Veterinarians have been voicing concerns about the nutritional compatibility of grain free diets for dogs since they became all the rage among pet owners. With few exceptions, none of the companies (if one can even consider some of them legitimate “companies”) had any of the criteria veterinarians look to in determining a reputable pet food company: at least one veterinary clinical nutritionist on staff, clinical feeding trials with objective, peer reviewed data, and AAFCO (Association of American Animal Feed Control Officials) certification. Nearly no one listened.
A large group of cardiologists petitioned the FDA to take a look at boutique style grain free dog foods that seemed to be the common denominator in an unusual incidence of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a disease that up until recently had near iron clad genetic links seen only in a few giant breeds of dogs. The FDA looked at the cardiologists data and found it credible to launch an investigation. Still virtually no one listened.
The FDA published their data and concluded there there is indeed a link to grain free diets and the unusual incidence of DCM in all manners of breeds of dogs in which it was previously never seen. They even published a preliminary list of specific foods proven to be linked to DCM and urged pet owners to consult with their veterinarians for pet food advice because the list is imminently going to grow. At first, some listened and began asking questions, prompting my article “So NOW I am suddenly an expert on dog nutrition!.”
Refreshingly, some pet owners saw the light about grain free pet food, but surprisingly and most troubling, a good number of pet owners remain undeterred. Some, without any evidence, are convinced that the big three pet food manufacturers are in league with the FDA to damage the grain free pet food movement. Some think that the veterinary cardiologists, who despite being specialists are still veterinarians after all, are in on this conspiracy.
I had a client who I have extensive history with, whose previous dog I had surgically repaired both knees in which she had torn her CCL’s and later was elbows deep in her abdomen saving her life as I surgically removed her diseased spleen; question my warning as I told her the food she had chosen for her new puppy was on the FDA warning list. I even told her that if she is bent on grain free, there are brands that fulfill the aforementioned proper research and development criteria that make grain free diets NOT on the lists.
My long time client’s answer was that everybody knows that veterinarians are simply brain washed about those brands because they spoon feed veterinarians our nutrition education and they provide us perks for pushing their diets.
Here is this long time client who has put her last dog’s life literally in my hands on numerous occasions, but in matters of pet food, I am little more than a co-conspirator engaged in a smear campaign against wonderful grain free dogs foods that came to anoint canines with perfect health.
My rebuttal to her (and to to anyone who refuses to accept the danger of the foods on the FDA grain free no-no list) is this the following. You favor diets that follow 0% of the research and development criteria that are considered basic pet food industry quality control standards, that are linked by veterinary cardiologists to a deadly cardiac disease never before seen in all but a few specific dog breeds, that are later confirmed by the FDA to be conclusively linked, but you will stay the course and feed anyway because all of that was just one big conspiracy (sorry about the run on sentence).
Please tell me again who is the one who is brain washed?
Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian, highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms, and author of The Man In The White Coat: A Veterinarian’s Tail Of Love. In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a globally recognized expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport. He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , general partner of Grant Animal Clinic, and runs the successful veterinary/animal health blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care. Dr. Welton fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.