Sunday, January 31, 2016


Rendering plant meat awaiting processing

The FDA considers meats to be safe, functional, and handled appropriately when they include 4D animals (not slaughtered, but those that were dead, dying, disabled, or diseased - animal parts including cancers, tumors, and infected wounds).This is a photo of a rendering plant. Notice the meat is lying out in the sun, no refrigeration. These meats undergo chemical, enzyme, and heat treatment to destroy bacteria. YUCK! This is a typical low quality pet food ingredient. It may appear on the label as Animal Digest, Meat and Bone Meal, Meat By-Product Meal, Animal By-Product Meal, or Animal Fat. Notice the "animal" is not named, like beef or chicken. That's because this pile can contain ANY animal, including dead zoo and farm animals, as well as road kill. Commonly, the entire animal goes into the pit, including hide, hair, hooves, and intestines. That means I.D. tags made of plastic and metal also go into the melting process. When the meal is further processed, magnets are used to remove the majority of the metal, but some gets by, which is why people post photos of kibble containing metal pieces on social media. Animal Digest can also be found in probiotics and supplements sold to you through your veterinarian. Read labels carefully and say NO to any products that contain these ingredients. 
Remember that 96% of the pet food sold in the world is low quality, made by big international companies. Yes, there are some smaller, good companies. Let's support them in their quest to help our pets live longer, healthier lives.

Friday, January 29, 2016


A few days ago I picked up Abby to put her in bed for the night. Abby is a 10 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I thought I felt something hard under her belly when I lifted her, so I rolled her over for a belly rub and found this:
The hard lump that I felt

It was very hard and immovable, both of which are indicators of an unfriendly tumor. I knew this was a mammary tumor due to location. The fact that it was at the hind end of the mammary chain was cause for even more concern, as those tend to be more aggressive in my experience. Of course, I was then in full panic mode, so the other five girls were immediately treated to complete belly rubs and breast examination. They were thrilled to get the extra attention and I'm pretty sure they've decided this needs to be a new daily ritual (which it does).

Abby was treated to a trip to the hospital in the morning for chest x-rays, physical exam, and lab work in preparation for surgical removal of the mass. She didn't mind the pokes and prods, since she was the "special child" that got to spend a day at work with Mom. The following day she wasn't quite as thrilled because her breakfast consisted of one tablespoon of food to hold her morning medications. Abby is a "foodaholic" and hates to miss a meal. But the chance to get in the car with Mom, yet again, was enough to take her mind off her growling tummy.

Abby was sedated, prepped for surgery, and had her mass removed without any problems. Thankfully, Abby is a dog without a heart problem, which so many Cavaliers suffer with. She was a champ through surgery and recovery. By the time we headed for home in the evening she was begging for a double dinner to make up for the shortage of breakfast.

We are still awaiting biopsy results, but we will deal with whatever we find. For now, Abby and the other girls are just excited about the prospect of daily belly rubs. So do your pets a favor - give them daily belly and body rubs. Feel for lumps and bumps. If you find something, get it checked as soon as possible. The best protection is early detection. This really applies to any disease, so don't forget those complete examinations twice a year with your veterinarian. Be proactive about your pet's good health.
The offending culprit after removal

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Pets provide us with things we don't readily receive from the world around us. Here are a few:
1. Your pets greet you with incredible enthusiasm when you come home . No one else is that happy to see you.
2. Your pets know when you need a hug or a snuggle. They will lick your tears away and comfort you in bad times.
3. Your pets love your cooking, even if it's slightly underdone or downright crispy.
4. Your pets will pre-warm your bed on a cold night.
5. Walking your dog provides exercise that is fun; so much better than going to the gym.
6. Pets provide you with friends - how many people have met great online friends through social media groups talking about dogs and cats?
7. Pets attract people - it's impossible to walk your dog without having people smile, nod, wave, or come over to pet the dog.
8. You're never lonely if you have a pet. They listen while you tell them about your no good, rotten, horrible day.
9. Pet's can lower your blood pressure and bring a sense of calm.
10. Having pets in the home can actually decrease the chances of a child developing allergies and asthma.
So thank your pets right now. Don't wait. Give them a hug and remind them you love them as much as they love you. It's important to them.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


Interestingly, while the Pet Food Committee at the mid-year AAFCO meeting was unable to come to agreement on the definition of "human grade" in reference to pet food, the Ingredient Definitions Committee did approve the human grade definition as: "Every ingredient and the resulting product are stored, handled, processed, and transported in a manner that is consistent and compliant with regulations for current good manufacturing practices for human edible foods as specified in 21 CFR part 117". In this definition, the term is only acceptable in reference to the product as a whole when every ingredient and the resulting product are human grade. The entire product must be human edible and no claims can be made for individual ingredients within the product. The producer must have documentation supporting that each of the individual ingredient suppliers has verified that the individual ingredients supplied to the manufacturer are fit for human consumption. The manufacturing facility must be licensed to produce human food by the appropriate authority.

Interestingly, the one big pet food company representative that seemed to have a problem with the human grade discussion was the man from Blue Buffalo. He made comments about grapes being considered human edible, but that didn't mean they should be in pet food, so saying that something is human edible doesn't qualify it as a good ingredient in pet food. No one was really sure what point he was trying to make and I'm still confused.

They also passed a definition for "Feed Grade" as "material that is safe, functional, and suitable for its intended use in animal food, handled and labeled appropriately, and conforms to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act". "Suitable for Use in Animal Feed" carries the same definition.

There were over 60 definitions up for discussion at this meeting. I had to leave fifteen minutes early to catch a plane. They were still on number 17 three hours into the meeting. I doubt they got through the other 43 in the last 15 minutes. Ah, the slowness of bureaucracy.

AND...they were still unable to make a definition for "Animal Food". I never in my wildest dreams thought that would be difficult to define. 

Friday, January 22, 2016


The Pet Food Committee meeting at the mid-year AAFCO meeting was, as usual, one of the most interesting. One of the best things to come out of the committee recently, in my opinion, will be the addition of calorie content statements on the labels of all pet foods, supplements, and treats, by January 2017. This could provide extremely valuable information to owners of obese pets who hand out treats like candy, ignoring the fact that there are actually countable calories being doled out.

Another step forward was a published method for determining the carbohydrate content of pet foods. Currently, carbohydrate content is not listed on the bag under ingredient analysis, leaving the calculations up to the pet owner, assuming they have any idea how to even arrive at an estimate (most have no clue, why would they?).

The biggest topic for discussion was the definition of "human grade" versus "feed grade". In my opinion, this was one of the most important discussions of the meeting. Hundreds of pet food companies currently use the terms "USDA inspected meats", "human grade", "human quality", etc, but can they legally make those claims and what do they really mean? (And since USDA inspected poultry can contain salmonella, how helpful is that statement?) Since there is currently no definition, no one is chasing down companies making those claims. According to the FDA, they had so many requests for approval to use the term human grade that they could not possibly handle them all. So they responded by pushing the requests back to the states and allowing them to decide who can use the claims "human grade". Interestingly, the term "feed grade" has been used since the beginning of AAFCO, but was never defined. (I'm happy to say a new definition was made this year and that will be in the next blog.) While no consensus was reached at this meeting for a complete definition of human grade, we were promised that the working group would bring back a completed definition to be voted on for a Model Bill at the August AAFCO meeting. The current proposal includes:

EVERY ingredient AND the resulting product must be stored, handled, processed, and transported in a manner that is consistent and compliant with regulations for good manufacturing practices for human edible foods.

This is important because a lot of companies say "human grade" but then don't handle the products like human grade. With the new definition, the manufacturing facility would also have to be licensed as a human food facility. However, the product would still have to be clearly labeled as intended for use as animal food. The whole product could be labeled "human grade", but individual ingredients would NOT be able to be listed as "human grade". If a company used all human grade meats, grains, vegetables, and fruits, but then they added a feed grade vitamin/mineral supplement, the product would not be able to be labeled or advertised as "human grade". If the products were assembled into a pet food product in a pet food plant, the resulting product would not be considered "human grade". It will be interesting to see how many pet food companies really care enough to go to the extreme measures of having a "human grade" pet food with these restrictions. I got the impression the folks at FDA don't expect more than a handful to do this, making their job easier (actually, I got the impression they don't expect anyone to do this).

Of course, as I am writing this, I have a pet food package label sitting in front of me that says "100% human-grade ingredients". Will this be the company that goes for the "human grade" labeling?

Thursday, January 21, 2016


The Model Bills and Regulations Committee meeting at the mid-year AAFCO meeting was filled with the usual boring minutiae. Most of it was so confusing no one had any idea what the discussion really involved. In a nutshell (I think), they were trying to include wording in a Model Bill, which is what states can adopt as their rules for regulating animal feed, that would align more closely with the new Food Safety Modernization Act. Three options were presented and none were chosen, after a long hour of discussion. Back to the drawing board.

The next hour revolved around trying to define the terms "Animal food" and "Feed". Now, you would think that an organization that defines pet food ingredients and determines levels of nutrients in animal diets, would have come up with this definition a hundred years ago. And you would think it would be easy to define. However, that's not the case! And after another hour of discussion, no consensus could be reached, so there are still no definitions for animal food or feed.

There was also a debate between the committee members about the lack of enforcement of current definitions for products used in pet food. Susan Thixton pointed out that meat such as beef, pork, lamb, or goat is currently defined by AAFCO as the clean flesh derived from slaughtered animals. In reality, it is common practice to use meats from decayed, dead, or diseased animals in pet food. No one enforces the definitions currently in place. The fireworks only lasted a few minutes, then they went back to a snooze fest of discussion that led nowhere. Sigh....

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


By far, the most interesting session at the AAFCO Mid Year Meeting was the presentation given by Dr. Xin Li of the FDA concerning the summary of FDA sampling in raw food for dogs and cats. Dr. Li is a microbiologist at the CVM, which is the veterinary branch of the FDA. This office deals with recalls and disease outbreaks, and includes the Office of Surveillance and Compliance.

In May 2015, the assignment was issued to test and culture raw pet foods. Raw foods are becoming more popular, so the raw pet food companies have a target on their backs. The first slides Dr. Li put up showed results of Salmonella prevalence in DRY pet food and treats for the years 2002-2014. Before 2010, dry pet food had a contamination rate of about 10%. The manufacturers must have gotten better at controlling contamination after that, because the rates have fallen to about 1.5% since then. Treats had a 12% contamination rate prior to 2007, then fell to just under 5%. Since 2010, treats are still coming in with about 3% of those tested containing salmonella. One of the biggest offenders in this category is pig ears.
Roxanne, Susan, BC, Dr. Jean, and Dr. Judy

The reason for the testing and concern about Salmonella contamination in pet food is the association between human outbreaks of salmonellosis and contaminated pet food. The CDC reported 79 cases of human salmonellosis from DRY dog food between January 2006 and October 2008. In 2012, 49 human cases were linked to DRY dog food. 42% of those people were hospitalized for treatment. So the FDA believes regulatory action is warranted in cases involving pet foods contaminated with any Salmonella bacteria, due to the heightened human health risk, given the high likelihood of direct human contact with such food and pets eating the food.

In a published study in 2014, 196 samples of raw dog and cat food were tested and 15 (7.7%) were found to be positive for Salmonella bacteria. An additional 32 (16.3%) were found to be positive for Listeria.

In a study performed in 2002, 80% of samples of raw chicken dog food diets tested positive for Salmonella. 30% of the stool samples from dogs fed the diet tested positive.

In 2007 a study showed that 50% of dogs fed Salmonella-contaminated raw food diets shed Salmonella in their feces. Because the bacteria is shed in the stool, there is concern that people living with those dogs may be exposed and suffer illness.

Because of these studies, the FDA decided raw pet foods needed to be tested. This is interesting because no studies were shown that linked shedding of Salmonella in feces of dogs fed contaminated DRY food. It’s also interesting because NO HUMAN ILLNESSES have been linked to contaminated raw food, only dry food and treats.

After all the testing was done in the past six months, there were recalls of raw pet food associated with Salmonella contamination. These included Oma’s Pride raw cat food, J.J. Fuds Raw Pet food, OC Raw cat and dog food, Nature’s Variety, Northwest Farm Food Cooperative, K-9 Kraving Dog food, and Bravo Raw Pet Food. Listeria was found and resulted in recalls by J.J. Fuds, Carnivore Meat Company, K-9 Kraving, and Stella & Chewy’s. All products were purchased from retail stores for testing. The FDA was also looking for E. coli in samples, but was unable to find any.

Of the batches tested by the FDA, 4 frozen raw products had positive tests (11.4%) and one freeze dried raw product tested positive (3.1% of samples).  Susan Thixton (Association for Truth in Pet Food) boldly asked how many tons of dry pet food have been recalled versus how many tons of raw pet food have been recalled. There was no response other than, “we do not have that data.” You can bet there has been a LOT more dry food contaminated than raw food.

The FDA has a ZERO tolerance to E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria found in pet food. What is interesting is that the USDA has a HIGH tolerance for bacterial growth in USDA approved poultry meats sold for human consumption. On average, 20% of chicken purchased in grocery stores will have a positive culture for salmonella, which sickens more than one million people per year according to some estimates (others go up to 48 million!). Why the discrepancy? Because they ASSUME all individuals will cook the grocery store meat to a high enough internal temperature to kill the bacteria before consumption. They also ASSUME all individuals will use safe handling practices for raw meat in the kitchen. Yet the chance your pet MIGHT shed bacteria in the feces (yes, in one study 30% had positive feces and in the other study 50% had positive feces) results in ZERO tolerance for salmonella in pet food. And while contaminated dry pet food and treats have caused many human illnesses, the FDA feels it is imperative to go after raw food companies.

Roxanne Strong, of Answers Pet Food, brought up a valid point to the committee. By targeting the raw food companies and publishing statements against raw food companies, pet owners are being driven to a DIY (do it yourself) form of raw feeding. They purchase contaminated food approved by the USDA in the supermarkets and feed it raw to their pets, assuming they are feeding a good product. The chances of contamination of a high quality raw pet food are much less than the chances of contamination when feeding USDA grocery store meats. Dr. Jean Hofve was met with laughter when she suggested that perhaps the solution would be to clean up the meat industry…

Monday, January 18, 2016


This may be an omen - the "Mid" year meeting has been changed, apparently. Every sign in the complex has a typo. Proof reading anyone?

When I attended my first AAFCO meeting six months ago we were lucky enough to have ten consumer advocates sitting in our row. We are not so lucky this time, but we do have Susan Thixton (Truth About Pet Food), Jean Hofve DVM (Only Natural Pet), B.C. Henschen (Platinum Paws in Indiana), Roxanne Strong (Answers Pet Food), and me. We are a small, but mighty group.

The first morning was spent with the usual introductions. There are approximately 350 people in attendance (yep, we are heavily outnumbered) from 5 countries and 42 states. There are 30 FDA representatives, ZERO people from USDA (which is the norm, sadly), and Purina had the most representatives for a single pet food company. All the big players are here: Simmons Pet Food, Hills, Champion Pet Foods, Elanco, Nutramax, Mars, Royal Canin, Big Heart, Halo, Diamond, Wellpet, and BilJac, among others. The National Renderer's Association, National Oil Seed Processors, Distiller's Trade, Cargill, Organics Recycling, and a whole bunch of different ingredient manufacturers are here.

One that stuck out to me was 3D Corporate Solutions. I couldn't figure out what they could possibly represent, so I looked them up. I found this video, which you might find interesting. If you don't want to watch the whole thing, just head to the 3 minute mark, where you can learn about hydrolyzed chicken feather protein for dog food. Mmmm. Mmmm.

Stay tuned for my blog on the next sessions, where we get to hear about the new Food Safety Modernization Act, which is taking only about a decade to implement, as well as the results of the "FDA Sampling in Raw Food for Dogs and Cats Initiative".

Sunday, January 17, 2016


What's in YOUR pet's food??

This week I will be spending two days listening to representatives from the pet food industry, AAFCO, FDA, rendering companies, feed ingredient companies, and waste food industries as they work on new definitions and rules for the animal feed industry. The first time I attended six months ago, I was appalled by the rudeness and egos of the officials and their blatant disregard for the consumer's input on pet food ingredients and labeling requests. 

I have been looking at a list of some of the ingredient definitions that will be discussed this week. Do you know what used cooking oil, recovered retail food, human food by-products, synthetic iron oxide, toasted partially defatted cooked cottonseed flour, and fabricated meat are used for? ANIMAL FEED. Do you know what "recovered retail food and human food by-products are? Do you know what happens to all the spoiled grocery products from the store? All the outdated dairy and cold case products, as well as stale bakery products? They are thrown in the dumpster behind the store. Then they are transported to the rendering plant. They are melted down IN THE WRAPPERS AND CONTAINERS and used in animal feed. Do you want this to be in your pet food? Do you want this to be fed to the cows from which you will be deriving meat and milk? What happens to the chemicals in those plastic containers when melted under high heat, then eaten and passed out into the milk we drink?

When we, as consumer advocates, questioned these practices at the last meeting, we were met with laughter, boos, and jeers. We were told we had no respect for the environment because we would rather see all these products go into a landfill than be recycled for animal feed. Hey, I love a clean environment, but I love my body and my pets. And I don't want to eat melted plastic that has been recycled through a cow. 

Stay tuned for my series of articles about the meetings over the next few days. If they are anything like the last time, there are bound to be fireworks.


As much as I love using real food to feed dogs, I cringe when owners feed an unbalanced diet. This is a middle aged, small breed dog, presented for mild seizures. On physical exam, he had incredibly dry, flaky, peeling skin. He had no fleas or external parasites and was not itchy. His tongue was pale, dry, and cracked. The owner fed the dog home cooked chicken. She stated he would not eat dog food. When I asked if she fed anything else, she stated he would eat raw carrots as treats occasionally. She said he hated green vegetables. Sometimes he would eat a little rice. When I gently informed her that I was pleased that she loved her dog enough to cook for him, but the unbalanced diet was most likely causing his problems, she stated she balances it by feeding him a whole lot of Marro Bone treats:

The ingredients for MarroBone are : wheat flour, meat & bone meal (rendered product, can contain heavy metals in high concentration and can be made from ANY dead, diseased, or euthanized animal), sugar (has no place in pet food but makes them want to eat it), natural poultry flavor (not real poultry, just a chemical flavoring), animal fat preserved with BHA/BHT (both proven to be carcinogenic and not allowed in pet food in Europe), cooked bone marrow, calcium carbonate, salt, malted barley, sodium metabisulfite preservative (known to be carcinogenic), Vitamins A, B12, D3, E, niacin, B6, B2, B1, and folic acid. Sadly, the good news is, although the product has plenty of carcinogenic ingredients, it actually did offer some vitamins.

The Traditional Chinese Medicine Diagnosis for this little guy is Liver Blood Deficiency. Liver Blood Deficiency can lead to seizures and dry, flaky skin. The owner was provided with a home cooked puploaf recipe that is balanced and will provide plenty of Blood Tonic foods (liver, kale, sardines, beef) to build up this pup. Hopefully, with a change of diet (and no more of these treats), he'll make a full recovery.

If you want to cook for your pets, I applaud you. But please be sure you are providing a proper diet that will not cause health issues for your pet.

Saturday, January 16, 2016


Meet Bodie. Bodie is a middle-aged Cavachon (Cavalier/Bichon). Bodie was diagnosed with kidney failure on July 10, 2015. His veterinarian said he only had a few days to live, he was suffering, and the family should euthanize him. His BUN and Creatinine levels were very high (200 and 10, normal 31 and 1.5). He had not responded to fluid therapy, was vomiting, and not eating. Luckily, his "mom" wouldn't accept that recommendation and decided to try alternative care.

This picture was taken January 15, 2016. As you can see, Bodie is alive and well, happy, and loves life. He races around with his sister and loves to play. His blood values are still pretty awful (in the same range), but he's not letting on that he has a problem. Sure, he has some not-so-good days, but the family takes them in stride, hoping he will continue to bounce back.

Bodie receives subcutaneous fluids with B vitamins at home (he is not a fan, but his dad gets the job done), along with supplements to keep him feeling well. He gets acupuncture every two weeks. He is NOT fed a prescription diet. We didn't like the ingredients and he didn't like the food (smart boy). Mom cooks for him and when he's having a really bad couple of days she's been know to stoop so low as to get him a McDonald's burger - really bad, but he bounces back!

His family has learned to go with the flow. Accept that not all days will be perfect. Some days he turns his nose up at food. Sometimes he vomits, but not often. When he has a bad tummy day, mom reaches for the pepcid, but it's not often.

I have treated many dogs with kidney failure and many have had this kind of response. As long as the good days outnumber the bad, you don't have to give up. By using alternative therapies combined with traditional medicine, Bodie has the benefits of both worlds and he is thriving.


Eggplant on the heat vent, her favorite spot
Some pets have "Yin Deficiency" and show signs of excess heat in their body by panting, drinking excessively, and having a dry coat, nose and pads. But other pets may have the opposite problem - they are cold. Since "Yang" means warm, pets who are cold have a "Yang Deficiency". This is seen commonly in older animals, animals with short gray coats (they usually have a "Metal" personality, which is a winter personality - cold weather, likes order and routine), and in thin animals.

Yang supplies warmth and energy, so many times these animals have difficulty getting going. They may lie down a lot, have weak hindquarters (with or without arthritis), and move slowly with the hind end lower, almost crouched. These pets rarely pant (unless stressed) and have a pale, wet tongue. They may have a drippy nose.

Eggplant is one of our kitties. She is middle aged and her favorite place to sit or sleep is on the heat vent. She finds every sunny spot in the house and loves to lie on the lounge chairs by the pool on 90-degree summer days in full sun. Our older dog Freckles wears a coat all year long. She has weak hindquarters and leaks urine. When fed meals that are warm (temperature) and warming from the interior (Yang tonics), her urine leakage is much less. If we feed her "Yin tonics", or cooling foods, she leaks huge puddles of urine and has more hind end weakness.

Sleeping on a blanket in her coat
Foods that can help warm pets (and us) from within include venison, lamb, chicken, goat, pheasant, kangaroo, kidney, oats, white rice, ginger, cinnamon, pumpkin, garlic, hawthorn, sweet potato, and turmeric. By feeding a diet using a warming protein base, we can contribute more energy to these pets by warming from within.

Thursday, January 14, 2016


In traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, Yin and Yang are the basis of all life. Yin equates to the female characteristics while Yang equates to the male characteristics. Yin traits include moisture, coolness, softness, darkness, and sluggishness. Yang traits include dryness, heat, light, and high energy. Young pets with more energy are considered to be more Yang, while older pets may have more Yin characteristics if they are very sluggish or obese.

Some older pets pant a lot, have dry brittle coats, and dry cracked noses and foot pads. Those pets are lacking moisture and are considered "Yin deficient". We also see diseases that cause pets to be "Yin deficient" - think of diseases that cause increased thirst and urination: diabetes, Cushing's disease, hypothyroidism, lymphoma, and nephritis (kidney disease). By drinking more, the pets are trying to increase the moisture in their bodies. By panting, they are trying to cool the body (they can't sweat, so panting is their cooling mechanism). Pets with Yin deficiency will usually have a dark reddish tongue that is fairly dry.

A simple way to treat pets that are "Yin deficient" (hot, dry, panting, dry brittle coat, nails, nose, and pads, drinking more) is to manipulate their diet. Everything that is eaten has specific effects on the body. Certain foods are considered to be "Yin Tonics" and will help cool and moisturize the body. These include pork, crab, clam, duck, rabbit, sardines, eggs, barley, millet, quinoa, black beans, asparagus, pears, watermelon, bananas, and squash. By selecting or making diets that contain some of these ingredients you can help correct a Yin deficiency in your pet.

Dry processed kibble contributes to Yin deficiency, as this form of food is practically devoid of moisture. Simply "floating" the kibble by adding water does not solve the problem. Dry kibble has also been robbed of many nutrients during processing. Yin deficient animals will show rapid improvement by eliminating processed kibble from the diet and incorporating fresh, high moisture, Yin tonic foods into the diet. Raw food may work for many, but even switching to a high quality canned food can make a world of difference.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


Ginger is one of the healthiest and tastiest spices known. It is closely related to turmeric; the root or rhizome is the part of the plant eaten. The bioactive ingredient gingerol  provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Ginger can be fed fresh, ground, dried, or added to meals. In Chinese Medicine, ginger is considered to be a Qi tonic (energy) and is warming, helping the body to warm from within. Personally, I've been gulping ginger tea all winter.

Ginger is highly effective for treating nausea and upset stomach. It warms and soothes the bowel and is often used to combat motion sickness and nausea associated with chemotherapy. Ginger is a "Qi Tonic", which means it provides energy, or Qi, to the body. One effect is improved gastric emptying, which moves the food through the bowels and decreases discomfort and bloating after eating. This effect reduces acid reflux and the associated discomfort. Ginger stimulates production of saliva and bile, helping digest food more efficiently.

Ginger extract can inhibit the growth of bacteria and has proven to be very beneficial for treating cases of stomatitis and gingivitis. There are some indications of antiviral activity as well.

Studies have shown ginger to be effective in decreasing muscle and joint pain associated with exercise and osteoarthritis, allowing patients to decrease the amount of medication needed. The anti-inflammatory effects can help with any inflammatory disease process in the body.

Ginger can help lower and stabilize blood sugar in diabetes, which may help decrease insulin requirements.

High cholesterol and triglycerides are often seen in certain breeds, like Schnauzers, and can also be associated with low thyroid function or hypothyroid disease. Studies have shown significant reductions in cholesterol and triglycerides in animals and humans fed ginger.

Early studies have indicated that gingerol may help prevent or combat some forms of cancer, specifically pancreatic, mammary, colon, prostate, and ovarian cancer. Additional studies are needed to confirm mechanisms of action.

For older pets with cognitive dysfunction (dementia), ginger has been shown to improve reaction time and working memory in people and helps protect against age-related decline in brain function. The same could hold true for senior pets.

Ginger is soothing and helps decrease mucous production, which is great for treating coughs, colds, and sinus infections. Animals can be given ginger tea, which most of them enjoy.

Ginger also contains beta-carotene, capsaicin, caffeic acid, curcumin, and salicylate, all of which contribute to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant functions.

I add ginger to every home-made meal I make for my pets. I also grate fresh ginger for them daily. 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon for my 15 to 25 pound dogs keeps them fit and healthy, along with fresh, wholesome foods.

Don't overlook the superpowers of ginger!

Monday, January 11, 2016


Studies have shown that large breed dogs that are spayed and neutered have a much higher incidence of cancer and joint problems. A 2013 study at U.C.Davis looked at two joint disorders and three cancers in Rottweillers - hip dysplasia, ACL tears, lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, and mast cell tumor. The results showed that rates of occurrence were significantly higher in both males and females that were neutered either early or late, compared to intact dogs. In response to this study, and others, veterinarians have started offering "ovary sparing spay" surgery instead of traditional spay and vasectomy instead of neuter. The spay procedure takes a little longer to perform and requires a longer incision to expose the entire uterus, as it must be removed completely, all the way to the cervix, to reduce chances of a stump pyometra. As long as all of the uterus is removed, there will be no bleeding during heats and no risk of uterine infection (pyometra).

Early spay has long been advocated as a way to avoid mammary cancer and pyometra (uterine infection). Mammary cancer is still a risk when the ovaries are left intact, but mammary cancer has only about a fifty percent risk of malignancy in dogs. Owners can do breast exams to feel for any early lumps or thickenings in the mammary glands and ultrasound can be performed to detect early nodules.

No good studies have been performed on smaller breeds of dog, but I have to believe the hormones are in the system for a reason. Presumably, estrogen related incontinence problems would not occur if the ovaries were left intact. ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears and degenerative joint disease, along with cancers might have decreased incidence.

The decision you make regarding the type of surgery performed should be discussed with your veterinarian. Obviously, waiting to spay requires vigilance so your young dog does not get bred on the first or second heat. I will only discuss waiting for maturity with responsible pet parents in my office.

Studies have not been performed in this regard for cats, but mammary cancer in cats has closer to 95% malignancy rate, so I would not recommend this procedure at this time. Cats are much more resistant to bone cancer and hemangiosarcoma and rarely have urinary incontinence issues.

Saturday, January 9, 2016


Do you have a dog with allergies? Do your pets break out in hives or scratch a lot? Do you use carpet powders? Many pets will react fairly violently to carpet powders and sprays. Remember that your pets are in close contact with the chemicals in these powders and their skin is in direct contact.

Ingredients for Febreze (most of which we can't pronounce) include:
Ingredient Purpose Purified Water- Processing Aid, Alcohol- Drying Aid, Cyclodextrin- Odor Eliminator: Derived from Corn Starch and eliminates malodors, Emulsifiers & Spreading Agent : Modified polydimethicone Diethylene glycol-  Helps Febreze spread easily and penetrate into your fabrics to target the source of odor. Hydrogenated Castor Oil- Helps keep Febreze Stable over time, Acrylic Copolymer Agglomerating Agent: Helps prevent allergens from re-entering the air, Polyacrylate- pH Neutralizers: Sodium Hydroxide- Used to maintain safe pH for your fabrics, Benzisothiazolinone Preservatives: Methyl and Chloromethyl isothiazolinone- Protects product from microbial contamination. Various Perfumes Fragrance: Leaves your fabric with a light fresh scent.

Interestingly, I had to go to the product website to find the ingredients, as they are not listed on the containers. (Is that legal?)

Just as many people cannot tolerate perfumes and fragrances, many pets have similar issues. Respiratory irritation can occur when you are sprinkling the powders, so put your pets outside when you use these. My recommendation is to NOT use these powders, as I have seen too many pets react to them. Professional steam cleaning of carpets is a preferred route to keep your carpets clean and odor-free.  

Friday, January 8, 2016


Another pet food merger was just announced.  Wellpet LLC, has acquired Sojos, a family-owned company offering a line of raw, freeze-dried pet food for dogs and cats.
While WellPet is based in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, USA, the company says Sojos will continue to be based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
WellPet says there will be no changes in the day-to-day operations of either company and that Sojos co-owners will assist with the transition.
Wellpet LLC makes five brands of pet food, including Wellness, Holistic Select, Eagle Pack, Old Mother Hubbard and Sojos.
Wellpet LLC is owned by Berwind Corporation, which is an investment management company. The biggest question we need to ask: is this investment management company truly interested in the well being of our pets, or are they more interested in the bottom line? If present company management at Sojo's maintains autonomy in decision making, there should be no change in quality. But with any buy-out, there are guaranteed to be changes coming. We will have to wait and see.
This information (which is just good business sense) came from the Berwind Corporation website:
Market position
Acquisition targets should be leaders within their niche market.
We measure value at the gross margin level. Berwind only considers companies that consistently deliver high gross margins.
We insist on 100% ownership. We are a cash buyer.