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The PMFA and Professor Peter Neville

The PFMA and Peter Neville

The PFMA (Pet Food Manufacturers Association) have come out all guns blazing in defence of the pet food industry. This was after the Channel 5 program, that highlighted concerns voiced elsewhere, about the quality of some of the pet food manufacturers ingredients. 

Not surprising really, as the PMFA’s very existence depends on these pet food manufacturers. In a PMFA Statement. They state "In light of recent media coverage about prepared dog foods, the PFMA speaks out on behalf of an industry deeply committed to enhancing pet welfare through optimum nutrition"  "WHAAAAAT!"

The PFMA has as its header on the home page.  "The Guardians of Good Pet Nutrition" I am not sure I agree with that statement. Especially as it has a number of members who have been in the spotlight recently. The concerns were regarding the ingredients and additives in some dog foods. 

Peter Neville in a Webchat video sponsored by PurinaThey also trotted out Professor Peter Neville (something of a standing joke in dog behaviour circles).

They wrote: “Professor Peter Neville (founding partner of the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology) clearly states that in over 20 years of veterinary referral behaviour practice he has never seen a single case of a behaviour problem in dogs that could be directly linked to nutritional additives in food or that could be verified in any form of physiological test.”

Now either he has not asked the right questions, or he has very few clients. Or could it be that he is in the pockets of a pet food manufacturer mentioned in my article Bakers and Pedigree and the Channel 5 program "The Truth About Dog Food"

So I checked him out. And lo and behold. He is the independent companion animal behaviour consultant for Purina. What do they manufacture? You've got it, BakersNot quite what one would call an independent expert. What a pity the PMFA totally forgot to mention that rather important and salient fact. I wrote an article about Bakers and Pedigree The list of ingredients will probably shock you.

I had scant respect for Peter Neville before this utterance, I have even less now.  On his CV it states: "Clinical Professor at the Department of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Agriculture, Miyazaki University, Japan in 2008". I did not know that you could become a Clinical Professor at a Department of Veterinary Medicine without a Veterinary Degree?

Perhaps I should see if I can also become a professor. That would be nice. All I really know about Peter was that he was a Pet Toy salesman for Roger Mugford’s Company of Animals. My how he's blossomed.

Gill White Owner of Take the Lead interviewed Peter Neville for her website. This is part of that conversation.

“Do you think diet influences behaviour, especially in what seems hyperactive dogs?”

"The impact of specific nutrients on behaviour also is beginning to be far better understood - the influences of blood glucose levels on mood and behaviour are well known, for example. The effect of the availability, catalysis and uptake of particular amino acids from the blood into the brain on neurotransmitter availability and activity, and how this influences mood and learning ability, is also now well established."

"Some fascinating pioneering work was carried out in this area with dogs by my COAPE colleague Val Strong for her MSc and, as a result, nutritional considerations now form a vital part of our approach to treating many canine behaviour problems,"

"Particularly those where the dog is frustrated with its social or environmental circumstances. This not necessarily the same as 'hyperactivity' which has a clinical definition and is often misdiagnosed in dogs which are difficult to control or simply excitable."

On top of that, Val Strong is a partner at his Company COAPE. Her expertise is in the training and rehabilitation of problem dogs and horses and is an expert in the effects of diet on canine behaviour, rehabilitation and training. She must be feeling rather unwanted at present, given Peter has almost made her redundant with his comments. How can you be an expert in something that does not exist?

Perhaps I am missing something here?, How can you state that "he has never seen a single case of a behaviour problem in dogs that could be directly linked to nutritional additives in food, or that could be verified in any form of physiological test.” .when he is saying the complete opposite in a prior interview? One could say that he has been economical with the truth. I believe that is the nice way of saying he is a liar.

In conclusion, the Pet Food Manufacturers Association is always going to protect its own. But at what cost? Don't get me wrong there are good and bad foods available out there. You may wish to read this Dog Food and Behaviour. To state that all manufactured dog food is of excellent quality, with no additives or Es that could not possibly affect dogs behaviour and health, stretches credibility a tad too far.

You can fool some of the people some of the time. I let you finish that well know phrase or saying. I really wish these so-called experts and associations would stop treating us all like total idiots. 

Stan Rawlinson
Dog Behaviourist

February 2014

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