Saturday, September 6, 2008

Cats & Dogs with Kidney problems

I need some input on kidney problems, today specifically for cat owners having to deal with them. I am getting confused by all the advise which is out there. I understand there are different opinions but it seems to me as if what I found so far just goes from one extreme to the other. Like protein intake if the animal suffers from the disease. Or, where is it coming from in the first place? Is it a result of feeding?

Friday, September 5, 2008

More on RX Food

I told you the other day about this customer I have, who approached me about the food her vet prescribed for her cat suffering from kidney disease. While one concern of hers is the high cost of the food, the other worry she has is if the food is right for her girl. Though she has no complaints about the progress her cat made since eating this diet. But she just can’t shake off this feeling that this may not be the ultimate solution and on a long term basis have negative impacts on her cat’s overall health and well being.
Her concerns don’t surprise me. After all, especially since the recall, we hear every day new and more horror stories about commercial pet food, its ingredients and many other details. It seems as if pet owners are becoming more health conscious (or should I say “should become more health conscious” ) and are no longer blindly falling for the marketing hypes. Additionally, many pet food manufacturers offering prescription diets were also involved with their products in the recall, which didn’t help their prescription leg of business..
I admit. the business about pet food is very confusing. Reading and understanding pet food labels are two different things. In order to understand the true meanings of what a label says, one has to do some quite extensive studying. But this is where people like me and I myself would like to come in and try to help. By providing insight and details, by alerting of pit falls, educating and informing you and by making you aware of other resources available to you just in case you don’t believe me or simply feel more comfortable when you get a second opinion. I mentioned before, and will repeat it every time I have something to say: I am no vet and you certainly should not rely on what I say. My writings are solely MY opinion. See my disclaimer plastered all over my publications, website and communications. Always consult your veterinarian when it comes to the well being of your pet. However, I promise you one thing for sure: I do have common sense.
So, coming back to my customer, after I started reading the labels I have to say that I would have my doubts too. My customer didn’t even investigate what the labels mean, she just acts upon her suspicion that something doesn’t quite add up. I am going into the label next time, but today I want to know how you feel about prescription diets. If you have experience on this subject, what is it about? Did the prescribed diet work for your pet and did it get rid of the health condition, which is obviously the most important factor. Do you think it may have been better to do some sort of short term medical treatment (such as for example pills or shots) rather than making your pet dependent on one food for a life time? Do you really know what you are feeding and of what ingredients it is composed? Do you feel comfortable with feeding your pet this one diet only? Because remember, this is what the manufacturers say in general about their food: Never again feed anything else. However they put the fear of god in you even more when it comes to their prescription diets. As I read in one particular case and I am not kidding: “(feeding anything else but our XYZ diet) may cause (all kinds of detailed problems…) and … death.” A pretty strong and scary statement It probably works in most cases. But I just think a “We control your pet’s life now and you’re ours, you depend on us!” would have done it too and been a little less drastic. I can’t wait to see your comments. And you should stay tuned to see what I have for you related to the outcome of my further analysis. Talk about surprises and more scary thoughts…, just wait ‘til you hear the end of it (that is, if I ever find the end…).

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Table scraps in dispute

Now we have it: While the largest pet food manufacturers clearly advise pet owners to absolutely not feed any table scarps and only feed nothing else but their 100% balanced and complete formulas to our pets, the more holistic oriented representatives in the industry paint a different picture. According to them, it is even highly recommended. Mind you that we are talking about “healthy” table scraps, i.e. meat, veggies and fruits here, not junk food or fast food drive through left overs. Only in that case the health oriented guys would agree with the industry giants. Otherwise their view point is as follows: These days many folks are way more health conscious than they used to be. Our diets consist of a variety of meats, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and dairy products. If something of this healthy food is left over it only can be beneficiary for our companion animals. They argue that many pets these days suffer from countless diseases because they are being fed the same food day in and day out for a lifetime. These formulas, though classified as premium foods must and have proven to cause deficiencies. Some time ago we learned of definite taurine deficiencies in cat food, the industry’s answer was adding synthesized taurine. These days we are talking about potassium, carnitine, zinc and riboflavin deficiencies or in contrast overdoses of chloride. The exact outcome of these problems is not even known yet as they have to be observed and studied for decades before scientifically proven results can give us the answers.
All these deficiencies, we as the pet health advocates say, could have been avoided by feeding table scraps at least once in a while. Varied feeding is nothing but beneficial and it should include healthy scraps. But not off the plate at the dinner table, feed it like regular food from their bowls. Dr. Wysong in his book “The Truth About Pet Foods” asks the big boys a very good question: If you think table scraps are so horrible for our pets, why do you sell us human grade ingredients in your 100% complete food? A little contradiction there, don’t you think so?
So all together, business as usual. At the end we have to come to our own conclusion and do what we think is the right thing for our pets.
While I wanted to provide a little more insight on the subject, I mainly wanted to know from our community members: How do you feel about this? Do you feed your pets table scraps and if so, what? How often? Is your pet suffering because of it as the big guys want us to believe or do you agree with us health advocates? And whatever else you wish to contribute…

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

RX diets in a multi pet household

Earlier today one of my customers asked me if I could come up with an alternative to the cat food she is currently using. Her cat has kidney issues and the vet put her on a feeding rx diet regiment. My customer’s main reasons for coming to me for my input were not that the cat is not doing well since she started eating the prescribed food. Quite contrary, she is pleased with the results. But she is a little irritated about the price, which is about $26 for an 8 lbs bag. This is even more so a problem since she owns two more cats. They are now eating this expensive food as well and she is just having a hard time to keep the cats on individual diets. Now this is my question to the community: In a multi pet household how do you deal with the feeding? Is everybody eating the same? Are you for any reason required to feed specific diets to specific pets and if so, how do you handle that? Do you separate the animals during feeding time? This would be one way coming to my mind since I personally have had success with doing that and it saved me quite some money. Although I was brought up a little different. During my childhood when either of us, my sis or brother or myself had a cold, Mom made chicken soup and we all had to eat it regardless of whether we were sick or not. But, it wasn’t quite as pricey either. Today, 30 to 40 years later we all still are around. So, no harm was done. But I doubt that the cats being fed the rx food will get away unharmed over the long run. I took a quick glance at the labels, it’s a pretty restricted with regards to the nutrients. Let’s stick with that topic for today. On the topic rx diet watch out for a bunch more questions to come over the next few days.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Protecting wildlife for our children’s future

I’m crazy: I get inspired by something I see, have, what I think is a great idea, then open my mouth and make a commitment to turn that idea in to reality. And exactly that happened over the Labor Day weekend once again while I was sitting with Elizabeth relaxing over a cup of coffee in our front yard. It was crazy because don’t I have enough on my plate already? What I saw was 13 neighborhood children playing up and down the street and frequently stopping by to say hi, petting our cats and dogs and listening to all the fantastic stories I tell them. What came to my mind was the question, what can I do to make a difference. I love children, I believe we need to give them all the support we can and teach them well, because they are our future. And what would be better than combining that with my interest in animals and nature in general and the idea of creating a better environment for all of us. And my commitment was ”Ok kids, here’s my vision: How about if we start a neighborhood kids group and get involved with doing something great for the nature and everybody’s future?” The response was an overwhelming :”Yes, let’s do it!” And ideas started bubbling like water from a mountain spring. How refreshing to see youth and such enthusiasm. Needless to say, the group needs some helping hand to get a little more organized. Otherwise 10 of the 13 members talk at the same time and it sounds more like a choir than what we actually intended to be.
So here is what we got accomplished so far: We elected the President Courtney and her Vice Elvis, Sidney is our Treasurer (for to me mysterious reasons she ended up with a Vice too, but no, Alex, let me tell you, you’re not going to split 50/50 with Sidney) and our Secretary is Brandy. The Pet Food Examiner is acting as an external advisor, counselor or referee, depending on the circumstances at the time of engagement. In preparation for our next meeting we all are going to write down our ideas as to what our name is going to be, which need we are going to make our major objective, i.e. do we go for sea turtles, or domestic dogs and cats, or the whales, the wolves, etc.., what are our activities to actively get involved and help the cause and how do we raise money. I’m sure, though the next meeting is already called for Wednesday night after the homework is done, there will be lots of ideas to talk about. But I said, it’s a democratic organization, so we vote on everything. At least when electing the officers this seemed to work surprisingly well. The outcome of the election was 100% accepted by everybody.
What I am personally looking for is to see if anybody in the blog community has any experience in setting up something like this and can provide some helpful feedback and advise. Because my job now is to make this work. Despite being crazy, I always live up to my commitments.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Police dog left in car dies

was the headline on Saturday in the Palm Beach Post. According to the Associated Press, authorities in a town in Florida reported a police dog was left in a hot car and died. The 8-year old Labrador mix, trained to detect narcotics was left in the car for about 2 hours. His handler found him dead. A police spokesman said that usually an alarm is triggered when the temps in a police car get too high, but this time it wasn’t working. The handler’s name has not been released since he is an undercover narcotics officer.
I only caught it by accident: The news almost would have gotten lost wouldn’t it have been to it’s oversized headline, which was not in proportion to it’s very short 5 sentence article. But after reading, a couple things came to my mind: For the ones of you who don’t live in Florida during the summer, typically it gets pretty hot here around noon and outside temperatures of 90+ degrees are the norm. This calls for inside temperatures in a vehicle of at least 100+ degrees. So, one leaves his dog in the car and waits for some fancy alarm to go off to tell him it’s too hot for the animal? Give me a break. This is almost as good a story as the one of the woman the other day, also happening in Florida. She fried her own kid in the car while being pampered in a beauty salon. Her excuse was, she didn’t know that (her own) child was in her car.
To me the stories are the same: Their outcome was death. Because the humans who were entrusted with the life of a helpless kid and a helpless dog (I almost said animals, but that would have been an insult to the animals) have no respect for anything but themselves. I do at this place not want to discuss the woman’s story. I am interested what you have to say about the dog. Was that a lesser crime because the victim was an animal? And just think: If you or me would have killed our dogs this way, I am positive we’d be in trouble. I understand, accidents happen. But one hardly can call this an accident. Careless neglect may be a better description.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

WOM, Weapons of Mass destruction...

Those community members subscribing to our on-line store newsletter are familiar with the following article I had written there as a sequential comment on a sales pitch for flea & tick remedies. I think it was pretty cool, when mailing the newsletter I worded the reference with “Weapons of Mass Destruction found at Lizzy’s”. Though a little tricky, it worked and the result was awesome: The stats showed that the newsletter was read by more readers than the one which talked about the tragic fire at the local animal shelter earlier this year. Just goes to show, everybody still is looking for sensations. Here we go:

Warfare against Fleas, ticks & Co: Chemistry over Nature?
Some of the above listed flea and tick products contain some very potent ingredients, which may not be just only natural and very chemical indeed. While in general we are against using such ingredients in any of the products offered by us for your pets, we'd like to say this: Earlier this year we faced with a pretty serious tick problem in our own back yard. The problem had originated in one of the neighbor's trees and spread throughout the entire block. And when we say "spread" we mean we felt as if the yard was covered with ticks. We tried everything, starting out with especially products based on all natural ingredients. However there was no visible success, while we smelled like garlic cloves or a jar of herbs in Grammy's kitchen, these products made not even a dent. Don't get this wrong, they certainly have their place, which is as we see it for prevention and minor infestation. But let's face it, fleas, ticks and flies have survived 210 Million+ years on earth, which included at least 2 major comet impacts eliminating every other living creature including dinosaurs. They managed through 70+ atomic bombs in the testing grounds of the US Armed Forces, anybody who thinks some herbal essences or a little garlic smell is going to chase them away unfortunately is wrong. We finally decided to use products based on chemical ingredients and we got rid of the problem. The question was simply: What's the bigger problem, using chemicals or having disease infected pets? On behalf of our animals we decided to deal with chemicals. Our pets thanked us and came out healthy. If used according to the directions these products are most important safe and very effective. In Blitzkrieg manner our tick problem was eliminated within less than one week.

Why do I bring this up here? Because I believe in natural remedies and rather would prefer to use the same in dealing with the problem. What is your experience, what are the products you are using and recommending? I’d prefer to recommend a natural product over a chemical one, under one condition: It must WORK.