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
August 11th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
There’s always a chance that dry pet food and treats may be contaminated with salmonella, so it’s particularly important to keep infants and toddlers away from them.
In fact, Procter & Gamble has expanded its recent recall of Iams veterinary and Eukanuba specialized dry pet foods because they may be contaminated.
More than 23,000 tons of dry dog and cat food were recalled during several salmonella outbreaks between 2006 and 2008, with one manufacturer closing its plant permanently.
During this time, 79 human contamination cases in 21 states were identified—48% of which involved children 2 and younger. More individuals may have become ill but failed to report it, according to a study released Monday in the journal Pediatrics. Illness was primarily associated with feeding pets in the kitchen (as opposed to kids putting pet food in their mouths).
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers the following suggestions:
- Purchase products in good condition, with no signs of package damage (dents or tears).
- Wash hands with hot water and soap—for at least 20 seconds—after handling dry pet foods and treats.
- Wash hands before preparing food and eating.
- Keep infants and toddlers away from pets’ feeding areas. Don’t allow them to touch or eat pet food.
- Wash pet food bowls, dishes and scooping utensils with soap and hot water after each use.
- Don’t use your pet’s feeding bowl as a scooping utensil. Use a clean, dedicated scoop or spoon.
- Dispose of old or spoiled pet food products in a safe manner (i.e., in a securely tied plastic bag to be placed in a covered trash receptacle).
- Promptly refrigerate or discard any unused, leftover wet pet food. Your refrigerator should be set at 40º F.
- Dry products should be stored in a cool, dry place (less than 80º F).
- If possible, store dry pet food in its original bag inside a clean, dedicated container with a lid, keeping the top of the bag folded closed.
- Keep pets away from food storage and preparation areas.
- Keep pets away from garbage and household trash.
Read More:Keep Pet Food Away from Curious Infants, Toddlers
June 22nd, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Pacoima, Calif.-based Natural Balance Pet Foods, Inc., a manufacturer of natural and organic pet foods, is voluntarily recalling its Sweet Potato & Chicken Dry Dog Food because it may be contaminated with salmonella.
The affected products, sold in 5- and 28-lb. bags, have a “Best By” date of June 17, 2011.
During routine FDA testing, a random product sample was found to be contaminated. No illnesses have been reported to date.
Recalled products were distributed in pet specialty stores in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
If you’ve purchased this product, return it to the store for a full refund. For additional information, call Natural Balance Pet Foods Customer Service at (800) 829-4493 (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PDT).
Salmonella Infection in Pets
Salmonella can infect humans and animals.
Infected pets may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Some pets will exhibit only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.
Infected, but otherwise healthy, pets can be carriers of salmonella, with the potential to infect other animals or humans. Owners can also become infected after handling dry pet food, especially if they fail to wash their hands.
Read More:Natural Balance Issues Dog Food Recall
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 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
November 8th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Charlie, my dog-niece, is now 6 months old. As with 75% of pet owners, we consider her to be an important member of the family. She enjoys a variety of canine creature comforts: sleeping in bed with her “parents,” vacationing in the Hamptons and exercising during play dates with her pals.
The same mindset applies to Charlie’s food. My sister opts for a veterinarian-recommended dog food, made from only the most wholesome, organic, chemical-free ingredients—and she’s not alone.
“Gourmet foods and flavors once considered upscale and limited only to fine-dining establishments are now appearing in mass channels such as grocery stores and even in commercial dog food,” says Lucien Vendome, executive chef for Nestlé.
Dogs can also dine on pet foods that contain unique ingredients, such as fruits, vegetables and good-for-you grains. For example, some dog foods are now formulated with accents of antioxidant-rich cranberries and sweet potatoes. Others deliver excellent nutrition through whole grains like oatmeal and brown rice.
As more of us embrace a healthy lifestyle and eat natural and organic foods, we choose similar options for our pets. Purchases of natural/organic pet foods and treats have skyrocketed.
Nutritional supplements are another trend, with pet foods that support joints and omega fatty acids that promote a healthy skin and coat. Advanced formulas are available at veterinarians’ offices for pets with specific health conditions.
The Charlie Chronicles
Study findings courtesy of Nestlé
Read More:Dogs Go Organic
March 29th, 2007 - Barbara Feiner
By Lucy Postins, Pet Nutritionist, The Honest Kitchen
Consumers should take time to read pet food labels, familiarize themselves with what various ingredients really are, research the companies that make the products they buy—and then decide what they would (and would not) like their pets to eat.
As pet owners come to terms with the gravity of this most recent, widespread tragedy in the pet food industry, it is important to learn as much as possible from what has occurred, to protect our animal companions and to try to evoke change in an industry that has become a “catch-all” for industrial and human-food byproducts and off-casts.
Many people are relying on the Internet for resources on the recall. Don’t forget elderly neighbors, family members or others who may not have computer access and may still be unaware of the gravity of the situation. The extent of this latest recall makes it impossible to convey brand names, lot numbers, batch codes and UPCs effectively without computer access. Helping those who are still in the dark to double-check the food they’ve bought could save lives.
Pet industry regulations allow manufacturers to use ingredients that most people would never knowingly give to their animal companions. Many conventional “grocery brand” pet foods contain byproducts such as feet, beaks, feathers, blood and other animal parts unfit for human consumption. Chemical preservatives, including ethoxyquin, TBHQ, BHA and BHT, are utilized to prolong shelf life, and grains or grain parts that are hard to digest and mostly unsuitable for cats and dogs (wheat, corn, rice and soy) are often used as a protein source instead of meat.
Understanding what various pet food ingredients are—and why they are included in some products—is an important part of a pet owner’s responsibility when selecting a food for their companion. The AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) formal definition of gluten is “the tough, viscid nitrogenous substance remaining when the flour or wheat or other grain is washed to remove the starch.” Why is it included? It costs far less than meat and other wholesome ingredients!
Many customers have been particularly shocked to discover just how many different brands can be made by one major conglomerate (even well-respected products that are not affected by the recall). And more disturbing, a vast number of products under so many different labels, names and price points could all contain the same low-grade ingredient. In many cases, products with appealing names and labels that are marketed as “veterinary” or “natural” in some way have turned out to be exactly the same as the generic store brands that are sold for a fraction of the cost!
The following checklist can be used to develop some insight into companies a customer is considering:
Are they willing to share ingredient data with customers?
How well do they respond to basic customer service questions? What about complex inquiries warranting a nutritional consultation?
Do they use whole or organic ingredients?
What are their product innovations or other features that set them apart from their competition or somehow raise the bar?
What are the company’s values?
Is the company privately owned? Are they willing to disclose who they are owned by?
Will they disclose if they make their own products or contract out manufacturing to another vendor?
The pet food aisle can be a daunting place, with an overwhelming array of pretty packets and marketing tactics on shelves. Pet owners must take the time to understand the options available for their budget. Most products sold in convenience stores or supermarkets (with the exception of some natural and health food stores) are substandard.
Pet guardians should buy from specialty pet stores with staff who will take the time to walk them through the options. If you can’t get the advice you need, shop elsewhere. A store that has taken the time to carry more reputable, high-class brands, as well as raw and natural products, will generally have well-trained staff who can help owners in their purchasing decisions. The Whole Dog Journal is an excellent, unbiased resource for product reviews and opinion.
As more customers begin to educate themselves on the issue of pet food manufacturing and then start to expect better quality, the industry will slowly but surely be forced to look at itself and readdress which ingredients are acceptable for use in pet food products. Perhaps even AAFCO will reconsider some of the obscene substances that are unfit for human consumption, currently allowed in pet foods, and they’ll become obsolete altogether.
Read More:How Can We Learn From a Pet Food Recall?