Safe Dog Treats

Juno and her carrot

Juno and her carrot

What’s your dogs’ favorite treat? We’d love to hear from our readers about this so please comment and let us know.

 With such an enormous selection of commercially available dog treats, how does a good dog owner make a delicious, healthy choice for their pup? Here’s the thing and I can’t stress this enough. You’ve got to read the labels. Sorry, if you were looking for a simple recommendation, that’s just not happening here today. Yes, I will name a few of the manufacturers that I trust, but in the end my goal is for you to be able to make the right choices based on what you learn about the bag of treats in front of you at the store.

First thing you do need to know, and this is the simplest rule you’ll ever follow; don’t buy anything for your dog to eat, sleep on or play with that was made in China. Ever. There, that’s pretty easy right? Well guess what? It’s a lot harder than you think, because so much of what you’ll find in the supermarket, the pet store chain and yes, even in the chic pet boutique around the block, is made in China. If you haven’t been in the loop, the problem with pet stuff (and human stuff) that is made or assembled in China is that it’s not regulated and safety standards are at best, minimal.  Many beloved family pets have suffered and died from toxic food and badly made products; according to the FDA in an October 2013 report, over 3600 dogs and 10 cats have become ill from jerky pet treats made in China with almost 600 proven deaths. However those numbers require veterinarians having reported cause of death or illness and in many cases, I’m sure they couldn’t have known.

The problems have been reported since 2007, but the identification of 6 unapproved antibiotics in some treats was ultimately the only reason several well-known brands were taken off the market.  The real problems seem to have been melamine contamination, salmonella and even arsenic in some cases. Most of the contaminated treats were chicken, duck or turkey, along with some sweet potato and some dried fruits. Most were also jerky type treats. The point here is most of these treats were made in China, the ones made in the USA are usually a salmonella issue and get recalled quickly. How can you find out more about these? Just check out the FDA website here. http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/NewsEvents/CVMUpdates/ucm371450.htm

She doesn't want her picture taken, she wants to eat

She doesn’t want her picture taken, she wants to eat

               Also the Humane Society has excellent links on their website http://www.humanesociety.org.

The other, more salient point that I can make here is that your diligence as a pet owner is of key importance; read labels, check out the websites regularly because it’s unlikely that you’ll see recalls on mainstream media and remember, cheap brands, fancy name brands even brads sold at vet clinics can all be affected. Also keep in mind that the big picture has much more effect on you and your pet’s life; factory farming, pesticides, herbicides, irresponsible antibiotic use, all of these factors are changing your life everyday, and not for the better.

Carrot3

Diesel just loves to eat. Period.

Next time we’ll talk about dog food, not just treats.

 

Cold Weather Pet Safety; A Responsibility, Not a Choice.

 

With cold weather sweeping a good part of our nation, it’s time for pet owners to step up to their responsibilities. But wait, I’m not done yet, it’s also time for neighbors, passers by and everyone else to step up as well.

Many of you may have read the tragic story from Indiana. During the last cold spell, a resident of North Preston Indiana recalls hearing a “weird howling” from a neighbors’ dog, shortly before it was found frozen to death.  The owner was charged with animal cruelty, which is appropriate. The neighbor got some attention from the media but no one asked him why he didn’t do something before the poor dog had suffered and died, which is inappropriate. We’re aware that a lot of Americans dislike government regulations, but if we can’t uphold common decency in our actions or make sure that our neighbors do so as well, then what we need is some government involvement. In fact, animal control agencies across the mid-west and east coast made considerable attempts to warn pet owners about the dangers of cold weather, unfortunately, not everyone paid attention. The skills needed for animal care aren’t rocket science, although they do require a working brain and soul, something very obviously lacking in a significant portion of our population. Dogs found frozen onto doghouse floors, horses dead of dehydration (hint, water freezes) and cat’s left to die in the elements. Every state has different animal cruelty laws; many of them are practically non-existent, (For more information on your state, check out the Humane Society’s report card), but humanity isn’t something we as a species, seem to have been able to master.  After perusing the ASPCA & Humane Society websites, I came up with a few good tips for animal cold weather care; I suggest that you check out those and other great information sources for your specific concerns or animals.

Keep pets indoors and warm.

Cold can be deadly, especially to the very young or old. If you have pets that can’t come inside, then you HAVE to provide safe, warm shelter. Look at it this way, if you couldn’t stay where they stay, then move them or fix up their shelter. For pets who are outside for the day, be sure to provide a dry, draft free shelter that’s big enough for them to lie down in, but small enough to not get so cold. Cover the floor with straw or wood shavings; add an inexpensive but well made pet bed. Make sure it’s insulated and cover the doorway with heavy burlap AND plastic. Then bring them inside at night.

Make sure they have water and food, a lot of both.

Being outside in the cold can dehydrate an animal and make them expend a lot more energy just staying warm. Check their food and water several times a day and makes sure the water isn’t frozen. Use plastic bowls, not metal.

Help strays, feral and “community” cats.

Easy to construct shelters made out of Styrofoam coolers with blankets in them and a small hole cut out for a door work well. Spend a little on some extra food and help them through the tough winter. If you are really motivated, trap them and take them to the shelter to get spayed and neutered and then release the un-adoptable (wild) ones back into their neighborhood. Most shelters have great deals for strays.

Make sure horses and other livestock have effective shelter and around the clock food and water. Also, be sure to check under your car’s hood for cats and wild animals.

Please pass on this information and be kind!

luxury pet beds

 

 

Safe Dog Treats

 

In light of the recent national attention to the problem of toxic dog treats,  (discussed in this blog well over a year ago), we though it would be beneficial to review some of the issues surrounding pet product safety.

The first thing that you need to be aware of is that while the FDA does regulate all animal foods, their regulation only goes so far as to require that all animal foods, like human foods, be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled. They regulate labeling which includes weight, ingredients and name & place of business of the manufacturer OR the distributer. Note that the country of origin isn’t included. Also note that they have no requirements that the food products have pre-market approval, they consider some foods to be assumed safe (like meat, poultry and grains) and others are considered G.R.A.S. (generally recognized as safe), such as vitamins, minerals etc.

What does this mean to you as a pet owner? It means that you have to be diligent in picking out treats for your dog or cat, it means that you need to be aware of recalls and country of origin and, as if that’s not enough, you also need to monitor your pets while they’re enjoying those treats.

Just take a look at the list of treat manufacturers finally released to the public. This list contains the brands that are suspected in the illnesses and deaths of over 1,000 pets and they al have one thing in common; they were all made in China.

Waggin Train, Canyon Creek Ranch, Dogswell, Hartz, Snausages, Booda Bones, Aspen Pet, Milo’s Kitchen, American Kennel Club, Dingo’s, Beefeaters, Cadet, Sargents, Ever Pet (Dollar General), Home pet 360, Walgreen’s Simple, The Kingdom’s Pets, Benefuk, Beggin Strips, Pupperoni and Canine Carryout.

A lot of those names look familiar don’t they? They’re brands you may have used for years.

So, what can you do?

  1. Read the label. If it doesn’t clearly state “a product of the USA” or “Made entirely with ingredients from America) or any thing similar, DON’T BUY IT!
  2. Realize that a lot of treats are choking hazards, particularly rawhide, and never leave your pet unsupervised while they have them and be careful with bones too; they can splinter into very sharp pisces.
  3. Notice your pet, their normal activity level, affect and general demeanor. If you want to be objective, make a note of their resting heart rate, respiratory rate and gum color.
  4. Call your vet if you have any concerns and learn pet CPR and Heimlich maneuvers.

If you can be mindful of what your pet eats and plays with, you can keep them safe, so pick dog treats that are locally made, that are made solely with American made ingredients and try organic while you’re at it; it’s better for everyone.

Allhailthedog.com

Antlers need supervision too.

 

 

Wildlife and Dog LIfe

Best dog beds

I See You

 

How many of us can’t wait for the warmer weather to take our dogs on a hike or even just a quick walk in the sunshine? As much as we try in the winter, it just doesn’t happen as often. In my area, we’re lucky to have bike/ski trails where we can stroll in the winter; a nice and quick alternative to snowshoes and a lot of clothes.

Still, come spring, we’re all glad to get out and really stretch our legs. This can be very exhilarating for the dogs and we have to remember to be on the look out for seasonal dangers like wild animals and swift water.

I get such a kick out of seeing the abundant wildlife in my area and obviously my dogs do too, however I certainly don’t want them getting too up close and personal since this could be bad for all parties involved. No matter where you live, the chance of your pets coming into contact with wildlife is pretty high, even if that only means squirrels, mice and rabbits. My neighborhood has an abundance of elk, deer, raccoons, skunk, song birds, hawks, owls, eagles, fox, coyote, wolves, bear, moose and mountain lions. As you can probably figure; mixing up with any of these could be bad for either party, whether it’s my cats, dogs or chickens. And don’t think that it only matters one way or another, I have to disagree; we have a responsibility to our pets and our wildlife equally.

So how do we keep everyone safe and separate? Good question, start with some forethought. If I’m keeping chickens in a rural area, I have to be as prepared as possible for the animals that could eat them, so their fencing and housing have to be as raid-proof as possible. I have to keep bell collars (safety release of course) on my cats because the depredation of songbirds by domestic cats alone is devastating. And my dogs, well they have to be trained to recall on command, no matter what is running by and if they can’t be trusted, then they can’t be loose, period. Chasing deer and elk can stress out the herds as well as put them and the dogs in danger from vehicle traffic. Moose, mountain lions and coyotes can easily kill a dog, whether I’m out hiking or they’re passing through our yard, so again, I have to be careful. For instance, I never leave my dogs out in the yard unattended for more than a minute or two and I don’t let my cats out at night; they’re just not equipped to deal with the predators out there. I’ve heard of several pet owners in my community who acted very irresponsibly and left their pets out to fend for themselves, with tragic results. Not only for the pet, but also for the wild animal that was only doing what comes naturally as a way to survive and then was killed because of that. So you see how everyone was harmed by one person’s inattention? And anyway, who doesn’t sleep a little better at night knowing their beloved pets are right where they belong, snuggled in a cozy pet bed…… inside?