by Dr. Nicole Rous, Veterinarian
With the recent publication of an article by progressive scientists on the long-term benefits of fresh feeding in dogs (https://rdcu.be/c5thj) it’s a great time to talk about the attitude changes in the veterinary industry.
The tides are turning. More vets these days are either tolerant or supportive of fresh food feeding. 10 years ago, you would have been lucky to find a vet that was open to the idea or raw or fresh feeding (I was one of them too!) but now there’s more of us.
So why the resistance to fresh feeding?
During veterinary school we train for 1000’s of hours, the lion share is learning medicine, surgery and behaviour of all species and very little is dedicated to nutrition. What is dedicated to nutrition is heavily focussed on feeding a perfectly balanced diet, with everyday meeting AAFCO standards. Vets graduate fearing loss of balance in the diet will result in severe disease. We seem to forget that humans do not eat a balanced diet every day and dogs didn’t evolve eating a balanced diet every day either. We’re exposed to the big kibble players throughout vet school and so graduate believing that feeding a balanced kibble diet everyday will result in dogs living their best life. This is far from accurate.
At some point in many vets’ career the penny drops. For me it was having my own human children. I wouldn’t feed my own children processed food every day and believe that they’ll be their healthiest. I can’t imagine taking my child to a doctor and them saying to me pick one cereal, a synthetic multivitamin and feed that every day. I simply would not believe them. That is essentially what picking up a bag of kibble is. They may survive but they will not thrive. For other vets, the penny drops when they’re experiencing their own (or loved ones), chronic health conditions. They start by exploring the usual conventional approaches and when that doesn’t work, they turn to dietary changes and oftentimes complementary therapies. They learn very quickly that food can be the best medicine of all.
The benefits of fresh feeding
Our understanding of the benefits of the fresh feeding approach is slowly following our understanding of the impact it has in the human space. There are more opportunities for vets to train in nutrition now. In the past few years, accredited Australian-based courses for veterinarians commenced in nutrition. This may not sound like a big deal, but it really is! It has moved nutrition to the main stage and given it a voice where vets can access advanced knowledge in nutrition and feel educated and confident to be able to offer advice to patients. I co-administrate a group of almost 500 Australian vets interested in fresh feeding and integrative therapies. We hold monthly zoom discussions about various topics and enthusiastically discuss the benefits of fresh feeding.
I recently polled an Australian-based online forum of fresh food feeders (85K strong!) about the trend towards vets supporting fresh feeding and the consensus was that most vets now are OK or neutral with it. The evidence speaks for itself. You take your dog in for its annual health examination and it is a healthy weight with a healthy glowing coat and it’s hard to argue that the diet isn’t agreeing with them. My advice to pet owners feeding raw is to be gentle with your vets. If discussing diets reassure them you’re feeding a balanced raw or fresh food diet that meets AAFCO standards.
If you choose to make your own raw ensure you’re balancing it yourself. We (should) all know these days it’s not a matter of getting mince, rice and veggies from the supermarket and putting them together and expecting it to meet all nutritional needs. Nor is it a case of doing that and then sprinkling kibble on top and expecting the small amount of kibble to magically balance the meal. This is ok every now and then but for the majority of their meals they should be balanced or at least over the course of the week. Balanced meals will generally include muscle meat, organ meat, bone content, vegetable, and oil content. In my opinion purchasing a premade raw or fresh option makes life easy but each to their own, find something to suit your budget and lifestyle.
About the Author - Dr. Nicole Rous
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