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  1. Sharon

    Thank you, Susan, for continuing to be our voice and to stand with us for the health and safety of our pets! Just because one doesn’t have the opportunity or means to attain letters after their name, does not mean they are too stupid to read the same educational materials, scientific research and much more and come to an educated conclusion regarding the same. We do have an advantage though, in that we haven’t been tainted by courses taught only by the pet food industry.

  2. Jackie

    We have to remember that pet food nutritionists with letters after their name, while probably knowing what goes into their company’s pet food, need their jobs. Talking against bad pet food would cost that person his or her job. Even a lot of foods are sold for human consumption (and considered “safe” by the FDA) can contain GMO ingredients, pesticide residue, hormones, etc. It’s all about money, who you know, and protecting one’s job. At any rate, thank you Susan!!!

  3. Casey

    You know, truly competent people are capable of explaining a cogent point to someone who is uneducated or ignorant of the thing.

    But I’ve worked with the other sort – the “I know more than you because I’m a (insert job title/educational accreditation here)!” I actually had one engineer tell me, “You don’t need to know that!” and storm off angrily when asked a simple question about a specific part in the design. It turns out that he didn’t actually know the answer, despite having been a high ranking engineer for decades.

    If we have a question about a pet food, I would think that some competent nutritionist could answer it. But to “pull rank” and belittle the person asking the question? That tells you a lot about the nutritionist, if not the nutrition…

    1. Peter

      Nicely put, Casey.

      This is the “patriarchal mode” of veterinary medicine, wherein the doctor, who considers himself the one and only expert, lectures the client in a dominant role and refuses to accept questioning of his/her word. It is an old-fashioned model of practice, but sadly, probably the most common.

  4. Carmelita Garcia-Kayes

    Thank you Susan! Well said.

  5. Csthy

    Very eloquently stated!

  6. Brynn

    Thank you thank you!

  7. Mary Sue

    A degree does not an expert make! I could list dozens of doctors and other “specialist” who have had their rights to practice revoked by their credentialing agencies or should have if they didn’t.

    I offer this personal account as an example. I was in the hospital with a mystery illness, from which i almost died. A registered dietician came to me to ask about my diet. At the time I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian. When i explained that I didn’t eat any meat, she asked, “What about lunch meat?” And another time, I was admitted to the hospital I was explaining to the doctor the two types of insulin I was taking (for many years) and he said, “They are both the same.” In fact they were very different in terms of their onset and duration of action, hence the reason for taking two different kinds. Almost forty years later I am still shocked when I think of these incidents.

    That said, there certainly are specialists and practitioners who are knowledgeable, well-intentioned, and effective. Those who bash the public are not among them.

  8. Dean

    Susan… while tending to agree with you on this. There are some things that should be said in addition. Having followed both you and Rodney over the years I have to say that yes you are both great advocates for pet nutrition. That said however you do tend to rely on fairly scientific and supportable information, Rodney (and his cohort) sometimes tend to go off into ‘uncharted’ (unsupportable) territory that does, in fact, do more harm than good in this conversation. In my opinion you are correct that the ACVN would do well to get involved at the consumer level more; but then the consumer needs to be rewarding if they do. The reality is that; both have much to contribute and most of the problems stem from differentiated belief systems in the two groups.

    Consumers do tend buy based on emotion and belief systems, academics tend to believe in testing and result leaving the ethics out of the equation. This dichotomy is the gap where the marketers and sellers playing both sides get their results. In this world what is said is true but the meaning indicated to the customer and the reality have a large gap. A current example of this is ‘free run chicken’ – one assumes this means the chickens are free to run and forage the grounds as desired… in fact it simply describes how chickens for slaughter are currently raised, in barns with thousands of friends walking in a circle eating out of auto feed trays…

    So you are right there is no need or place for such commentary as stated above (and it appears to have been made someone who is not a nutritionist but a marketer trying to defend a position), nor is there room for some of the generalized commentary made about vets ethical/financial motivations on blogs. We all need to do better and raise up the ones who do… IMO

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      We can only ‘do better’ if ACVN comes to the table. My post and email to them was to invite this conversation. Not sure what you meant by Rodney (and his cohort) – but personally, perhaps the uncharted territory should be examined. Personally, I trust Rodney completely. I know with certainty his heart is in this because of love of animals. I can’t say the same for many regulatory or pet food nutritionists.

      As far as ‘scientific and supportable information’, I have asked FDA for the science behind their decision to allow diseased and dead/non-slaughtered animal material (illegal material) into pet food. They have yet to provide it – even though it was requested via Freedom of Information Act (they are required by law to provide).

  9. Marty

    Thank you Susan. Super letter and straight to the point. We appreciate all you do to better help and protect our four legged kids

  10. Michelle

    Thank you Susan!

  11. Hannie

    I am not a companion animal nutritionist & have never claimed to be. However, during the horror show of ’07, I started to research pet food to find out what my beloved fur kid was eating. I was absolutely horrified. I was unknowingly buying products off the shelf w/the foolish assumption that ANY & ALL dog foods were made for the good of my dog. How foolish of me but I just had no clue. That was when I went from researching pet food to researching how to make homemade food for my dog. Every vet & nutritionist will tell you that there is no way you can home cook for your dog, you just don’t have the knowledge that the pet food companies have. OMG OMG OMG. No, I don’t have any diseased animals here to cook but I do have the same meat & poultry that I buy for myself. I’ve been cooking for her since ’07. She is almost 12 yo & vet says she is in excellent physical condition for her age. Hmmmmmmm

    1. Jennifer

      That is exactly when I started as well. I lost my boy to that recalled food and started my research then on carnivore nutrition. Will never go back again

  12. Mary Meyer Johnson

    To the pet food nutritionist in the article above: Your failed attempt at intimidation is so typical of someone sidestepping the truth. Throw insults instead of openly discussing the issue intelligently. Are the big pet food payoffs really that good to put animal health at risk? You responded out of anger (and fear) because you know consumers are on to you. Thanks to Susan Thixton, Rodney Habib and informed consumers, maybe one day pet nutritionists can have a job they can be proud of.

  13. Kristi Johnson

    Ph.D’s in Animal Nutrition?
    In today’s Land Grant Universityanimal nutrition is looking at getting the most for the least.
    Take dairy cattle. They need roughage. Protein and fat boost milk production but that expensive, hard-to-handle hay doesn’t do anything except keep their stomachs going.
    What you learn at the university: protein and fat are protein and fat. They can be from anything. Dried blood, waste fat, products from rendering plants. You learn 14% protein is 14% protein. It doesn’t matter where it comes from. You could traditional hay and oats, or you could feed rendered animal meal and chopped chicken bedding waste.
    Roughage? It just helps move the food through a cow’s complicated digestive system. So what about plastic scrap pellets? They can act as roughage and move things along and just get pooped out. Scrap plastic is going to be very cheap, maybe even free.
    Roughage is roughage. Plastic or alfalfa hay is the same to an animal nutritionist. The only determination is cost vs benefit.
    If you think the pet food industry is bad, you should see what goes into your milk, beef, pork and chicken.

    1. Dianne & pets

      I suspect you have hit the nail on the head here. I know there are some who have more common sense than others, and to me, a lot of this is plain common sense. Your comment about protein being protein reminds me of my many frustrations with pharmacists who insist that a large blue pill is exactly the same as a small blue pill because the active ingredient is the same. In the world of scientific research, changing the accepted beliefs in a system is fraught with academic landmines. A degree does not elevate one to being more than human. Most will happily go along with accepting what their profs tell them and believe they are experts. Very few will question everything they are told and demand proof. Very few profs will accept that. It takes someone exceptional to change the status quo. In a lot of ways, science is as much a religion as any other.

      1. Cheryl Bond

        I loved what (Dianne & pets) stated:
        “A degree does not elevate one to being more than human. Most will happily go along with accepting what their profs tell them and believe they are experts. Very few will question everything they are told and demand proof. Very few profs will accept that. It takes someone exceptional to change the status quo. In a lot of ways, science is as much a religion as any other.”

        Throughout history, any academic, that has challenged the “status quo” of a long held belief system, has systematically been ridiculed, villified & given the title quack. The real critical thinkers “shake things up”, and it is not welcomed by any means! The truth always seems to seep out though, doesn’t it! No matter how the “powers that be” keep doing all they can to suppress it.

    2. T Allen

      She speaks the truth! Amen Sister!

    3. Jeri

      Bingo. The vast majority of pet food nutritionists receive grants and funding for their degrees from the pet food industry and work for them when they get out. Objectivity? Don’t expect much. I have consulted a site where diets are formulated by a vet nutritionist and the recipes are carb heavy. Of course, that’s what they learn, so why change? And you are right. They look at the nutrient profiles and conclude that as long as the profile is acceptable numerically, anything to meet that is fine and dandy. This accounts for some of the wrong-headed diets that are out there such as vegan diets for cats and dogs. After all, if all protein sources are equal, then feeding a carnivore a plant-exclusive diet shouldn’t matter. Just supplement heavily with chemical laden synthetic vitamins and you’re good to go. Never mind that the species shouldn’t be consuming such a diet or that their bodies aren’t designed for such. Never mind that there are vast differences between animal proteins and plant proteins and many amino acids are not present in the latter. Who needs the pesky details? For that matter, just feed an old shoe and motor oil because hey! The profile is there, so no reason to delve into such issues as bioavailability. So much harm done for profit. So very much.

  14. Adam

    I would like to know the NAME/s of these “PhDs” – as I sincerely question their credentials. I’d also like a disclosure of their financials – let’s see how many companies PAID THEM OFF, and how much they consider pet health to be worth to them. I’ll lay money on the line that they are 100% PAID OFF – period. That ENDS their involvement. Name some names,and I’m happy to investigate personally – I’ll contact them and call them out on it *personally*. If I had the ability, I’d confront them in person, and on camera.

    I’m sick of these “professionals” hiding behind anonymity …..

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      I would gladly provide names – but this verbal attack wasn’t towards me, it was to a consumer and unless I get the ‘ok’ from the consumer I cannot release the name. I did look the person up and they currently do not work for Big Pet Food, at least not directly. But they were a former employee of one of the largest.

      1. David

        Just out of curiosity, how many billions of dollars are involved in the pet food industry in the US?

        1. Susan Thixton Author

          According to the Pet Products Manufacturing Association – $23.05 billion of pet food was sold in the US in 2015.

  15. Kristi Johnson

    I/we employ Ph.D. companion animal nutritionists..several. One gentleman is a double Ph.D.

    There are no university programs that focus solely on companion animal nutrition. There is a NON-DEGREE on-line program out of Illinois.
    If you are getting a Ph.D it is going to be in:
    !. Animal nutrition, with a focus on ruminant nutrition.
    2. Non ruminant animal nutrition
    3. Animal Science.
    It is going to be at a Land Grant (ag) university. You are not going to be able to focus on companion animals.

    1. LT

      Thank you. That answered my question. If it were possible to get an advanced degree in feline/canine nutrition, I’d get one!

  16. Manette

    Thank you Susan. Let is know how we can help.

  17. JoAnne Rogers

    “I am so sick if people spouting off their stupid statements…” Be nice if the oh-so-smart PhD would proofread!

  18. Shirley Mcguire

    Thank you Susan!

  19. Jude

    You said, “Consumers and ACVN could together initiate an campaign that could ultimately change the future of animal food.”

    Cannot consumers such as ourselves initiate that campaign?

    I love my vet. That said, her practice and others around here sell prescription diets (Purina and Science DIet) for renal failure dogs, as well as for other dogs that need special diets. Before I learned better, I fed my dog that. No more! Not ever again! I switched him to a high quality food and he outlived his breed’s age limit. I will always remain open to my vet’s recommendations but will make the most knowledgable decisions available to me according to my dog’s needs.

    Back to the original issue. Is there any reason why we cannot initiate our own campaign that can go viral on the Internet and garner many, many followers and petition signers?

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      There is no reason that we can’t do this on our own. That said, we have been trying this for years and we continue to be dismissed. As recent as March 2016 myself and a pet food consumer (Ph.d human food) provided FDA with compelling evidence as to why this material is such a risk to pets. They flatly refused to listen. I’ve been told – thus far – by two State Department of Agriculture representatives (Florida and Missouri) they will not enforce law. Have another meeting with Kentucky representative at the August AAFCO meeting. And I’ve asked FDA for the science to prove this material is safe (Freedom of Information Act request), they have not responded even though law requires them to. We got 78,000 signatures on a petition last year. The signatures and comments were handed to FDA and AAFCO in person; everything was ignored. We sent a Citizen Petition to FDA several years back, FDA responded with no. And this issue has been reported to the Office of Inspector General overseeing FDA. Nothing.
      I am by no means giving up – but history has shown they refuse to abide by/enforce law. I believe the only answer is a lawsuit. It won’t be quick, but law is law – and we would win. Sue FDA and each State Department of Agriculture. My opinion is we need a lawyer willing to take this battle on. I hate the thought of it, but lawsuits work.

      1. T Allen

        Thanks Susan! It would be great if Bill Marler would take the case but even if he can’t he might be able to find someone who would! With his background in Food Safety and fighting big Corps it would definitely make the PFI sit up and take notice!

        Bill Marler is an accomplished personal injury lawyer and national expert on foodborne illness litigation. He began representing victims of food-borne illness in 1993, when he represented Brianne Kiner, the most seriously injured survivor of the Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, resulting in her landmark $15.6 million settlement. Since that time, Bill and his law partners at Marler Clark have represented thousands of individuals in claims against food companies whose contaminated products have caused serious injury and death. His advocacy for better food regulation has led to invitations to address local, national, and international gatherings on food safety, including testimony before the US House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce. Bill shares his thoughts on foodborne illness outbreaks and litigation at his personal blog, Marler Blog, at Bill is publisher of Food Safety News.

      2. Joan Tennant

        Howsa ’bout a letter to President Obama with info. He’s a pet owner. Or maybe better yet, Miche;lie. She’s into nutrition, and probably feeds the dog!

        1. Adam

          Seriously? We don’t need to go into politics, but if you really think he will do *anything* to prosecute *anyone* with anything to do with a gov’t agency, all you have to do is look at his track record. Neither will Hillary, or any of their other cronies.

        2. Susan Thixton Author

          I’ve tried that too – multiple times. No response.

    2. Dianne & pets

      You could add a hashtag to everything you post on twitter and facebook, something like #MakeTheFDAEnforceAnimalFoodLaws If we agree to a common hashtag it should go viral,

  20. Em

    Well said, Susan! We all know the squeaky wheel gets the grease and that’s why they would like nothing more than to shut down the comments and publicity and ‘truth’ you bring to the pet food consumers – in turn, they have to defend their false positions and work harder to defend their pet food employers!

  21. Marsha

    Thank you Susan. throwing insults at others is not the way to get them on our side.

  22. William

    “You are not a companion animal Ph.D. nutritionist. I am so sick if people spouting off their stupid statements…when they don t have a clue. I/we employ Ph.D. companion animal nutritionists..several. One gentleman is a double Ph.D. nutritionists. Pleeeaaasse. Don t even bother….”

    This quote, I hardly believe, was written by anyone with a higher Education, or within the science community. I looks like something written by an 18 year old girl making up stories to get herself attention.

    1. Dianne & pets

      To be fair, the conversation was probably verbal and a very upset person was writing what they remember after the fact. So the content is correct, I wouldn’t use the grammar against anyone in this case.

      1. Susan Thixton Author

        No – this was in writing and I quoted exactly as was written. Minus information that would disclose the identity of the pet owner and the individual.

        1. Dianne & pets

          Then I take it back and I am astounded that anyone with credentials would be foolish enough to put this in writing. Talk about professional suicide.

          1. Kristi Johnson

            What credentials? There is no such thing as a Ph.D. in companion animal nutrition.

  23. Andrea

    I once was interested in making an appointment with a nutritionist at Tufts for my cat who had some medical challenges. She was very rude to me when I stated that my cat was on a raw diet and said that they would not even see my cat because of it. She treated me with such disrespect so I am not at all surprised that another nutritionist behaved that way too. Needless to say I never got an appointment there, but that’s ok. I worked things out myself. What I definitely wouldn’t do is recommend to anyone one of these useless nutritionists.

    1. Jeri

      ITA, Andrea! I have heard of one pet food nutritionist who is aware of the issue and trying to change things because she knows the education is biased and unethical. Many holistic vets have told me how proud they are that they are NOT “board certified” because they know the price paid for such….literally…and they refuse to be “bought” by the highest bidder. I have no use for any vet or “nutritionist” who believes bagged or canned highly processed feed grade “stuff” is somehow magically healthier than real whole food.

  24. Woofielover

    I understand the third-hand position you’re in, Susan. However, it would be great if the person who actually received this would permit the writer’s name and email to be posted. Not the person who received it, just the idiot – um, person – who sent the reply.

    The reply certainly warrants exposure and some follow-up correspondence sent their way.

    1. Reader

      If they’re even interested, enough feedback for the people concerned in this article, is available by our comments already on record. Those who are in positions to secure quality in PF, are evaluating consumers (and people like us). Are we just another group of emotional animal extremists. Or are we rational fact holders. To be effective and to prevail, we only need the facts, and a strategy to convince others.

  25. Teresa Johnson

    I am not a companion (or other animal) nutritionist professionally speaking. I have no degrees of any kind. I did take a 2 semester course for Veterinary Assistant, a non-credit course at that, in 2000 at Southern Maryland Community College, La Plata, MD. During that class, we were visited by speakers who were employed by various pet food companies. The one that sticks out most is Hills Science Diet. Never were actual ingredients discussed. We were assured that the food was quality, processing controls were quality, and if there were ever to be any slight adulteration any bacteria or harmful stuff would be null and void because of the high heat processing for the canned prescription foods. Nothing guaranteed for dry kibbles.
    Admittedly, I never really looked to hard at pet foods until I started rescuing pet hedgehogs. They are smaller, faster digestive systems than cats and dogs, and usually the first sign of any illness is in the eliminations they leave. Sometimes, because they will mask illnesses, that “first” sign is already too late.
    I was raised with a hunting father and home canning mother and never took ill until I was on my own and shopping in the grocers more than fresh. That, and the love of my hedgehogs, lead me to read, research, and change my outlook. We can pay at the grocer or at the doctor/pharmacy/veterinarian. I choose the first… even if it means taking more time to read labels, research a company’s sources and ethics.
    As for those PhD’s and double PhD’s …..I have several acquaintances that boast double PhD’s in their varying fields. They are not, by far, complete experts in those fields either. And it makes me remember that old joke:
    B.S. = bull shit
    M.S. = more of the same
    PhD = piled higher and deeper

  26. Lilly n' Ame

    Good time to bring back the classic quote by Arthur Schopenhauer. “All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self evident.” Unfortunately, many folks (even PhD’s and those in the conventional medical/health industries) tend to hang out in the first and second stage far too long before making the leap to the third stage. Good thing there are many ( that can get there much faster.

  27. Felen

    Thank you for standing up for all pet parents and all 4paws. Thanks again.

  28. Susan Roth

    We all know why they don’t speak out. They are bought and paid for by the pet food industry!

  29. Marcia

    I can almost gurantee it was a Science Diet “pet nutrition” specialist. I would have throat punched her. They know less than anyone what good pet nutrition is if they are hoking Chicken By Product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal and other disgusting ingredients! EVEN their Prescription food is crapola (IMO)!

  30. Mr. Beaujangles

    Follow the money trail, or in their language: phollow the dough (PhD)

  31. Jennifer

    If they truly knew about animal nutrition, they would know animals need to eat a species appropriate diet and the garbage kibble they create are not what our animals were designed to eat.
    Their PhD’s obviously didn’t teach them proper nutrition and just because they have a PhD does not make them more intelligent than a pet owner. We are all able to do our own research a mind know what is best for our animals.
    Oh ya, I personally have a bachelor degree, masters degree and 4 doctorates, and am finishing up 3 others, one being in animal naturopathy, where we study species appropriate nutrition. So to me, their PhDs mean nothing. I educated myself on proper carnivore nutrition before starting my animal naturopathy doctorate and now has built on that.

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