Saturday, February 6, 2010

Beware of Snake-Oil Salesmen

The pet world is full of snake-oil salesmen,hawking hundreds of dietary and health supplements. Vitamins, minerals, prebiotocs, probiotics, digestive aids, skin soothing lotions, ear treatments, and more exotic compounds are offered to undo damage done by the unhealthy kibbles and canned mush that 90% of pet owners feed their dogs and cats. Little to no regulation of their claims or their compounds exists.

These contemporary shamans often give lip-service to the raw carnivore diet that is by definition complete. They acknowledge that cats and dogs evolved to eat whole prey and have thrived for thousands of years on that diet -- muscle meats, organ meats, and meaty bones. Carnivores, they agree, get all the nutrients they require from the raw-meaty-bones diet they evolved to eat.

Instead of recommending that pet owners feed raw-meaty-bones, however, they launch into selling their jars and bottles of stuff to "supplement" the inappropriate diets most pet owners feed and to cure pets of allergies, lessen intestinal distress, and treat various chronic conditions. These contemporary snake-oil salesmen are very like those of old.

In the 19th century, traveling salesmen toured rural communities selling snake oil and other remedies for poor diets and myriad diseases. Perhaps, their remedies did some good, but there was no regulation of their miraculous claims or their homemade formulations. Some people probably benefited from additional vitamins, minerals, and pain-relievers in these concoctions. They probably made a lot of people sicker and killed quite a few, but then so did doctors in that era. As people's diets improved, their need for snake-oil remedies declined. Even today, however, a small segment of the population takes mega-vitamin/mineral supplements and uses exotic herbal remedies that are largely unregulated.

The contemporary plight of pets makes snake-oil purveyors rich. Pet owners are aware of their pets' illnesses and distress, and veterinarians seem helpless to fix their problems. The vets are selling the cause of most of the problems, of course -- commercial pet foods. Snake-oil salesmen are filling the need pet owners feel to do something to remedy their pet's distress. Vitamin and mineral supplements, oils, lotions, and digestive aids may, in fact, help alleviate some health problems from inappropriate diets. They probably make a lot of pets sicker and kill quite a few, but then so do veterinarians.

The fix to most pets' problems is so simple and so inexpensive, compared to kibble and snake-oil supplements. An appropriate rmb diet is all carnivorous pets require to be healthy. Snake-oil salesmen know what pets need, but they can't make a fortune off raw-meaty-bones. As long as pet owners are duped by vets selling cooked starches as good pet foods, snake-oil salesmen will profit, pets will be sick, and pet owners will pay the bills.

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