November 4th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Los Angeles-based Original Pet Food Co. has introduced a complete line of dog and cat meals made from organic, grass-fed beef.
“With the sustainable, organic, grass-fed beef revolution well underway, we believe it’s high time for the same quality meats to make their way from the dinner plate to the pet bowl,” says company founder Melissa McGinnis.
Read More:New Pet-Food Line Features Organic, Grass-Fed Beef
October 16th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
As with humans, dogs and cats can develop diabetes—a condition in which the body’s blood glucose levels are not properly regulated.
Here’s the basic biology: The pancreas secretes insulin, which helps regulate blood-sugar levels. When there’s a surplus or shortage of insulin, variations in glucose levels can lead to a host of damaging conditions.
Ask your veterinarian to run a blood workup if your dog or cat exhibits any of the following signs:
- Increased panting
- Increased water consumption
- Increased urination
Read More:8 Signs Your Pet May Have Diabetes
May 17th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
While Purina has yet to offer an organic line of dog or cat food, the company wants to remind consumers that aluminum pet food cans are an overlooked contributor to landfills.
Less than 20% of aluminum pet food cans are recycled each year, according to recycling industry sources (compared to 54% of aluminum beverage cans). A recent Purina survey confirms that only half of all cat owners recycle cans on a regular basis.
“As a company that produces over 3 billion cat food cans each year, we feel it is our responsibility to educate our consumers and encourage them to recycle,” says Mark Brodeur, Purina’s director of environmental sustainability.
Recycling one 3-oz. aluminum cat food can saves enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for more than 2 hours, while recycling a 5.5-oz. can saves enough energy to power a 30-inch (95w) TV for more than 2 hours. In addition, recycling aluminum cans saves 95% of the energy used to make cans from virgin materials.
“As a proud owner of four cats, I know just how many cat food cans one cat owner can go through each week!” says Kahi Lee, a designer on HGTV’s Design on a Dime. “I love my cats and want the best for them, but I also want what’s best for the environment.”
Pledge to Recycle
Sign the online pledge to recycle any brand of pet food cans, and Purina will donate $1 (up to $100,000) to Keep America Beautiful. The deadline for pledges is May 30.
Read More:Do You Recycle Pet Food Cans?
February 23rd, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Dogs and cats have short digestive tracts and complex gastrointestinal (GI) ecosystems.
Up to 500 species of bacterial cells account for roughly 95% of all GI cells. Some are beneficial (“good bacteria”), while others are potentially pathogenic.
Maintaining bacterial balance determines whether a pet’s digestive system is healthy and functional. When bacterial balance is disrupted, digestive upsets and loose stools often result.
About half of all pet owners seek natural solutions to digestive problems, and one growing trend is probiotics and prebiotics:
- Probiotics are live bacteria supplied in treat or supplement form, which provide health benefits.
- Prebiotics feed the good bacteria, allowing them to grow.
“These bacteria support the immune system and its function, produce important B vitamins and take up space in the intestines,” says New York veterinarian Elizabette Cohen. “This is important because this space could be taken up by disease-causing bacteria instead of the healthy bacteria.”
Dr. Cohen recommends Iams Prostora Max, available at veterinary offices. Her dog, Allie, accepted the supplement, even though she’s a picky eater.
“Her problem is that she has a very sensitive digestive system and would suffer from upsets pretty often,” Dr. Cohen says. “I love it because I’m able to help support her digestive health naturally.”
Dr. Cohen also encourages pet owners to look for fructooligosaccharides (FOS) in pet-food ingredient lists. These prebiotics, found in foods like bananas, barley, garlic, honey, rye and wheat, are fibers that feed the good bacteria to help suppress the bad bacteria.
For Your Organic Bookshelf: Most of My Patients Wear Fur: Tales of Small Animals and Their Big City Vet, by Dr. Elizabette Cohen
Photo courtesy of Iams
Read More:Pet Supplements: Prebiotics, Probiotics
February 22nd, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Charlie enjoyed watching the Puppy Bowl on Super Bowl Sunday, but some of her human guests managed to slip her a variety of questionable snacks during the day’s events.
Not surprisingly, Charlie repaid everyone’s generosity with a series of gastrointestinal upheavals. As a puppy that eats table food only when it drops from the kitchen prep area, she’s not used to anything other than her carefully selected organic dog food, which contains:
- Protein to build and maintain strong muscles
- Vitamins and minerals for heart health
- Antioxidants like beta-carotene and vitamin E to promote a strong immune system
- A fiber blend for optimal digestive health
- Omega-3 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
- Multigrain carbohydrates like corn, rice, sorghum and barley for energy and vitality
- Natural calcium for strong teeth and bones
Instead of recommending a specific brand of food, I’d encourage you to talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s specific needs, based on age, size, weight, breed, health conditions and other variables. Tell the vet you want to buy an organic food, and review the available options.
Tune in tomorrow for info on prebiotic and probiotic supplements for pets.
Read More:7 Organic Pet-Food Ingredients Your Dog Needs
February 15th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Americans spend $36 billion each year on their pets, according to MSN Money, and one of the encouraging new trends is green shopping.
More consumer dollars are going toward environmentally responsible products. In addition to organic pet food and treats, you can purchase:
- Biodegradable pet waste bags. Many communities require owners to clean up after their dogs. The standard plastic bag is bad for the environment, so substitute biodegradable bags made from corn. Check out BioBags.
- Green cat litter. Technological advances in cat litter have led to new, eco-friendly products. Elegant Cat is flushable and biodegradable. It’s made from all-natural materials, doesn’t produce errant dust, allows waste clumps to be safely flushed in a toilet, and contains natural chlorophyll to control odors.
- Recycled pet toys. Manufacturers are turning recycled materials into pet products. Bark for Peace recycles sweaters into pull toys. You can also find cat scratching posts made from recycled materials.
- Clean and green. Buy earth-friendly grooming supplies, including shampoos, toothpastes and deodorant sprays. Spot Organics offers organic aromatherapy-based products to help combat canine ailments like fleas, anxiety and bad breath.
Read More:4 Tips for Raising a Green Pet
February 14th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Man’s best friend is joining spouses and significant others on Valentine’s Day.
According to a Purina survey of 1,000 dog owners:
- 60% include their dogs in their celebrations
- 66% show their love by showering their dogs with hugs and kisses
- 56% give their dogs a special meal, plus a favorite treat for dessert
Be sure to buy organic pet food and treats so you know they’re untouched by pesticides, chemicals, hormones and preservatives. And if you’re thinking of adding a household pet, please go the “recycled” route and adopt one from a shelter or rescue organization.
“I couldn’t imagine life without my best friend: my golden retriever, Homer,” says actress Elisabeth Röhm of NBC’s Heroes. “I rescued Homer and nursed him back to health, and I feel like every day he repays me with his unconditional love and affection.”
Photos: Sheri Berliner/American Veterinary Medical Association; NBC
Read More:Most Dog-Owners Smooch Their Pooches on Valentine’s Day
February 7th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Football has never been on my must-see list, so I cannot name the quarterbacks who will lead either the New Orleans Saints or Indianapolis Colts to victory during today’s Snowmageddon-weekend Super Bowl championship.
What I can tell you is that Dixon (right) is one of the 43 puppies who will play, punt and pee during Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl VI, which airs 3 to 5 p.m. (ET/PT) today, with five consecutive repeats.
Featuring a 20-kitten halftime show, bunny cheerleaders and hamster correspondents in a small blimp, the action-packed event has earned the American Humane Association’s No Animals Were Harmed disclaimer.
The competition will be held on a scaled-down gridiron about 10’ wide by 20’ long. Referee Andrew Schechter will call penalties like “unnecessary ruffness.”
“As the ref, it is my job to make sure the puppies have fun and play a safe, clean game,” he says.
Here’s the best news: All of the involved animals have come from shelters and rescue groups found on the national PetFinder.com website.
“The perks of cuddling adorable puppies all day and raising awareness about pet adoption can’t be beat,” Schechter says.
Charlie and I will be watching closely, with lots of wholesome organic treats on hand for both of us. In addition to store-bought organic pet treats like A Dog’s Life Peanut Butter & Honey hand-baked biscuits, I’ve been known to whip up some special-occasion organic dog goodies, as found in the following great books:
- The Organic Dog Biscuit Cookbook
- Three Dog Bakery Cookbook
- You Bake ‘em Dog Biscuits Cookbook
Trust me. Dogs swoon for homemade organic liver biscotti!
Photo by David Holloway/Animal Planet
Read More:Gotta Get My Puppy Fix
February 3rd, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
The Fifth Annual Oregon Truffle Festival concluded its run on Sunday, showcasing what gastronomy experts call the ultimate mushroom.
Truffles are found naturally throughout North American woodlands and are poised to become the next big culinary trend.
“With seven truffle orchards in production around the country, and dozens more about to reach producing age, an American truffle industry is about to be born, following in the footsteps of the American wine industry,” says festival organizer and mycologist Charles Lefevre, PhD.
Some of the state’s premier chefs prepared luscious dishes for the festival’s Grand Truffle Dinner, including Naomi Pomeroy of Beast (Crème Fraiche Tarts with Triple Cream, Shaved White Truffles & Mâche Salad with Black Truffle Vinaigrette) and Pascal Sauton of Carafe (Pacific Ling Cod Effeuilée with Foie Gras & Black Truffle Broth).
One of the festival’s highlights was the Truffle Dog Training Seminar, where curious canines learned to hunt for truffles (which grow underground) by detecting their unique aroma. Pigs have traditionally performed this job in Europe.
“The truffle dog’s role is not just to find truffles, but like a shopper squeezing avocados or sniffing strawberries, truffle dogs choose which truffles are ripe and ready to harvest,” says Dr. Lefevre, founder of New World Truffieres, Eugene, OR-based specialists in truffle cultivation.
The truffle business is projected to exceed $6 billion within the next 20 years, “rivaling many other agricultural commodities traded worldwide,” according to a feasibility study Dr. Lefevre conducted. As the study notes, truffles can be managed sustainably with organic farming methods and:
“With adequate support, cultivated and native truffles produced in Oregon could annually exceed $200 million in direct sales income; counting secondary economic benefits, the value of the industry could exceed $1.5 billion. These figures rival the current value of the state’s lucrative wine industry and could be greater if Oregon pursues truffle production with similar passion and focus.”
Truffles usually cost $300 to $500 per pound, according to the National Restaurant Association, but rarer varieties can fetch up to $4,000 per pound. For an affordable option, buy a high-quality organic truffle oil at your local natural food store (or online).
OrganicAuthority Publisher Laura Klein shares some of her favorite truffle-oil recipes here:
- Wild Mushroom and Black Truffle Organic Risotto
- Grilled Heirloom Truffle Potatoes
- Homemade Organic Ricotta Cheese Served with Black Truffle Oil.
Photo by John Valls
Read More:Teasing the Taste Buds with Truffles
November 26th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Dear Mom & Dad:
So, this is my first Turkey Day! Seems like a great opportunity to scavenge for whatever drops off the kitchen counter. I’m so there!
But Dr. Ron DeHaven, CEO of the American Veterinary Medical Association, is pooping on my organic poultry parade.
“This is the time of year that many veterinary hospitals report more emergency calls than any other time,” he says. “Often, this is associated with your pets getting into food that they simply shouldn’t have. Consider the dog that gets into that turkey carcass. Because of the high fat content, this can cause a really serious condition called pancreatitis.”
Dr. Ron is really beginning to bug me.
“Many of the worst poisonings during the holiday season occur when we’re not at home,” he adds. “Be sure after Thanksgiving dinner that you put that turkey carcass out in the trash, well out of reach of your pets.
“Also consider wrapped candies or foods that may be in holiday packages. Your pets have sensitive noses, so they could get into those things. If that happens while you’re not home, you wouldn’t be there to help them.”
C’mon, Mom, what’s next? Is Dr. Ron going to take away the furry slippers I steal? I want turkey! Today! Hurry! Aaargh!
No one’s listening to me. Whatever.
Happy freakin’ Thanksgiving. You’d better hide your socks.
The Charlie Chronicles
Read More:Charlie’s First Thanksgiving