June 25th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
I didn’t expect to write about dog poop twice in one week, but it’s a hot eco-topic—perhaps because tomorrow is Take Your Dog to Work Day. (Sorry, cats—you’re out of luck.)
Poo Free Parks, a Denver-based company that installs and maintains eco-friendly pet waste bags and dispensers, has launched a community-based program to eradicate dog waste in city parks and along waterways.
The first campaign will be rolled out in Poo Free Parks’ hometown, with expansion planned for other markets, including San Francisco and New York.
Working with city and county officials, the company will install and maintain at least 200 pet waste bag dispensers in Denver parks, at no cost to taxpayers. The dispensers are made from 100% recyclable aluminum, and the bags are 100% biodegradable (within 18 months).
“The service will be funded through cause marketing, aligning publicly minded businesses with a public need through an environmentally conscious effort,” says Kevin Patterson, manager of Denver Parks and Recreation. Sponsorships are available to help defray installation and maintenance costs.
“It’s good for the parks, the people, the planet and our cities,” says Poo Free Parks President Bill Airy. “Pet waste can ruin an otherwise beautiful park, creating health hazards, an unsightly mess, not to mention the large amounts of plastic waste that accumulate.”
According to Airy, the program will:
- Clean up parks, waterways and walkways
- Improve water quality in rivers, streams and lakes
- Reduce the amount of harmful plastics in landfills and oceans
- Save city and taxpayer dollars by delegating pet waste tasks to a private entity
- Offer employment opportunities to at-risk individuals from local rehabilitation networks
For Your Organic Bookshelf: The Brisk Walk: The Story of a New York City Dog Walker
Read More:Poo Free Parks
June 22nd, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Man’s best friend may be his dog, but Fido’s poop is another story altogether.
I’m continually amazed by dog owners who think of my lawn as a bank account, with plenty of deposits but no withdrawals. Many inconsiderate dog walkers simply don’t want to scoop the poop.
Environmentally speaking, doggie droppings expose us to several diseases caused by parasites like roundworms—potentially fatal infections in young children that can spread throughout the body.
Such infections are underdiagnosed. In fact, a recent study found that approximately 14% of Americans carry antibodies for dog and cat roundworms, meaning they’ve been exposed to the parasite.
“That’s why it’s so important that people pick up after their pets,” says Kevin R. Kazacos, DVM, PhD, a professor of veterinary parasitology at the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine in West Lafayette, IN. “The No. 1 thing that people can do to stop the spread of disease from their pets to their families is to regularly take the animal to a veterinarian. That’s the first line of defense. Secondly, people need to clean up their pets’ poop.”
Never allow children to play in areas soiled with pet or wild animal feces, Dr. Kazacos says. Kids who eat dirt also are susceptible to parasites.
“There are really a number of parasites that can affect your pets, including heartworm disease, roundworms and hookworms, and all of these can be, to varying degrees, very serious health problems,” says James O. Cook, DVM, a veterinarian in Lebanon, KY, and president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. “What’s worse, these can be zoonotic conditions, which can spread to the rest of the family. If your pets show any signs of infection, take them to your veterinarian as soon as possible. And when you obtain a new puppy or kitten, have your veterinarian treat them early in their life because they commonly have parasites without any symptoms.”
Common signs of parasite infection in dogs and cats include changes in appetite or coat, diarrhea, coughing and reduced activity, but many infected animals will not show any symptoms. Your veterinarian can detect a worm infection with a simple fecal test. If an infection is found, the vet may recommend a deworming program.
Editor’s Note: Check out Flush Puppies—biodegradable, water-soluble and flushable doodie bags.
For Your Organic Bookshelf: Parasites (Natural Pet Care Pocket Series)
Photo courtesy of AVMA/ARA
Read More:Poop Patrol
December 8th, 2008 - Leslie Billera
The amazing folks at Environmental Working Group are at it again…this time, protecting our pets!
The non-profit think tank’s latest study – the full results of which haven’t been released yet – tested 10 brands of dog food. Of those 10, they found that eight of them showed dangerous levels of fluoride.
While most of us think of fluoride as good for us, in high levels it can be very bad for humans and animals, causing brittle bones. Too much fluoride contributes to bone cancer (a big problem for big dogs), thyroid disruption and changes in behavior.
The top recommendation? Avoid any pet food containing bone meal.
Laura Klein, pictured here with one of her two dogs, Bamboo, recommends an organic diet for your pooch: read about the top five benefits of natural organic pet food, here!
Read More:Skip the Bone Meal When it Comes to Pet Food
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?
November 29th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
You feed your pets organic food and go out of your way to ensure they’re healthy. But the holidays pose special risks, so follow these tips from Dr. Lorraine Corriveau, a wellness veterinarian at Purdue University’s School of Veterinary Medicine (pictured here with Chili, a military macaw).
Chocolate: You may have more organic chocolate than usual around the house—lovely for humans, but toxic for pets (especially dogs) because it contains theobromine. Bittersweet and baking chocolate, the varieties most often found in kitchens during the holidays, contain more theobromine than the average candy bar. If your dog eats chocolate, call a veterinarian or your animal poison control center immediately.
Candles: Candles should never be left burning unattended. Flames and shadows are tantalizing to pets. Make sure lit candles are always kept a safe distance from them.
Decorative Plants: Some plants and greenery, including holly, ivy and mistletoe, can be very tempting, but they are toxic if a pet eats them. Keep all decorative plants out of reach or out of the home.
Tinsel: Decorating your tree? Cats and kittens seem to find shiny tinsel especially appealing. If eaten, thin pieces of string or tinsel can cause the intestines to bunch up and can even cut through the intestinal wall. Either could be fatal.
Electric cords: Light strands, loose wires and electric cords can be a serious hazard to your pet. Some animals, especially puppies, may chew cords and put themselves at risk of serious burns or electric shock.
Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 of this story.
Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger
Read More:Pets & the Holidays (Part 1)
April 20th, 2006 - Administrator
When people meet my dogs, Bamboo and Truffle, they are immediately drawn to their luxurious healthy coats. People invariably ask me what I feed my dogs. When I tell them I feed them organic dog food and organic fruits, veggies and meats they think I’m crazy. When they continue to ask me if I eat organic I say, “of course!” Their reaction: they immediately assume I am some sort of hippy (Do I look like a hippy? No!). I guess you can’t blame them, I used to think the same thing: people who eat organic foods and live a “non-toxic lifestyle” are “granola” people, and who would want to live like that and give up all my creature comforts!
It wasn’t until I went to culinary school that I discovered the true tasty treasures of organic food and one of the biggest secrets of the finest chefs in the world. The best chefs used nothing but the finest ingredients in their dishes which include using as many organic ingredients they can find. I was hooked.
As I got deeper into this organic thing, it started spilling over into my personal life. I began questioning what the heck is in all these personal and cleaning products I use everyday?!? Upon closer look at these products, I threw them all in the trash!
So back to why I feed my dog organic food. Well number one, after uncovering all the toxic chemicals, pesticides and other garbage, agribusiness and conventional food producers spray on their crops and put in their highly processed products, I can only imagine what’s in my dog’s food.
On the advice of my holistic veterinarian, I started feeding my first dog, Bamboo, fresh organic foods including vegetables, some fruits and of course meat in addition to her regular organic dog food, Karma Organic Food For Dogs . He theorized that a lot of the nutritional value in conventional dog food is lost in the processing of the food product. Thus, to ensure that Bamboo gets the nutritional vitamins and minerals she needs fresh organic and natural foods added to her daily diet. Well that made sense! After all, if she were living in the wild that is exactly what she’d be eating!
The result: Bamboo now has the most gorgeous coat I have ever seen (of course I am a little biased, but many people would agree with me). I now have a second dog, Truffle who is seven months old and I have her on the same diet. She, like Bamboo, was a rescue dog who at the time of her rescue virtually had no coat. Now her fur has a nice vibrant sheen to it and is incredibly healthy.
Now when people ask me “what do you feed your dogs” and I tell them organic dog food along with whole organic foods, I then ask them the same question, if they don’t answer organic dog food, I look at them as if they’re crazy!
My friends, the proof in the pudding, simply take one look at and feel my dog’s luxurious coat and there is little left to convince people of. Particularly when cancer rates, heart disease and obesity are on a steady increase in animals just as it is in humans. Now who’s crazy not to be eating natural and organic foods?
If you want to know where you can order organic pet foods, visit Only Natural Pet Store online.
By the way if you want to see a picture of Bamboo, check out her photo with me on my home page at www.OrganicAuthority.com .
Read More:Why I feed my Dogs Organic Food
November 30th, 2005 - Barbara Feiner
Actor Paul Newman has done it again—and this time, your canine companions will be the ones to swoon over the handsome screen legend.
Newman’s Own Organics recently expanded its line of organic pet food for dogs and cats, adding heart-shaped organic dog treats. Four flavors are available: vegetable, peanut butter, chicken and cheese.
Like all of the company’s premium pet foods, the treats are made with human-grade ingredients and organic grains and vegetables. They contain no wheat, corn, soy or hydrogenated oil, and they’re certified by Oregon Tilth to be free of pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, artificial preservatives and synthetic colors/dyes.
Paul Newman donates all of his after-tax profits from Newman’s Own Organics’ royalties to charitable organizations.
Read More:A Heart-y Organic Treat for Your Dog