While at the Association of Pet Dog Trainers Annual Conference, I attended a session byDoug Knueven, DVM, CAC, CVA, CVCH titled Evolution-Based Canine Diets. He discussed some of the evidence from a variety of sources (three pages worth of references) that show what we have been told as “fact” about the diet of our dogs and cats, is really not fact at all.

Dr. Knueven reiterated what I have heard and read about many times – that the education veterinarians receive in school about nutrition is inadequate, to say the least. If vets want a quality education about nutrition, they really have to do it on their own. Most of the “education” they receive, is in fact, information from the major pet food companies. Sound like a conflict of interest? Most certainly!

Pet food companies and AAFCO would have you believe that foods that pass the AAFCO feeding trials are “complete and balanced” foods for our dogs and cats. First of all, what is complete and balanced? While we are told commercially prepared diets are “complete and balanced” for our dogs, the truth is that we don’t know everything there is to know about diet and nutrition. There is more that we do not know than there is that we know.

Calling a diet complete and balanced would indicate we know everything there is to know about what dogs and cats need to not just survive but to remain healthy and thrive. But that’s not really the case. In an AAFCO feeding trial, 8 animals are tested for 26 weeks and 25% of the test group can be removed from the study. So what they are really testing is whether 75% of the animals on that food can survive for 6 months. That really doesn’t give me warm fuzzy feelings about whether that food is actually the best diet for my dog.

Let’s take an example of just one small part of the diet. You might have heard about a 2004 study conducted by Iams that put a pregnant bitch and her pups on a high DHA diet. The training performance of the group in the high DHA group was double that of the low DHA group. Seems like a high DHA diet is good if you want a dog that is easier to train and smarter than the dog next door, right? Or, is it really saying that the diets we have been feeding are inadequate and we are “dumbing down” our dogs by putting them on inadequate diets that our vets and the pet food manufacturers have been telling us is the best diet for our dogs and if we feed anything else, we are going to harm our dogs. Seems we might be doing more harm by feeding them the prepared diets we’ve been sold as the only “complete and balanced” diet we have available.

There is plenty more info Dr. Knueven shared with us, but the point is that the general public is filled with fear by the major pet food manufacturers and the vets who have been “educated” by them that if we don’t feed their commercially prepared dog foods, we will cause great harm to our dogs. Perhaps it is just the opposite.

I am not telling you what you should feed your dogs (or cats), but I do encourage you to do your own research, if you haven’t already done so. More and more evidence leads me to believe that raw diets (done properly) are really the best choice. I, for one, will be making some changes.