My stint at Pet MD taught me that pet food is a really, really controversial topic. Probably one of the top three subjects that really set off the angry people.
It’s like raising kids. Everybody thinks their way is right and everybody else is wrong. Well, not everybody, just the really vocal opinionated types who like to pick fights with others or at least beat them over the head with their points of view.
Anyhow, I’m pretty open-minded about food. Which I guess makes me a target for the trolls (Per Urban Dictionary, a “troll” is: One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument. A very apt term to describe these folks. Stupid trolls.). I think folks want me to take a strong stand in one pet food camp: Raw vs Cooked, home-made vs. commercial, organic vs. conventional, made in somebodys bath tub in a commune in Oregon vs. a factory in Kentucky, human grade vs. byproducts, grain free vs. grain full.
I’m sorry to say (to the mean people) that the way I look at it: a) dogs eat poop and dead worms off the sidewalk. They lick their own butts. I don’t think they care if their ingredients are human-grade or not.
Maybe I’m just naive, but the way I judge a pet food is reflected in the pet. Is his coat shiny? The right color? Does he have small stools? Normal stools? Is the pet in good flesh? Is the pet gassy, stinking up the exam room with his extreme flatus? Is there a lot of borborygmus (gurgly stomach noise)?
If the pet doesn’t look vital and healthy and he’s having GI signs of maldigestion, it could be a medical problem or the diet. I can pick out a dog who eats “Old Roy”, the wood-chip filled big-box store brand food out in any lineup from his dull, dry coat and death farts. Sadly, I’ve seen dogs on a certain “Bene-ficial” diet that’s supposed to be all wonderful and healthy who look pretty poor.
Anyhow, I’ll admit that nutrition is one of those subjects (along with dentistry) that were woefully under represented in vet school. What little nutrition education we got was spectacularly boring and virtually impossible to translate into daily practice.
Which makes me:
a) Not exactly an expert on nutrition
b) Open to discussions involving what I do know and believe to be proper feeding and care of pets vs. what you the client/consumer knows. As long as you’re nice. I don’t deal well with dogma. I’ll listen to your point of view if you listen to mine.
Anyhow, geez did I get off track. My point for this whole blog was to tell you about my latest experiment involving my dogs.
Scully, my 15-year-old lady has been virtually crippled with arthritis over the last few years. She had gotten to the point that she would barely make it out the back door to use the bathroom. She would pee/poop on the decking just outside the door (which is gross but better than my floor inside the house). She has a bad shoulder and pretty much just shuffled around the house at a sad, creaky old dog pace.
I kept the pain somewhat at bay using supplements like Dasuquin (glucosamine/chondroitin, MSM, Soybean/Avocado stuff), fish oil, and Platinum Performance powder. I used non-steroidal antiinflammatories as needed. She’s had a few acupuncture treatments.
She also had this weird nail disease called lupoid onychodystrophy which made all her claws brittle and misshapen.
Well, Dr. Sharp and I noticed that all the guys at the Dallas Veterinary Surgical Center were putting their arthritis dogs on the Hills prescription Joint Diet (J/D). If it went to the surgical center and the diagnosis was hip dysplasia or other arthritic degenerative disorder, it got some pain pills and a bag of this food.
Food to treat joint disease sounds like voodoo marketing to me. What’s next? Food to cure cancer? Treat behavior disorders?
I like to treat diseases with pills that you give for a finite time, then hopefully the pet gets better and that’s it. I like to go for the quick fix. Food is such a personal thing for a client, a long-term commitment, and a slow way to treat disease. Plus I never know for sure if the food does what it’s supposed to do or if the big fancy pet food company is just trying to make money. I do have an arsenal of prescription foods that I think help, but am always leery of new foods.
Back to the story, Dr. Sharp and I noticed that the people whose dogs were on J/D were happy and buying more food. Thus, we decided to do an experiment: I’ll put Scully on it and see how she does.
Well, I am pleased as punch to report that after about 5 months on the food, Scully is a new dog. She now goes out into the yard to potty. She trots around (granted she’s 15 so it’s a bit of a wobbly trot, but it’s a vast improvement from her previous shuffle). I was clipping her nails a month or so ago and I was truly shocked to see that her claws are totally normal now.
So I guess I now recommend Hills J/D diet. It’s not perfect, Scully still has some days where she needs the extra help of an NSAID, but it definitely helps. I have Katelin on it too, because she’s old. Mia the Lab also is on it because she has bad elbows. (Mostly everyone is on it for convenience sake too).
It’s really nice to see the old lady looking so spry. Maybe this can help some of your creaky old pets too…