89543 Report Abuse
    Jessica K

    Hey you guys!
    Sorry to bump an old post but I FINALLY got the lab results back from the new vet. He is at a healthy weight for his size and the labs showed that he was very healthy but he was not meeting certain nutrition requirements. This new vet recommended rotating his protein and seeing if it balances out prior to adding supplements to his diet.

    She is not a holistic vet (confirmed that the nearest one would be 4 hours from where I live) but needless to say, I had a much better experience with her than the last one. 😀

    #89546 Report Abuse

    Sounds good. Thanks for the update.

    #90224 Report Abuse

    Hi Jessica K,

    I understand what your vet was saying. My own doctor told me the same thing when I told him I eat my meat on the very rare side and indulge in sushi once a week.

    Now poultry I don’t feed raw to my dog. Poultry scares me…

    I source my red meat from reputable, organic, human grade facilities. The same place that has been shipping my steaks to me for years.Never got sick eating very rare meat from them so I feed it to my dog.

    #92739 Report Abuse

    Hi, I was going to recommend at least 3 proteins. If you find it hard to do you can get a premade raw blend.

    If my vet told me that I would’ve left right out.

    #93539 Report Abuse
    Mary N

    Hi Jessica,

    I didnt post in this thread before but I just read it whole now.

    That vet was just an idiot for attacking your for nothing. Thank god you managed to get it all sorted out and for getting great lab results.

    I would suggest you just one thing thou. Add more variety in your dog food, try adding beef, hare or venison sometimes 🙂

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