Dec 24 2014

Dr. Google and What I Have Learnt In My Exam Room

I made a comment on somebody’s blog. I usually read these crazy misconceptions and just rant at my computer, or my poor husband. But on this blog I could not help myself, I had to make a comment. This lady was promoting the health benefits of garlic in dogs even though she stated that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) states that it is toxic. She states that it is her common sense that tells her that garlic is okay! REALLY!!! Tell me what benefit the AVMA would have by telling people not to feed their pets garlic? Common sense tells me there is NO hidden agenda here. The big bad AVMA isn’t going to make a bunch of money off of unsuspecting pet owners because they stop feeding garlic to their dogs and cats. Perhaps the AVMA has a secret agenda against the garlic industry of the United States and is quietly fighting for World Domination! Now you think I have gone off the deep end and this is ridiculous. Right? That is exactly how I feel when I read these ridiculous blogs on the Internet! I think it is irresponsible of this lady to promote a toxin! Her evidence is all anecdotal! She is out there recommending doses of daily garlic that can make your dog and cat sick. And what is worse for me is that when those sick pets get sick and owners have to spend money…who do you think they get angry at!

Today’s rant is about myths and misconceptions that I see all over the Internet and I hear everyday in my exam room.

  1. GARLIC – follow the science. If you have read anything I have ever written you know that is my tag line.   Simply put garlic and onions, whether raw, cooked, or dehydrated, affects your dog’s and cat’s red blood cells. There is usually a lag time between ingestion and your pet developing anemia; that is it may take 2 to 4 days before your pet becomes sick. There is NO antedote! Yes if you read the poison control and other web sites you can see drooling, nausea, diarrhea etc. but the most common clinical sign we see is anemia. How would you know if your pet was anemic? Blood work. This is why many people think that they feed garlic and their dog is fine – they haven’t checked their pet’s blood work. By the time your dog, and especially your cat since they love to sleep 20 hours a day at the best of times, show you they are anemic it is now typically severe. Read this great article.   Or if you would like to read a medical article on the subject then check out the following.   And by the way there is absolutely NO evidence that garlic kills fleas or worms. Bob’s brother’s wife’s mom’s dog who eats garlic and has no fleas is NOT following the science.
  1. I only feed the best and make sure that there is NO CORN in my pet’s food. Sorry guys but this is another marketing trap that we have fallen into. You don’t have to feed corn if you don’t want to, but I personally would NOT cross a diet off my list because it is there. The myth is that corn is a filler and has no nutritional value, but in reality it contains antioxidants, vitamin A & B, selenium and zinc and when ground can be a great carbohydrate. Corn is not an evil ingredient nor is it a superior ingredient. Follow the science… a diet is not better or worse because of the presence or lack of corn.   Check out this great blog
  1. “Oh that is just his winter weight he losses it all in the summer.” It is funny how often I hear this one in the exam room, but what usually happens is a pet gains weight in the winter and loses all but 1 lb in the summer. Soon over a couple of years those extra pounds creep up and we are now dealing with an overweight pet. One recommendation I have is if your pet burns less calories in the winter then just feed less calories in the winter! Just decreasing volume doesn’t always make our pet’s happy so you may need a winter and summer diet. I used to switch my beagle, who suffered from the winter bulge, to a low calorie diet food in the winter and a balanced adult diet in the summer. Having a separate winter and summer diet I was able to stabilize his weight.
  1. I have people bring in bags of food and ask me to check the ingredient list and tell them if the diet is okay… so here is your quiz. Is diet A or diet B better??

DIET A: Chicken, Corn Gluten Meal, Soybean Meal

DIET B: Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken by-product meal, Soybean Meal

The answer is actually we do not know! Yup I know shocking isn’t it. I bet you picked A. Everyday I hear someone tell me in my exam room that they don’t buy anything with a by-product, or a meal in the ingredient list. But the words by-product or meal does not actually tell us anything about the QUALITY of the ingredient.

When meal is used it means the company bought the meat already dehydrated. In Diet A the chicken is going to weigh more than corn meal as it was not dehydrated when it was weighed and so it is listed as the first ingredient. However, the chicken needs to be broken down into chicken meal in order to be processed into kibble. Once it gets broken down (and the water is extracted), then it likely will weigh significantly less than the corn meal. Manufacturers can list chicken as an ingredient, rather than chicken meal when the chicken is bought whole rather than already dehydrated into chicken meal. It is more expensive for a pet food company to do this, but they do simply so that they can list the chicken as the first ingredient. They do this to satisfy people who read food labels and buy their food based on the first ingredient. But don’t be fooled that whole chicken is dehydrated and turned into chicken meal before it can be made into kibble.

By-products are just a secondary product to the principle product. Do you every by the bagged broccoli slaw? It is a by-product. What about salami? Or Wheat Bran? Or liver? All are considered by products. The myth is that by-product or meal means low quality and not safe, is not true. These are just terms to classify an ingredient; it dose not say anything about the quality or the nutritional value of the ingredient!

There are varying grades of corn meal, corn gluten meal, chicken meal and chicken byproduct meal. Just because one is listed first doesn’t mean that it is of better quality than another. Rather than worrying about meal or by-product find out where the company sources their ingredients! There are 5 different grades of corn! This is true of all ingredients! So when you are feeding a diet with chicken meal.What grade was the meal, because that DOES make a difference. IF ingredient grades were actually on the bag owners would have a much easier time figuring out which food was actually better!




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