Dog and Cat Food Labels: Marketing Tricks That Cost You Money

Written by Jan on March 24, 2009 – 10:11 am

My good friend Dr. Jean Hofve, veterinarian and former Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Organization, has kindly allowed me to post a great article she wrote on how marketing can obscure the truth about what’s in your dog or cat food. I think you’ll really enjoy this article and her website LittleBigCat.

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A trip down the pet food aisle these days will boggle the mind with all the wonderful claims made by manufacturers for their particular products. But what’s the truth behind all this marvelous hype? You might be very surprised…let’s take a look.

1. Niche claims. Today, if you have an indoor cat, a canine athlete, a Persian, a Bloodhound, or a pet with a tender tummy or itchy feet, you can find a food “designed” just for your pet’s personal needs. Niche marketing has arrived in a big way in the pet food industry. People like to feel special, and a product with specific appeal is bound to sell better than a general product like “puppy food.” But the reality is that there are only two nutritional standards against which all pet foods are measured (adult and growth/gestation/lactation)—everything else is marketing.

2. “Natural” or “Organic” claims. The definition of “natural” adopted by AAFCO is very broad, and allows for artificially processed ingredients that most of us would consider very unnatural indeed. The term “organic,” on the other hand, has a very strict legal definition. However, some companies are adept at evading the intent of these rules. The name of the company or product may be intentionally misleading. For instance, some companies use terms like “Nature” or “Natural” in the brand name, whether or not their products fit the definition of natural.

3. Ingredient quality claims. A lot of pet foods claim they contain “human grade” ingredients. This is a completely meaningless term Read more »

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Tags: cat, cat food, cats, dog, dog food, dogs, food labels, good cat food, good dog food, label terms, marketing, Nutrition, pet food, reading labels, what's really in pet food
Posted under Nutrition, Uncategorized | 24 Comments » | Email This Post

Farmed Salmon in Pet Food: Is It Safe?

Written by Jan on February 20, 2009 – 2:00 am

Salmon in the Wild

Salmon in the Wild

Many of us who are careful about our diets have real concerns about eating farmed salmon and other farmed (aka “ocean-raised”) fish.  We want the Omega-3 fatty acids from the fish oils — for ourselves and for our pets — but wonder if we are trading lower prices for contamination.  This is especially important for pets, most of whom eat the same food every meal, every day. If there’s fish in their food (and it’s sometimes there without our realizing), it’s especially important that it’s safe.

But is wild-caught fish really all that better?  The prices should tell you something. In a store near me, you pay $6.99 per pound for farmed; $16.99 for wild (when you can get it); and $15 or more for farmed fish fed organically. Given these prices, you can bet that Fifi and Fido aren’t getting organic or wild-caught.

The health dangers from farmed fish comes from the contamination of their fat with harmful chemicals called PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyls).  An article called PCBs – Is Farmed Salmon safe to eat?reports: “The manufacture of PCBs was banned in the U.S. in 1979 because of evidence they build up in the environment and can cause harmful health effects. However, PCBs persist in the environment. Fish absorb PCBs from contaminated sediments and from their food.” Read more »

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Tags: cat, dog, dog food, dogs, farmed fish, farmed fish safe, farmed salmon, health, pet, pet food, safe, Safety, salmon
Posted under Nutrition | 10 Comments » | Email This Post

Pesticides & Preventatives Poisoning Pets?

Written by Jan on January 8, 2009 – 3:14 pm

Caution Sign

As most of you know, I have for years been sounding the warning siren about the slow poisoning of dogs from pesticides, co-called “preventatives” and other toxic chemicals. If your e-mails are any indication, many of you are listening. But many of you aren’t. Veterinary waiting rooms continue to be filled with accidentally poisoned pets. Some of these pets don’t survive.

Okay, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: 46% of dogs and 39% of cats dying of disease will die of cancer. Pesticides are proven to increase your dog’s (or cats) chance of getting cancer.  A University of Pennsylvania vet school study showed topical insecticides (aka preventatives) “significantly increased” bladder cancer risk, especially in overweight dogs. Other studies have shown cancer risks from herbicides. Some products meant for pets can even increase the chance you and your children will become ill.

Snail, ant and rodent baits may also prove deadly, sometimes killing quickly, sometimes slowly. Don’t think it can’t happen to your pet. Read more »

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Tags: cats, dogs, flea medicine, flea preventative, heartworm, herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, poison, poison control, preventatives, spot-on flea and tick, tick
Posted under Cancer, Flea and Tick Meds, Pet Meds, Uncategorized | 61 Comments » | Email This Post

Vaccinating Dogs: What Your Vet Hasn’t Told You — A Video

Written by Jan on September 27, 2008 – 10:03 am

Some things we know for sure, then we find out we were dead wrong. This describes my journey through the minefield of vaccination for dogs. Much of this applies to cats, too.

My journey began with, “Let’s vaccinate puppies and dogs against every disease possible — to keep them safe.” After one year of research (now grown to five) and interviews with top pet immunology experts, I evolved to, “Let’s vaccinate only against life-threatening diseases that a dog, as a unique individual, is likely to contract given the dog’s lifestyle, age and locale, and to which he or she does not already have immunity. This sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? It is the same journey taken by every vet school in North America, and by the major vet organizations: the American Animal Hospital Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association.

It is not, unfortunately, the journey taken by way too many veterinary practices, Read more »

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Tags: American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, care book, dog, dog care book, dog care video, dog shots, dogs, how to vaccinate less, safe, safe shots, shots, vaccinating puppies, Vaccination, vaccine, vet, veterinarian, video
Posted under Uncategorized, Vaccination, Veterinarians, Videos | 7 Comments » | Email This Post

Heartworm Protection: Do We Need ProHeart 6?

Written by Jan on June 18, 2008 – 11:06 am

ProHeart 6, a heartworm “preventative” shot providing 6 months of protection against canine heartworms, is back on the market after having been pulled from shelves in 2004 by manufacturer Fort Dodge. More than 5,000 adverse “events,” including hundreds of canine deaths, prompted the FDA to request the drug’s withdrawal. It is being brought back under a “risk minimization action plan” and restricted use program (including vet training and informed consent notification) — an uncommon plan to try to limit damage from the drug.

I wonder, why is ProHeart 6 so indispensable that it must be brought back? Read more »

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Tags: adverse reactions, dogs, FDA, Fort Dodge, heart worm, heartworm, medication, ProHeart 6, side effects, vet, veterinarian
Posted under Heartworms, Pet Meds, Uncategorized | 43 Comments » | Email This Post