The Conflict of Interest Dogging Veterinarians

Guest Post by Alphamutt[1]

Our recent experience with Canada West Veterinary Hospital was overall a rousing success. Piper came through her soft palate resection like a superstar, and we were very pleased with the care she received from Dr. Mark Smith and the fantastic support team (who do most of the work with little of the “glory”).

The one huge issue I have with Dr. Smith, and many, if not most vets, is the fact that they are in a clear conflict of interest when it comes to one of the most important issues of pet health: nutrition.

Our family vet, Dr. Sarah Ralph from Eastridge Animal Hospital, let Can-West know, in her referral, that Piper is raw fed. Dr. Ralph is not on board with raw feeding, but she is no longer trying to dissuade us, so we have reached a truce, of sorts. Dr. Smith took note of Piper’s status of a raw-fed dog, and felt the need to share his opinion of the practice, and sternly tell us that she would require a cooked diet for one month post-op.

I tuned out his unscientific, fatally flawed logic, as I always do now when I here “Salmonella yada, yada, yada” and other untrue and archaic comments from those who think that kibble, even the “highest quality” kibble (now there’s an oxymoron if ever I heard one) is a healthy substitute for a natural raw diet for canines.

While my attention was diverted from the vet’s soliloquy about King Kibble, my eyes came to rest on a book close to his elbow. It was a reference book about canine anatomy. Guess who published this book, probably used daily, if not hourly, by all the vets at Can West?

Hills Science Diet.

Yes, that Hills Science Diet. Maker of the notoriously low-quality, high-priced *prescription*  “food” for dogs and cats.

It’s common knowledge that veterinarians receive precious little education about animal nutrition while earning their degrees. Most of that “education” is subsidized by companies that make, market and sell pet foods. Kibble and canned crap that causes many of the illnesses and diseases treated by veterinarians around the world.

Therein lies a huge conflict of interest. Vets and their clinics are hand-in-glove with pet food manufacturers who are creating patients for those vets. Vet clinics sell the products, actually push the stuff on their clients, and then treat the dogs and cats that suffer all kinds of health problems, many life-threatening or life-ending, that a kibble and/or canned diet causes.

Pet guardians need to be smarter. They need to educate themselves about the diets they are feeding their animals. Accepting one source of information as gospel, be it a veterinarian, the internet, word-of-mouth, published reports or whatever, is irresponsible and potentially disastrous.

We will continue to feed our dogs a bones and raw food diet. Aside from age-related illnesses, breed-related issues and conditions that are a direct result of abuse and/or neglect sustained before we adopted them, our dogs are in terrific physical and mental condition. They have sparkling white teeth, tons of energy, bright eyes, lovely plush coats and, in varying degrees, great intelligence.

We will also continue to enact lively debate with anyone who thinks kibble is an appropriate diet for dogs, especially veterinarians, who should make it their job to know better.


[1] Otherwise known as Deb.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘they are full of sh*t’ edition

  • First things first – Piper is home and she is fine. She was ecstatic to see us this morning at Can-West. She pulled like a tank all the way to the car. We have switched her over to a harness. It was a good thing we brought one with us as they had one for us to buy. When we dropped her off yesterday we paid 75% of the high estimate. We got money back today! I am sure that rarely happens. Piper is on tramadol for 5 days. She has to go on leashed walks only for 3 weeks. We are so relieved that this surgery is behind us. The surgeon said she has a good prognosis but she will still be a noisy breather. We like her little noises and she will probably still snore.
  • Back again to the HST. The whole thing is making me MENTAL! The latest is that the BC Liberals are saying that it will take 18 months to implement the PST. Oh, and apparently, 18 months is aggressive. I think they are full of shit. First of all they say it is going to take the feds 10 months to change the legislation and the rules. How? Why? All the feds need to do is repeal the BC portion of the HST. They have nothing to do with PST. The province is saying that they have to wait for this to happen. Even if this was true, which I doubt, they could work with them to get going on it much sooner. Plus there should be no change to the rules as they are to revert back to the same system prior to the HST implementation. The second reason they cite is that they will need all new computer systems to go back to the PST. Now, seriously people, are we to believe that the current computers that calculate the HST cannot calculate the PST? They also need brand new software, which they must either build or buy. What is wrong with the old software? Third they claim that they need all this time to educate businesses about how to collect the ‘decades old’ tax. Clearly this is spurious. If they could ‘train’ all the businesses in the province for the HST in a year why do they need much more time for the PST training? I think the real reason is that they want to suck as much money out of us as they can. I think most people are astute enough to know exactly what is going on and hopefully the BC Liberals are punished at the polls.
  • Listening to the news today we were appalled to hear that the cougar that attacked the child in Pacific Rim Park is going to be found and killed. I don’t understand why they have to kill the cougar. I am sure they can find an island where they cougar can live out its life. We encroach on their habitat and then kill them when they do what comes naturally to them.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘it’s over’ edition

  • Piper had her surgery early this afternoon. She pulled through like a trooper. She only needed to have some of her soft palate cut away. There could have 3 other things that needed to be done but we caught it early before a lot of damage was done to the rest of her throat tissues. She is at Can-West for tonight and we will be able to pick her up tomorrow if all goes well. I was quite confident with the surgeon although he has some outdated ideas about feeding raw food. I am so tired of hearing that dogs can’t handle food with a little salmonella or E. Coli on it. However, as Deb astutely noticed there was an anatomy book there published by Hill’s the makers of Science Diet.
  • I will be so glad when the whole HST thing is over. SFU economics professor, Krishna Pendakur, was on the radio for a call in show. He was extremely biased towards keeping the HST and made sure everyone knew how stupid he thought we all were for choosing the PST. I get that there are arguments why the HST is better i.e. it is a value added tax but the public made a democratic decision. It is over now they lost. I answered every single question he did without the bias. I am not an economist[1] and I have not done a great deal of research about the HST. I am just one of those dumb members of the public who shouldn’t be allowed to decide tax policy. Give me a break.
  • There are some seriously impressive women playing hockey for 10 days, 24 hours a day. They are playing in 4-hour blocks all day and night. Why are they doing this? They are raising money for Cystic Fibrosis. When I first heard that Dr. Beth from NTBTWK was doing this I was seriously impressed. Then I started thinking about other fundraisers where women perform amazing feats of physical endurance. I know someone who did the walk to end women’s cancers – 60 km a day, in the blazing heat for 2 days. What possess women to do these things? Sure the have been some great feats by men like Terry Fox and Rick Hanson running and wheeling across Canada respectively. However it does seem to be women who make these incredible commitments. If you haven’t donated please think about doing it.

[1] I’m an historian by training. I hate economics.

Soft-Palate Resection

Piper has her surgery tomorrow. I won’t know any details about it until we meet with the surgeon tomorrow morning. I read over Can-West’s website and it says that Pipes will likely be sedated for 12 hours. She has to stay over night. I am hopeful we can pick her up the next day. I will update tomorrow.