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Pet food is offered at almost all vet clinics in the country. Some vet clinics offer only specialized food which is necessary for pets ailing from certain disorders, but a majority of the clinics promote regular food required for the maintenance of pets. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that veterinarians understand nutrition, because it’s not part of their training or education. Further, many pet food brands don’t fully disclose the contents of their products. That’s why it’s critical for vets to pay extra care to patients and their unique conditions when making food recommendations.
Branded pet food isn’t the only option
Food reps may have knocked on your door many times, claiming to have the best possible formula food for pets. The truth about this scenario is that partnerships with vets are simply means to attract more business to the table. When a food rep is telling you that a certain brand for veterinarians only, they’re using that exclusivity to upsell a product. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the product is special or has the nutrition that your patients require.
Even if the food rep tells you that the branded pet food is backed by research, take those words with caution. Unless you see the research for yourself, corroborated by neutral, unbiased sources, you can’t be certain that it’s absolutely true.
Many food reps even suggest that raw, natural food is ‘unbalanced’ and harmful. But as a vet, you’ve probably seen many patients who are fed this food and show no signs that warrant any alarm. There are many pet owners who are passionate about their pet’s health and feed these animals home cooked meals. Many of them claim that these alternative diets are more healthy for their canines.
So, before you conclude which is better - branded or home cooked - or choose to back one exclusively, consider both and try to use your patients as case studies. Ask dog owners who visit your clinic feedback for the veterinary-only food that they might have used. Observe the physical and behavioral condition of dogs having both diets for yourself, before coming to any conclusions. And of course, ensure you question the food reps more thoroughly before accepting to promote any brands of pet food.
Even when suggesting branded pet food over natural food, there are some brands that are better than others. You have to be certain that the brand has been approved by governmental regulatory bodies and is safe for the consumption of pets. You should also be wary of the constitution of each product, because some of your patients may not take well to certain ingredients.
Before recommending food to your patient's owners, consider each unique pets needs, and confirm the safety and quality of any product that you might recommend. And remember, natural, homemade diets are also an option!