Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Arguments Against the Sale of Veterinary Prescription and Wellness Diets by Veterinarians

          









A student paper written  as a final assignment for SACS 455 Year 3 Nutrition Elective  Western College of Veterinary Medicine;  Supervisor  Meg Smart DVM, PhD, Professor  in Clinical Nutrition 

Veterinary Prescription Diet Debate
Arguments Against the Sale of Veterinary Prescription and Wellness Diets by Veterinarians

Introduction
In 400 B.C. Hippocrates stated “Let food be medicine,” and this central dogma constitutes the foundation of the practice of veterinary nutrition. According to the Veterinarian’s Oath, it is the professional and moral obligation of every practicing veterinarian to uphold the highest standards of care in order to integrate their medical knowledge with current industry standards to provide a well-rounded approach to the health and well-being of their veterinary patients, and this includes providing professional advice to clients regarding the nutrition requirements of their pets in a manner that is consistent with the principles of veterinary medical ethics. According to the Veterinarian’s Oath, it is the professional and moral obligation of every practicing veterinarian to uphold the highest standards of care. Veterinarian's must strive to integrate their medical knowledge with current industry standards in order to provide a well-rounded approach to the health and well-being of their veterinary patients. This includes providing professional advice to clients regarding the nutrition requirements of their pets in a manner that is consistent with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.
With the advent of retailing in the veterinary profession and inherent economic basis of the retail pet food market, there is some speculation that the immediate goal of providing high-quality veterinary care to our patients has taken a back seat to potential conflicts of interest associated with the use of retailing and the commercialization of the veterinary industry. The sale of “premium” pet food products for therapeutic benefit and maintenance in healthy animals is believed to constitute 10-30% of the income in many private veterinary practices and constitutes approximately 10-11% of hospital-wide profit (Jerving-Bäck and Bäck 2007), associated with an average 40% markup in price. At present, the most popular veterinary therapeutic products are Hills (Prescription Diet), Medi-cal, Purina and Iams, all of which provide not only “high quality pet nutrition” but also opportunities for financial benefit to veterinary profession in the form of feeding programs, research and educational funding and pet food merchandise, to name a few. Although the distribution of veterinary therapeutic and wellness diets through veterinary clinics has the potential to promote a more complete and balanced health care approach within the private practice setting, the constitutions underlying the use of “prescription” or “therapeutic diets” in veterinary practices are only ethical if the products provide potential benefit to the patient, if the veterinarian is not biased in their recommendation of a particular brand, and if the sale and use of these diets are not misleading to the client (Jerving-Bäck and Bäck 2007).
This article appraises relevant information regarding the potential pitfalls which may be associated with the sale and distribution of these diets due to the poor regulatory standards of pet food, the lack of superiority of veterinary therapeutic diets, the current deficit of nutritional education held by veterinarians. Veterinarians need to keep in mind that public perceptions of their nutritional recommendations are that they are “credible” and central to dietary selection.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Evaluating Nutrional Research for Pets by Meg Smart DVM, PhD

 How to Evaluate Nutritional Research
The design of the nutritional study determines how significant or relevant the tested diets are in caring for a pet with a specific health problem. The following research designs are listed in order of importance (4). ( http://library.downstate.edu/EBM2/2100.htm ). These have been modified from the original to be applicable to veterinary clinical nutrition .

These guidelines provide both the consumer and the veterinarian with a set of criteria to critically evaluate the research associated with veterinary medical foods and determine if the product is truly efficacious

My 50 Year Career as an Academic Teaching Veterinary Students: What Nutrition Means!

Not Fit For a Dog
Marion Smart DVM PhD

I am privileged to be a co-author of “Not fit for a dog! The truth about manufactured dog and cat food.” This book opens a new and exciting chapter in my academic career as veterinary clinical nutritionist. I have always been an academic and I would like to share with you my background and my thoughts about nutrition, the pet food industry, the veterinary curriculum, and our profession.
Nutritional education of veterinary students has changed very little over the last 40 years with the primary emphasis being on food animal production and feed stuffs. At the same time, the demographics of our students and society have changed from rural males to urban females. In keeping with these changes, the veterinary curriculum has adapted to the shifting demographics and the advances made in pharmacology, traditional medicine and surgery. Yet in most veterinary colleges, small animal nutrition is subsidized by — if not wholly dependent on — lectures, brochures, pamphlets and samples from major pet food manufacturers.  

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Nutrition: Is it Directed by Modern Science, Ancient Code or Both? Meg SmartDVM, PhD


To understand nutrition a nutritionist must keep an open mind and be familiar with many of the disciplines that impact on or are influenced by nutrition. The following is an incomplete list:
·       Soil and plant sciences
o   Factors that impact on nutrient availability
·       Animal science:
o   behaviour
o   environment, climate, housing
o   water quality and supply
·       Veterinary Medicine
o   livestock and pet wellness
o   toxicology
o   immunology
o   physiology and patho- physiology  
·       Cellular  biology
·       Microbiology
·       Genetics

The following definitions apply to the topics that I will be covering in this paper (These definitions with much more detail can be found in Wikipedia):
·       Epigenetics:
o   “Functionally relevant changes to the genome that do not involve a change in the nucleotide sequence. Examples of mechanisms that produce such changes are DNA methylation and histone modification, each of which alters how genes are expressed without altering the underlying DNA sequence. Gene expression can be controlled through the action of repressor proteins that attach to silencer regions of the DNA. These epigenetic changes may last through cell divisions for the duration of the cell's life, and may also last for multiple generations even though they do not involve changes in the underlying DNA sequence of the organism instead, non-genetic factors cause the organism's genes to behave (or "express themselves") differently”

·       Nutrigenomics:
o    the scientific study of the interaction of nutrition and genes, especially with regard to the prevention or treatment of disease
o   is the study of the effects of foods and food constituents on gene expression
·       Metabolomics:
o   The scientific study of the set of metabolites present within an organism, cell, or tissue.  
o   is the "systematic study of the unique chemical fingerprints that specific cellular processes leave behind"
o    The metabolome represents the collection of all metabolites in a biological cell, tissue, organ or organism, which are the end products of cellular processes
·       Generational effects of nutrition
All natural ecosystems experience variability in food availability necessitating organisms to adapt to these times of shortages through phenotypic plasticity depending on the life stage involved especially during a juvenile state and can cause irreversible changes in them in adult hood or even further into the next generation.
·       Nutriepigenomics:
Is the study of food nutrients and their effects on human health through epigenetic modifications. There is now considerable evidence that nutritional imbalances during gestation and lactation are linked to non-communicable diseases, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer. If metabolic disturbances occur during critical time- windows of development, the resulting epigenetic alterations can lead to permanent changes in tissue and organ structure or function and predispose individuals to disease