Dr. Paula Terifaj, a holistic veterinarian in Orange County, owner of Founders Veterinary Clinic and author of How to Feed Your Dog if You Flunked Rocket Science, recalled being “courted by" pet food companies in vet school: “It was conveyed to us that people are too stupid to cook for themselves,” she says. As most veterinarians do, she utilized “Prescription Diets®” in her practice initially. In 1999, however, she had a light bulb moment when she came across a book written by one her favorite professors, Dr. Donald Strombeck, entitled, Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets: The Healthful Alternative, which is still available today on Amazon.com. His advice set her on a journey that changed her practice forever. Today, Dr. Terifaj operates a holistic practice and encourages her clients to cook for their dogs. She feels that the manufacturer of Prescription Diets® uses “substandard ingredients and then fortifies the hell out of their formulas."
...A More Natural Approach
So what is a pet owner to do if their dog develops kidney disease, urine crystals, or any other diseases that these diets would normally be prescribed to treat?
Dr. Terifaj first suggests first verifying that the dog does indeed need a special diet. She feels that often times a dog is “on the fence” and the easiest thing for a veterinarian to do is to suggest a Prescription Diet®. Instead, she often turns to a Web site, www.balanceit.com. This Web site provides recipes at a nominal charge to pet owners interesting in cooking their own food. In addition, vets can log in at no charge and request diets designed to treat specific diseases. She suggests asking your vet to do so for you if he or she is adamant about a specific diet. Not only will this be a cheaper alternative, but Dr. Terifaj feels it is a much healthier approach to feed real “human food.”
...If a veterinarian won’t budge from the idea of a Prescription Diet®, it may be time to locate a holistic veterinarian for second opinion. Dr. Jasek is a member of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA) and clients often find her using the vet finder on the group's web site, www.holisticvetlist.com.
The next time your veterinarian suggests a diet for your four-legged child that you’re not comfortable with, don’t hesitate to ask questions. A good veterinarian, traditional or holistic, will welcome that discussion and encourage you to look at all the options available.