There is, as we all know, a tremendous amount of misinformation on the internet concenring virtually any subject. Yet the internet is an unqeustionably powerful information resources, likely indispensible for anyone seeking to be an informed consumer. For pet owners, the quantity of information about pet nutrition is overwhelming. Yet the quality of most of this infomration is poor, with little in the way of scientific evidence backing claims made, and with advertising and other commercial messages often indistinguuishable for legitimate and useful information resources.
So I have put together a brief list of useful informational resources for pet owners concerning dog and cat nutrition. These resources are produced by board-certified veterinary nutritionists and academic institutions or consortia with solid credentials in veterinary nutrition. I may not necessarily agree with every single statement in these resources, but I consider the sources trustworthy and the information reliable.
The objection will inevitably be raised that many of these individuals or organizations have some connection with the commercial pet food industry. This industry does support the majority of the research and education in veterinary nutrition, which raises the legitimate question of potential bias. That said, the claims and statements made by academic veterinary nutritionists are most often backed by research evidence, and this evidence does not become magically irrelevant just because of potential funding bias.
While any industry-funded research must be scrutinized carefully to ensure appropriate methodological techniques are employed to reduce the risk of bias, and while in a perfect world all research would be sponsored by independant government agencies or through funding mechanisms that prohibited any connection between funder and researcher, this is not our current reality.
All individuals have their biases, whether ideological, financial, cognitive, or other, and the purpose of the techniques of science are to minimize the influence of such biases on our understanding. The opinions of individuals promoting and/or selling unconventional diets or disparaging commercial diets are not free of bias, but they are often free of real scientific evidence. It is not the individual nor their affiliations that is ultimately the most salient feature in evaluating the reliability of factual claims, it is the quality of the data.
I invite anyone who is legitimately concerned about the influence of industry on the veterinary profession’s understanding and approach to nutrition to do more than complain. Provide real evidence to support your own claims or those of others you believe have a better approach. Support the generation of better evidence with less risk of funding bias. Encourage the highest standards of research design and reporting to minimize the risk of bias.
World Small Animal Veterinary Association
Pet Nutrition Alliance
Pet Food Information
Tufts Veterinary School Nutrition Service
The Ohio State University Veterinary Nutrition Support Service