Is there any truth to the internet myths about pet nutrition and health?

In my latest online piece for the Telegraph, I tackle the issue of fake news and false science in the online world of pets, focussing on nutrition and healthcare. This is a topic that I feel strongly about: too many pet owners believe the made-up stories that are peddled as established truths about pet care.

I have always tried to take a balanced, open-minded view to alternative approaches. After qualifying as a vet, I went to a series of weekend courses about veterinary homoeopathy, to find out more about it. I went on a course on acupuncture for pets, to learn how to do basic treatments in this modality (which, by the way, is now an evidence-based accepted part of veterinary care for certain situations).

Anyone who has listened to me comment on pet nutrition will know that I believe in an individualised approach: for some pets, commercial kibble is ideal, while for others a raw meat diet may be more suitable.  Some owners prefer to use herbal treatments or homoeopathy. If somebody want to use reiki to assist treatment for their pet, that’s up to them. So I have no problem accepting that for some people, these non-mainstream approaches are their preferred first choices. I’m not arguing with that, as long as they are clear about the facts behind the choice they are making.

However I draw the line when proponents of non-mainstream practices try to claim that their way is the only way, and that the mainstream approach is always wrong. When they try to say that every pet should be fed/treated in the way that they happen to prefer. When they try to maintain that other people (not themselves, of course), are only “doing it for the money”.  When they suggest that big companies are focussed solely on profit, regardless of ethics or harm done to pets on the way. These are often populist stances, easy for gullible people to support, but when there’s no evidence for them, it’s just wrong to promote these views.

I cannot stay quiet when people ignore the science, or cherry pick data, to create an illusion which is far fetched and closer to conspiracy theory than reality.

If you want to know what I mean, then read the Skeptvet blog, written by a vet who has zero tolerance for quackery and misuse of data.

I’ve written my latest online piece on this topic at the Telegraph, and if you feel that you’d like to comment, please do so over there, or on my Facebook page.

This is a topic that is going to continue to dominate online discussions of pet care, so it’s important that it’s addressed and debated.

 

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Please note that I am unable to answer veterinary questions in comments. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health it is always better to contact your vet.

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