Saturday, May 23, 2009

Junk Pet Food Part 1: The Damage Done

Imagine if all the Big Macs, Happy Meals and Coca-Colas consumed by Morgan Spurlock during his month-long binge for the film documentary Super Size Me(*1) were instead tipped into a vat, ground to a pulp and cooked under pressure. Let us imagine that half the resultant glop was sealed in cans and the other half dehydrated, extruded
into kibble and packed in bags, with brightly colored labels asserting the health benefits.

Suppose, then, that Spurlock either slurped through the contents of the McCans or crunched his way through the McKibble. And now, this is an important aspect, imagine that Spurlock had neither a toothbrush nor the ability to ask for one, so consequently didn't clean his teeth for the month-long experiment. Now I ask: what would Spurlock's physical, dental and mental health be like after such a crazy experiment? Would doctors, dentists and health regulators provide official endorsement for the canned and kibbled diet? Indeed, would it be likely that Spurlock picked up his McCans and McKibble at his local medical or dental practice?

For the vast majority of pet dogs (modified wolves), cats (modified desert predators) and ferrets (modified polecats), a diet of McCans or McKibble is their everyday reality. Spurlock's doctor told him he had to stop his unnatural experiment inside 30 days because he was killing himself. By contrast, the world's pet doctors (vets) encourage pet owners to feed McCans and McKibble every day of their pets' lives. I know; I was one such vet.

Poisoned five ways
For the first 15 years of my working life as a graduate of the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, I went along with conventional veterinary wisdom. I counseled my clients against the feeding of home-prepared meals because they were unlikely to get the "balance" of nutrients right, I suggested. Raw meat posed a risk due to bacteria and lack of calcium, so I said. As for bones, everyone knew that bones posed a hazard for breaking teeth and causing obstruction. And whoever heard of feeding bones to cats? The manufacturers have removed the guesswork, I assured my clients. "Giant companies understand the science and have the resources to ensure the best possible fare for your pet. It's convenient, too!"

With the matter of diet for my patients glossed over, I could return to the more pressing problems associated with diagnosis and treatment. After all, that's what I was trained to do and that's what my clients expected of me, and the stream of sick pets with skin disease, heart, liver, bowel and dental disease, cancer and other maladies was never

Oh, how I cringe! How culpably, horribly wrong I had been! As varied as my patients were in size, species, age, sex and breed, the one common uniting feature was their junk food diet. They were all fed McCans and McKibble, and almost without exception this was the reason why the animals needed my services. Yes, it's as simple and dramatic as that, and for the following reasons:

1. Canned soft foods and grain-based kibble do not clean teeth. In fact, food sludge sticks to teeth and feeds the bacteria in dental plaque. The body's second line of defense, the immune system, mobilizes against the bacterial invaders. The result: inflamed gums, bad breath, circulating bacteria and bacterial poisons that affect the rest of the body. (*2,*3)

2. Dogs, cats and ferrets don't have the digestive enzymes in the right quality or quantity to deal with the nutrients in grains and other plant material, whether those nutrients are raw or cooked. When grains are cooked at high temperatures at the pet food factory, the starches, proteins and fats become denatured or toxic to varying degrees.(*4) Junk food is laden with colorants, preservatives, humectants and a raft of other strange chemical additives, none with any nutritive value and all toxic to varying d e g r e e s.(*5) Once in the bowel of a carnivore, toxic nutrients are absorbed into the circulation and affect various body systems.

3. Poorly digested grain based junk food supports a large population of toxin producing bacteria in the lower bowel. The bowel lining, in constant contact with poisons, may be adversely affected. Some poisons pass through the bowel wall into the blood circulation, are carried to other organs and create further problems.(*6)

4. Like Morgan Spurlock, some pets show signs of ill health after a short time consuming junk food. For instance, puppies frequently suffer from bad skin and diarrhea. Long term exposure to the diet related toxins listed in categories 1, 2 and 3 leads to diseases of body organs. Diseased organs produce more toxins, which enter the bloodstream and add to the spiral of worsening disease. (*7)

5. Mostly pets suffer in silence; they can't speak in words. But when animals are affected by the above four categories of poison, their body language tells observant owners to seek help from the vet. Some vets say: "Stop! Stop feeding junk food." Sadly, though, most vets ignore categories 1, 2 and 3, and instead they diagnose diseased organs as mentioned in 4 (above). Treatment usually involves strong pharmaceuticals, which then contribute another level of toxic insult. (*8)

You may ask: What about the genetic diseases, infectious diseases, parasitic diseases, the broken legs, other traumatic diseases and the diseases of old age? For sure, these are all important factors governing the well-being of our pet carnivores. But clearly, undeniably, pets worn down by the toxic effects of a junk food diet are at greater risk of succumbing to other diseases, and the recovery phase is likely to be longer, too.(*9)

Stay tuned for the continuation in Part 2

by Dr Tom Lonsdale
Veterinarian and author Dr Tom Lonsdale, BVetMed, MRCVS, graduated from the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, in 1972. In the 1980s he became aware of the dietary disease epidemics affecting the animals under his care. Since 1991, Dr Lonsdale has campaigned to bring the information to public attention. In 2001, his landmark book Raw Meaty Bones: Promote Health was published (reviewed in NEXUS 12/03), followed in 2005 by Work Wonders: Feed Your Dog Raw Meaty Bones (reviewed in 13/04). Dr Lonsdale can be contacted by email at For more information, visit his website,

1 . Spurlock, M. (2004), Super Size Me,
2 . Harvey, C.E. and Emily, P. (1993), "Periodontal disease", in Small Animal Dentistry, Mosby, St Louis, 1993, p. 92 3 . Garcia, R.I. et al. (2001), "Relationship between periodontal disease and systemic health", Periodontology 2000 25 : 21-36
4 . Sugimura, T. (2000), "Nutrition and dietary carcinogens", Carcinogenesis 21(3): 387-95
5 . Roudebush, P. (1993), "Pet food additives", J . American Veterinary Medical Association 203(12): 1667-70
6 . Uncle Ben's of Australia (1996), "Nutrition in Practice" (pamphlet), Albury-Wodonga, 3rd ed.
7 . Garcia, op. cit.
8 . Cresswell, K.M. et al. (2007), "Adverse Drug Events in the Elderly", British Medical Bulletin, 18 June 2007
9 . Lonsdale, T. (1995), "Periodontal disease and leucopenia", Journal of Small Animal Practice 36:542-46, pdf/periodontal-leuco.pdf

Junk Pet Food Part 1: The Damage Done
Junk Pet Food Part 2: Hippocrates: “Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can heal your patients with food”
Junk Pet Food Part 3: Blowing the whistle, catching attention
Junk Pet Food Part 4: Tentacles of the monster
Junk Pet Food Part 5: The price we pay

Friday, May 22, 2009

Food as a Miracle Medicine?

Note: The following was written to reflect upon human needs, however, much of it also applies to our companion animals. Much of the facts described below are based on human studies. Dogs share 99% of the same DNA as humans. So, it should be no surprise why much of human nutrition research is relevant and beneficial for dogs as well.

“Nothing you can do for your health and survival is more important than consistently eating foods packed with disease fighting antioxidants”.

Eat Your Veggies!
For decades now, the National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Health, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and mom have been urging us to eat plenty of servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Research continues to show that people who have high intake of a variety of fruits and vegetables (at least 5 per day) are much less likely to develop certain types of cancer than people who have a low intake (2 servings or less). A majority of health professionals believe that there is a clear connection between a diet high in fruits and vegetables and a low risk of chronic disease.

Harvard researchers studying nearly 80,000 women and 40,000 men found that people who ate five servings of fruits and vegetables every day had 30% lower risk of stroke.

There is compelling evidence that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of heart disease. In fact, one of the findings of a Harvard study concluded that increasing fruits and vegetable intake by as little as one serving daily can have a real impact on heart disease risk.
Top Fruit and Vegetable Cancer Fighters for Humans (from Food Your Miracle Medicine):
Garlic, cabbage, licorice, ginger, carrots, celery, tea, tumeric, flax, brown rice, peppers, broccoli, oats, mint, berries, cucumber, thyme, oregano, barley, citrus fruits, whole wheat, tomatoes


Vitamin A (beta-carotene) is necessary to maintain a healthy immune system and develop resistance to infection. It stimulates several immune system responses including enhancing the function of white blood cells. Humans with insufficient intake of this vitamin often experience increased susceptibility to infections.
Vitamin A also protects the body from cardiovascular disease and stroke. Beta-carotene protects the heart and cardiovascular system and promotes wound healing. As an antioxidant, beta-carotene has been shown to inhibit oxidative damage due to cholesterol and protect against atherosclerotic plaque formation. High amounts of beta-carotene in diets have been shown to reduce the risk of breast and cervical cancer in women as well as prostate cancer in men. Vitamin A promotes the healthy surface lining of the eyes and the respiratory, urinary and intestinal tracts. When those linings break down, it becomes easier for bacteria to enter and cause infection.
Foods rich in vitamin A include: Carrots, spinach, kale, red bell peppers, romaine lettuce, sweet potato, cantaloupe, squash, apricots, broccoli, tomato, basil, and asparagus.

Vitamin E has sometimes been called the lightning rod of the cell, allowing reactive molecules to strike the cell, like lightning, without damaging it. Vitamin E works together with a group of other nutrients, selenium, vitamin B3 and vitamin C, by traveling throughout the body neutralizing free radicals that would otherwise damage cell structures. By protecting these cellular components, vitamin E has significant anti inflammatory effects that result in the reduction of symptoms in chronic conditions such as arthritis, cancer and cataracts.
Vitamin E plays a role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease by preventing free radicals form oxidizing cholesterol. Only after cholesterol is oxidized, is it able to adhere to blood vessels, leading to blocked arteries. Studies show that people who get a good amount of vitamin E in their diet are at a much lower risk of dying of a heart attack than people whose dietary intake is marginal or inadequate. This may be due in part to vitamin E’s ability to prevent the formation of blood clots. Research has shown a reduction in the risk of bladder and prostate cancers in humans with a diet high in vitamin E. Vitamin E and omega fatty acids are vital for healthy skin and coat in dogs. A deficiency in vitamin E is associated with digestive system problems in humans where other nutrients are poorly absorbed from the digestive tract leading to pancreatic, gallbladder and liver diseases. An estimated 75% of adults are not meeting the required minimum RDA for vitamin E.
Foods rich in vitamin E include: Mustard greens, sunflower seeds, spinach, almonds, olives, kiwifruit, blueberries, kale, papaya, brussel sprouts, tomato and broccoli.

Vitamin C helps the body cells grow and stay healthy, including those in bones, gums, teeth, ligaments, and blood vessels. It also helps the body’s response to infection and stress. Vitamin C serves as a protective substance in the body. The immune system relies on a wide array of mechanisms to help protect the body from infection, and vitamin C is important in the normal function of the immune system. Cardiovascular disease, cancers, joint diseases and poor wound healing are all associated with vitamin C deficiency.
Foods rich in vitamin C: Papaya, parsley, red bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, oranges, cantaloupe, kiwifruit, lemons, grapefruit, sweet potato, romaine lettuce, and brussel sprouts.

B Vitamins (Folate, B6, B12): Folate plays a key role in building DNA. There have been a number of studies linking high amounts of the vitamin folate with lowered colon and breast cancer risk.
Folate, B6 and B12 have been shown to reduce homocysteine levels in the blood. High levels of homocysteine contribute to the artery-clogging process of atherosclerosis. Elevated homocysteine levels are associated with increased risks of heart disease and stroke.
Foods rich in B vitamins include: Spinach, collard greens, whole grains.

Phytonutrients: Recent photonutrient research is probably the most exciting advancement since the initial discovery of vitamins and minerals decades ago. More than 900 different phytochemicals have been found in plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. These compounds have separate effects beyond the "macronutrients" we commonly know such as carbohydrates, proteins, fiber and vitamins. Colorful fruits and vegetables contain hundreds of compounds that work together to promote health and prevent disease because they can have anti oxidant, anti inflammatory, anti viral and anti bacterial effects in the body. There are three classes or families of phytonutrients.

Carotenoids are a class of substances found in plants that generally give it brilliant colors – yellow, deep green, red, orange. Carotenoids are plant pigments which protect the plant cell from being destroyed during the process of photosynthesis by acting as potent antioxidants by neutralizing free radicals. Cartenoids protect the body by decreasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, blindness and certain types of cancer. They may also help slow the aging process. Cartenoids are also believed to enhance the function of the immune system. Some carotenoids have been shown to have antibiotic properties by regulating the function of unwanted bacteria and viruses. The Institute of Medicine encourages consumption of cartenoid-rich fruits and vegetables for their health-promoting benefits. Sources of carotenoids include: Green fruits and vegetables such as kiwi fruit, spinach and lettuce; yellow/red fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin and tomatoes; yellow/orange fruits and vegetables such as papaya, oranges and squashes.

Polyphenols may reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. Phenols can be found in green and black tea, currants, berries, apples, kiwifruit and tomatoes.

Flavonoids are another large family of phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables. Some of the better known flavonoids include anthocyanins found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables such as berries, cherries, plums, red grapes, resveratrol and quercetin. Flavonoids have been shown to function as a potent antioxidant and may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a primary cause of cardiovascular disease. Flavonoids are found in organs, grapefruit, berries, apples, red grapes, red wine, broccoli and green tea.

Understanding Antioxidants
The health community is recognizing antioxidants as premier disease fighters. Everyday the cells in our body fight against free radicals, unstable oxygen molecules that can instigate cancer, heart disease, cause plaque to build up in arteries and contribute to aging. As we process food for energy, our bodies produce free radicals. Free radicals can damage DNA, the inside of the artery wall, proteins in our eyes and just about any tissue substance on our body. We aren't defenseless against these destruction compounds; we extract free radical fighters called antioxidants from our foods. Antioxidants appear to prevent or repair damage caused to the body’s cells by harmful free radicals. Anti oxidants help boost your immune system and increase your resistance to infection. Fruits and vegetables contains hundred of antioxidants.
Our immune system is what fights the onslaught of potential free radical initiators, second hand smoke, bacteria, viruses, pesticides, ozone, chemicals… It is estimated that our DNA gets “attacked” thousands of times each day by toxins and pollutants which are potential cancer initiators. Antioxidants are nutrients which act to sequester the attacks. They work as a team, meaning that you need a combination of substances rather than excessive amounts of single nutrient.

By keeping cells healthy and preventing damage to DNA, many scientists believe antioxidants may impart some protection against certain diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and cataracts. As we age our immune systems decline, but antioxidants keep your immune system healthy and hardy. Using antioxidants helps slow down and prevent free radical damage that speeds up aging. USDA scientists at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging have been finding promising results associated with diets high in antioxidants and other phytonutrients. Slowing down the aging process is no longer a mystery. The best results in research studies have consistently shown that by giving animals low-calorie diets high in antioxidant nutrients, their life span increases up to 40% longer and they are more active during their lives.

Protein is a vital structural and working material of all cells. The most important job for protein is to rebuild cells.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFA): Some believe that the #1 nutritional deficiency in American families is healthy fats. Fats build the brain, efficiently use vitamins, build healthy skin and provide energy.
There are two essential fatty acids in human nutrition: Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid, and linoleic acid (LA), an omega-6 fatty acid. EFA are essential to maintain the barrier of the skin and are involved in cholesterol metabolism. Recent studies have encouraged an emphasis of omega-3 fatty acids because the typical American diet over-consumes omega-6. People in industrialized countries eat up to 30 times more omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids, resulting in a relative deficiency of omega-3 fats. Omega-6 metabolic products are formed in excessive amounts causing allergic and inflammatory disorders and make the body more prone to heart attacks, stroke and cancer. Omega-3 fatty acids have many biologic effects that make them useful in preventing and managing chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, arthritis, heart disease and certain types of cancer. Hundreds of studies have shown that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart attacks. ALA dampens inflammatory reactions by blocking the formation of compounds that promote inflammation (e.g., cytokines, prostaglandins) and injury artery walls. Inflammation is a feature common in most chronic diseases, including arthrosclerosis, arthritis and some cancers such as breast, colon and prostate.

According to some studies, many common mental disorders, such as depression and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), anxiety, may be triggered by deficiencies of omega-3 fatty acids and/or B vitamins. Moreover, studies of children in the UK taking omega-3 supplements found that 40% of the children showed some clear improvement in school performance. The dramatic effect on the children may hinge on several functions of fatty acids in the brain. It is thought that omega-3s may it easier for signals to cross the gap between brain cells.
Contribution by
Thrive! Foods

Recall Alert Update 05/21/09: Ooops, they did it again...

Please check the Recall Alert for important updates posted today as Nutro Products once again Announces Voluntary Recall of Limited Range of Dry Cat Food Products

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Itching and scratching not necessarily due to just allergies

These days the most common reason for visits to the vet and the most asked question from pet owners at our store is about itching, licking, scratching and skin problems. In this article I am going to discuss some of the possible causes along with same basics for addressing the most common cause: Allergies.

Evaluating the history of your pet's problem is very important in helping to determine the cause. Though allergies are the most common cause of itching and licking, there are some diseases that need to be ruled out before embarking on the path of allergy treatment.

Following are some important details that will help to diagnose the problem:
Where is the animal the itchiest? Face, base of tail, above the hips, neck, belly, feet.... Watch your companion closely and determine his or her worst areas. Flea Allergies typically cause itching above the hips, the base of the tail, groin and thighs on dogs. Cats usually itch around the neck with flea allergies. Airborne and food allergies commonly cause itching around the face, ears, belly and feet. Scabies (Sarcoptic Mange/mites) typically cause lesions and itching around the ears, elbow, belly and hocks. Demodedectic Mange generally initially appears in young dogs on the face or forelegs. Cheyletiella (mites) are characteristically present on the back or sides.
When did it start? How old was the animal? Mange is more common in younger animals. Puppies and kittens are also more susceptible to flea allergies as they have weaker, less developed immune systems. Older or ill animals are also more susceptible due to a weakened immune system.

Is the problem seasonal or year round? Seasonal itching is more indicative of flea or inhalant allergies or insect bite. In many cases, an animal will initially show signs of seasonal allergies that progress to year round problems.

Which came first, the itching or hairless patches and/or skin lesions? If the itchiness appeared before any skin lesions, then allergies or scabies are more likely to be the culprit. If the skin lesions were seen prior to the itchiness, then demodectic mange, ringworm, or bacterial infection caused by a hormonal imbalance might be the problem. However, most bacterial infections of the skin are secondary to the allergy or other issue causing itchiness.

Have you tried any medications or treatments that helped? Certain causes of itchy skin will respond to steroid treatment better than others. Flea allergies and airborne allergies seem to be more responsive than other causes.

Has it been contagious to any other animals or humans in the household? Sarcoptic mange, Cheyletiella and ringworm can be passed on to other animals or humans.

Once the cause of the itchy skin is determined, treatment can begin. Any secondary bacterial or yeast infections must be treated, however, before much progress can be seen in remediation of the underlying cause of the itchy skin. Hot spots occur from self trauma that results when the pet attempts to relieve a pain or itch by excessive scratching, biting and rubbing. These must be controlled with topical treatments while the animal's immune system is recovering.

However, the majority of itchy skin is caused by allergies. In addition to itchy skin, other allergy symptoms may be present such as chronic ear infections or respiratory symptoms such as coughing or nasal congestion, and ocular discharge. Food allergies may also cause symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea that can ultimately progress to inflammatory bowel disease. Some holistic veterinarians also believe that seizures, arthritis, asthma and chronic urinary tract infections can be caused or complicated by food allergies.

Itchy skin and allergy symptoms such as paw chewing have also been linked to over vaccination in a large number of cases. Frequently the symptoms will begin within days or weeks of vaccinations. Educate yourself about vaccinations and the risks involved.

Treating Itchy Skin Caused by Allergies: One of the most common causes of itchy skin is fleas and flea allergies. Flea control is an essential step in the treatment plan for any animal with allergies. Any dog or cat with a compromised immune system is more susceptible to fleas and parasites, so plan to treat the home environment a month before flea season begins. The last thing your pet needs when already battling allergies is a flea infestation to make things worse!
If your pet has been itching for awhile, they may have created bare, red patches in places that can become infected, which is why you need to address these areas right away with topical treatments. Look for hot spot relief remedies, like sprays, baths, shampoos, creams, lotions, etc.. Obviously and ideally all natural and preferably herbal based Should more potent topical treatment become necessary, your vet can prescribe topical treatments and shampoos to help curb the itchiness.

In my mind one of the most important allergy remedies can be your pet’s diet. It is amazing how many pet owners see a dramatic improvement with a change in diet alone. Sometimes this is all what’s needed. With the correct and a good diet you may not even need any further supplements. Allergies are accumulative in the animal's system, even if your pet tends to have seasonal allergies. Food may be adding to the overall load on the system. Transitioning to a more appropriate diet, preferably raw or properly balanced and correct supplemented home prepared food can make a big difference even for pets with seasonal allergies by improving the overall immune system and health of the animal.

While we talk about home cooking for your pet it is necessary to briefly address some supplementation since raw meat by itself is not a complete meal for your pet. The first dietary supplement to consider for an animal with itchy skin are so called essential fatty acids, also known as EFA’s. Fish oil is considered the best source for cats and dogs since the fatty acid chains are readily usable by the animal's system without any conversion process, which is necessary for the utilization of plant sourced essential fatty acids such as flax. EFA’s help reduce inflammation and nourish the skin and coat. They can also be beneficial in assisting the healing process of the digestive system. For older animals, EFAs can help alleviate arthritis symptoms as well.
Allergies are essentially the immune system gone awry. The body starts to attack itself in response to what it perceives as foreign invaders. Supplements to help modulate the immune system are very helpful in treating allergies.

Detoxification/Elimination Support and Healing the Gastrointestinal System: The gastrointestinal system is the first line of defense in an animal's immune system. When a dog or cat has allergies, the gastrointestinal system is usually irritated and inflamed. A leaky gut is the result of this chronic irritation, allowing particles to pass into the blood stream that are too large for the system to manage, this triggers the immune response that manifests as allergies. Antibiotics contribute to the problem by killing the healthy bacteria that aid digestion and maintain a healthy gastrointestinal system. Healing the gut is crucial to the success of allergy treatment.
At a minimum, digestive enzymes and probiotics should be added to each meal to aid in the breakdown of food particles, support the restoration of beneficial gut flora and the healing of the digestive tract.

L-Glutamine is an amino acid essential to the proper function of the gastrointestinal tract. Supplementing the L-Glutamine supports the healing process of the gut and the restoration of healthy gut flora. Look for products designed as a comprehensive intestinal support supplement for dogs and cats, which combines L-glutamine with amino acids, enzymes and probiotics.

Supporting the animal's organs that filter and eliminate waste is another important step when addressing allergies. Liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal system and lymphatic systems are working hard to eliminate the waste produced by the inflammatory process present in allergic reactions, as well as any toxins from medications, the environment and foods. Using natural cleaners around the house and eliminating pesticide and chemical fertilizer use in the yard can go a long way in helping to reduce the load on your pet's system. High quality, preferably organic diets will also reduce the burden of toxin elimination.

Detoxification is essential for any animal that has been treated with multiple courses of medications such as steroids, antibiotics or antihistamines. Steroids, especially, are taxing on the animal's liver. The length of time these supplements may be necessary varies with the severity of the problem and how the individual animal responds. Natural supplements, herbs and remedies are not like prescription medications, they may vary in effectiveness from one animal to the next, and in many instances take time to reach full effectiveness, which could mean weeks or more.

Herbs and supplements designed to relieve the itchy skin and support skin health are another step in your treatment program for chronic allergies. This can help relieve the stress caused by the discomfort, which is supportive of immune function and healing. In addition, reducing the itch helps in the reduction of secondary infections and allows the skin to heal.

Natural treatments do take more time, patience, persistence and effort than a treatment with chemicals and steroids. The long term health and well being of your companion, however, will be far better served by treating the animal's whole system and the underlying cause of the itch, not just the symptoms. Pets can become quite distressed by the itching and can benefit from the addition of stress relieving herbs, supplements, flower essences or homeopathic remedies.
Be persistent in treating the itchiness topically while you are addressing the underlying causes through diet and supplements. This will greatly benefit your pet's ability to heal while at the same time it is reducing stress as well. Secondary infections caused by relentless scratching, licking or biting complicate and slow the healing process.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Celebrity endorsed pet nutrition, the on-line magazine for pet food professionals recently reported under the headline “Pet Food goes to Hollywood” of the latest celebrities getting in line to endorse pet products. The article actually more or less was written for pet food manufacturers as it asked “Could yours be next?” But this is not what I want to discuss here and today. I plan on taking this comment in a little different direction.

As the publication states, “For years, professional athletes, famous actors and musicians have been the traditional favorites to feature in advertisements. As the ad market continues to grow and competition becomes fiercer, marketers have turned to new categories of celebrity spokespersons. A champion racehorse sells pet food in Great Britain. New categories for celebrity endorsers are opening every day as the reach of the media moves closer to home.
One well-used approach at differentiating advertisements is the use of celebrity endorsements. Celebrities are seen as dynamic individuals with likable and attractive qualities. The words and often just the image of a popular person will cause many people to stop and pay attention.”

As advice to pet food manufacturers it recommends: “Linking your pet food brand sales to famous personalities can be heavenly or hellish. The question is: Is it worth the gamble? Marketers have long sought to distract and attract the attention of potential customers who live in a world of ever increasing commercial bombardment. Because of the constant media saturation that most people experience daily, they eventually become numb to standard advertising. The challenge of the advertiser is to find a hook.”

The magazine then gets into the latest scoop of 4 celebrities joining the trend:
“Popular television host and home cooking chef Rachael Ray has launched her own dog food brand named Rachael Ray Nutrish, from Dad's Pet Care Inc., and was our December 2008 cover girl. Ray says her latest venture was inspired by her own dog, Isaboo, and proceeds are to be donated to Rachael's Rescue, an organization the food star founded to help at-risk animals find adoptive homes.

According to Ray's website, Rachael Ray Nutrish includes two varieties of all natural dog food featuring real meat as the first ingredient, Real Chicken & Veggies and Real Beef & Brown Rice. There are no by-products, fillers, artificial flavors or preservatives, the website says; and each recipe contains antioxidant nutrients like vitamin E and selenium to support a healthy immune system; a fiber blend including oatmeal for easy digestion; omega fatty acids, with a dash of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) to support healthy skin and a shiny coat; high quality proteins to support healthy organs and lean muscle mass; and calcium for strong bones and healthy teeth.
Cesar Milan, well-known dog behavior specialist and star of National Geographic Channel's Dog Whisperer with Cesar Milan, has partnered with Petco to brand "Dog Whisperer" merchandise for dogs, including organic dog food, treats and other products and accessories. Among the products in the line are organic canned and dry dog food, treats, fortified water, liquid supplements, collars and leashes, toys, grooming products, training pads, stain and odor removers, beds, bowls and an instructional series of DVDs. The line is expected to include more than 100 products. Additionally, will offer access to an exclusive online dog coaching course personally designed and developed by Millan to instruct owners on raising a happy, healthy and well balanced dog.

Halo, Purely For Pets announced in 2008 that talk show host and comedienne Ellen DeGeneres has become an owner of the 20-year-old all-natural petfood company. The announcement came as Halo was expanding its product line and retail presence for its line of petfood and pet care products in the US market. The company has expanded distribution with major retail chains such as Whole Foods and Petco, as well as independent pet specialty and natural outlets. The expansion was designed to extend Halo's lineup of all natural petfood and holistic pet care products, according to the company. Halo has also overhauled its famous recipe for its flagship Spot's Stew, adding more protein and new flavors. Tests prove even the finickiest cats like it over leading brands, claims the petfood company. A new product, Halo's Spots Stew Pate, has increased protein levels and is finely ground to satisfy cats who hate too much texture in their food.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. (MSLO) announced in March the launch of a multiplatform pets initiative with as a cornerstone of the program. The website provides fresh ideas and information related to pet care and the joys of animal companionship, including a blog from the perspective of Martha's French Bulldogs, Francesca and Sharkey, called "The Daily Wag".

The primary sponsor for the new website is Nestlé Purina PetCare and its super premium pet food brand Purina ONE. According to MRI, the Martha Stewart audience includes 9.7 million dog and cat owners who share their home with a collective 21.7 million dogs and cats; they purchase more than 200 million pounds of pet food each month.

Stewart had this to say: "I have been passionate about pets all my life and over the years have been fortunate to share my home with many dogs, cats and canaries. I understand why people consider their pets to be members of their family and am delighted to be offering a website, television programming and other content that celebrate that special relationship and help consumers to better care for and enjoy their pets."

Nestlé Purina and Purina ONE will be featured on the new website through proprietary content, a link to Purina ONE's website——and through online advertisements. As part of its multimillion dollar agreement with MSLO, Nestlé Purina and Purina ONE also will be the subject of two special segments on upcoming episodes of The Martha Stewart Show. Stewart recently visited the St. Louis, Missouri, USA, headquarters of Nestlé Purina to film one of the segments.”

So here you have it. Packaged Facts in my comment “
Pet food recall: Have a disaster supercharge pet food sales” concluded that part of the latest revenue increases in the pet food industry had to do with “Celebrity branding is also becoming a bigger factor in the pet food category, with Ellen DeGeneres, Cesar Millan and Rachael Ray entering the market last year.”
My question is now, would and will you purchase pet nutrition just because it is endorsed by a Hollywood celebrity?

I would like to hope that you tell me “not really or definitely only after I have analyzed the products in further detail and came to the conclusion that I am doing the right thing for my pet”.
In nearest future I am going to take a closer look at some of these products and will share with you my conclusion whether or not they are worth the hype. Quite a long while ago, right when it happened, I recall taking a brief and first shot at Rachael’s food. I also remember throwing in a few comment lines here and there about celebrity endorsed pet nutrition, unfortunately not always too favorable. I am going to revisit this again, maybe things have changed. I am doubtful though and do have my own opinion when I hear about Martha’s sponsor. The bottom line is simple. As I had mentioned in “
And just when did Rachael become a pet food expert?”, “Because, Ellen, let me tell you: Making it look good on the outside seems to be all what counts to the masses of super market shopping pet owners.”

Credit where credit is due, if the product is a healthy and good product, then it should be sold in great numbers. If a celebrity can help this cause and improve on it’s success, then go for it. But as I asked in the past of the star of home cooking: “Rachael: Just promise us one thing: Make sure it’s all healthy and good for our pets. I hate to see this turning into just another marketing gimmick. We got plenty of these in the pet food industry already. I plead: Don’t earn your bucks at the expense of our pets' well being.”

Because one statement made by bothers me quite a bit and that is “Marketers have long sought to distract ….. the attention of potential customers who live in a world of ever increasing commercial bombardment” Sure, it relates to the rest of the marketing, the non celebrity enhanced one. But does it really only refer to the marketing or is there more behind it, like distract from the quality of the product?
Stay tuned for part 2 with a closer look at the products mentioned above.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Struvite Crystals, FLUTD, Canine Struvite Urolithiasis, Bladder Stones – understanding the causes…

Struvite crystals, bladder stones and urinary disease syndromes are examples of nutritionally influenced disease conditions. As is the case with many domestic animal diseases, it is important to note that canines and felines in the wild that consume a natural raw diet do not experience struvite crystals and urolithiasis to any degree. Domestic animals on the other hand, which are fed a diet of highly processed denatured, starch-based, synthetic products, succumb to struvite crystals, bladder stones, and urolithiasis in large numbers.

There are two primary causes for this disparity in disease incidence: Domestic animals are fed an exclusive diet of nutrient depleted, highly processed pet foods. This is in stark contrast to the natural, meat based, raw diet replete with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and probiotics consumed by wild canines and felines. This plus overfeeding creates an unhealthy physiological environment in which disease can take root.

Conventional pet foods are unnatural in that they are denatured by heat, imbalanced in minerals, and laden with starches and carbohydrates (in far greater quantities than would ever be consumed in the wild). This yields a more alkaline urine, which causes the precipitation and the development of struvite crystals, bladder stones and urolithiasis disease.

The frequency with which companion animals fall victim to urinary disease syndromes is astounding. Prevention and treatment can be achieved while simultaneously creating optimal health for your pet by mimicking the natural/archetypal diet. This fosters an acidic body environment, which will aid in both the treatment and prevention of struvite crystals, bladder stones, FLUTD, and canine urolithiasis.

In spite of common opinion, the magnesium content of natural foods is not an etiological factor in FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease) and canine urolithiasis unless it is added in the form of excess magnesium oxide rather than magnesium chloride. Animals in the wild maintain an acid urine and freedom from struvite crystals, bladder stones, FLUTD, and canine and feline urolithiasis, yet the foods consumed by wild canines/felines contain higher levels of magnesium (0.1%) than suggested by some pet food manufacturers.

Struvite Crystals, FLUTD, Canine Struvite Urolithiasis – Treatment and Prevention with a two step approach The objective in both prevention and treatment of struvite crystals, bladder stones and urolithiasis should be restoration of the essential natural archetypal canine/feline diet, and replenishment of essential nutrients to restore proper urinary tract balance.

Revert the diet to its natural form. The diet pet carnivores are designed for is meat based. It is not by coincidence that high protein foods naturally generate a more acidic urine which prevents the development of struvite crystals and bladder stones. Feed entirely meat based and foods, either raw or minimally processed to preserve full nutrient value. Feeding in variety, not feeding just one food meal after meal, is also critical to health. Supplement with pH balancing supplements depending on the circumstances increasing or decreasing pH balance to restore natural balances and acidify the urine. Decreasing the pH balance helps to overcome the deficiencies in commercial processed pet foods by helping the animal extract the nutrients that are locked into the mainstay commercial diet(s). Biotic pH- decreasing supplement nutrients, which are commonly lacking as a result of processing pet foods. They also supply nutrients which help regulate metabolism to generate an acid urine. An acid urine has been demonstrated to not only be calculolytic (dissolves existing struvite crystals), but also preventative for the formation of struvite crystals and bladder stones in Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) and canine urolithiasis.
Note: Food and supplement recommendations in the last paragraph refer to
Wysong products.
Contribution by R.L.Wysong, DVM

Monday, May 18, 2009

Feeding puppies adult food?

“Do I really have to feed the expensive puppy food to my 3 month old puppy or do you think I could get away with starting to switch him over to regular adult maintenance food?” I was asked the other day by a customer who just had acquired the cutest Irish Jack Russell Terrier.

Though I couldn’t believe this particular one, a not so uncommon question these days, especially since the economical situation has everybody in the world turn around every dollar twice before spending it. Besides economical reasons, puppy food is indeed is at least a good 10% pricier than adult food, other reasons may be that the owners underestimate the length of the growth period or because they were told by someone and believe that puppy food is too rich and could be harmful to the growth of the little one.

Let’s look at the economics: Now here we go, we just bought a pure bred dog. Here pet owners usually spend at least $500 on a new puppy and then they wonder how they can save a couple bucks on the food? To me that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. But what is really the actual pricing on puppy vs. adult food and is there a material difference? I compared at our own store, which tells me to believe it is similar at other places: There are brands with puppy food at no or a very minimal price difference, and there are others, which may be up to 10% more expensive than adult food. Whether or not this is justified remains open, it could be just a marketing issue too. Fact is, puppy owners are most likely easily willing to spend a few dollars more when it comes to the new baby, so some manufacturers may take advantage of that psychological aspect.

Next, length of growth period: Anybody believing that the growth period is over after 3 months should seriously rethink the idea of having a puppy. I am sorry but where is the common sense here? I would say every pet owner by now should know that the first 8 to 12 months of a puppy are definitely to be considered as the growth period, probably 12 months would be a good bet, but keep in mind with large and giant breeds we are easy looking at up to 24 months before the growth period is over. I remember our own last puppy, Roxy, a German Shepherd girl, she was done growing in height and length after about 12 months, but then she took another 9 months to really, I call it fill in, got some meat and muscle around her bones and become a seriously grown dog.

Finally, puppy food being too rich? Too rich in what and how harmful could it be?
I think what one has to consider is there are various classifications of dog food, simply to be determined by the official AAFCO Nutritional Dog Food Profiles, which are available for puppies, adult maintenance, seniors or the “covers it all” classification “all life stages”. The ladder one would be sufficient to feed to an adult or a puppy, since it covers both needs.

Fact is, puppies do have different nutritional requirements than adults have. And that by itself justifies having a different class of food. There are different energy requirements.
During the first half of its growth, a puppy needs twice as much energy than an adult, compared to its bodyweight. This multiplier coefficient decreases progressively, but when the puppy reaches 80% of its adult bodyweight, it still consumes 20% more energy than an adult. Feeding him with a concentrated puppy food avoids overloading its digestive tract.

Keep in mind that puppies have different growth rates according to size. For example a small breed puppy reaches about 40 to 50% of its adult bodyweight within about 3 months, a large breed puppy will not get there before it is 5 months of age. Toy breeds reach their adult bodyweight within about 8 months. At that point, it has multiplied its birth weight 20 fold. A Newfoundland puppy still grows up until 18 to 24 months or until it has multiplied its birth weight about 100 fold.

Now, let’s look at protein requirements: Puppies require a great amount of protein for the synthesis of the skeleton and all other tissues. Their amino acid requirement is far more important than for an adult. Additionally, puppies do not use proteins with the same efficiency as an adult dog. To make up for this less efficient digestive capacity, a growth product must contain at least 25 to 30% more proteins than an adult food. Protein deficiencies in puppies may cause among other problems, delayed growth, immune system weakness and anemia.

Mineral requirements: Large breed puppies are susceptible to growth abnormalities if they are being fed a diet too high in calcium. Therefore, feeding the correct puppy formula is important for their long term health.

Then there is the starch digestion. The production of enzymes , which digest starch reaches an optimum level only when the puppy has completely achieved its growth. Before, a puppy does not digest starch as well. A maintenance adult diet can contain up to 50% starch. In contrast, a puppy food should not contain more than 30% starch. Feeding an adult diet to a puppy can induce loose stools, diarrhea, and possibly favor coprophagic behavior, which means they start eating their own stools.

Puppy food does not equal puppy food. Especially important that the food needs to accommodate the needs of various sizes. All puppy foods seem to have some common characteristics, which include high energy density, concentration of all essential nutrients and decreased levels of starch. But the size of the breed implies specific adaptations.

Large breeds are much more likely to suffer from skeletal growth diseases. These troubles are exacerbated by an over consumption of energy. Such over consumption comes with accelerated growth and too high levels of dietary calcium. Limiting fat content and controlling the level of calcium in the food is the best way to minimize the risks. In contrast, small and medium breeds must receive a lot of energy, but in a small volume. They require a more concentrated diet.

In conclusion I would say: For those of you who believe that there is really no difference between a puppy and a regular adult maintenance food, do your home work and look at the formulas again. Simply looking at the Guaranteed Analysis immediately will tell you that there are major differences in mainly protein and fat content but also in fiber. Further analysis of the dry matter nutrient analysis will provide even more detailed insight.

Unless you are looking at a formula classified as being for “all life stages”, stick with the puppy food. Wait until the end of growth period (find out more from your breeder or on breed specific sites on the Internet) before switching a puppy to an adult product. And, finally, there is no disadvantage in feeding a puppy food longer than initially planned, provided the bodyweight of the dog is not excessive.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hypoallergenic Dog and Cat Food: Sorting Through the Hype

This comment is a contribution by The Honest Kitchen. The reason why I am sharing it here on the blog is that I had this week a prospective customer calling me and I pretty much told this dog owner the same thing. He was referred to me by another customer, who’s allergic dogs are doing better now since we gradually changed their diets. This gentleman’s small breed also seems to suffer from allergies. According to the vet it is chicken. I asked him what he is feeding right now, all he knew was that it was something the vet had prescribed and sold him. And he made the effort to pick up the bag and read to me the name of the so typical scientific veterinarian prescription diet. While I explained to him, how I am handling cases like his, that I am going to analyze his current food and come up with a similar, but simply healthier alternative, this man was reading the ingredient listing on the bag for the very first time. And he kept reading it off with a loud voice, as he kept reading his voice became not just louder but also surprised, even shocked at times and the balance of our conversation related particular to this prescription diet led me to conclude that after we were done with our call he for sure phoned his vet pulling a Donald Trump “You are fired” kind of deal. I wonder if it was because the vet concluded if the dog is allergic to chicken (a conclusion he came up with based on no foundation whatsoever, never did any allergy tests, etc.) then the dog should be fed pure grain, which is what the ingredient listing of the prescription food told us. Are we talking dog or rabbit here? Maybe the vet just got it all mixed up, we all are entitled to a mistake once in a while, right?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t know this vet, I am no vet, I never studied the vet business. I am just selling what I believe is good, ancestral, natural and what I believe is the best possible pet food. And I read about and study pet food a lot. So much as a matter of fact that I dream of pet food probably more than my dogs do. That tells you something. My place is not to provide veterinarian advice. Please refer to my disclaimer on the bottom of this blog. However, one point I want to stress is that what I have been doing over the last years for some strange reason is working. At least this is what 100% of our customers are telling me.

Maybe others know better. Now let’s see what the people of The Honest Kitchen have to say today:

“Hypoallergenic diets for dogs and cats are gaining popularity, and do offer some health benefits, but some marketing hype can mislead pet owners because pet food allergies are entirely specific to the individual pet. What is hypo-allergenic for one pet may still trigger reactions in others, and sometimes additional measures are needed to unearth the true cause.

What are pet food allergies?
There are lots of different theories about how and why pet food allergies occur. Most holistic practitioners agree that true allergic reactions are usually the result of an underlying health problem or system imbalance. All dogs and cats are exposed to a variety of allergens in daily life and never have a reaction of any kind. Pets don’t actually develop allergies as a result of exposure to allergens, but because they have suddenly become susceptible or vulnerable in some way.

Bad quality food in itself may deplete the immune system over time, because they are laden with toxins and other substances that place unnecessary burden on the body, or because they lack important nutrients, antioxidants, enzymes and so on. Many such nutrients may not be included in AAFCO nutrient profiles but are still vital for the long terms optimal health and vitality of a cat or dog. Vaccines, chemicals, medications like antibiotics or steroids, stress and genetics, can all predispose a pet to pet food allergies as well.

Pet food allergies are defined as immune system or inflammatory responses triggered off by certain foods. Other pets may not have true allergies but are still sensitive to certain ingredients, on a less severe level.
Some of the most common signs of pet food allergies include:

Itching and scratching
Dandruff or an excessively oily and odorous coat – pets eating good food that they can tolerate are shiny, non itchy and have virtually no odor.
Chronic ear infections and / or buildup of yeasty debris in the ears.
Chronic licking at the feed, often causing a red tinge to the fur on the paws
Gastrointestinal upset (intermittent or persistent diarrhea, vomiting, gas, bloating)
General lethargy and lack of interest in life – or, hyperactivity.

Allergies can also be inhalant (pollen etc) or environmental. For food allergies, many pet owners turn to so-called hypoallergenic pet food diets – with mixed results, because of several factors.

What is hypoallergenic pet food?There is no such thing as ‘hypoallergenic pet food’ in the strictest sense of the term and using the phrase in marketing and product names can be confusing and misleading. The reason is that an allergy is entirely specific to the individual animal and a food that is ‘non allergenic’ for one pet may cause sever reactions for another. Just as a cake may be labeled ‘hypoallergenic’ for most human beings because it’s made without nuts, dairy and gluten, it could cause a severe and even fatal reaction for a person with a strawberry allergy, if it is made with strawberries.

It’s true that certain ingredients have a much higher incidence of causing allergic reactions than others but the key is to uncover what your own pet can and cannot tolerate. For many pets, the most common culprits are wheat, corn, soy, rice and sugar beet pulp – as well as various preservatives.

Steps to take for pets with pet food allergies
For many lucky pets, eliminating the high-risk ingredients of wheat, corn, soy, rice and beet pulp and usually identifying single proteins that they are able to tolerates, are the only steps needed to manage pet food allergies, and they go on to be free of allergies for the rest of their lives. A hypoallergenic pet food per se, is never actually required.

For others, the problem is more complex. They may be started on various new diets made with fish or exotic meats to no avail – because their body is continuing to react to one or more ingredients that their guardian is continuing serve up.

In other cases, feeding a food that’s very minimally processed with a single protein source, can make a vast difference. Many pets seem sensitive to beef in the form of a beef flavored kibble but can actually tolerate lightly cooked hamburger or a piece of raw steak very well. High heat processing used to make kibble, can alter the amino acid structure of proteins, making them unrecognizable to the body and triggering off a pet food allergy that vanishes when the human food equivalent is fed.

Sometimes, an elimination diet or ‘feeding trial’ is needed to uncover the cause of pet food allergies. This involves feeding an extremely simplified diet for about weeks – say, fish and sweet potatoes or bison and millet - until allergies subside – and then gradually adding in one new ingredient each week thereafter, to observe for any sign of intolerance such as itching or diarrhea. Laboratory based allergy testing is another option but can be costly – and occasionally the results are inconclusive or inaccurate.
In many chronic cases, real commitment is necessary to uncover what is causing a pet food allergy. Scrutiny of the label for everything that passes your pet’s lips, including snacks and treats, is crucial. Patterns often emerge where for example, diarrhea occurs every week after a dog returns from daycare and the cause is the cookies he receives there.

In addition to determining what foods the pet cannot tolerate – and committing to avoid them long-term, detoxification and support of the immune system with herbs can be immensely helpful. Supplementation with digestive enzymes and probiotics can help get the body back on track and ensure proper absorption of the foods being fed.

Pet Food Global: Germany - No more GMO's in food

The, an on-line news magazine providing compelling print and online coverage of the latest developments in the life sciences including research, technology and business to active researchers, recently reported under “Germany bans genetically-modified maize: super resistant crop not welcome” that Germany, following France, Austria, Hungary, Luxembourg and Greece is the 6th European nation to ban genetically modified corn. The ban concerns the American biotech company Monsanto, which until recently was the only importer allowed bringing it’s genetically modified product into the country. In detail the magazine reported:

“Germany became Tuesday the sixth European Union nation to ban a type of genetically-modified maize manufactured by US biotech giant Monsanto, the only GM crop permitted until now in the country. Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner told reporters she was outlawing the cultivation of MON 810 maize -- modified to be super resistant against crop-destroying insects -- on environmental grounds.

"I have come to the conclusion there are just reasons to assume that the genetically-modified maize MON 810 represents a danger for the environment," Aigner said. "Therefore, the cultivation of MON 810 is now banned in Germany." The environment ministry had undertaken a "rigorous study to weigh the pros and cons," she said, adding that "new scientific elements" had come to light justifying the decision to ban the GM crop.

Fields containing genetically-modified corn make up a mere 0.2 percent of Germany's total maize-producing land -- with only 3,700 hectares (9,100 acres) of land sown with GM maize. The decision underlines political heavyweight Germany's role in the camp of European countries sceptical about genetically-modified produce -- dubbed Frankenfoods by their opponents.

Germany is the sixth EU country to introduce a provisional ban on MON 810, following similar action taken by France, Austria, Hungary, Luxembourg and Greece. The European Commission sought to force Austria and Hungary to reverse their bans on the crop but its ruling was overturned by a majority of EU nations last month.

Spokeswoman Nathalie Charbonneau said: "the Commission will analyse the ban by Germany and ... decide on the most appropriate follow-up to this situation." German environmental groups hailed Tuesday's decision. "This is a welcome change of course from the environment ministry. Neither German consumers nor farmers want genetically-modified plants," said Leif Miller, head of Germany's Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union, NABU. "A ban on MON 810 was overdue and is an important step in the right direction."

However, Annette Schavan, Germany's education minister, said she regretted Aigner's decision, noting that the European Food Safety Agency had declared MON 810 safe. Schavan stressed that genetic research in Germany must not be affected by today's decision. Aigner said earlier the decision was an "individual case" and was not a "fundamental decision about future policies relating to green genetic technology."

According to the US lobby group ISAA (International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech), the use of GM crops worldwide is steadily increasing. Around 125 million hectares contained genetically-modified plants in 2008, a rise of almost 10 percent on the previous year, according to ISAA statistics. Some 13.3 million farmers sowed GM crops last year, 1.3 million more than in 2007, the group said. Seventy-two percent of soya was genetically modified worldwide along with nearly half the planet's wool production.”

Susan Thixton of spotted the topic and researched the issue further as to how it relates to the US. Under “Germany Bans GM Corn (thank you!)” she reports what she found out:

“The U.S. FDA on the other hand, told Monsanto in 1996:” This is in regard to Monsanto's consultation with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (Center for Veterinary Medicine and Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition) on genetically modified corn, specifically transformation event MON 810. According to Monsanto, the new corn variety has been modified for resistance to the European Corn Borer through expression of the cryIA(b) gene from Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki.

Monsanto submitted a summary assessment of corn containing transformation event MON 810 on June 6, 1996. This communication informed FDA of the steps taken by Monsanto to ensure that the product complies with the legal and regulatory requirements that fall within FDA's jurisdiction. Based on the safety and nutritional assessment you have conducted, it is our understanding that Monsanto has concluded that corn products derived from this new variety are not materially different in composition, safety, and other relevant parameters from corn currently on the market, and that the genetically modified corn does not raise issues that would require premarket review or approval by FDA. All materials relevant to this notification have been placed in a file designated BNF0034. This file will be maintained in the Office of Premarket Approval.

Based on the information Monsanto has presented, we have no further questions concerning corn grain or fodder containing transformation event MON 810 at this time. However, as you are aware, it is Monsanto's responsibility to ensure that foods marketed by the firm are safe, wholesome and in compliance with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements.”

Just in case you don’t believe it, here’s the link to a copy of the original letter published on the FDA’s website:

Susan concludes: “The FDA does not require pet food or human food labels to inform consumers if a product contains a GM grain. We can only hope that one day our elected representatives in Washington will consider the interest of citizens (and our pets) over the concerns of industries.”

Allow me a sarcastic comment at this point: I doubt there will be any change soon, the industry’s lobbying efforts are too powerful for that to happen and so, at least in my opinion, all remains wishful thinking. However, with so many citizens concerned about socialism being just around the corner due to our new government, maybe it is after all not too far away. Just kidding, no politics on this blog, I will ignore any and all further comments on this.