In many ways, veterinarians are on the front lines of this “lead the change on the collective bad habits in how we feed our cats” thing.
They are the first line of defense against the dominant paradigm that implies, “Dry food is fine, it’s nutritionally complete, and it’s a perfectly fine diet for cats.” While, it may be a lot of work and very overwhelming to make education on nutrition a part of a short veterinary appointment, being overwhelmed doesn’t justify practicing substandard medicine.Diet is a very big thing to get wrong, after all.Vets are who people turn to first when they’re looking for guidance on how to feed their animals. It’s often exasperating to see that despite the overwhelming data to the contrary about dry food, most vet clinics are still selling and therefore implicitly endorsing dry food. That’s an awfully strong message that’s being sent. And it harms cats.
There is a spectrum of choices on how best to feed a cat. I talk about that same spectrum on this site. But dry food is clearly at the lowest end of the spectrum and I cannot and won’t ever say it’s okay to exclusively feed dry food to cats. These essentially thirstless carnivores need to get their moisture with their food. Their low thirst drive means that even with supplemental water drinking, a dry-fed cat has about half the moisture intake overall as a cat on canned (or raw) food. The downstream consequences for that in a cat are well known.
Until dry food stops being an acceptable choice to endorse in a vet clinic, the people who look to the veterinary community won’t start getting the message and making healthier choices.
I think that caring vets really want to do what’s best. I also think the odds are stacked against them right now. So my job, as I see it, is to join the chorus of voices that can give their clients as much information as possible so that they can ask the hard questions and press the outer edges of the envelope.