An average size dog should live for 27 years - unless you don't feed them healthy food! The longest reported dog life span was 29.5 years.
But the average life span of a mid-size dog in the USA is about 12.8 years. It's so sad and such a shame that our beloved pets are dying far too soon. A primary cause of poor pet health and the much shorter life span of North American dogs is poor nutrition! (This is also true for humans!)
Aging is NOT a disease. A dog which gets good nutrition can remain healthy, active, and free of nutrition-related diseases well beyond the onset of "old age" at ten years - and can avoid the unnecessary discomforts and pains that are mistakenly blamed on "old age" when the real cause is poor nutrition.
Check the Ingredient List of your dog food (wet AND dry types) and treats, and if it lists "wheat gluten" or "rice gluten" or "rice concentrate" you should STOP FEEDING IT TO YOUR DOG NOW!
These ingredients imported from China were the ones contaminated with Melamine, which in 2007 caused the death of over 20 thousand American dogs and cats. They are not necessary for dog or cat nutrition, being a source of low quality plant proteins; but are used as a cheap, cost-reducing substitute for some of the needed animal protein in cat and dog foods. There remains a risk that these Chinese imports could again be mixed with melamine by crooked suppliers to fake a higher protein rating and thus increase the selling price; and that U.S. inspectors may not discover the tainted pet food ingredients before they are used in pet foods that injure or kill American pets.
Wouldn't you wish your pet a long life in good health? Do you love your dog enough to take a little time to learn how you can help your faithful friend avoid unnecessary diseases and live a much longer and healthier life?
All you need to do is learn a little about dog nutrition and how to read the often confusing and sometimes downright deceptive ingredient and nutrition labels on the dog food you choose for your pet, so you can avoid the unhealthy brands and choose the ones which are best for your dog's health and quality of life. Read on...
Life's Abundance Inc. with headquarters in Jupiter, Florida, is a supplier of holistic dog and cat foods NOT affected by the pet food recall. Their Life's Abundance dry food and Instinctive Choice canned food are holistic and high-nutrition pet foods made with only safe, quality ingredients (NO wheat, NO corn, NO glutens, and NO byproducts - and NO artificial preservatives like BHA or BHT or ethoxyquin). All their dog and cat foods are formulated by a famous U.S. holistic veterinarian, Dr Jane Bicks DVM, manufactured in the USA in processing plants which are also APHIS certified to sell to the European market, where standards of quality and safety for pet foods are stricter than in the USA. All products are shipped fresh (within 45 to 60 days of date of manufacture) from the nearest distribution center in Florida or California directly to the door of pet owners in all states and territories of the USA. Pet products are also delivered to U.S. Military post offices worldwide. All ingredients are sourced in the USA, and NO ingredients come from China.
And all their products come with a money-back guarantee, so if your dog does not like her dog food or treats you can request a refund from Life's Abundance.
The Massive Menu Foods Pet Food Recall Started With Chinese Wheat Gluten Tainted with Melamine
This article is about pet foods sold in the U.S.A. and Canada, but note that some of the ingredients containing melamine were also sent to Europe. Melamine has also been found in corn gluten used in dry pet food in South Africa.
The U.S. FDA also has discovered that some of the Diamond Foods recalled pet products made in October 2006 in South Carolina, USA, which were tainted with aflatoxin (deadly to dogs) had been exported to at least 29 countries, including countries within the European Union.
The massive pet food recall in March 2007 started when a shipment of wheat gluten from China was found to contain a toxic chemical called aminopterin which is used as a rat poison in some countries outside the USA. It was previously marketed as a cancer drug, then used illegally as a drug to induce abortions (until it was found that in nearly 50% of the failed abortions the babies were being born malformed).
Glutens are glycoproteins extracted from plants like wheat, corn, barley and oats. Corn meal gluten is the most commonly used ingredient to increase the percentage of protein in pet food without having to include the more expensive high-quality animal protein from real meat. Other glutens often used in cheap dog food are wheat gluten and rice gluten.
Though first reported by the New York State Food Lab, the FDA labs were NOT able to confirm the presence of aminopterin in the foods that killed the cats and dogs. But they later discovered the wheat gluten imported from China by ChemNutra of Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, contained melamine, an industrial chemical made from urea, which when mixed with formaldehyde under high heat and pressure produces a pliable melamine resin used in making hard plastics (e.g. Melamine dishes, Formica, Arborite, floor laminates).
Melamine is used to make crop fertilizers, and also used as a rat poison in some countries such as China (but banned in the USA for use as a rodenticide).
It was logically assumed that this rat poison accidentally found its way into the Chinese wheat gluten. But this later proved to be a false assumption.
Recent reports revealed that adding melamine to feed products is a widespread practice in China because it raises the nitrogen level, which appears to increase the protein content of the feeds it is added to (even though it adds NO nutritional value). A commonly used method for doing a protein analysis of animal feed is by measuring the amount of ammonia that is released by the feed product when it is chemically treated to release the nitrogen in the protein molecules. More nitrogen means more ammonia is released, which indicates more protein was present in the feed.
The deceptively higher protein content of the adulterated feed product increases the value and commands a higher price for the cheating supplier. Apparently, adding a little RAT POISON to a feed product did not concern the unscrupulous sellers of the wheat gluten that resulted in the deaths of thousands of North American pets.
In the USA its use as a rodent poison or feed additive is illegal - so any made-in-America wheat gluten would not likely have contained any of the deadly melamine. But in spite of the over-abundance of wheat grown in the USA (where some growers are even paid by the government with taxpayer dollars to NOT grow more wheat on their land), the pet food maker chose to use wheat gluten imported from China, where health and safety standards are poorly enforced.
Wheat gluten should not even be an ingredient in your dog's food!
In its own routine taste testing conducted quarterly by Menu Foods, 9 out of 20 dogs and cats had reportedly died of melamine poisoning that led to acute kidney failure.
Menu Foods, a large Canadian-owned pet food processor who received and used imported Chinese wheat gluten brokered by an American importer, did a "voluntary recall" of the 101 brands of wet dog and cat foods made in its two U.S. plants from December 3, 2006, and March 6, 2007. Note that Menu Foods has since moved that date BACK to November 8, 2006.
The initial Menu Foods recall in March 2007 involved all these brands of wet dog food made at its two American plants:
America's Choice, Preferred Pets, Authority, Award, Best Choice, Big Bet, Big Red, Bloom, Bruiser, Cadillac, Companion, Demoulas Market Basket, Shep Dog, Food Lion, Giant Companion, Great Choice, Hannaford, Hill Country Fare, Hy-Vee, Key Food, Laura Lynn, Loving Meals, Main Choice, Mixables, Nutriplan, Nutro Max, Nutro Natural Choice, Nutro, Ol'Roy, Paws, Pet Essentials, Pet Pride, President's Choice, Price Chopper, Priority, Publix, Roche Bros, Save-A-Lot, Schnucks, Springsfield Pride, Sprout, Stater Bros, Total Pet, My True Friend, Western Family, White Rose, Winn Dixie and Your Pet.
This Menu Foods recall included 60 million cans and pouches of cat and dog foods. Would 9 out of 20 dogs and cats who might have eaten those recalled pet foods also have died from melamine poisoning? By May 2007, the estimates of actual pet deaths ran as high as 14 thousand!
Soon the situation looked even worse...
On March 16, 2007 Nestlé Purina PetCare Company announced a voluntarily withdrawal of its 5.3 ounce Mighty Dog® brand pouch products that were produced by Menu Foods from December 3, 2006 through March 14, 2007. Then on March 30, Nestlé Purina PetCare Company voluntarily recalled all varieties of its ALPO® Prime Cuts in Gravy wet dog food with specific date codes.
On April 10, 2007, a U.S. chain of veterinary clinics estimated that as many as 39,000 dogs and cats were injured by eating the melamine-tainted pet food manufactured by Menu Foods.
Symptoms of Melamine Poisoning in Dogs and Cats
The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advice to cat and dog owners is:
"...if your pet exhibits a sudden on-set of symptoms including loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, stop feeding the pet food and contact your veterinarian." They state that the symptoms are likely to appear within a few days.
Early symptoms of melamine poisoning in dogs and cats include:
a sudden change in urination patterns, an increase in water consumption, drinking too much water or not drinking at all, loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, disorientation, a sudden change in personality, and perhaps the sudden onset of bad breath.
Melamine poisoning can cause kidney failure and death in dogs and cats. If you see these symptoms in your pet, contact your veterinarian IMMEDIATELY!. Early treatment with intravenous fluids might save your pet's life. (Cats are especially vulnerable to kidney failure.)
A pet owner might wonder if increasing profits by importing cheap wheat gluten from far-away China - even though the USA and Canada are major producers of wheat - was more important to MANY pet food makers and marketers than providing safe and nutritious foods for the precious dogs and cats of their loyal and trusting American and Canadian customers.
The brands that contained melamine-tainted Chinese wheat gluten include:
Alpo, America's Choice, Eukanuba, Hill's, IAMS, Nutriplan, Paws, Preferred Pets, President's Choice, Purina, and Science Diet.
The Menu Foods recall listed 101 brands of cat and dog food that contained Chinese wheat gluten tainted with rat poison, mostly the cheap supermarket re-labelled brands.
But even some popular premium-priced brands from major pet food manufacturers like Purina (ALPO and Mighty Dog) were involved in the recall of poisoned pet foods, including one (Prescription Diet from Hill's Pet Nutrition) that was only sold by veterinarians!
On April 5, 2007, Sunshine Mills Inc. of Red Bay, Alabama, recalled dog biscuits made in March 2007 from the same Chinese wheat gluten poisoned with melamine. The affected brands include:
Lassie Lamb and Rice, Nurture Chicken & Rice, Nurture Lamb & Rice, Pet Life Large, Pet Life Extra Large, Pet Life Large Variety, Pet Life Large Peanut Butter, and Pet Life People Pleasers Dog Treats.
In April 2007, Del Monte recalled some pet treat products: Gravy Train Beef Sticks, Jerky Treats, and Pounce Meaty Morsels. Ol' Roy (a private label sold by Wal-Mart) recalled its Beef Flavor Jerky Strips and Beef Flavor Snack Stick dog treats.
More recent (April 23, 2007) dog food recalls involve a concentrated rice protein known as rice gluten from China, which was imported after August 2006 by Willbur-Ellis of San Francisco and shipped to 5 pet food manufacturers in the USA. Not until April 2007 was it found to contain melamine, an industrial chemical used as a rat poison in China and some other countries, but banned in the USA as a rodenticide.
The recall on April 23, 2007, affects only the dog foods which contain rice gluten or rice protein concentrate sold under the following brands:
Blue Buffalo, Canine Caviar Pet Foods, Costco/Kirkland Signature, Diamond Pet Food, Doctors Foster & Smith, Harmony Farms, Harmony Farms Treats, Mulligan Stew Pet Food, Natural Balance, Royal Canin, Royal Canin Veterinary Diet, and SmartPac.
Blue Buffalo, a small premium pet food maker which ran advertising soon after the initial recall began and boasted about using safe, quality ingredients, was later embarrassed when the company had to recall a third of its product line. Those products were actually manufactured under contract by American Nutrition, who used the tainted rice gluten from China in pet foods it made for all of the above sellers.
Another manufacturer, Natural Balance Pet Foods, was inspected and initiated a voluntary recall of food containing rice protein concentrate which was contaminated with melamine. The recalled dog foods are:
Venison and Brown Rice canned and bagged dog foods, and Venison and Brown Rice dog treats.
On April 26, 2007, Diamond Pet Foods announced a voluntary withdrawal of three canned dog food and cat food formulas manufactured by American Nutrition:
Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul Kitten Formula (5.5 oz. cans), Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul Puppy Formula (13 oz. cans), and Diamond Lamb & Rice Formula for Dogs (13 oz. cans). American Nutrition initiated a recall for all canned products it made which contain rice protein concentrate.
On April 27, 2007, the U.S. FDA began to seize and detain all shipments of the following food products imported from China. Note that some might be used in human food products such as food bars and protein powders. It may be wise to err on the safe side and avoid any products for pets or people which contain these items, until you can be sure they were NOT imported from China.
Wheat Gluten, Rice Gluten, Rice Protein, Rice Protein Concentrate, Corn Gluten, Corn Gluten Meal, Corn By-Products, Soy Protein, Soy Gluten Proteins (includes amino acids and protein hydrosylates), and Mung Bean Protein.
A scientist, Perry Martos, at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, analyzed the crystals found in the kidneys of animals which died of melamine poisoning. He found them to be approximately 70 percent cyanuric acid and 30 percent melamine, and extremely insoluble. Tests where melamine and the cyanuric acid in samples of cat urine were mixed together resulted in a nearly immediate formation of insoluble crystals that were identical to crystals found in the kidneys of poisoned animals. Two other substances (ammelide and ammeline) which are related to melamine are also being investigated. This may be the mechanism by which melamine causes death through kidney failure.
Cyanuric acid is a chemical commonly added to swimming pools as a "stabilizer" to keep chlorine from breaking down. How did this chemical get into the bodies of all the cats and dogs that died after ingesting pet foods containing the Chinese melamine? Did they all drink water from swimming pools - or did the cyanuric acid enter the feed supply through cross-contamination before the melamine got into the pet foods?
Richard Goldstein of the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine says that it was likely the result of bacterial metabolism of melamine. Cyanuric acid is a known intermediate byproduct of bacterial metabolism of melamine. Bacteria breaking down melamine to form cyanuric acid, which then interacted with newly ingested melamine to form the hard crystals? Has the mystery been solved?
That pet food recall of so many brands of cat and dog food should be a "wake up call" to pet owners! But the deaths of thousands of beloved pets were perhaps not in vain... for now many cat and dog owners might start to pay more critical attention to the kind of food they feed to the precious pets that depend on them.
Read on... and you will learn some important facts about dog nutrition and health, what many supermarket brand name dog foods are actually made from (you will be shocked and disgusted!), how to interpret ingredient labels on dog food, how to avoid the dog foods with low-nutrition or unhealthy ingredients, and how to choose the most healthy foods your your dog.
And, what's most important, learn how you can help your dog or cat live a longer life - and enjoy with you an active life without the discomfort of debilitating diseases.
First, one surprising thing you should be aware of is that on both human and pet nutrition labels in the USA, what is listed as "100%" of the "recommended daily allowance" (RDA) actually refers to the amount required for "adequate" health - not optimal good health! A "100 percent" RDA rating is really about a MINIMAL nutrition level, and not about "the best nutrition".
Some might say that's the difference between "not being diseased or slowly starving to death" and "being healthy and fit and full of life". You might want to get more than this minimal nutrition for yourself and your pet - and you certainly don't want to get less!
Read more about Dog Nutrition below. But first, here are some good reasons why you would want to feed your dog the most nutritious food you can afford. The long term benefits to you and your dog may far outweigh the short term savings on low-priced dog foods with low-quality ingredients.
Does Better Food and Better Health for Your Pet Really Cost More?
If you are concerned about the cost of feeding your dog healthier food, you may surprised to learn that a more nutritious dog food brand with high-quality fresh ingredients and no unhealthy fillers can actually cost the same or LESS per month than an unhealthy dog food with less nutrition and more unhealthy ingredients - because you don't need to feed your dog as much of the nutrition-rich food as the cheap dog food with a lower nutrition value.
Dogs and cats will instinctively seek to eat more of a low-nutrition food to get enough of the nutrition they need. So they just end up eating more of the cheap pet foods with the low-quality ingredients and useless fillers. Even though the quality pet foods cost more per can or bag, you can feed your pet smaller servings of the more nutritious food. Your net cost may only be a little more than you would pay for the cheap pet food.
Feeding your dog a more nutrient-rich and all-natural dog food helps keep your pet free of diseases and allergies and digestive problems, with a healthy and shiny coat and efficient digestion (and less smelly poop to scoop) - and also helps keep your dog lean and active, not fat and lazy.
Obesity in dogs, like obesity in humans, increases risk of serious diseases and shortens life span.
When cheap dog foods with low-quality vegetable proteins, too many carbohydrates, and the less nutritious ingredients like rendered byproducts and ground up chicken bones, feet and feathers are fed to your pet, it will tend to eat MORE of the food to try to get the proteins and other nutrition its body needs - but will also get EVEN MORE of the cereals and other carbohydrates that make your dog FAT!
Dogs are omnivores that need to eat vegetables and real meat and fowl and fish, such as the kind that comes from healthy cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and fish. They also need fats from these same animal sources.
Dogs DO NOT need "byproducts" from rendering plants which process diseased dead animal carcasses, euthanized dogs and cats, rotting road kill, or chicken heads, feet and feathers.
Dogs DO NOT need fats and oils made from used, rancid restaurant cooking oils, or extracted from the rotting waste products thrown into rendering vats.
Dogs DO NOT need corn products, soy products, wheat products, gluten meal, bone meal, and fillers like peanut hulls.
Dogs lack the enzymes to digest corn. It is mostly undigestible and passes right through a dog. So why would CORN be a main ingredient in a commerical dog food? In fact, if you see TWO types of corn, such as "corn meal" or "corn gluten" or "ground corn" in the TOP FIVE items on the Ingredient List of a dog food, quite likely there is more useless corn in the dog food than the high-quality animal proteins a dog really needs to stay healthy. Both you and your dog are getting short-changed! You are paying for useless filler, and your dog is getting less of the nutrition he really needs. (Not to mention that corn is often a cause of food allergies in dogs and cats.)
And dogs DO NOT need artificial food colorings that fool you into assuming that inferior animal byproducts and cereals shaped by extruders into "meaty chunks" are really fresh red meat. They do not need the wheat gluten used to thicken the "gravy" added to those extruded fake "meats" made from grains and rendered animal byproducts just so the awful, overcooked concoction will seem tasty to your dog.
And dogs certainly don't need meat from animals that were fed antibiotics, steroids, artificial hormones, and genetically-modified grains or other GMOs like soy beans. To minimize the development of food allergies in dogs avoid foods containing artificial preservatives and dyes, and protein sources which may contain antibiotics and various growth hormones.
Human Foods Which Are Toxic To Dogs
If you suspect that your dog or cat has ingested a toxic or poisonous substance, you can call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in the USA at 1-888-426-4435 or 1-888-4-ANI-HELP. If it came from a can or bottle or package, have the packaging at hand so you can read the ingredients to the person on the phone. (Do NOT give your pet any human medications or over-the-counter drugs like Aspirin or Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen (Tylenol®), for some can kill a dog or cat. Human medications are the #1 cause of reported dog deaths from poisoning. Keep medicine bottles out of reach, for a dog can easily chew through a child-proof medicine container.)
You are not likely to see these next items in a commercial dog food. But just in case you don't already know, these common human foods can be toxic or even fatal foods for your dog. (Do not assume, if your dog has eaten these foods before with no apparent harm, that they won't be harmful or fatal when a larger amount is consumed. And note that the effects may not always show up immediately, so you may not have associated the symptoms with a particular toxic food your dog ate a day or two earlier.)
Chocolate and Cocoa (Theobromine is a methylxanthine compound similar to caffeine. Both can be fatal to dogs and birds. Do not let your dog ingest types of chocolate that contain higher levels of Theobromine, which are pure cocoa powder, baker's chocolate, and dark chocolate (in that order), since ingesting even smaller quantities may be toxic. Just two ounces of baker's chocolate can kill a small dog! Be aware that cocoa bean mulch used in gardens may get eaten by dogs, and it also contains high levels of Theobromine (300 to 1200 mg per ounce). Ingesting over 9 ounces can kill a 50 pound dog. Early symptoms of chocolate toxicity or caffeine ingestion are: hyperactivity, sudden excitement or "manic" type of behavior, muscle tremors, rapid heart rate, and increased urination - similar to an overdose of caffeine in humans. If chocolate or caffeine ingestion was observed, inducing vomiting within two hours may help. Get veterinary treatment IMMEDIATELY for at high doses death can occur within 12 hours. See more details below.),
Caffeine (raises a dog's heart rate to a dangerous level and has been known to cause seizures, and sometimes death. Early symptoms of caffeine ingestion occur quickly and include: hyperactivity or excitement, rapid heart rate, muscle tremors, and increased urination. Note that coffee beans, instant coffee powder, coffee grounds, guarano beans, tea, iced tea, "energy" drinks, weight loss pills, and many soft drinks contain high levels of caffeine which can affect a dog's central nervous system and heart. Severity of symptoms depends on the dose per pound of body weight, so small dogs and cats are more at risk. Other symptoms of caffeine ingestion are: vomiting, extreme restlessness or hyperactivity, heart palpitations, and even a quick death. Give lots of water and take your dog to the vet immediately. Note that both caffeine and nicotine are narcotic drugs which affect the brain and nervous system, and less than a drop of the pure substance could kill a large human or dog as quickly as a heroin overdose.),
Nicotine and Tobacco (from cigarettes and cigars or their butts, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, nicotine patches, and nicotine gum can be fatal to dogs, cats, birds - and human babies - if they are eaten. Severity of symptoms depends on dose per pound of body weight, so small animals and humans are most at risk. Early symptoms of nicotine ingestion may appear within an hour, and include: hyperactivity, salivation, panting, vomiting, and diarrhea. Advanced symptoms include: rapid heart rate, muscle tremors or twitching, muscle weakness, collapse, coma, and cardiac arrest. Give lots of water and take your pet to the vet immediately.),
Alcohol (can cause disorientation and lead to injury, sickness, urination problems, or even coma or death from alcohol poisoning. Even one ounce can be lethal. Alcohol is present in beer, wine, liquor, liqueurs, hard cider, alcohol based "cooler" drinks, vanilla extract and some herbal tinctures. Also see "Raw Bread Dough" below.),
Grapes and Raisins (contain an unknown substance which can cause acute renal failure in some dogs. Even a handful could cause death. It is unknown why some dogs seem not to be affected, while others react to a small amount and die. "Grapeseed extract" is safe, and is used as a rich source of powerful antioxidants called proanthocyanidins in pet foods.),
Peanuts and Sunflower Seeds (These, and peanut butter, are not normally toxic. But they and particularly the hulls are too often contaminated with Aspergillus fungus mold that produces Aflatoxin which can cause liver damage and death for dogs. Corn and wheat are also very frequent hosts for this mold. Levels of Aflatoxin too low to harm pigs or people can be fatal to dogs and birds, who are the MOST sensitive to it. Even the U.S. FDA "acceptable" concentration of aflatoxin contamination in peanuts fit for humans - a maximum of 20 ppm - may not protect your dog. Note that cooking can kill the fungus, but will NOT deactivate any of the poisonous aflatoxin which it may have already produced. Thus feeding sunflower seeds, peanuts or peanut hulls to a dog may seem too much of a risk for Aflatoxin Poisoning.),
Moldy foods (If it's a white/gray, feathery mold like Aspergillus which produced aflatoxin it can be severely toxic or fatal to dogs and cats. This mold often grows on wheat, corn, soy beans and peanuts. Other kinds of fungal molds also produce toxins which are harmful or fatal to dogs.),
Raw Salmon and Trout (can be infected with a parasite called Nanophyetus salmincola, a type of trematode worm which is often infected with a type of bacteria known as Neorickettsia helminthoeca that only affects canines, not other animals. Dogs can show symptoms such as weakness, loss of appetite, vomiting, swollen glands, and fever - and 90% of untreated dogs die. Thorough cooking kills the both the worm and the bacteria.),
Cooked Chicken Bones (Raw chicken bones are flexible and not usually a problem, but when cooked they get brittle and can splinter into sharp little daggers that tear your dog's throat or intestines. Some other types of cooked bones like pork ribs also get brittle and may pose a danger to your dog. Fake rawhide bones sometimes cause choking when hard pieces break off, so keep an eye on your dog while he chews them.),
Raw Bread Dough and Bread-making Yeast (The yeast which causes bread and pizza dough to rise will ferment and expand and produce alcohol in a dog's warm stomach, which can cause alcohol poisoning, disorientation, discomfort, vomiting or unsuccessful attempts at vomiting, bloating, and even rupture of the intestines - even in small amounts, since the raw dough expands to many times its original size. Small dogs are most at risk. If large amounts were eaten or you see significant swelling of the stomach - known as "bloat" - EMERGENCY TREATMENT is necessary. Do not waste time! Get your dog to the vet right away, as bloat can quickly cause serious problems and even the rapid onset of death.),
Raw Cookie Dough or Cake Mix (The baking powder which creates carbon dioxide gas bubbles to expand the cookie or cake mix can create gas in the warm stomach and intestines of a dog which eats the unbaked mix. The expansion of the raw mixture can cause flatulence, discomfort, and bloating. Ingesting large amounts could possibly cause a rupture of the intestines, so in this case, inducing vomiting as soon as possible may help. If significant swelling of the stomach or "bloat" has occurred, take your dog for emergency treatment IMMEDIATELY!),
Potatoes (The starchy white flesh inside potatoes is not harmful, but potato skins which are still green and any green sprouts or "eyes" contain the alkaloid solanum which is poisonous to dogs and humans. Peeled raw potatoes with the sprouts or "eyes" removed are a safe treat loved by some dogs, but keep bags of new potatoes and discarded potato peelings out of reach of your dog.),
Avocado (contains a toxic compound called persin - especially in the skins - which can damage the heart, lung and other tissues of a dog. The high fat content of avocado fruit can trigger vomiting or even lead to pancreatitis, so keep your dog away from guacamole dip made from avocado. The hard pit inside is also toxic, and can cause choking or intestinal blockage if swallowed.),
Fruit pips (The seeds, stems and leaves of apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, pears and plums all contain cyanogenic glycosides, some of which have the potential to cause vomiting and loss of appetite in dogs and cats. Ingesting large amounts can cause weakness, staggering, difficulty breathing, hyperventilation - or even shock, coma and death. The fruit pulp is not toxic, and cut up fruit with the seeds, pits and stems removed is a safe treat for some dogs.),
Citrus Fruits (The peels, fruit, and seeds of grapfruits, oranges, lemons, and limes contain citric acid, limonin and volatile oils which can cause gastrointestinal irritation such as vomiting and diarrhea if ingested by a dog. Feeding small amounts of the peeled fruit with seeds removed is likely harmless, but avoid letting your dog ingest larger quantities. Ingesting citrus-based household cleaners and furniture polishes with orange oil or lemon oil can cause the above symptoms as well as central nervous system depression.)
Mushrooms (The ones eaten by humans are safe, but feeding mushrooms to your dog might lead him to eat wild mushrooms which may be poisonous enough to cause sickness or even death. Remove all wild mushrooms from your yard as a precaution.),
Milk (Like some humans, about 50% of dogs are "lactose intolerant", i.e. unable to digest Lactose, which is also called "milk sugar". This can cause stomach cramps, flatulence, foul smelling excrement, and diarrhea. Cheese and plain yogurt contains less lactose, and most dogs can tolerate small amounts as a treat. Do NOT feed a dog a flavored yogurt which contains sugar or Xylitol. Balkan style plain yogurt contains biofriendly bacteria which help digest food in dogs and humans.),
Onions and Garlic (In dogs, cats and other mammals, large quantities or continual consumption of the Allium family of plants, such as raw onions, garlic, or chives contain thiosulphate, which can cause red blood cells to rupture and result in Heinz-Body Hemolytic Anemia. Ingesting 2.5 grams of dehydrated onions per pound of body weight causes hemolysis and anemia in dogs, especially in Akitas and Japanese Simbas. The onion powder in human baby foods can make kittens sick. To stop eating onions and garlic can reverse the anemia. Garlic has a lesser effect than onions, and a small amount may be safe. When garlic powder - NOT garlic salt - is added occasionally to a dog's food it may serve as a useful flea, lice, tick, and mosquito repellant.),
Broccoli, (is nutritious for dogs in small amounts, but if the amount exceeds about ten percent of their daily food intake the substance isothiocyanate can cause gastrointestinal irritation.),
Tomatoes and Rhubarb (The stems and leaves contain oxalates, which can cause bladder stones.),
Macadamia Nuts (Eating as little as six nuts can cause anxiety, weakness, muscle tremors, and paralysis of hindquarters of a dog, which usually ends in a few days. Cause is unknown.),
Walnuts (can cause gastroenteritis in dogs),
All tree nuts (contain high levels of phosphorus which can lead to the formation of bladder stones in dogs. Tree nuts like Brazil nuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts sold for human consumption are often contaminated with very low levels of poisonous aflatoxin from Aspergillus mold which the U.S. FDA considers safe for humans. Yet that same low concentration may be toxic to dogs, which, along with birds, are the animals MOST sensitive to this poison.),
Turkey Skin or Ham Fat (Any high-fat meal can cause acute pancreatitis in dogs that have a fixed diet like commercial dog food and are not used to high-fat foods like these. Symptoms include vomiting and pain in stomach. Emergency treatment is needed.),
Xylitol (is a natural-source sweetener found in sugar-free candy and gum. Eating large amounts can cause a drop in blood sugar for dogs - but not humans - which can lead to weakness, staggering, and other symptoms of hypoglycemia). A sudden drop in blood sugar could result in loss of coordination and seizures, sometimes less than 30 minutes after your dog ingests enough Xylitol.)
More on Chocolate... Compared to cocoa or dark chocolate, milk chocolate contains much less Theobromine - which is similar to Caffeine but weaker. Cocoa powder and dark chocolate actually provide many health benefits to humans, but a dog's metabolism can only process a small amount of Theobromine, and consuming too much becomes toxic and can cause heart failure or pancreatitis. So you should avoid feeding your dog cocoa powder or chocolate candies, or leaving them where your dog might find them and eat a large quantity, for in sufficient amounts chocolate can be fatal to a dog. Occasionally sharing a SMALL quantity of MILK chocolate (like a few "M&M" candies) is not likely to harm your dog, but the smaller the dog, the less chocolate it takes to poison it - and this will condition your dog to seek chocolate. "White chocolate" contains little real chocolate or Theobromine because it is made from cocoa butter, but it is very high in fats and refined sugar.
Remember to avoid using cocoa bean mulch for landscaping or gardening - for your dog may be attracted to the chocolate smell and taste and ingest a potentially dangerous dose of Theobromine. Hershey, the manufacturer, says that only 1 in 50 dogs will eat the cocoa mulch, but that one might be your dog. Eating just 9 ounces of cocoa bean mulch can deliver enough Theobromine to kill a 50 pound dog.
Pet owners should only induce vomiting when directed to do so by a veterinarian, but 3% hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) can be given at home to induce vomiting as emergency first aid to help remove potentially toxic substances from your dog or cat's stomach - such as antifreeze, which requires a rapid response. Use about 1 milliliter (ml) per pound of body weight, not exceeding 45 ml or 3 tablespoons. Do not force it down the pet's throat or it could flow into the lungs; make sure the animal is swallowing the liquid. Do NOT induce vomiting if your pet exhibits tremors or other neurologic signs, or if it has ingested caustic chemicals which burn, or oils or other substances which could damage the gastrointestinal tract or enter the lungs during vomiting. Salt water and mustard are not reliable in an emergency.
A Dangerous Dog Treat - "Greenies"
You should also know about this top-selling dog treat called Greenies which is sold as a teeth cleaner and breath freshener. A CNN Report stated that Greenies have killed at least 13 dogs, but not from poisoned ingredients. It seems that sometimes the toothbrush-shaped chewable dog treat remains hard and undigested and becomes lodged in the dogs' throat or intestine.
"A CNN investigation uncovered 40 cases since 2003 where a veterinarian had to extract a Greenie from a dog after the treat became lodged either in the animal's esophagus or intestine. In 13 of those cases, the pet died."
Note that chewing raw meat actually cleans the teeth of wolves and wild dogs, and keeps their gums healthy. Commercial pet foods without chunks of real meat are NOT a substitute for the natural cleaning effect of raw meat in your dog's diet. Instead of using those risky Greenies, you could occasionally give your dog chunks of turkey or chicken breast or some cheaper cuts of raw meat for humans, like "stewing beef" or "flank steak". (Do not feed your pet the SKIN of turkey, which can cause acute pancreatitis in dogs.)
We all know that dogs love to chew on a big bone, but we may not realize that wild dogs and their wolf ancestors don't chew on bare bones - they chew on bones that have meat and tendon material attached. This is what keeps their teeth clean and healthy, not the hard bone material. What they are NOT chewing is COOKED bones. You should NEVER give any dog cooked chicken bones, because they are brittle and can easily splinter into sharp, deadly daggers that can cut the dog's mouth, throat, stomach and intestines. You should also avoid letting your dog get at ANY cooked bones - any bones thst are NOT RAW - because they too will be brittle and can break off dangerous shards that can injure or kill your dog. Even if raw, avoid pork bones and beef rib bones, as well as any CUT bones, because they can splinter off at the cut portion. The safest bone for your dog would be a big beef knuckle bone from the butcher shop or a big "soup bone" from the supermarket. Make sure you are WATCHING your dog when he has a raw bone to chew, because some dogs will try to break off a piece and swallow it whole. Don't give your dog bones thst he can easily swallow, and don't give your dog artificial "bones" that can break or be swallowed whole. As much as you may want to give your dog the pleasure of gnawing at a big bone, realize that he does NOT NEED a bare bone to clean his teeth. Better to live without a bone to chew on, than to die from a bone splinter chewing up his digetive tract.
Toxic Preservatives - BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin, Propylene Glycol
Many chain store brand dog foods are up to 18 months old before you buy them, and contain unhealthy chemical preservatives like Ethoxyquin, propylene glycol, BHA and BHT. These additives are only there to extend shelf life and increase profits - not to help your dog be healthy and well-nourished. In fact, they may lead to needless suffering and an early death for your precious pet.
The BHS and BHT preservatives can cause allergies, and with long term consumption have been found to cause liver disease and other health problems. They may potentially cause cancer, and their use in pet foods has not been thoroughly studied. Even though the permitted levels are low, long term consumption could create a build-up that may prove to be harmful to your pet.
Propylene glycol (also used as a less toxic automotive antifreeze) was banned in cat food because it causes anemia in cats. Yet it is still allowed in dog food.
Also be sure to keep your dog or cat away from open containers or spilled puddles of automotive antifreeze which contains ethylene glycol, for its sweet taste induces dogs and cats to keep drinking it or licking it up, and its toxicity can kill them! About five tablespoons can kill a medium size dog within days (but one teaspoon can kill a 7 pound cat, or 1 tablespoon can kill a 12 pound cat). It can be fatal to cat who just walks through a puddle of antifreeze and then licks its paws.
Early symptoms of antifreeze poisoning occur quickly and include: vomiting, sudden depression, weakness, stupor, disorientation and staggering (and sometimes convulsions), drinking lots of water, and frequent urination. Only IMMEDIATE veterinary treatment within 8 hours (4 hours for cats) may prevent death by kidney failure that can occur in 12 to 36 hours, depending on the dose. Induce vomiting and take the pet to the vet immediately! With lower amounts of ingested antifreeze, dogs may appear to recover from the early symptoms in less than 12 hours, but kidney damage may continue and the dog may die later from kidney failure. Cats rarely recover.
Symptoms of kidney failure in dogs and cats include: severe depression, sores in the mouth, a noticeable increase in bad breath, decreasing amounts of passed urine, then coma and death. There are safer forms of antifreeze available which use propylene glycol, and pet owners should use them. Also thoroughly flush the water system of a house which sat vacant all winter and had antifreeze put into any of the pipes, so your pet does not drink any antifreeze in the tap water!
Some veterinarians consider Ethoxyquin to be a major cause of skin problems, diseases, and infertility in dogs. Some pet owners have attributed allergic reactions, skin problems, major organ failure, behavior problems, and cancer to the use of ethoxyquin in their pet's food.
Ethoxyquin has never even been tested to determine its safety for use in cat food. In Japan, the Department Of Pathology at Nagoya City University Medical School recently conducted a study that found ethoxyquin promoted kidney carcinogenesis, enhanced bladder carcinogesis, and significantly increased incidence of stomach tumors. The U.S. Department of Agriculture lists it as a pesticide.
Ethoxyquin is made by Monsanto (the same company which makes GMOs) as a rubber stabilizer, but it is also sold as an herbicide and pesticide. What is this poison doing in ANY kind of food? You should avoid feeding it to your pets. There have been rumors that lawsuits involving ethoxyquin in animal feeds have resulted in a hushed-up removal of this chemical from some commercial pet foods.
In the USA, preservatives do NOT have to be shown on the cat or dog food label IF they were previously added to the raw materials but NOT added by the pet food manufacturer. Who came up with that bright idea? BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin and Propyl Gallate are all unhealthy chemical preservatives known to create health problems, so you may wish to avoid pet foods which are likely to contain them, even if they are not listed on the label.
An extra long shelf life (a "best before" date MORE than six months from the current date, or an "expiry date" more than 12 months from the current date) is your clue that the product may contain one or more of these unhealthy artificial preservatives. The safe natural preservatives can only preserve freshness for up to six months, and prevent spoilage for 11 to 12 months.
Here's another clue: the mass-market pet food brands sold through supermarkets and chain stores sometimes sit in warehouses and then on store shelves for up to 18 months before you buy them, so they are the pet foods most likely to contain those unhealthy chemical preservatives. You will find the safe natural preservatives used more often by independent pet food producers who ship their foods fresh to your door.
Responding to concerns of pet owners, some independent pet food manufacturers who do not mass-market their pet foods through supermarket chains are using safe natural antioxidants such as Vitamin C (ascorbate) and Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), or rosemary, clove, and other spices as preservatives. However, this reduces the freshness period ("best before" date) of the foods to about six months, and the safe use date ("expiry date") to 11 or 12 months, so you should be careful to look for "best before" dates on your dog foods.
Tocopherols are a source of Vitamin E, which is a strong antioxidant that retards the degradation of other vitamins. Used as a natural preservative in pet foods, tocopherals can preserve freshness for up to six months ("best before" date), and safe usability ("expiry" date) for up to 11 or 12 months.
A Dog Food With All Fresh, Healthy and Safe Ingredients
And NO Glutens, Wheat, Corn, or Unhealthy Preservatives
Life's Abundance dog food and dog treats are made from fresh ingredients processed at low temperatures (to preserve nutrients) in small batches (to ensure the dog products are always fresh) in a third-generation, government certified and inspected, processing plant in the USA. The plant is also APHIS certified to sell to the European market, which has more stringent quality and safety standards for pet foods than the USA. All ingredients are sourced in the USA - and none are from China.
Each batch of Life's Abundance cat or dog food is never more than 6 weeks old when shipped direct to your home in the USA. And it contains natural antioxidants, so it does NOT need to contain any potentially cancer-causing chemical preservatives like Ethoxyquin, BHA, and BHT.
Life's Adundance pet foods contain high quality protein from real meats such as liver, fowl meat from chicken and turkey, fish meal from top-grade catfish, and eggs. They also contain potent natural antioxidants like grapeseed extract (known to reduce risk of many diseases, including heart disease and cancer), flaxseed (promotes a healthy skin and coat, is another source of antioxidants, and has potential anti-tumor activity), fish oils and catfish meal (for healthy Omega 3 fatty acid), chelated minerals (for better absorption), and five helpful bio-friendly bacteria like Acidophilus (which improve natural digestion).
Visit the Life's Abundance web site to view an online video which explains the REAL ingredients in pet foods. And listen to the online audio talk to hear a veterinarian's advice on what's good and what's not good for your pet.
What's Wrong With Wheat and Corn?
Many supermarket brands of cat and dog food contain a high proportion of cereals such as wheat and corn as the PRIMARY source of protein (because the pet food manufacturer is often a producer of feeds and grains for cattle).
In many supermarket brand cat and dog foods, two out of three of the top-listed ingredients are usually some form of grain or cereal, especially in the dry pet foods. And they will likely be grains that were graded as unfit for human consumption.
Here's the problem with feeding grains or corn instead of meat. The nutrients in a few grains, such as rice, can be almost completely absorbed by cats and dogs, but up to 20% of the nutrition from other grains like wheat will not be absorbed at all.
The bio-availability of nutrients in corn and potatoes is far less than nutrients in rice - and absorption of the nutrients in wheat, oats and beans is quite poor. Peanut hulls, often used as filler in cheap pet foods (and disguised as "vegetable fiber" on the label), have virtually no nutritional value.
Dogs cannot digest corn and extract the nutrients, so corn tends to pass right through a dog. In a dog food, it should be considered a useless "filler" that has little nutritional value. Yet many supermarket brands of dog food include corn as a main source of protein, even though your dog will not be able to use that protein (so what you see is not what your dog gets).
If you see "corn" or "corn meal" as the first or second item on the Ingredient List of a dog food, you could be paying for a product that might contain up to 25% useless filler.
Other useless fillers often included in cheap dog foods are: corncobs, peanut hulls, cottonseed hulls, citrus pulp, straw and wood fiber. Note that "beet fiber" is NOT a useless filler, but a useful fiber that gently aids digestion. Other fibers can irritate the lining of a dog's intestines.
Feeding your dog a pet food which contains wheat, corn, corncobs, peanut hulls, or soy beans also increases the risk that the food could become contaminated with a fungal mold called Aspergillus which produces a toxin called Aflatoxin. Dogs and birds are extremely sensitive to this toxin, and it has caused the death of many dogs. Certain legume and grain crops such as peanuts, soy, corn and wheat are the ones most often infested with this mold. Click here to learn more about Aflatoxin Poisoning and some pet food recalls due to contamination of corn or wheat.
Do not be fooled by an ingredient called "brewers rice". It is made out of the sweepings from the floor of feed mills, contains little bits of rice grains broken off during the milling process, and has almost zero nutritional value. You should also avoid "rice gluten" and "rice protein concentrate" - two processed additives which have been another source of melamine poisoning. But do not confuse brewer's rice (BAD) with a healthy nutrient called brewer's yeast (GOOD) which is a source of B vitamins, chromium, and protein. Chromium helps the body utilize insulin more effectively, which can help reduce excess blood glucose caused by diabetes. Brewer's yeast seems to stimulate intestinal enzymes that could help relieve diarrhea; and It also might help control the type of bacteria that cause infections in the intestine,
The GOOD rice is whole brown rice, so look for "brown rice" on the ingredient list. Whole brown rice is much better for humans, dogs, and cats than refined "white rice" because most of the healthy nutrients are in the outer shell of the grain of rice, which is stripped away when refining white rice. For dogs, the nutrients in brown rice are much better absorbed than those in other grains.
A continual diet of white rice can cause diabetes in humans and animals, especially dogs. So avoid pet foods which list "white rice" instead of "brown rice". White rice, with its "empty calories", also contributes to weight gain and obesity.
Did you know that the main reason for refining white wheat flour and white rice is so that the rodents and insects will not eat the product while it is in storage? It seems that the rats and bugs know better than most humans that there is little nutrition to be found in these over-processed products. "Refining" these grains does not make them "finer" foods for you or your pet to eat, but does make them finer for preserving profits for food processors. Eating too much white flour and white sugar are the two main causes of obesity in humans.
Did you know that wheat and corn have been known to lead to severe digestive tract problems such as diarrhea in cats and dogs? They can also cause allergies, which may not show up for a few years.
Symptoms of Food Allergies in Dogs
Food allergies may not show up for some time, so even though a particular dog food did not appear to cause an allergy problem after continual use - or even while eating the same food for all of the dog's life - the symptoms may suddenly appear much later. The following symptoms may indicate a food allergy. (The most likely suspects are: wheat, corn, soy, and chemical preservatives; but some dogs can develop allergies to milk, eggs, beef, pork, chicken, or fish.)
Food Allergy Symptoms: A dull coat of fur (not shiny), red skin, itchy skin, flaking skin, sneezing, dog shakes head, dog rubs face on carpet, dog licks front paws, ear inflammation, flatulence (farting), anal itching, diarrhea, vomiting, symptoms similar to asthma.
Putting the dog on a time-consuming "exclusion diet" is the only way to identify the particular substance which causes the allergy. Wheat or wheat gluten is the most likely cause, but note that simply switching from a cheap dog food to a premium brand will not help if the new premium brand also contains wheat or wheat gluten. Some premium brands contain none of the usual suspects - wheat, corn or soy - and are also free of chemical preservatives. So switching to one of these higher quality premium dog foods may cause the allergy symptoms to disappear. But you will still not know exactly what caused the food allergy.
The best way to help avoid food allergies developing in your dog is to never start serving dog foods which contain wheat, corn, soy, or chemical preservatives like BHA, BHT, or Ethoxyquin.
What's So Wrong With Soy?
(1) Soy is one of the leading causes of food allergies in dogs.
(2) Processed soy causes bloating in dogs.
(3) Soy beans can cause gas in some dogs, making them rather smelly companions!
(4) Soy naturally contains plant estrogens (phyto estrogens such as estriol), which act like the hormonal animal estrogens and can interfere with reproduction and normal growth in cats and dogs.
(5) Soy contains trypsin inhibitors which block the action of enzymes which are needed to digest protein.
(6) Soy beans contain hemaglutinin which causes red blood cells to clump together.
(7) Of all plants ever studied, soy beans contain the highest level of phytates, an organic acid which blocks the uptake of calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc - and can lead to various mineral deficiencies. These phytates are exceptionally resistant to reduction techniques during processing, and only through a long period of fermentation (by yeast) is the phytate content reduced. In other words, unfermented soy has the potential to cause mineral deficiencies; and this is the kind of soy likely to be found in many cat and dog foods.
Healthy human foods made from fermented soy include (1) tempeh, (2) miso (which contains genistein and daidzein, believed to be cancer preventatives) and (3) natto (which contains vitamin K2 and isophrabon which help prevent diseases such as osteoporosis and breast cancer, and also slow the aging process).
UNfermented soy foods include soy milk and soy flour, and the tofu which is used by vegetarians as a meat substitute. (Fermented tofu and soy milk do exist, but are not as commonly available as the unfermented versions.) Soy sauce is generally made with fermented soy, but some low-quality versions are NOT fermented.
The UNfermented soy products for humans still have the above problems with phyto estrogens (interfering with human hormone balance) and trypsin inhibitors and hemaglutinin and phytates - but not the above health benefits of miso and natto.
(8) Low quality protein causes the urine to be alkaline. A dog or cat fed high quality, easily-assimilated, animal proteins tends to have acidic urine, which prevents the growth of germs and helps dissolve bladder stones and gravel.
(9) About 89% of the soy produced in the USA is genetically modified to withstand high levels of pesticide use. The more pesticides applied to the plants, the more pesticide residues will be in the soy beans.
(10) Dogs need high-quality animal protein from animal meat (including mammals, fowl and fish) - but the more soy or cereals in the dog food, the less meat and animal protein it contains.
Soy is the primary source of protein in about half of the cheap supermarket brand pet foods.
For all 10 reasons above, you may be wise to avoid dog foods which contain soy.
You would be wise to avoid dog food that contains grains other than BROWN RICE. (You would be wise to avoid "white rice" and "rice concentrate" and "rice gluten" too.) You pay too much for pet foods that contain these low-cost and low-nutrition grain or bean ingredients instead of real meat, and your dog doesn't really need them. A cat needs them even less.
Symptoms of Aflatoxin Poisoning and
Dog Food Recalls Due to Aflatoxin
Some grains and legumes can introduce an additional health risk to your pet in the form of a toxic mold (a fungus) sometimes found in shipments of grains such as wheat, corn and rice, or legumes such as peanuts and soy beans. Another risk is pesticide residues in grain crops or soy beans that can poison your pet over time.
Peanut hulls are a non-nutritious filler sometimes added to cheap dog foods, and often disguised as "vegetable fiber". Peanut hulls are particularly susceptible to the fungus mold that produces potentially deadly aflatoxin.
That fungus can be any variety of Aspergillus, but aflatoxin is most often produced by Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. The Aspergillus mold is white and gray and appears fluffy or feathery.
Humans have a very high resistance to aflatoxin poisoning and rarely die from acute aflatoxicosis. But NO animal is resistant to aflatoxin poisoning, and birds and dogs are especially susceptible to its lethal effects.
The U.S. FDA most rigorously tests peanuts and peanut butter destined for human consumption because they frequently contain aflatoxins and are widely consumed. (Has anyone wondered if a severe "peanut allergy" might actually be caused by aflatoxin?)
Aflatoxin can also be found in tree nuts such as pecans, pistachio nuts, and Brazil nuts, and in seeds such as sunflower seeds.
Some of the crops most frequently affected by aflatoxin are: corn (maize), wheat, soy, and especially peanuts. The Aspergillus mold is more frequently found in crops which have been stressed by drought. This fungal mold grows mainly during storage, and grows best in conditions of high heat and/or high humidity. Containers shipped from China by sea through moist and hot tropical regions may be fertile breeding grounds for this fungus.
The presence of aflatoxin at low levels IS SO COMMON in animal and human foods that the FDA considers it an "unavoidable" contaminant and only gets concerned when the concentration of aflatoxin in an individual food product goes beyond a certain "action level" (a low 20 ppb for peanuts and Brazil nuts, but a high 300 ppb for feedlot beef cattle feed, and 200 ppb for pig feed). (ppb = parts per billion)
The U.S. FDA and Department of Agriculture are mainly concerned with foods that enter the human food supply, dairy animals that produce milk for human consumption, and animals whose meat is consumed by humans. You can see that levels of aflatoxin deemed safe for a cow or pig eating animal feed are much higher than safe levels for humans eating peanuts (yet humans are actually more resistant to this toxin.)
But dogs are the MOST sensitive to aflatoxin, and pet dogs are being fed commercial dog foods which often contain the same wheat, corn, or soy which is fed to cattle and pigs. Your dog may be much more susceptible to aflatoxin poisoning even at those "safe" levels set for cows and pigs. Dogs have died after eating dog foods containing wheat or corn contaminated with the mold which produces aflatoxin (see below).
Peanuts and other nuts and seeds are probably something you should NOT risk sharing with your dog, because of its high sensitivity to aflatoxin poisoning.
The FDA does not routinely test pet food products unless there is some cause for concern, and its "action level" set to protect humans from human foods like nuts might be too high to protect dogs and birds who are especially sensitive to aflatoxin at much lower levels. In other words, the nuts may be safe for YOU - but not for your dog or bird. Still, you AND your dog should not eat any nuts or sunflower seeds that appear blackened or moldy!
Who is checking the animal-grade corn and wheat that finds its way into dog foods? The "action level" set to protect beef cattle may be too high to protect the much more susceptible dogs who are fed the same corn, wheat, or soy (or peanut hulls or corncobs used as filler in cheap dog foods).
Now that many pet food manufacturers are cutting costs and increasing profits by putting MORE corn and wheat and soy (and sometimes peanut hulls) into pet foods - and also importing cheap wheat gluten and rice gluten from China, where health standards are lower - there is even more risk in buying pet foods containing wheat gluten or rice gluten - or "meals" made from wheat, corn or soy.
The massive March 2007 pet food recall started with 60 million cans and pouches of cat and dog foods made with a Chinese shipment of wheat gluten contaminated with a rat poison which is illegal to use in the USA. Inspection standards are too low in China to be assured that their pet food ingredients are safe. One of the imported bags of wheat gluten later inspected (too late) by the U.S. FDA actually had the name of the poison (melamine) printed on the outside of the bag!
One fungus that sometimes contaminates wheat shipments produces one of the less toxic poisons called vomitoxin which can cause your dog to stop eating, start vomiting, and have diarrhea.
But other fungal molds such as Aspergillus produce a much more dangerous mycotoxin such as aflatoxin which can cause weight loss, lameness, liver damage, and even death for dogs.
Note that lameness can also be caused by Lyme disease, and a temporary hind leg paralysis can be caused by the dog ingesting macadamia nuts. Symptoms of Lyme Disease include: a sudden but recurring lameness that may shift from leg to leg, sometimes a fever and depression, extreme sensitivity to being touched, and occasionally swollen lymph nodes. The infected dog usually walks stiffly with a hunched back. Lyme disease in dogs and humans is transmitted by the bite of a blood-sucking tick, and often a tell-tale round red lesion is at the site of the tick bite, then the symptoms appear a few days later. Lyme disease is most common in the northwest USA, Mississippi, and California. It is much rarer in cats. Early treatment with antibiotics can cure it.
Once the Aspergillus fungus has produced its aflatoxin, just heating or freezing the aflatoxin does NOT destroy it or reduce its toxicity. The pet food preservatives Ethoxyquin and Vitamin E are antioxidants which preserve vitamins and prevent fats from going rancid, but they do NOT inhibit the growth of fungi or bacteria.
Allicin - a sulphur compound created when fresh garlic is cut or crushed - IS effective against the Aspergillus fungus itself (and has also been known to neutralize toxins produced by some bacteria such as E-Coli). Refined and stabilized Allicin can be safely consumed by humans and dogs and cats, but dogs should not eat very much whole garlic.
Symptoms of Aflatoxin Poisoning in Dogs and Cats
Early symptoms of aflatoxin poisoning in dogs and cats include: lethargy, loss of appetite, persistent vomiting. Consult your veterinarian as soon as possible to increase your pet's chance of survival.
Later symptoms include: fever, orange-colored urine, and jaundice (the whites of the eyes, gums, and non-pigmented skin turn yellowish). Jaundice indicates substantial liver damage has already occurred. More severely affected dogs or cats produce blood-tinged vomit and bloody diarrhea, or bloody and blackened stools. Dogs can take several days to three weeks to exhibit the serious signs of aflatoxin poisoning. Immediate treatment may be your pet's only chance to survive.
On December 20, 2005, Diamond Pet Foods initiated a voluntary recall after aflatoxin was discovered in corn used in its cat food product. Then some 19 brands of Diamond, Country Value, and Professional cat and dog foods containing corn were recalled. By January 6, 2006 an estimated 100 dogs and one cat had died, according to Cornell University veterinarians. (Note how many more dogs died. Dogs are much more susceptible to aflatoxin poisoning than cats.).
In 1999, Doane Pet Care recalled a dry dog food made at one of its plants and packaged under 54 brand names, including Ol' Roy (a Wal-Mart house brand). This time, the fungal toxin in their contaminated wheat killed 25 dogs.
Is "MEAT" the FIRST Ingredient on the Label of Your Dog's Food?
Why do pet food manufacturers add these low-quality and sometimes tainted ingredients to the food which is supposed to nourish your cat or dog? It's because they cost less than real meat.
Yet real meat is what your pet really needs for optimal health. The original commercial pet foods contained meat. Now they tend to contain less and less meat and more and more grains and fillers, plus various kinds of "meal" which are not fresh meat, but are likely ground up waste products extracted from rendering vats (unless they include the specific NAME of the animal they are made from).
It's like they are on a mission to keep filling that dog food can or pouch with less and less meat, while they keep charging the same or higher prices for their pet products.
Less meat means lower costs and higher profits for the pet food makers.
Less nutrition means more health problems for your precious pet.
Whose side are you really on? Do you want health and long life for your pet - or more pet food profits for the uncaring corporate pet food makers?
Some pet owners believe they can't afford to pay the higher price for nutritious dog food brands that contain real meat and other healthy and safe ingredients. In that case, then substituting some lower-quality plant proteins for the more nutritious NAMED animal proteins to keep the cost of a can of dog food lower might make some sense.
But when pet food makers substitute cheap grains and animal byproducts for real meat just to fill the cans of dog food with less expensive ingredients and earn higher profits - without the substitution of cheap ingredients being clearly understandable to the dog food buyers who actually read the labels - this makes no sense for the pet owner who can afford to feed his dog the healthiest food and is trusting the dog food makers to supply nutritious food in the commercial dog food he buys from them.
But, alas, even the pet owner with best intentions and a willingness to pay more for the healthiest food for his pet often ends up buying dog food that is filled with low-quality ingredients, fillers, rendered byproducts and meals made from byproducts, rancid fats, food colorings, and chemical preservatives - and sometimes pesticides and poisons that contaminate the cheap ingredients like wheat, glutens, and corn.
His poor pet gets poor nutrition and suffers needless health problems and perhaps a painful death as a consequence.
Poor nutrition can lead to a shorter life span, as we can see when North American dogs and cats rarely reach even half of their potential life expectancy of 27 to 30 years. The average life span of a mid-size dog in the USA is about 12.8 years (cats 12-14 years). Toy Poodles and Toy Daschunds live an average of 14.4 years, Irish Wolfhounds only 6.2 years. Yet the longest reported dog life span was 29.5 years.
If you're a dog owner, would you rather have your pet live with you for 12 years - or 20 years? Just feeding your cat or dog healthier food can add extra years to its life. And a well-fed, healthy pet will die peacefully of old age - not from some painful disease that requires expensive and ultimately futile treatment in a veterinariary hospital.
Ingredient lists with words which disguise the real nature of the ingredients, labels with pretty pictures and misleading names, and dirty tricks of the trade which use artificial colorings to make cheap grains and garbage meat byproducts look like fresh red meat can fool many well-meaning cat and dog owners into buying low-quality products and serving unhealthy foods to their precious pets.
Spraying dry cat and dog foods made mostly from cheap grains and cereals (which a pet would normally refuse to eat, and probably shouldn't eat) with animal fats made from garbage "restaurant grease" and rancid cooking oils can fool a dog or cat into thinking this is a tasty meat, so he eats the low-quality kibble and even begs for more.
Fats are what make a red meat taste good to both dogs and cats and humans - which is why a prime rib steak which is marbeled with more beef fat than a sirloin steak is just plain tastier to a human, especially when barbequed or grilled and flavored with the smoke from burning fat which drips onto the charcoal or grill plate below.
Thus the addition of fats for flavor fools the pet AND the pet-owner into thinking this low-nutrition dry pet food is what the pet craves.
But these are not likely to be "good fats". We have learned in recent years that rancid oils and fats contain transfats which can potentially lead to cancer. Do you really want to feed your dog a dry pet food that has been sprayed with transfats just so he will eat something that even a dog would normally not want to eat?
The ingredient label on cat and dog foods may not even tell you exactly what "meats" they actually contain - if they contain any at all. The "mystery meat" in those products, exactly WHAT IS IT?
The Truth Is In The Label - IF You Can Understand It!
If the ingredient list on the label says "meat", the U.S. regulations say it must contain ONLY specified muscle meats from cattle, pigs, sheep, or goats. That is the REAL meat that provides the best proteins for your pet, and it may even be as fresh when packaged as the meat sold to humans.
If the commercial dog food actually contained such nutritious meats, it would certainly state "meat" on the label's ingredient list, for this is something to brag about - and something that could entice caring and careful pet owners to pay good money for the product.
If it doesn't mention "meat" of some kind in the INGREDIENT list, then probably there is NO fresh "meat" in the pet food product at all!
If the ingredient list says "chicken", the same U.S. regulations say it must be chicken meat - but their definition allows chicken bones to be considered as part of "chicken" meat. So what the product actually contains may be cheap chicken backs - the spine and the ribs, which might contain some scraps of actual breast meat which was stripped off for human consumption. Or it might contain meat from chickens which were considered unfit for human consumption.
You just won't know from the label, so here is where you need to choose a pet food manufacturer you can trust to always use ingredients which actually are safe and nutritious for your pet, and not always use the cheapest ones that can still look good on the label.
We are talking here about the Ingredient List - not the name of the pet food product. The product name on the label is also regulated in the USA, but not very well. You will see why when you read about the "with" rule and the "dinner" regulation.
First, when the product has a named meat (e.g. "Beef for Dogs") in its name, without any other qualifying words other than "Dogs", the dog food ingredients must be at least 95% of that named meat by weight, not counting the moisture content, or at least 70% by weight of the product must be that meat if it's a dry product.
If the name has a combination of meats with no other qualifier (e.g. "Beef and Liver,") the two meats together must comprise the same 95% of the product by weight, with the first ingredient listed comprising the greater amount by weight. So far, so good. But watch out for those deceptive "qualifier" words like "dinner" or "formula"!
If the qualifier word "dinner" is part of the name, the pet food need only contain 25% or more of the named ingredient by weight - such as the chicken in a "chicken dinner" brand. The product name is usually a named meat followed by the usual qualifier "dinner". But other commonly added qualifiers are: platter, entrée, formula, and nuggets. They all come under the same regulation that requires only 25% or more of the product contain the named ingredients. If additional ingredients are named after the main ingredient (e.g. "Chicken and Turkey Dinner") each of the other ingredients need only comprise at least 3% of the total weight of the pet food product.
That's not very much. What else comprises up to 75% of the pet food? When you pay for a "chicken dinner" product do you want to be paying for a can of food that might be 75% byproducts, rendered meals, cheap grains, and useless fillers? Or 75% corn meal and 25% chicken?
Generic "Meal" = Ground Up Garbage
Don't be fooled by any ingredient on the dog food ingredient list that includes the word "meal" - such as "animal meal" or "meat and bone meal" or "beef and bone meal" - UNLESS it also specifies the name of the actual source, such as "chicken meal" or "catfish meal". It may sound like something good for your pet to eat, but if it is an unspecified kind of "meal" or "animal meal" it may not come from fresh meat.
Meals are most used in dry dog foods made by the extrusion process. Extruded pet foods, both dry and wet types, will also contain meal from grains or starchy vegetables because the process requires a lot of starch to bind the ingredients together.
Any type of animal "meal" is the output of the rendering process which removes fats and water by boiling at a temperature of 270 degrees Fahrenheit or higher for several hours, then drying the output. The very high heat and extended cooking time reduces the actual nutrient value of the meat, and can "denature" some of the meat proteins.
If you know what species of animal went into the rendering vat (and nothing else with it) - such as "chicken meal" or "beef meal" - this is not such a bad thing. But when the type of animal is NOT specified, you can expect the "animal meal" to be made from some really disgusting things. In any case, an animal "meal" will be made meat that was rendered then dried, not the better types of meat that comes from freshly slaughtered animals and poultry.
The non-spefified "meal" can be the dried and ground-up garbage produced by a rendering vat into which have been thrown the carcasses of one or more of what the U.S government and the pet food industry calls "4D" animals - "dead, dying, disabled, or diseased". They should add a 5th "D" for "decomposing" because by the time the dead animals reach the rendering vat they are already decomposing (i.e. rotting).
The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines "3D" animals as ones that have been slaughtered. Presumably this means they were not already dead and rotting when processed as pet food, but seems to imply that the other 3 "D" words still apply... "dying, disabled, or diseased". They refer to 4D and 3D animals as "Inedible" and require that chemicals be applied to "denature" the meat so it is not mistaken for meat that humans would eat. It would be bad for a human like you, but they seem to think it's okay for your pets.
The exception to "meal" ingredients to avoid may be meals made from a specifically NAMED species of animal, bird or fish. Examples are ingredients that say... chicken meal, turkey meal, duck meal, lamb meal, beef meal, pork meal, or catfish meal. These ingredients will have been rendered, but will not be made from rendered "byproducts".
Named meals are acceptable additions to pet foods which list a named "meat" as a main ingredient (near the top of the list), but when the "meal" is listed higher than the named "meat", or if no specifically named "meat" is listed at all, then that pet food is an inferior product you may be wise to avoid.
Although it is happening less frequently in recent years, those 4D animals may include euthanized pets, euthanized stray dogs and cats from animal shelters and veterinarian offices, and any "road kill" or dead wild animals and birds picked up by humane society or municipal personnel.
Some humane society branches pay to incinerate their euthanized cats and dogs and dead wild animals - but not all. And just one city can produce many tons of animal and bird carcasses for delivery to rendering plants in just one year.
It was not long ago that the 4D animals were banned for human consumption in the USA, but the 4D animal carcasses are still permitted in pet foods in the USA. Your dog or cat has probably been eating them for some time now.
Note the word "diseased" in the definition of "4D" animals. It does not matter if the animal was riddled with cancer, or died of some infection, or died from a build-up of melamine or pesticides in its organs, or was poisoned to death with pentabarbitol - its entire body gets thrown into the rendering vat and goes into many pet foods as a generic "meal" or as "animal byproducts".
It's not cost-efficient for the renderers to take time to remove flea collars, pet I.D. tags (which may contain lead), or even the bags the dead animals are delivered in; so this all gets thrown into the rendering vat that will eventually produce a ground-up generic "meal" that finds its way into many commercial cat and dog foods that are not good for your pet - and not a good value for your money.
The high temperature of the rendering vat (270 degrees Fahrenheit) will kill most bacteria and other microbes. But the high heat also destroys the natural enzymes and some of the nutritious proteins in the animal meat.
But the rendering process DOES NOT deactivate the barbiturate poison called pentabarbitol used to euthanize (i.e. kill) the diseased, dying, or unwanted dogs and cats and horses. It is still in their dead bodies, and can get into your pet's food if it contains "byproducts" or a generic "meal".
Even in recent times, testing by the U.S. FDA labs has revealed traces of pentabarbitol in some pet foods, which could only come from euthanized pets which were rendered down into some form of "meal" or "byproduct" that was added to the pet food. The FDA claims the levels are too low to cause illness or death in dogs and cats - but some veterinarians disagree. And, of course, the smaller the pet, the less of the poison it will take to cause illness or death.
Is this the kind of dogfood you want your precious pet to be eating?
If not, avoid any pet food with "byproducts" or an unspecified "meal" in the ingredient list.
Also note that "byproducts" or "by-products", such as "chicken byproducts" also refer to "rendered" 4D meat or fowl that went into the same kind of rendering vats with fur, feathers, diseased organs, and all. Just thinking about this kind of "food" could make you feel sick - and it probably does make your dog or cat sick over time if you keep feeding it rendered meals and byproducts.
You are more likely to find the words "byproduct" and a generic "meal" (i.e. the specific animal source is not named) on the ingredient lists of the pet foods which are most frequently advertised on television. Don't just believe the hype in the ads or be fooled by lovely but misleading images. Read the product labels and you will see the truth. Your pet needs food that contains fresh "meat" - not some generic "meal" made from rendered bones and feathers and rotting 4D animal carcasses.
It seems like the makers of these inferior pet foods spend more money on advertising than they do on putting nutritious and safe ingredients into their foods for your dog or cat. And who pays for the advertising? You do, when you buy their products.
Wouldn't you rather invest your money in the healthiest foods for your pet, rather than pay for TV ads for low-quality pet foods with cheap fillers and unhealthy ingredients?
It's true that quality pet foods with safe and healthy ingredients can cost more to produce and more to purchase, but the benefits of health and longer life for your pet are worth it!
But also consider this... when a pet food contains more nutritious ingredients, the cat or dog will tend to EAT LESS of the nutrient-rich food than of a cheap pet food with less nutrients. The difference might be as much as half, so do you really save much money by feeding your pet a half-price cheap food with less real nutrients?
Also consider that when your pet eats more of the inferior foods containing lots of soy beans, corn, other grains, and fillers it will produce more smelly methane gas and excrete a higher volume of stinky stool for you to clean up.
When you also consider that a dog or cat food which supplies the best nutrition will help your pet remain healthy and avoid more of those costly veterinarian visits, the purchase of those cheap, low-quality pet foods may be "penny wise and pound foolish".
And feeding your pet the healthiest foods can help extend its life by several years. Cutting costs on your pet's food may be cutting years from its life. The mass-market pet food manufacturers are already doing that. You don't have to.
Life's Abundance premium pet foods are "holistic" and "natural" and do NOT contain generic meals or byproducts made from diseased animals, diseased fowl, euthanized pets, and road kill. They do NOT contain corn, wheat, or gluten. It would be good to be able to say they contain no soy, but they do contain a healthy fat nutrient called lecethin which is derived from soybeans. But they do not contain soy as a cheap source of protein like so many supermarket dog foods. (Lecethin is a healthy fat which is essential in the cells of the body.)
Life's Abundance cat and dog foods and treats have NOT been subject to recalls because their healthy and safe foods never contained ANY wheat gluten or rice gluten or rice concentrate that could have been contaminated. And they have NOT been recalled due to aflatoxin contamination because that is highly unlikely when they DO NOT contain wheat, corn, peanuts, or peanut hulls. These are crops most often contaminated by Aspergillus mold which produces the toxin which is deadly to dogs.
And they DO NOT contain unhealthy artificial preservatives like BHA and BHT and Ethoxyquin, steroids, artificial hormones, artificial food coloring, or toxic residues like melamine or pentabarbitol.
Life's Abundance premium dog food contains only fresh ingredients such as premium all-natural chicken and top-quality catfish with the best fresh fruit, vegetables and select farm foods. It also contains a superior blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It never contains artificial colorings or chemical preservatives. It doesn't need to!
Chicken Fat, Catfish Meal, Flaxseed Meal, and Eggs provide a natural balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids to promote healthy skin and shiny coat. Whole Brown Rice provides an excellent source of highly digestible carbohydrates for short-term energy and dietary fiber that is gentle on the stomach. Beet Fiber, Brewers Yeast, and Natural Bacteria Cultures help the digestive system work at peak efficiency, allowing your pet to get even more nutrition from this wholesome food.
And all the Life's Abundance cat and dog foods and treats and health care products are veterinarian formulated by well-known and respected U.S. veterinarian, Dr Jane Bicks DVM - author of three books on nutrition and someone who actually CARES about providing the best nutrition for your pets.
Dr Bicks is a pet nutrition expert who loves animals and really works at ensuring your dog's health! Pet health comes first before pet food profits. Dr Jane's name is on the label and her reputation is riding on the quality of the pet foods she formulates. (How would you feel if your pet's veterinarian had recommended or sold you one of those many pet foods which were found to contain cheap Chinese wheat gluten contaminated with melamine which poisoned so many dogs and cats?)
All her pet food formulas use only ingredients sourced in the USA. NO ingredients come from China.
Life's Abundance Inc. donates a portion of its net profits to Dr. Jane's non-profit foundation dedicated to the promotion, establishment, maintenance and management of animal rescue groups committed to rescuing abused animals in the U.S.A.
If you love your dog, please listen to the important online audio message from Dr Jane Bicks when you click the link below to visit the Life's Abundance web site.
For the sake of your beloved dog, please click here now to visit Life's Abundance and then watch the pet food video and listen to the online audio message from Dr Jane Bicks.
Feed nutritious and safe dog food to your beloved pets to give them a healthy, active, and long life!
Click to See a COMPARISON CHART of Ingredient Evaluations and Cost To Feed A 30-pound Dog
for Life's Abundance Compared to Popular Dog Foods like Beneful Adult Dog Food, Bil-Jac Select Adult Super Premium Dry Dog Food, Blue for Adult Dogs Chicken and Rice Recipe, Diamond Naturals Chicken and Rice Adult Formula Dry Dog Food, Evolve Maintenance Formula with Chicken, Flint River Ranch Adult and Puppy Dog Food, Hill's Science Diet Nature's Best® Chicken and Brown Rice, Natural Balance Ultra Premium Formula, Newman's Own Organics, Nutro Max Natural, Purina One SmartPlan Chicken and Rice Formula, Purina Pro Plan Shredded Blend Chicken and Rice Formula, Rachael Ray Nutrish with Real Chicken, Royal Canin Medium Breed Adult, Solid Gold Hund-N-Flocken Adult Dog Food, and Wellness Super5mix Complete Health Chicken Formula.
You may be shocked to see what you are really paying for some dog foods with inferior ingredients like undigestible corn meal, glutens, unspecified fats, or animal byproducts. One of the above dry dog foods with one of the worst nutritional evalutations actually has one of the highest costs per serving. Let's hope it's not the one you are buying for your precious pet!
To visit the Life's Abundance Dog Care page, click here:
Healthy Safe Dog Food
To learn some more interesting (and disturbing) facts and comments about the pet food recall, the REAL ingredients of many popular brands of dog and cat food, and how they can harm your pet, click here to read the Safe Cat Food page.
©2007,2014 Michael Star Co. All rights reserved.
The content of this article is intended "for educational purposes only" and should not be construed as veterinary or medical advice.
E&O excepted. All pet food product brand names mentioned herein are registered trademarks of their respective owners.
Life's Abundance supplies safe, healthy, holistic cat and dog foods, healthy cat and dog treats, holistic cat and dog vitamin and mineral supplements, deodorizing and cleaning products for pets, and environment-friendly "green" cleaning products which are safe for dogs and cats.