April 18, 2007 I Wouldn't Feed It To A Dog!

April 18, 2007

I Wouldn’t Feed It To A Dog!

I’m sure you have all heard of the massive recall of many pet foods that are believed to be poisoning our pets. I get emails daily of the growing list of foods it includes and honestly, I am not surprised. In my opinion this was a ticking time-bomb. We've heard of "mad cow disease" and I've been waiting to hear of "mad dog disease.” I know I'm going to touch some nerves with this article but this HAS to be written.
I will not profess to being an expert on pet foods or ingredients as I learn more every day but what I do know is this: Most pet foods use ingredients that are not for human consumption because they are inexpensive as they are a waste product of human foods. Why throw it out when the pet food industry will buy it? Pace Dairy in Crawfordsville cuts and shreds and wraps cheese for Kroger. They do a wonderful job. I love the cheese. Manufacturing cheese is a job like most factories. Floors get dirty and cheese gets on the floor. At night when the machines are cleaned out there is cheese residue that gets cleaned out. I took a tour of Pace Dairy and saw huge bins labeled "INEDIBLE.” I asked what that was and told that is the stuff that is swept off the floor and cleaned out of the machines and the dog food companies buy it.
Meat packing plants do similar things. Parts that we don't eat from a cow go to dog food companies. Remember there is NO waste. If we can't eat it, a pet food company can buy it pretty cheap. Then there is "rendered" meat. Dead livestock is picked up by a meat rendering truck. Those animals aren't buried or cremated. Think about it.
Last year Diamond dog food recalled its' food due to aflatoxin in the corn. Have you ever seen corn sitting outside in huge piles because the grain bins were full? What happens to grain that it outside in rain? Is it any wonder why pets died? West Points’ grain elevator several years ago had a similar incident when several horses died after eating grain purchased there. There was mold in it. I had horses and I know how careful you need to be to avoid any mold in the hay or grain. Mold doesn't need to be obvious in food in order for it to affect an animal.
For years I’ve fed a human-grade pet food that I became a distributor of after seeing the positive results on my own pets. I have recommended this food to my clients for their pets especially if their pets were having issues with itching, dry flaking skin or wheat allergies. My own dog Jasmine (in the photo above) has a wheat allergy and today I am thanking God for that! Wheat gluten seems to be the ingredient that is causing the kidney failure and killing pets around the world. Wheat gluten in itself isn’t a bad thing, but it’s tainted with melamine which is used as a pesticide. Honestly, they still are not 100% sure that is the entire issue. I don’t feed wheat or wheat gluten due to Jasmine’s allergies and I am relieved to have dodged this bullet!
I know that dogs eat nasty things. If you live in the country I’m sure your dog has found some really appetizing critters to bring home. I haven’t had to mop my floors since my sheltie arrived in October, I considered renaming him "Dyson" or "Kirby" or "Hoover" as there is not one crumb on my floor that gets by him! I know that if my cats’ litter box was lower my dogs would enjoy the "kitty crunchies" in it as treats! That being said, I would never purposely feed something to my pets that wasn’t fit for me to eat. I don’t eat dog kibble but after learning about ingredients in some pet foods compared to what I feed, and reading labels on human food, I know that it would be healthier for me to be pouring my milk on my dogs’ brand of food instead of the cereal I eat.
I don’t care if my pets are "just animals" and they can eat all kinds of things we humans can’t, or won’t. If I wouldn’t eat it, and would throw it away, I won’t give it to my dogs for garbage disposal. This is why it irks me to see the huge number of recalls from the big companies that spend big bucks on commercials to make the public THINK they are feeding nutritious food to their pets! Some are "Veterinarian Recommended." Normally that would make most people feel safe but the truth is the ingredients came from the same place! How can you trust pet food companies anymore?
You start by learning about what's in your pets food by reading the label and doing some research. There is a wealth of information on the internet about ingredients and where they come from. I have checked out several websites but the one that like is the Animal Protection Institute http://www.api4animals.org/%20therethere is a report on what’s really in pet food that is eye opening. Whole Dog Journal is a magazine with many informative articles on best and worst foods. I am in the process of making a binder with information I've received on pet nutrition and what is in pet food for my clients to read. Education is the best defense against potential poisoning of your pet.
Sadly, the more holistic pet foods that use human grade ingredients are not available in Attica. Buckles Feed Depot in Lafayette carries a few brands that I would recommend or approve of but I don’t drive to Lafayette that often, so it’s really inconvenient to buy those brands. This is why my pet food is delivered by UPS. I won’t give you the details of what brand I feed because I don’t want this to come off as a commercial for it, but feel free to contact me if you want information about it. My email is thegroomroom@insightbb.com. I wish there was a store in Attica that would stock only the best human grade foods available for pets. I sincerely hope that this tragedy will wake up consumers and the huge conglomerates that own pet food companies, such as Proctor & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, and Nestle who have the lions share of dog food brands on the shelf at every store, and the pet food industry as a whole will do a complete change and quit feeding cast off garbage to our pets and thinking of the bottom line money, to remembering that our pets are family to us and we only want to give them decent food to nourish their bodies and keep them healthy and happy.

Until then stay updated on the recalls and please read your pet food labels, and treats, and anything you feed your pets. I personally know dogs and cats who have been affected by this recall. One has died that I know of. Many more either died or got sick before the recall actually happened. How many pets were buried that we thought just got sick, or died of natural causes before anyone knew about this? There are alternatives to pet foods such as feeding a raw diet or cooking for your pet but this isn’t practical for me at this point in my life. I rely on pet foods as most of you do to feed my pets, besides I’m not that impressed with our own food supply with the peanut butter recalls, salmonella scares and e-coli outbreaks. I don’t know all the answers, I wish I did. I hope this article helps you make a more educated decision about what to feed your pet so you aren't swayed by the cute commercials, the "veterinarian recommended" tag lines or food that your pet really gobbles up because it's so tasty to him. Price isn't the only consideration. Many foods in the recall have a premium price. Be aware, be informed and be safe.

April 4, 2007 Time to Inspect Your Dog

April 4, 2007

Time to inspect your dog.

Ideally, you should be doing this monthly or more often.

Eyes...Some dogs have tear stains. The first thing you MUST do is figure out why the dogs eyes are tearing. Is there a lot of hair around the eyes? If so, it could be hair irritating the eye and causing it to tear. A little trim around the eye area is usually all that is needed. Sometimes dogs have eyelashes that are on the inside of the eyelids. These must be removed by a vet. It’s a common occurrence in many breeds especially breeds with wrinkles such as shar-peis and bulldogs. If there are no eyelashes rubbing the eye there are products to bleach out the tear stains, but it has to be done several times a day. I’ve recently discovered a product that you sprinkle on your pets food that works wonders on tear stains called “Angels Eyes” and it’s available online or at my shop.

Ears... Are the ears clean? Is there an odor or discharge? Does it look like coffee grounds? Is the ear puffy, itchy, raw? Ear infections are fairly common in dogs but when I see a dog that has had ear infections that are routinely treated but keep occurring the first thing I suspect is a food allergy. When I adopted my dog Jasmine, she had black discharge in her ears and itchy skin. I immediately switched her food to one with no wheat, no corn and cleaned her ears...I’ve never had a problem since. Ear mites usually cause a black coffee ground like discharge. Your vet can treat ear mites. Your vet or groomer can show you how to properly clean out your pets ears.

Mouth... If your dog has bad breath, red gums or tartar, all the teeth cleaning snacks in the world won’t fix it. He needs to see the vet and see if he has a gum infection, gingivitis or a bad tooth. This area is easily overlooked on pets. Many times the dogs teeth look fine, but look deeper. Lift up the lips and pull back and look at the molars, are the gums red? Is there tartar on the teeth? Sometimes a dog could have a bad tooth and it needs to see a vet for a dental cleaning and possibly a tooth extraction. Bad teeth or infections can cause excess drooling, difficulty eating that can be perceived as being “picky”. Check those teeth!

Nails. If you have hard floors in your house and you can hear your dogs nails tapping as he walks that’s a good indication of needing a nail trim. Some dogs wear their nails down naturally when they walk on concrete or dig outside but most dogs don’t and they need a “pawdicure” from time to time. Don’t forget the dew -claws, those are the “thumbs” on a dog and some dogs have dew- claws on the rear legs as well. If you have a hairy breed be sure to feel around and if your dog has dew claws those need clipped more often than the regular nails because they don’t touch the ground and never get wore down. Some dew claws can be a problem to some dogs due to having long hair and being hidden they are often missed when clipping nails and sometimes get snagged by clippers when being groomed. Ask your vet to remove any dew-claws that are a problem. I’ve seen dogs jump around in crates and break the dew-claws, it’s painful and easily re-injured by excitable dogs. It’s best to have them removed and eliminate the problem.

Belly...Who doesn’t rub their dogs belly? If you feel any lumps be sure and mention them to your vet as soon as possible. Hernia’s usually occur where the spay surgery stitches were and sometimes in the groin or the navel on puppies. Dogs get breast cancer too! Spaying before a dogs first heat cycle generally prevents it.

Rear...Yes I know, nobody likes to think about this area but it’s important. Lift up your dogs tail, there shouldn’t be anything stuck to the hair back there. If there is, gently clean it off or cut the hair around the rectum. I’ve seen dogs get “diaper rash” from having feces that has been stuck to the dog for days! Keep the area under your dogs tail CLEAN! Now that you have the tail up, do you notice anything that resembles grains of rice stuck in the hair? That could be tapeworm. Tapeworm is caused by fleas. Fleas are ingested and the tapeworm eggs grow inside your dog and parts of it come out the rectum. Groomers find tapeworms often in dogs. Once again a visit to your vet will take care of tapeworms, fleas or other parasites that are living on or in your dog.
Does your dog scoot on its’ rear? Lick under its’ tail? That could be an anal sac problem. Small dogs seem to have anal sac issues regularly. Your vet and some groomers will express the anal sacs for you and that should take care of the problem for a while. Many times a high fiber diet helps to prevent this problem.

Hair...Feel hair for matts. Matted hair pulls on the skin and hurts! If you can’t comb out the matts or remove them yourself, call your groomer or vet and make an appointment. Matted hair doesn’t dry well and traps bacteria under the hair and air can’t get to it. Hot spots, sores and ...gulp...even maggots have been found on matted dogs. Comb your dog out regularly to prevent matts. Your groomer will happily show you how to do it and what tools work best on your dog.
Grooming your dog keeps down shedding hair, keeps the skin and coat in good shape and makes for a cleaner, happier more pet-able pet!