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News: Guest Posts
2007 Melamine Contamination Explained
FDA webinar to cover investigation, harmful effects

In 2007, thousands of dogs and cats were made ill and even killed by melamine contamination in imported pet food and treats. Questions, anger and grief still linger. On Tuesday, Food and Drug Administration scientist Renate Reimschuessel will detail the FDA’s investigation into the crisis and the contaminant’s harmful effects. During the half-hour limited-audience webinar, Reimschuessel will also respond to listeners’ questions.

  Details: Tuesday, Nov. 30 at 2 p.m. EST—complete details at the link above. (Note: There are a limited number of spots available but materials from the webinar will be made available on the FDA's website.) 

 

News: Guest Posts
Dog Food Recall
Blue Buffalo recalls chicken and salmon dog food

The Blue Buffalo Co. has announced a voluntary recall of specific production runs of its Wilderness Chicken-Dog, Basics Salmon-Dog and Large Breed Adult Dog products, “as we have reason to believe that the products from these runs may contain a higher level of Vitamin D than is called for in our product specifications.”

  According to the company, the potential of increased Vitamin D presents risk to a very small segment of the canine population who appear to be sensitive to higher levels of Vitamin D.    The ASPCA has advised pet owners who use Blue Buffalo products to contact the company with any questions related to its products and monitor their pets for signs of illness. Dr. Camille DeClementi, veterinarian and senior toxicologist at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center said, “Should pet owners notice symptoms such as increased thirst, urination, stomach upset or loss of appetite, they should consult their veterinarian or contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for help.”   According to ASPCA, excessive exposure to D can result in hypercalcemia is a serious illness that affects the electrolytes in the body and can disrupt normal organ function. Serious cases can result in acute renal failure and cause damage to the heart or central nervous system. Coma and death have occurred in untreated cases.   Blue Buffalo will reimburse any veterinary or testing expenses related to illness caused by these products. Visit the Blue Buffalo website for the affected product codes and to learn more about the circumstances of the recall.

 

News: Guest Posts
Salmonella Risk
Human infections linked to pet food
We’ve posted several recalls recently related to concerns about salmonella in dry dog food. Now, there’s an additional, disturbing wrinkle: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that dozens of salmonella infections in toddlers have been traced to dry pet food. According to The New York Times report, it’s the first time human infections have been linked to this source.

  The CDC recommends “children younger than 5 not be allowed to touch or eat pet food or pet treats and be kept away from pet feeding areas.”

 

News: Guest Posts
Another Recall
Texas Hold 'ems recalled by Merrick

Merrick Pet Care has recalled Texas Hold'ems, 10 ounce bag (Item # 60016 Lot 10127 Best by May 6 2012) because of possible Salmonella health risk. Details on FDA website.

News: Guest Posts
P&G Voluntary Recall
Eukanuba and Iams specialized dry pet food

The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) is voluntarily expanding its recall to include veterinary and some specialized dry pet food, including Iams Veterinary Dry Formulas, Eukanuba Naturally Wild, Eukanuba Pure and Eukanuba Custom Care Sensitive Skin, as a precautionary measure because it has the potential to be contaminated with salmonella. No salmonella-related illnesses have been reported. For details and UPC codes, visit Food & Drug Administration.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dogs Scream for Ice Cream
Canine ice cream truck debuts in London

Each year the British consume an average of 50 ice creams per person, according to Boomerang Pets Party spokesperson, Sally Bezant. With 10.5 million dogs in the United Kingdom, that’s a lot of pups missing out on the cool summer treat.

  Not anymore. Now London canines have K99, their own ice cream truck with flavors like Dog Eat Hog World (a gammon and chicken sorbet topped with biscuit) and Canine Cookie Crunch (a combination of mixed dog biscuits and ice cream).   Last month, the truck made its first stop in Regents Park where it played the Scooby Doo theme song instead of the traditional ice cream truck chimes. K99 will be making appearances at British parks throughout the summer. The ice cream is being sold for a 99p donation to the Berkshire Search and Rescue Dogs.   Not in the United Kingdom? Check out my crew’s favorite homemade doggy ice cream recipe. You can modify it using any of your pups’ favorite fruits and treats.

 

News: Guest Posts
Food for Thought
Pondering the benefits of commercial pet food

When New York Times columnist Jane E. Brody wanted the truth about feeding our dogs and cats, she turned to Bark contributing editors Malden Nesheim, PhD, and Marion Nestle, PhD, who provided details about pet food that Bark regulars know well—such as, higher price doesn’t necessarily mean better quality.

But they also presented a bit of a paradigm shift, for me, regarding the $18-billion-a-year commercial pet food industry. After years of bad press resulting from catastrophic pet food recalls and ongoing questions about pet food safety, I’m used to thinking the worst about the industry. But here’s a tidbit on which to chew:

Because all pet food is made from the byproducts of human food production, Dr. Nestle says, "the pet food industry serves an important ecological function by using up food that would otherwise be thrown out."

And proponents of home-prepared foods—many motivated by nutritional and safety concerns—should consider this: "If everyone cooked human food for the 472 million cats and dogs in America, it would be like feeding an additional 42 million people."

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Astronauts’ Diets Vary By Country
The Chinese include dog on the menu

I used to have a roommate from New Zealand and we literally had to eat breakfast separately because my peanut butter-on-toast was as nauseating to him as his vegemite-on-toast was to me. We found each other’s response to what we viewed as such ordinary food a bit amusing.

 

Sometimes cultural differences about food can be more serious and cause real clashes. For example, a recent news article reveals that the on-board menu for Chinese astronauts includes dog meat. Dogs are raised for their meat in Huajiang province, and many Chinese people consider this a healthy and savory meal. Some responses to the story of astronauts eating dog meat expressed the view that this is no big deal and just a matter of cultural differences and other expressed outrage at the idea of people eating dog meat.

 

I must say that in my cultural realm, dogs are companions only and not food, so I would not want to eat dog. The idea, for me personally, makes me very uncomfortable. However, I have eaten cow meat countless times with the full knowledge that for members of the Hindu religion, the cow is sacred and as such, is not used for meat. Furthermore, when I lived in Venezuela, I ate meat of unknown origin on several occasions when people invited me into their homes, so that I am pretty sure I’ve consumed both capybara and rat. It makes me a bit uneasy, but I went with a “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” model for my behavior in these situations, which I usually find to be the most polite course of action when I’m in another country.

 

Dogs mean different things to different cultures and what sounds appealing as food also varies culturally. How do you feel about Chinese astronauts eating dog? What have you eaten lately that you think someone from another culture might find revolting?

 

 

 

News: Guest Posts
Improving Pet Food Safety
FDA launches site to make reporting problems easier

Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched a new website that aims to make reporting food safety—including pet food—concerns easier. The Safety Reporting Portal is an online form for submitting information (anonymously or not) about adverse reactions to pet foods, treats and animal drugs—as well as human foods and medicines. 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Taste Test
Humans and canines put treats head to head.

For humans, healthy food usually comes at the expense of taste. Given how concerned we are about feeding our pups the best, Lou Bendrick at Grist.org decided to run a humorously unscientific study on whether dogs prefer healthy or unhealthy treats. 

The testing panel included Burn the Border Collie, Lulu the Cockapoo, Sugar Ray the Pug, and Austin the Australian Shepherd. And to make sure the treats were safe, Lou had a group of humans taste test as well.

The experiment tested Wagatha’s Super Berry Biscuit, Newman’s Own Organics Salmon & Sweet Potato dog treat, Mr. Barky’s Vegetarian Dog Biscuits, Harmony Farms Health Bars with Apples & Yogurt, Organix Organic Dog Cookies (organic peanut butter flavor), and Milk Bone Medium Dog Biscuits. 

After much tasting, the canine favorite was Wagatha’s Super Berry Biscuit and the human favorite was Harmony Farms Health Bars with Apples & Yogurt.

I replicated the experiment on a smaller scale, but my chow hounds didn’t seem to discriminate like the dogs did in Lou’s study. They happily scarfed up any treat that came their way, healthy or not. 

Treats made with quality ingredients can get quite expensive, especially if you do a lot of training. Sometimes I’ll make my own treats, so I can control what goes in, but more often I just use fresh meat, like boiled chicken. Fresh, healthy, cheap, and my pups go crazy over the stuff!

What are your dogs’ favorite treats?

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