Category Archives: dog nutrition and labelling

Freshpet goes public

Earlier this month, Freshpet Inc, the first and only fresh, refrigerated pet food brand distributed across North America, commenced trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.  It’s trading abbreviation is FRPT.

Freshpet logo

This listing is yet another indication of the growing pet products market in the USA (and worldwide).  Pet owners have incredible purchasing power and this power grows every year.

Freshpet’s operations began in October 2006.  Their food is delivered to Freshpet Fridges in over 13,000 retail outlets.

Freshpet display cabinet

All products are cooked in small batches and then refrigerated immediately and come with a best before date.

I don’t live in the USA and so haven’t experienced Freshpet firsthand.  If you feed their foods, what do you and your dog think about them?

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

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