Guest Post: Dr Rex Riggs on critical thinking and pet food

Dr GoogleWow, how many dog and cat foods are out there now!  Did you know, in our grocery stores, pet food is the number one grossing item?  It outsells the next 6 items combined!  In 2013, dog and cat owners in the United States, spent $21,000,000 dollars on food. Twenty one million dollars! Dog and cat food is BIG business. So it no wonder that the number of companies making pet food has exploded.  Some of these foods are good, some are heavily marketed with unsubstantiated claims.  Buyer beware.

What do they say about opinions?  Everyone has one.  I hear all the time, “my brother’s girlfriend’s brother worked in the kennel at a vet’s office and he said…..”  Maybe he is right, but you need to check it out yourself.  Do you go to the internet?  Just remember, there is no editor on the internet so anyone can say anything, and will, to sell a product.   Do you ask the people in the pet store? Maybe, but where are they getting their information?  More than likely from the company representative of the foods they are selling. They have a vested interest in having you buy that specific food, often the one with the highest profit margin. 

So where do I think you should turn to?  I would say your vet.  Now, I have heard many times people saying that they were told vets don’t get any training in pet nutrition.  Well don’t tell Dr Tony Buffington at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine that, he might wonder what he has been teaching vet students for so long. 

The fact is, yes we do get taught nutrition in school, and like any other professions, the dedicated doctors keep current through continuing education and reading. Many veterinary colleges have a veterinary nutritionist on staff to answers your questions (  

I, like most vets, only sell prescription foods in our hospital. So, there is no ulterior motive for us to have your animal on a particular food.  My only motive is to make sure your pet is on the right food for them. 

Be careful of the fads and hype.  In such a crowded arena, everyone is trying to grab a niche.  Some of these fads are based on pseudo-science, only to sell their product. During the last 3 years, the FDA recalls of pet foods has sky rocketed.  Coincidence?  I think not.

So…BE A CRITICAL THINKER.  If it sounds too good to be true or too far out, It just might be.  Go to your veterinary resources available, because… vets are the experts.

Here is an excellent Myth Busters article written by Dr. Freeman, a veterinary nutritionist at Tufts University College of Veterinary Medicine.  It will answer all your questions.

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Guest Post: Dr Rex Riggs on critical thinking and pet food

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Dr_RiggsDr. Rex Riggs grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio, near Akron. Dr Riggs is co-owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is also on the board of the North Central Region of Canine Companions of Independence, a board member of The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Society and Small Animal Practitioner Advancement Board at The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Riggs lives in Lewis Center, OH with his wife Nancy, their dogs Maggie and Ossa, and cat Franklin. Outside of work, Dr. Riggs is an avid golfer and cyclist, and enjoys travel and photography.


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