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
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
July 11th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Most cats have a visceral reaction to catnip (Nepeta cataria), whose aromatic oils entice them to eat it, rub up against it, roll around on the floor and/or drool. (This is your cat on drugs…)
Growing your own organic catnip is a breeze. Tolerant of virtually any type of soil, the perennial thrives outdoors and in windowsill gardens. You can buy a packet of 450 certified organic catnip seeds for as little as $1.89.
Organic Cat Toys
As for organic cat toys, Duckyworld Products sells a variety of stuffed playthings, including 100% organic catnip pillow toys ($7.69) and the adorable Stinky Sardine ($8.75). The company’s toys are filled solely with 100% organic catnip—no cotton fillers, plastic pieces or other cheap mainstream stuffings.
DIY crafters should check out Holly Tse’s Make Your Own Cat Toys: Saving the Planet One Cat Toy at a Time ($11.95), which features more than 50 projects and lots of eco-friendly cat care tips.
Brew a Cup of Organic Catnip Tea
Humans are not immune to catnip’s botanical powers. Steep dried plant leaves in hot water, and you’ll enjoy a lemony mint tea.
Celebration Herbals sells a box of 24 ready-to-use organic catnip teabags for $4.89. The bags are chlorine-free and can be composted after use, and the box is made from recycled paper.
DIY Beauty Products
Organic catnip essential oil is a natural mosquito repellant, and you can use it to scent handmade bath and body products (soaps, lotions, bath salts). It can, however, be expensive: about $23 per fluid ounce. That said, a little goes a long way, so consider it an investment.
Read More:Frisky Felines—and Their Owners—Enjoy Organic Catnip
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
June 2nd, 2010 - Scott Shaffer
Help protect your pets from dangerous chemicals! Research shows that many flea collars for sale at major pet stores contain chemicals known to cause cancer and neurological damage to humans and pets. Luckily, there’s a nation-wide consumer-led movement underway to get PETCO and PetSmart to pull these dangerous products off their shelves. The Natural Resource Defense Council has a request for all pet-owners: go to your nearest PetSmart or PETCO and see if they’re selling flea collars with propuxor or tetrachlorvinphos. NRDC has typed up a handy check-list with all the products to look for. All they need from you is 15 minutes of your time and an email to [email protected] with the information you gathered.
It’s important for consumers to get out there so the NRDC has an accurate count of how many stores are still selling these dangerous products to pet-owners. It’s also important because, while regulation from the EPA has improved public health by a ton, movements led by informed citizens can get things done faster than the federal government.
So here’s your chance to become civically engaged! If you own a pet, care about pets, or just care about reducing the toxic chemicals floating around your neighborhood, please check out your local pet store and send a letter to the heads of the companies and ask them not to sell dangerous chemicals at their stores.
Here’s the list of the products you should avoid:
- Adams Flea & Tick Collar For Dogs (Large and Small)
- Adams Flea and Tick Collar for Cats and Kittens
- Adams Plus Flea & Tick Collar For Dogs (Large and Small)
- Bansect Flea & Tick Collar for Cats
- Bansect Flea & Tick Collar for Dogs
- Bio Spot Flea & Tick Collar For Dogs (Puppies, Small, and Large)
- BioSpot Flea and Tick Collar for Cats and Kittens
- Scratchex Color Full Formula 5 Flea & Tick Collar For Dogs
- Sentry Dual Action Flea & Tick Collar for Dogs
- Sentry PurrScriptions Dual Action Flea and Tick Collar for Cats
- Sergeant’s Double Duty Flea & Tick Collar for Dogs & Puppies
- Sergeant’s Dual Action Flea & Tick Collar for Dogs
- Vet-Kem Powerband Flea & Tick Collar For Dogs
- Zema Dual Action Flea & Tick Collar For Dogs
- Zodiac Featrol Flea & Tick Collar For Dogs
- Zodiac Fleatrol Flea and Tick Collar for Cats and Kittens
- Zodiac Tick Collar For Dogs
- Americare Rabon Collar
- Hartz 3 in 1 reflection Control Collar
- Hartz Ultra Guard Plus Flea and Tick Collar for Cats and Kittens
- Pet Principles by Hartz Collars
- Longlife 90 day Collar
Image Credit: Star5112
Read More:22 Toxic Products that Pet Stores Need to Ditch
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