Saturday, February 28, 2009

Want to feed your cat “natural”? Feed her meat!

Feeding “natural”: What does that actually mean? Aunt Jeni, one of the nation’s prime raw food manufacturers says on her website: “The word "natural" means different things to different people. It joins the list of buzz words of the 90’s, along with other favorites of the dog food world, such as "healthy" and "organic." "Natural" might mean simply that the product contains no dyes or artificial preservatives. However, the word "natural" as used by a certain group of pet nutritionists is accepted to mean a "species appropriate" diet. This means that we feel dogs are carnivores, and should be fed as carnivores, rather than as forced-omnivores. The pet food industry has managed to convince many of us, most vets included, that dogs can exist well eating as omnivores. Well yes, they can exist that way alright, but wouldn’t it be much nicer to have them do more than exist? Don’t we all strive for the healthiest, happiest pets we can possibly manage to have? Manufacturers of pet food have a job to do: Produce the cheapest possible product that will taste good enough for the Fidos and Fluffies of the world to gobble it up by the bag full. Despite their advertising claims, their main concern is not with the health of your pet, but with the sales of their product. How do they produce the cheapest possible product? By using "4D" meat (meat from diseased, down, dying, and dead animals) and then filling it up with a lot of grains, for which dogs and cats have no dietary requirement , and a limited ability to digest and utilize. Sounds unappetizing, but then why does your pet "love" his dog food so much? Easy: They add sugar, salt, cancer-causing chemicals and tasty preservatives to entice your pet to eat more. On top of all that, the whole mess is heat processed at extremely high temperatures, thereby destroying any remote nutritional goodness that may have been in there in the first place. The end result is a very artificial food that causes your dog to produce a lot of excess gas and other "output" that you must then clean up. Many dogs also suffer itchy/bumpy skin, dull hair coats, brittle nails, diarrhea, early-morning vomiting, and a host of other ailments. But there is a better way to feed your pet a truly healthy, wholesome, and "natural" diet that will bring out the true beauty and outer glow of inner good health. To feed your pet a species-appropriate, natural diet, you need two things: a desire to see improvement in general health problems, and a willingness to make a commitment to bring about the desired changes. Making your pet’s food yourself will never be as easy or convenient as opening the bag or can and filling the dish; however, you may be surprised at how easy it can be, and you certainly will be pleasantly surprised by the results it brings to the life of your pet. You are probably also thinking you can’t afford to feed your pets "real" or "people" food. Surprise again! It is no more expensive, and in many cases is actually cheaper, to make your pet’s food on your own than it is to purchase a premium brand pet food.”
I actually have nothing to add to her assessment but would like to make a change: Replace “Dog” with “Cats & Dogs”. And since I wanted to talk about cats today I decided to let a great expert on the subject write what he has to say: Steve Brown, co-author of
“See Spot live longer”. Steve’s take is: “The Natural Diet of Cats Is Meat
Cats are meat eaters, designed to thrive on a wide variety of small prey animals, eaten fresh and whole. Their natural diet is high in water and protein, with a moderate amount of fat, and a very low percentage of carbohydrate.
Dry cat food is high in grain.
A diet of dry food is high in carbohydrate, between 35 and 50%. “Diet” and “Lite” foods have even more. Dry food contains almost no water. Dry cat food is convenient to feed, and it’s relatively inexpensive, but it’s the opposite of the natural diet of cats. Cats have no dietary need for any carbohydrate.
Cats need to get water from their food
Cats are descended from feline desert dwellers. These cats did not have the option to stroll over to the water hole for a drink, and cat tongues are not even very well designed for drinking water. Cats are adapted to obtain most of their water from their prey, which contain over 75% water. Cats who eat dry food consume only half the water of those who eat wet food, and live in a state of chronic dehydration.
Common health problems of cats are related to diet
There is increasing evidence, published in peer-reviewed veterinary journals, that many of the health problems seen in cats are the result of diets inappropriate for a feline. Dry, grain-based foods fed to a meat eater, over time, result in both chronic and life threatening diseases.
Since cats are designed for a high protein, moderate fat, low carbohydrate diet, it is not surprising that obesity is often seen in cats fed dry food. Diet cat foods have even more carbohydrate than regular ones, and less fat, so they depart even further from the natural diet of cats, making it harder for them to lose weight.
The high level of carbohydrate in dry cat food contributes directly to the development of diabetes in cats. Blood sugar levels rise when cats eat dry food. When this is an ongoing event, insulin producing cells down-regulate, which leads to diabetes.
Kidney Disease
Kidney disease is the most common cause of death for cats. The kidneys require an abundant supply of water to do their job. Without water to process the byproducts of the digestion process, the kidneys are overloaded, become unable to do their job, and are damaged over time.
Bladder Problems
Cystitis, bladder irritation, and Bladder/Kidney stone formation are also strongly connected to dehydration. If the body is well hydrated, these problems are minimized.
Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome and Disease
These problems are often characterized by vomiting and diarrhea and are very common in cats. Cats who eat a species- appropriate diet rarely suffer from these issues.
Dental Disease
Dry food has a high sugar (carbohydrate) content, which has been shown to cause dental decay.
In order for any supposed abrasive benefit from dry foods to be seen, cats would have to actually chew their dry food. Since dry food shatters and they then swallow the pieces, there’s no abrasive action from chewing something hard.
Cats eating dry food often have very severe dental problems. Many factors contribute to dental health, but it is clear that a high carbohydrate diet is not beneficial!
The solution: A diet appropriate for the species
It's simple: cats need to eat a diet that is high in protein and water, with a moderate amount of fat, and almost no carbohydrate.
Most of the health problems we discussed above are either radically improved or eliminated by eating a diet that meets the needs of a carnivore - one which closely resembles the nutritional balance provided by a mouse.
For example, many veterinarians now treat diabetes with a meat-based canned diet. We'd like to go a step further, and prevent these diseases.
Feed your cat a meat based diet!
We suggest that you buy canned food that is designed to be complete, or complete frozen diets that have very little vegetable content. No grain sources should be listed in the ingredient panel. There are grain free canned cat foods that have some vegetables in them, but the vegetables should not be a major component of the food. “All meat” diets are just that, all meat, and they will not meet your cat’s nutritional needs alone.
Make the switch successful!
It sounds simple to just switch your cat’s food, after all, meat tastes better than dry food! Your cat may disagree. Dry foods are designed to be tasty, and many cats are addicted to them. Often, cats are not open to the idea of variety, especially if they have only been fed one food (as we have been advised by pet food companies for decades). Creativity and patience may be needed to switch your cat.
Cats will starve themselves, and they are not good candidates for the tough love approach. Some very serious conditions can occur if cats do not eat for an extended period, especially if cats are overweight. A slow switch will prevent problems.
Here are some ideas to help you along:
Establish regular feeding times and put food away in between meals. For many reasons, it’s best for the body not to have food available all the time. If you have dogs, you know what to do with leftovers!
Feed multiple cats separately.
Consider dry food to be a snack only, not left out all the time, a few pieces as a treat. This is the equivalent of “kitty junk food”.
Offer bits of other kinds of fresh food that you are eating. They may be refused, but one day….they won’t. Your goal is to get your cat to consider things as food other than dry, crunchy items.
Cat whiskers are very sensitive. If food is served in a bowl that interferes with whiskers, it could be enough to keep the cat from considering the food. A flat dish works well.
Cats generally prefer their food between room temperature and body temperature. The dry food cats are used to eating is designed to be very smelly. Cats choose food by smell, and wet food is a lot less fragrant than a commercial food they have been eating. This is often the reason that the second half of a can of food is refused -- the first time it was room temperature! Warming the food releases the flavors and fragrances.
Trickery has been known to work with cats: put the food on YOUR plate, or hide it in a location cats know to be forbidden…creativity helps!
Additions and considerations
Add sardines for good fats, or use fish oil. A meal of sardines once a week or one small sardine a day adds omega-3 fatty acids in their best form – whole food. Cats can’t use plant sources of omega-3s at all - animal sources are necessary. If sardines don’t appeal to you, you can use a– fresh, well-preserved, omega-3 fish oil supplement with vitamin E.
Digestive enzymes and a glandular supplement are good additions to replace the parts of prey animals we normally don’t feed: the stomach contents and smaller glands.
We think that the optimum diet for cats is a raw meat based diet.
However, if you feed a canned diet that approximates the balance of the natural diet of cats, their diet will be fully hydrated, and you will be much closer to providing your cat with optimum nutrition.
If you choose to feed meat based canned diet, find a way to simulate components lost in cooking or processing.
One way to add live food is with “Cat grass”, very popular with cats. You can
grow your own from a kit. This addition often takes the burden off the house plants!

For cats, good diet can make the difference between “”Old Age” at 12, and “Old Age” at 23. Cats who eat dry food are often old and ill at 9 or 10, healthy cats can live a very long time, and that’s what we hope for your feline carnivore!”
Contributed by Steve Brown, co-author of Steve Brown and Beth Taylor “See Spot Live Longer”

Friday, February 27, 2009

Pet food ingredient Grain: Controversy vs. chemistry Part 4 The Gluten Free Debate

“Whole grains are a very cost effective and environmentally sensitive way to provide the mainstay of your pet’s diet.” – Richard Pitcairn, DVM in “Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Cats and Dogs”. Well, while I highly respect Dr. Pitcairn and only can compliment him on his work, especially his book, what he says here is just another opinion. Similar to this one, today I have a further addition to my series about one of the most controversial pet food ingredients: Grain. (Pet food ingredient Grain: Controversy vs. chemistry Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). I keep looking for more opinions on this topic. Altogether at the end we should have a representative collection of opinions and view points and hopefully based on those will be able to draw up our own conclusion. But before we get to that point, here’s yet another view point, today coming from The Honest Kitchen:
While most domestic pets are not strictly 'celiac' (only Irish Setters have so far been shown to suffer this condition, many pets are grain-sensitive on some level. And most of the time, their owners attribute their health problems to other causes, when all that's needed is a simple change in the daily menu!
What is Gluten and how does it affect our pets?
Gluten is a generic term used to describe the proteins found in wheat and other cereal grains. It constitutes a mixture of proteins classified into two groups, called prolamines and glutelins.
In true grain intolerance, an immune response occurs when gluten is consumed; the villi, tiny hair-like projections in the small intestine that absorb nutrients from food, are damaged. Damaged villi do not effectively absorb basic nutrients -- proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and, in some cases, water and bile salts.
Wheat, barley, rye and oats are excluded when following a “gluten-free diet”. Most evidence implicates wheat as the most problematic food. One school of thought is that genetically modified grains are especially risky for the gluten intolerant. “Studies show that when butterflies and other species come in contact with opollen from genetically modified crops, they suffer a number of health problems and genetic mutations eventually occur. It is possible that a similar thing happens when other species consume GM grains – especially species whose systems aren’t designed to cope with a grain overload in the first place”. States Lucy Postins, nutritionist for The Honest Kitchen.
Recent studies suggest that oats may not be as problematic as wheat. Some pets who are sensitive to many grains, can tolerate oats quite well.
What are the signs of gluten Intolerance in Pets?
Consumption of glutenous grains in sensitive pets, can lead to:
Chronic GI upset – intermittent or continuing diarrhea and / or constipation including mucusy stools. Vomiting may also occur in more severe cases.
Dermatitis – chronic dry and flaky skin, hair loss, redness, bumps, rashes and constant scratching are classic signs of a food intolerance.
Chronic ear infections – over-consumption of grain can lead to a buildup of excess sugars in the system. This in turn can contribute to yeast overgrowth, leading to dark, smelly waxy debris in the ears, head shaking and scratching.
Other health problems that may be related to food intolerances such as grain sensitivity include: arthritis, epilepsy, abnormal behavior, allergic and inflammatory reactions (including inhalant allergies due to a compromised immune system as well as conditions like pancreatitis and hepatitis, as well as an increased susceptibility to infection, Cushing’s, Addison’s, and thyroid problems. Of course not all these conditions are directly related to grain consumption, but the overload of grain in most modern commercial pet diets is thought to deplete the animal’s natural state of good health over time, leaving him more susceptible to these problems occurring.
Some animal health experts have even speculated that long-term undetected dietary intolerance may be the underlying cause of degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart conditions and kidney failure.
How can I tell if my pet is grain-intolerant?
When several of the above signs are present, a couple of options exist to definitively determine if grain-sensitivity is the culprit.
Diagnostic blood tests are available but they are not always completely accurate – and can be very costly indeed.
An elimination diet is one of the surest ways to determine if your pet is sensitive to grains. It can be a time-consuming process for some pets, to pin down what foods cause their reactions, but for many pets, cutting out all gluten or feeding a completely grain-free pet food is the answer to problems that have been plaguing their companion for years.
Which grains are gluten-free?
Rice, Amaranth, Buckwheat (this is actually a seed and not related to wheat), Millet, Quinoa
Other gluten-free starches include garbanzo, lentils, nuts (remember dogs must not eat macadamia nuts), maize / corn, fava beans and cassava.

Do Dogs and Cats Need Grains?
Dogs and cats are designed to primarily eat meat. In Nature, the ancestors and present day cousins of our domestic dogs and cats, consume meat as the majority of their diet.
Dogs are scavengers. A wild dog’s diet includes almost any food that provided calories - but very little, if any, grain. A major factor in the domestication of dogs was the food that humans leftover. It is thought that the wolves who were least afraid of humans, over a period of tens of thousands of years, became our close companions.
According to a recent study by biologists Ray and Lorna Coppinger, the natural diet of dogs included, "Bones, pieces of carcass, rotten greens and fruit, fish guts, discarded seeds and grains, animal guts and heads, some discarded human food and wastes."
However, cats are more selective about food by nature and anatomy. Their ancestral diet consisted of small rodents. Their usefulness to humans had much to do with their eagerness to dispatch the rodents so plentiful around human habitats.
Some individual animals actually do need grain in their diets, to maintain a healthy bodyweight or because they get dry skin and dull hair when they go ‘grain-free’. As with almost every aspect of holistic health, the answers vary depending upon the individual animal. Even littermates can very from one another, in their requirements. One pup might get an ear infection every time she eats any sort of grain. Another might be able to tolerate just oats or rye but not wheat and a third might end up thin and uncomfortable when fed only meats and veggies.

Almost No Grains
The natural diet of both species includes high levels of protein, fats and water, and very little carbohydrates. The "recommended" diet of dry foods, which is the diet of most cats and dogs, is the complete opposite of this natural diet: High in carbohydrate, low in protein, fat, and with almost no water.
As a general rule, most dogs and cats do not need many carbohydrates, and most veterinary textbooks agree. Canine and Feline Nutrition: "The fact that dogs and cats do not require carbohydrate is immaterial because the nutrient content of most commercial foods include [carbohydrates]."
Small Animal Clinical Nutrition III, written by the founder of Science Diet (Mark Morris Sr.) and his son (Mark Morris Jr.): "Some question exists regarding the need of dogs and cats for dietary carbohydrate. From a practical sense, the answer to this question is of little importance because there are carbohydrates in most food ingredients used in commercially prepared dog foods."
The Waltham Book of Companion Animal Nutrition: "There is no known minimum dietary requirement for carbohydrate..."
A highly processed, grain-based diet fed to an animal designed to thrive on a meat-based, fresh food diet is very likely to produce symptoms of ill-health over time. Diets to address disease most frequently deal with the symptoms that are the result of a lifetime of inappropriate food, not the true cause of their symptoms. The optimum diet for a dog or a cat should closely resemble their natural diet.
A diet balanced heavily toward grain promotes insulin production and the production of inflammatory chemicals. Over-production of insulin makes it hard for the body to maintain its correct weight, and can lead to diabetes and other problems. An overabundance of inflammatory chemicals means more aches and pains.
Improve the balance of your dog's diet by reducing grain, and you may not need the dangerous non-steroidal and steroid drugs so commonly prescribed for dogs. Readers who follow Dr. Mercola's Total Health Program will agree eating fewer grains means less inflammation! Toxic drugs certainly make animals more comfortable, but will shorten their lives too.
A word of caution: Diabetic animals or any other medical condition making a switch to a more protein-based diet should be under the close supervision of a veterinarian. Many diabetic pets do require some complex carbohydrates, often in the form of whole grains.

Making the Switch
The best diet for a dog or cat is almost always a fresh, raw meat, bone and vegetable diet or a home prepared pet food diet that uses little or no grain.
For the majority of pets, a diet with more meat and less grain is a good starting point. As you add meat to your pet's diet, at the same time, reduce the grain content. Do so gradually over a period of a few days.
Add up to 15 percent fresh meat, raw or cooked: This increases the protein and reduces the carbohydrate content of the pet's food, but will not unbalance the levels of any essential nutrient in your animal's diet. Never feed cooked bones!
Also, ensure the meat scraps you're adding are mostly meat! Your doggie bag is likely to have much more fat in it than meat. Fat is a very important nutrient but one that needs to be kept in balance. Every fat gram provides double the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrate.
Avoid senior, lite and diet foods: These varieties usually have fewer calories per cup because manufacturers have increased the fiber and carbohydrates and reduced protein and fat, compared to adult maintenance diets. This is the opposite of what they really need, and has no scientific foundation. Older and overweight pets need meat, not grains.
For cats, we highly recommend switching all the way. Cats should not eat dry foods. Urinary tract problems and kidney failure in cats have been closely related to dietary water, which has a different effect on their bodies than the "real" water an animal drinks. It's much better for the cat to eat her food with the water in it! Add a commercially prepared frozen raw diet: As with canned foods, if these are "complete," they can replace all other food fed to your animals.
Research proper homemade meat, bone and vegetable diets and supplement with good dry food to cut cost: Homemade foods can be nutritious and affordable, but must be made correctly. This option provides the protein and fat our pets need, reduces the amount of grain they eat, and is affordable by most people.
Feeding your pet a meat- and vegetable-based diet is clearly the best choice to protect and optimize their health. By following these simple recommendations, you will radically reduce the deadly toxins your dog encounters. Read more of our recommendations in
See Spot Live Longer. May your Spot live a long, healthy life!
Contributed by
The Honest Kitchen

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pet Food Safety: Canidae is safe - Case closed!

You may or may not recall my comment written back in January titled Pet food safety: Beware of the Internet reporting untrue stories, there’s nothing wrong with Canidae and Wellness. In it I reported of rumors circulating on the Internet and consequently everywhere else about an apparent class action lawsuit going on against Canidae. Since then a few weeks have passed (already?) and I have received many calls and inquiries. While many pet owners called me to share that they never had and still, even after the changes made last year have absolutely no problems with the Canidae food and their pets are just as fine as can be, there were just as many inquiries expressing concerns. Even pet food retailers have contacted me and told me about how much they are suffering from way reduced sales due to these false stories. In my original article I was making a point of the fact that I do not understand people making false claims on Internet blogs and forums thereby hurting many people involved in the business. And I had at that point also found that there simply was and (still to this day) is no such a thing as this apparent class action suit. At one side I hate to bring this up again and would like to put the case to rest, because I believe that as more as is being talked about it as more the false rumors work in the favor of those irresponsibly spreading them. They get the attention they want. At the same time I would like to put the case to rest with a closing, which can be considered a satisfactory closure and will allow us to move on with our lives. Needless to say that I was extremely pleased when I received the following letter in my e-mail yesterday:
“Information on CANIDAE's Reformulated Products

From the Desk of John Gordon and Scott WhippleAt CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods, we constantly strive to provide the highest quality and safest products to our consumers.In May 2008, we set out to enhance the safety and quality of our
Lamb and Rice dry pet foods. We had two overall goals: to improve our formulations using the safest, highest quality ingredients available; and to find a partner who could manufacture our products to exact safety, quality and consistency standards. One month later, in June 2008, we introduced the improved All Life Stages (ALS), Chicken and Rice and Platinum dry pet foods. These products are among the safest, highest quality products available to pet owners today.When we introduced the reformulated products, we took steps to inform consumers, retailers, distributors, and breeders about the change and about our products' advanced safety, quality and consistency. The information was also prominently featured on our website. We have worked closely with pet owners to address the transition, and the vast majority of our customers switched to the new diets without issue. It is also important to note that at no time has our product testing indicated any safety issues with our products.As you may have heard, we have recently been sued over the improvements we made last year to our dry formulations. The lawsuit was filed by a single person who claims that the improvements were actually unsafe cost-cutting measures. Rest assured that these allegations are completely untrue, and we fully expect that this lawsuit will be shown to have absolutely no merit.The truth is that, beginning in May of 2008, we improved our dry formulations to make them better and safer for pets. The new formulation is actually more expensive to produce than our previous version, but our consumers expect us to continue to strive for better, safer, more nutritious products, and that's what our improved formulations deliver.Our reformulated products include higher quality ingredients than before. Coupled with advanced manufacturing processes and rigorous safety testing, CANIDAE foods are among the safest, highest quality products a pet owner can buy.We receive positive feedback from our customers on a daily basis. We are committed to providing high quality products that are thoroughly tested in the plant and by third parties to assure safety and consistency.
As always, we will continue to place the best interest of pets at the heart of every decision we make.
John Gordon & Scott Whipple
Founders and Owners of CANIDAE Pet Foods

CANIDAE Commitment to Pet Food Safety
CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods was founded out of love for our own pets and animals. In today's environment, and as pet owners ourselves, we understand consumer concerns when it comes to the safety of the food we choose to feed our beloved family pets.All CANIDAE products are made using only the finest human grade, natural ingredients, grown and raised in the United States and manufactured with the strictest testing and quality control procedures in place. Our production facilities already surpass future AAFCO and FDA standards. By meeting these newer pre-process and post-process monitoring guidelines with state of the art equipment and procedures, our manufacturing facilities enable us to produce a safer, higher quality product with specific procedures in place to assure the health and well being of your pet.To assure the safety of our products, CANIDAE has strict protocols which require that all formulas are tested in-line during our production runs and cleared by a second supervisor every 30 minutes. Additionally, there are 141 ingredient tests and 10 finished product tests that are performed. A sample of each finished goods batch is also sent directly to our research and development center where they are tested again, this time by a third party lab, for known toxins and potential risk hazards including but not limited to:Melamine Cyanuric AcidSalmonellaToxinsChemical ResidualsBacterial ToxinsCANIDAE Pet Foods are safe.

All CANIDAE products meet or exceed AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) nutrient profiles and are manufactured in USDA and FDA approved facilities. CANIDAE products consistently receive superior Silliker Good Manufacturing and Food Safety Audits scores of 95% or above. CANIDAE's manufacturing capabilities also include the U.S.D.A. Organic Certification.CANIDAE is committed to providing the highest standard of excellence for nutritional benefit, palatability, product safety, and customer satisfaction. We understand the level of trust that you have come to expect from us and our products and it is our responsibility and commitment to deliver on that trust!”

I would say this should do to put the case to rest. It does once again, though I was already convinced back in January, provide me with enough confidence to continue to recommend the Canidae brand to pet owners as a reliable and healthy pet food alternative. There is indeed nothing wrong with Canidae ! “Rumor mill operators”, go and find yourself different and new victims, stay away from pet food, everybody here has been seriously hurt enough many times in the past and worried way beyond acceptable levels. Better yet, find yourself a new hobby. If you hurt yourself, that’s fine with us, as long as you leave everybody else alone.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Selecting a commercial Pet Food Part 2: Pet Food Shopping Check List & Guide lines to feeding your companion animal

Selecting a commercial Pet Food Part 2: Pet Food Shopping Check List & Guide lines to feeding your companion animal
In part 1 of this series we talked about pet food ingredient standards and the problems pet owners are facing when selecting a commercial pet food. Today we will discuss issues you may want to consider when putting together your shopping list before you go shopping for pet food the next time.
The most reputable manufacturers of “super premium” and “natural” foods agree with holistic veterinarians and other experts that the very best diet for your animal companion is one that you make yourself. A homemade diet, carefully balanced nutritionally and using organic foods, is closest to what Mother Nature intended. However, many of us do not have the time or energy to do home cooking, especially for multiple animals or large dogs.
For those of us who rely, partially or entirely, on commercial foods for our animals, API has prepared a checklist to use in selecting a good-quality diet.
Our extensive research has revealed that the pet food industry is extremely secretive. Manufacturers will not disclose very much information about the sources of ingredients, how they are processed, their quality control standards, or, in some cases, even where the food is made. Because the forty odd manufacturers we contacted failed to provide us with accurate information, this API checklist gives you as a consumer the best chance of selecting the best foods among the choices available.
When selecting a commercial food for your animal companion, make sure the label has an “AAFCO guarantee,” preferably one that references “feeding tests” or “feeding protocols” rather than Nutrient Profiles.
Never buy a food containing “by-product meal” or “meat and bone meal.” These rendered products are the most inexpensive sources of animal protein. The contents and quality of these meals can vary tremendously from batch to batch, and are not a reliable source of nutrition for your animal.
In general, avoid foods that rely on by-products as the sole source of animal protein. By-products consist of organs and parts either not desired, or condemned, for human consumption. An occasional can of by-product-based food may be okay, since, in the wild, carnivores do consume the whole prey including the organs, but these foods are not acceptable as a steady diet.
Look for a named meat or meal (“lamb” or “chicken meal,” for example, instead of the generic term “meat”) as the first ingredient.
Avoid generic or store brands. These may be repackaged rejects from the big manufacturers, and generally contain cheaper — and consequently poorer quality — ingredients.
Unless specifically recommended by your veterinarian, avoid “light,” “senior,” “special formula,” or “hairball formula” foods. These foods may contain acidifying agents, excessive fiber, or inadequate fats that can result in skin, coat and other problems.
In general, select brands promoted to be “natural.” While they are not perfect, they may be better than most. Several brands are now preserved with Vitamins C and E instead of chemical preservatives (such as BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin and propyl gallate). While synthetic preservatives may still be present, the amounts will be less.
Check the expiration date to ensure freshness.
When you open a bag of dry food, give it a sniff — if there is any rancid odor at all, return it immediately for an exchange or refund.
Store dry pet food in a sealed non-porous container (a large popcorn tin is ideal) in a cool, dry place. Canned food is best removed from the can and refrigerated in a glass or ceramic container.
Guidelines for Feeding Your Animal Companion
Change brands or flavors of dry food every three to four months to avoid deficiencies or excesses of ingredients which may be problematic for your animal.
When changing dry foods, mix 1/4 of the new food with 3/4 of the old food, and increase the new food a little each day. Some finicky animals may need a more gradual change over two or more weeks. Never let a cat skip more than one or two meals; return to the old food if necessary.
With any new food or supplement, watch for subtle changes in your dog’s skin and coat, appetite, energy level, mood, itchiness, discharges or odors, body weight, and the size and consistency of stool. If negative changes occur, try a different food. If the change persists, consult your veterinarian.
If your animal companion is on a prescription diet, check with your veterinarian periodically (at least every 6 months) to make sure the diet is still correct. Many conditions resolve over time, and a diet that was needed for a younger animal may be inappropriate when she is older.
It is usually preferable to feed one or two meals per day rather than leaving food out all the time. However, some medical conditions require more frequent feeding. Check with your veterinarian about recommendations for your animals.
Feed some canned food, which generally contains more animal protein and less grain than dry foods. Plain dry food does not clean the teeth and is not an essential for either cats or dogs. Cats in particular need at least 50% of their diet in the form of wet food to reduce the workload on the kidneys and keep the urine dilute. Cats with a history of bladder or kidney disease should not be fed any dry food.
Supplement all commercial pet foods with other foods, such as organic meats and steamed, pureed or finely grated vegetables (most cannot be very well digested by carnivores raw). Dogs may be supplemented with tofu and cooked grains; however, cats should receive minimal carbohydrates in the diet. (Plant products tend to raise urine pH and may predispose cats to urinary tract disease.) If you are supplementing more than 15-20% of the diet, however, you will need to consult one of the many available books or websites for information on balancing vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
Other helpful supplements that are especially important when feeding commercial food include probiotics such as acidophilus, digestive enzymes, and the antioxidant vitamins E (alpha tocopherol) and C (either Ester C, calcium ascorbate, or sodium ascorbate).
Consider making at least some of your animal’s food at home. This lets you control the quality of the ingredients. There are many excellent books, articles, and websites available for more detailed guidelines on ingredients, proportions, and preparations. Even one or two home-made meals a week will be a significant improvement over feeding solely commercial pet foods.
Your veterinarian only sees your companion once a year. Since you are with her every day, it is essential that you monitor her general health and how she is responding to the food she’s eating. Changes in appetite, coat quality, weight, stool, urine, or water consumption may signal a problem with the food, or a more serious medical problem. Report these or any other unusual changes or behaviors to your veterinarian.
Stay tuned for the continuation when in the conclusion of this series we discuss vegetarian foods and shed some light on pet food labeling.
Contributed by and © 2004-2009 - Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute - All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
Recommended reading:
Celeste Yarnall. Natural Cat Care. Journey Editions. ISBN 1-8852-0363-2.
Celeste Yarnall. Natural Dog Care. Journey Editions. ISBN 0-7858-1123-0.
Kate Solisti-Mattelon and Patrice Mattelon. The Holistic Animal Handbook: A Guidebook to Nutrition, Health, and Communication. Beyond Words Publishing Co. ISBN 1-5827-0023-0.
Richard H. Pitcairn, D.V.M., and Susan Hubble Pitcairn. Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats. Rodale Press, Inc. ISBN 0-87596-243-2.
Donald R. Strombeck. Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets: The Healthful Alternative. Iowa State University Press. ISBN 0-8138-2149-5.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Hazards of a Health Fetish Part 2 Pottenger’s Cat Study

In part one of this series I introduced you to a man you constantly hear about when the discussion is about raw food. Dr. Francis M. Pottenger, Jr., MD was an original thinker and keen observer whose imagination, integrity and common sense gave him the courage to question official dogma. Dedicated to the cause of preventing chronic illness, he made significant contributions to the understanding of the role of nutrition in maintaining good health.
In his classical experiments in cat feeding, more than 900 cats were studied over 10 years. Dr. Pottenger found that only diets containing raw milk and raw meat produced optimal health: Good bone structure and density, wide palates with plenty of space for teeth, shiny fur, no parasites or disease, reproductive ease and gentleness.
Today I want to take a closer look at his summarized findings in his cat study. Ron Schmid, ND, writes in “Francis M. Pottenger, MD and "The Hazards of a Health Fetish":
"In the first series of experiments, one group of cats was fed a diet of two-thirds raw meat, one-third raw milk, and cod-liver oil. The second group was fed a diet of two-thirds cooked meat, one-third raw milk, and cod-liver oil. Within the ten-year period, approximately nine hundred cats were studied. The amount of data accumulated is large. “
The cats receiving raw meat and raw milk reproduced in homogeneity from one generation to the next. Abortion was uncommon and the mother cats nursed their young in a normal manner. The cats had good resistance to vermin, infections, and parasites. They behaved in a predictable manner. Their organic development was complete and functioned normally.
Schmid goes on: "Cats receiving the cooked-meat scraps reproduced a heterogeneous strain of kittens, each kitten of the litter being different in skeletal pattern. Abortion in these cats was common, running about 25 per cent in the first generation to about 70 per cent in the second generation. Deliveries were in general difficult, many cats dying in labor. Mortality rates of the kittens were high, frequently due to the failure of the mother to lactate. The kittens were often too frail to nurse."
Based on this quote, one might reasonably conclude that the problems observed were due to differences in the nutrition provided by raw versus cooked meats. We see here how a true statement in the "Health Fetish" article ("Pottenger observed many diseases in cats fed raw milk and cooked meat") may be placed in a context designed to lead the reader into making false conclusions.
The next half-truth is even more subtle: "Smaller experiments in the same article showed that a diet of one-third raw meat and two-thirds milk (pasteurized or not) did not provide adequate nutrition for the cats." Further examination of Pottenger's article is required to understand the deception involved.
Again quoting Pottenger: "We did three other series of feeding experiments. In these series we used the following kinds of milk: raw milk, raw metabolized vitamin D milk, pasteurized milk, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk. Roughly, our results corresponded with those of the previous experiments; animals on raw milk and raw meat reproduced a homogenous strain, the usual causes of natural death being old age or injuries from fighting.
"The male cats fed on [raw] metabolized vitamin D milk (from cattle fed irradiated yeast) and raw meat showed osseous disturbances very like those on pasteurized milk. . . . Young males did not live beyond the second month, and adult males died within ten months. . . . The cats fed pasteurized milk as their principal item of diet, and raw meat as a partial diet, showed lessened reproductive efficiency in the females, and some skeletal changes, while the kittens presented deficiencies in development. . . . Later, we made a comparative study of several types of milk on white rats, the general results of which coincided with those found in the cats."
A lot of detail is being presented here. What I am going to take home as being the important “bottom line” is that Pottenger’s comprehensive 10-year investigative study on and with about 900 plus cats was quite comprehensive and due to the large amount of data collected definitely can be considered as being a representative foundation. His experiments dealt with the outcome of various types of feeding, specifically raw or processed food. The end results of his study are definitely pro raw feeding. While cats receiving raw meat and raw milk had basically no reproduction difficulties, had good resistance to vermin, infections, and parasites, behaved in a predictable manner and their organic development was complete and functioned normally, the other group being fed processed food showed quite the opposite: Cats reproduced a heterogeneous strain of kittens, each kitten of the litter being different in skeletal pattern. Abortion in these cats was common, running about 25 per cent in the first generation to about 70 per cent in the second generation. Deliveries were in general difficult, many cats dying in labor. Mortality rates of the kittens were high, frequently due to the failure of the mother to lactate. The kittens were often too frail to nurse."
Maybe now I can say “See, I told you so”. Maybe this time you are going to believe me since Dr. Pottenger is definitely an authority on the subject matter. Stay tuned whan in the concluding part 3 we look at some of the doctor’s word games to learn if we can silence the last doubts about his findings.

Contribution in part by Ron Schmid, ND: “Francis M. Pottenger, MD and "The Hazards of a Health Fetish"” ( Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation Source: Reprint by
Animal Food Services, Inc. (AFS))
Image/Photo: Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation
1. Hotchkiss, Thomas. A Personal Memoir of Francis M. Pottenger, Jr., M.D. The Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, 1975.
2. The Oxford Encyclopedic Dictionary, Oxford, 1991.
3. Potter, M., Kaufmann, A., Blake, P., and Feldman, R. "Unpasteurized Milk - The Hazards of a Health Fetish." The Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 252, No. 15, 2048-2052, October 19, 1984. 4. Pottenger, F.M., Jr. "The Effect of Heat-Processed and Metabolized Vitamin D Milk on the Dentofacial Structures of Experimental Animals." American Journal of Orthodontics and Oral Surgery, Vol. 32, No. 8, 467-485, August, 1946.

Recall Alert Update 02/23/09

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 keeps growing.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Raw Feeding: The case for and against raw fish and specifically, what about sardines?

The topic of feeding our pets raw food is subject to great controversy in general. Even more so when it comes to more detailed issues and questions such as feeding raw fish. Is it safe? Not related to the question of pet food safety such as cleanliness in raw food handling, but to the issue of is it good or bad for a dog’s health in general?
There is good news and bad news. Let’s get started with the negative: Feeding certain species of raw fish can result in a thiamin deficiency in a dog, which in turn can lead to loss of appetite, reflexes and nerve control, seizures, and in severe cases, death. The problem is most common if raw fish is fed regularly. Thiamin or Vitamin B1 was one of the first water soluble vitamins to be identified. It is required for the normal function of muscles and nerves because it converts glucose to energy and should be provided to a dog at a minimum of 0.01 mg/lbs dog weight daily. Sources for this vitamin are meat, vegetable, fruits, and milk. Thiamin deficiency is often found in pets that are fed substantial amount of raw fish. Herring, smelt, and catfish contain large amounts of thiaminase. Thiaminase is an thiamin destroying enzyme. Clinical signs for thiamin deficiency are anorexia, ataxia, vomiting, short convulsions, dilation of the pupils and ventroflexion of the neck. Affected animals can die unless treatment with thiamine is administered. In most cases a complete recovery can be expected in treated cases unless severe central nervous system has occurred.
Therefore pets should not be fed raw fish exclusively. Cooking fish prior to feeding will destroy the thiaminase enzyme, i.e. feeding cooked fish poses no problem. Obviously, cooking also reduces the risk of any parasitic infections being passed onto your pet from the raw fish. Equally obvious is the fact that with cooking, i.e. heat processing, we loose the benefits we wanted to gain by feeding raw. More a safety issue requiring observation during feeding is the fact that fish bones can be an obstruction risk to your dog.
But now to the positive side of it:
Variety in the diet is essential for your animal’s health. Every pet has its preferences, and it is important to listen to those too. Whole researching this topic I visited many of the plentiful available raw feeding sites on the Internet and have not come across any that would recommend against feeding raw fish. That is of course exclusive of those species included in the aforementioned list of thiamine deficiency causing herring, smelt and cat fish.
Of course there is an entire army of, let me call them less educated, people out there making their case against feeding sardines. Like I found this real dumb comment on one of the blogs: “Why would you even consider feeding sardines to a dog? I mean, seriously. Think about it. no, do not feed your dog sardines! It is wrong on every level. A good quality dog food (I prefer Purina one) is sufficient. But no sardines! Yuck! Fish breath! If you want to give him fish oil for his coat, then go to the pet store and get dog-approved fish oil capsules. Yuck! What are you thinking???!” Such ignorance, whether it was written by a child or under the influence of something maybe not so healthy for the writer, simply doesn’t need any serious pet owner’s attention and as one blog participant commented, there is really nothing more to say but “Whoever said PurinaOne is a good quality dog food needs some help, I pity their dog.”. Let’s close this case right here, my point is, don’t listen to everything you see out there in cyber space. I have to say though, that I found way more intelligent comments on other blogs, all resulting in a throughout positive attitude and all in agreement that feeding the right raw fish is a positive thing to do.
I went on to other sites and it appears as if everybody is pretty much on the same page. There is nothing wrong with feeding raw fish. Except when it is fish rich in the Vitamin B destroying thiaminase, which appears to be applicable to some 50 species of fresh water and not to salt water fish. Jane Anderson, a breeder of Great Danes, boxers, Portugese Water Dogs and other breeds reports that she feeds the dogs at least one serving a week. The fish on average weigh between 1 and 2 lbs. The types of fish she says depends on whichever is most economical that week and could be blackfish, whiting, red fish, mullet, sardines, mackerel, etc.. She sometimes feeds eel if available and on occasion prawns, shark, and crab. If raw prawn shells are available, these are fed to both the cats and the dogs. She claims that her dogs love the fish heads. While for dogs that haven't experienced fish, the whole experience can be a bit overwhelming, her preference for fish is that it is fresh, whole, with scales and fins intact, and the guts still in. This then provides the dog with the ever so important "whole" food requirements. She comments with regards to canned fish that canned is only an option if whole raw fish is not available. After all, it is processed food and nothing compares with raw whole, fresh fish. And about fish bones: “some people worry about fish bones. As long as the fish is fed raw and preferably in its entire form, bones should not be an issue. I have fed fish to my dogs for over 10 plus years, and I have both top quality show dogs and companion animals. If I didn't think fish was a fabulous food source, I certainly would not feed it. I introduce fish to puppies from 4 weeks of age. I mash whole fish into their dinner and they learn from an early age to appreciate this food type. I recommend introducing fish as early as possible to dogs.” And she closes with a word of warning: “Before you go out and buy fish to feed your dog, remember it does take some dogs some time to get used to it. I'd recommend starting off with a small amount of fish at a time. Cats usually take to fish very easily.”
Some other sites are reporting of salmon poisoning, which has been recorded in cats, which contracted the disease from eating raw salmon or trout. This disease occurs within 2 weeks of the ingestion of infected food and causes the following signs: Depression, fever, lymphadenopathy or swelling of the lymph nodes, oculonasal discharge, haematemesis or vomiting blood, diarrhea, death, about 90% in untreated cases. Some fish are particularly high in oil content, and pansteatitis or yellow fat disease is caused by the intake of too much fat in the absence of adequate antioxidant. Red meat tuna has been reported to be particularly involved as a cause of this in cats. The cause of the disease is accumulation of peroxides, the end product of rancidification of fat, in the cats adipose tissue causing yellow brown discoloration.
And finally I ended up back at one of my old friend’s sites. This time it was Steve Brown, co-author of
“See Spot Live Longer”, who comments under “Sardines and Eggs: Natural, Affordable Omega-3 Treats for Your Pet”. Though, surprisingly to me, he does not address the sardine as a raw feed item but in its canned form in oil, he says about the nutritional advantages: “The benefits of including long chain omega-3 fatty acids in the diets of humans, dogs and cats are well documented. Fatty acids play a major role in the functioning of the immune system and the maintenance of all hormonal systems in the body. Protection against heart disease, progressive retinal atrophy and support for brain development in the womb are just a few of the many benefits seen when these critical fats are included in our diets and those of our animals. Puppies must be supplied with sufficient DHA before birth in order for their brains and nervous systems to develop properly. If the diet of the mother is deficient in DHA, her body will supply it for the puppies as best she can, but she may never recover her optimum level, and puppies may not get enough. Puppies that do not eat enough omega-3 fatty acids will never reach their full potential. Omega-3s are critical to the functioning of the immune system and the endocrine system. Dr. John Bauer, a leading veterinary nutritionist, wrote, "Omega-3 fatty acids are critically important in pet neuromuscular development, skin health, and coat quality." (1) Dogs and cats need about 1-1.5 grams of long chain omega-3 fatty acids per 100 pounds of body weight.
The evolutionary diet of dogs and cats contained a much higher percentage of omega-3 fatty acids and fewer saturated fats than today's domesticated plants and animals normally provide, just as the diet of humans is radically different in this respect than that of early man. It's our opinion that long-chain omega-3s are essential, just as they are for humans. Pet food regulators are in the process of establishing minimum requirements for omega-3 fatty acids, but most dry and wet foods to don't contain these nutrients. Fish oil is an excellent source of both DHA and EPA Fish oils can be excellent, but they spoil easily, and quality varies considerably. Distilled oils have no contaminants, but they are highly processed foods. We use whole foods whenever we can to obtain nutrients in as close to their natural state and form as possible. In this case, it's easy! Sardines: Omega-3s in Their Natural State: Sardines are an efficient and economical way to eat omega-3s (EPA, DHA) for all of us. They may be far more popular with cats and dogs than with humans, for whom sardines are often an acquired taste! Sardines are the best choice because of the omega-3s they supply, and they don't have the heavy load of contaminants carried by larger fish either. They are small fish or immature members of a larger species, thus sardines have not had time to pick up heavy metals in their short lives.
You can add a few sardines to provide the fatty acids needed, or you can make a once a week complete meal of them. Bones are included, and the mineral ratios are perfect: Sardines are real food in its whole form. However, this isn't a meal you would want to feed your pet every day! Sardines are one of the most popular treats at our houses. They often don't make it to the bowl. They're shared among the humans and animals as a snack, a perfect high fat, high protein boost to the day. Real food is always better than any biscuit in our dogs' view!
Feeding Considerations: Be aware how much food you are adding to your dog or cat's dish when adding sardines. Reduce your animal's meals accordingly. For small animals, food adds up quickly.”
For those readers interested in the nutrient data for sardines I visited the
USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference to find out that there only Atlantic sardines in canned in oil form, drained solids with bone or Pacific sardines in canned in tomato sauce form are available for nutrient data review. Sardines contain the following nutrients: Protein ((amino acids: Tryptophan, threonine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, cystine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, valine, arginine, histidine, alanine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, glycine, proline, serine), water, lipid fatty acids, ash, minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium), vitamins (Vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B6, folate, choline, Vitamin B12, Vitamins A,E,D,K.

You of course have to draw your own conclusion. But I figure that with what I have learned here, sardines, because of their calcium, Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin A and D content are a great way to provide yet another type of raw food to my pets therefore helping me in my quest for variety and for some reason I have the feeling the experience of eating a
real whole sardine will be a fun food for them as well. That is for feeding whole sardine. One other option available is feeding one of the readily prepared ground raw sardine formulas. For example, Primal makes 2 varieties: One is called the Sardine Grind and contains 100% sardine meat, finely ground bones as calcium source and organs, containing 10% organ meat featuring a 1.4 to 1 calcium to phosphorus ratio consisting of wholesome hormone, antibiotic and steroid free ground meats, meaty bones and organ meats for those pet owners who prefer to add their pets’ favorite fruits, vegetables and necessary supplements. The second one, a Sardine Mix, is made of 80% sardine and 20% produce, calcium source is finely ground sardine bone, the calcium to phosphorus ratio is 1.37 to 1 and has a 10% organ meat content. This mix consists of wholesome ground hormone, antibiotic and steroid free meats, meaty bones, organ meats and finely ground certified organic fruits and vegetables for those pet owners who prefer to tailor their pets’ individual supplemental needs. Main ingredient for both products are whole sardines including bones and innards and the manufacturer says about sardines that they provide superior levels of Amino and Essential Fatty Acids. In addition, finely ground fresh sardine bones allow for optimum levels of calcium. As I pointed out earlier, Primal too does not consider sardines to be a stand alone diet and recommends these products for supplemental feeding only.
(1) Bauer, John. “Fatty acid metabolism in pets.” Feed Management, March 2000.
Steve Brown and Beth Taylor
“See Spot Live Longer”
Feeding fish to your cats & dogs by Jane Anderson
Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Dog Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
NJ Unofficial Boxer Site for All Official Boxer Lovers dedicated to BARF

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pro’s & con’s of information sharing on the Internet: A tool to separate false rumors about pets and pet food from the truth?

Elizabeth the other day sent me a link to a site called The link supposedly was dealing with the rumor going around that there was a fatal incident of a dog licking the kitchen floor after the dog’s owner had cleaned it with a Swiffer Wet Jet. Elizabeth, because she hears it from me almost every day, knows how furious I get about unsubstantiated rumors on the Internet and that I am sort of on a mission to fight a battle I most likely can’t win. You may or may not recall my reporting on the Swiffer incident Consumer Affairs: Dog dies because of Swiffer Cleaner? Related to the general problem of people spreading rumors and their followers letting them snowball into horrific Internet disaster news I also wrote Case file Pet Food: Pro's and Con's of information sharing on the Internet and as a follow-up FDA and DogsWell Breathies Chicken Treats for Dogs: More pro’s and con’s of information sharing on the Internet. Both comments mainly are related to the consequences following such false info, which is what I am concerned about as it affects not just our but many other businesses and gets too many pet owners worried for no reason. I deal with this every day: Every rumor has to be investigated and the truth has to be found. Because based on these rumors I sure enough get plenty of calls from concerned pet owners wondering what I know about these stories. We all together waste plenty of valuable time, which could be used more effectively with the real objectives like in my case the health of everybody’s pet. Additionally it can hurt the business, because once a product is bad mouthed it sure has some negative side taste attached to it and that reflects in sales. To make sure you don’t think I make this up, I can tell you that I had actually pet food store owners calling me to confirm such impact and wondering if they should take legal action to fight the problem.
Anyway, I clicked on Elizabeth’s link and got upset because the 1st pop-up told me to buy 1 pair of shoes to get another one for free, the second one invited me to find my class mates and the third one showed me the opportunity to find a partner for a life time. Into the recycle bin went the link and for me the case was closed. Until my wife brought it up for discussion during dinner and told me that this Snopes site is actually dealing with the same problem: Clarifying and wiping out unsubstantiated rumors. Off I went for another try. Still pop-ups (so don’t say I didn’t warn you, I will give you the link at the end of this story), but this time I made it onto the site just find out that our biggest competitor is advertising with them. Additionally, a Science Diet ad and another ad of a law firm soliciting people who got bit by a dog just made me somewhat skeptical and so far the site certainly had not earned a lot of credibility with me yet. But then I read the actual comment and I sure ended up changing my mind. Their story begins with the actual rumor, in this case the message about the, let’s call him “Swiffer dog”. Then they analyze the story and are doing actually a pretty good job.
They start out criticizing the rumor itself, the fact that the story is anonymous, i.e. there is no way to do any follow-up and further investigation. I believe that is actually a good indication that something smells funny. I faced a similar problem when I looked further into the rumor of an apparent Canidae class action law suit, initially there was not even a law firm listed though they solicited complaints from pet owners having problems after feeding this brand.
Then the person who comments on the message describes in detail the results of his/her investigation. It turns out that they looked into MSDS sheets, investigated the ingredients of the product in question and looked at manufacturer responses. Overall it looks like someone has actually done his home work and I found the outcome to be interesting and informative, especially since it helped the effort to get the issue off the table.
In conclusion the site mentions that the Animal Poison Control Center (ASPCA) responded to the incident as follows:
“Veterinary toxicologists regard allegations of liver failure and death from household cleaner as unfounded.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (Urbana, IL) May 6, 2004 -- Veterinary toxicologists at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center have reviewed the claim described in a widely distributed email alleging a relationship between the use of Swiffer Wet Jet and liver failure in a dog. The email alleges that exposure to the ingredients in Swiffer Wet Jet caused a dog's death.
The Swiffer Wet Jet system contains water (90-100%), propylene glycol n-propyl ether or propylene glycol n-butyl ether and isopropyl alcohol (1-4%). These ingredients are safe to use around pets when used according to label directions and would not cause liver damage at product concentrations. Propylene glycol n-butyl/propyl ether differs significantly from ethylene glycol, the potentially toxic ingredient present in most antifreeze products. Ethylene glycol is frequently implicated in causing renal failure in dogs following antifreeze ingestion. Propylene glycol n-propyl ether and propylene glycol n-butyl ether are very safe ingredients at levels used in cleaning products and do not cause kidney or liver failure.
The ASPCA will continue to monitor this situation and will post any additional information as it becomes available. Please call 1-888-426-4435 if you have any questions or have a pet that you suspect is experiencing problems, or visit us at”
Well, I checked the ASPCA site for any follow-up comments, there is nothing there. Note also that the press release dates back to May 2004, almost 5 years ago. Yet the issue comes up over and over again. I had the other day a customer calling me being very concerned about something bad she read about the Innova food I had recommended for her puppy, that incident dated back two years ago and though totally unsubstantiated, still comes up and causes trouble.
So here we go, another case of a false rumor distributed over the Internet comes to a close. The result is clear: A lot of excitement about absolutely nothing. The sad part is that actually and unfortunately it doesn’t come to a close, because once it’s out there in cyber space it is there to stay as we see from the dates in this case. It will come up over and over again.
Coming back to Snopes, the person commenting on the case in closing is wondering why people do things like spreading false rumors. Like in the case of the Swiffer dog, was it emotions in reaction to the fatal outcome? Finding excuses to distract from other facts, which may actually really have caused the fatality but are directly attributable to the pet owner’s wrong doing? Or is it just people holding for whatever reason a grudge against certain companies? Well, I don’t have the answer to this question either. And rather than wondering why this constantly happens I wish we could come up with a way to stop this ….. One idea to help the problem I have though. I think it is a good idea to not always share everything what comes across our desktop. There is a lot of people out there who immediately when they see or hear something on the Internet feel they have the obligation to share with the rest of the world. I’d say first look, then think, then look deeper, think again and then share. Like it was definitely the case with the Swiffer dog, the problem often turns from a snowball into an avalanche because people thought it was necessary to share the news. And nobody really cared about the facts behind it.
Snopes may be helpful in finding out the truth, but at the end of the day I would say they don’t want rumors to disappear either since they make a living with them. Plus it will much depend on how fast they can react to cases, I cannot see them being much faster than we would be by ourselves. I checked their site, they have quite a collection of that kind of material on their site in any area of public interest and also plenty of pet related stuff. Maybe in future I take a look there first and maybe their work can save me some time in what I will do anyway: My own investigation to make sure I know what I’m talking about.
Here’s the link I promised, turn on your pop-up blocker and snope away: Swiffer Wet Jet.