Today I saw a Facebook post on which someone was talking about their unvaccinated puppy.
Someone responded, “There’s no need for the rabies shot. Just let your puppy run around in a wooded area that has forest creatures like raccoons for ten minutes once a week.”
Not a direct quote, but… that’s the gist of it.
You know what? There are a lot of whackadoodles giving out crazy advice on Facebook, in forums, at the dog park… everywhere. But if you have an ounce of common sense, you won’t listen to them, and your dog won’t end up dead for a totally stupid reason.
But I can’t say I’ve read one single source of dog info that I totally agree with.
Some important people in the pet industry give wonderful, legit-looking advice about feeding your dog… but they’ll also believe that if you don’t take their advice and give your dog their products, she’s going to drop dead.
Of the worst cancer ever.
And veterinarians go to school for 12 years, and spend decades solving animal medical mysteries…
Only to suggest that feeding your dog fresh foods will kill your dog and your entire family.
I try to err on the side of science, but that’s not as easy as it would seem.
I thought science was the be-all, end-all to all debates.
But one study can suggest one thing, and a study funded by their rival organization will totally contradict it.
Sometimes you can get a better understanding if you look at the study methods. A study of 50 labradoodles isn’t going to be as useful as a study of 300,000 dogs of different breeds and ages…
Unless the second study is actually an owner-reported survey, rather than a controlled lab experiment.
And then, you look over at your own dog, who might have totally different experiences that contradict the aforementioned data.
Because that’s science, too.
Science doesn’t have to be done in a lab. You, using your five senses to notice what’s going on with your dog, forming hypotheses and doing small experiments (like adding pumpkin puree to her breakfast) is science, too.
How To Make Choices For Your Dog
Even though it’s impossible to always make the right choices for our dogs, we’re their only advocates working in their best interest. We’re all they have.
So, we still have to do our best, even though we’re never going to be perfect. We’re never going to know what’s the best food, how to train them in the best possible way, and how to make them live the absolute longest.
But you can take some things into consideration when you’re reading or asking someone for advice.
- Is this based on science? Science doesn’t solve everything, but whatever you’re trying with your dog should have worked in the past at some point, or for some reason based on some kind of logic.
- Is this a money-motivated point? Is the person giving you advice making money off of it? Maybe that’s okay! If they’re good at what they do, they should. Think about it. That weirdo at the dog park isn’t going to make money from their ideas because nobody is paying them for their advice… for good reason.
- But… I have a feeling that the anti-vax movement, for kids and dogs, comes partially because people are trying to justify the fact that they don’t want to spend their limited funds on “unnecessary” vaccines, when the truth is, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
- Does this person have a degree? Vets aren’t always right, but they usually are. At the same time, some may not update their knowledge base once they leave school, and I don’t blame them… veterinary work is grueling, and they may have certain biases from being so close to their work. Formal education matters, but don’t discount the value of advice from someone who’s self-educated because they sought knowledge in alternative ways. I may not be a dog trainer, for example, but I’ve interviewed dozens of dog professionals and read many articles and studies to collect my knowledge. And I still have a million questions about dogs.
- How does this person react when I ask questions? Wrong people get defensive when you ask questions, even if you’re not arguing with them or even contradicting their points. There was someone I really admired in the dog nutrition space, but I noticed how mean they were when anyone asked even simple questions that suggested the possibility of them being wrong. I notice that professionals don’t do that, they don’t have time for that… they just give their advice for people who want to hear it, back up their points, but don’t force them on anyone… because they’re too busy helping people to get uppity.
- How would I explain this to my grandma? Are you about to give your dog beer because you believe it prevents heartworms? What would your granny say? She’d probably say, “honey, why are you giving the dog beer? Don’t do that. They have stuff for that. Here, I wrapped up some leftovers for you.”
If You’re Unsure About Dogs, You’re Doing Something Right
On my quest for truth and knowledge, I have to admit, I don’t know everything.
I once posted about grain-free dog food, and years later, we’re having this scare that it’s causing heart disease. Only a tiny percentage of grain-free fed dogs are actually getting this disease, and the FDA investigation is still murky, even a year later…
But if you’re going to ask me, today, if grain-free food is right for your dog, I’m going to just say… I don’t know, man. This is what I know about the link between DCM and grain-free.
Here’s what I don’t know: what you should feed your dog.
Fresh foods are common sense. But homemade meals are tough to balance because dogs need to fulfill their daily nutrient requirements, and they’re so different than us, so commercial foods make sense too.
So I feed both raw, kibble, sometimes canned, freeze-dried, too.
I hope you’ll continue to read my blog, learn with me, and try different things with your dog… and you’re making these choices in ways that you feel good about, not out of fear because someone got into your head.