Category Archives: dog nutrition and labelling

Petco Removing All Dog and Cat Treats Made in China From Store Shelves

Petco is a major pet store chain in the USA.  It has announced that it is removing all Chinese-made treats from its shelves, after many concerns about pets getting sick from jerky treats made in China.  It looks liked Petsmart is due to follow…

Do you know where your dog’s treats are made?  Are they safe?

Petco Removing All Dog and Cat Treats Made in China From Store Shelves.

Colored treats – would you feed these?

Coloured lambs earsHere’s a photo of lambs ears that have been dyed using ‘human grade’ food coloring for Christmas.  I have deep concerns about using coloring agents in dog (and human) foods.

For example, some dogs may be allergic or sensitive to the coloring agents.  We know that the use of these additives can cause excitability since coloring agents have also been linked to hyperactivity in children.

Food colors are chemicals – they are just chemicals that have been tested by the FDA to ensure they are ‘safe’ for human consumption.  Colors are added to make food more appealing and marketable.

Since our dogs have limited color vision and lack photoreceptors in their eyes to ascertain shades of red and green, the color added to dog treats is to appeal to the dog owner and not the dog.  Dogs will decide if something tastes good!

How about some natural alternatives?  Here’s a photo of my Chicken & Cranberry Holiday Crunch (a special for the holiday season).  The red color is totally natural and comes from the whole cranberries that are part of the recipe.

Chicken and Cranberry Holiday Crunch

Chicken and Cranberry Holiday Crunch

I recommend that you feed natural products whenever possible and avoid highly colored dog treats.

And remember that no more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake should come from treats!

Kind regards,

Kathleen Crisley, dog masseuse and nutrition adviser, Canine Catering Ltd

The search for quality (a tale of recalls and safety concerns)

Well, it’s happened again.  Another range of pet treats is the subject of a recall.  This time it’s Dogswell treats by Arthur Dogswell LLC.

Chicken Breast and Duck Breast jerky under the Breathies, Happy Heart, Happy Hips, Mellow Mut, Shape Up, Veggie Life, Vitality and Vitakitty brands with a best before date of Jan 28, 2015 are affected

Chicken Breast and Duck Breast jerky under the Breathies, Happy Heart, Happy Hips, Mellow Mut, Shape Up, Veggie Life, Vitality and Vitakitty brands with a best before date of Jan 28, 2015 are affected

These treats are being recalled because product testing by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets found traces of an antibiotic that is not approved for use in the United States.

The company says that since January of this year, they have new testing procedures in-house to ensure that their chicken and duck ingredients don’t contain antibiotics – so clearly there was a risk identified which motivated them to make a business decision to invest in the new testing!

Because animal feed products are going to ‘just animals’ there’s a real tendency of the markets and businesses involved to buy sub-standard and cheap ingredients.  (Don’t forget the melamine scandal of 2007 and how many brands were involved.)

Supply chain management is so important.  That’s about businesses knowing the source of each and every ingredient in their product – with contractual obligations on those suppliers to meet quality standards.  My advice is if you are considering a food product for your dog, you should enquire with the manufacturer about the source of their ingredients before buying.  If the information isn’t on the label, you need to contact the manufacturer through their website.

If the manufacturer doesn’t have a website or another avenue for customer enquiries – AVOID, AVOID, AVOID their product.  Always get the information on the ingredients of their product in writing (usually via email).

One of the reasons I started Canine Catering was to have greater control over the ingredients in dog treats.  These products tend to remain on shelves for much longer than other foods and their countries of origin often have dubious reputations for supply chain management.  The amount of preservatives is often staggering.

I like to use human grade ingredients in the first instance, as a major step for quality control.   I still read labels even on human grade food.

Accidents happen.  But haven’t we had enough accidents in the pet food industry?  Consumer choice drives change.  Make sure you exercise your power as a consumer by buying quality products for your dog.

NutriScan

Veterinarian Dr Jean Dodds is the inventor of patented NutriScan, a saliva test for food intolerance and sensitivities.

Many people confuse food allergy with intolerance.  Intolerances are the third most common disorder found in dogs and symptoms can include itchy skin or irritable bowel problems.   When people seek out my advice on nutrition, it is often because they know their dog is having a reaction to their food.   Sometimes, picking the culprit is easy (it depends on what the core diet is in the first place), but in others, there appears to be multiple ingredients that are the offenders.

Enter NutriScan, which tests for intolerances to 22 different food ingredients.

Food allergy is an immediate reaction mediated by production of IgE and IgG antibodies. Food sensitivity and intolerance, by contrast, measures a more delayed body response to offending foods by measuring production of IgA and IgM antibodies primarily in mucosal secretions from the bowel.

NutriScan is split into two test panels, so you can order one or both:

Panel 1:                         Panel 2:
Beef                               Chicken Eggs
Corn                               Barley
Wheat                            Millet
Soy                                 Oatmeal
Cow’s Milk                    Salmon
Lamb                             Rabbit
Venison/Deer               Rice
Chicken                         Quinoa
Turkey                            Potato
White Fish                     Peanut/Peanut Butter
Pork                                Sweet Potato

Dr. Dodds recommends that dogs are tested annually because canine food tolerances and intolerances change over time.

I’m pleased to be able to offer this testing to my clients, with NutriScan test kits on hand and ready to be sent to the United States once we take the saliva sample.  Within a week of ordering my test kit supply, my first canine saliva sample is on its way.

Bully sticks – a source of calories and bacteria

Researchers at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and the University of Guelph have some news for you about bully sticks.

Photo courtesy of Tufts University

Photo courtesy of Tufts University

The research team analysed the treats for caloric density and bacterial contamination and they asked owners about their knowledge of the treats through a survey.

The sample size in the study was 26 bully sticks, purchased from different places in the United States and Canada.

The bully sticks contained between nine and 22 calories per inch, meaning that the average sized stick packed 88 calories or 9 percent of the daily caloric requirements of a 5o pound (22.7 kg) dog or 30 percent of the requirement for a 10 pound (4.5 kg) dog.

‘With obesity in pets on the rise, it is important for pet owners to factor in not only their dog’s food, but also treats and table food,’ said Lisa M Freeman, Professor of Nutrition.

The 26 treats were also tested for bacterial contamination.  One (4%) was contaminated with Clostridium difficile, one (4%) contaminated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and seven (27%) were contaminated with Escherichia coli including one sample that was resistant to treatment with tetracycline.

Although the sample size in this project was small, the researchers advise all pet owners to wash their hands after touching treats.  The risk could be higher for the very young, elderly, pregnant or immuno-compromised dog owners.  They acknowledge that research on a larger sample size is also needed.

The survey portion of the study showed that many dog owners are not aware of the ingredients in their dog’s treats, with many demonstrating ignorance of the definition of a ‘by-product.’

The results of the study have been published in the January 2013 issue of the Canadian Veterinary Journal.

Source:  Tufts Now media statement

An obesity clinic for pets

The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine based at Tufts University in Grafton, Massachusetts has opened the first obesity clinic for pets in the United States.

Studies have suggested that up to 60 percent of dogs and cats are obese or overweight.   However, a recent survey of client-owned animals at the Foster Hospital, one of the busiest teaching hospitals for pets in the US,  suggests that that figure may be higher at 70 percent.

Dr Deborah Linder, who will oversee the clinic, says that the clinic will employ sound, research-proven principles in assisting pets to lose weight.

‘We hope to effect change in the obesity epidemic among companion animals.’
Source:  Tufts University media statement

Some insights into Chinese-sourced dog treats

Concerns about chicken treats sourced from China continue and I’ve come across this comment from Steven E Crane, who was the Manager of Competitive Intelligence for Hill’s (now retired).

In that role, Mr Crane would source competitor’s products and have them tested.  He has commented that treats were rarely tested because they were not sold as ‘complete and balanced dog foods’ and that he tested approximately 300 pet food products each year.

In discussing the apparent toxicity issues associated with chicken jerky treats, Mr Crane says, “This problem has been a problem for over ten years. To my knowledge nobody has ever been able to determine exactly what the chemistry involved is that is causing the problem. Much like the melamine and cyanuric acid tainted wheat and rice gluten from 2007. Considering the horrendous toxic contamination issues with both human and pet related food materials from China going back for more than 15 years, I would NEVER use or buy any food materials from China nor permit their use in any food product.

I can remember twenty years ago the rawhide products coming from China that tested hot for arsenic and had sodium concentrations through the roof. If you think about the process it’s no surprise. Most of the hides were baled raw in South America, shipped by slow boat to China, made into rawhide treats and then shipped to the US for sale.   Keeping that rotting mess from disintegrating during shipping incurred some inventive ways to treat them – addition of arsenic for example.”

Are you feeding any treats Made in China and does this make you think twice?

Here we go again – pet food recalls in USA

This time, the cause of concern is salmonella contamination.   Salmonella is a zoonotic infection, meaning it can be transferred to humans too.

Salmonella infection in dogs causes gastroenteritis, septicemia, and spontaneous abortions.  Humans usually experience vomiting, diarrhea and fevers.  It’s not pleasant.

The best prevention is to wash surfaces in the kitchen after feeding your dog and to ensure you wash your hands after handling pet foods.

The brands currently under recall are:

Solid Gold Health Products for Pets, Inc.

  • Solid Gold WolfCub Large Breed Puppy Food
  • Solid Gold WolfKing Large Breed Adult Dog Food

Wellpet LLC

  • Wellness Complete Health Super5mix Large Breed Puppy

Canidae Pet Foods

  • Canidae Dog, All Life Stages
  • Canidae Dog, Chicken Meal & Rice
  • Canidae Dog, Lamb Meal & Rice
  • Canidae Dog, Platinum

Apex Pet Foods

  • Apex Chicken and Rice Dog, 20lb and 40lb bags

Natural Balance Pet Foods

  • Natural Balance Sweet Potato & Venison Dog
  • Natural Balance Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Dog
  • Natural Balance Sweet Potato & Bison Dog
  • Natural Balance Vegetarian Dog
  • Natural Balance Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Dog Large Breed Bites
  • Natural Balance Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Dog Small Breed Bites
  • Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul
  • Country Value
  • Diamond
  • Diamond Naturals
  • Premium Edge
  • Professional
  • 4Health
  • Taste of the Wild

The Kirkland Signature products included in the recall are:

  • Kirkland Signature Super Premium Adult Dog Lamb, Rice & Vegetable Formula
  • Kirkland Signature Super Premium Adult Dog Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Formula
  • Kirkland Signature Super Premium Mature Dog Chicken, Rice & Egg Formula
  • Kirkland Signature Super Premium Healthy Weight Dog Formulated with Chicken & Vegetables
  • Kirkland Signature Super Premium Maintenance Cat Chicken & Rice Formula
  • Kirkland Signature Super Premium Healthy Weight Cat Formula
  • Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Salmon Meal & Sweet Potato Formula for Dogs

It’s hard to know if some of these foods are available in New Zealand (Canidae definitely is) because some foods are imported in smaller quantities.  If you are feeding one of these foods, stop immediately and check with your supplier for more details on the recall.

This website from the FDA gives all the latest information on pet food recalls.

Weight gain and obesity are not only human conditions

We live in modern times, and in western societies such as ours, obesity and weight gain are consistent problems.  And not just for people.

36 million pets in the United States are obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.  In dog population terms, that’s 55% of the dog population.  The Association does a pet obesity survey each year, timed with National Pet Obesity Prevention Day (in October), where it asks pet owners to fill out a survey about their pet’s size, breed and eating habits.

Veterinarian Ernie Ward is a co-founder of the Association and he says that the focus on reward-based training has helped to contribute to the obesity problem.  Simply put, owners are not adjusting their dog’s daily intake of food at mealtime to compensate for treats being given as a reward.

And once a dog is fully trained, the rewards seem to keep coming for sometimes very basic tasks.  Like pooping, for example.

(Ask yourself:  once your child is potty-trained, do you keep praising him/her each time they use the toilet? – even into their teenage and adult years?)

And I’ve found that delivering the news to a client that their dog could lose some weight can often be a reason for not being asked to return for another massage treatment.  According to a recent article in The Boston Globe, I’m not alone.  Vets that deliver the news that a pet is overweight may find that the owner becomes defensive or, worse, takes their business elsewhere!

However, when I am dealing with a dog with arthritis or other mobility disorder, I am looking for ways to relieve their pain.  If they are carrying around extra weight, their sore joints and muscles are pulling double-duty.  I remember a client with a Pug, for example, who was easily twice its normal body weight.  Sure, the dog had arthritis, but it was so fat that it didn’t want to exercise and so weight loss was going to be a challenge and something the owner had to a) recognise and b) act on.

The Globe article also discusses the wide range of calorie content amongst commercial dog foods.    People may change their dog’s food, but continue feeding the same number of cups per day.  Weight gain is insidious and many people don’t recognise that their dog has put on weight until a vet or someone else points it out to them.

I do nutritional assessments for this reason.  I ask questions about the dog’s lifestyle, exercise habits and eating.  And I can run caloric calculations based on the dog food label to give advice on how much to feed.

There are many health professionals including your vet that have your dog’s best interest at heart.  Don’t be afraid to ask if they think your dog is overweight and be humble enough to make changes.

P.S.  When I take Daisy to her acupuncture treatments, my vet asks me to weigh her prior to each consultation.  This keeps me very disciplined to ensure that Daisy remains in her ideal weight range.

Some full-service pet shops and veterinary practices are happy for you to drop in to use their scales.  Why not make it a habit of walking your dog to these places for a weigh-in?  It’s a new routine that will keep you focused on your dog’s weight in a more positive way.

I love you to bits: kibbles and bits and bits and bits…

I was thinking today about how dog nutrition has changed over the years.  Today, there are more dog foods than ever before.  There are organic products and even products that aim to attain the values of the raw food diet – but offering a more prepared formulation for busy dog owners.

So now I’m going to show my age and also the power of a good jingle.  I still remember this commercial from the 1980s for Kibbles and Bits.  This was one of the first commercial dog foods to offer a hard kibble combined with softer texture pieces.  But it’s the jingle I remember and I’ve found it for you here on YouTube.  Enjoy it.

And now my friends will understand when I tell Daisy that I love her to bits…kibbles and bits and bits and bits!