Carageenan and Our Quest to Change the World One Ingredient at a Time

carrageenanAt 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.

(more…)

Thundershirts Can Be an Amazing Tool to Help Fearful Dogs

by Christine Mallar

thundershirt

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…)

A Discussion of Sustainable Choices in Foods for Pets

 

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…)

Happy Earth Day! We Celebrated With a Green Upgrade!

DSC00588By 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…)

Nifty Plastic Recycling Graphic Available For Reposting

This graphic is from  OnlineEducation.net
Plastic Infographic

Embed this graphic on your website today! :
<b>Please Include Attribution to OnlineEducation.net With This Graphic</b> </br><a href=”http://www.onlineeducation.net/2012/12/17/fantastic-plastic”><img src=”https://s3.amazonaws.com/infographics/Our-Plastic-Nightmare_Final.jpg” alt=”Plastic Infographic” width=”500″ border=”0″ /></a>

Canola Oil – Separating fact from fiction

 

By Christine Mallar

Every once in a while a customer comes into the store and asks about Canola Oil, as they have read a lot of scary things on the internet about it. Many sites online claim that Canola Oil “is a poisonous substance, an industrial oil that does not belong in the body. They claim that it contains “the infamous chemical warfare agent mustard gas,” hemagglutinins and toxic cyanide-containing glycocides; it causes mad cow disease, blindness, nervous disorders, clumping of blood cells and depression of the immune system”.  This same information is copied and pasted to many sites, and though even organic Canola Oil is definitely not our favorite oil (especially when used exclusively in anyone’s diet), these are distortions that should be cleared up for those who are trying to educate themselves about nutrition. Of course, one of the major problems we have with Canola oil is it’s largely a GMO crop that can cross pollinate with other members of the brassica family (broccoli, cabbage, brussels, kale, mustard, etc) damaging these crops (especially organic crops which cannot contain GMO material) and the livelihood of the farmers that grow them. Our discussion here focuses on the safety of Canola oil in pet foods, not to advocate for or against it, just for the sake of objectivity we want to address the truths vs. the fear-mongering.

(more…)

Keeping Your Pets Hydrated

New post by Christine Mallar on RetireUSA blog – FYI – there is information here that is especially important for cats:

Record high temps across the country bring to my mind topics like keeping your pets well hydrated to better able to deal with the heat, but the truth is, hydration is important year round to the health of our animals. Read More!

Almost 2000 Sick or Dead Pets Reported to FDA

By Christine Mallar
The Chinese Chicken debacle continues. The FDA has issued 3 separate warnings to the public about the danger of consuming these treats.  Almost 2000 pets reported so far that have been sickened or have died from consuming Chinese chicken jerky, which we know is only a fraction of the true number. When we hear from customers that they had purchased these treats in other stores and their dogs had acted sick after consuming them, the first question we ask is “Did you report it to the FDA or to your vet, or to the store you bought it from?” and the answer is invariably “No”. Message boards all over the internet are full of stories of problems with these treats. It’s very clearly a much larger problem than is reflected in the reported numbers.

(more…)

Essential Information About Ticks and Your Dog

As usual, Holistic Vet Dr. Becker has written a fantastic article that I want to share with all of you. This article about tick prevention and tick born diseases is well worth reading and contains very valuable information. I encourage you to follow the link to read more!

Screen Shot 2012-07-23 at 8.42.07 AM

The Very Best Way to Protect Your Pet from Ticks

By Dr. Becker

Last year around this time I had quite a battle with tick exposure with my own dogs, Violet, her brother Esau, his mate Ada, and my little Boston terrier, Rosco.

I thought I would share the entire saga with you, since summer is upon us once again and it’s shaping up to be an extra bad year for pests and parasites. Hopefully, I’ll provide some helpful information to those of you with pets that have tested positive for a tick-borne disease – or might before the season is over.  Read More….