The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that Americans own a total of 72,114,000 dogs, and 81,721,000 cats. This astounding number of companion animals translates to 355726020 total veterinary visits per year in the United States. The number of companion animals is only increasing per year, and the demand for veterinary services increases accordingly. The average pet owner has very little knowledge on the health requirements for their pet and depends on, and trusts their veterinarian to advise them in a manner that focuses on the well being of their companion. This imbalance of knowledge has created an environment for unethical veterinarians to exploit their customer's lack of understanding for financial gain.
The Facts about Commercial Dog Food
Commercial dog food is a result of a need for convenient and easy pet food, and not the result of an improved dietary menu being discovered. As the commercial dog food industry progresses, the ingredients used in kibble are departing further and further from the profile of food that a canine would have eaten in its evolutionary environment. Because the veterinarians we trust are advocating for the feeding of a dry, grain filled kibble, the general public have come to regard kibble as the pinnacle of canine nutrition. Not only is the information wrong that the consumer receives about the product they are buying, but they are also not informed about the process used to create kibble. Almost all commercial kibble is created through a process called extrusion. Extrusion is usually performed at heats up to 200C and drastically changes the profile of what little protein there is in the food by denaturing the proteins, loss of enzyme activity, and decreased protein solubility in water. The most important part of the kibble for a canine is the protein, and the small amount that is contained in kibble is destroyed by the process of extrusion. Canines require 10 essential amino acids in their diet that they are unable to synthesize. The effect the extrusion process has on the solubility of proteins negatively affects the uptake of these essential amino acids.
Conflict of Interest?
The company that owns Hill's science diet (colgate-palmolive) spends hundreds of thousands of dollars per year funding university research and nutrition programs at each of the twenty-seven veterinary colleges in the US. Therefore, veterinarians are receiving biased education on the nutritional requirements for cats and dogs. Once veterinarians are practicing, they receive up to 40% of the profit for the sale of Hill's Science Diet pet food. Although some of these veterinarians have not been educated about the truths of commercial dog food, there is still a conflict of interest existing between Hill's Pet food, the veterinary practitioner, and the consumer. The two main ingredients in the most popular brand of science diet, ironically name "real chicken" are Brewer's Rice and ground wheat. Brewers rice is a by-product of the alcohol industry, while wheat is indigestible to the canine digestive tract. By advocating food that is detrimental to the health of the animals they are treating, Veterinarians are breaking their most basic oath, to use their knowledge and skills for the protection of animal health.
Alternatives You Can Choose
A wide range of alternatives to commercial dog food are available. Grain free kibble exists that has still undergone the extrusion process, or a non-extruded kibble is available that has been baked at lower temperatures. Dehydrated food has been developed that contains little or no grains, and requires the addition of water to rehydrate the meat that has been dehydrated and powdered at low temperatures. The raw canine diet that is becoming increasingly popular, and that most resembles the diet a canine would eat in its evolutionary environment is the Prey Model Diet. The prey model diet includes the same ratio of muscle meat, organ meat, bone, and sometimes digestive tract or vegetables that would be found in a whole prey item consumed by a wild canine.Vet Recommended Dog Food - What Is the Healthiest Choice for Your Dog?
Learn more about dog food options and resources. If your dog has health issues there are diet changes you can make to remedy skin, coat, teeth, eye and feet problems.