Almost 2000 Sick or Dead Pets Reported to FDA

By Green Dog Pet Supply
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.


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!

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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….

Pet Poisons – There’s an App for That!

By Green Dog Pet Supply

Do you know what to do if your Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 11.43.13 AMpet encounters something toxic, or is bitten by a spider, or eats something he shouldn’t? I’ve stumbled upon a great iphone app that could be very useful in an emergency, allowing you to act quickly to get information and even has a direct dial button where you can contact the Pet Poison Helpline immediately (like most or all poison control hotlines, there is a charge for the service, but that’s a small consideration when dealing with a life threatening emergency).

The app comes with a handy alphabetical list of potential toxins in your home environment with information about the types of symptoms you might see in your pet, which species are affected (did you know that avocado is extremely toxic to both birds and cows, while not much of a concern for dogs and cats?). Then there is a detailed description of what makes each item found on the list to be dangerous, including foods like raw bread dough and coffee grounds, human medications, toxic house and garden plants, spiders and snakes, and other household chemicals. I learned quite a bit from browsing through the list of poisons. For example, I knew that many Lily plants are very very toxic to cats and ingesting the smallest amount of the leaves or petals can cause them to have kidney failure, but I didn’t realize that interacting with the pollen or even drinking the water in a vase of lilies could cause the same problems. Makes sense, but I hadn’t thought about the water in the vase being a problem. You can even filter the list of toxins by species (ie: all of the things that are toxic to cats), or by type of toxin (ie: garage items, medications, or plants, etc).

No iphone? The Pet Poison Hotline website ( is mobile device enabled for viewing with other smart phones, and of course the website itself has the same great info as the app. I feel better prepared having that information and the connection to the hotline at my fingertips.


A Simple Formula for Getting the Weight Off Your Dog or Cat


By Dr. Becker

Banfield Pet Hospital recently released their State of Pet Health 2012 Report, and the news isn’t good. In fact, it’s extremely troubling.

Chronic diseases in cats and dogs have risen dramatically over the last five years.

The report is a compilation of medical data from about 2 million dogs and over 400,000 cats that visited a Banfield hospital in 2011. Some of the disturbing findings:

  • Overweight and obesity increased in dogs by 37 percent, and in cats by a stunning 90 percent
  • Arthritis increased 38 percent in dogs and 67 percent in cats
  • Almost half of arthritic dogs and more than a third of arthritic cats are also overweight
  • Nearly half of diabetic dogs and cats are overweight
  • Forty percent of dogs with hypertension and 60 percent with hypothyroidism are overweight

Banfield also conducted a survey of 2,000 dog and cat owners to see what steps they were taking to keep their pets healthy. Survey answers revealed that less than 40 percent of dog owners and only a quarter of cat owners planned to seek advice from a veterinarian to manage their pet’s health condition.

Your Fat Pet is (or will soon be) a Sick Pet

Clearly, overweight and obesity in pets today is both its own disease and the root cause of many other diseases that develop as the result of too much weight. (more…)

Your Bag of Kibble Might Have Pretty Pictures, But Do You Know What’s Inside?

By Green Dog Pet Supply

We all love our pets as members of our families and want to do the very best we can to keep them healthy and happy, but many of us overlook the very foundation of health for our pets – their nutrition. Just as our own health is affected by our daily nutrition habits, dogs and cats can develop chronic health issues like diabetes, skin allergies, inflammation issues such as arthritis, yeast overgrowth, bowel issues, urinary infections or crystals, and even cancer. We often don’t realize that chronic issues are developing at a cellular level, and of course many pets seem “fine” until a crisis occurs. Of course, the very best way to support our own health and the health of our companion animals is for all of us to eat more whole foods and cut out processed foods as much as we can.

However, processed kibbles have come quite a long way in the past 10 years, and there is a great disparity between what you might find on the pet aisle of your local grocery store and what might be available at your local independent pet retailer. It is not legally required (it is actually prohibited) for manufacturers to use language on a pet food label that would help a consumer to know if the quality of the ingredients on a label are similar to the ingredients you might use to cook your own dinners or are simply waste products that were inappropriate for use in human foods, though there are some things to look out for on kibble labels that will give you a good idea. I hope to empower you to recognize some of these “red flag” and “green flag” ingredients that might help you to determine the quality of the ingredients in any dry kibble you’re feeding to your pets.

If Your Vet Thinks Your Pet Needs Antibiotics, Ask Him to Do This First

By Dr. Karen Beckerpills

MRSA is short for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

Staphylococcus aureus is a strain of bacteria naturally found in most animals, including humans.

In your dog or cat, staph can be found as naturally occurring bacteria on the skin, in mucous membranes, as well as in the GI tract.

Occasionally pets can become infected by their own normal flora.

I refer to these infections as “pet acne,” because they are usually harmless and very easily treated, but when a pet’s normal flora develops resistance to broad-spectrum antibiotics, it becomes a very dangerous health threat.

If these bacteria undergo genetic mutation — making them resistant to even the strongest antibiotic available, including methicillin — it can cause serious illness and even death in pets.


Just Say No to Soy in Pet Food


This article sums up nicely why I gave up unfermented soy years ago for my own diet, and why we have never allowed soy to be a primary ingredient in any of our foods or treats at Green Dog (we are aware it sneaks in in ingredients like lecithin, but we do what we can). We were upset to hear that Castor and Pollux was planning to use soy as one of their primary proteins in their new grain free formula (which is now on the market) and this just added to our list of why we had to get rid of that brand right away. I’ve always meant to write a blog posting about soy in pet foods, but Dr. Becker has come through again with a great article.

By Dr. Becker

As I was scanning an industry trade journal recently, a headline caught my eye.

It announced the opening of a new manufacturing plant to produce protein for animal diets.

Protein in animal diets being one of my favorite subjects, I read a little further … only to discover the company opening the new plant makes vegetable protein.

And the reason they need more manufacturing capacity is to answer the growing demand for soy protein products in North America.

Clearly, soy in all its forms is being included in an increasing number of commercial dog and cat food formulas.

I’ve discussed the problem of soy in pet food often here at Mercola Healthy Pets.

But I think it’s probably time for a closer look at what soy is, the health problems it can create, why it’s used by so many pet food manufacturers … and why you shouldn’t feed it to your dog or cat.


To Flush or Not to Flush – disposing of pet waste

By Green Dog Pet Supply

Not long after we first opened the store, we found a product that we thought sounded like a no-brainer for a green store – doggie poop bags that broke down quickly in water so that they could be safely flushed. It seemed quite logical that pet waste would be best disposed of in a system already in place to treat sewage, so we bought them. However, it occurred to us that we had only worried about the safety of the home sewer system before we bought them, and had not considered to ask what happens to the water supply when pet waste was flushed. We were already selling flushable cat litter and advocating the flushing of litter. Is flushing really the best way to dispose of pet waste?  We contacted the city of Portland about this issue, as we wanted to make sure that it would truly be a good idea on all sides. They vehemently opposed the idea at the time, and we ended up not reordering those bags again (and they weren’t selling that well anyway, so we left it at that).

We heard recently that a few of our distributors were probably bringing in flushable bags, which concerned us a bit, as it means  they would then be actively promoted to local retailers and therefore marketed more widely to the public. As some years had passed and I knew that Portland has made some upgrades to the system in recent years, I called again to discuss the issue. (more…)

Saying No to Poor Quality Pet Food… Even When It’s Recommended by Your Vet

By Dr. Becker

Recently the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) added a fifth ‘vital health assessment’ for veterinarians in determining the health status of their cat and dog patients.

The four existing assessments are: temperature, cardio function, respiratory health, and pain.

The new “5th Vital Assessment”1 is nutrition.

Per Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, and executor director of the AAHA:

“Incorporating nutritional assessment into the routine examination protocol for every patient is important for maintaining optimal health, as well as their response to disease and injury.

The goal of the new guidelines is to provide a framework for the veterinary practice team to help make nutritional assessments and recommendations for their patients.”

Integrative and holistically-oriented vets have always done nutritional assessments on our patients.

In fact, I view species-appropriate nutrition as the first and most influential of the three pillars of health – the other two pillars being a sound, resilient body and a balanced, functional immune system.

And while I applaud the traditional veterinary community’s addition of a nutritional assessment in determining the well-being of dogs and cats, I’m a little concerned with where this initiative could be headed.

Here is how the AAHA introduced their new “5th Vital Assessment” initiative in October 20102:

DENVER — Nutrition is integral to optimal pet care. However, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) found through its Compliance Study that only seven percent of pets that could benefit from a therapeutic food were actually on such a regimen.

The compliance discrepancy along with the many factors considered in assessing the nutritional needs of a healthy dog or cat, as well as the pet with one or more medical conditions, led to the development the AAHA Nutritional Assessment Guidelines.

The phrase ‘therapeutic food’ gives me pause, especially when I see that a major manufacturer of ‘therapeutic’ pet food has provided an educational grant to print the AAHA Nutritional Assessment Guidelines for Dogs and Cats3 in several languages.

Coming Soon to a Veterinarian Near You …

… a big push to switch your pet to a ‘therapeutic’ dog or cat food.

My discomfort with the therapeutic food angle grew when I came across a article in January of this year.

According to the article, the same pet food manufacturer who provided an educational grant to the AAHA “… will make regular visits to more than 22,000 veterinary hospitals and clinics to help build support for and implement nutritional recommendations as the ‘5th Vital Assessment’ in pet healthcare.”

To accomplish this the pet food company plans, among other things, to add sales staff to call more frequently on vet offices across the country in order to sell more therapeutic pet foods.

Then I came across another news item, also from January, announcing that a pet health insurance provider is adding coverage for therapeutic pet food.

According to the article, “… coverage now includes half the cost of therapeutic pet foods purchased through a veterinarian to assist in care of a pet for two months.”

‘Therapeutic’ Pet Food Ingredients Revealed

The following is a list of the first five ingredients in some of the therapeutic pet foods you may hear a sales pitch for the next time you take your pet to the vet for a wellness exam.

A can of cat food marketed as capable of improving feline bladder health:

  • Pork By-Products
  • Water
  • Pork Liver
  • Chicken
  • Rice

A bag of kibble advertised as good for feline gastrointestinal health:

  • Chicken By-Product Meal
  • Brewers Rice
  • Corn Gluten Meal
  • Whole Grain Corn
  • Pork Fat

A can of dog food to improve cardiac health in senior dogs:

  • Water
  • Corn Flour
  • Pork Liver
  • Rice Flour
  • Beef By-Products

Dry dog food marketed for canine renal health:

  • Brewers Rice
  • Pork Fat
  • Dried Egg Product
  • Flaxseed
  • Corn Gluten Meal

Regular readers here will immediately recognize the remarkably inferior, species inappropriate ingredients in these pet foods.

For the uninitiated:

  • By-products are what are left after all the good stuff is harvested for the human food industry. Beaks, feet, feathers, wattles and combs are chicken by-products. There could be something beneficial thrown in, like the heart or gizzard, but because there’s such potential for undesirable pieces and parts in ‘by-products,’ it’s better to avoid them altogether.
  • Corn in any form (including corn gluten meal, whole grain corn, corn flour, etc.) is an extremely allergenic food and difficult to digest. It’s also one of the three crops most highly contaminated with aflatoxins.
  • Brewers rice is a low quality ingredient that also happens to be a by-product. In addition, it’s a grain. Grains are not species-appropriate nutrition for carnivores.

Read here for the secret to cracking the code on your dog’s (or cat’s) pet food label.

Just Say No to ‘Therapeutic’ Pet Foods

Unfortunately, veterinary students don’t learn much about nutrition in their coursework. They graduate, go into practice, and become easy targets for pet food companies eager to fill their reception areas and storage closets with inferior quality ‘prescription’ diets for dogs and cats.

Now that the AAHA has added nutrition as the 5th vital assessment of a pet’s health, I think many pet owners will be hearing more about diets during vet visits. I also suspect many of these conversations will end with a recommendation to buy a ‘prescription’ (therapeutic) pet food to take home with you.

I absolutely do not recommend the extremely low quality, species-inappropriate pet food formulas being sold through vet practices as ‘therapeutic.’

I encourage my Natural Pet clients and all of you reading here to learn everything you can about the vital importance of biologically appropriate, high quality nutrition to the health and longevity of your pet.

I believe the more informed pet parents are about the type of food dogs and cats need to thrive, the less vulnerable they’ll be to a sales pitch for low quality pet food – even when it’s recommended by a veterinarian.


What the Heck is Target Training?

A Tapir learns to touch a target in a zoo

A Tapir learns to touch a target in a zoo

By Christine Mallar

We just brought in some nifty extendable target training sticks to the store, and so I thought I should write up a description of what it’s used for, as targeting is such a fun and really easy activity to do with your pets, no matter what species – I’ve even taught a fish to target. No, seriously! This isn’t an indication of what a good trainer I am, it’s just an illustration of how easy it is to teach and learn. (In fact, I have to laugh as I just Googled “Target Training a Fish” and came up with lots of results! Here’s one).

To ask an animal to target, you are asking the animal to deliberately touch an object, and you are marking the moment with a sound (like a click from a training clicker). The animal knows this sound means that a treat is coming their way, and allows them to pinpoint the exact thing the trainer wants them to do to earn that treat.  This clever concept was created by dolphin trainers. Dolphins are very smart, but slippery. Trainers couldn’t possibly have used traditional methods of training that required physical domination of the animals (like cowboys did with horses, or dog trainers did with leashes and choke collars) – it just isn’t possible. With a whistle and a bucket of fish, dolphins participated voluntarily in their own training (and if they weren’t having fun they could easily swim away).

Picture this: a dolphin trainer wants the dolphin to jump out of the water and touch a ball that is suspended way up high. First, the trainer might toss the ball onto the water and wait until the dolphin investigates it. The trainer is watching for the moment the dolphin touches the ball with its nose, and they mark that moment exactly with a whistle. This noise means a piece of fish, which the dolphin happily goes to collect from the trainer. When the dolphin happens to touch the ball again and hears that whistle, it starts to become quite clear to the dolphindolphin that she can touch that ball on purpose to make that trainer give her another fish. Now that the intent is clear that the behavior is to touch the ball with her nose, the trainer can introduce a hand signal or word right before she touches it, which becomes the command. The trainer might suspend the ball from a rope right at water level, and ask for and whistle/reward touches to the ball. Then the ball can be raised a little at a time and the dolphin must now stretch to reach it, and then jump to reach it, etc. Targeting can also be used to teach her to touch other parts of he body to objects or even trainer’s hand, allowing the trainer to perhaps shake a flipper (first a “trick”) and then this trick is used to slowly shape a far more difficult behavior, like allowing a vet to take blood from a vein on that flipper – all with voluntary participation from that dolphin. It removes the fear of that procedure as it’s taught gradually, and is certainly easier and much less risky for everyone involved than corralling that dolphin and herding her into some sort of restraint device that would enable them to get that blood sample forcefully, and good luck getting that done a second time! With positive reinforcement training, it became possible for trainers to get voluntary participation from the dolphins for complex behaviors like veterinary procedures, helping to greatly lower the stress for the dolphins if they needed care.