Let’s say you made an appointment with your vet strictly for a consultation on diet for your dog. Then ask that first off I would like you to tell me what are the necessary vitamins/minerals and percentage that needs to be in the food to keep my dog healthy. Also if I had a large breed puppy how would those percentages change if at all. How many more calories does he need when feeding then a small breed puppy? What should I look for as the first through 5th ingredient on the dog food label that should point me to the best food? What should I be on the alert for that should NOT be on their ingredient label that would suggest a low quality food? You know what the vet would say to these questions? You think any vet not trained strictly in animal nutrition would know these answers. I think not.
Take it a step further and bring in a dog food he suggests such as royal Canon, science diet etc and cut out the name and show him only the ingredient label.Also take in let’s say freeze dried also and some other brands with only the label.
So Royal Canin adult dog foods first few ingredients are:
Brewers rice, chicken by-product meal, oat groats, wheat, corn gluten meal, chicken fat, natural flavors, dried plain beet pulp, fish oil, calcium carbonate, vegetable oil, potassium chloride, salt, etc.
And here’s Science Diet recipe (website states vet recommended)
Chicken, whole grain wheat, cracked pearled barley, whole grain sorghum, whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, chicken meal, pork fat, chicken liver flavor, dried beet pulp, soybean oil,
Now I’m not trying to plug a dog food. I get my starting point from Dr. Mike and go from there. But let’s take Bixbi Rawbble whose first ingredients are this: Salmon, whitefish, chicken and ground bone, pumpkin etc.
Grain inclusive Stellas ingrediens: Chicken, chicken meal pearled barley,oatmeal, chicken fat, brown rice etc.
Primal ingredients: Turkey, turkey necks, whole sardines, turkey hearts or turkey gizzards, turkey livers, organic collard greens, organic squash, organic cranberries, organic blueberries, organic pumpkin seeds, clery, sunflower seeds etc.
So does anyone think he would know which one was Royal Canin just by looking at the label. Would he pick Royal Canin or Science Diet as being what he feels the highest quality after seeing the first few ingredients of the others? Unless I’m WAY off on what I understand to be ingredients to look for on a dog food label for the best nutrition for my dogs, then I would HOPE his pick would be the others over Royal Canin and Science diet which vets push in their practice.
What I’m attempting to put across here is that the MAJORITY of vets who sell Prescription diets as in Science Diet, Royal Canin etc at their practices and suggest that food have no idea what is even in the ingredients and wouldn’t recognize which brand are those and which are others by just looking at the ingredients. They have salesmen from these companies and correct me if I’m wrong please and get kickback each time a bag is sold.
excerpt below, click on link for complete article and other informative articles and comments
The real issue is not so much what do general practice veterinarians know about nutrition as what is the evidence supporting the alternative theories and products being promoted? The accusation that vets know little about nutrition, even if it were true, doesn’t invalidate their criticisms. The classis ad hominem fallacy is the strategy of attacking a person and imaging that somehow this attack says anything about that person’s argument. It is the mirror image, in many ways, of the appeal to authority fallacy, which involves claiming some special wisdom or expertise on the part of a person making an argument and then imaging that claim somehow proves the argument. If proponents of raw diets or other unconventional nutritional approaches wish to make a case for their ideas, they have to do it based on logic and facts, not on the presumed expertise of supporters or the supposed ignorance of critics. As always, it is the ideas and the data that matter, not the people involved.
That said, there is a certain hypocrisy to many of these criticisms in that they come from sources with no particular right to claim expertise in nutrition anyway. Proponents of alternative nutritional practices are almost never boarded veterinary nutritionists. Often they are lay people who have labeled themselves as experts without even the training general practice veterinarians have in nutritional science. And while they may not be influenced by the mainstream pet food industry, this only means they are less subject to that particular bias, not that they don’t have other biases. People selling pet food or books on veterinary nutrition are all too often blind to the hypocrisy of claiming their opponents are under the influence of pet food companies while ignoring the fact that they make money selling their own ideas or products.
Others who frequently claim most veterinarians know little about nutrition are themselves general practice veterinarians or specialists in some aspect of veterinary medicine other than nutrition. It may very well be true that they are well-informed about nutrition because they have an interest in it, but this is not evidence that their arguments are true and those of their opponents are false. It is not even evidence that they know more about nutrition than their detractors, who may themselves have studied independently in the area. If you’re not a boarded nutritionist, you can’t claim to be an expert. And whether or not you are an expert, your ideas must stand or fall on their merits and the evidence, not on any presumed superiority in your knowledge over that of your critics.
So I think it is fair to say that most general practice veterinarians have only a fairly general knowledge of veterinary nutrition. And it is fair to acknowledge that much of this information comes from a source with a significant risk of bias, that is the pet food industry. However, I see no evidence that proponents of alternative approaches to nutrition have a reason to claim they know more about nutrition than most veterinarians, or that they are free from biases of their own. Only boarded veterinary nutritionists can legitimately claim to be “experts,” and even this is no guarantee of perfect objectivity or the truth of everything they believe. Claims about who is or is not smart or informed enough to have an opinion on a subject are mostly a superficial distraction from the important elements of any debate, what are the arguments and data behind each position. Awareness of potential bias only serves to make one more careful and cautious in examining someone’s arguments and data, it doesn’t get one a free pass to ignore what they have to say.
Anon ask your vet the best dog food to feed .He/she then suggests the brand which they are selling at their veterinary clinic.. If your vet cannot give you any reasons regarding their nutritional superiority of the foods in their office then that article only validates my point. Second party which would be the company telling the vet our food is the best. I’ve said it many times before that a variety of foods introduced slowly and that agrees with your dog(you know your dog best of anyone) and adding whole foods at times even to their diet can’t be a bad thing.
Personally, I think if you asked those questions of a Boarded Veterinary Nutritionist you’d get a puzzled look back in return.
The questions reflect your understanding of diet selection/nutriiion which is very very different from how a boarded veterinary nutritionist or even a regular DVM would likely approach the subject.
It is meaningless to ask what percentage of the diet should each vitamin or mineral be when you didn’t define the energy basis.
Boarded Veterinary Nutritionists are all pretty united on the mantra that you can not judge the quality of a diet by looking at an ingredient list. So yes I’d say that the boarded veterinary nutritionist hypothetically sitting across the table from you would inform you that are indeed “way off” as you put it.
Finally, veterinarians do not receive any type of “kickback” on each bag they sell.
Yes vets 100% do receive kickbacks. At least the vet near me does. Free sd to feed their kenneled dogs, free sd to feed their own dogs (I actually discussed this with a vet tech that worked there whom said their shipment of sd was let so she was having to buy her own dogs food this week) and just like with any business who sells a product in a location other than their own the vets do get paid for having it in their offices. Why wouldn’t they? Is their shelf space free? Doubt it.
It appears you do not understand what a kickback is.
Aimee I agree that I didn’t get very technical with the questions for the vet. I was just trying to point out that some owners think the brands sold at the vets MUST be superior in some way since of course vets know what food is the best. I thought this also at one time. And MOST of the time if asked what should I feed my “healthy” dog your vet will I believe 9 times out of 10 suggest the ones in their practice. Why is that when again 9 times out of 10 the vet cannot even tell you the ingredients listed on the labels they sell?
Honestly, so many of these companies are so gimmicky and people fall for it. Like the dog food manufactorers who sell specific kibble just for different breeds. Like a Chihuahua on the bag and then for your Shitzu, poodle, yorkie etc. are specifically made for just for that breed.Really they want us to believe that a diet for a Yorkie would be different then a Chihuahua. People are gullible.
Here are the four ingredient labels I asked the vets to rank. Can you guess which one is the prescription diet?
Also regarding prescription diets for dogs interesting article below.
dog food ingredient
Prescription Diet Dog Food
prescription diet dog food 3
Prescription Diet Dog Food
The Answer: Prescription Diets Revealed
Now, if there’s one thing I can say about my veterinary friends, it’s that they don’t follow direction very well! Only one of the vets actually ranked all of the foods as asked. But the rest had some very interesting things to say about the prescription diet.
So to start, here are the rankings in order from best to worst from Dr Marty Goldstein, author of The Nature of Animal Healing:
Food #2 ranked first because it contains all whole foods
Food #4 ranked second because it contains meal but otherwise contains whole foods
Food #1 ranked third, thanks to the by-product rice, by-product meal and overall low quality ingredients
Food #3 ranked last, based on the use of corn for its first ingredient, followed by by-product meal.
And if you haven’t guessed already, the prescription diet in that list is Food #3.
Want to hear what some of the other vets had to say about the prescription diet?
Dr Jodie Gruenstern: This food was the lowest quality in the list. It contains GMO corn, soy (lots of it!), which is a common allergen, synthetic vitamins/minerals, shavings (if you didn’t know, the ingredient cellulose is literally sawdust), natural flavors, which usually mean MSG.
Dr Jean Dodds: Poor quality food: the first ingredients are corn, which is often GMO, and chicken by-product meal rather than whole chicken. Flax and soy are phytoestrogens.
Dr Judy Morgan: This is a Pet Store Food. Corn is the first ingredient, no muscle meat used, only by-product meal, synthetic vitamin/mineral supplement, corn and soybean are GMO, waste fillers are abundant. Overpriced in my opinion, considering the poor quality, cheap ingredients used).
Dr Dee Blanco: This one starts with corn to increase inflammation, then adds lighter fluid to it with soybean products and poor quality protein. Then it tries to make up for the poor quality foundational ingredients by adding synthetic supplements of the poorest quality, such as calcium carbonate, folic acid, ‘generic Vit E supplement’, etc. Looks like they added l-tryptophan to calm the nervous system down after putting the body into overdrive inflammation. Natural flavors?? Could be an entire cadre of carcinogens, allergens and toxins. Argh!
Dr Peter Dobias: The worst recipe – first ingredient is corn, then by-product, then flavors, wood chips. It may not be supermarket food but a veterinary diet right?!
So, as you can see, our vets didn’t exactly think the ingredients in the prescription diet were high quality. In fact, they thought many of them would be harmful.
So why exactly do we trust our vets to prescribe diets when this is the best they can offer?
And, more importantly, why are vets gullible enough to think these foods can do anything to change chronic health issues in dogs, such as allergies, kidney disease, or in the case of this particular food, joint disease?
If we really want to look at the quality of these diets, I think the first place to start is who’s making them?
The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree
The major players in the prescription diet category are the major players in the regular pet food category:
Hill’s Science Diet
These companies are hardly renowned for quality ingredients. In fact, most veterinary diets are manufactured by companies that predominantly manufacture lower quality grocery store foods. The same company that makes lower quality foods like Alpo and Beneful is also making prescription diets. How much better do you think the veterinary food would be?
Let’s compare two Hill’s foods: a regular food (Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Adult) and a prescription food (j/d Canine Joint Care).
The regular pet store brand:
Hills Ideal Balance
And the prescription food:
Now, a 30lb bag of the regular food is $47.99 at Petsmart. The prescription diet dog food can also be purchased at Petsmart for $84.95 for a 27.5lb bag. It’s twice as expensive!
Now, you might be thinking this is because the prescription diet was formulated and tested with a specific condition in mind.
This is completely false.
While an over-the-counter food with a health claim (such as controls weight) is subject to FDA regulations and enforcement, the FDA practices “enforcement discretion” when it comes to veterinary diets.
Put another way, this means the FDA has not reviewed or verified the health claims on any veterinary diet.
Did you catch that? There are very few ingredients in veterinary diets that aren’t also in other regular diets. In the example above, I’d say the pet store brand is a better quality food, wouldn’t you? The prescription diet contains by-product meal (which comes straight from the rendering plant), lots of soybean and corn products (a cheap replacement for animal protein) while the regular food contains more expensive, higher quality ingredients.
Apart from fish oil, what food ingredients exactly would help dogs with joint pain? As Dr Dee Blanco stated, this food would actually cause inflammation.
And fish oil is a terrible addition to pet foods. It’s much too fragile to be added to processed foods and as soon as the bag is opened, it will oxidate and cause inflammation in your dog.
Ironic isn’t it, when the food is supposed to be treating inflammation in the first place?
[Related: We’ve got 5 reasons you should dump fish oil. Click here.]
Consider The Source
Those two diets are made in the exact same plant. The manufacturer uses the same suppliers.
Doesn’t it stand to reason that the quality of ingredients will be the same?
I challenge the pet food industry to prove that chicken by-product meal, soybeans, brewers rice and powdered cellulose have been extensively researched and proven better than the higher quality foods used in most regular pet foods.
So if your vet ever says your dog needs to be eating a prescription diet, ask him to review the ingredient list. Then ask him for hard evidence that the foods in the prescription diet are any better than those in regular diets.
I think we know what the answer will be.
And if you’re one of the smart 60%, then I know you already know the answer!
It’s nothing but Bull$hit.
As I said before “Boarded Veterinary Nutritionists are all pretty united on the mantra that you can not judge the quality of a diet by looking at an ingredient list. ” including those educated in “holistic” medicine. From Dr. Susan Wynn DVM, CVA, CVCH, AHG, DACVN”… you can not judge a pet food by the ingredient listing-period”
I noted the none of the reviewer in the post are veterinary nutritionists, instead they as a group seem to hold a lot of tenants that are not based in science.
You often recommend Nature’s Variety to posters and are also aware that Dr. Wynn, DACVN joined the company full time early this year. By recommending NV I believe you trust them and the people they employ. Here is Dr. Wynn’s response to “kickbacks.” You’ll also find the blog post good reading.
“I continue to be amazed at the oft-quoted claim that vets get paid money to sell pet food. In any practice I’ve ever worked at (that’s about 8), the profit margin is actually LOWER on foods than on most drugs. I’m not sure why this is – it seems to be a deal that the pet food companies convinced vets to take in the early days of the relationship. A practice consultant once took me through the economics of carrying foods in my practice and convinced me that it was *costing me money* to stock them. Still, I stocked them as most vets do as a convenience for clients.
Now one of the possibilities for a source of this rumor could be staff feeding programs, where a pet food company gives veterinary employees a discount on food (they don’t get it for free). I view this as one of the benefits of working in a veterinary practice – you also get a discount on services and other products, like you would as an employee in many other types of businesses.
If your pet does really well on a pet food, well, then you become an advocate, just like people who have become advocates for other types of diets like raw diets. And if your pet does badly on a pet food, it’s up to you to recognize it.
As far as I know, the claim that vets are paid money to carry pet foods is at best, ignorance, and at worst, a malicious lie. If there are documented examples of this practice that I’ve missed in over 25 years in this business, I’d like to hear about them.” ~ Susan G. Wynn, DVM
Hi Bobby dog,
I don’t understand how the vet industry is the single type of business where the company of the carried item gets free shelf space. Very odd. Not to mention most vets that are large enough likely buy whole sale in large quantities and receive it discounted that way and then resell them for higher margins(for example chewy offers scripts for a cheaper price than going into a clinic and buying). They are 100% receiving a profit in one way or another. They COULD offer things like blue prescription food or other vet approved and formula foods (that are more healthy options but they choose to only provide over priced “science” based foods that are just a bandaid for the real issue and filled with extremely cheap ingredients) Most prescription foods cost as much as a vet formulated fresh food diet would cost to make. But most ppl aren’t recommended that. They are pretty much scared into buying from the big three, so the vet can make profit of course. What would be the point of carrying them?
haleycookie go straight to the source, just ask Dr. Wynn your questions. She is good about answering questions via e-mail, her blog, or FB. I don’t think she’s posted anything recently on her blog page though.
Somewhere on Dr. Wynn’s blog she explains what Vet’s take into consideration when treating pets. It seemed she mostly considered what effort the client could/would make in the treatment process. Some clients had unlimited funds, some had unlimited time, those who didn’t she carefully considered the best Rx for them. If the client wasn’t thrilled about taking time to make a homemade diet, what good is it to prescribe it? So she would recommend what the client could/would follow through with.
I don’t understand why Vets choose to be Vets rather than just buying a pet store and sell food for all those profits or “kickbacks” people insist they make. Shoot, they could wipe out their student loans in no time according to you…
As I read your post I don’t think you are referring to “kickbacks” it seems to me you are questioning the difference between cost and shelf price.
Chewy was only a few dollars less for some Rx foods I purchased over the years. I mostly chose the convenience of buying from my Vet rather than adding a shipping charge to my cost.
Please explain how Blue is a more healthy option. They are owned by General Mills. I thought you didn’t like pet food companies owned by larger corps? When they started their Rx line they were employing a nutritionist that formerly worked for Hill’s, not sure if they are still there.
If you took the time to read Dr. Wynn’s blog post she explains the value of what you consider “cheap ingredients” by what they provide in vitamins and minerals to balance the diet. She also writes when anyone has good results with a pet food they are likely to become advocates of the brand.
Hope someone doesn’t mind I’m sharing their post
The idea of a “conversation” about PF with a Vet needs to be put into context.
Here’s what Vets do. They treat specific ailments and the not even with a guarantee the pet will be cured (just our trust). We don’t sign any contract with them for guaranteed services. Treatments are based on rates (demonstrated cases) of (probable) success. Lawsuits are based on whether more harm than good was done to a pet based on proven carelessness or neglect. So except for vaccinations (some would consider prevention) Vets aren’t responsible for keeping a pet well (or even in superior health) because they have no control over what happens outside of the clinic. They have no control over the PFI either. They are as much a consumer-victim as is every other pet owner. They just buy wholesale from suppliers and not retail. In fact a Vet can only answer a question about diet with two possibilities: (One) feed anything safe or (Two) feed one of the 4 recommended brands. For a Vet to be suggesting (specific) PF does step beyond their “mission statement” as a profession. Otherwise they might as well be counseling an owner against all kinds of potentially hazardous situations, like poisonous substances, or dangerous devices like “retractable leashes” … and on it goes.
Just as treatments are guided by studies and statistics, the 4 recommended brands (Purina, Mars, Hills & Royal Canin) were selected (not only because of financial incentives) but because there is no objective third party testing or evaluation done among all possible PF products. So the entire marketplace of PF can’t even be ranked across the board. Instead, Vets are assuming that feeding trials done by the 4 brands are at least “something” rather than nothing at all. Having a PF discussion with a Vet slides further downhill, being there are no long term (objective) scientific studies demonstrating the superior wellness of pets who eat raw or homemade diets, compared to commercial PF. In terms of the statistic that approximately 50% of pets are likely to die of cancer, who or how has that fact been correlated with brand name PF – is what the Vet will push back and ask.
Recommending a homemade PF diet to just any or every client without understanding the owner’s level of competence, commitment and the requirements of the individual pet – is taking a chance. Doing so through a professional (animal) nutritionist is expensive. Baselines are difficult to manage. And if a pet’s lab profile is off, then that owner will question the Vet. When pet owners decide to feed homemade, generally it’s a (defensive) move to avoid substandard, rendered, spoiled ingredients (garbage) and choose food that is not. This is the biggest issue in terms of convincing (or at least informing) Vets about the critical difference between pet “feed” and “food.” We do not own “small animal livestock” we care for specialized (domesticated) dogs and cats for the sake of companionship! (Emotional welfare if you will). And to that purpose those pets share our life on a par with our human family so we require long term quality of life for them!
If we’re going to have any dialogue with Vets it should be this. That Vets need to DEMAND of the Big 4 Suppliers, that if they are promoting their products they must be accompanied by premium pet FOOD too. (First) the commercial product is needed, (second) the testing to prove that it is, (third) earning a Veterinarian recommendation, and (fourth) demonstrating that there is a marketplace for assurances in PF!
I suggest that Vets should receive the TAPF Newsletter, to keep them informed, provide access archived background, which would make having a conversation about PF with their clients easier, and to demonstrate the real need for Pet FOOD (not feed).
This could be done through obtaining a database of email addresses for Vets nationwide.
April 21, 2019 at 1:23 pm
There is no perfect food, and a food that works well for one dog may not work for another, so the best you can do is choose a maintenance diet from an established company (one with veterinary nutritionists on staff to oversee formulation and quality control) and then monitor important signs, such as weight, stool quality, coat quality, etc. There are many good choices and only a few I would recommend against (raw diets, and BEG diets).
Above is an excerpt from :
Hope this helps!
Also, a new book is out soon! https://www.amazon.com/Placebos-Pets-Alternative-Medicine-Animals/dp/1912701367/
Anyone that listens to their vet when it comes to nutrition and particularly if they warn of a raw diet should run away from that vet asap. Vets do not take courses on nutrition, they push junk dog food that manufacturers pay them dividends on. Raw is probably from a nutrition standpoint the best way to feed your dog. Vets dont want you to do that for the simple reason they get less visits to your checkbook. Those are facts from a nutritionist nut. Me
I used to look at ingredients list thinking that would be most beneficial for my pup. Always picking protein over corn, rice etc…Until my dog developed and was diagnosed with food allergies at the age of 4 to most common proteins such as chicken, beef, and protein.. He does well on a corn based diet which is the Royal Cannine Food recommend by my vet.
So if you go for protein packed foods for a younger pup and ignore rice and corn you might be setting your pup up for allergies later in life since proteins are the most common causes of food allergies..
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