Fighting Back Against Vet Advice About Raw Foods


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If you sell raw food, it’s almost inevitable… Someone will come in and tell you they were interested in feeding raw because they’ve read all about the fantastic benefits it can have, but their vet advised them not to.

So, where are vets coming from?

In doing a little research, I came across an interesting article that explains vets who discourage clients from feeding raw are doing so because that’s the official stance of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). And the AVMA takes that stance because of the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) stance on the issue:

“FDA does not believe raw meat foods for animals are consistent with the goal of protecting the public from significant health risks, particularly when such products are brought into the home and/or used to feed domestic pets; however, we understand that some people prefer to feed these types of diets to their pets.”

One way to read that statement is that the FDA is making a recommendation based on what’s in the best interest of the general public, not necessarily our pets. And that policy hasn’t changed much since 2012 (the last time the FDA’s website says it was updated).

Fortunately, there are many resources out there that talk about the benefits of raw, and word has started to get out. As I shared in Pet Business’ January cover story, raw food sales have seen significant growth. According to New York-based market research firm GFK—which collects and analyzes sales data from more than 11,000 pet specialty stores—raw food accounted for about $64 million in sales in 2013. In 2017, it was more twice that, at $195 million.

Luckily, some vets seem to be coming around. There’s now a Raw Feeding Veterinary Society, and Dr. Karen Becker has come out in favor of raw.

Still, retailers and their staff should be prepared to answer hard questions from customers.

Consider compiling a binder or small packets of articles about feeding raw and information from your manufacturer partners about the testing they do on their products. Many raw food companies go well beyond AAFCO standards when testing and are proud of it; they’ll happily tell you all about what they do to help ensure their diets are balanced and safe.

Make sure your staff is well educated about raw and can talk intelligently about why vets don’t like it, and the reasons that raw feeders believe it’s worth the risks. And, if nothing else, make sure you collect anecdotes from happy customers who feed raw themselves. Those testimonials can go a long way in soothing shoppers' concerns.

 

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