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LETTER: More balance needed in column about raw dog food

'My only interest in writing this letter is to hopefully provide a little balance,' says letter writer

BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected] or via the website. Please include your full name, daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to an opinion piece titled 'COLUMN: Raw dog food all the rage, but what does science say?,' published Jan. 14. 

Since this column likes to reference science, I would have appreciated full disclosure from the author.

Examples being:

  1. As a vet their office sells only one brand of dog/cat food which is fully processed and is a profitable aspect of their small business.
  2. State that the author benefits in no way, monetary or otherwise, from the processed pet food manufacture(s).
  3. That they have documented cases within their own practice of internal disease and other health issues caused by the consumption of raw diet.
  4. That dogs/cats are normally exposed regularly to pathogens and parasites (mice/small birds/other animal stool/ticks/etc.) just going to the park.
  5. That the processed pet food industry is very profitable and a 30 per cent rise of raw food intake directly affects these profits therefore industry information is probably biased.
  6. Disclose the percentage of regular 'patients' within her practice which purchase processed food from her clinic.
  7. That the processed animal feed industry has the resources to run comparative clinical trials and 'chooses' not to do so.
  8. That there are promising trials ongoing and available regarding raw food.

These facts would then add credibility to what could have been a ‘balanced’ article.

One such ongoing raw food study is the University of Helsinki’s DogRisk research group which has published peer-reviewed research that sheds light on how food – including raw – plays a role in our pets’ health and well-being.

DogRisk collected information on over 16,000 dogs of various ages and breeds. They studied dogs of various ages to see how diet choices impacted their health over time.

They claim that what they found is significant. According to the Helsinki research, raw pet food has even more benefits than we had originally suspected.

  1. That puppies fed raw have fewer environmental allergies as adults than puppies fed kibble.
  2. That puppies fed kibble are nearly twice as likely to have environmental allergies as adults than puppies fed raw.
  3. That puppies fed raw have a reduced risk of developing symptoms of IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) later in life compared to puppies fed kibble.
  4. "Their in-progress research includes mobility issues, chronic ear infections, and cancer, and how raw nutrition could positively impact all three.”

The DogRisk Research Group is led by Dr. Anna Hjelm-Bjorkman. “DogRisk is a research group at the department of equine and small animal medicine at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Helsinki. We do independent research on the associations between dogs' nutrition and their diseases. We are interested in preventing diseases.” Their link can be found here.

My full disclosure is simple. I have one beloved cat, 15 years old, and she is a lifelong processed food eater. My daughter has one dog, her second, which is just over one year old and she is on a total raw food diet.

Both I and my daughter have absolutely no personal interest/investment in the pet food industry.

My only interest in writing this letter is to hopefully provide a little balance.

We all live in this current time of polarization of differing views and most articles tend to present one side only, with little attention to an opposing view. I am simply an advocate for fair and accurate presentation of information.

Because I have no vested interest in this topic, my so-called research was admittedly scant. I have included one creditable link which could be a starting point for those who wish to educate themselves and dive deeper into that which, if you love your pet, is a very important topic.

John Fisher