DCM - A lesson To Grow From
This is my first general writing and probably one, if not the, most important I will post.
It illustrates many issues that we have in the industry right now. As well as the problem with division and statements made by people in authority without gathering proper knowledge.
As many of you know, earlier this year there was a “link ” made between certain foods and Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM*).
The reason for the “” around link is that there actually wasn’t one made
*(DCM is a horrible disease. Simply put, it is a disease of the walls of the heart that eventually weakens the chambers making it unable to pump efficiently. This leads to a decrease in quality of life as the pet becomes lethargic and weakened making everyday activities more difficult. It can lead to heart failure).
To make things worse, a list of 16 manufacturing companies was released by a governing agency (FDA) and it was suggested that feeding the foods on the list could cause DCM.
It was expanded to suggest that the link was to all grain free foods (even though not all the foods on the list were grain free and foods with high levels of pulses (lentils, chickpeas and peas)
There was no science behind any of this.
This could be compared to taking a group of people with broken hips and gathering information on what they eat and then create a list to tell people that eating those foods causes broken hips
This would be missing the following
Proof that eating that food actually causes broken hips
Correction for the popularity of a food – ie more people may have eaten a certain food because it’s popular which would lead to a higher number
Correction for many other aspects which could also contribute to the broken hip like all foods consumed, genetics, health condition, activity level, medications, etc
Yet companies were named, it was broadcast loudly across all sorts of news and media channels with this list of companies stating that feeding them could be harming pets.
The media expanded that further to state “boutique store” foods pose a danger to pets health.
This caused a reaction throughout the industry
Pet parents were scared
Retailers were put in a position to ease their fears and try to help the parents feel they are making safe choices, all while not having any information other than this unbacked statement. It was exhausting, unfair and wrong.
Retailers were hurt financially as many consumers were scared away from buying from them, not even giving them a chance to discuss. These are the same retailers who exist because they are trying to do best for pets.
Manufacturers were hurt. Customers often switching away from any foods on the “list” or in the other categories without looking further into things.
Manufacturers scrambled to defend their formulas and some even created “grain inclusive” foods to stop the bleed from their brand (more on this in another post)
The message was sent to pet parents that the only foods that were safe were the ones sold by vets. This message was sent by people in authority and without proper information which is very dangerous.
Many vets repeated this message. Not all of course. But it felt like the very people who should be working together in the best interest of pets, were on opposing sides . This is not new (more on this in a future post), but this situation made that divide bigger and stronger than ever
- Pet parents were scared and confused and lashed out at companies who they thought had “betrayed” them.
It has recently been quietly proven that there is not enough evidence to state that there is a direct link between diet and DCM. That DCM is complicated and that there are many different aspects to be considered.
It will be interesting to see how much this message gets broadcast
Clearly, the need for understanding nutrition and its role in the health of our pets is absolutely necessary.
Both sides of this “divide” believe that.
The problem we have is the underlying biased thinking of “we are right and they are wrong” that is creating what is wrong in our industry. And that lies on both sides.
It has been bubbling for years now, but this situation just highlighted how broken things really are.
It is strikingly like the situation in the US – the divide of a group of people who should be on side with each other (they for all being "American" as we are all "pet lovers") being highlighted and then increased by the spread of incorrect information and the feeding of people’s fears.
Only in this case, instead of a nation of people being affected negatively, it is another group who are.
A group without the ability to gather their own information and do their due diligence to make sure they are ok.
A group without a voice who trust us to do right by them. Our pets.
I will be starting a pet project to help change this as, underneath all of this “us against them”, most of us are here for the same reason, to make like better for pets.
And the best way to do what is right for them is to work together and utilize all the information and talents that exist throughout our industry, on both sides of the divide and from those who reside in the middle.
So many brilliant, passionate people and organizations who, if we work together, drop our "we are right" mindsets to open our minds, can really make a difference and take the health of our pets to places much greater than if we are to continue divided.
The DCM situation, while it had negatives, is not made better by people staying disunited and using it to feed a side.
Let’s use it as a learning point and a springboard for change.
More on this project to come. If you would like to keep informed of this, please contact me and I will set up a mailing list for sending updates.