I met CAM4animals at the most recent seminar. They campaign for the rights of “alternative” veterinary medical practices to get a fair go. And thank God they do…
I know what lots of you think of me. I am increasingly being seen as the angry guy constantly preaching about corporate corruption, be it of the science in general (my most hated as I love science) or more relevantly here, the veterinary industry (again, not an individual vet thing, they are over-worked, animal-loving legends for the most part, my ire is directed at the levels above who are disseminating so much nonsense downwards).
But, at least for me, it’s very hard to read such breath-takingly scary appraisals of the situation as “Bad Pharma” or “Bad Science” by award-winning doctor/journalist Ben Goldacre and not be changed by it (start with Bad Pharma, find it here on Amazon). In fact, I model the third section of my forthcoming book Raw Science on Goldacre’s style, focusing on the use of bad science in the pet sector, where all the trickery learned in the human sector used to buoy such health-destructive products as cigarettes, oil, baby formula, Roundup, prescription drugs etc, are employed with even greater ease in the pet sector, as the route-to-market is even easier than it is in the human realm and It is, after all, private medicine.
I preach a lot about all this as I hope to open as many eyes as possible to what’s going on. But in a way, it’s an easier job. On the flip side, there are groups that are actively trying to change things. We see this with groups like Pups Not Profit who fight for the rights and lives of our pets here in Ireland and we see it with CAM4animals (see www.cam4animals.co.uk).
I’m so surprised these guys have largely slipped under my radar up until now. We all remember the recent move by the RCVS to relegate “alternative” medical practices to a secondary therapy, meaning it cannot be recommended ahead of more conventional treatments, a move that brought vets out on the streets, and rightly so.
CAM4animals is a 21,000+ strong group of animal owners, farmers, vets and CAM practitioners who are campaigning to protect and promote Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM). These holistic treatments include hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, acupuncture, herbal remedies, homeopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic and massage therapies. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) stated in 2017 that vets no longer had the clinical choice to prescribe these therapies except when they are used alongside or following conventional drugs or other interventions. This always makes them COMPLEMENTARY options. They can never be used as stand-alone or ALTERNATIVE options
What does this mean? It means vets practising these treatments must only recommend them secondary to conventional treatments, NOT beforehand, even if that vet thinks, with their expertise and experience, the alternative use (i.e. first line use) of a particular holistic treatment is the best option.
And yes, fresh food may well be in their sights. It would be apparently an “alternative” solution for gut issues, say, or teeth (8/10 dogs are dry fed, 8/10 have gum disease, this is nothing to do with their diet, apparently!). While the RCVS haven’t said as much we know that the Campaign for Rational Veterinary Medicine headed up by an RCVS Council Member is actively campaigning to ban raw feeding just as he campaigned to ban alternative medicines and therapies. See letter below.
Rational veterinary medicine. I mean, it sounds positively Orwellian, doesn’t it?! It’s funny how this crowd are happy to completely ignore the fact that dry food is causing an awful lot more cases of Salmonellosis in humans than raw, not to mention recent studies as the one published in the Vet Record set in stone just how safe raw dog food is for you and yours. But we’ve done that to death, we know they have to beat that drum as talking about basic nutritional principles, pros’s and con’s, is very hard for them.
But a move to block any treatments being recommended by conventionally trained vets whom have our pets best interests at heart ignores the simple fact these vets have undertaken the same conventional degree as everyone else. Moreover, they have gained further insight via study in their field. They have gained regulated qualifications and are perfectly capable of identifying that in some instances, an alternative treatment should be recommended.
But most importantly, when you think about it, currently the RCVS is happy to support:
- Cereal-based dry food, despite there not being a single long-term study in existence that I can find whereby an ultra-processed, cereal-based diet outcompeted a species-appropriate raw diet for dogs or cats, and whose formulae are based on AAFCO / FEDIAF protocol which explicitly states they are based on published data, PERSONAL EXPERIENCE and unpublished data)
- Boosting annually (not forbidden), and even every three years (despite no studies supporting that vaccines for viruses wear off this quickly). More on boosters here.
- The kennel cough “vaccine”
- Rabies jabs (for dogs travelling between Ireland and the Britain, two islands without rabies).
I obviously care most about the last bit, but they all annoy me equally truth be told, as most if not all of the above treatments come with their share of published evidence. The RCVS states “we expect that treatments offered by veterinary surgeons are underpinned by a recognised evidence base or sound scientific principles.” That sounds very sensible but, the problem is that they a) hadn’t looked at the evidence before writing the statement b) hadn’t consulted with any of the CAM veterinary regulatory bodies, c) dismiss any evidence when it has subsequently been put before them by the CAM veterinary bodies and d) fail to educate themselves in the latest evidence when invited to do so and e) consider it the job of CAM4animals to provide scientific evidence for their chosen alternative approach – as a consumer group that is hardly in their remit.
CAM4Animals uses a few staggering examples of how this view by the RCVS potentially affects animal owners:
1. Your elderly dog is starting to show signs of arthritis. Your vet would be unable to first suggest using a green-lipped mussel supplement (proven) and omega 3 oil (proven) and shift to a raw food diet (proven for CHD) to start to deal with the early signs. Nor, as time progresses, would the average punter then be directed to physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, homoeopathy or acupuncture.
2. Your herd of calves are coughing and have scours following separation from their mothers. You do not want to lose your organic or antibiotic-free status so you need to be able to try homeopathic or herbal alternatives first.
3. Herbal options, such as echinacea, are proven to help with cough in dogs (a common cold being something you can do much about either way, and you certainly can’t prevent it in a pill manner). Your vet possibly can’t tell you this and accurate, unbiased education on CAM is not being encouraged in veterinary schools.
CAM4Animals campaigns on behalf of our pets to ensure alternatives at least gets a fair shot. They are also spreading awareness of CAM treatments in general and enabling owners to see that there are more tools available in the box for looking after the health of their animals. I just wanted to make you aware of them. If you can, sign their Animal Owners Charter; follow them on any or all Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; offer your time or skills and join them as a volunteer or even donate. But in the very least, let’s say thanks.