Tuesday, April 12, 2016

We've Moved! New Blog location at www.drjudymorgan.com

I want to thank everyone who has followed my blogs on this site. You may or may not be aware that we have been undergoing some changes to make our brand even better. Our website, while still at http://drjudymorgan.com, has been completely made over in an attempt to give you more information all in one location.

New blogs will be visible at http://drjudymorgan.com/category/blog 

We have also added a section called the Forum, where you can get all your pet health questions answered and discuss pet health with other pet owners. The Forum is accessible at

Please come on over and check out all the latest information!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


We all want our pets to live forever, but many times they leave us far too early. Here are some tips you can use to keep your pets healthy longer.

1. Feed them a species-appropriate, meat-based diet made by a reputable company. Avoid the highly processed foods made with poor ingredients made from rendered animals and low quality fillers.

2. Maintain a proper weight. Obesity studies have shown 52.7% of dogs and 57.9% of cats in America are overweight or obese. Obesity leads to arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac, respiratory, and kidney disease, cancer, orthopedic diseases, and decreases life expectancy up to 2.5 years.

3. Maintain good dental health. Most dogs and cats have periodontal disease by age 3, according to the American Veterinary Dental Society. Complications from periodontal disease can include heart, liver, and kidney disease. Tooth loss, fractured jaws, and painful infections are the result of poor dental care. Daily brushing is the best defense against periodontal disease, but raw meaty bones are also great for maintaining good dental health.

4. Provide your pets with daily exercise. Indoor cats can be taught to fetch or play with laser lights. Dogs can be walked outside or given a yard to run. Many dog owners have taught their dogs to walk on treadmills in inclement weather and there are many indoor pools, gyms, and physical therapy facilities that offer exercise space.

5. Don't forget preventive wellness care. A thorough physical examination by your veterinarian twice a year can help detect problems before they become advanced. I recommend running a routine blood panel to check liver and kidney function, as well as a urinalysis, fecal exam, and heartworm test. Do NOT allow your pet to be vaccinated every year. Vaccine titers should be run, instead, to determine whether vaccination is actually needed. Most vaccines last 5 to 7 years and may last a lifetime. Rabies vaccines usually need to be given as required by law, unless your pet qualifies for an exemption. Ask your veterinarian about this.

6. Avoid chemicals. Do not use pesticides on your animals. Do not feed pesticides to your animals. Do not spray your yard with pesticides and herbicides. Use natural alternatives for flea and tick control. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Inflammatory bowel disease is extremely common in pets and people. Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, constipation, bloating, weight loss, and abdominal pain. What pet food ingredients might contribute to these problems? There are two ingredients that are common culprits and should be avoided.

The first ingredient I recommend avoiding is wheat gluten. Wheat gluten is the rubbery protein residue left after all the starchy carbohydrate has been removed from the grain. This is a  cheap source of protein when pet food companies don't want the expense of using real meat proteins. Some pets will have an autoimmune response to the gluten, which causes inflammation in the bowel and the symptoms listed above.

The second ingredient is carrageenan. Food grade carrageenan has been studied for years and has been shown to be cause an immune reaction that triggers inflammation. Chronic ingestion of carrageenan is associated with inflammatory diseases, insulin resistance, and glucose intolerance - precursors of diabetes.

Carrageenan is used in many canned pet foods, particularly cat foods, as a gelling or thickening agent. I have discussed the many reasons cats should not be fed dry kibble (too high in carbohydrates, too low in moisture, among other things). This leads people to feed canned foods. But canned foods loaded with gluten and carrageenan can cause severe problems as well.

Be a label reader. If you see gluten or carrageenan in the pet food, put it back on the shelf. Do not feed these ingredients to your pets. Feed them a species-appropriate, meat based diet like fresh, frozen, or freeze-dried raw food or a home prepared diet. Don't subject your pets to the poor ingredients found in low quality processed pet foods.

Saturday, March 19, 2016


Having pets in your home is like having toddlers. They seem to find things that aren't good for them, even when we are careful. But here is a list of items that can be particularly toxic to your pets.

1. Some human foods: grapes, raisins, onions, chocolate, macadamia nuts, bread dough, and caffeine can all be toxic to pets. Grapes and raisins are common snacks for children, so be sure the kids are instructed not to share. Onions can cause hemolytic anemia and pose a greater risk to cats than dogs, but should be avoided for either species. Chocolate toxicity is particularly problematic around certain holidays - Halloween, Valentines' Day, Easter, and during holiday baking. Dark chocolate contains more of the toxic ingredient theobromine and smaller amounts cause greater toxicity than mild chocolate. Bread dough containing yeast will expand in the stomach and produce alcohol, which leads to alcohol toxicity, seizures, and bloating. Dogs getting into the trash may eat coffee grounds, so hide the trashcans.

2. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener, can be found in sugar free candy and gum, toothpaste, mouthwash, baked goods, and more recently, is being added to common food products like peanut butter. Xylitol causes low blood sugar and liver failure. Most cases I have seen involve children sharing with pets or pets getting into a purse containing gum or breath mints.

3. Cooked bones. Many pet owners bring home their steak bones from dining out to give to their dogs. Not only can they get diarrhea and pancreatitis from the high fat content of the prime rib, they also risk ingesting splintered bones that can pierce the bowel. Chicken and turkey bones stolen from the trash are another prime culprit. Take all bones to the outside trash cans and make sure the lids are secured.

4. Prescription Drugs. Animal poison control help lines list prescription drugs near the top of the list for reported exposures. Particularly, antidepressants and medications for ADD and ADHD. Do not leave these medications on bedside tables, even if they are in containers. Put them in a drawer or cabinet out of reach. Prescription pet medications can be just as toxic if eaten accidentally in excess, particularly flavored, chewable medications that taste like treats.

5. Nonprescription Drugs. Over the counter medications like acetaminophin (Tylenol), Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Alleve) can cause liver failure, kidney failure, and gastrointestinal ulceration. In cats, one tablet of acetaminophen can be a deadly dose. Never give an over the counter medication to your pet without asking your veterinarian first.

6. Mouse and rat poison. These baits usually contain grains so the rodents will eat them. Dogs and cats may also be drawn to them. For cats, eating a rodent that has ingested the poison will have the same effect as eating the bait directly. The poisons can cause internal bleeding, bruising, liver and kidney failure, and brain swelling. The poisons can affect the pet for weeks, resulting in prolonged treatment if ingested.

7. Cleaning chemicals. This includes a very long list of household products including bathroom and kitchen cleansers, bleach, laundry detergent, and even "natural" household cleaners. Scented products like potpourri and plug ins can also be deadly.

8. Insecticides. Not only does this include household sprays, baits, and liquids, it also includes many of the chemicals sold by veterinarians or over the counter that are meant to be applied on or fed to our pets. Many chemicals are safe for dogs, but not cats, and misapplication results in serious consequences for the kitties. Even though the prescribed chemicals are touted as safe, many pets have succumbed to these products. (Please check out the Facebook pages "Does Bravecto Kill Dogs?" and "Does Nexgard Kill Dogs?") Cats may be sensitive to "natural" essential oils and chrysanthemum based products (pyrethroids).

9. Ethylene glycol. Found in antifreeze, windshield washer fluid, and motor oil. Commonly found where cars have been parked, leaving a puddle of antifreeze behind. This product tastes slightly sweet and animals like the taste. Even a small amount can cause kidney failure. Check for and clean up any spills you find.

10. Small toys, stuffed toys, rawhides, bones. Dogs like to chew. They don't do a good job differentiating their toys from children's toys, so make sure everything gets picked up and put away. Always supervise your pet when giving them a toy to play with or a raw bone to chew. Foreign objects may require surgical removal. For cats, watch particularly when playing with any toys with string, as cats seem to love to eat string.

11. Plants. Some household and ornamental plants can be extremely toxic. Easter lilies are near the top of the list, but sago palm, tulips, hyacinths, azaleas, rhododendron, amaryllis, and poinsettia are also problems.

12. Heavy metals. These may be found in fertilizers, vitamins, lead-based paint, and pennies.

13. Gasoline, kerosene, and tiki torch oil. Spills are common, but need to be cleaned immediately.

14. Tobacco. Tobacco products will cause vomiting and diarrhea and may cause tremors, seizures, and death.

Friday, March 18, 2016


Crated to enjoy his bone in peace
When I posted a video showing the feeding process for our 9 dogs, with 5 of them eating in crates, it sparked a debate about the use of crates. Some people think they are cruel, while others think they are a great invention. When I posted on my personal Facebook page regarding the use of crates, I had 92 responses in favor of the judicious use of crates. Here are some of the pros:
1. Dogs are den animals and see the crate as their den. Wild dogs spend up to 16 hours a day sleeping in their dens.
2. Dogs are like toddlers (particularly puppies) and should not be allowed free range in the house with no supervision when owners are away. Electric cords are not chew toys.
3. Crates can be used to separate dogs at feeding times so medications in food go to the correct dogs, there is no food guarding, and dogs can eat at their own speed.
4. Dogs that are crate trained will be less stressed when crated at the groomer or veterinary office.
5. Crates are great during transportation, improving pet and driver safety.
6. Crates are great to assist with house training. Dogs will not soil their dens (unless left in the crate too long and they just can't hold it or they have not been properly crate trained and they are anxious).
7. Crates provide a safe haven when workmen or guests go in and out of homes, preventing possible escape through an open door.
8. Crates protect visitors, like small children, if a pet may get overwhelmed or be prone to nip or jump up and scratch.
9. Dogs that are used to crates won't complain if they have an injury and need to be confined for recovery.
10. Puppy mill survivors sometimes view the crate as a safe haven (my Lora Lu loved the crate) because that is all they know.
Making her own den under a chair
11. Crates provide a safe haven for sleeping and alone time.

Reasons why people dislike crates:
1. Crates have been used by some as a form of punishment.
This is not the purpose of a crate. It should be a safe haven.
2. Confinement is cruel. I agree, if you leave your pet in
there 6 to 12 hours a day with no relief. Puppies should be in there no more than 3 to 4 hours at a time.
3. Some dogs go crazy in a crate and hurt themselves trying
to get out. This is true - for dogs that have not been
properly trained to use a crate.
4. Dogs can hurt themselves by getting paws or toes stuck in wires or holes in the crate. This is true, but they could also get hurt many other ways while living outside a crate. We had 3 torn ACL's in 4 months, which all occurred while playing outside in freedom. I have never had a dog get hurt in a crate.

For tips on proper crate training, check out this advice by Dr. Karen Becker.

We do not crate our dogs, other than at feeding time, to make sure everyone gets the right food, the right medications, and they do not feel threatened so they can eat at their own pace. We do have open crates around the house, which some dogs choose to go in on their own when they want a little privacy. Others choose the sofa or the bed :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


For years, people have been reporting finding foreign objects in their pets' kibble. We've almost come to expect it (and we should expect it). Most people don't examine the kibble that closely, but if they did, we would undoubtedly see even more photos like these. Kibble with pieces of plastic, wire, feathers, and hair protruding are commonplace. Why do all these things end up in pet food? It's easy to understand if you know how kibble is made.

Chicken meal and poultry meal ingredients are commonly made by vacuuming WHOLE chickens into a grinder. Obviously, this would include the feathers (not to mention intestines and their contents). Feathers don't disintegrate completely during grinding and cooking, which means you can find pieces of feathers sticking out of the food.

When animals are rendered to make meat and bone meal, animal fat, animal digest, or meat by-product meal, the entire animal carcass is melted down. This includes the hide and hair. Once the grease or fat is removed from the cooking process, the remaining cooked meat is run over shaker screens that remove the largest chunks of bone and hair. However, the hair may not be completely removed, leaving pieces of hair large enough to be found in the final product. The hair from pigs is particularly coarse, which leads some pet food companies to claim that small metal filaments found                                                       in the food are actually swine hair.

One of the most important pieces of equipment used in the production of meat meal for kibble in large factories is a magnet. Why are magnets needed in the production of pet food? The reason is simple - barn yard animals are full of metal. Cows are fed magnets to prevent "hardware disease". When cows are fed, they commonly pick up pieces of wire, screws, and nails around the feeding area. The pieces of metal settle in the reticulum (one of the four stomachs of cows) and can perforate the stomach. The magnets collect all the metal and hold it in one place so it won't kill the cow. When the cow is slaughtered, the pieces of metal and the magnets get ground in the process. It is estimated 75% of cows going to slaughter contain metal fragments. So the magnets used to process meat to make dog food are supposed to remove any metal pieces after the cow is slaughtered. Chickens may have metal bands on their legs, cows may have metal identification tags on their ears. All these pieces of metal are included when the animals are slaughtered.

The barnyard can also have pieces and bits of plastic that animals can ingest. Hay bales are bound with plastic or wire and trash from fields gets incorporated into the hay when it is baled. This all gets ground into animal feed, which then ends up in pet food when all is said and done.

So don't be surprised next time you find foreign material in the kibble. It's there.

Friday, March 11, 2016


In a recent post by Susan Thixton at truthaboutpetfood, she stated: "I directly asked the FDA – “Is FDA going to continue to allow non-slaughtered, dead livestock – that are a direct violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act – into pet food?” The FDA told us ‘Yes – they will continue to allow animals that have died otherwise than by slaughter into pet food as long as the material has been treated to kill living dangerous bacteria’.The FDA openly admitted they will continue to allow pet food to violate federal law.
The simple truth of this situation: with the aid of FDA, the pet food industry is allowed to make billions of dollars each year selling adulterated pet foods to unknowing consumers, and pets are dying because of it. Some would call that aiding and abetting a criminal."

For those not familiar with this debate, the legal definition of pet food ingredients set by AAFCO, states that slaughtered animals can be used to make pet feed. State and federal laws state that pet feed is considered adulterated if it contains parts from animals that did not die at slaughter - as in: road kill, diseased and cancer filled carcasses,euthanized dogs, cats, and zoo animals, and animals that have died in the field and then transported un-refrigerated to rendering plants. At the rendering plant the carcasses are subjected to high heat to basically melt them. Included in the "melting" are I.D. tags, pesticide tags, drug residues, maggots, and all manner of toxins. Endotoxins are released from bacteria when they are killed and the endotoxins remain, even after heating. Bacteria commonly found in the bowel are some of the biggest producers of endotoxins. When the entire carcass, including the intestines and rotting putrid meat, is rendered, endotoxins are released. The endotoxins can lead to liver disease, reduced platelet counts, leaky gut, allergic reactions, inflammation, and in some cases, death for our pets. 
How do you know if the pet food you use contains these ingredients? Some common ingredients to avoid include Animal Digest, Animal Fat, Meat and Bone Meal, Animal By-Product Meal, Meat Meal, and Meat By-Product Meal. However, any kind of Poultry Meal or Poultry By-Product Meal will most likely contain the entire bird, including feathers and intestines and fecal matter, as poultry slaughter for pet food usually means grinding of the entire bird. 

How do you know how the different meat and poultry meals in your pet food are produced? You don't. Because nothing has to be revealed on the label. And many pet food companies buy meal that is produced elsewhere to mix into their pet food product. When people ask me why I won't feed kibble, I think this pretty much sums it up. For my pets, home cooked and high quality raw food are the only meals they eat.