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Our Viewpoint On Nutrition

Pet nutrition, especially canine nutrition,has, largely thanks to the wonders of the internet, become something of a 'blood sport' these days. I had a nice young couple come in a short while ago with a new puppy. They

seemed a little suspicious, almost sullen, like for some reason they had been warned not to trust veterinarians. So I asked them where they got the pup, and she says , ' I got him at that big local pet store. He's from Kansas, I think he's a puppy mill puppy - but we love him anyway!' And I reply, ' Well of course you should love him - he's a wonderful, beautiful puppy.' Then I ask , as I always do, 'So what are you feeding him?' And she replies, again very defensively, 'We have him on grocery store puppy chow now, but we are going to get something better, I promise. What do you suggest?' And with a little smile I reply, 'Well for starters I suggest you turn off the damn computer and enjoy your puppy.' And the husband, who clearly has had similar thoughts, grins and says , 'Ya know, I like this guy already.'

There are MANY 'right' ways to feed your dog or cat. Pets tend to eat much better than humans. Imagine if the average pediatrician could say 'Mrs. Client, we are going to put your children on a diet of a baked protein, grain, and vegetable biscuit. It will be 20% protein, calcium/phosphorus ratio will be 1:1, it will be fortified with all the necessary vitamins, and all the other proportions will be precisely what your children need to meet their needs.' There would be some happy pediatricians. And healthy children. I get clients asking me if their dog should be on 22% protein or 26% protein and I reply 'Well, what percent protein do you eat? I'm going to guess somewhere between 15% and 60%, am i right?' The point being that whichever of those protein levels you use the dog's diet is pretty close to the mark.

Outside of prescription diets to meet special dietary needs of animals with medical conditions, we at Mercy Animal Hospital do not sell any food, nor have any relationship with any food companies. In general we do not recommend any particular foods for most animals, though we do have some which we recommend for animals with a special need, such as a food allergy. We recommend against 'generic' foods such as store brands - we always viewed them a bit skeptically, and since the melamine Chinese food poisoning scare of a couple of years ago, which involved several such foods, we do worry about the quality of some of their ingredients- but apart from that we recommend that you simply choose a good quality food that your pet likes and does well on in such matters as digestion and coat, and not get too wrapped up in message board hysteria. It had been said that Internet Science is to science what Long Island iced tea is to iced tea. Though, of course reputable websites such as those from the veterinary colleges can be valuable sources of sound nutritional information.

Yes, we do recommend and sell prescription diets. Dietary therapy is safe and natural - it is far better to deal with a cat who produces bladder stones by feeding a diet that will prevent them than to continuously have the cat on medication. Prescription diets were really the original form of 'holistic' treatment in veterinary medicine. Should you have any questions about feeding your pet, please feel free to give us a call.

- Dr. McMillen

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