Jerky: To feed or not to feed

By now, most people who love a dog know about the jerky warnings from the FDA. To bring everyone up to speed, jerky treats from China have been making thousands of dogs and cats sick and have killed almost 600 dogs. Disgraceful. And apparently, still a mystery as to the cause.

I just can’t imagine the heartache these dog owners are feeling knowing the treats they bought and fed to their dogs were the cause of illness or, in many cases, the demise of their precious pet. Pets trust us for everything. Truly heart wrenching.

Treats are not necessary for a balanced diet but as pets have become part of our families, giving your dog a treat is akin to giving a child a cookie. Both child and dog can certainly live without said treat, but they are a lot happier with their treat of choice.

If your dog has consumed treats manufactured in China and is showing signs of illness, take her immediately to your veterinarian for treatment. The signs show within hours of ingestion and take hold swiftly. Most dogs have survived but with lifelong consequences of their ordeals; 600 did not make it out of the vet offices alive.

What are the signs to watch for?

*Decreased appetite

*Lethargic demeanor

*Vomiting

*Diarrhea

*Increased thirst/water consumption

*Increased urination

More severe cases show gastrointestinal illness and/or renal (kidney) failure. If your pup is exhibiting any of these symptoms, get her to the vet now! And take the treat in the original bag with you when you go for treatment.

The FDA is asking vet practices for blood and urine samples of affected dogs and in the case of a dog who perishes, for necropsy results. It only took six years, but now the FDA is serious about getting to the root of this very dangerous situation.

To be safe, look very carefully at the packaging of any treat you are considering purchasing for your dog. Look at the extremely fine print to ensure it is not made in China. Most manufacturers who produce their treats in the United States are very proud of that fact and readily advertise it on their packaging. And watch for the phrases ‘manufactured by’ and ‘manufactured for.”

The phrase ‘manufactured by’ is a good indication that the product was manufactured by the company whose name is on the package; ‘manufactured for’ is a sure sign that the product was manufactured by some entity other than the one on the label.

Another key point of information to consider is are there any additives to the treat? If vitamins or flavorings have been added, I would want to know if those additives were made overseas or within the US borders. Many items, such as vitamin C, are manufactured overseas. These days, you just can’t be too cautious.

Know your sources. Can the manufacturer trace the product from the grower to you every step of the way? Being able to trace the origin of treats can be like tracking down your great granny four times removed. But, as a person who has dogs instead of kids, I want to know that information.

Where were the sweet potatoes grown? Where and how was the poultry raised? Antibiotic free? No hormones added? Human grade raw ingredients?

As consumers, you have every right to know these pieces of information. And for your peace of mind and the health of your dog who trusts you to make good decisions, you should seek the answers to these questions.

As a manufacturer, I want to tell you this information. If you don’t know, ask. Manufacturers who are proud of the products they produce will readily give up this intel. This is your dog’s life and well being we are talking about!

If you just can’t decide what to do, remember this. Buying no treats at all is better than buying bad ones.

Cindy Dunston Quirk is the Chief Dog Lover at Scout & Zoe’s Natural Antler Dog Chews. Scout & Zoe’s chews are allergy-free and a green, organic, renewable resource created only from 100% naturally shed elk antlers.

How to Navigate the Dog Food Jungle

I am very dedicated to my dogs, Scout and Zoe. I try to do right by them and get them the best of care for their allergies, regular vet visits and any injuries that occur. I also am extremely diligent with regard to their diets. Since both dogs have allergies, I am vigilant about reading labels and spending inordinate amounts of time with research on the most up-to-date advances in pet nutrition. I want them to live long, healthy lives.

So today, I went to Paws Stop, my pet food store of choice for my kibble run for both dogs. After I had purchased three of the four bags I needed, I spent the next hour talking to Dave, the owner of the store, about their conditions.

Zoe, my German Shepherd, bless her heart, is allergic to beef. So no bones, no rawhides, no flavored treats; not even beef flavored heartworm meds. She eats two kinds of kibble that are both high quality and keep her coat smooth and silky. No complaints with her food other than the fact that I am the only one who can figure out what and how to feed her daily meals.

Scout, my sweet little GSP boy, is allergic to chicken and requires a high performance diet with a lot of calories. To just maintain his weight, he must eat about 3500 calories a day. Doesn’t sound difficult right? Well, until you read the nutritional panels. Most performance kibble is loaded with….wait for it…..chicken fat. Bad news for Scout.

So he is on a blend of high quality food without chicken and a prescription food from the vet….which I have a problem with. After speaking with Dave, I now understand more about this prescription food. It is very low fat and low protein but the carbs….they are out of sight. The first ingredient in the food? Potatoes. The third ingredient? More potatoes. High glycemic index too.

Even though I knew it wasn’t great food, now I completely understand why it isn’t. If I fed Scout this food without the addition of the high end food, he couldn’t maintain his weight. It is the wrong kind of calories.

This is a daunting task to figure out what is not only appropriate for your dog but also figure out on which food your dog will thrive. Wanting both of my pups to have long and extremely healthy lives, I am willing to invest the time to do a lot of research.

Here are some key points to look for when you are searching for a pet food partner.

  • Visit your local, trusted pet food store. Don’t have one? Find one. They are like gold for you and your pet. The folks who work there are passionate about pets and nutrition.

Look for one that stocks a variety of food…modestly priced brands up to the really pricey ones. But remember, just because a food costs a lot doesn’t mean it is right for your canine pal. Variety and lots of choices are key here. Invest the time to learn which is right for your dog.

  • When you visit the store, consider the knowledge level of the staff. Do they just point to where the food is located or do they walk over with you and begin asking about your pup’s lifestyle, the nutritional requirements and special diet restrictions of your pup?

A great sign for me, even though I have shopped at this store for a while now, was noticing a binder with back copies of The Whole Dog Journal at the register. If you don’t know about The Whole Dog Journal, you should. It is a great resource not only for food, but all things dog.

  • Does the store offer a money back guarantee if the food doesn’t work, the dog won’t eat it or gets sick? Great stores do. They will help you find one that will benefit your pup.
  •  Kibble, canned, raw, frozen, grain free, dehydrated or freeze dried? Natural or holistic? Know the difference nutritionally? The store staff educated in canine nutrition does. They can help you know the difference too.
  • Does your dog require dietary supplements? Once again, a great pet food store will know the ins and outs of these supplements and the staff is happy to spend time with you to sort it out for your pup’s needs.

Bottom line? Find someone you trust to assist you with all things diet related for your BFF, best furry friend. That way, you and your fur pal can both enjoy a long, healthy life together.

Cindy Dunston Quirk is the Chief Dog Lover at Scout & Zoe’s Natural Antler Dog Chews. Scout & Zoe’s chews are allergy-free and a green, organic, renewable resource created only from 100% naturally shed elk antlers.

Meet Our New Rescue Dog Beau

Hmmm, where to begin. What started as a short-term rescue to help the group I work with, has now become one more poodle to join the Mullins home. We brought Beau into the house as a short-term rescue. Needless to say I am a complete failure at fostering. BoBo is now Beau. He has gained 3 lbs and is the most handsome white poodle. He has found a shaggy pillow to sleep on and rests his head on my husbands shoulder every night. And he wheezes into Bob’s ear.

I would like to know the true story behind how Beau came to be a member of the LUV4K9s rescue. I was told he was a family turn in because he broke his leg and could no longer perform his agility routines. I don’t buy any of that. He is very hobbled. He has ear issues and he has some reflex fear responses to fast movements.

People buy cute little puppies and then when the cute little puppy grows up and outlives it purpose people discard them like old shoes. This is what I believe happened to Beau. It’s sad, but he now has a loving home and friends to play with every day.

But Beau is happy and coming out of his shell. He barks occasionally and growls once in awhile. He is finding his place among the herd. He is relaxing, and that’s what it’s all about. We foster and adopt to give these sweet dogs the world they have missed until now.

Will I foster again? Probably not, but I will continue to work with the rescue and help all of the dogs as they find their forever homes.

Please check out the website: www.luv4k9s.com

And until next month….woof, woof!

Jenet Mullins is a retired sales executive from the media industry. As a Poodle Parent she shares her experiences and true life situations as a rescue adopter. Find her at Mediagal on Twitter or Jenet Mullins on Facebook.

Toxic at Home: How to Protect Your Dog From Dangerous Items

We all know that dogs are curious. And most of us know the really dangerous items in our homes that cause severe reactions when ingested. You know, prescription medications, drain cleaner, bleach, windshield fluid, antifreeze, battery acid, any poison, kerosene, etc. The list is not endless but it is extensive. If you or your child shouldn’t have it, chances are neither should your canine.

There are many ordinary food items we eat that our pups should never have in their mouths. Being right in the middle of National Poison Prevention Week (March 17-23), let’s visit a few and see how they affect our pooches.

Food Stuffs

Onions/garlic/chives/leeks when ingested side effects include anemia and GI issues.

Macadamia nuts can cause vomiting, difficulty walking and lethargy.

Raw or unbaked bread dough should never be ingested. The yeast in the dough causes the dough to expand and can result in a twisted stomach which can cut off the blood supply. If this occurs, go immediately to your animal ER for emergency surgery. This is serious stuff and time is of the essence. Yeast also produces alcohol which isn’t good either. Respiratory failure and seizures could occur.

Chocolate, especially dark chocolate can be fatal to dogs. Lesser symptoms include seizures. Steer clear of milk, white or unsweetened baker’s chocolate as well. Be careful of cocoa bean mulch, too.

Grapes/currants/raisins/grape juice can cause kidney failure.

Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in a variety of products such as chewing gum, toothpaste and mints, can precipitate liver failure and sudden hypoglycemia.

Plants

Easter lilies and their relatives–day lilies, Asiatic, tiger, Japanese and Lilies of the valley varieties can cause heart rhythm problems.

Sago palms when ingested can cause severe reactions in dogs. Kidney failure, lethargy, seizures, diarrhea and vomiting are all possible reactions.

Additional Items

Tobacco/cigarettes/smoking cessation patches. Not only is tobacco in any form dangerous for humans, our canine friends need to stay away from this as well. Ingestion of products containing nicotine can cause tremors, vomiting, collapse or death.

Zinc Coins. Dogs will eat anything. Just a couple of weeks ago, there was news that a dog had surgery to remove 100 pennies from his stomach. What is dangerous about coins, specifically pennies, is the zinc. Even one zinc penny could be fatal. Symptoms include anemia, heart, liver and kidney failure.

Mothballs/Napththalene can be fatal. Increased thirst and urination, vomiting, diarrhea and seizures can all occur with the ingestion of these little smelly balls. If you must use them, place them up high, out of the reach of your very curious, acrobatic doggie.

Prior to having an emergency and not knowing where to turn, be proactive and place the poison control center’s number in a very visible place so you won’t have to search for it and lose valuable time reacting to a potentially fatal situation. Also do a bit of research and see if your regular vet has emergency hours. If not, ask about the closest vet with emergency hours and staff. Have their phone number and address handy as well. If you want to be as prepared as you can get, purchase a pet emergency kit, too.

With a bit of planning around the house and for the possibility to emergencies, you can head off wasting precious seconds if your precious pup gets a bit too curious for her own good.

Cindy Dunston Quirk is the Chief Dog Lover at Scout & Zoe’s Natural Antler Dog Chews. Scout & Zoe’s chews are allergy-free and a green, organic, renewable resource created only from 100% naturally shed elk antlers.

5 Tips For Keeping Your Dog Busy This Winter

I’m one of those people that just doesn’t do well in the winter. Between the cold and lack of sunlight, I’d love nothing more than to curl up and sleep until spring. If you’re like me and there’s a dog in the picture, it’s too easy to skip the cold and exercise and turn into couch potatoes.

Luckily, there are more options for those of us in cold climates to keep our dogs moving. Here are five tips for keeping your dog busy this winter.

Doggy day care – One option is to check out some of the doggy day care facilities in your community and sign your pup up for a day or two a week. Your dog will get exercise, attention and social time with other dogs while getting some exercise.

Doggy play dates – Many of those same facilities have open hours, play dates or meet ups on the weekends during the winter. There are also other dog-friendly facilities, that offer dog meet ups, parties and socialization time. A popular spot in the Windy City is Chicago Party Animals in the West Loop.

Training class – There’s so much more to training classes these days than sit and stay. There are canine good citizen classes, nose classes and more. All of these options will help get your dog (and you) moving and also improve the bond you have with your pet.

Agility – This is a great way to help your dog burn off steam while working on some new skills. It also gets you moving more than your average training class. Investigate the options that may be the best fit you and your dog.

Outdoor hike or dog park – Once I start to get more active in the winter, that long walk in the cold isn’t such a challenge anymore. Check out local hiking trails and dog parks for a change of scenery. Do follow the leash laws in your community and don’t let your dog just dart out on the ice. There are too many stories each winter of dogs falling through the ice and needing rescue.

Have any other tips? Feel free to share them in the comments!

Kathy Mordini is a freelance writer that covers the Chicago animal rescue community and pet trends. She writes daily on Examiner.com. Read her column online and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

What You Need To Know About Ticks and Lyme Disease

It’s that time of year again. When you and your furry friend go outside to enjoy the fall colors, be sure and check everyone….canine and human….for ticks. These creepy little, slow-feeding critters can carry vector-borne diseases including lyme disease. Lyme disease is transmitted by the deer tick and the western black-legged tick to both humans and canines.

Ticks bite their host (canine or human) and burrow their heads under the skin. Their saliva contains bacteria which keeps the blood in the host from clotting so they can continually feed. This bacteria is what creates a bulls-eye rash at the site of the bite in humans, but it is difficult to locate on dogs due to the fact no rash occurs and their symptoms may not surface for several months following the infection.

Lyme disease is very painful for both species. Symptoms in dogs are extensive and can include shifting leg lameness due to inflammation of the joints, lack of appetite, depression and fatigue. In more serious cases, kidney damage/failure, heart or neurological damage may occur. In extremely advanced cases, death has occurred. A correct diagnosis is important because lyme disease symptoms can look just like other health conditions.

Additional visible symptoms of lyme disease include fluid build up in the abdominal area as well as the tissues of the legs and under the skin, increase thirst and urination.Your dog’s joints may be sensitive to the touch, he may have difficulty breathing, or a stiff walk with her back arched.

Treatment for lyme disease will be as an outpatient unless your dog is one of the severe cases. The course of medication is normally a variety of antibiotics. While your pup is receiving treatment and during recovery, it is important to keep Spot quiet, dry and warm until he has improved. This course of treatment is usually four weeks.

Not every dog is lucky enough to totally heal from lyme disease. In some dogs, there is residual long-term joint pain they have for the remainder of their lives.

Depending on where you live, you and your canine pal could be at a higher risk for contracting lyme disease. Although it has been reported across north America and Europe, the disease is usually localized to the eastern seaboard, upper Midwest, and Pacific coast states.

Talk with your veterinarian about products to prevent tick bites on Fido. The choices are numerous from vaccines and sprays to topical medications to tick collars. Have the discussion about what is best for your pal. Whatever preventative you select, be sure to accompany that with a thorough look over when you come in from the great outdoors.

Cindy Dunston Quirk is the Chief Dog Lover at Scout & Zoe’s Natural Antler Dog Chews. Scout & Zoe’s chews are allergy-free and a green, organic, renewable resource created only from 100% naturally shed elk antlers.

Going Humane – New Business Models As Pet Stores Opt to Adopt

What a difference a year makes. Just last year, Greg Gordon from Naperville, Illinois’ Dog Patch Pet and Feed made the move to go humane. As the owner of a pet store, that meant that he would stop selling puppies and start adopting out rescue pets instead.

In that year since, you could say that Gordon and his store has come full circle – from selling pets to being very active in the rescue community in Chicago and beyond. Gordon has been partnering with Annie’s Little Angels Small Dog and Cat Rescue since November and sold its last puppy at the end of January.

Since that time, Chicago-area rescues have embraced his store and many volunteers that wouldn’t shop there in the past are now shopping at Dog Patch. They also heavily promote the store as well. The Puppy Mill Project – a Chicago-based advocacy group that once was about to protest at the store – now heavily supports his new mission as well.

Passion for rescue

As I’ve gotten to know Gordon in the past year, one thing is very clear, he has become very passionate about his new mission. He readily talks to other businesses considering making the same move and has expanded his work in the rescue community.

Just recently, Gordon received clearance to start pulling pets from Chicago Animal Care and Control. He also has been working with Save our Souls (SOS), a group from Oklahoma, to take in puppies saved from wildfire areas of the southwestern U.S. Along with adopting out an increasing number of puppies from the group, Dog Patch has also raised funds to help that group continue to transport to communities where puppies have a better chance at adoption.

Gordon is one of three pet stores in Chicago that has made the move from sales to adoption. Wilmette Pet made their change almost two years ago and Thee Fish Bowl in Evanston also has gone humane. Wilmette Pet fosters for Adopt-A-Pet and that organization handles the adoptions. Gordon does all the adoptions on his own through the store.

Communities ban sale of pets

These success stories are very important as the move continues to ban the sales of dogs and cats in pet stores around America. According to Best Friends Animal Society, there are now 26 communities in the U.S. that have banned the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores.

As animal advocates work toward that goal in Chicago, The Puppy Mill Project will be looking to more rescue groups to partner with pet stores as more stores go humane. Many small, local pet stores in Chicago and elsewhere have been successful without ever selling dogs, cats and other pets and have long worked with rescue groups for adoption events and advocacy.

The Puppy Mill Project also has big plans for Puppy Mill Awareness day on September 30. The group plans a peaceful protest on Michigan Avenue – heading North from the Michigan Avenue bridge up the Magnificent Mile to the John Hancock Center starting at noon – to spread the word about puppy mills and advocate for adoption.

Learn more about Dog Patch online and on Facebook and The Puppy Mill Project by following them online and on Facebook.

Kathy Mordini is a freelance writer that covers the Chicago animal rescue community and pet trends. She writes daily on Examiner.com. Read her column online and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

When two cute things collide: Puppies vs. Babies TV show [VIDEO]

Sometimes an idea for a TV show comes along and you wonder “Why hadn’t they thought of this earlier?” Enter a new show from Animal Planet: Puppies vs. Babies. They put two videos against one another in “the ultimate clash of cute.” In a bracket-style tournament, judges and viewers determine which viral video is the cutest. They’re all here! The talking huskie! Charlie bit my finger! And more! OK, sorry, enough with the exclamation points. Check out the video below for a preview. You know which side we’re on. Who gets your vote? Let us know in the comments.

[via Jezebel]