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This is an issue that is very convoluted and remains entrenched in a poor philosophy and vested interests. This discussion will deal directly with some of the injustices created by the veterinary profession as well as some of the injustices administered to them through a faulty education.

Veterinarians receive very little nutritional training. The training they do receive is often advocated by or even administered by the pet food companies. Their nutritional training comes from the incorrect view that dogs are omnivores (see omnivore myth) and can safely be maintained on a grain-based diet, even when scientific research has proved that canines have no evolved need for carbohydrates and fiber. That's right--dogs don't need the carbohydrates that form the bulk of their processed foods. Perhaps that is why pets today are soft, doughy, and suffering from a variety of ailments linked to carbohydrate-rich, processed food (cancer, diabetes, arthritis, hyperactivity, etc.).

Veterinarians are invariably linked to the commercial pet food industry. They advocate and even market commercial foods, receiving substantial revenue and kickbacks. The pet food companies make sure of this by promoting programs in the universities and by giving FREE FOOD to the up-and-coming vets to sell at their practices. For example, Colgate-Palmolive, the company that manufactures Hill's Science Diet, spends

"hundreds of thousands of dollars a year funding university research and nutrition courses at every one of the 27 US veterinary colleges. Once in practice, vets who sell Science Diet and other premium foods directly pocket profits of as much as 40%" (Parker-Pope, T. 1997. For You, My Pet. The Wall Street Journal. 3 November 1997. In Lonsdale, T. 2001. Raw Meaty Bones. p266).

The very profession is tied closely with commercial pet food companies at every turn. A tour of veterinary teaching hospitals or vet clinics shows equipment, products, and posters sponsored by and endorsing commercial foods and pharmaceutical companies. Vets are, in essence, paid for by the pet food companies, and are hardly in a position to offer sound nutritional advice. They are in direct violation of the oath and creed they swore to uphold: "First do no harm." In spite of this oath they are promoting foods detrimental to animals' health, advocating a product that will harm their patients and ensure a returning clientele and source of revenue. But remember--this is due in large part to the great lack in the education the universities have administered to them!! Nothing but commercial pet food dogma is being repeated in university after university after university--these are institutions of higher learning where people are supposed to be thinking critically and evaluating things analytically, yet in reality are being told to shut off their common sense and ignore the overwhelming amount of evidence against commercial pet foods.

Simply put, vets are not educated on proper nutrition. They cite the nutritional deficiencies they see in their clinics, but if you press them further, these deficiencies typically result from home-cooked diets or improperly formulated BARF diets, NOT prey model diets (which are the kind found in nature!). Interestingly, they may tell you to cook your dog's food, which will result in the kind of imbalances they see with "natural" diets that aren't formulated correctly. They then use this "evidence" to "prove" that raw diets are bad for your pets.

Vets and pet food companies will tell you raw diets don't meet the established standards for pet nutrition--the AAFCO standards. How did AAFCO come up with these standards? Through the needless suffering of hundreds of dogs and cats, when all they had to do was look to nature? One thing we do know is that the standards were developed based on the belief that dogs are omnivores. They are therefore irrelevant to raw diets. Why?

First, to gain nutritional analysis, the food must be chemically denatured, cooked, and otherwise manipulated, meaning that any reading is an inaccurate representation of the raw item. Second, if a dog is fed as an omnivore, there are good amounts of nutrients unavailable to it, contained in the indigestible plant matter. Hence, you have to feed more of a particular nutrient in order for the dog to get the amount it needs--which, coincidentally, is NOT the same amount of nutrient initially added. This results in skewed and biased standards, as they list the initial nutrient amount added, not the amount absorbed.

There is a third reason why AAFCO standards are useless for raw foods. This has to deal with the reason the food is raw and not cooked. AAFCO standards are based on cooked foods, foods which already have a decreased nutritional value because of being cooked. Cooking denatures proteins and collagen, destroys important nutrients, and generally makes the food less digestible and less bioavailable (the exception being grains and vegetables, which we have already determined shouldn't be given to dogs anyway). This means essential vitamins and minerals must be added back in. But how much? In what amounts? Research has shown that synthetic vitamins do not work with the same efficiency as those found in their natural state (i.e. in raw foods). And since cooking kills enzymes that may help with the digestion of the food and the processing of nutrients, the bioavailability of vitamins and minerals in cooked foods is further reduced. Can we see why the AAFCO standards are useless and why the pet food companies must oversupplement their foods--the effects of which are NOT monitored past the 6 months of the AAFCO feeding trials? It is also interesting to note that nutritional deficiencies have typically arisen in commercial foods using synthetic supplements--foods supposing to be 'balanced'--rather than in properly formulated raw diets (i.e. those found in nature = prey model). Examples of this would be having to supplement cat foods with taurine (after cats were going blind and suffering heart problems), or the constant adjustment of calcium:phosphorus ratios in puppy foods to prevent bone malformations and improper growth patterns (which still occur despite all the supplement adjustments). Interestingly, natural calcium in raw bones does not cause these malformations. All the researchers had to do was look to nature for the correct ratios.

A whole raw prey animal, or whole raw foods, contain the exact proportion of fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. This can't be tested in a lab, as the testing itself alters the perfect proportions. So how do we know it is perfect? We look to nature. This is the food that keeps wolves and other canids alive and thriving, even in the face of intense pressures and hardships. Nutritional deficiencies arise because the wolves can't get enough to eat, NOT because the food is insufficient in nutrients. A million years of evolution have ensured that wolves and wild canids can get exactly what they need from their prey. Who are we to think we can do better than nature? For further reference, please read Raw Meaty Bones.


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