Why are vets against raw dog food? And how to get them on board

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[et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text”]Let’s face it.

Most of us aren’t going to get veterinarians to change their opinions about raw dog food, but there are still ways to get them to work with us.

Hopefully many of you have found wonderful veterinarians who support raw and encourage raw dog food diets.

Let me know your experience in the comments section (good or bad). I might even feature some of your stories in an upcoming post.

In general, raw dog food diets are becoming more popular. There are probably hundreds of raw dog food companies these days, making it much easier for dog owners to safely feed a balanced raw diet without much effort.

As more people begin feeding raw dog food, vets will not be able to shrug raw diets off as a “fad” any longer.

Still, it seems like the majority of veterinarians continue to promote standard dry dog food as a perfectly acceptable, healthy option. I see where they’re coming from, because that is what the majority of dog owners can afford. Only a small percentage of dog owners are even interested in feeding raw.

How to talk to a traditional vet about raw dog food

For those of us who would like to feed raw food, it would be nice if more veterinarians would be at least open to discussing the options, correct?

I’d really love to hear your ideas on this, but first I’ll share some of my ideas on how to bring up raw diets with traditional veterinarians. Please let me know your experience in the comments.

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First, don’t give the vet an opportunity to say no.

This means it’s best to avoid questions such as, “Do you recommend raw diets?” Or, “What do you think of raw diets?”

These types of questions make it too easy for the vet to dismiss raw and recommend Science Diet.

Instead, the discussion needs to start with something like, “I am feeding my dog a homemade raw diet, and I really like how it’s going. Do you have any suggestions?”

Or, “I’m feeding my dog Stella & Chewy’s, and it’s going really well. What do you think of this brand?”

In my experience, vets are more open to the idea of raw food once they realize you have already done your research and are either feeding raw already or are seriously thinking about doing so.

Vets truly do care about their clients, and they are generally willing to talk about raw food if they’re approached the right way.

Schedule an appointment to specifically talk about diet

Diet is usually a three-second conversation during the average wellness exam, right?

“What are you feeding him?”

“Nature’s Variety.”

“OK.” (Then moves on to the next question.) “Is he on any flea prevention?”

You can make a point to bring the attention back to your dog’s diet, but I’ve found it works best to set up a 15-minute phone consultation or an actual appointment to specifically talk about raw food.

This forces the vet to be prepared to discuss raw and to be more open to the idea. It also shows how important it is to you and that you care about the vet’s feedback.

When I originally started feeding my dog Ace a commercial raw diet a few years ago, I set up a phone call with his vet to talk for 10 minute or so about the idea. While she is the type of vet to recommend and sell Science Diet, she was very open to talking about raw food and gave me some valuable ideas.

[quote_center]”Because I took the time to explain my thoughts and she took the time to listen, we were able to find common ground …”[/quote_center]

For example, she thought I should start with chicken since that is what Ace’s dry food was made from. She also thought I should try the “slow transition” route of mixing the dry food with raw food and gradually weeding out the dry. This doesn’t work for everyone, but it worked for Ace. She went on to say that some of her clients were feeding a homemade raw diet and had shown her some of the recipes for feedback.

Had I simply asked her, “Do you think I should be feeding raw?” she probably would’ve said no. But because I took the time to explain my thoughts and she took the time to listen, we were able to find common ground and work together for Ace’s sake.

Sure, you can feed your dog raw without a vet to back you up, but it is nice to have a vet on your side.

You could always find a different vet

If your dog’s vet doesn’t support raw food, perhaps it’s better to just move on and find a different vet. I realize some people don’t have that option. If you’re in a small town there may only be one vet.

You could search online for someone in the region who markets themselves as a “holistic vet,” but holistic vets are not the only vets that support raw diets.

The best way to find a vet who supports raw may be to find other dog owners who feed raw and ask them which vet they use. Most will probably say they haven’t found one, but eventually you may come across someone who has.

If your area has a natural pet food store, the workers there may also be able to recommend a good vet. Obedience clubs and breeders are other good resources.

What it comes down to is vets should not be ignoring the benefits of raw diets anymore. As dog owners become more and more informed about the importance of real food in their dogs’ diets, more vets are going to be on board as well because that’s what their clients want.

It may seem difficult at times, but we are heading in the right direction.

What is your experience as far as talking to vets about raw food?

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18 thoughts on “Why are vets against raw dog food? And how to get them on board”

  1. Huh, perhaps I’m a little irresponsible when it comes to healthcare . . . It’s never occurred to me to ask my vet’s opinion about what I feed my dog, or even to tell him Hiccup is on a partial raw diet. I actually think he’d be supportive, because he is a holistic vet.

    Honestly, I don’t even take my pets for annual wellness checks (I know, bad owner!). I’ve just been to so many vets whose idea of an exam is to check their teeth and ears, leave after 30 seconds, and charge me $30. I can do than myself. I will say I’ve never tried a simple wellness visit with my current vet, so maybe it’s a little less underwhelming.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I haven’t taken my cat Scout in for an exam in about four years for the same reason. Yes, that makes me a bit irresponsible, but he is aggressive at the vet and it’s just not worth paying the fee for an “exam” where they literally just listen to his heart.

  2. I don’t think I’ve talked to our current vet right about a raw diet. I can tell you I got a whole month out of Max (our elderly min. poodle who had heart failure) by taking him off Sience Diet and feeding him Sojo’s (freeze dried raw) against our vets wishes. But Max needed to eat! After loosing Belle I was able to go ahead and buy a package of raw patties (Nature’s Variety) for D.O.G. for a once a week raw meal. The biggest hurdle I’ve come across is actually CV (my other half). I think he was mainly worried that D.O.G would get sick, we would get sick, etc. He was amazed by how into eating D.O.G. was on Saturday morning (my picked date). We feed a high end Kibble and are happy with it. I’m thinking of trying D.O.G. on a couple other brands of high end but with looking at getting a new pup and the price of food in Alaska, Natures Variety 12 patties are $45, Canine Cavier $65-$75 for a 27 lb bag, it becomes a budget breaker with more than one dog! And right now we are not in a stable enough place to go ahead and do home raw receipes (no freezer space!) But I do wish there were easier ways to talk to vets about diets. My horse vet really helped with my horses diet, and I think they would probably be the only ones that might be willing to talk about the different diets out there.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I hear ya on the price of the commercial raw. I would love to feed Ace Nature’s Variety every day, but I can’t swing it right now either.

  3. I don’t ever like to say anything negative about vets – they have a tough job, but SOME vets aren’t very open-minded when it comes to what to feed pets. To be fair, they aren’t nutritionist, so they get input from the food companies…hardly an unbiased source. Feeding raw is scary to people, so I can see why vets wouldn’t recommend it. They are also reluctant to tell owners that their pets are fat and need to lose weight.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I can see why they wouldn’t recommend it as well, especially since most people aren’t even interested in feeding raw. But I do think they should be open to discussing it with clients who bring it up.

  4. I find it appalling that most vets still promote and sell Science Diet. But I guess human doctors aren’t nutritionists either. I honestly don’t see the point in talking to my vet at all about their diet. I feed them Nature’s Variety and raw bones so I know they’re eating well:)

  5. Long story, but Neeko and Bruce see one vet, and Faolan sees another.

    Bruce and Neeko’s vet is “holistic” and feeds her own dog raw, so she is obviously for it.

    Faolan’s vet is more traditional, so I was fearful of bringing it up, because it had never come up in the past. This conversation took place in July, at his yearly physical.

    Vet (while rubbing Faolan down and working him over)-“what are you feeding him?”
    Me-“ummm, actually I feed him prey model raw…”
    Vet-“well, it’s obviously working for him.”

    Whew!

  6. This is a great post. Thank you.

    With our vet, I shared the diet and although she wasn’t a fan, she admitted that each of our dogs were very healthy and then started offering me advice. As our puppies recovered quickly from their spay/neuter surgeries and the fact that we only go in annually for a weigh in – our vets became more comfortable with our choice. Plus they know that I’m a nerd about our dogs health so they trust me.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Maybe you will convert her eventually 🙂 But it’s great she is being open minded and that she trusts you.

  7. Our new vet here actually is a big believer in whole foods; one of the plus points about her. She says she doesn’t care whether it’s raw or cooked, as long as it is whole foods. Makes my life easier for sure. Though I still cook most of the stuff.

  8. My vet is okay with me eating raw because I eat a prepared raw food, so he knows it is balanced. I have heard many vets’ main problem with raw is that some people don’t do the research and feed a diet missing some nutrient the dog needs. I think some are also more comfortable with prepared raw because it is tested, so maybe it is less likely to have too many bacteria, although all food has some bacteria. I don’t know if it would be affordable to feed a big dog the raw brands I eat, but I am small and the only dog in my house, so it is affordable for my human.
    Paw waves,
    Pepper

  9. The new vet (old vet retired) wasn’t happy about me feeding all our animals raw food, but then she admitted that she was impressed with their good, healthy condition. That was for the three dogs, one cat, one beardie and one dwarf hamster. She did however at a later appointment (for the cat) told me to consider adding a tin of omega3 rich fish (or fresh) once a week, to the Labrador’s diet to help him with his little bit of arthritis (he is 11 yrs old now). She also said to check that the cat does get out to run and doesn’t become constipated (too little exercise and water apparently), because I asked her why there are bran (cereal) in cat food. So I give him extra water and check that he goes regularly.
    So even though raw food isn’t something she would recommend, she gave me advice to go with what we chose for our pets. Her point of view is that not everyone would go to the extend to make sure of the quality and specific mix of the raw food/meat.

  10. We just got a 6 month old “chocolate lab” ( in quotes cause I see a LOT of Doberman in him) and we will be starting him on raw tomorrow ( got him yesterday) Vet was NOT in favour due to concerns about it being a balanced diet and bacteria. Meanwhile, I am looking at stacks of Science Diet and Royal Canin, what we affectionately call the Cancer Crunchies. We prefer to take our chances with raw rather than the certain unhealthy choice of kibble.

  11. I feed my dog “Baxter” a 100% raw diet (With exception of steaming the pulp of the vegetables I use after juicing them. And have done so since I brought him home at 8 weeks old.

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