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Raw Food Frowned Upon, Vet Spending Up

Posted: Aug. 7, 2012, 5:30 p.m. EDT

Raw Food Frowned Upon, Vet Spending Up
Jason Johnson, left, and Blair Hollowell, second from left, members of the incoming class of AVMA Future Leaders, accept a plaque bearing the names of the inaugural group. Presenting the plaque were initial members Libby Todd, right, and Shannon Mesenhowski, second from right.
The American Veterinary Medical Association hosted its annual convention in San Diego over the weekend and kept the 8,675 registered attendees busy as the organization issued a policy regarding raw diets for pets, revealed the results of its pet owner demographic survey, elected new leadership and unveiled the 2012 class of future leaders.

The House of Delegates approved a policy through which the association discourages feeding raw or undercooked animal-source protein to cats or dogs unless the feed has been subjected to a process that eliminates pathogens. The policy notes that cooking and pasteurization are the “traditional” methods for eliminating pathogenic organisms, but the AVMA recognizes that methods like irradiation are “being developed and implemented.”

The policy, titled “Raw or Undercooked Animal-Source Protein in Cat and Dog Diets,” does not forbid AVMA-member veterinarians from recommending a raw diet to pet owners, but it encourages owners to feed commercially prepared or home-cooked food to cats and dogs.
The policy received two revisions in committee, including a change in the recommendations section from “Never feed inadequately treated animal-source protein to cats and dogs” to “Avoid feeding inadequately treated animal-source protein to cats and dogs.”

The House of Delegates accepted the change but voted against a supplemental paragraph that read:

“The AVMA recognizes that some people prefer to feed raw or undercooked animal-source protein to their pets. The AVMA recommends that veterinarians inform pet owners of potential risks and educate them on how to best mitigate the risk of pathogen exposure in both handling the food and in managing pets consuming undercooked or raw animal-source protein diets.”
The policy, as amended, passed with 90.9 percent of delegates voting in favor.

The AVMA provided a sneak peak at the 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, which will be available this fall. The sourcebook, updated every five years, includes data sourced from surveys of about 50,000 U.S. households, as conducted by the AVMA last spring.

The survey showed that total pet ownership declined from 2006 to 2011 but that veterinary spending on pets rose, led primarily by dog owner spending.

U.S. household ownership of pets decreased by 2.4 percent from 2006 to 2011, including a 1.9 percent dip in dog ownership and a 6.2 percent drop in cat ownership, the AVMA reported. The canine population dropped from about 72 million in 2006 to 70 million in 2011, a 2.8 percent decrease, while the feline population fell by 9.3 percent, from about 81.7 million in 2006 to 73.1 million in 2011.

Meanwhile, spending on veterinary expenditures increased by 14.3 percent from 2006 to 2011, outpacing inflation by about 2 percentage points. The mean expenditure per dog was $227 in 2011 compared to $200 in 2006. Expenditures per cat increased from $81 to $90.

With fewer potential clients, veterinarians need to “get back to the basics” by focusing on communication, marketing, client service and marketing, said Karen Felsted, DVM, CPA, MS, CVPM, who presented the data at the convention.

The AVMA chose Clark Fobian, DVM, as president-elect and Walter Threlfall, DVM, MS, Ph.D., as vice president.

Dr. Fobian, the District 7 representative on the AVMA executive board, is a past president of the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association and owns a small animal practice in Sedalia, Mo. Dr. Threlfall, a theriogenology consultant, taught at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine for nearly 40 years.

Also elected were:
•  George Bishop, DVM; Ken Bartels, DVM; and Mike Topper, DVM, to the House Advisory Committee.
•  Gay Gira, DVM, to the Council on Veterinary Services.
•  Stephan Schaefbauer, DVM, MPH; and Joanna Davis, DVM, to the Council on Public Health & Regulatory Veterinary Medicine.
•  Billy Martindale, DVM; Patrick Farrell, DVM; and Mary Beth Leininger, DVM, to the AVMA Council on Education.
•  Edward Wakem, DVM, to the AVMA Council on Biological and Therapeutic Agents.
•  Jan Krehbiel, DVM, Ph.D., as AVMA executive board chair.
•  Dr. Thomas Meyer, DVM, as AVMA executive board vice chair.

The AVMA and Pfizer Animal Health identified the members of the 2012 Future Leaders program.

Now in its second year, the program aims to develop volunteer leaders for the AVMA and other organized veterinary groups by helping participants develop leadership and problem-solving skills.

The 10 members of the 2012 class were selected from about 60 nominees who graduated from veterinary school within the past 15 years.

The new members are:
• Jenifer Chatfield, DVM, of Dade City, Fla.
• Jennafer Glaesemann, DVM, of Fairbury, Neb.
• Karen Grogan, DVM, of Dacula, Ga.
• William Hill, DVM, Dipl. ACLAM, of Knoxville, Tenn.
• Blair Hollowell, DVM, of Virginia Beach, Va.
• Jason Johnson, DVM, of North Brunswick, N.J.
• Virginia Kiefer, DVM, of Charlotte, N.C.
• Douglas Kratt, DVM, of Onalaska, Wis.
• Rebecca Stinson-Dixon, DVM, of Reidsville, N.C.
• Kelvin Urday, DVM, of Park Hills, Mo.


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Raw Food Frowned Upon, Vet Spending Up

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Reader Comments
I agree with Shelly100%. I have 3 dogs that I feed raw diets to, super healthy, superb looking teeth never had a dental cleaning, energy level is outstanding you should see my 11 year old and of course I have less poop to pick up.

I admire and respect the work that vets do but it is sad to see that they care more about their pockets and profits than the health of our pets.
Claudia Katz, Beaverton, OR
Posted: 8/14/2012 8:20:53 AM
While it is very painful , as a practicing veterinarian for 49 years I find I must agree with Nannettes' assessment of the state of veterinary medical practice. I wish it was just corporate medicine, but I see the same gouging in some local practices. Paying staff on a percentage basis at local or regional specialty or emergency practices causes individuals to create a final bill to aid their own bottom line.GOUGING. In my opinion the A.A.H.A promotion of "profit centers" seemed to spur the bottom line as our only concern. It doesn't need to be.
Ed, Honey Brook, PA
Posted: 8/10/2012 3:39:12 PM
Regardless of what the AVMA says I will continue to feed my dogs a fresh, raw diet. Never sick, blood work always perfect, spectacular coats, never need a dental cleaning. Take a look for yourself. LINK
Shelly, Coloma, MI
Posted: 8/10/2012 2:02:57 PM
A few quotes from one of the studies cited by AVMA. That members of the AVMA read this study (or not) and concluded raw pet food is a public health risk is nonsensical:

"The increasing popularity of raw food diets for companion animals is another potential pet-associated source of Salmonella organisms; however, no confirmed cases of human salmonellosis have been associated with these diets."

"To date, there have been no published reports of salmonellosis occurring in dogs as a result of exposure to natural pet treats."

"To date, there has been only one published report of salmonellosis occurring in cats as a result of exposure to raw food diets. Septicemic salmonellosis was diagnosed in 2 cats that underwent necropsy at the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia (Athens, GA)."

"To date, raw pet foods have not been associated with salmonellosis in humans; however, identification of Salmonella-contaminated food and Salmonella shedding by pets that have been fed raw food diets should raise concern."

Erich, Des Moines, IA
Posted: 8/9/2012 7:10:52 PM
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