Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Truth – Vets and Grain-Free Food

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Over the past few years, I have encountered more dogs switching to a grain-free diet. I have seen the influx of different brands and the marketing of false beliefs. I have pushed the barriers and tried to discuss this with each an every client and the result I got was backlash. 

As people turned more towards a grain free diet that was organic and natural, pet food companies picked up on this trend. If someone thinks it is right for them they obviously will love it for their dog. Employing a good marketing team was the key and that is what you are paying for.

With all the commercials and ads going around why did people say they switched? Well multiple reasons,  “My dog is allergic”, “The other food has fillers”, “My Vet is just getting kickbacks and that is why they are pushing another food”, “Dogs are carnivores.” 

With all the “research” people have performed, it is not better than the research that reputable food companies have done. The years upon years of feeding trials performed by Veterinarians and Scientists are better than the one person who fed their dog Organic, Natural, Grain-Free, No fillers, with raw real chicken. 

These are the people trying to get the biggest hit on their site instead of looking out for the actual health of pets. Wouldn’t you know that some of these sites even have their own supplements, foods or even links to websites with certain brands. The reason for this is they are also making money off of what you buy. They create affiliate links and point you right to the food that they are currently promoting. How are people believing anyone on the internet? Because they know how to write. 

Last year when I started hearing about the dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) issue I actually felt bad. I felt bad because I realize while people think and want to do the best for their animals they are only hurting them without actually knowing. Throughout this past year, I just raised my coffee cup and kept on moving. Not talking about it too much unless a client asked. 

What is DCM?

DCM is a heart disease where the heart enlarges. It weakens the heart muscles and makes it harder to pump. 

Why didn’t I say much? People are extremely passionate about their food, so much that I have been called Money hungry, that I receive kickbacks and that I never even took a nutrition class. Funny story is I took Nutrition in Veterinary school and even have to continue to educate myself as the times change with mandatory continuing education. 

Just recently the warning from the FDA came out. Some of the brands were listed as a warning, but no recall…yet. The brands that are listed are saying there is still no reason to switch. That this is just a warning and they don’t know if this is really what is causing DCM. They don’t want you switching, because it means the power of marketing has backfired on them due to them not understanding what a dog truly needs. 

I rather my dog eat grains then risk the potential for heart disease. 

The information is cloudy, we don’t know the true cause, there is still research being done and there may be for a while. So what do we do?

Switch the food. 

There is no reason to potentially prone your dog to developing DCM. This is a serious heart condition, one where dogs can just drop dead with no symptoms. It has been found on dogs with no heart murmurs. So going to your general practitioner and saying heart sounds fine means nothing with this disease. 

Don’t want to switch?

Personally, any client that won’t make the switch I recommend a cardiology consultation with an ultrasound of the heart. This determines if your dog is affected. 

So why wouldn’t someone switch?

Well, it all stems down to the reason they originally put their dog on the food. 

“My dog is allergic to grains!”

Most likely no. While there are dogs that MAY be allergic to grains, if there is no documentation I don’t know how much I really believe it. To document a grain allergy a Board Certified Dermatologist would need to be seen for an allergy test. 

Food allergies are not that common and to rule out a food allergy a prescription diet should be tried for 2 months. 

“The other food has fillers”

Many people believe that corn offers no nutritional value. This is completely false. Corn in dog food actually provides your dog with carbohydrates that gives them key energy resources. It can also be a good source of fiber for your pet. 

“My Vet is just getting kickbacks and that is why they are pushing another food”

This statement I battle with a lot. First, if I was in this job for the money, I wouldn’t have to work 2 jobs. I wouldn’t have to find ways to not only pay my mortgage, daycare, bills but also my student loans. The fact that people say we are in it for the money actually hurts. I got into this job for my desire to help animals. 

“Dogs are carnivores.” 

This statement is just a false belief. Dogs are omnivores, Cats are carnivores. 

So when you see these statements, when you hear that someone’s vet wants them to change know we are their voice. We are the voice animals don’t have. We are here to try and help them live longer, for them to have pain-free lives. Veterinarians are not your enemy, we are your partner in your pet’s health. 

 

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