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What veterinarians are taught about nutrition

The following is from the Raw Meaty Bones newsletter, volume 4:2, released on Monday, April 12, 2004. For subscription information and to read the newsletter in its entirely, go to Raw Meaty Bones Newsletter. This newsletter is published by the Australian veterinarian Dr. Tom Lonsdale who wrote the book Raw Meaty Bones Promote Health. This book, which is full of scientific references, explains how commercial pet foods damage our pets' health and how our dogs and cats are designed biologically to thrive on a diet of raw meaty bones. Dr. Lonsdale has been unsuccessful in getting the veterinary profession to stop promoting commercial pet foods so he wrote this book to inform the public of the health risks of commercial pet foods. For more information, see www.rawmeatybones.com.

For those of you who think your veterinarian is knowledgeable about nutrition because they studied it in veterinary school, the following description of a nutrition course by a current veterinary student may be illuminating:


OK, we just started Nutrition on Monday and it's already absolutely unbearable. I guess I am just hopelessly naive, but I'm not sure I actually believed until I got there, that they could think it was worth anyone's time to devote a whole class to pouring dog or cat food out of a bag and into a bowl. And that a woman who spent seventeen years of post-high school education in veterinary nutrition studies could honestly think that commercial food is the only viable option to feed pets. She's not even making an attempt to teach us anything except how to evaluate dry foods, how to read dry food ingredient lists, how to do all these ridiculous calculations about Kcal, resting energy requirement, etc.

We had two hours of it today, once at eight and once at four. I didn't go to the eight o-clock class, because every time I go, it literally ruins the rest of my day. But, two friends, one raw-feeding and the other doing her research to start, spoke to the professor at the end of the class about some things she said that they questioned or didn't agree with. They tried to pose their questions politely, but apparently the conversation degenerated pretty quickly.

One of the things they asked about was her mantra, which she regularly asks the class to _chant_, "pets need nutrients, not ingredients", meaning, of course, that it doesn't matter what's in the food as long as the companies guarantee certain nutritional content. My friends brought up some non-species-specific ingredients, like corn, soy, wheat, etc. and asked if she didn't see a problem with that. Her reply was that corn gets a bad rap, that it's a perfect healthy ingredient, and that Native Americans survived on it well enough, so why not dogs? (I'm not joking). She also told them that high cooking temps/extrusion doesn't have any affect on the health of the food at all. When they mentioned raw and some good results they'd seen with it, she said that George Burns smoked and drank every day and lived to be 100, but that didn't mean those were healthy things to do.

She also said that raw is dangerous because of food borne pathogens, referencing an E coli. 01:57 outbreak at a Jack In the Box as proof, even though that deals with _humans_ eating _cooked_ meat?!? She then told them that they're just being influenced by fad diets on the Internet with no science behind them, and that she shouldn't just believe everything they hear or read. When they tried to stand up for themselves, she fell back on the "I'm one of only 50 certified veterinary nutritionists in the country" as if that ended the argument. They were both so furious they could hardly speak when I got there.

Then, for our second hour this afternoon, she taught us the nine steps she uses to evaluate a commercial food if a client wants her opinion. See what you think of these:

1. The bag, box, or can should contain the phrase "complete and balanced".
2. Products that contain this claim must also follow with one of two AAFCO statements, i.e. the product was tested through feeding trials or the calculation method.
3. The label should contain a toll free phone # so you can ask the company questions if necessary.
4. The product should have a digestibility of at least 80% (you may have to call the company to get this figure).
5. If you are feeding a dry product, it should contain a preservative (all of which are completely safe according to her).
6. Reputation of the company.
7. Cost
8. Animals require nutrients not ingredient (this one has about three paragraphs explaining why corn, soy and other ingredients are perfectly suitable for dogs).
9. How is the pet doing while consuming the product?

That's it. Nothing about what the ingredients are, ingredient sources. As long as it fits the above criteria, it's fine in her book. The really ridiculous thing is, she keeps contradicting herself. She told us about the experiment where they made a food out of leather boots, old tires, peanut hulls, whatever, that met the pet food companies nutrient requirements, but then she stressed that she thought Purina is a really quality brand of food that has an unjustified poor reputation (she's basing this on the fact that they claim their digestibility is 84%, which is supposed to be good, I guess). She also talked about ingredient splitting and how bad it is, but then showed us several labels of acceptable (to her) pet foods that had five or six split fractions of one ingredient.

I could go on with this forever, but I think this letter's long enough already :) I just need to blow off some steam; I think I'm going to have a sneer permanently affixed to my face after a couple months of that class.



According to the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) there are 32 veterinary medical colleges in the United States and Canada. Our sampling of nine veterinary school undergraduate curriculum requirements found only 5/9 schools required 3 credits in animal nutrition while 4/9 schools required 0 credits in animal nutrition to graduate. Total credits to graduate varied from 46-79 per school. Source: www.aavmc.org

We realize the rigorous course work to become a veterinarian are very demanding. But in order to holistically understand what is going on in an animals body, we wish veterinary schools would put more emphasis on animal nutrition to better serve our clients.





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