Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Raw Food Diets...Finn...and the Ridiculous Reaction of A Vet.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned before or not that our dogs are on a raw food diet. They eat a combination of raw meats/organs/bones/tissues, along with fresh fruits and veggies, and other supplementary foods to boost the nutrients that their bodies need. We've done it from the beginning, and we really like it. Finn has a lot of allergies (some food, some environmental), and our choice of  diet has helped her, too.

Before we brought the dogs into our family, I researched the city's vets and landed on a vet that practices more holistic medicine for family pets. She is not only very supportive of raw food diets, but encourages it, along with practicing a reduced vaccination schedule (and using titre testing to determine if a vaccine is even needed). Whenever we have one of the dogs at the vet's office, we go through their whole food routine, and she is awesome about ensuring that we're providing the most balanced diet possible (which needs to be intentional when putting a raw food diet in place). When we wanted Finn spayed earlier this year, we again went back to this vet because they were willing to do a surgical procedure that not many vets will do...we had only her ovaries taken out, rather than having a full hysterectomy completed.

Anyway, we've been very happy with our vet.

About a month ago, we needed to take Finn in to a vet because of a small lump that was growing near the corner of her inner eye. I called our vet's office and was told that she was swamped for the next 48 hours...and we were on our way out of town later that afternoon to get to the cottage. So I phoned a different vet's office...one who practices more traditional veterinary medicine. It was a newly opened office, so I figured they'd have appointments still available. They did.

We took Finn into the office, where a vet assistant ushered us into a room and asked about Finn's diet and activities, etc. I remember being a little surprised that the young assistant didn't go anywhere near Finn; in fact, she rather backed towards the wall of the room. I thought that was a little unusual, especially because Finn (and Charlie, who was up on the table keeping Finn company) was desperate to have the woman's attention. Finn is the dog who falls asleep on her back (with limbs spread eagle) when our usual vet is examining her, and who falls asleep when the groomers are trying to groom her; she is the most laid back, attention-loving, type-B personality dog. She audibly groans with pleasure when people are stroking her. And here this woman at the vet's office appeared almost scared of little Finn! I couldn't quite figure it out, but answered all of her questions.

A minute or two after she left the room, our vet of the day came in to examine Finn. As he entered the room, he was pulling on rubber gloves and he then pulled a face mask over his nose and mouth. I had never seen that before in any vet's office, and so I asked him why he was wearing them. I imagined the worst: That Finn had some incurable and communicable disease that the assistant had been able to diagnose from her lofty position some feet away. I was rather anxious to hear the vet's answer.

"I understand that you feed your dogs a raw food diet," the vet said.

"Yes, that's right," I answered, puzzled about what that had to do with anything - unless it had a link to whatever was going on with her eye.

"I'm not sure you understand the significance of this choice for yourself or for your children," he continued.

I had no idea what he was talking about. Zero.

"It's not us eating the raw food," I assured him, completely puzzled. "It's for the dogs."

Well, the long and the short of it is that that vet was thoroughly and adamantly horrified by our choice to feed the dogs a raw food diet! Seriously. I mean, I learned when I was doing research into it before the dogs came home that some people still find a raw food diet controversial...because people might still think that it's better to feed their dogs grains and highly processed kibble instead instead of what dogs would eat naturally. And I get that - the raw food diet isn't for everyone or everyone's dogs. It doesn't bother me if people choose to feed their dogs a more traditional diet.

But I'd never heard someone speaking so passionately and frighteningly about it! The vet went on (and on and on) about the dangers of the raw food diet, the mistake that it was, how we needed to be fearful of what was on our dogs' tongues because the bacteria might end up on us (hence his gloves and face mask, I guess), how we needed to purchase his particular form of kibble, offered right there in his office. On and on and on he went. He expressed "horror" that we'd been led to believe this was in our dogs' best interest. Despite my pointing out how shiny and soft their coats are, how much better Finn's allergies are on a raw food diet, how full of life they are, he couldn't hear it. He said that I should have informed the front desk immediately upon entering the office that the dogs were on a raw food diet so that they could all don appropriate hand and face gear! He told me that it was not a responsible decision to do this when I also had children to consider - apparently because I need to worry that my children will either eat out of the dogs' bowls, or because they plan to put their mouths inside the dogs' mouths. At one point, I let a small giggle out by accident - I was just so amused and I can't believe this about his die-hard belief in traditional veterinary practice. To not even consider an alternate opinion that is in the best interest of the dog was mind-boggling to me. And in the meantime, he terrified my kids, who were standing right there alongside their beloved dogs, suddenly looking at the dogs as if they might be monsters. In fact, it was because of a glance at the kids' faces that I finally and abruptly shut the vet down and indicated that we were perfectly fine with our choices and that we normally worked with a holistic vet who provided support for our choice. He shook his head, gingerly touched the sides of Finn's wiggly-happy head to take a brief glimpse at her eye, pronounced that she had (basically) an ingrown hair follicle there and said that he'd provide a little cream to help it out, failing which if it weren't better in a week he would anaesthetize her and surgically remove it.  SURGICALLY REMOVE IT!

I was done! I paid my bill, took the expensive little tube of ointment (which I applied only once before thinking that, now knowing what it was, I could help move along just by rubbing a little shea butter on it and massaging it a few times throughout the day) and we family and dogs left the office. Two days later, the bump near Finn's eye was almost non-existent...and four days later, it was gone.

I totally get why some people may not choose a raw food diet for their dogs. It's more expensive, for one thing; and it's a little more work than dumping kibble into a bowl (though we also have balanced dehydrated raw food for dumping purposes!). But to assume that it's a dangerous option, when you're a trained and experienced vet, is shocking to me. Ridiculous. I will not be entering that building again...after all, I'd hate to contaminate the people there!


  1. Wow! Just Wow! I'm pretty sure if you looked at the ingredient list on his "favourite, available from him" food you'd be pretty horrified. I do feed my cats dry "easy pour" cat food, but I have carefully picked it to avoid as many of the filler/unnecessary ingredients. Again, WoW!

  2. Since the guy sells his own kibble, he's getting a cut of the profits and has what I'd call 'motivational distortion'. Otherwise known as 'kickbacks'. Caleb & I watched a Netflix documentary on the petfood industry & were horrified & disgusted by what we learned. If we could afford the raw food diet, we'd be there. As it is, our dear Frankie is gluten-intolerant (he gets a nasty tar in his ears) & so they're on a grain-free diet, with lots of fruit & veggies mixed in with the best we can afford. That vet likely means well, but likely had his education/research funded or heavily influenced by the pet food industry. What a nasty experience for you - and the kiddos!! Cindy


  3. Thanks for the comments, ladies!

    Ellen, if I'd had the thought at the time, I should have asked the vet to see the ingredient list in his particular formula of kibble...maybe I'll actually go back and look at them the next time I'm in the area...I seem to recall he had some on display in his front room.

    Cindy, I'll have to check out Netflix...I've heard of that documentary before but had forgotten about it until you mentioned it. Sounds like it might be part of the education process. And yeah, you're likely totally right that he's getting 'incentives' from the pet food industry to push/sell that particular product. I also just listened last night to a 20 minute thing on feeding dogs presented by Dr. Karen Becker (online) - she usually has really good information and is supportive of both raw food diet and, if one can't manage raw food diet, supplementing with fresh foods whenever possible.

    I have no illusions about everyone being able to feed a raw food diet - it IS more expensive, and I think it's great if pet owners are able to throw fresh stuff in as much as possible...and yeah, looking for the filler is an awesome idea...it's everywhere in dog/cat food.

    I'm still just a little stunned that someone would have such a visceral reaction to our choice, and that he would choose to comment on it so specifically about the kids...when they were standing right there.

    I mentioned this experience to our usual vet a couple of weeks ago when we were there, and she wasn't very surprised...most vets still get trained in very traditional practice, and they're so 'bought in' that they don't bother to look elsewhere. She made the point that there's a reason it is increasingly hard to get an appointment with her - there aren't many holistic vets around and pet owners are increasingly interested (and educated about) their options to traditional medicine for their beloved companions.

    Cindy, I can relate to your experience with allergies - it's been frustrating trying to figure out what our Finn has been allergic to, though we're getting there. One thing that I'm finding very helpful for her (to reduce itching, for example) is feeding her/them sardines (packed in water). They're not expensive, and I split the little can between the dogs once of twice/week...my vet says that the omega fatty acids in the sardines is good to build up Finn's immunity to the allergens, and it definitely helps.

    Back to the troublesome vet...I likely won't be able to entirely let this thing go...his perspectives will affect too many of his clients. Over time, I can see myself accumulating materials about raw food diets to drop off at his office and give to him personally. Poor guy...by the time I'm done, he'll probably wish he'd never seen my Finn or me. :)

    Blessings to you both!