Do vets really get kickbacks for recommending certain dog foods?

lori239September 10, 2010

A couple years ago, my vet HIGHLY recommended Science Diet for my dogs. I have 3 white dogs and have been told that white dogs tend to have skin problems, and 2 of mine do. Lots of itching, mostly on their feet.

Was told by a "dog food expert(?)" that Science Diet has too much corn in it, which I guess can cause itching. I switched to "Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul" today, as highly recommended by a trusted friend who has done her research, not by my vet. Vet Tech says too much protein can cause kidney and heart problems for dogs later on in life (so she would not recommend this food). Does anyone else know that to be true?

Anyhow, I would be very upset to find out we've been dealing with my dogs' itching and them being so uncomfortable all this time because Science Diet gives my vet a kickback!

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"Vet Tech says too much protein can cause kidney and heart problems for dogs later on in life"

Not true. Important to research things yourself and partner with your veterinary team in the care of your pets. Vets are fallible just like other folks you hire to help with home care, car care, or your own health. Trust but verify.

If your vet is selling food, there is mark up on the food as profit just like any other item sold in their office (drugs, supplies). It's a business.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 8:16PM
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I trust the vets I use to fix problems I cannot fix.

I have probably raised many more dogs than most of them and have found food that works just fine for my dogs.

Like Cynthia said, vets make money on what they sell. Since many vets sell Science Diet---which I would never feed due to over rated claims and prices----I would expect they get a 'deal' on pricing.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 1:59AM
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We have moved lots over the decades so have visited many vet's clinics. Without exception, all have recommended Purina and Purina One although they sell the Science Diet, etc. in their offices. (Our current vet says he has always given his own pets Purina.

We exclusively use Purina One for our dogs now and Purina for the cats and they are all very healthy.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 8:55AM
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Not sure if it's Urban Legend or truth but I have always heard that vets do make money off the Science Diet that sits on their counter, and I have seen it on many counters.

One thing I do know, no matter what you feed your pets, it will always be wrong in someone's eyes.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 1:23PM
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I just love that statement cindy lou who-----"no matter what you feed your pets, it will always be wrong in someone's eyes". How true!! Does anyone else have problems with trying to give our dogs good quality dog food, and yet something we can afford without someone looking down on you? I have had people try to make me feel guilty that I am not feeding our dogs expensive, super premium dog food but I am sorry, a dog food that costs $35 or $40 for 15 lbs is just more than we can afford----especially with two active 85 lb. dogs who go through the bags of food pretty fast! We had tried the Kirkland brand super premium dog food from Costco which has pretty decent ingredients and a very good price, but our dogs just don't seem to like the taste. On the other hand, they just love Purina One dog food which some people think is a terrible dog food. I just don't know what to do and much as I wish I could easily pay for one of the top brands of dog food, I have to be realistic. So, we have been feeding them Purina One at this time and they really have done well on it.

As far as Science Diet---for what is listed as ingredients, the price is quite high and yes, the vets do make a profit on it when sold in their office.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 9:54PM
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There's no reason that these so-called specialty foods shouldn't be sold for the same price as other foods.

Of course, the vets overcharge like crazy. Of course, the manufacturers have a scam going.

I paid $15-19 for a large bag of Wellness Dry Cat Food (a premium brand). I switched my cat to Renal LP (garbage ingredients)--the same size bag costs $30-40 depending on which vet I buy it from.

I'm not commenting on what Special Diet is needed for what ailment -- I don't know -- I'm merely commenting on the OPs question.

One article:

Here is a link that might be useful: Another article

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 10:34PM
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I grew up with a mutt who ate what was on sale. My mom always said "eventually he'll get hungry enough to eat it." He went to the vet twice that I can recall. He never had a crate and never saw a trainer. He roamed free around the house while we were at school and he ate table food after dinner.

The "rules" are so different now.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 11:07PM
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"One thing I do know, no matter what you feed your pets, it will always be wrong in someone's eyes." So true Cindy Lou!

I should have mentioned in my OP that although my vet recommended Science Diet, she knew I was not buying it from her because it was less expensive at Pet Supplies Plus so of course that's where I bought it. A couple people have told me that the vet still gets a "kickback" for recommending it - I don't know if that's true or not, I just know that my vet knows that my dogs have been having the itchiness/skin problems on and off for a couple years now and I've spent lots of money on vet visits and meds trying to fix the problem. And if I thought for a second that the vet knew changing their diet might help, I would be shocked, to say the least.

Actually I don't even know if it's going to help but I guess I'll find out - heard it takes about 2 weeks to make a difference? And I am feeding them 1/2 SD and 1/2 the new food for the first week so as not to upset their stomachs.

I stopped by the vet's office recently and noticed they aren't carrying Science Diet anymore - hmmmmmm.

I know that in the past when I was feeding them Canidae which is high in protein, the vet said that was the reason why one of my dogs was gaining weight - however, ever since that day, my dogs get a brisk 3 mi. walk every a.m. (and she lots a bunch of weight since we've been walking) so hopefully their weight will still be ok with me switching to a high protein food, Chicken Soup For the Dog Lovers Soul.

Thanks so much for everyone's input, I really appreciate it. :o)

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 1:16PM
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If they gain weight, just cut back on the amount of food :) Nothing complicated about feeding dogs or people. Good quality food in reasonable portions. A variety of foods is also beneficial.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 2:30PM
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Take a look at the ingredients on the label of any food and make sure that you are comfortable with them. If you don't recognize them as something that you would eat, chances are that they are byproducts and then you have to decide based on finances which are a very real factor. If you need more info, go to dog food analysis dot com or some non biased site like that to learn more.

Unfortunately in recent times many reputable dog food companies have been sold to congomerates who cheapened the product and tried to ride on its past reputation. So do your research and make a decision based on the food's quality and your budget.


    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 8:46PM
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By-products are in many edible things such as hot dogs and other processed meats. Dogs and cats grow and thrive on so many low priced foods and making people feel that they have to pay lots for quality is just wrong. Many generic foods can cost much less because there is no advertising cost involved. (Advertising is a huge part of pricing.)

If the pet likes his food and is growing/healthy, it is probably good for him. If a food is sold at Sam's Club in larger than life packaging, it is good for me.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 9:06AM
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Carmen, did you ever notice it's the foods that aren't good quality that have all the TV and print Ads? (Iams, Pedigree, Purina, SD). Many folks who feed those pelleted corn and byproduct meals haven't even heard of the GOOD quality foods (Verus, Canidae, Evo, Honest Kitchen, Orijen) because the good foods aren't advertise heavily. No charming commercials needed, since the ingredients list tells the story.

It's interesting that some assume good foods are more expensive. They aren't. Perhaps by the pound they are more expensive than a pound of Old Roy and the like, but since they're made with high quality ingredients instead of corn and rice you will feed less, and the dog gets more nutrition and has smaller poop because the dog can actually digest and make use of the food instead of just passing all those fillers through the digestive system.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 7:45PM
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As a vet, I can say truthfully that NO, vets do NOT get kickbacks from ANY pet food company.

I personally don't recommend science diet except in certain instances. For example, end-stage kidney failure and severe liver disease might make me recommend either the Science Diet or Purina prescription diet for life. Short term, I've used s/d to dissolve bladder stones, but back to regular food once stones are dissolved. And very short term maybe an easily digestible food prescription diet for after a major abdominal surgery or severe GI disease. Other than those specific instances, I rarely use any prescription diets, and certainly not the Science Diet non-prescription foods. Even for food allergies, I prefer novel protein and carbohydrate diets such as Natural Balance vs prescription diets (except Royal Canin, which is good food, but we don't sell it)

As far as how much food my own dogs get, I feed Eagle Pack Holistic Select, Natural Balance, or Solid Gold. My huskies (37-48 pounds) eat 1 cup of food a day each. My 65 pound VERY active rottie eats 3 cups a day. I'm sure if I fed Iams or Beneful or whatever they'd eat a LOT more.

Of course the BEST food is natural whole food, like a raw diet or homemade cooked food. But most of us don't have the time or expertise to cook balanced meals for our pets.

Also check your local pet store for good deals. I get the 10th bag of food free...

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 8:44PM
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If dogs are healthy, active and live to be 12-16 years (these are large sized dogs), how bad can the food be? If it is affordable and good for our dogs, it is good for us.

Yes, our current dogs are 10 mos. and 2 years, but also large breed and we expect them to have long lives as our others have had.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 3:25PM
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