Did you know most veterinary schools do not even require nutrition courses for graduation. If nutrition courses are offered at all, they’re usually electives.
And who teaches these courses? Amazingly, schools allow company reps from Hill’s (Science Diet), Iams Co. (Iams/Eukanuba), and Purina, to provide the instruction. What’s more, many of the textbooks and other material for veterinary schools are published by subsidiaries of these same pet food companies.
Most of the major pet food brands are now owned by a select few human food and consumer products conglomerates: Hill's is owned by Colgate-Palmolive, Iams Co. by Proctor and Gamble, and Purina by Nestle. Nutro and Royal Canin are owned by M&M Mars, and P&G now also owns Natura Pet Products (California Natural, Innova, EVO), which originated as a small manufacturer of higher quality alternatives to all the junk out there. This is just a sampling of the incredible consolidation of virtually every major pet food brand into the hands of just a few giant conglomerates.
From the time they begin their studies, vet students are surrounded by materials and influence from these companies. Hill’s Science Diet, as one example, provides them with food for their own pets, either free or at deep discounts; after they graduate they are then given kickbacks or commissions for selling food when they start their own practice. Purina particularly targets breeders with deep discounts. This doesn't even cover the myriad of prescription diets (more on that later.....spoiler alert. There's absolutely no medicine in vet prescription diets).
Unfortunately these companies have monopolized the nutrition training of most vet students. It’s simply the only training they experience. Thus you will often hear from vet students the same things these company reps would argue about their products: “You can feed your dog anything and it will do fine.” or “Ingredients don’t matter, it’s the balance of nutrition.” Given the expertise of veterinarians, one would hope that they would provide better nutrition advice than this, but this usually is all they are taught regarding this subject in an otherwise incredibly thorough education.
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