Saturday, February 14, 2009

Dog Food: Part 1 What difference does it make? Foundation, building blocks & industry controls

If you feed your dog incorrectly, a number of various problems may occur, anything from spinning and aggression to bad skin and all kinds of diseases. Let’s start with taking a closer look at the food. What difference does it make? In order to live, a dog must eat. How long the dog lives, as well as health, immune system, behavior and temperament, the ability to reproduce successfully and to recover from trauma, all depend on what is eaten. An animal that eats well lives a long life, coping with everyday stresses and strains. One that eats poorly is unhealthy and with age will begin to suffer from chronic diseases. So, how is it possible that what we feed our dogs can make so much difference to their health? Think of the body as a house. If you build a strong foundation (pregnant mother's diet), the walls of the first story provide the support for the upper stories (puppyhood and adulthood). A roof that is made of the right materials and placed at the correct angels will be a protective covering over the whole house that will withstand even the most violent weather (immune system). Your house will outlast those around you that are built of less solid materials.

Building blocks
In order to build a proper nutritional foundation, you need six building blocks: Protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water. The quality of these building blocks and the ratio of one to another will determine how long your house will last.Every cell in the dog's body needs fuel. Fuel comes from food, which is converted into energy. Energy produces heat, and how much heat is produced determines the ability of your dog to maintain and regulate body temperature. The quality and quantity of energy your dog needs to be able to run, play, work and live a long and healthy life depend on the quality and quantity of the fuel you provide. Nutritionists measure fuel in terms of how much energy it produces. They use the term calories to measure energy produced by individual foods. A dog will eat the quantity of food needed to meet individual caloric needs.If the calories provided in dog food are sufficient, your dog's body will be able to produce energy for growth, maintenance, the production of enzymes and the ability to fight disease. Chemical reactions take place in the body that allows these enzymes to break down the food, making it available as a building block. The chemicals that are needed to trigger enzyme production come from the food the dog eats. If you provide a food with the correct amount of calories coming from quality sources mixed in the right proportions, your puppy will grow well if the correct calories are not provided, you will produce an inferior dog, poor in health and short lived.
Growth: A puppy during the first six months of life, increases birth weight anywhere from 15-40 times, depending on the breed. By one year of age birth weight will have increased 60 times. By contrast, humans reach maturity over a 20 year period. A dog, therefore, grows almost 12 times faster than a human, and if fed improperly as a puppy, even for a short while, may quickly exhibit symptoms of improper growth. A puppy needs almost double the amount of food of an adult, at times, even more than that.
Maintenance: As an adult, your dog needs to maintain weight and provide enough energy to do the tasks you expect. A family pet, with no demands other than to play with the children and be a companion, needs a different diet than a dog that is used for hunting, showing or working.With age, your dog's digestive system becomes less efficient, and should make dietary changes that take aging into consideration.Other factors that affect what your dog should eat are temperature and climate. If you live in a cold climate, your dog will require more food to maintain body heat calories than if you lived in a hot climate. Living in a hot climate often reduces hunger, but dogs burn up a lot of energy panting to stay cool. In the hotter climates, your dog needs a small amount of food that contains a lot of calories.Food also has breed specific results. What produces energy or body heat in one breed may not in another one. A good example is a Border Collie whose ancestors were raised in Scotland. This breed has developed a digestive system that breaks down oats and lamb very well. A food made from chicken and corn may be digestible and turned into fuel, but the dog will need to eat more of this food in order to get the necessary nutrients.

A dog fed incorrectly will experience stress. That stress will manifest itself in the weakest part of the body. It may be runny eyes, ear infections, skin problems, crooked teeth or diseases of the bones and kidneys. Stress may manifest itself in an inability to breed, conceive, have a full term pregnancy, whelp easily or make enough milk to feed puppies for several weeks. Dogs that are shy or afraid of thunderstorms or who show unprovoked aggression may also be exhibiting stress symptoms.Dogs that are genetically sound, fed properly for the breed and the climate in which they live, and for the purpose they are being used, will be healthy animals.

Industry controls
Where do you start when making the decision on what to feed your dog? There are two organizations that have researched this subject and supposed to control what is put into dog food. One is the National Research Council (NRC) and the other is the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
The NRC is composed of a body of scientists under the jurisdiction of the food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture. This body is responsible for e the supplying federal guidelines to the dog food industry. The research provided to the NRC comes from university studies and independent laboratories and covers the basic components of dog food, which are protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. These studies are by no means complete and the guidelines abound with statements such as "remain to be determined," or "while histamine was reported to be an essential amino acid for the adult dog, no data were presented." These studies are incomplete in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. The gaps are filled in by data based on theoretical knowledge and studies done on other species of animals. Some of the studies presented show clearly that certain breeds of dogs have different needs than others, but no accommodation has been made for these breeds in the guidelines.
AAFCO supervises the state regulation and pet foods. As of January 1994 the regulations stipulated by AAFCO have been followed by the dog food manufacturer rather tan those guidelines determined by the NRC. AAFCO requires that certain testing procedures for dog foods be used in order to receive its stamp of approval. The testing is done in independent laboratories and the food must pass the labeling requirements.For example, if a label states that a food is "complete and balanced" or is "nutritionally complete," or words to that effect, the food must go through certain feeding trials. These last from two to six weeks and ensure that the food does what the label states. If it says that the food is for puppies, or adult dogs, or all life stages, laboratory testing must prove that the food can indeed support life at those stages. The tests include blood plasma levels as well as fecal and urine analysis. When the test is completed satisfactorily, the AAFCO statement is placed on the label.Two to six weeks is a short time frame to have a food tested, but at least the test is carefully controlled, and gross deficiencies of protein or other nutrients are revealed. It is one way for the consumer to be assured of the consistency of a product. Most foods today contain the AAFCO statement on the label.AAFCO also requires the manufacturer to submit its food to be tested by an independent laboratory to ascertain what is in the finished product. If, for example, the product states it is 22 percent protein, the laboratory profile or assay must support that assertion.Labeling of dog food is strictly controlled. A company is told what can and cannot be put on the label. At present, a company that uses organically grown grains or superior sources of animal protein is unable to differentiate itself from a company that uses inexpensive, chemically laden ingredients. The consumer is left in the dark.The dog food industry is in transition. There are no definite guidelines as to minimum amounts of nutrients required to keep dogs healthy in all life states. In the meantime, the NRC guidelines printed in 1985, which list most of the minimum requirements of known nutrients, is one of the protocols that is followed. Another is a new concept of shared data from the Expert Committee on Nutrition. This committee is made up of dog food manufacturers.
Stay tuned for part 2 when we discuss in a little more detail the subjet matter of ingredients in dog food.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pancreatitis in Cats & Dogs Part 2: Treatment & Dietary considerations

In Part 1 of this article, Pancreatitis in Cats & Dogs, I provided a basic introduction to this disease of the pancreas. I explained the possible causes, gave you an idea what you have to look for to recognize the symptoms and talked about how pancreatitis is diagnosed. Today I am going to expand on this topic by discussing dietary considerations which should be paid attention to if your pet has become a victim of this illness. Before getting there, let’s take a brief look at how the illness is being treated: Merck Veterinary Manual states that: “The treatment for pancreatitis focuses on pain relief, balancing electrolytic fluids in the dog’s body, and resting the pancreas. Pancreatitis often causes severe abdominal pain, and injectable pain medications or patch medications are normally a part of the treatment. Providing intravenous fluids will keep the dog hydrated, help to ward off shock, and balance the electrolytes in the dog’s blood. To rest the pancreas and stop further inflammation and irritation, no food or water is given for at least 24 hours. In severe cases of pancreatitis, dogs can suffer from repeated vomiting, diarrhea, and life threatening shock. In these cases treatment consists of injectable medications which calm vomiting and diarrhea symptoms; plasma may be administered if the dog is at an advanced state of shock. A hospital stay for at least 24 hours, and in some cases up to 5 days, is necessary to maintain intravenous fluid and medication treatments. Blood tests will be periodically taken to check electrolytic balance, and to monitor the progress of the recovery of the pancreas. Pancreatitis dogs are not released from the hospital until their blood values are normal and they can hold down some amounts of special food.
The pancreas is an organ that is located just under the stomach and it is part of the digestive system. In addition to producing digestive enzymes, the pancreas produces hormones such as insulin. A healthy pancreas is able to handle the digestive enzymes without being harmed, but when the pancreas because irritated or inflamed, and is unable to handle these digestive enzymes without damage, pancreatitis occurs. … Pancreatitis in dogs can be caused by a high fatty diet, eating a large fatty meal at one sitting, obesity, an underlying condition, some medications, and genetics. For example, some dogs that are fed pork products or dark chocolate develop pancreatitis as a result of the sudden amount of fats that enter the body. … Fortunately for pet owners, pancreatitis in dogs can be successfully treated if proper diagnosis and treatments have begun in time. Future bouts of pancreatitis can be avoided with lifestyle and dietary changes.”
The same publication also says that “once a pet owner takes their dog home for recovery, a special diet and food instructions must be followed. The dog cannot be given any extra treats or foods outside of the diet, and the dog will need to be fed very small amounts of food multiple times a day. In chronic cases a special diet will need to be followed for the remainder of the dog’s life to prevent further”
There are numerous recommendations to be found about the dietary requirements after the illness has been treated. Dr.
Holly Nash, DVM, MS, of the Veterinary Services Department at Drs. Foster & Smith in her article titled “Pancreatitis (Inflammation) in Dogs” defines as “The goal of treatment is to rest the pancreas, provide supportive care and control complications. If vomiting is severe, treatment usually begins with a withholding of food, water, and oral medications for at least 24 hours. The lack of oral intake stops the stimulation of the pancreas to produce digestive enzymes. Depending upon the animal's response food intake can be started again after a day or more. The pet is generally fed small meals of a bland, easily digestible, high-carbohydrate, low-fat food. Over the course of a week or more, the size of meals and quantity of food fed are increased. The dog may need to stay on a special diet for life, or it may be possible to gradually reintroduce the former diet. High-fat diets or treats should be avoided.” Nash further addresses feeding issues within “Long term management and prognosis: Pancreatitis can be a very unpredictable disease. In most cases, if the pancreatitis was mild and the pet only had one episode, chances of recovery are good and avoiding high fat foods may be all that is necessary to prevent recurrence or complications. In other cases, what appears to be a mild case may progress, or may be treated successfully only to have recurrences, sometimes severe. Dogs with severe pancreatitis can recover, but may also develop fatal complications. The risk of developing fatal pancreatitis is increased in dogs who are overweight, or have diabetes mellitus, hyperadrenocorticism, hypothyroidism, gastrointestinal tract disease, and epilepsy. Pets who have repeated bouts of pancreatitis may need to be fed low-fat diets to prevent recurrence. Even so, some animals develop chronic pancreatitis, which can lead to diabetes mellitus and/or pancreatic insufficiency, also called 'maldigestion syndrome.' In pancreatic insufficiency, the nutrients in food are passed out in the feces undigested. An animal with this disease often has a ravenous appetite, diarrhea, and weight loss. Even though he is eating, he could literally starve to death. Treatment for pancreatic insufficiency is lifelong and expensive, but is possible. The pet's digestive enzymes are replaced through a product processed from pancreases of hogs and cattle which contain large quantities of the digestive enzymes. A change in diet with added nutritional supplements may also be necessary. “
Quite often I come across recommendations similar to
Pitcairn’s “Natural Health for Dogs & Cats” who call for lean meats like for example turkey, chicken, turkey giblets, chicken giblets, chicken or turkey, beef, skinless duck, rabbit, chicken, turkey or beef liver and hearts, lean burger meat or chuck, tuna, mackerel and other various fish. Organic eggs are not just another great protein source but so are the yolks rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. . Supplement food with sufficient amounts (depending on animal size 100 to 400 IU) of Vitamin E, which helps to prevent pancreatic scarring. Use raw veggies and stay away from fruit and try anti inflammatory herbs. Remember to provide variety. Feeding small, frequent meals instead of one large one is being emphasized. Offer all food at room temperature for best digestive action. In some cases supplemental pancreatic enzymes can be helpful to assist digestive processes. Depending on the animal’s size supplement between 250 and 1,000 mg of Vitamin C regularly. (e-mail me for product recommendations.)
The list of food ingredients to stay away from for any healthy animal becomes even more important if your pet is suffering from this disease. It includes grains, salt, fat and glucose, antibiotics, hormones and steroids and any inflammation inducing ingredients.
Dr. Mike Richards, DVM, when asked by
VetInfo4Dogs asked him answered: “For almost my entire career in veterinary medicine the standard feeding advice for dogs with pancreatitis was simply to avoid feeding them while there were clinical signs of acute pancreatitis present, even if they didn't eat for a week or more. This philosophy is changing, mostly due to the results of some studies in humans that show an improvement in survival rates and recovery times among patients who are fed early in the recovery from pancreatitis. At the present time it is reasonable to give oral fluids and to feed dogs once the vomiting stops. Small amounts of a low fat food are best. For dogs who will not eat on their own there is evidence that implanting a feeding tube directly into the small intestine (jejunostomy) seems to be beneficial but is usually something that is done more commonly at critical care centers than general veterinary practices. There may be some benefit to supplementing pancreatic enzymes orally…. This has not been proven in dogs but human studies show some benefit in pain relief from supplementing enzymes. This is probably due to a feedback mechanism in which the presence of digestive enzymes in the intestines shuts down the release of digestive enzymes from the pancreas, limiting the damage to the pancreas.”
Richards’ dietary advice to preventing future occurrences of pancreatitis: “In dogs there is a general consensus that a low fat, moderate fiber diet is helpful in preventing future occurrences of pancreatitis. In addition to diet, weight control is a very important factor in controlling the incidence and severity of future attacks of pancreatitis. Overweight dogs seem to have more severe bouts of pancreatitis when it occurs and to have recurrences more frequently.” In addition in one of his FAQ sessions Ifound the following noteworthy snippets:
“The known predisposing causes are obesity, high fat diets, ingestion of large amounts of fats as a novel event (like a dog getting into a bag of chocolate candy), hyperlipidemia (common problem in schnauzers), long term use of corticosteroids, Cushing's disease, drug reactions (azathioprine sometimes triggers pancreatitis), blood clotting disorders and trauma. Liver disease sometimes seems to trigger pancreatitis but it may be that there is a common inciting agent in these cases. We see cases of pancreatitis after almost every holiday in which big family meals are cooked. Ingesting a lot of ham seems to be a common history. I am not sure if other vets think that high salt treats can cause pancreatitis but we think there is some correlation with high salt ingestion, too. Avoiding feeding the dog table scraps at family gatherings would cut down on the cases of pancreatitis we see. I think that when there are a lot of people present, the dog just gets more treats because there are more people to provide them. Moderate fiber, low fat diets may help to prevent pancreatitis.”
“The only recognized dietary cause of pancreatitis that I am aware of is feeding high fat foods or treats to dogs. In our practice we think there may also be some correlation with high salt content but that is just an observation and may not be true. In one study of the effect of high fat diets (Hall, 1989) on pancreatitis, the diet used was also low protein and I am not sure if that is also necessary in order to increase the risk of pancreatitis or if the high fat alone is enough.High fat diets apparently cause release of pancreatic lipase in the microscopic circulation of the pancreas which digests fats in the blood causing release of damaging fatty acids, which cause inflammation and release of more lipase, which eventually starts to digest the pancreatic tissue, leading to the severe inflammation that causes the signs of pancreatitis.”
“(Question)…since the vet told me no more table scraps or fatty food(s), is there anything I can add to their food to make it a little more palatable for them? Broth? Rice? The gloucosimine tablets are supposed to be flavored, but I have to wrap it in Fat Free cheese. Is that ok?” “(Answer) I would not worry about …using cheese or a small amount of peanut butter or similar things to help with administration of medications even after a bout of pancreatitis. I may not be the best source of information on this topic, though. I don't even worry about clients giving dogs table scraps after the first bout of pancreatitis. I just tell them to avoid very high fat and high salt treats because they seem to cause problems, even though I can't find any real evidence to support the high salt advice. It probably is better to feed pet foods consistently after a second or third bout of pancreatitis (or maybe even the first bout) but I think that having a little pleasure in life is worth a small amount of risk. It will be easier for you on future office visits if you follow your vet's advice though. Rice as a food additive is usually a safe choice. Broth is OK if it isn't high in salt, so you shouldn't use bouillon cubes to make the broth unless you use low salt ones. Just adding warm water to food makes it more palatable for some dogs. Mixing a low fat canned food in with dry food is often helpful in enticing reluctant dogs to eat, too.”
Dr. Hines, DVM, PhD in:
“Pancreatitis in Cats & Dogs” concludes: “At this stage (after medical treatment) I only allow low-fat products such as soups made of rice, cereals and potatoes as well as cooked egg whites which I give in frequent small feedings. A good commercially available product is …” (I am not supporting his recommended prescription brands and formulas on this blog) “If the dog or cat has not improved enough to begin taking oral nutrients in 3-4 days one needs to give nutrients intravenously. I treat mild pancreatitis with low fat diets. Some recipes for low fat diets are given on this web site. After repeated bouts of mild pancreatitis the pancreas may become scarred and unable to produce digestive enzymes. If this occurs I supplement their diets with pancreatic enzymes … . Prevention: Most veterinarians recommend a low fat (5-10%) diet for pets that have experienced pancreatic. Weight reduction in obese pets is probably also wise. Pancreatitis may be a one-time problem. But in some pets it reoccurs at intervals. Try not to feed these pets table scraps or rich fatty diets and keep them trim and active.”
I think I have shown enough sources now all basically bringing us to the same conclusion. If you feel overwhelmed and think this all sounds to complicated it simply all comes down to this: Low fat, high fiber, mild ingredients, no people food (unhealthy table scraps), feed a little more often are the key factors when making dietary decisions on behalf of your pet suffering from this disease. I am not making any product suggestions here, if you want to find out what I told customers of mine and what worked for them,
e-mail me. (After all, a listing of such suggestions would not be fair to Dr. Hines)
One more important suggestion indirectly related to the diet: Remember that exercise is important because it improves digestion and peristalic movements of the intestinal tract, thus regularizing the bowels and keeping this part of the body preventively more healthy. In addition it helps to keep your animal’s weight in check.

Reference & resource directory:
Merck Veterinary Manual
Laura D. West, DVM and Frederic S. Almy, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVP
VCA Columbia Animal Hospital
Images: Hill’s pet Food
Hess, RS; Kass, PH; Shofer, FS; Van Winkle, TJ; Washabau, RJ. Evaluation of risk factors for fatal acute pancreatitis in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 1999;214(1):46-51.
Lem, KY; Fosgate, GT; Norby, B; Steiner, JM. Associations between dietary factors and pancreatitis in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 2008;223(9):1425-1431.
Stewart, AF. Pancreatitis in dogs and cats: Cause, pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment. The Compendium on Continuing Education for the Practicing Veterinarian. 1994;16(11):1423-1431.
Williams, DA; Steiner, JM. Canine exocrine pancreatic disease. In Ettinger, SJ; Feldman EC (eds.): Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine. W.B. Saunders Co. Philadelphia, PA; 2009;1482-1487
Pitcairn’s “Natural Health for Dogs & Cats”

Thursday, February 12, 2009

"Human grade" Pet Food - Reality or Marketing Hype?

Susan Thixton of The Truth About Pet Food some time ago made a simple point. In her a article on this subject (Unfortunately it's a gray area - Human Grade or Pet Grade ingredients in pet foods): “To me, the topic of human grade meat should not be a gray area. A piece of chicken or beef is either suitable for me to consume or it’s not. Totally black and white issue." Well spoken Susan, I have to agree, but, as you too realize, reality in the pet food world is an entire other story.
So when getting ready to elaborate on this issue, I was glad that recently I came across an article written by Edie Lau for the news service of the Veterinarian Information Network. It addresses in great detail the problems surrounding the subject matter. I also liked what I read there because it talked about a veterinarian taking an active role in trying to figure out which dilemma pet owners are facing these days when they are trying to figure out what to feed their pets. The vet, Dr. Paul Palmatier, a 26 year practitioner in a Northern California clinic took an approach very different of what I hear usually from my customers about their vets. Palmatier, as most of his peers carries pet food in his clinic. But rather than just sitting there and preaching about, ordering to feed and prescribing some supposedly miraculous scientific diet, this gentleman actually took the time to visit a local pet food store. There he realized very quickly that the chore of getting some pet food is not quite as simple as it sounds. Just like most of us pet owners he was stunned about the overwhelming number of food choices. He also said that he was surprised when he noticed the cost involved.
The article’s author continues: “The visit gave the 26-year practitioner a sharp appreciation for the choices his clients face. Palmatier said he thinks “constantly” about pet food these days, in part because clients come to him with questions or admit to alternative diets for their pets — raw or homemade food, for example — that the mainstream veterinary community typically doesn’t advise.Just as consumers are thinking more critically about where their food comes from and what’s in it, many are applying the same scrutiny to what they feed their animal companions. Palmatier believes the movement gained momentum from the melamine scandal of 2007, in which unscrupulous suppliers added an industrial chemical to pet food, killing and sickening thousands of animals and spurring a giant product recall involving leading manufacturers.Speaking to consumers’ growing concern about safety and health, some pet-food makers are using a variety of labels that they hope will convey superiority — “all-natural,” for example, “holistic” and even “human grade.”That last one prompted Palmatier last month to post a survey on a Veterinary Information Network discussion board. Just what does that term mean? he wanted to know. Does it have an official definition, or is it just marketing? The answer, it turns out, is both. “Human grade” has no formal legal definition. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine has taken the position that if every ingredient in a product is edible, meaning that it was processed according to rules of sanitation required of food sold to people, then the product may be labeled “human grade,” said Dr. William Burkholder, a veterinary medical officer and the agency’s resident pet nutrition expert. The fact that the FDA doesn’t frown upon the term doesn’t mean that the claim always is used appropriately. “We see a lot of ‘this ingredient is human grade’ claims but our position is that an edible ingredient becomes inedible when you add it to other inedible ingredients,” Burkholder said.One pet food maker that says it meets FDA’s strict definition of the term was refused permission to sell its food in Ohio by that state’s Department of Agriculture, on the grounds that the label was misleading. (States and the FDA, together, have a hand in regulating animal feed.) The company, The Honest Kitchen of San Diego, Calif., took the state to court in 2007. It won on the basis of free speech. The Honest Kitchen, founded in 2002, produces dehydrated raw food for dogs and cats. Owner Lucy Postins said the company originated from her desire to make food for her own puppy. Then she discovered that other pet owners shared her concerns about what goes into conventional kibble. “When you’re feeding these homogenous brown chunks, it’s difficult to determine what’s in there,” Postins said. The ingredients The Honest Kitchen uses not only are edible for humans, they are eaten by humans, she said. “We actually physically eat the raw ingredients that are going into our food. As part of our QC (quality control), we taste every batch of food ... They actually taste pretty good,” she said, comparing the aroma of the finished product to soup or stuffing mix. The meat, she added, is sampled after it’s dehydrated. Although Postins feels strongly about her company’s right to call its food “human grade,” she said she’s aware of other manufacturers that use the term inaccurately.Because of its misuse, many players in the industry decry the label. “It is essentially a made-up term used by marketing interests to describe and promote products in light of anthropomorphic responses people have to their pets,” David Syverson, chair of the Association of American Feed Control Officials’ Pet Food Committee wrote in an e-mail response to questions. AAFCO is an advisory body of state and federal feed regulators that develops nutrient standards and ingredient definitions for animals, whether livestock or pets. Regardless whether a pet-food product meets the standard for human-edible food, people tend to misunderstand the term, Syverson said. He suspects consumers believe it applies to various body parts — intestines versus muscle, for instance — but it does not. Whether a food is edible for humans “has little to do with the nature of the product. It has everything to do with how the product is handled,” he said. He offered this example: “We have two steaks that came out of a USDA meat processing plant. One is edible and can be sold for human consumption because it has been handled continuously under process controls established by law/rule to assure that the product is not exposed to anything that would make the product unfit for human consumption. The second came from the same slaughter plant, same animal and same production line, but slipped off the belt and hit the floor. This one is inedible.” Furthermore, what is acceptable for one species to eat may be harmful for another, he said: “Humans can eat chocolate, for instance; however, if it is fed to a dog, it (can be) toxic.”At the same time, some ingredients regularly found in pet food but considered less-than-desirable in the standard American diet (meat byproducts, for example) may be just fine for either to eat, he and others said. In fact, some people do eat them, noted Dr. Jennifer Larsen, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.“I have some good friends here from Spain and they’re really frustrated by what’s in the market,” Larsen said. “There’s no brains, there’s no kidneys. They think it’s really interesting that we even devein shrimp. It’s a cultural thing. There’s nothing wrong with byproducts; they’re quite safe. It’s just, Americans think they’re icky.”Mark Heyward, owner of Timberwolf Organics pet food, said pet owners should judge pet food not on what they’d like to eat themselves, but on what constitutes good quality for those species. “If you were to let a live chicken out in the back yard and your dog ate it, it would eat everything,” Heyward said. Dr. Avi Deshmukh, scientific communications manager for pet-food maker Royal Canin USA, agreed. “When carnivores kill, the first thing they are likely to eat are the internal organs,” he said. “They know that’s where the gusto is. For example, liver and kidney contain vitamins. The intestines contain excellent protein. So a lot of these things provide a very good nutrition to the animals. They will go to the steak later.” And to those people who say they don’t eat meat byproducts, Deshmukh responds with a chuckle, “Yes, you do. What do you think is (in) a hot dog?”What, then, is the difference between people food and pet food? From the government’s point of view, the key distinction rests in rules governing the handling of food products, which are aimed chiefly at sanitation. “For animal feeds, of which pet foods are a subset, there are currently no ‘good manufacturing practices’ in regulation,” the FDA’s Burkholder said. Ancillary parts of an animal, such as the beaks, feet and combs of a chicken, for example, could end up as components of a pet-food ingredient. “I don’t know of any ingredient that is just feet and beak,” Burkholder added. “Feet would contribute protein and minerals to a product. Beaks are probably arguably filler, if it was just beaks. They’re sort of a chitin-keratin-composed substance. They tend to be components of poultry byproduct meal, which has a lot of other things in it.” Similarly, meat and bone meal, which is a combination of “whatever is left over (from processing of meat for human consumption) -- bones, and meat portion attached to it,” Deshmukh said, may be used as an ingredient in pet food.
One category of meat source known as 4D, for “dead, dying, diseased or disabled,” is prohibited for use in human food, but allowed in animal feed, provided it was processed properly with heat to kill pathogens, AAFCO's Syverson said. 4D meats could include road kill. Syverson said he believes critics of conventional pet foods put undue focus on this fact. “People don’t go out of their way to find road kill to put in pet food,” he said. “...Somebody would have to physically collect it and bring it to the plant. I’m not saying it never happens; however, I have never seen it, and it’s unlikely.”Just because something is permitted in pet food doesn’t mean it’s present, of course. “There’s a difference between good companies and mediocre companies,” Deshmukh said. “Responsible and reputable companies will use only meat or poultry from healthy animals.” He acknowledged that pet owners have no way of knowing the quality of ingredients specified by a given manufacturer. “You have to go on the reputation of the company,” he said.Palmatier, the veterinarian in Santa Rosa, said many in the veterinary community have close, mutually beneficial relationships with major pet-food companies, some of which fund continuing-education programs at professional conferences. For that reason, he said, practitioners have a responsibility to know what is in the food they promote.“Veterinarians are aligned with major food manufacturers to some degree, so criticisms of the major food companies are, to some degree, a criticism of standard veterinary medicine, too,” he said. “So we should really know the products that either fund our CE programs or are sold ... from our offices.””
I guess we still have long ways to go. And come to think of, when you consider what the Royal Canin guy had to say about hot dogs, maybe after all "human grade" is not such a great idea.
Just as a side note, this has nothing to do with the actual subject of this comment but with a general issue: I am glad to see it confirmed by a third party: After all it looks like my constant suspicion about a great number of vets having a very special relationship with some members of the pet food industry doesn’t seem to be just a fantasy. I know I have a big ego, I like to think I am most of the times right. But I can’t help it, it really makes me feel good when others, who even don’t know me confirm what I am saying.Click here to see the original article in VIN News “Can we eat it?”

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Recall Alert Update 02/11/09

Please check the Recall Alert for important updates posted today as the list of peanut butter related recalls of pet products possibly contaminated with salmonella is growing.

How many people and pets have been and still are unncessesarily exposed to serious health risks with in some cases fatal outcome? How much time has to be spent by parties directly or indirectly involved with the subject matter? All because greed for profit once again was given prioity over ethics and proper food manufacturing policies and procedures !!! At the expense of our very own human race and our companion animals. Let's hope that our new government seriously overhauls the current setup of the corresponding agencies supposedly in charge. These agencies are complaining about insufficient staffing? There is a great opportinity to create jobs and not just help the unemployed population, but also ourselves as the human race.

Raw food diets: Risk factor Salmonella

I am really concerned about salmonella. Am I over reacting? Is raw meat safe? Are raw meat diets dangerous to feed because of the possible contaminants of Salmonella and E-coli? These are the questions I am getting every day from pet owners who have to some degree decided to do the right and best possible thing: Feed their pets raw food. Yet they still somewhat are hesitant because of the concerns raised in their questions. The following e-mail made me decide to finally dedicate a comment on this blog to the issue on hand. My prospective customer wrote: “I need some advice. Our vet gave my wife a lecture on feeding our Yorkshire and Mini Poodle fresh chicken backs from Whole Foods. He says that it isn’t good for them (he winced when my wife told him). He is especially concerned about salmonella for the humans. Do you know if he has any basis for his concern?”
So what is the real deal here? I guess it depends on whom you ask. And what exactly the underlying interests of that person are. Obviously, the dry food selling people say it is a problem. The canned food manufacturers follow suit. Quite contrary of course, the raw food selling ones say, no, it’s not. Then you got the group of the pro’s, like for example the veterinarians. Unfortunately, most veterinary schools provide grossly inadequate education on basic canine and feline nutrition. Ask any vet and if being honest he/she will admit to that. I recall Dr. R.L. Wysong telling in one of his books that at veterinary school he only had a couple hours of nutritional education. Despite such insufficient knowledge, for example, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) publishes on its site an article titled “Raw Food Diets - Popular pet diet may pose significant health risks for you and your pet” stating “… a study published in the November/December 2003 issue of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association found that these (raw) diets may cause a potentially fatal Salmonella infection. "While raw food diets are becoming increasingly popular among pet owners, there is a growing body of information showing that these diets pose a health risk not only for the pets that consume them but to their owners as well," says Link Welborn, DVM, AAHA past president. “ And concludes: “…Due to these risks, AAHA recommends that pet owners not feed their pets a raw-meat based diet and encourages owners to ask their veterinarian for advice regarding a nutritionally balanced diet that is appropriate for their pet's age and lifestyle.”

Good vet grown idea: Get the good old science diet to ensure a steady flow of income through profits on pet food and pets needing veterinary attention.

Dr. Anthony Carr, DVM wrote in the January 2009 issue of Veterinary Practice News in his article “Raw diets linked to Salmonella”: “Veterinarians have a responsibility to provide pet owners with information about zoonotic disease that gives a realistic appraisal of any risks pets could present to the household’s human inhabitants and how to minimize this risk. …” He concludes: “Direct and indirect transmission of salmonella in association with pets has been commonly documented. Though rawhides, pig ears and even dry food…” (Listen, dry food manufacturers, so much for your scare tactic against raw) “…can be sources of salmonella, it seems to me that raw meat diets represent the greatest threat. Commercial raw meat diets are often contaminated with salmonella, something that is not surprising given the prevalence of salmonella, especially in poultry … To me the risk is unacceptable and I counsel all clients to avoid raw food diets.”I guess a vast majority of his peers is following in his foot steps. I hear it every day. Just one quick question, Dr. Carr: When making such statements like “Commercial raw meat diets are often contaminated”, next time please do us all a favor: Show documented proof.

You see what I was saying? The good thing about me writing this comment is that I am on both sides. I examine any kind and type of pet foods. We sell at the store dry, canned and raw (the real raw too, not just the freeze dried or latest alternatives of dehydrated ones) and I think I can indeed be objective about it.

Before I continue, what really is causing salmonellosis, as a salmonella infection is called? Here’s some background info:
According to our governments USDA Food Safety & Inspection Service “"Salmonella" bacteria are the most frequently reported cause of food borne illness. In order to reduce salmonellosis, a comprehensive farm-to-table approach to food safety is necessary. Farmers, industry, food inspectors, retailers, food service workers, and consumers are each critical links in the food safety chain.
Salmonella is a gram-negative, rod-shaped bacilli that can cause diarrheal illness in humans. They are microscopic living creatures that pass from the feces of people or animals to other people or other animals. The Salmonella family includes over 2,300 serotypes of bacteria which are one-celled organisms too small to be seen without a microscope. Two types, Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium are the most common in the United States and account for half of all human infections. Strains that cause no symptoms in animals can make people sick, and vice versa. If present in food, it does not usually affect the taste, smell, or appearance of the food. The bacteria live in the intestinal tracts of infected animals and humans. Salmonella bacteria have been known to cause illness for over 100 years. They were discovered by an American scientist, Dr. Daniel E. Salmon.
Salmonellosis is an infection caused by the bacteria Salmonella. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), salmonellosis causes an estimated 1.4 million cases of foodborne illness and more than 500 deaths annually in the United States. The Surveillance Report from the Food Diseases Active Surveillance (FoodNet) for 2004, identified Salmonella as the most common bacterial infection reported. (42% Salmonella).
What are the symptoms of salmonellosis? Most people experience diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 8 to 72 hours after the contaminated food was eaten. Additional symptoms may be chills, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms usually disappear within 4 to 7 days. Many people with salmonellosis recover without treatment and may never see a doctor. However, Salmonella infections can be life-threatening especially for infants and young children, pregnant women and their unborn babies, and older adults, who are at a higher risk for food borne illness, as are people with weakened immune systems.
Any raw food of animal origin, such as meat, poultry, milk and dairy products, eggs, seafood, and some fruits and vegetables may carry Salmonella bacteria. The bacteria can survive to cause illness if meat, poultry, and egg products are not cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature as measured with a food thermometer and fruits and vegetables are not thoroughly washed. The bacteria can also contaminate other foods that come in contact with raw meat and poultry. Safe food handling practices are necessary to prevent bacteria on raw food from causing illness.”

Now, after we got this boring, yet somewhat interesting and educational piece out of the way, let me come back to the original question: What is my take on the concerns? Allow me to answer that with a number of counter questions: If salmonella, as we have learned, is likely to come from any raw meat, does that mean you don’t cook a chicken for yourself anymore? Or through a raw steak or salmon filet on the grill? Do you have a source where those raw meats are certified free of the bacteria? So what is so different with raw pet food? Because it is processed? How many people are buying readily prepared, i.e. similarly processed burgers at the grocery market? After all, a raw pet patty is just like a burger, some of them even look exactly like one. They are made up with ground ingredients, mainly meat. I have yet to hear from a human doctor who orders his patients: Stay away from handling raw meat. What makes the vets think they are so different? Have there been problems in the past with pets eating salmonella contaminated raw food? Yes, no question about it. Search the Internet and you will find a (very few) instances. The AAHA cites in its article quoted above: “Shane L. Stiver, DVM, Kendall S. Frazier, DVM, Michael J. Mauel, PhD, and Eloise L. Styer, PhD, from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine conducted a case study of two cats that developed salmonellosis (Salmonella infection) as a result of a raw meat-based diet. The salmonellosis caused gastrointestinal upset, weight loss and anorexia that resulted in the death of both cats. Salmonella in tissue cultures isolated from one of the cats was identical to cultures from the raw beef used in the cat's home-prepared diet, and the resulting infection was confirmed as the cause of death in both cases. The report is the first to describe the occurrence of salmonellosis in cats as a result of feeding a raw meat-based diet.”

Search for problems with humans eating salmonella contaminated raw food and you will find a whole lot more cases, as a matter of fact we just learned of 1.4 million cases annually. Did these cases make a difference in your eating habits: No. What’s so different when it comes to our pets?
I tend to agree with Dr. Richard Pitcairn, DVM, who says: “People often ask me if I am afraid to feed raw meat to my dogs, since so much of the meat we buy today is not just filthy but deadly. We are advised to cook meat thoroughly to prevent bacterial diseases that are the result of the unsanitary and inhumane way we raise and slaughter livestock. In my experience, good, organic, fresh meat is perfectly safe to feed raw to a healthy dog who is used to it. Does that mean there is no risk? No. But I believe the risk is less than it's generally believed to be.
The many objections we can make about the nutritional quality of animal convenience foods boil down to two basic types: these foods don't contain things we wish they did, and do contain things we wish they didn't....The two basic problems are linked together as an unhappy pair because the presence of various toxins and pollutants actually increases the body's needs for high quality nutrients necessary for combating or eliminating these contaminants. When the overall nutrition is already lower that it should be, we are inviting trouble."”

People, let’s face it: The problem here is really not the actual idea of feeding a raw meat based to our pets. The bottom line is, it all comes down to the issue of how this raw food is being handled. I am pretty sure and would assume (though without guarantee, take as a bad and hopefully very isolated example what was going on in that peanut butter plant now involved in this major recall) that the raw food manufacturers do their very best to ensure a safe food. There is talk of technologies like flash freezing, quick blanching, specialized chilling, to me all indications that serious efforts are being made. Ingredients are carefully selected and these days it is the norm that much of lab testing is being employed. I almost would have said the serious players are all operating with USDA inspected plants. However, related to the peanut butter recall, what I am hearing in the news lately about our government agencies in charge, to me such statements do not mean a whole lot anymore.
Assuming everything is being done right at the manufacturer’s end, hopefully the same care is being followed at the stores from where you buy your food. Now it is all up to you. Follow the safe handling instructions of the manufacturer on their websites and package labels. They deal with the issue extensively. We, for instance, as a store provide for every raw food item we sell extensive safe handling instructions, we even came up with our very own “Raw Food Safe Handling Policy”. As typical for me, it all is based on common sense. Apply that and you will be safe. I see people handling their raw pet food more carefully than they handle their own food. Having said that, I throw the vet’s argument cited in the beginning of this comment, right out the window. Raw food diets made by serious manufacturers were developed under the scrutiny of, and consultation with the most discriminating veterinarians and animal nutritionists. Ask any pet owner feeding raw and you will discover that health benefits from a raw food diet by far outweigh any risk factors.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

David vs. Goliath in 2009 - Let the battle commence: Nestle/Purina vs. the Natural pet food industry (Featuring: Wysong as "David")

While the business of natural and healthy pet food is at one side tremendously interesting and can be highly rewarding, it is at the end of the day for all parties directly involved what some would call “the same story day after day”. Sure if taken seriously, it makes us learn every day something new, just like the saying goes: One never stops learning. And it most certainly makes you feel good when you see that with the knowledge obtained you can indeed make a difference in a pet’s life. But aside from pet food recalls, which unfortunately have become an almost daily occurrence it is a pretty quiet life. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need any sensations, but a little spice once in a while certainly would be welcome as a refreshing change. And since I am not expecting any breaking news and events, it came as a big surprise when this past Friday I received an e-mail from Wysong. Now here’s something happening what you don’t see every day. For starters, see for yourself what it was about, here is a reprint:

e-mail received from Wysong Friday 02/09/09 Part 1

Let’s say you were trying to find a way to wean the kids off sweets to stop the cavities and dentist bills. So you spent a lot of time researching and experimenting and came up with a sugarless cookie that if sprinkled with a little herb you discovered, stopped the cavities.
You decided to set up a little bakery and sell the cookies so other parents could benefit. You made your discovery no secret, in fact you wrote articles and books describing how you did it.
Years passed and you noted that other bakeries were copying you. Nevertheless, you knew that kids were benefiting so you didn’t fret about that too much, even when they tried to convince their customers that they were the inventors. Besides, you didn’t have the resources to go through the patent process, so really everyone had a right to it.
Then one day you received a letter from an attorney on staff at a mega-billion dollar corporate conglomerate cookie bakery. He said he had a patent on your cookie. What? You do a little investigation and discover that their patent came fifteen years after you made the discovery and were selling cookies all over the country.
So you write back and tell him this. He responds and says that if you do not pay him a commission on your last six years of cookie sales, and a commission on all your sales into the future, he will sue you in federal court. You again remind him that he can’t do that because you were first. He can’t steal your idea, patent it, then demand a ransom using the threat of suit.
He says, oh yes he can, and that you better settle up or face two to three million dollars in legal fees for patent litigation. After all, he says, what you are being asked to pay him is not as much as the legal fees will be, so why not just pay him and be done with it.
The other companies that had copied you actually were infringing on the patent since they began baking the cookies after the date of the patent. Thus they had no defense other than to rely on you to prove the patent invalid. But that would mean you could incur huge legal costs and really not gain anything other than to continue what you had always been doing. The only real winners would be the companies who had copied you, since without you they would either have to stop selling the cookies or pay the six-year penalty and commissions to the patent holder.
If you capitulate and pay, you get branded as a patent infringer. You will also have to increase the price of your cookies, as will all the other companies, to cover the commissions. That means that all the parents buying the cookies will now have to pay an inflated price. It will also stick in your craw that although the mega cookie manufacturer suing you describes in detail in their patent how kids’ cavities can be prevented, they don’t even use your invention in their own cookies! They just want to make money off other companies doing it.
What would you do?
Believe it or not, this is the exact dilemma Wysong now faces.
We appreciate any encouragement or thoughts you may have about our David and Goliath battle. And do not fear, we are here to stay and you will continue to receive out best efforts to give you good health information and products like you have come to expect.

e-mail received from Wysong Friday 02/09/09 Part 2 Official Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wysong Corporation 989.631.0009 / 989.631.9280 Wysong site
Midland, Michigan – Nestec S.A. (better known as Nestle), parent company of Purina, a pet food manufacturer based in St. Louis, Missouri, and Wysong Corporation, a health education and nutritional development company in Midland, Michigan, have filed suits against one another in the Eastern District Federal Court in Missouri.The suits are related to a technology invented by Dr. Wysong in the early 1980’s to enrobe pet and human foods with probiotics – health giving organisms such as found in yogurt. Although Wysong did not seek a patent, it has used the technology in both animal and human foods since the early 1980s. Due in large part to Wysong’s educational efforts and product development, probiotics have become a part of the collective health consciousness of the public and food industry. Of late, many natural pet food companies have begun using Dr. Wysong’s technology as well.
Nestle/Purina obtained a patent granted in 1999 for the same technology. To this date, however, Purina has not incorporated probiotics in its own products. Instead, it is attempting to prevent Wysong and other companies from enrobing dry extruded pet foods with probiotics unless a licensing fee is paid to Purina.
A patent is not valid if the invention (prior art) exists in the public domain prior to the patent. The evidence of Wysong’s prior art for over fifteen years before the 1999 Nestle patent was granted is, according to Wysong, incontrovertible and ample. In fact, within the last few years just a portion of Wysong’s prior art evidence swayed a European patent review board to deny Nestle/Purina a like European patent. The decision was upheld upon appeal.These facts have been repeatedly made known to, but ignored by Nestle/Purina in their suit filed against Wysong. Purina’s ultimatum is that Wysong either pay sales-based licensing fees (essentially, royalties) going back six years and forward into the future, or pay for expensive patent litigation. Wysong, a small family owned company, is unwilling to pay licensing fees to the multibillion dollar Nestle/Purina for what amounts to Wysong’s own invention, and consequently now finds itself being sued by a company literally hundreds of times its size. Purina takes the position that since they were granted a patent they have a right to enforce it. Wysong argues that the patent should have never been granted, is invalid and unenforceable, and that any attempt by Purina to use the threat of litigation costs to force licensing fees is unethical and illegal. Since Wysong publicized and used the technology in products distributed nationally for more than 15 years prior to the patent, Wysong claims that the patent holders copied Wysong art and did not reveal this to the patent office when filing. Thus, Wysong has either filed or is exploring the filing of claims against Purina for Sherman Act violations/patent misuse, misleading the United States Patent Office, failing to comply with the U.S. Patent Laws, including 35 USC §101-103, 111-113 and 133, improper attempts to monopolize the market, unfair competition, antitrust violations, false advertising under the Lanham Act, state claims for deceptive trade practices, RICO violations, and punitive damages under the Clayton Act.
Wysong Corporation

You see now what I was talking about? I am pretty sure you agree with me, this is big time news. As you all know, I am a very enthusiastic fan not just of Dr. R.L. Wysong, D.V.M. himself with his extremely informative publications and books, but also of his company with its products, a true treasure chest of resources for optimal health. In addition I like the company’s philosophy and mission to encourage pet owners to think on behalf and in the best interest of not just their pets, but also for themselves. “Wysong uses business as a tool to do good, not as a mere opportunity for profit. In every way possible, Wysong attempts to make a better world and prevent disease and suffering by wise holistic approaches that respect nature and treat humans and pets as higher ethical and thinking creatures.” (Wysong as a holistic company). Simply said, a company offering products conceived by common sense, grounded in science and proven with results. Products that work, as I have proven to many of our customers time and time again.

Let’s just take a look at the mission statements of the 2 opponents:
Nestle/Purina states on their website:
Quote: “At Purina we're passionately committed to making pets' lives better.
At Nestle Purina PetCare, we're passionately committed to making pets' lives better. As the pace of change in pet care accelerates, our challenge is to lead with fresh, innovative approaches to making the lives of dogs and cats better. We are proud of our heritage, and we are constantly exploring new trends and ideas that define the future of pet care and of Nestle Purina.
Purina is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nestlé S.A., Avenue Nestlé 551800 Vevey, Switzerland. “ End of quote.
Nestle on its website claims:
Quote: “Nestlé is committed to the following Business Principles in all countries, taking into account local legislation, cultural and religious practices:
Nestlé's business objective is to manufacture and market the Company's products in such a way as to create value that can be sustained over the long term for shareholders, employees, consumers, and business partners.
Nestlé does not favor short-term profit at the expense of successful long-term business development.
Nestlé recognizes that its consumers have a sincere and legitimate interest in the behavior, beliefs and actions of the Company behind brands in which they place their trust, and that without its consumers the Company would not exist.
Nestlé believes that, as a general rule, legislation is the most effective safeguard of responsible conduct, although in certain areas, additional guidance to staff in the form of voluntary business principles is beneficial in order to ensure that the highest standards are met throughout the organization.
Nestlé is conscious of the fact that the success of a corporation is a reflection of the professionalism, conduct and the responsible attitude of its management and employees. Therefore recruitment of the right people and ongoing training and development are crucial.
Nestlé continues to maintain its commitment to follow and respect all applicable local laws in each of its markets. End of quote.

Wysong says in it’s “Statement of Purpose” (Wysong Resource Book for Thinking People Page 2)
Quote: “Wysong is an organization dedicated to enhancing the health of humans, the animals in their care, and the environment in which we all live. Throughout the world, the short-sighted and selfish inclination to exploit the Earth as a limitless raw material is steadily unraveling the delicate natural web which is critical to healthful living. The mercantilist ethic of privatizing gain but commonizing consequences is incompatible with a sustainable healthy planet. We believe humankind has a fundamental fiduciary obligation to protect and ensure a better world for future generations. Wysong is actively engaged in research, product development, and environmental and nutritional health education. Research is intended to offer responsible alternatives which promote health as a number one priority, and products are designed in accord with the logic that ultimately all healing comes through nature.” End of quote

Now, let me ask you this: Your pet is suffering from disease. You are having problems with the commercial products available at mass merchandise marts and grocery stores. It appears to you as if your vet is not able to help you with his approach of prescribing “his” food. And now you are looking for a new beginning with an all new approach to health and well being. Which company would you follow? I think there is no need for me to say any more.

My initial response to Dr. Wysong, published on his site, was as follows:
“Hi Doctor: We will support you as much as we just can. To start with I will be commenting on our Blog and see if we can get the word out. Also included will be announcements in our monthly e-news. As a relatively young, but fast growing holistic pet nutrition on-line store we cannot afford any of the much needed financial support, however we will back you morally. Being a holistic pet food store offering only the healthiest and best pet products available on the market today, we proudly carry and quite successfully promote the entire Wysong pet product line. We have had great success in helping many pet owners who came to us asking for help for their unhealthy pets. In most cases, thanks to your products we were able to make a huge difference and today every Wysong customer of ours is a very pleased and satisfied one owning very healthy and happy pets. I think at this point it would be repetitive to say I am one of your greatest fans. We are sure that the current events will strengthen your position in the market even more and open many more eyes. This, at the end would be a victory on your part. Always remember, it was David who won. Please let us know if there is anything you want us to do to support you even more. Please feel free to add our site to your "List of other websites talking about David vs. Goliath"
Good luck and keep up the great work. Paul, The Pet Food Examiner”

Other responses on the Wysong site as of tonight so far range from being emotional to more factual, but all are common in one point: Undivided support for “David”.
Stay tuned as in nearest future I will discuss this “case” in more detail. The facts, the truth, the reactions. It is going to be very interesting. I also invite everybody to actively participate and express your very own opinion about this subject matter. Show your support for “David”. And if you don’t support him, sound off anyway. We love lively discussions. After all, I am convinced it is to benefit a very good purpose and supports one cause only: Regardless of whether it is Wysong or anybody else following the same holistic principles, it all is in the best interest of our beloved companion animals.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Peanut butter recall for pet treats: A “possible maybe” becomes harsh reality and a “definitely is”

Recall alerts these days unfortunately have become such a “regular” news topic that often they are not taken too serious any more. They are just like news of the DOW going up or down, a politician getting caught a, gas prices going up and others. Today’s comment however shows that it is indeed extremely important for us pet owners to read and follow nationwide recalls related to pet food and pet nutrition products. And not just when there are major events out there such as the current peanut butter disaster, but always, because many recalls, especially minor ones, easily get lost and overlooked. They are so “minor” that nobody even talks about them. Yet their impact could be just as detrimental to any single pet. How do you stay on top of the events? Follow websites publishing recall alerts, like for example our “Recall Alert”. Other sites, I found to be “on top of things happening” are Susan Thixtons “Truth About Pet Food” or Sabine Contrera’s “Dog Food Project”. You also can follow the government’s official FDA website. My recommendation is to subscribe to any of these web sites. This way you automatically get informed by e-mail when something is happening. Although, like it is the case with a subscription to the FDA’s recall list, it can become sort of annoying if there are major recalls as the current peanut butter recall going on. Then your mail box easily gets flooded with literally hundreds of alerts coming in since the filtering system is very broad.
Anyway, coming back to what I actually wanted to talk about:
The FDA published on its website under “Recalls” on 01/23/09 the following press release issued by Supervalu, Inc.:
“Happy Tails And Shoppers Valu Brand Multi-Flavored Dog Biscuits Recalled As Part Of Nationwide Peanut Corporation Of America Recall SUPERVALU is Recalling Happy Tails and Shoppers Valu Brand Assorted Dog Biscuits Sold at ACME, Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, and Shaw’s/Star Market
Contact: Susie Bell 952.828.4356
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Minneapolis, MN (January 23, 2009) –SUPERVALU is voluntarily recalling Happy Tails and Shoppers Valu multi-flavored dog biscuit products because they may contain peanut butter that has the potential to be contaminated with salmonella. The precautionary move follows a nationwide recall issued by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) of peanut butter and peanut paste produced in its Blakely, Georgia processing facility.
According to the FDA, pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Well animals can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.
The products were sold at some SUPERVALU banner stores including ACME, Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, and Shaw’s/Star Market. The identified items have not been directly linked to the salmonella outbreak. However, because the safety of customers, and in this case their pets, is a top priority and out of an abundance of caution, SUPERVALU has voluntarily recalled the products.
This product recall includes all:
Product Name and Description: Happy Tails Multi-Flavored Dog Biscuits, 26 ozUPC#: 41163-42406Sold at ACME, Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, and Shaw’s/Star Market
Product Name and Description: Happy Tails Multi-Flavored Dog Biscuits, 4 lbUPC#: 41163-42403Sold at ACME, Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, and Shaw’s/Star Market
Product Name and Description: Shoppers Valu Multi-Flavored Dog Biscuits, 4 lbUPC#: 41130-30507Sold at ACME and Shaw’s/Star Market
Customers who purchased the recalled dog biscuit products can bring the product back to their store location for a full refund or exchange.
No other products are currently included in this recall. Based on information from the FDA at this time, the peanut butter for sale in SUPERVALU banner stores is not affected by the recall issued by Peanut Corporation of America.
Customers with questions can contact SUPERVALU Inc. at 877.932.7948. Customers can visit the FDA Web page at for more information and updates on the situation.
All privately owned sites listed in the introduction as possible recall alert source sites, our “Recall Alert”, “Truth About Pet Food” and “Dog Food Project”. reported of the alert.
What bothers me with this particular alert and the press release is the wording: “voluntarily recalling Happy Tails and Shoppers Valu multi-flavored dog biscuit products because they may contain peanut butter that has the potential…”

But first things first:
The “Statesman Journal” of Salem, Oregon reported on Saturday, 02/07/09 “Dog sickened with salmonella”:
“PORTLAND — Oregon Public Health officials on Friday confirmed the state's first salmonella-related illness in a dog. The case is linked to contaminated peanut products.
"This is the first Oregon pet illness and first Oregon pet food product that has been linked to the current salmonella outbreak nationwide," said Dr. Emilio DeBess, the state public-health veterinarian.
The dog, owned by a family in Douglas County, still is alive, he said.
The positive test was traced to a box of Happy Tails Multi-Flavor Dog Biscuits sold at an Albertson's in Roseburg, health officials said.
"This is a reminder that people need to check not only their own food, but their pet food and treats as well," DeBess said.
Dogs, cats and other pets can get sick from contaminated food just like humans and can be a potential source of exposure for people, the veterinarian said.
The most common symptom of salmonella in pets is bloody diarrhea, he said. Pet owners immediately should take the pet to a veterinarian, he said.
Oregon Department of Agriculture urges residents to go to a federal Web site to check the latest list of recalled food items, including some recently added pet products.
In Oregon, food-safety inspectors are visiting retail establishments across the state to check for and remove recalled products.
The agency also is working with food banks and charity organizations to identify and remove any potentially contaminated peanut-containing products.
To see the list of recalled food products, go to”

So, what’s my point? Well, like I said, it is the wording of the press release. What do you mean by saying “voluntarily”? You better recall it and let’s face it you are not recalling the product because it is in the pet owners’ best interest, but because it is in your company’s best interest. Not to recall would be a major mistake and could cost you dearly. And the other phrase really bothering me is “may contain”. Let’s face it people, how naive do they think we all are? Manufacturing processes these days are sophisticated enough that you can clearly tell which batch of which product contains which batch of ingredients coming from which source at any given time down to an individual bag. That means you know the product contains contaminated ingredients. And that the ingredients were indeed contaminated has been in the news now for a while too. Known so well that our government started a serious investigation with the top people looking into the case. According to some media sources they even started a criminal probe? Now I would say that’s really well known. And it was known before January 23, 2009, which is when you published a press release through the FDA.
I just wonder sometimes: Do our (pet and human) food manufacturers indeed believe consumers are stupid? It certainly appears this way.
Which reminds me, last year I bought Marion Nestle 2008 “Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine”. I think it deals with this kind of issues especially related to the pet food industry. I really need to start reading it. Apparently it is real eye opener.
By the way, let’s not forget, my best wishes for a fast recovery go out to the dog in Portland and his owner. Hope things work out for the best.

Pet food safety: Beware of the Internet reporting untrue stories, there’s nothing wrong with Canidae and Wellness

Back in the beginning of January I wrote a couple comments titled ”Case file Pet Food: Pro's and Con's of information sharing on the Internet” and ”FDA and DogsWell Breathies Chicken Treats for Dogs: More pro’s and con’s of information sharing on the Internet”. The content was about the advantages of the Internet. How fast information can travel and how fast it can become available to pet owners in their function as consumers. A good current example of those advantages are the recall alerts. However, there are also negatives about this flow of information. And it all comes down to how credible all of the published content sometimes is. Back then I had brought up 2 examples where “bashing” of products and “attempts to get a free ride” originally initiated by unqualified members of the cyber space society essentially can become harmful. In the cases cited in those comments I brought up incidents about pet food products and their manufacturers, who were blamed for apparent wrong doings that simply were not based on true and actual facts. I had delivered enough evidence that “both cases clearly had to be dismissed. The claim were never substantiated and the final outcome clearly was that the accusation was a wrong one. It would have been nice if the owner of the recall site would have published a statement to that extent as well. Well, that’s why I publish this comment: To bring the case to closure.”
Just these last days another one of this type of cases came across my desk. On or around January 27, 2009 the following headline made it’s debut on the Internet: “Class Action filed against the makers of Canidae Dog Food.”
The posting was titled “Class action lawsuit against Canidae” It listed a website as resource for further information. This site was “Canidae Pet Food Class Action Investigation”. The posting sort of quoted off this website. It also at the bottom had a couple moderator comments, which I guess were published accidentally and not meant for publication. These comments stated “Moderator cut: second paragraph; please post snippet only, then link to article. Reason: possible copyright issue”
Initially, I admit, I did what most of us do: I took it for the word of the day, for a fact and ran with it. Needless to say, I got worried. Because we are selling the Canidae line at our store. And we pride ourselves of “being a recall free store”. When I started looking into it, I found out, besides many other facts, that I was not the only retailer worried about the news.
But now let’s take a closer look at the posting: What everybody reading it will remember and keep in his memory is the head line. Possibly the actual text. But the problem is that nobody reads all the way to the very bottom. Which is where you find a clear indication that things don’t seem to be so perfectly perfect with the reporting. I guess the blog moderator got so excited that he forgot to cut out his instructions to himself. Well, I guess it worked. Not just did I myself initially step into the trap, many others, highly accredited experts too followed me right into it. All the sudden within a few hours it was all over the Internet. What was the trap?
There was talk about a website were details could be found about the actual suit. Well, I visited the site, it turned out, it was a law firm soliciting complaints from pet owners who may have possibly had problems and health issues with their pets because they fed Canidae products. And that was about it. It talked about an “intention” to file a class action suit. The case was apparently supposed to be filed in the State of Wisconsin. I searched all court data bases including the federal ones and came up with the result that there was no such filing as of that day. And still to this day there is none. The, when you visit the site, read carefully in the “About” section: “These materials have been prepared by (law firm name) for informational, investigative and promotional/advertising purposes…”.
Still, I wasn’t satisfied yet. So I contacted Canidae. They should know, right? And as one of their retailers I have the same right as their customers. I need to know what’s going on. What’s the truth and to me as a retailer also very important, how do I address the concerns my customers have? I e-mailed the company saying “what’s up with these rumors? What is the deal? What is your response and how do you want me to address the issue when customers ask?” The answer I got back was exactly what at this point I had expected: “We do not respond to rumors”. That was the answer: Plain and simple. And for me this chapter is now closed. We will continue selling the Canidae product line with the same support we have given it since we started selling it. As a high quality product which we highly recommend.
There’s one more thing on my mind: I am directing this question to the people who are publishing such garbage: Why do you have to make so many people worried for no reason and what really are your intentions behind it? I followed that particular blog for a while. And others too. The issue raised serious concerns among many Canidae feeding pet owners. And of course it also generated right away a great amount of pet owners who’s pets got sick right after their owners read the untrue story. Is that what do you get out of it? The other day there was an incident involving Wellness Dry Food. Sabine Contreras of The Dog Food Project investigated the case and here is how a senior executive of Wellness responded: “We wanted to address your question about … Wellness Fish and Sweet Potato Dry Dog food contains harmful fish bones. This consumer approached us and told us that the video was “available for purchase”. When we refused, he posted the video on YouTube.” To bloggers like the ones in the Canidae case and guys like the one in the Wellness case: Would you please find yourself a new hobby? And quit wasting everybody’s time? Because there is many people like me. Who take their job serious and unfortunately must investigate reports like the ones your are distributing. Thank you, I think I speak for everybody more or less involved in dealing with your garbage.
Like I said in the head line: There’s nothing wrong with Canidae and Wellness (which we will start carrying soon).