Sunday, May 24, 2009

Junk Pet Food Part 3: Blowing the whistle, catching attention

If unnatural pet food injures the health of pets, then the cozy relationship between the pet food manufacturers and the veterinary profession injures pets, pet owners and the veterinary profession, too. Breck Muir complained: (*15)

The infiltration of the commercial pet foods into our lives is one of the great success stories of the business world. Gross sales figures for a single product type are probably only bettered by petroleum products worldwide.

We as a profession have been led by the nose by vested interests into a current situation where most younger vets actually recommend commercial pet foods as the best available way of feeding domestic pets, because they have never known of any other way. Before they had their
first pet they were bombarded with constant mass media advertising instilling into them that various commercial foods are the only way to go, and when they graduated and went to postgraduate nutrition courses again they had this idea reinforced by visiting lecturers who actually mentioned brand names in their notes.

Breck and I thought that blowing the whistle on the processed pet-food issue might trigger debate. We also hoped it might lead to reappraisal and resolution of a gathering crisis. However, we were about to be taught the first of several lessons: that the pet food industry/veterinary profession alliance is extensive, strong and hostile to criticism.

Upper echelons of the veterinary profession (veterinary associations, veterinary schools, research institutes) and junk food makers do deals behind the scenes. The Australian Veterinary Association sent Breck's letter to John Wingate, the then president of the Pet Food Manufacturers Association Inc. (now the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia Inc.). Wingate, in his self serving response published alongside Breck's letter, told vets: (*16)

The best way to feed a pet animal is with reputable brands of pet food... Analytically speaking, the...contents of these products are known and designed to satisfy the requirements of the animal as defined by the National Research Council of the US Academy of Sciences, which
is the accumulation of the most up to date world wide knowledge on the subject.

Yes, that's right: the junk pet food culture extends all the way up to the US Academy of Sciences, and along the way, animal welfare organizations, dog and cat breed societies, pet magazines, books, print and electronic media all sing from the junk pet food makers' song sheet.

But as practicing vets ministering to the needs of a steady stream of sick pets, we found that our senses and our daily experience told us that the weight of so-called veterinary evidence
was wrong. We delved deeper, looking in textbooks and research papers. And everywhere we stumbled, tripped and fell, we found new evidence of the harmful effects of junk food. Most pets are fed junk food and never clean their teeth. By simply cleaning diseased teeth and gums and changing pets over to a more natural diet, otherwise intractable diseases disappear, never to recur. Penicillin, hailed as a wonder drug, is used to treat some bacterial diseases but has no long-term disease prevention benefits. Using dentistry and diet, we could cure many and prevent most of the diseases afflicting pets.

by Dr Tom Lonsdale,
Veterinarian and author Dr Tom Lonsdale, BVetMed, MRCVS, graduated from the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, in 1972. In the 1980s he became aware of the dietary disease epidemics affecting the animals under his care. Since 1991, Dr Lonsdale has campaigned to bring the information to public attention. In 2001, his landmark book Raw Meaty Bones: Promote Health was published (reviewed in NEXUS 12/03), followed in 2005 by Work Wonders: Feed Your Dog Raw Meaty Bones (reviewed in 13/04). Dr Lonsdale can be contacted by email at For more information, visit his website,

15. Muir, op. cit.
16. Wingate, J. (1991), "Far Fetched Claims", AVA News, December 1991, p. 28,

Junk Pet Food Part 1: The Damage Done
Junk Pet Food Part 2: Hippocrates: “Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can heal your patients with food”
Junk Pet Food Part 3: Blowing the whistle, catching attention
Junk Pet Food Part 4: Tentacles of the monster
Junk Pet Food Part 5: The price we pay

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