The FDA and the AVMA seem to have mounted a significant campaign against raw foods for pets, and we’d like to speak to that, as sometimes their information seems strangely skewed.
Last August (2012), the AVMA issued a statement warning against the safety of feeding raw food due to the risk of salmonella. The biggest problem we have with this is that this implies that there are no risks of salmonella exposure with other pet foods like kibbles. In fact a remarkable number of kibbles, chews and treats for dogs have been recalled for salmonella contamination.
Most concern about salmonella contamination is for the health of the humans involved, as humans are more susceptible to illness from handling salmonella contaminated food than the pets who eat them. What is never acknowledged is that to date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have no confirmed cases of human illness linked to raw pet foods. In stark contrast to this, the same year that the AVMA issued this warning, one of the largest salmonella recalls for kibble occurred in Gaston SC at the Diamond Manufacturing facility, shutting down the production of at least 15 brands of pet food, and resulting in 49 confirmed human cases of Salmonella Infantis linked to kibble pet food manufactured at Diamond’s facility. At least 10 of these people were hospitalized, though reporting is poor for this, so it may have been more.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in the journal Pediatrics that an outbreak of salmonella in 79 people between 2006 and 2008 was caused by contaminated dry pet food. The infections, half of which struck children, were the first known human salmonella cases linked to dry dog and cat food (from Mars Pet Care)
photo and article by Christine Mallar
This time of year the weather is wet and mushrooms pop up constantly in our yards. Dogs who investigate them and nibble on them are at great risk of liver damage. This silver mushroom I found might attract your attention, but there are some really poisonous mushrooms (one called the death cap) that look like all the other little brown mushrooms you might just overlook if you’re not being vigilant (see link below for a good photo). We’ve had many customers with dogs that have had close calls with mushrooms, and even a death. Dr Heidi Houchen of VCA Northwest Veterinary Specialists, an emergency clinic in Clackamas, says she sees 1 or 2 cases of mushroom toxicity a week during the rainy season. Keep an eye out for mushrooms and pluck them as they pop up, to keep your dogs safe. If you do see your dog eat a mushroom, grab a sample if you can and bring it with you to the vet. Better safe than sorry! Read more here
Just stumbled upon this great post and wish I had written it myself. Do you know how to recognize if a dog is overweight? So many dogs are overweight that it starts to look “normal” – check out these great tips for how to determine what is lean vs. underweight, or “solid” vs. fat.
The City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability has a certification program to identify Portland’s Greenest businesses. It’s a fairly thorough process, with site visits to verify the information given on a lengthy checklist of possible actions of sustainability. 45 actions are required for Gold Level, and Green Dog had 53 completed actions. Our evaluator told us that we were “in the top handful of scores for all high achievers we’ve worked with, and by far the highest number we’ve seen for any retail establishment”. Woo Hoo! Read more about additional things Green Dog does behind the scenes to support our mission.
This directory is an excellent way to find Portland’s most sustainable businesses – here’s the link to the general directory of certified businesses in Portland.
At Green Dog, we have some rules about what food we do and don’t carry. However, sometimes there are ingredients that we learn about along the way, and when we do more research, the time comes to evaluate whether we want to keep the products that contain it. We never want to take away a popular item, but we want every food we carry to promote the health of the animals that eat it, not to undermine it. Some stores might just drop a line of products that they don’t care for, but it’s always been our policy to try hard to present the case to the company that makes the product first, to see if they might be willing to consider our request to remove the ingredient in question.Dropping the line protects our customers, but convincing a company to change the ingredient helps to protect all pets that might be feeding it nationwide, and allows us to keep a food item in stock for our customers.
Carrageenan (a thickener made from red seaweed that is used in many canned pet foods and in some moist and chewy treats) is one of those ingredients. It’s an ingredient that might or might not cause obvious problems for animals right away, but it could have negative effects over time, especially if the animal is eating it every meal of every day. It’s also in a lot of human foods, so if you or someone you know has chronic GI problems, read on. Unfortunately, carrageenan is in several brands we carry, including in one of our most popular brands of canned cat foods. Cats are tricky sometimes, and they want what they want – we’d rather keep the brand for them if we can. When we ask companies that use this thickener about it, they always respond that the carrageenan that they use is “food grade” which is safe, as opposed to “degraded” carrageenan which is not. However, we had read other opinions about that, and some interesting research studies to back them up. So, at the end of May we wrote to the 3 companies that we carry that use it, and to one company that we don’t carry yet, but were considering. Here’s the general letter, which we adapted to each company. This particular company makes an organic line of pet food:
Hello – I’m writing today to ask about the use of carrageenan in your organic canned foods. Though I realize that the carrageenan used is “food grade” and not “degraded”, there are quite a few people advocating for a closer look into whether food grade carrageenan is in fact causing similar worrisome health effects to degraded carrageenan and whether it should indeed be used in human and animal foods at all.
By Christine Mallar
The 4th of July is a bad time for many pets around the country, but in places like Portland where most fireworks are legal and larger illegal fireworks are so easy to get, it’s often a complete nightmare for people whose pets are terrified of the noise. Some people choose to camp in remote areas with their dogs, and one customer routinely gets in the car with her dog on the 4th and just drives and drives for hours, around and around the city beltway to avoid the stress of the night. Here’s a few tips we hope can help if you’re staying at home this 4th of July.
by Christine Mallar
I was busy writing a blog posting on July 4th tips, but I felt like the section I was writing about Thundershirts deserves its own post, as we’ve been so very happy with the results we’ve seen with this product. Though they don’t help every dog, the number of great stories we hear from customers about how well they work on dogs with anxiety issues is very impressive. It’s a sort of jacket that is wrapped snugly around a pet and secures with velcro, and it has amazing calming effects on many anxious animals. (more…)
by Christine Mallar
As a Green store, we of course are dedicated to sustainability, but that can be a real challenge with pet food.
The larger a company is, the more difficult and expensive it is for them to source the most sustainable ingredients on a large enough scale to meet national demand. One might expect that we would source only Organic foods, but this is more of a challenge than you might expect – many pet foods that are certified organic are not, in our opinion, necessarily suitable nutritionally for carnivores; organic meats are expensive, and often a very large percentage of the protein is derived from less expensive organic grains. (more…)
By Christine Mallar
When we first opened, one of the things we thought was a no-brainer was looking into LED or other efficient lighting options for the sales floor. As the first environmentally friendly pet supply store in the nation, we wanted to make sure that we did everything we could to design for sustainability. The spotlights seemed to be a challenge though. LED technology has come a long way, but at the time, most LEDs were kind of blue in color, and not very bright at all. We needed bright spotlights to showcase products, and nothing existed at the time outside of the typical commercial spots. (more…)