Home
food & nutrition
News: Guest Posts
Recall: Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy dry dog food

Proctor & Gamble has voluntarily recalled one production lot of Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy dry dog food, due to detected aflatoxin levels above the accepted limit.

Aflatoxin is a naturally 
occurring chemical byproduct from the growth of Aspergillus flavus on corn and other crops and can be harmful to pets if consumed in
significant quantities. Dogs who consumed the product and exhibit symptoms including sluggishness or lethargy, reluctance to eat, vomiting, yellowish tint in the eyes or gums or diarrhea should be taken to a veterinarian.

P&G recalled 7-, 8- and 17.5-pound bags of the Iams dog food with use by or expiration dates of Feb. 5 or Feb. 6, 2013. The company said no illnesses were reported in relation to the affected product, but it was instituting the recall as a precautionary measure.

The affected bags were distributed in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia.

Those who bought the product are asked to stop using it immediately, throw it out and contact Iams for a replacement voucher.

For more information, contact P&G toll-free at 866.908.1569 or www.iams.com.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Problems with Imported Chicken Treats
Illness is on the rise due to products such as chicken jerky

It seems like every month there’s a new pet food product that gets recalled. According to the FDA, the number of dogs getting sick from imported chicken flavored treats has been on the rise. The FDA ran extensive tests, but can’t identify the specific contaminant, nor can they attribute the rash of illness to a specific brand.

Symptoms have included decreased appetite and activity, vomiting, diarrhea, increased water consumption and urination, and even kidney failure and Fanconi syndrome, a condition associated with low glucose.

I gave up buying most commercial dog treats a long time ago. It’s much cheaper to make your own, plus you can control all of the ingredients. For anyone who is hesitant to make dog food, treats is a good place to start. It doesn’t have to be complicated or gourmet.

For training I usually cook steak or chicken and cut it into small pieces. If you don’t have a lot of time, you can even use the microwave. When I’m in a rush and need something really yummy, I’ll stick a hot dog in the microwave and have something ready in just a few seconds. Not the healthiest treat, but a lot better than a lot of commercial treats! Every now and then I’ll also take out the baking supplies and make regular dog biscuits.

Do you make your own dog treats?

Wellness: Food & Nutrition
Lessons in Healthy Eating
A primer on nutrition and label reading.

One of the most important and challenging decisions we make as pet guardians is what to feed our dogs. Providing them with a wholesome diet is vital to maintaining their good health and quality of life, so it is incumbent on us to be well informed about their nutritional needs and how best to fulfill them.

There are more choices than ever these days when it comes to top-quality commercial foods, not to mention the wide array of forms the food comes in — kibble, canned, semi-moist, dehydrated, raw. Plus, home-prepared meals are becoming increasingly popular, with many people either supplementing commercial foods or replacing them entirely with meals they cook. However, the convenience and ease of feeding a commercial diet keep these foods at the front of the pack. This is all the more reason to learn how to differentiate among the product choices.

There are two things to keep in mind when you’re deciding which diet is best for your dog: First, every dog is an individual, so what one might thrive on could be an allergen to another. Second, high-quality (organic preferred), fresh ingredients trump all other factors. When we prepare food in our own kitchen from ingredients that we’ve selected, it’s fairly easy to control the quality. But how can we know about the quality of the ingredients in commercial pet foods? It starts with deciphering a pet food label.

What’s on (and in) a bag of dog food?
Reading the label on a package of pet food can be an exasperating exercise. Although all labels must include certain elements, finding out where these items appear and what they mean can be difficult. Even skilled nutritional experts like Marion Nestle admit that reading a petfood label “is no simple task … and hardly anyone can make sense of them.”

Another issue is how these elements are identified. Nutritional standards for the production of pet food are set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This nongovernmental group is made up of state and federal representatives as well as people directly involved in the pet-food industry. This means that people who manufacture pet food have a voice in establishing not only pet-food standards but also most of the label requirements and feed-trial protocols. Though the FDA, a federal regulatory agency, sets rules for three of the label items, its oversight of petfood production is still very limited. As we learned during the 2007 recall, the FDA could not order companies to recall products containing melamine-tainted ingredients. (Sadly, it still doesn’t have recall power.)

AAFCO’s Nutrient Profiles list the minimum amounts (and minimum is the operative word here) of nutrients required by pets. The group recognizes only two canine feeding stages: adult dog maintenance and “growth and reproduction.” So, unless they’re puppies or lactating females, all dogs fall into the “adult maintenance” category regardless of their age, health status or level of physical activity.

Labeling
There are two components to a pet-food label: marketing and informational. The former is intended to convince you that the product inside the bag or can is the best and tastiest. The content of the latter is, for the most part, dictated by the FDA and AAFCO. These guidelines specify the major components:

  • Brand name and product name.
  • Who it is intended to feed (i.e., dog or cat).
  • Package weight (net).
  • Name and address of the manufacturer.( Phone numbers and/or URLs are not required, but are good things to look for.)
  • Statement of Nutritional Adequacy (guidelines that must be adhered to in order to label the food as “complete and balanced”). This is also where you’ll find out how the food meets these standards for nutritional adequacy: by calculation or by live feeding trials.
  • Statement of Guaranteed Analysis (listing the minimum percentage of crude protein and crude fat in the food and maximum percentage of fiber and moisture; some companies also specify other nutrients). By the way, “crude” is not a quality statement; it refers to a specific method of measuring the nutrient. Carbohydrates are not included because they are not required in the diet of pets.
  • Feeding directions, which are based only on the weight of the animal, so you might run the risk of overor underfeeding if you follow them. Always monitor your dog’s weight and energy level.
  • List of ingredients, identified in the order of “predominance by weight,” or weight before processing. This is important to note when you are comparing products with different moisture contents (see Dry Matter p. 67). Also, as explained by Linda Bren in an FDA Consumer newsletter, “Similar materials listed as separate ingredients may outweigh other ingredients that precede them on the list of ingredients. For example, chicken may be listed as the first ingredient, then wheat flour, ground wheat and wheat middlings. The consumer may believe that chicken is the predominant ingredient, but the three wheat products — when added together — may weigh more than the chicken.”
  • The Animal Protection Institute points out that “a good rule of thumb to distinguish the major components of a food is to look for the first named source of fat in the ingredient list. Anything listed before that (and including it) makes up the main portion of the food. Other items, which may add flavor, function as preservatives or [have] dietary benefits (e.g. probiotics, vitamins and minerals),” are present in much smaller amounts.
  • Calorie Statements (optional). AAFCO regulations say the listing for calories “shall be distinct from Guaranteed Analysis and shall appear under the heading Calorie Content.” If a calorie statement is on the label, it must be expressed on a “kilocalories per kilogram” basis. Kilocalories are the same as the calories. A kilogram is a unit of metric measurement equal to 2.2 pounds.
  •  

Other Considerations:

  • The label can reveal other important information besides the ingredients. Check for a “best by” date. Most naturally preserved dry foods have a “best by” date that is 12 months from the date of manufacture.
  • Try to find a bag that is as fresh as possible. If yours is a one-dog household and your budget can tolerate the price differential, shop for smaller-sized bags, which make it easier to keep the food fresh. Also, look for bags lined with untreated aluminum foil. Do not remove the food from the bag, but rather, store the bag inside an airtight, metal container.
  • If you feed your dog canned food and don’t use an entire can in one meal, store the leftovers in the refrigerator in a covered container. Food left in an opened can (even one with a plastic lid) loses flavor.
  • Dogs thrive on variety. As Bren points out, “Some animal nutritionists recommend switching among two or three different petfood products every few months. Doing so helps ensure that a deficiency doesn’t develop for some as-yet-unknown nutrient required for good health. When changing pet foods, add the new food to the old gradually for a few days to avoid upsetting the pet’s digestive system.”
  • If you are adding fresh or cooked ingredients to the meal (which many recommend), make sure you adjust the amount of commercial food to avoid overfeeding and weight gain.
  • When in doubt, shop at small boutique or holistic pet stores. The owners and staff are usually more familiar with their products and can help you with your buying decisions.
  • Make sure you contact the food manufacturer if you have any questions about their products, either before or after buying it. Do not simply rely on the information from their websites.
  • Wellness: Food & Nutrition
    Important Vitamins and Minerals for Your Dog
    [Chart]

    Adapted from Allegretti and Sommers, Fougère, and Ackerman
     

    Vitamin A Carrots, spinach, liver, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, fish oil, eggs, turnip greens Vitamin D Marine fish oil, fatty fish, egg yolks, dairy products, liver, beef, cottage cheese Vitamin E Plant oils, leafy green vegetables, seeds, wheat germ, bran, whole grains, liver Vitamin K Liver, leafy green vegetables, milk, cabbage, fish Vitamin C Fruits, vegetables, organ meats Vitamin B Whole grains, nutritional or brewers yeast, liver, beans, green vegetables, spirulina, nuts, dairy products

    Macrominerals

    Calcium Milk, yogurt, tofu, sardines with bones, raw bones, bok choy, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower Phosphorous All animal tissues, eggs, fish, milk Magnesium Spinach, broccoli, green beans, tofu, tomato juice, beans, whole grains, seafood Potassium,
    Sodium and
    Chloride Fruits, vegetables, milk, grain

    Microminerals

    Zinc Spinach, broccoli, yogurt, beef, poultry, whole grains, vegetables Sulfur All protein foods (meats, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes and milk) Iron Red meats, fish, poultry, shellfish, eggs, legumes Iodine Iodized salt, seafood, dairy products, kelp Selenium Seafood, meat, whole grains, brown rice, vegetables Cooper Seafood, nuts, whole grains, seeds, legumes Manganese Nuts, whole grains, leafy vegetables Chromium Lean meat, vegetable oils, brewers yeast Cobalt Liver, kidney, fruit, vegetables Fluorine Available in water Molybdenum Legumes, cereals, organ meats Silicon Cereals, vegetables, beans and peas

     

    Wellness: Food & Nutrition
    Canine Nutrition Basics

    Whether you feed your dog a premium commercial food or prepare homemade meals, it is important to understand the fundamentals of canine nutrition. Here is a review of the basics to help you get started in making the right and informed choices for your dog.

    There are six major classes of nutrients: protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water.

    It all begins with energy, the basic requirement of life. The energy content(measured in calories) of a food is determined by how much of the first three elements the food contains. Vitamins and minerals are also essential for many functions of the body and, because about 70 percent of a dog’s body is made up of water, that too is critical.

    PROTEINS
    Proteins are complex molecules made up of amino acids, the building blocks of cell growth, maintenance and repair. In companion animals, one of the biggest demands for protein comes from the maintenance of fur and hair, which can use up to 30 percent of the daily protein intake, according to Barbara Fougère, BVSc.

    Proteins are made up of 20 amino acids. While dogs, cats and even humans produce about half of these amino acids internally, the other half, termed “essential amino acids,” need to be provided by the diet. The 10 essential amino acids are arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. If even one of these “essentials” is deficient, as Lowell Ackerman, DVM, explains, the body cannot make specific proteins effectively. Amino acids work in a step-by-step fashion to manufacture protein.

    If one of the steps is missing, the process stops. The biological value of proteins indicates how efficiently an animal utilizes them. Animal nutrition expert Donald Strombeck, DVM, notes that this value is high for proteins from meat, most meat by-products, eggs and dairy products. “Dogs digest these proteins efficiently and they provide amino acids in proportions suitable for tissue protein synthesis. In contrast, the biological value of most plant proteins is low, due to insufficiencies of specific amino acids and lower digestibility.”

    FATS
    Fats provide the most concentrated source of energy in the diet. They also supply the fatty acids that are important building blocks for important substances and essential to maintaining normal, healthy cells. Along with protein, fats contribute to a diet’s palatability, plus aid absorption of the fatsoluble vitamins A, E, D and K.

    Like protein’s essential amino acids, fat has its own essential fatty acids (EFAs): linoleic acid, linolenic acid and arachidonic acid. Because they make up an important part of every cell, they are also required by animals. Linoleic acid is the source of omega-6 fatty acids, and linolenic acid is the source of omega-3 fatty acids. According to Strombeck, animals need more omega-6 (linoleic acid) than omega-3 fatty acids for health.

    CARBOHYDRATES
    Although dogs do not need carbohydrates because their bodies can get energy from protein and fats alone, carbohydrates that can be broken down by the digestive system and converted to glucose can also be a source of energy. (Carbs can be the main caloric source in some dog foods.)

    Carbohydrates in the form of whole grains can furnish iron, minerals and fiber as well as other beneficial nutrients. Since cooking determines starch digestibility, and therefore its availability, starches need to be well cooked; otherwise, they tend to ferment in the large intestine. Carbohydrates can be found in vegetables and fruit, which also supply minerals, fiber, antioxidants, phytochemicals and some protein.

    VITAMINS
    Fresh, wholesome food provides your dog (as well as you) with the best source of vitamins, organic substances required for normal functioning of the body. They are also important in the conversion of calories to energy. Ackerman points out that they are needed in only small amounts: “All of the vitamins needed by your dog on a daily basis could be provided by a fraction of a teaspoon.” (See chart on for ingredient sources for vitamins and minerals.)

    MINERALS
    Minerals are inorganic nutrients that make up less than 1 percent of a dog’s body weight but are essential to many important functions, such as growth and strong bones and teeth. They are classified as either macrominerals or microminerals. It is important to note that two of the macrominerals, calcium (the most abundant mineral in the body) and phosphorus, must be in balance and given in correct proportions (the ideal calcium:phosphorus ratio is between 1:1 and 2:1). Microminerals (also known as trace minerals) serve very important functions as well. Balance is critical with all minerals because they interact; too much of one can interfere with the absorption of another.

    BOTTOM LINE
    If you elect to feed your dog commercial food (and most of us do), here’s what to look for and what to avoid when you’re standing in front of a shelf of carefully designed bags, cans, pouches or boxes.

    • High-quality named animal proteins should be the first ingredient, and, ideally appear more than once as top items on the ingredient list. Note that whole meat is made up of a lot of water (up to 75 percent), so if a whole meat is listed as the first item, the food might not contain an equal amount of meat by weight unless there is another whole meat, or a specifically named meat meal (chicken meal, for instance, which is about 10 percent water). Avoid foods that use generic “meat” meal; the actual type of meat needs to be named: lamb meal or chicken meal, for example. Fat should also come from named source, avoid generic “animal” fat.
    • Whole fruit, vegetables and whole grains which contain the entire grain kernel. For example, rice rather than rice flour or bran. Refined grain products, gluten and mill runs should be avoided.
    • Natural preservatives like tocopherols (Vitamin E) and Vitamin C, or antioxidants like rosemary extract.
    • Avoid: All by-products (from meat, grain or any other source); added sweeteners (which are usually listed as grain fragments); artificial preservatives such as BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, propylene glycol; and artificial flavors or colors.

    Dry-Matter Basics
    When you compare different types of foods — canned, kibble, etc. or simply different brands — you need to keep in mind the moisture content so you can compare like to like. Use the dry-matter basis.

    First, establish the amount of dry matter by subtracting the percentage given for moisture from 100 percent. If the moisture is given as 10 percent, the food’s dry-matter content is 90 percent.

    Next, convert the protein found in the Guaranteed Analysis statement to a drymatter basis by dividing its percentage by the amount of dry matter (calculated in the previous step). For example, if the protein is given as 26 percent, it converts to 28 percent on a dry-matter basis (26 divided by 90). If the moisture level had been, say, 30 percent, the dry matter content would have been 70 percent and protein would have been 37 percent (26 divided by 70).

    You can do similar calculations for fat and fiber after converting their percentages to a dry-matter basis.

    TREATS
    Although treats are usually given in small portions (or ought to be!), make sure that you pay the same high level of attention to what’s in them as you do for all of your dog’s food. Look for organic, wholefood ingredients, including named meats, whole grains, lots of good fruit and/or vegetables and natural, food-based sweeteners (if they are used at all) — applesauce, honey or molasses, for example. Avoid by-products, artificial coloring, artificial flavoring and artificial preservatives. Look for individual portions that are easy to break into smaller bits.

    Treats are often high in calories, so factor them in when thinking about your dog’s overall food intake. It is recommended that “treat substitutes” make up no more than 5 to 10 percent of a dog’s diet. If the calorie count isn’t listed on the label, find out what it is before giving them to your dog. Contact the manufacturer for calorie information if need be.

    To keep bagged treats fresh — and make it a little more difficult for the diligent treat-hound to score — keep the bags sealed. If the seal doesn’t work (often they don’t), use heavy-duty zip lock–type bags or store them in glass or ceramic containers with tightfitting lids.

    Dogs love variety, and with the wide array of treats on the market, it’s easy to find a selection that will satisfy most co-pilots.

    News: Guest Posts
    How Do You Treat Your Dog?
    A plain old biscuit just doesn't cut it.
    treat dog ice cream vanilla custard catahoula rescue

    Desoto was a fast food fiend. It started out innocently enough. Years ago, after each obedience class, my late Catahoula and I would take a trip through the McDonald's drive-through where he would receive his own small fries. I savored watching him enjoy them almost as much as he enjoyed devouring them. As he graduated to more advanced sports and skills, his treats became more varied, including a Dairy Queen soft serve cone and the sausage from my breakfast sandwich.

    Last weekend, my mix, Ginger Peach, earned a vanilla custard cup from Culver's after a good day of agility showing. Of course, I got a treat, too, a chocolate concrete with Nestlé crunch. During the week, when I take my dogs on errands, they often receive complimentary treats: crunchy biscuits from the bank teller, Puppaccinos compliments of the Starbucks barista, and drool-worthy Pup Cups at a local custard shop.

    How do you treat your dog? Where is the most surprising place for your dog to get treats?

    Wellness: Recipes
    Recipes for Dogs: Gluten-Free Amaranth Waffles
    Tasty Snacks for Your Dog

    Every dog deserves the occasional cookie, but some treats can trigger allergies or tummy trouble. Dog Cookies comes to the rescue with 30 easy-to-follow recipes for healthy, allergen-free treats—including vegetarian and gluten-free treats—so you can find the perfect cookie no matter your dog’s diet.

    Ingredients
    3 ½ Tbsp soft butter or margarine
    1 free-range egg
    2 cups amaranth flour
    1 cup carrot juice
    2 Tbsp hazelnuts (if your dog has a nut allergy, you could use rolled oats, millet flakes or spelt flake* instead)
    1 Tbsp baking powder
    A pre-heated waffle maker
    Makes 5 waffles

    Preparation
    Place the butter in the food processor or hand mixer and beat vigorously until it is fluffy. Add the egg. Mix together the flour, nuts or rolled oats and the baking powder, and pour the carrot juice into the butter and egg mixture. Combine all of the ingredients. The dough should be a thick mixture which glides off the spoon. If it’s too solid, add more carrot juice; if too runny, add more amaranth flour. Spoon three tablespoons of dough into the waffle maker for each waffle.

    Important: Always allow the waffles to cool before eating.

    Treat tip
    The butter and egg mixture will not really bind properly, but instead will “collect” together. This is because there’s no sugar in the dough. Once you add all the other ingredients, the mixture will bind together.

    *Spelt flake contains gluten

    Printed with permission of Veloce Publishing Ltd., publishers of Dog Cookies by Martina Schöps

    Culture: Reviews
    Bark Likes This: Pet Fairy Noshers
    Organic Schmear Delights

    Pet Fairy Noshers is another new product that Kit and all her doggy housemates, including old-guy Lenny, are simply gaga for. This tasty “schmear” is just right for hollow-toy and sterilized-bone stuffing (we’ve used it in the TreatToob, too). Ingredients include pumpkin, unsweetened applesauce, organic honey and cinnamon, plus other luscious goodies. Lovingly made in small batches in northern Vermont, this “barkalicious” spread also makes a wonderful gift. 16 oz. in a glass jar, $8 to $10. Amazon.com.

    Dog's Life: Lifestyle
    Aussie Lab Weighs in at 187 Pounds
    Rescued pup became obese from a junk food diet

    At 187 pounds, Samson, a recently rescued Black Labrador in Australia, is easily the most obese dog in the country. Unsurprisingly, Samson is showing signs of high blood pressure, a common side effect of packing on the extra pounds. Making matters worse, Samson can't even safely exercise until he looses some weight.

    Samson got to his current state because his previous family fed him a diet of burgers, pizza and other unhealthy foods. Fortunately, Samson was rescued by the Animal Aid shelter in Coldstream who immediately put him on a strict diet. They hope to get him to a healthy weight by the end of the year so he can be adopted.

    Many people ask me if it's okay to feed their dogs human food and are ashamed to admit that they feed table scraps as treats. I always find it funny because I liberally feed leftovers as treats. In fact many human foods are healthier than commercial dog treats! Unfortunately, stories like Samson's give human food a bad reputation for pups.

    Do you feed your dog human food?

    Dog's Life: Lifestyle
    Canine Meals Straight From the Farm
    NYC boasts the first CSA dog food

    Chelsea Market is one of my favorite foodie places in Manhattan. New York City may seem like an unlikely place to get food fresh from the farm, but tourists and locals flock to Chelsea Market to find gourmet treats and wholesome food.

    Now dogs can enjoy healthy food from Chelsea Market too.

    Farm to Bowl is a collaboration between Stacy Alldredge, a certified canine nutritionist, and Jake Dick, owner of Dickson's Farmstand, a New York City butcher shop that works with small, sustainable farms that are committed to humane treatment of its animals.

    As a canine nutrition consultant, Stacy has always advised her clients that preparing your own dog food is the best way to ensure a healthy diet made from good ingredients. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time to make their own food.

    Farm to Bowl makes a wholesome, diet easy for everyone, although the price limits the customer base. Each package, which retails for $10, provides one meal for a 60-70 pound dog. So it would cost me approximately $300 to feed one of my dogs for a month. It's certainly more economical for the smaller dogs of Manhattan.

    However, you certainly can't beat the convenience and fresh ingredients. Farm to Bowl is made each Saturday from locally sourced meat and seasonal fruits, and claims to be the first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) dog diet.

    Pages