AVMA and What They Want To Do With Raw Food Diets

by Ava Frick, DVM, CAC

By the time you see this it may be too late.  On August 2 or 3, 2012, the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) will vote to adopt a policy against raw feeding of cats and dogs. The resolution to be voted on titled POLICY ON RAW OR UNDERCOOKED ANIMAL-SOURCE PROTEIN IN CAT AND DOG DIETS, reads:

“The AVMA discourages the feeding to cats and dogs of any animal-source protein that has not first been subjected to a process to eliminate pathogens because of the risk of illness to cats and dogs as well as humans.”

For years it has been pushed to animal owners and veterinarians that anything raw is potentially contaminated.  Vegetables and fruits are raw and yes, I know they are contaminated with parasites, which we consume, but no one is banning eating them.  In fact, there is a current surge in getting parents and schools to offer more fresh foods.  I am all for that.  It is just ironic that what works on one foot is declared a threat to life on the other.

We hear of pet food recalls frequently especially since the 2007 melamine contamination.  I went to the FDA (www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/newpetfoodrecalls/ ) to see just how many raw diet food manufacturers were on the list in the past 5 years. The stats are for canned and dry food; 112 dog food companies (if they had more than one product on the list I did not count them twice), 76 cat food companies, and only 3 raw diet companies.

There was one dry food product by Ol’ Roy listed at salmonella but salmonella was not listed on the raw foods recalled on this posting.  So tell me, what kind of food should we be most concerned about regarding the safety of our cats and dogs diets?

So what could happen as a result of this policy?  The AVMA resolution, if passed, will not “ban” the sale of commercial raw pet food diets. To quote the AVMA: “… this proposed policy would be an AVMA policy if approved, not state or federal law. The AVMA cannot, and will not, regulate what pet owners choose to feed their pets. If you already feed raw food to your pet, that’s your choice.”

But here’s the problem. The vast majority of traditionally trained veterinarians in the U.S. do not study nutrition. Most vets learn about companion animal nutrition from a handful of self-interested pet food manufacturers who are a constant presence at vet schools and clinics around the country. The AVMA’s membership is veterinarians who for the most part are far behind the curve in understanding species-appropriate nutrition for pets.

Most pet owners take their vet’s recommendation when it comes to feeding their cat or dog. A formal resolution by veterinarians’ own professional organization against raw feeding will seal the deal for many vets who will, with a clear conscience, continue recommending processed pet food diets to cat and dog owners.

Another outcome would inevitably be that some pet food companies producing commercial raw diets will cave under the anti-raw food press and begin to use heat or high pressure pasteurization (HPP) processes.  In fact, some already have.

I always believe that if I know, with all that I am what’s right and wrong then I need to stand on the side of right and do something about the wrong.  Here is my letter to the AVMA Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine:

Dear Council:

Please reconsider your position on the policy proposal of issuing a broad recommendation to avoid feeding any raw foods to cats and dogs.  Just last year you established guidelines for nutritional evaluations in veterinary practices.  This was a great step forward in bringing to the forefront the importance of nutrition in the lives of animals.   Now to come out on a position that is clearly, from an archetype diet, not in the best interest of the animals nutritional composition is near sighted.   In addition to that, the premise that processed food is always the correct balanced diet is also near sighted.  Look at what fast food has done to the American population!  Try eating Total cereal every meal for everyday of your life and see how healthy you are at 60.

100% of my patients have some form of a nutritional need.  No diet is complete for any animal at any age.  I utilize and recommend all forms of diets including dry, canned, dehydrated, raw, and home-cooked.  As I received the notices for recalled foods, it is the dry processed and canned that leads the pack in contaminants.  Not the raw diets.  This proposal appears to be industrial driven and reeks of contamination.   To pursue this avenue will create an unneeded rift between veterinarians of our group.

I sincerely hope the future of food will be more wholesome.

PS:  Watch for the opening of my new location in Chesterfield at 100 Clock Tower Plaza starting October 1st!

You can contact Dr. Frick at 636-583-1700 or visit www.animalfitnesscenter.com or www.animalpainvet.com.