I wonder why we as individuals aren’t allowed to be responsible for our actions. Now, groups and businesses should have some method of accountability. For example, since we are talking pet food, there needs to be the right level of nutrients for health (of course, you have to define health, but…) when one makes a commercial food. But, I, as a home consumer, should be able to decide what is and isn’t healthy for my dog or cat. If I screw it up, who do I have to blame but myself? I can try to sue, but I think even McDonald’s would win this lawsuit (Remember the whole hot coffee, burned lap thing? No personal responsibility!) If I feed an unbalanced diet and my dog gets sick, I pay the price, along with my pet. So, the responsibility is on me to do my research and learn how to balance my dogs’ and cats’ food.
That’s only talking about making food at home. But what if I decided to feed my pets commercially available raw diets? It is the responsibility of the company who makes the food to make sure the food contains the right level of nutrients for health (not that which is determined by a board of lobbyists). And, as the consumer, it is my responsibility to handle the food well – whether for raw or kibble diets.
So, why did the AVMA come out with a position statement against raw food? As a card-carrying member of the AVMA, I’m not totally sure because they didn’t ask my opinion what I thought on the matter – and I do have an opinion. But, because I am a member of the AVMA, I receive a monthly journal from them (actually, it’s mandatory to get the journal). The August 15, 2012 issue of JAVMA (Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association) (vol 241, no 4) arrived last week while I was pondering this whole issue about food. On page 394, 3rd page of the journal, there is a full page thank you to Hill’s and Merial. Hill’s (who manufactures prescription pet foods) and Merial (think vaccines, flea and heartworm prevention and other pharmaceuticals) are the “AVMA 2012 Diamond partners for their commitment and support of the AVMA Convention and other important AVMA initiatives benefiting the veterinary profession.” I imagine the raw food discussion was one of those important initiatives proposed to benefit my profession.
I’d like to offer a little digression while we’re looking at this edition of JAVMA. Interesting article on pages 477-483 – “Seizures and Severe Nutrient Deficiencies in a Puppy fed a Homemade Diet.” Sounds like support for the “ruling” doesn’t it? But, if one really reads the article, the case was an 8-month-old St Bernard puppy that was fed adult chicken-based food from the breeder when it was purchased at 11 weeks old. Then, the new owner fed beef, rice and adult chicken-based dry dog food until the dog presented to the veterinarian with seizures. At the risk of sounding callous – this owner didn’t do his/her research. Eight month old St Bernard puppies need some heavy duty calcium and calorie supplementation over regular food – be it dry or “homemade.”
The AVMA’s ruling won’t prevent mistakes. The AVMA won’t keep people from feeding raw, or cooking, or forming a co-op and hand grinding chicken necks. The AVMA does need to thank Hill’s and Merial for their generous “donations” to the annual conference but it’s inappropriate to tell people what they can feed. I prefer to be responsible for my health, and my four- and two-legged family’s health. I don’t need a bureaucratic directive.