Toxic jerky treats linked to more than 1,000 dog deaths

Toxic jerky treats linked to more than 1,000 dog deaths

Published May 19, 2014·
FoxNews.com

Reuters

More than 1,000 dog deaths may now be linked to toxic jerky treats, according to a recent update from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The agency said that since 2007, there have been almost 5,000 complaints of pet illnesses related to the treats. The majority of the symptoms reported include gastrointestinal or liver disease, and about a third were linked to kidney and urinary disease.

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About 10 percent of the illnesses included other signs such as neurologic, dermatologic, and immunologic symptoms, and about 15 percent of the kidney and urinary disease cases also tested positive for Fanconi syndrome – a rare kidney disease also associated with the pet deaths.

The FDA is still unsure of the specific cause for the reported illnesses and deaths, but most cases reportedly occurred after the pets had eaten chicken, duck or sweet potato jerky treats imported from China. No specific brands were recalled in the FDA’s latest release, but Dr. Jonathan Levine, an associate veterinarian at Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners in New York City, said owners should always check the labels of whatever foods they give their pets.

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“Always be aware of what you’re buying and where it’s coming from,” Levine said.

Yet that may not always be enough to keep pets safe; products stamped “Made in the USA” could still contain ingredients sourced from China or other countries, the FDA warned.

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In 2007, some pet food companies voluntarily removed some jerky treats from the market. But, at the time, the FDA said it didn’t want to issue a recall without a definitive cause. Those products included Milo’s Kitchen Chicken Jerky Treats and Chicken Grillers, made by Del Monte, and Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch dog treats, made by Nestle Purina.

The FDA has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to figure out what foods may be contributing to pet disease. The study will compare the foods eaten by sick dogs to those eaten by dogs who haven’t gotten sick, in order to determine if the jerky is really the culprit.

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So far, testing of jerky pet treats from China revealed low levels of antibiotics as well as the antiviral drug amantadine in some chicken samples. Although FDA-approved for pain-control applications in humans and in dogs, the agency prohibited its use in poultry in 2006 to help preserve its effectiveness.

The FDA does not believe amantadine contributed to the illnesses, as the side effects of the drug do not correlate with the symptoms seen in the pets; however, amantadine should not be present at all in jerky treats.

Chinese authorities have agreed to conduct additional screenings and follow up with jerky treat manufacturers, and the FDA has notified U.S. treat makers of the presence of amantadine in some jerky products. The agency will also continue testing these products for drugs and other antivirals.

The FDA cautioned pet owners that jerky pet treats are not required for a balanced diet. If your pet experiences any sign of illness, including vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy, contact your veterinarian right away.

Healthy Pet, Happy Pet: Tips for Owners

Healthy Pet, Happy Pet: Tips for Owners

This content is selected and controlled by WebMD’s editorial staff and is brought to you by the makers of Frontline® Plus.
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Best Dog Food Choices

WebMD Pet Health Feature

By Matt McMillen

Reviewed By Amy Flowers, DVM

When it comes to nutrition, dogs are a lot like people. They’re omnivores, meaning they can live healthy lives while eating a variety of food. Meats, vegetables, and grains all can be a part of a dog’s diet.

But also like us, dogs need balanced, moderately-sized meals that fuel their activities, not an overindulgent diet that will expand their waistlines and put them at risk of diseases like diabetes.

Know Your Dog’s Needs

How much you feed your dog mainly depends on three factors:

  1. Age
  2. Activity level
  3. Ideal weight

A young Australian shepherd, for example, needs a lot of exercise, and that means a lot of food to keep him going. A tiny, 10-year-old Chihuahua, though, may be more accustomed to spending her day in your lap rather than building up a big appetite.

Dog food labels often provide some guidance on portion size, but your vet will know best how much food your dog needs to maintain a healthy weight, says veterinarian Louise Murray, DVM. She’s vice president of the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York.

“Diet should be based on a dog’s condition, and it should be very tailored to the dog,” Murray says. “Talk to your vet.”

Your vet can also recommend foods that may help protect your dog against disease, says veterinarian Chea Hall, DVM, of San Luis Obispo, Calif. Large dogs may be more likely than smaller dogs to develop arthritis, for instance. Proper nutrition may help protect your dog’s joints and build up joint strength.

Know Your Dog’s Food

Your vet can calculate how many calories your dog should get each day, but most dog food labels don’t tell you how many calories the food provides.

“One cup could be 200 calories or it could be 400, and that’s a huge difference,” says Hall, who recommends a mostly dry food diet because dry is generally lower in calories than canned food.

Hall’s advice: Contact the food’s maker for calorie and other nutritional information. You should also look for a statement on the package that says the food meets at least the minimum requirements for a healthy diet set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) for your dog’s life stage.

Food labels often use terms like “gourmet,” “natural,” and “premium,” Murray notes. Those words may sound appealing, but they have no standard definition when it comes to dog food — so they tell you nothing about what’s in the food.

“They are not something to go by,” Murray says.

Your vet can be a good guide to selecting an appropriate dog food both for your dog’s health and your budget. Hall often recommends the foods sold by animal clinics, but since that’s not always a convenient or affordable option, she works with people to pick out a food that works for both owner and dog. Your vet can do the same.

Would you rather make your dog’s meals yourself? It’s crucial that you talk to your vet first to learn how to meet your dog’s nutritional needs, Hall says.

Pet Health Information

At VeterinaryPartner.com they have an extensive listing of various pet ailments and information on each at this site:

http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=SRC&S=1&SourceID=42

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Please, always take time to care for your furry, scaly and feathered friends who share your life with you.  🙂

 

Foods that Can Hurt Your Pets

People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets

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Chocolate, Macadamia nuts, avocados…these foods may sound delicious to you, but they’re actually quite dangerous for our animal companions. Our nutrition experts have put together a handy list of the top toxic people foods to avoid feeding your pet. As always, if you suspect your pet has eaten any of the following foods, please note the amount ingested and contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

Chocolate, Coffee, Caffeine

These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest.

Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.

Avocado

The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Birds and rodents are especially sensitive to avocado poisoning, and can develop congestion, difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation around the heart. Some ingestions may even be fatal.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are commonly used in many cookies and candies. However, they can cause problems for your canine companion. These nuts have caused weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 12 to 48 hours.

Grapes & Raisins

Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure. In pets who already have certain health problems, signs may be more dramatic.

Yeast Dough

Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach or intestines to rupture. Because the risk diminishes after the dough is cooked and the yeast has fully risen, pets can have small bits of bread as treats. However, these treats should not constitute more than 5 percent to 10 percent of your pet’s daily caloric intake.

Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones

Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets. In addition, raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems. Feeding your pet raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your pet lived in the wild. However, this can be very dangerous for a domestic pet, who might choke on bones, or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract.

Xylitol

Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to recumbancy and seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.

Onions, Garlic, Chives

These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies. An occasional low dose, such as what might be found in pet foods or treats, likely will not cause a problem, but we recommend that you do NOT give your pets large quantities of these foods.

Milk

Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other milk-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.

Salt

Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death. In other words, keep those salty chips to yourself!

Dog Health Care Links from WebMD

These are links to give you advice on preventive care and other important health topics for your dogs.  I hope they prove helpful to my fellow pet owners.

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Healthy Dogs

Preventive Care

It’s your job to keep your dog healthy and safe. Get the facts about grooming, vaccinations, parasite prevention, and first aid.

Grooming

10 tips for keeping your dog’s eyes clean and healthy.

A few basic maintenance tips should keep his ears in good shape.

Brushing your dog’s teeth and more tips.

Veterinarian Petting Dog

Tips for getting “dog breath” in check.

Clipping a dog’s nails can be tricky: Here’s what you need to know.

It might be easier than you think.

Fleas, Ticks and Heartworm

Spot medications, shampoos, collars: How flea and tick treatments work.

Here’s what to look for on your pet or in your home.

How to keep your dog free of this devastating parasite.

Use extra care when removing ticks from your pet.

Vaccinations

Core vaccinations are recommended for all dogs. Find out what your dog needs and when.

Some vaccinations may be needed only in certain circumstances, such as boarding.

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Other Care

10 tips to help your dog have a great time on the road.

10 tips to ease the stress of flying with your dog.

Could you have a toxin in your home and not even know it?

Knowing what to do in an emergency could mean the difference between life and death for your dog.

9 Things Your Dog Wants to Tell You

9 Things Your Dog Wants to Tell You

Learn what your pooch’s behavior is really saying about you, your home and more

By Alexandra Gekas

We like to ascribe all sorts of emotions to our dogs, but, truth be told, they are much simpler than humans. They’re motivated by the basics: food, activity and companionship. That said, a dog’s behavior around his owners does have meaning. From the desire to protect you to an intuition about your health and happiness, read on to discover what your dog would tell you if he could speak.

“I want to protect you.”

You may think your dog belongs to you, but you belong to your dog, as well. That means he is going to claim you and protect you. “When he’s sitting on your foot, it’s an ownership thing. If his [bottom] is on you, he’s marking your foot,” says Jennifer Brent, animal advocate and external relations manager for the L.A.-based non profit animal welfare advocacy group Found Animals. “It’s not just that he wants to be close to you, he’s saying, ‘This is mine; now it smells like me, don’t go near it.’ He does this for three main reasons: to feel secure about his place in your life, to warn other dogs that you are spoken for and because he wants to protect you.” To ensure your protection, dogs will also bark at guests, growl at other dogs when outside and pull on the leash while out for a walk. “There’s a line of thinking that the dog is your scout. He sees himself as a member of the pack, and he wants to make sure everything is cool before you get there,” Brent says. Photo: Thinkstock

“I can sense when you’re in a bad mood.”

Whether it was a stressful day at work or a fight with your significant other, your dog will pick up on how you feel—and feel it, too. “It goes without saying, when you’re stressed, they’re more stressed; when you’re happier, they’re happy. They match up moods with you better than a spouse or a partner,” says Marty Becker, DVM, pet expert at Vetstreet.com. “They sit there and study you.” This relationship works the other way, too: If you want to make your pooch relax, you know just where to scratch; if you want to be more playful, you know how to pet him. “You can, like a gas pedal, change that dynamic with your dog,” Dr. Becker says. Photo: Matthew Williams-Ellis/Thinkstock

“I need more exercise!”

If she’s eliminating on the floor, chewing the furniture or running circles around the coffee table, your dog is probably trying to tell you she needs more activity in her life. “That’s where we see a lot of behavioral issues with dogs in households,” Brent says. This is particularly true for active breeds, such as herding or hunting dogs. “The Dalmatian was trained to be a hunting dog. You can’t take an animal that’s used to running eight miles a day, put it in an apartment, and expect it to be OK. If your dog’s destroying stuff, he’s saying, ‘I’m bored, you need to give me something to do.'” While exercise is important—dogs should receive 45 to 60 minutes of physical exercise and 15 minutes of behavioral training per day—Dr. Becker says you can also play mental games to keep your pooch entertained. Make her play search-and-seek games for her food or even use food puzzles that she has to solve before her meal is dispensed. Photo: Shutterstock

“I’m scared you won’t come back.”

While most dogs are going to bark for a few minutes when you leave the house—just to let you know you’re forgetting someone—some dogs have a much more serious reaction. “If you watch a video of a dog with separation anxiety, it’ll tear your heart out. It’s like the kid lost at the mall without his parents,” Dr. Becker says. “They freak out. They think you’re not coming back. They often attack the area where you leave; they’ll tear up the doorframe, they’re destructive. If you come home and they’ve had diarrhea or [are excessively] panting, their cortisol levels are high, and you have to take action.” Dr. Becker recommends speaking with a dog behaviorist to receive a training program and possibly a canine antidepressant. To help assuage the trauma associated with your departure, you can try these training intervals: Put your coat on, grab your keys and go stand outside for 30 seconds. Come back in, and then go out for one minute, then five, and build from there. It’s also helpful to give your dog a treat before you leave, or feed him using an interactive food puzzle to keep him distracted. Photo: Shutterstock

“I can tell when you’re not feeling well.”

It’s a hard phenomenon to explain, but many dogs seem to be able to detect illness in their owners. And new evidence has found that some dogs can actually detect a wide array of serious conditions, including cancer, as well as seizures related to epilepsy. “We know that there’s a chemical marker that a few dogs are detecting, just like they can detect bed bugs, mold, peanuts, drugs and explosives,” Dr. Becker says. “They can smell the ketones on a diabetic’s breath when their sugar is low. For epileptics [about to have a seizure], they can alert their owner so they can get out of harm’s way.” Some canines are even more naturally empathetic to humans. Often, these dogs become therapy dogs, providing affection to those in need, while also sensing—and being able to react to—health problems. “Some people just need a dog to lay still with them; others need a reason to get out of the bed. It’s the weirdest thing how therapy dogs know when to [move] close or far away,” says Dr. Becker. Photo: Shutterstock

“Pay attention when I’m not myself.” 

It’s important to pay attention to your pooch’s behavior because if something seems amiss, he’s probably not feeling well. “You want to catch things in the earliest period to prevent unnecessary pain or worse,” says Dr. Becker. “I call it ‘Dog-ter Mom,’ because 80% of caregivers for pets are women. You just need to pay attention to your intuition.” That means noticing behavior that’s out of the norm: he’s not as playful as usual, he’s acting aggressively, he has trouble getting up or isn’t eating properly. “You want to pay particular attention to eating habits,” Dr. Becker says. “Food is their currency. If he isn’t eating enough or is eating too much, if he’s drinking more water or needs to eliminate more, or if you have a dog that’s losing weight, then something’s wrong.” Photo: Adam Wasilewski/Thinkstock

“I need a routine, but with a little variety.”

They say that a dog’s mental capacity is that of a toddler; and just like a toddler, dogs thrive on routine. “Knowing what to expect is really, really important, otherwise they don’t know how to react,” Brent says. A general routine is best, but that doesn’t mean you have to do everything at the same time each day. In fact, varying the time will actually help in the long run, says Dr. Becker. Otherwise, your dog will start running the show. “You don’t want them to force how the clock works,” he says. If they do, it’s likely that your dog will “insist on his 5 a.m. feeding on a Sunday, when you want to sleep until 8 a.m. Vary it up. If you control their food, you control them—in a good way.” Photo: Thinkstock

“Be clear when I’m doing something wrong.”

Correcting your dog is important—and how you do it is key. Avoid explaining your dog’s behavior to him, or using a calm voice. Take a firm (not mean) tone and be direct. “Dogs respond to tone. If you say, ‘No!’ while a bad action is happening, you’re going to get a much better response than if you say it in a gentle voice or wait to say it afterwards,” Brent says. To ensure results, it has to be said in the moment of action, and in the same way every time. “If you want to train your dog to be calm when he sees another dog, you can’t wait until that dog has passed to give him a treat for being good. You can’t wait until you get home,” Brent says. “That says putting down the leash means a treat, instead of the action [you’re trying to reinforce].” Photo: Shutterstock

“I’m not a human.”

There’s no doubt your dog is part of the family—but that doesn’t mean she should be treated like a person. “Thinking your dog has the motivation of a person is the number one problem I see,” says Gina Spadafori, pet columnist and executive editor of the PetConnection.com. Whether your dog eliminates in the house or chews up the remote, the cause has nothing to do with revenge. “It’s not an emotional or rational response. It’s either a lack of training, illness or a stress reaction that can be triggered by a change in the house,” Spadafori says. So if your dog is acting out, start by trying to find the root cause. Is she sick, improperly trained or has there been a recent change in routine? Once you locate the cause, understanding and correcting her behavior will be much easier. Photo: Chris Amaral/Thinkstock

Read more: Dog Language – Understanding Dog Behavior at WomansDay.com – Woman’s Day

How to evaluate online pet health articles

How to evaluate online pet health articles

by THERESE on JANUARY 31, 2010

in CATSDOGSPET HEALTH

If you’re like me, when one of my pets is diagnosed with a major illness, one of the first places I turn is to the Internet. Type any pet related health condition into your favorite search engine and you’ll find something – probably a lot of somethings! The question is, how accurate is the information you find? A savvy pet owner will not only read what’s online, but will evaluate the source of that information. Here are a few tips to help you decide whether or not the articles you find online are worth the time it takes to read them.

Consider the source
Look for articles written by researchers and other experts at veterinary schools, organizations that do research on animal health, and well-known websites. Cornell University College of Veterinary MedicinePet ConnectionDogAware.com, and VeterinaryPartner.com are just a few of the many highly respected websites that cover pet health.

If you see an article on a website that doesn’t seem to have any credentials, look on some of the websites that do offer credentials to see if they have any corroborating info. As the old saying goes, “don’t believe everything you read.”

Look for current articles
While older articles are definitely worth reading, if you’re doing research on something like feline cancer (which I’m in the midst of learning about with Tequila), also try to find articles that are as up-to-date as possible. The newer articles will likely cite recent studies and/or advancements made about the condition you’re dealing with in your pet.

Look for articles by respected authors
Writers like Christie Keith and Gina Spadafori(from Pet Connection) Dr. Patty Khuly (from Doolittler)Lew Olson (from B-Naturals), and Mary Strauss (from DogAware.com) are all well respected pet health writers. Anything you see written by them is going to be well-researched and based on facts. On the other hand, not every Joe Blow who sets up a website and posts his theory on how to heal dogs of cancer is going to be worth your time. Some of the information you find, will be written by people who mean well, but just aren’t qualified to be offering medical advice. And of course, be wary of the scammers who have the miracle cure you’re looking for. Chances are, the only thing you’ll be making healthier by sending them your money is their bank account!

Evaluate personal accounts carefully
Regardless of what type of illness your pet has, you’re probably going to want to hear from others who have gone through the same thing with their pets. I know I did when when Lydia was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 (and I do now that Tequlia’s been diagnosed with cancer). I wanted to hear from others who have dealt with the same type of cancer. I wanted to know how the pets were treated, what they fed them, what supplements they gave their pet, how the disease progressed. And of course, I wanted to hear from people who had dogs who survived! I found happy and sad stories, but every time I read something I reminded myself that Lydia’s situation was unique, and that her story wouldn’t be identical to any other. It’s important to keep this fact in mind no matter what type of problem you’re facing with your pet. Not every disease in every pet is going to progress in the exact same way. Get input from others, but don’t get too hung up on exactly how things progressed in their pets.

Being faced with a major illness in one of your pets is stressful enough without wasting time reading articles that prove to be harmful, or inaccurate at best. Finding information online about your pet’s condition is the easy part – evaluating it can sometimes be a bit tricky. So, before going too far into what you’re reading take the time to decide whether it’s worth reading. It could save you a lot of time and heartache.

What’s Really in My Pet’s Food?

What’s Really in My Pet’s Food?

By: Sarah Grace McCandless
pet food

Here’s something to chew on: According to research conducted by Euromonitor and the American Pet Products Association, worldwide sales of dog and cat food have climbed to $52 billion dollars, with nearly $18 billion attributed to the U.S. market alone. It’s a staggering number, but one that makes sense when you consider the fact that, according to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), there are approximately 77.5 million pups and 93.6 million cats owned as pets in American households.

Those numbers make for a lot of mouths to feed. There are many types of food available — including wet and dry types, as well as newer trends like raw food diets — and also a growing number of manufacturers to choose from — including companies owned by celebrities such as talk show hosts Rachael Ray and Ellen DeGeneres and actor Dick Van Patten. The options can seem endless — and even overwhelming. So how can you tell which kinds are best for your pet?

What’s in a name?

Whether you opt for kibble or canned, one of the first steps to take in assessing the contents of your pet’s diet is to simply review the name of the product you’re purchasing and the terms used to describe it. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) provides special labeling requirements for pet food produced by U.S. manufacturers. While they do not actually regulate the actual production of pet food, their guidelines are updated annually and at the very least provide a good place to start. Here are some of the most common rules about terminology in labeling:

  • “100 percent” or “all”— Neither of these can be used if the pet food contains more than one ingredient, outside of the water needed for processing or trace amounts of condiments and preservatives.
  • “Dinner”— Food labeled as such must include an ingredient that constitutes at least 25 percent of the overall weight of the product.
  • “With”— This term can be used as long as there’s at least 3 percent of the ingredient it’s referring to included in the overall mix.
  • “Flavor”— As long as the food includes an ingredient that gives the overall product a distinct characteristic, this word is fair play. However, something labeled as “chicken flavor,” for example, might just include extract from poultry parts or artificial flavor, and not necessarily any actual chicken meat at all.

 

Understanding Ingredients

Both dogs and cats tend to do best on diets built primarily on protein, though the presence of healthy carbohydrates plays an important role for pooches as well. Vitamins, minerals, and even limited amounts of fats are also part of the balance for both, but figuring out how to correspond each of these key elements with the ingredients on a label can be tricky.

AAFCO guidelines require ingredients to be listed in descending order according to the weight of each item added to the mix, so that’s a good place to start in terms of determining the quality of the food. Keep in mind though, even when an item such as chicken, cattle, lamb or turkey is listed as the primary ingredient, this can include skeletal muscle, nerves, blood vessels and other parts found within the clean flesh of slaughtered animals. This is where some of the previously mentioned terms such as “100 percent” can be really helpful in terms of clarifying the contents.

What you don’t want to see is the pairing of the term “by-product” with any meat or poultry terms, as this refers to cleaned parts such as internal organs, and there’s still much debate about exactly what elements go into by-product production. According to the Animal Protection Institute (API), certain pet food companies were accused in the past of including carcasses and road kill in their by-products mix, and some industry insiders reportedly admitted to it. Though today pet companies universally deny such practices, there are no regulations or laws preventing them from doing so.

One ingredient most experts seem to agree on as something to avoid is anything that acts as filler, such as oats, flour, wheat, corn and peanut hulls — all of which have little to no nutritional value. Note: Some manufacturers will break out these types of ingredients into a number of different terms to make it seem like there’s less present in the mix, so read carefully. Preservatives — such as BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole, a fat preservative) and Ethoxyquin (a chemical preservative used to prevent spoilage in dog food)— also show up in the pet food manufacturing process, and you should try to steer clear of these as well.

Bottom Line: Best Bets?

In terms of whether wet or dry is better, there’s no general consensus. Trying to directly compare labels between the two is a difficult equation to master as well, since doing so requires a mathematical conversion to dry matter basis. Some argue that wet food is better because it tends to contain more protein and fewer carbohydrates compared to dry food. Others avoid wet food because of the strong smell often associated with it (which is usually a result of the presence of fats, preservatives or other chemicals within the contents), and maintain that dry food is more beneficial because its hard texture can help improve a pet’s dental health.

With all of this in mind, choosing the best type of food for your pet still can be overwhelming, to say the least. Try asking your vet for initial recommendations. Not only does he know your pet’s health history intimately, but he can also determine whether your pet requires a special diet to address issues such as weight management, digestive issues or arthritis. Being armed with this information can help you make the most of your pet’s meals.

More Information

Sources

American Pet Products Association.
http://www.americanpetproducts.org/press_industrytrends.asp

Animal Protection Institute. “What’s Really in Pet Food.” 05/01/2007.
http://www.bornfreeusa.org/facts.php?more=1&p=359

Consumer Search. “Cat Food: Full Report.” 02/01/2009.
http://www.consumersearch.com/cat-food/review

Consumer Search. “Dog Food: Full Report.” 02/01/2009.
http://www.consumersearch.com/dog-food/dog-food-ingredients

Dunn Jr., Dr. TJ. “Basic Nutrition for Dogs.” Dog World Magazine. 09/15/2009.
http://www.thepetcenter.com/article.aspx?id=3406

De La Cruz, Dr. Keith. “Feed Your Dog Right.” Business Mirror. 03/07/2010.
http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=22644:feed-your-dog-right&catid=32:life&Itemid=68

The Humane Society of the United States. “U.S. Pet Ownership Statistics.” 12/30/2009.
http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/pet_overpopulation/facts/pet_ownership_statistics.html

Nash, Holly. “Dog Food Standards by the AAFCO.”
http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+1659+1661&aid=662

Newman, Lisa. “What’s in Your Pet’s Food?” Purely Pets. 06/24/2009.
http://www.purelypets.com/articles/whatsinfood.htm

Phillips-Donaldson, Debbie. “Something to chew on: Petfood still growing.” Petfood Industry. 12/18/2009.
http://www.petfoodindustry.com/stillgrowing0912.aspx

Pet Health MD

There is a site for cats and dogs called Pet Health MD, much like WebMD for us human folk.  The health of your furry family member is very important.  Please use this resource to help find out about your pet when they are not feeling well.  It should not be used instead of a veterinarian treatment, but as a site for information:

http://www.petmd.com/

In the  middle top you can click on the cat shape, or the dog shape, and list your pets symptoms.  Then you click on the part of the pet that is bothering it, and click on symptoms.  It will then you give helpful possible causes and actions you can take.

 

Good veterinary care, regular check-ups, shots, exercise, attention and good food is what our pets need.  Make sure you keep them up to date on their quality of care.  There are now insurance plans for pets as well that you can choose from.  Some are very expensive, while others are quite cheap.  VPI (Veterinary Pet Insurance) is one such company that does business with The Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) and provides an outstanding array of group rated and individual plans for your pets, including birds and exotic pets.  Unforeseen illness can leave you in the tough spot of going broke or choosing not to pay for costly care for your pet.  Pet Insurance is a great way to keep from getting into that situation.

Pet Health – How Much to Feed Your Pet?

reposted from PetMD

Even Pet Health Care Providers Cannot Get Portion Control Right


July 19, 2012

This is a follow-up to my last post and other posts emphasizing the importance of portion control in the present pet obesity epidemic. Veterinarians and representatives of pet food companies continue to beat-up clients about feeding, or overfeeding, their pets. Owners leave veterinary hospitals feeling guilty for causing a host of future problems to their pets by their feeding practices. But guess what? Health care providers cannot do any better with pet portion control. A 2010 study from the United Kingdom is testimony.

 The Study

Four veterinarians and six employees of a major commercial food manufacturer participated in the study. They fed six different diets — four feline and two dog dry kibble products — from three different manufacturers to cats and dogs using measuring cups provided by the manufacturer. The manufacturer recommendations were followed and each portion was shaken to level the food in the provided measuring cup. The food was weighed before feeding to document the actual food amount and calorie content for the study statistics. The statistics were then analyzed after the completion of the study.

Despite attempts to accurately measure the food amount, these health professionals had ranges of feeding amounts from 18% underestimated or inadequate amounts to 80% overestimation and excessive feeding. When multiple “feeders” were involved the quantities were the worst. Feeding small amounts to small cats and dogs had the greatest degree of overestimation. Precisely the group that every calorie counts! What is even more shocking is that two of the diets were pre-packaged, just as they are sold to the public, and were fed according to instructions; they were not even accurate.

What Does it All Mean?

Actually, I think there are multiple factors in play. First, is the probable inaccuracy of claims about calories per kilogram that commercial food manufacturers declare on food labels. My research suggests the means by which these figures are arrived at are guesstimates at best and probably vary from lot to lot.

Few pet food labels produce their own product. There are three major millers of pet food in the United States that package the hundreds of commercial pet food labels available. Calometric measurements (igniting the food and measuring its energy) is not required for every lot of food or combination of ingredients. It is not even clear if it is required at all, and calorie counts are derived by mathematical formulas. Estimation of calories are only required for the initial application of the formula. AAFCO is very lenient for the nutritional content of “families of foods.”

My point is that calorie claims made by manufacturers only approximate reality because the production process involves so many unsupervised steps.

Secondly, the calorie concentration in commercial food is extremely high. With counts near 400 calories per cup, each kibble piece is a calorie bomb. Simple, unintentional measured variations of leveling a portion measurement may mean the difference of 25-100 calories. For small or inactive dogs this is a significant difference. Pet owner obsession with the economical and convenience qualities of kibbled food means this problem is likely to get worse.

Thirdly is that proper pet nutrition is a dynamic process and not static. Owners cannot just settle on a portion and assume that it never changes. We have discussed many influences that affect diet in this post. Label instructions today may not be appropriate tomorrow.  Most humans don’t even eat correctly. How many families do you know who employ a registered dietician in addition to their house cleaning service, garden care service, car washing service, and pool cleaning service? All seem essential except the nutritional advice. We simply do not spend the necessary time and money to objectively understand nutrition. We are too absorbed with labeling “good” and “bad” foods and calories, which is a meaningless exercise and has little to do with weight control. Weight is about amounts of food, not the kind of food.

Weigh the food. It is still inaccurate, but it is better than measuring in a cup. Also realize that any recommendation is exactly that, a recommendation. Quantities need to be changed based on the body condition score (BCS) of your pet at any given portion. Reduce or increase portions based on their BCS.

Dr. Ken Tudor