Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A series of student papers evaluating and comparing veterinary therapeutic and wellness diets with equilivent over the counter diets (OTC)

Introduction to The Series
Veterinary associations and  colleges have formed lucrative and mutually beneficial partnerships with the multinational  pet food companies. These affiliations leave veterinarians accountable to the public, as trained professionals, to the verify the claims made by these companies.  As a result , veterinarians have become spokespersons for the pet food industry a responsibility  that should not be taken lightly. Since the melamine disaster and the increasing popularity of alternative diets, dramatic changes are occurring within in the pet food industry as their market share is being slowly eroded.  As advocates of the industry, veterinarians must understand nutrition  and its role in wellness and in the pathophysiology and management of disease.
I asked my fourth year nutrition elective students to independently review and compare  veterinary diets and over the counter diets used to manage pet wellness and common problems diagnosed in pets.These papers reflect the frustrations the students had trying to analyze, interpret and appropriately compare "across the board "the information provided by the companies on their websites and through their customer service representatives. Often the actual science behind the diets eluded them.This exercise demonstrated to them how difficult it would be for a busy small animal veterinarian to do; but necessary in order to advise clients appropriately and  independantly.

The Assignment

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association suspended the operation of its pet food certification program in 2008. A survey of veterinarians registered with the Association indicated that they wished the program to continue but focusing on an independent evaluation of veterinary prescription diets This has not occurred as of April 2014.

 Your group (Veterinarians for Independent Thinking VIT)has been chosen to do such an evaluation within the next two weeks and present the information on their popular blog.

To accomplish this, a two-week retreat was organized at a resort (Rm2585 WCVM).were all one’s daily needs(evaluation and marks) are catered to, freeing one to research and write this very important document In the past, your group has been part of task force making recommendations on the vaccination issues, genetically related diseases in pets, and the traditional vs. alternative approach to veterinary medicine.
To do this your group plans to do:
A comparative analysis and critic of wellness and therapeutic diets sold through veterinarians and similiar over the counter diets manufactured by the same or other companies:.
Two individuals from VIT will:
  • Select both  feline and canine prescription diets sold through veterinarians for a specific purpose:
·       Hypoallergenic
·       Renal
·       Urinary tract
·       Diabetes Management
·       Heart
·       Gastrointestinal
·       Growth
·       Maintenance/Geriatric
·       Geriatric
·       Weight control /reduction

  • Find the manufactures of these diets and, internet information on these diets and determine and/or compare the diets:
·       The companies rational for the diets
·       The purpose of the diets
·       The science behind the diets to support claims
o   Critically review any  published papers by or funded by the  company or by independent researchers that claim to support the science behind the diets
·       Ingredient lists
·       Cost to feed per day
·       Typical analysis
·       Similarities and differences of the diets
·       Inconsistencies or errors in the information provided
  • Find a similar diet sold by the same company in pet specialty stores. If one is not available, select a diet manufactured by the company but sold to the public that is similar in nutrient break down to a veterinary diet and compare.
  • Based on the pathophysiology of your particular problem formulate a homemade canine and feline diet suitable for a typical patient. These diets must meet the nutritional requirements of the disease and yet be relatively balanced to the nutritional needs of the patient

Your whole  group will  have a final meeting  to answer these questions:

·       From information collected is an independent unbiased evaluation and certification of veterinary therapeutic diets feasible.?
·        What information about veterinary diets  would be of value to veterinarians in practice?
·        How should this information be presented?

General Guidelines for Projects

The final paper should be written in a format that is publishable in the Canadian Veterinary Journal or as a discussion paper on the Veterinary Information Network (VIN). A power point presentation can be used to present the information to your class mates.

Only diets sold in Canada should be studied, choose most of your over the counter diets from products sold by the same manufacturer. Design a basic homemade diet that the client can make and feed at home.

For some of the projects both veterinary diets and over the counter diets are available. For comparative purposes, choose all the prescription diets available for your particular assignment and then one or two over the counter diets made by the same companies. (Example for renal or heart diets choose senior or geriatric OTC diets)

Based on the product keys and web site information compare how the diets meet the special needs of the animal in the project you selected.
Contacting technical service consultants:
  • Explain the purpose of your call
  • Have all your questions ready, with space for the answers.
  • To record the conversation get permission first from the representative

 Ask for published references and the hard science behind the products. Evaluate claims as to those supported by research and those used as marketing strategies. “Sort the wheat from the chaff”. Excel Spread Sheets can be valuable in doing the math behind these comparisons.

Comparisons to make:
  • The guaranteed vs. a typical and\or an actual analysis of the product: The guaranteed analyses are the minimums and maximum percentage on the label. The actual analysis is found in some product keys or you can ask the manufacturer’s  help line for this information
  • Only compare the nutrients that the companies claim are beneficial for the group of pets being fed this diet
    • Based on a review of the literature and your knowledge of pathophysiology are these claims valid or should other nutrients be considered?
  • For adult dogs use a 10 Kg normal dog as ideal, except when looking at a specific size of dog
  • For puppies choose 2 groups one whose adult body weight is 10kg and the other group the ABW is 35 kg
  • Use the NRC 2006 requirement tables for the normal nutrient intakes (recommended allowance) for pet studied/or use the information supplied in class.

Final Assessment:
  • What is the most useful information that you can use to evaluate a diet?
  • What if any are the major differences in the companies’ approach to a specific health problem?
  • What evidence based scientific proof available in the public domain do they have to support their claims? Do you agree that the evidence provided constitutes “valid scientific proof”?
  • What diet (s) appears  to be the most appropriate


  1. I will be editing the papers, the first paper should be posted soon

  2. we will be waiting for it then. hope so it will come soon.
    What should I feed my new kittens?

  3. i have some thing a newly article on Pet Food. do read it out and do let me know about it.

  4. What a great article! I knew fish oil was good for humans but not for dogs. I didn’t realize how many diseases/sickness this could help with.