The Australian Veterinary Association hides its main sponsor behind the name of "Masterfoods". This is of course, Uncle Bens, which is a dog food company.
As far as we know, there has been no research done to determine the exact correlation between influence by sales reps and what vets then recommend. However, this has been done in the medical profession.
In the website No Free Lunch set up by doctors to show the influence of drug companies on doctors, there is substantial evidence revealing the links. Let's quote from the site:
- In a study by Avorn, et al (1982), forty-six per-cent of physicians reported that drug reps are moderately to very important in influencing their prescribing habits
- In a study by Lurie, et al (1990), one-third of medical residents reported that they change their practice based on information provided by drug reps
- In a study by Steinman, et al (2000), 61% of medical residents stated that industry promotions did not influence their own prescribing, but only 16% believed other physicians to be similarly uninfluenced
- A study by Chew, et al (2000) , found that in the treatment of hypertension, over 90% of physicians would dispense a sample that differed from their preferred drug choice.
See even more disturbing information, and the links to the scientific journals in which these were published, by clicking here.
At this point, our contact with vets, who appear very upset by any questions regarding association between themselves and drug and pet food companies, deny any link whatsoever. A vet recently contacted me stating, "it's better to get free stuff than having to buy it ourselves. Why shouldn't we get it for free." The same vet went on to claim the pet food companies only gave them things to be nice, and not to influence any decision making.
Have a look around your local vet clinic. You will find all posters with a drug or food company stamp on them. All stationary will have been provided by a drug or pet food company. Even the software some vets use is provided by pet and drug companies.
There is little, if any, part of a vet's professional life, and their surgery set up, that is not influenced by a pet or drug food company.
If you have a vet surgery which does not have one poster, stationery, pamphlet, fridge magnet, etc, provided by a pet food or drug company, we'd like to be able to pass your details onto the general public. Please email me. We'd love to hear from you.
In a 4-5 year university degree, students receive, on average, less than 8 hours education on canine nutrition. Additionally, universities have been well known for using pet food company sales reps to present to their students the lectures on nutrition. The pet food companies influence in a variety of ways including:
- providing so called "nutritionists" to universities
- support the pre-vet groups financially
- provide scholarships and awards
- provide posters with sponsor logos
- put on additional "education" sessions
- hold fun events like bbq's and parties
- give free pet food to students
- free t-shirts
The whole idea is to make the product name in the forefront of the student's thinking.
There is hope!
With the onset of the internet, more and more people are becoming aware of the options available for feeding their pets. This is particularly an issue in the US, where pet food companies have been so influential. In other companies, where there is more independence of thought in the general community, the issue still remains large.
Our own research has shown it is now the vet school students who are starting to object to the influence of pet food companies in increasing numbers.
Unfortunately, their lecturers are still resisting the change. One university lecturer claimed to me that their university got in "trained nutritionists", not sales reps. It turns out, of course, the nutritionists were either niave to appropriate raw diets, and/or had been trained by the pet food companies themselves.
However, it is the young vets and students who are causing a wave of further investigation.
There are also an increasing number of vets who are seeking to further their knowledge. Vets are starting to realise, the very food they sell at their vet surgeries may be linked to a number of health problems in the very dogs they are treating!
There is no doubt, these findings are very difficult for many vets to come to terms with. In fact, there are vets who will go into denial, and will vehemently deny that the foods are anything but wonderful. This, of course, is their perogitive. It is therefore, not surprising, that there are lawsuits in the wings about to be launched against vets and pet food companies regarding the pet food they market.
For vets needing more information about appropriate raw diets, there has even been an email list established. Please click here, to join.
This email list is run by independent people, not associated in any means or form with any pet food company, or drug company, and run the list as a free service with absolutely no kick backs whatsoever, as a community service to aim for healthier pets.
There is no excuse for vets not getting themselves better educated.
Where to from here?
Click here to go back to the main page.