Are We Killing Our Pets With Treats?

Are We Killing Our Pets With Treats?

Nearly 600 dogs have died since 2007 who consumed pet jerky treats made in  China, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Another 3,600 dogs have been  reported ill. The pet treats were sold under a wide variety of brand names.

The FDA currently does not know the cause of this outbreak and is reaching  out to veterinary health professionals, as well as the public, for answers to  help solve the mystery. Since the FDA is unable to determine the cause, no  recall has been put in place, meaning pet owners need to make more educated  decisions about what pet treats are safe to use.

I recently spoke with pet nutrition expert Anthony Bennie about the outbreak.  He provided some insight and helpful knowledge on feeding our pets healthy  treats.

LS: How long do you think this has been going on?

AB: It’s been going on since it became evident that it’s possible to sell  really cheap versions of what people want here. It’s one thing to copy  electronics, another to copy pet treats. When you take the theory of cheapest  practices and apply that to what you put in your animals’ mouths, it is a recipe  for disaster.

LS: What do you think caused the recent outbreak, with number of death and illnesses still on the rise?

AB: Irradiation (the process of exposing pet food and treats to  radiation as a means of eliminating foodborne microbes and killing pests) and glycerin (a humectant preservative) in virtually all pet treats from  China in pet treats from China. There have been issues with pet  food ingredients and finished treats from China for quite some time, including  the massive recalls in 2007 that were traced to melamine, a non-edible protein  additive used in China to adulterate and cheapen the products.

LS: Have there been studies done on the dangers of using glycerin and  irradation together?

AB: The use of both glycerin and irradiation in the same product is  troubling to me. No proper studies have been done to determine the possible  synergistic effects. For the health and safety of your pets, as a first step I  strongly encourage pet guardians to buy pet treats and foods made and sourced in  the USA; but even then, be a detailed label reader and avoid products with  chemical preservatives or other ingredients that you can’t pronounce and don’t  recognize as foods.

LS: The FDA made a recent statement that treats aren’t a necessary part of a  fully balanced canine diet. Honestly, I was  appalled by the ignorance of this statement. In addition to the nutritional  value,  my dogs are paid and rewarded well with treats. Nobody wants to work for free, including dogs.

AB: Our pets are  an extension of the family, so news like  we’ve been hearing is very  worrisome for any pet guardian. But to make a  statement like this, which  could damage many ethical American pet treat  manufacturers, is bizarre  and unfair. No one is claiming ANY problems with  American made treats.  It would be absurd to allow these fears to stop you from  offering your  pet ANY treats or between meal snacks. Think of your  own energy  level throughout the day; would you want to eat nothing all  day until your  single nightly meal? It’s the same with your animal  companions, who can lose  vitality and playfulness if these ‘pick me ups’  are simply cut out of the diet.  Emotional bonding is also reinforced  when providing healthy snacks to your  pet, and training often involves  food rewards. Give your pet treats and  snacks  in moderation as you always have.  But stick with USA Made, grain  free, low carb, natural snacks that  are dominated by meat protein but  offer a holistic balance with other whole  food nutrients such as flax  and veggies.

LS: I frequently give my dogs fruit and vegetable treats. They love shredded  carrots and cut up apple pieces. When purchasing  healthy treats, what should we look for?

AB: A healthy pet treat that is 100% USA made and sourced, and features   all-natural and wholesome ingredients like USDA inspected chicken and  beef  along with natural cheddar cheese, organic flaxseed, and air dried  vegetables.  My family-owned company, ClearConsciencePet.com, provides that in our dog treats. I  am proud to say that we have won six national awards for nutritional excellence.  People tell us that our Sliders® are like doggy crack. Dogs will do anything for  them.

LS: Thanks Anthony. I can’t wait to have Sanchez and Gina try them too! I’m thrilled that all of  your treats are gluten free, as my dogs are gluten intolerant, and I  don’t always have time to make all of their treats myself.

Do you give your dogs treats/ snacks? Do you look at the package to check the  ingredients and where they are made? Thanks for sharing your stories in a  comment below.

 

 

Daily OM for October 31st – Giving the Gift of You

Giving the Gift of You

Serving Your Community

by Madisyn Taylor

Being of service to our community is part of being a good citizen of the planet earth.

 

To live harmoniously, we need to be supportive and helpful to all people, creatures, and plant life that share this earth with us. While “being of service is part of being a good citizen of the world, it also feels good to help others. When we do something for others in service, without the expectation of anything in return, we are turning our actions into offerings.

There are many ways to be of service to our community. There are the obvious and much needed volunteer opportunities, such as serving Thanksgiving dinner at a shelter, mentoring our youth, or cleaning up a beach. Then, there is the kind of service that we may not even think of as being acts of service. Learning a new language (perhaps sign language) so that you can talk to more people is a way to reach out to others. Inviting someone who isn’t motivated enough to exercise on their own to join you on your daily walk is a way to give of yourself. Sharing flowers or vegetables from your garden, organizing a poetry reading, offering to babysit for a busy parent, or donating pet food to an animal shelter all are simple ways to offer your services to your community.

There are many ways that you can serve the world. Imagine the impact we would have on the environment if we picked up one piece of trash off the street everyday and chose not to drive our car once a week. Even gardening tactics such as throwing wildflower seeds onto a vacant lot can brighten the lives of others including the lives of birds and insects. Everyday, you can do something to make this world a better place. During meditation, ask for guidance on what you can do to be of service. This can be a wonderful way to start your day. Smiling at a stranger who looks down in the dumps or teaching your neighborhood kids how to whistle will impact someone’s day or even their life. Giving of yourself is the best gift that you can give.

The Daily OM

Make Your Own Eco-friendly Dog Food

Make Your Own Eco-friendly Dog Food

by

Dog Food Recipe

Ingredients: 1lb ground chicken (or lamb, beef, liver or tuna) 2 cups brown rice fresh spinach fresh carrots

Method:

Brown and cook the meat. Boil the rice Finely chop the vegetables in a food processor and combine.

*Editor’s Note: Always check with your veterinarian to ensure your pet’s diet is healthy and nutritionally complete.

Tips/Additions:

Most Important: Always consult your veterinarian when you are changing your pet’s diet to make sure you pet gets proper nutrition.

Dogs don’t chew like humans, so vegetables must be finely chopped for them to get valuable nutrients.

You could add bone meal or powdered milk to ensure your pet gets calcium.

Small amounts of garlic can help prevent tape worms.

Add cod liver oil in small amounts for Omega 3’s and a shiny coat.

This recipe was featured on the Big House Big Waste Episode of Wa$ted!

Celestial Homemade Food for Cats

The feline has emerged through the stages of evolution as an obligate carnivore, which means that all cats, from the domestic house cat to the Bengal tiger, are creatures whose carnivorous nature is 100 percent dependent on their species-specific diet: fresh raw prey. Everything about the cat, from its unique physiology to its behavior, demonstrates that what it needs to achieve optimum health depends on fulfilling its strict dietary requirements.

The Carnivore’s Teeth
A cat’s mouth contains four long teeth called canines at the front of the jaws. He has sharp serrated teeth at the back of the jaw, which are used to grasp and tear the meat from the bones. These teeth contain an array of pressure-sensitive nerves. When a cat grips a mouse with his canines, his teeth find the space between the mouse’s vertebrae and deliver a quick, clean, killing bite. Remember, in the wild, the cat only gets to eat and feed its young when they win the battle and manage not to have dinner whisked away by another predator. Survival of the fittest is the law of the jungle even if the jungle is your own home.

The cat, both large and small gets its nutritional needs met secondhand through the prey animal! It serves as a kind of processing plant for everything the feline needs nutritionally. The cat has myriad receptors for certain chemicals found in their meal of raw meat. Cats can taste if their meat is fresh killed, or if it comes from the meat department of your local health food store. Cats know (in their brain stem and cerebellum, which govern instinctual survival behaviors and thinking) whether the prey is a minute or a day from its end. They may even be able to detect how the prey died if they didn’t kill it themselves.

Cats, if given the choice, would prefer their mice (as it is the natural diet of our cats) to our modern store bought meat, but I am not suggesting that you turn your house cats out into the wild and allow them to fend for themselves as for sure it’s a jungle out there today. A mouse in your house may seem like a golden opportunity to test your cat’s natural instincts. But please note that many house mice have ingested rat poison, and field mice can carry infectious diseases and parasites.

DRY FOOD: ONE CONVENIENCE YOU CAN DO WITHOUT
When cats first began to live with humans and rely on us for their food, they took a huge and risky step. This is because the feline is completely dependent on his prey for his nutrients. The feline has discarded many important biochemical mechanisms that would allow adaptation to other foods (such as carbohydrates, which in nature would only be found in their predigested form in the prey animal’s gut). The feline is bound by his obligate carnivore nature, and he thrives only on meat based foods. Why then do we see so many carbohydrates in commercial pet food?

Unfortunately, real meat is very expensive for commercial pet food makers to use, and they must limit their costs to make a profit. Since we don’t care about their profit margi, we can learn to make our own food for cats instead!

You may still be asking why it’s so important to feed a diet that mimics what they would eat in the wild. Isn’t dry food the best for cats? Let’s keep in mind that dry food, which many people have become addicted to feeding, as well as the cats themselves, because it may have seemed convenient, but there’s been a terrible trade-off: your cat’s health and well-being. If good nutrition is compromised, your cat is likely to develop one of the following dry-food-related syndromes such as: obesity, diabetes, chronic vomiting, constipation, chronic diarrhea, hepatic lipidosis (liver failure), pancreatitis, arthritis, heart disease, asthma, allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic renal failure, lower urinary tract disease, hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure, Viral conjunctivitis, skin and coat problems, and of course cancer.

And what about feline obesity?
Thanks to the free feeding of dry food, nearly 50 percent of cats in the United States and Europe are overweight. Obesity is a contributing factor to nearly all of the diet-related diseases listed above. Fat cells produce inflammation, and chronic inflammation ultimately produces disease. Cats require a steady supply, just like us humans of Omega 3′s from marine lipids to keep inflammation at bay.

Free-choice feeding of dry food (pouring it into a bowl and leaving it out all day) is without a doubt the single biggest factor affecting our cats’ weight. Getting cats off dry food and onto their species appropriate diet of raw meat, raw bones and state of the art supplements including cold extracted, organic Omega 3′s is the key to weight control.

How does a farmer fatten his cattle? The answer is by feeding lots of low fat grain!
In most mammals, carbohydrate digestion begins in the mouth with the enzyme amylase that is secreted in saliva; you have to chew for a while to distribute the enzyme. Not only do cats lack salivary amylase, they don’t chew! Cats, after they shred, tear, and bone crush, swallow their food in large chunks. Cats have no dietary need for carbohydrates (except as young kittens, which is why there is lactose in the mother cats milk). Most other mammals (humans included) use carbohydrates as their bodies “highest octane” fuel. For these animals, the energy system is based on an enzyme called glucokinase, which we think of as the feast or famine mechanism. This system is used by athletes who “carbo-load” (eat a big pasta dinner the night before an event). The glucokinase system is kicked into high gear, sending a massive dose of energy to the body, which in the athlete’s case is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. The day of the race, the body has extra glycogen to use as fuel–a big advantage for the athlete.

Cats do not operate on the glucokinase enzyme system; they use protein and fat directly for energy. The small amount of carbohydrate they get in their natural diet is handled by hexokinase, an enzyme system that cannot speed up to handle large meals or slow down during a fasting interval.

When fed carbs such as those found in nearly all dry foods and many canned as well, cats store them primarily as fat, not glycogen. The purpose of carbohydrates in commercial cat foods is a source of “energy,” which simply means calories and is also just a cheap filler to save money on meat.

For cats, these carbs are empty calories. This is why cats that eat dry food so often get fat! Just like Farmer John fattens his cattle on the low fat grains!

The cat uses dietary fat and protein for energy; if these are not supplied, it must break down fat and protein stored within its own body. Be he wild or tame, large or small, the cat’s basic structure and function have not changed through the ages.

ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS FOR CATS
When preparing a homemade raw food diet, it’s vital to remember that cats cannot live on just meat alone. There are many case histories of unfortunate cats who suffered and died from being fed only meat (or fish or liver). As an example, there is virtually no calcium in meat. A cat fed a meat-only diet must satisfy its calcium requirement by stealing from its own bones and ultimately can fracture a leg just walking across a room.

Using the prey animal as our model, and taking into account the vitamins and minerals found not only in its meat but its blood, bones, glands, and organs, we can formulate a balanced homemade diet for our cats without the help of a pet food company! There are several nutrients found only in meat and organs that the cat must get from the diet and are the key to its status as an obligatory carnivore. Our feline diet, must include the following very specific nutrients that other carnivores, such as dogs, meerkats, raccoons, and bears, do not require.

Before going on to discuss the species specific nutrient requirements for cats, I must address “the elephant in the room” because everyone of us humans can decide for ourselves through our own research or philosophy what is the best diet we can eat ourselves but this is not the case for our carnivore companions, who live under our control in our homes. We need to face the fact whether we like it or not that cats are not vegetarians!

If you are vegan or vegetarian and you want a vegetarian animal companion that you can feed according to your personal philosophy, you can get a rabbit, rodent, bird, or goldfish–but please do not feed a carnivore a vegetable based diet. If you want to share your life and home with a cat, you need to honor his “obligate carnivore” nature which has been his birthright for 20,000,000 uninterrupted years of evolution. A non-meat-based diet is not appropriate for a cat. A vegetarian diet will leave your cat malnourished with no reserve to fight injury, stress, or disease no matter how earnest the formulator of the vegetable based diet is. I know vets who would not even perform surgery on a cat fed a vegan diet because they may not survive and if they do won’t heal well. So please give your personal philosophy a good think when it comes to the feeding of a cat.

 

TAURINE
The amino acid taurine is essential for the health of cats eyes, skin and especially their hearts. We find taurine abundantly in their mother’s milk and then in rich supply in muscles, eyes, and brain. The prey animal’s heart is a muscle, this is a good source of taurine. Unlike dogs, cats cannot manufacture taurine from other amino acids, and they depend on a steady stream of it in their meaty meals. Taurine is not found in plants. Remember that the prey animal is the processing plant for the cat’s nutritional needs. Pet food companies supplement with taurine and I include extra taurine in my homemade recipe, even though it is found in abundance in the raw meat. I feel it is such a critical nutrient for cats that I prefer to err on the side of safety and just add some extra to their food.

Before pet food manufacturers added taurine to their prepared foods, thousands of cats died of heart failure due to taurine deficiency. Isn’t it amazing that they advertised their food to be 100% balanced even then? They found out the hard way that their cooking and processing destroyed taurine’s bioavailability. Because taurine is found in between muscle cells, it is often lost in the meat grinding process. When meat is defrosted and the blood drained off much of the taurine is lost this way as well.

ARGININE
Another amino acid essential for cats is arginine. Mammals use arginine in one pathway to metabolize ammonia, a toxic waste product of protein digestion. Only the feline relies on arginine as its sole pathway for this reaction. A single low arginine meal will poison a cat on its own wastes, causing it to drool, stumble, and possibly seizure or die. Its mother’s milk and meat are the cat’s natural source of arginine.

VITAMIN A
Vitamin A is a feline requirement that can’t be met by beta-carotene as it can in dogs. If you feed your cat carrots, he won’t be able to get any vitamin A out of them. There is no pre-formed vitamin A in carrots; only beta-carotene, which cats cannot convert. Cats get their vitamin A needs met through their processing plant, the prey animal. The prey’s liver is a rich source of pre-formed vitamin A.

VITAMIN D
People can turn precursors into biologically active vitamin D via the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. Cats love to spend hours laying in the sun, but they do not get any vitamin D this way because they do not have the right enzymes in their skin.

The prey animal’s liver is the cats’ natural source of vitamin D.

NIACIN
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, plays many roles throughout the body, including production of hydrochloric acid, formation of red blood cells, and generation of energy from foods. Most animals can make niacin in their own bodies from tryptophan, which we find in meat and the mother cat’s milk. Cats have a very high need for niacin; they cannot create enough on their own and must consume it daily.

ARACHADONIC ACID
Arachadonic acid is a fatty acid essential for cats, arachadonic acid plays an important role in maintaining healthy skin and coat. It’s critical in reproduction and in healthy kidney function. Most animals can convert linoleic acid, which is found in animal fats and healthy oils, into arachadonic acid. Cats cannot manufacture arachadonic acid, which they primarily get from organ meats, such as heart, liver, and kidney. Cooking meat degrades arachadonic acid.

LOVE
Love, although I have listed it last is certainly not least! As far as I am concerned it is the most important component in our homemade species specific feline diet! When we add love as an ingredient while making our cats’ food, we are actually doing something quite scientific.

A series of experiments studied rabbits that were fed a high-cholesterol diet (and there is much debate on the cholesterol issue these days but that is another discussion) intended to cause atherosclerosis. One group of rabbits received standard lab animal care (fresh food and water but minimal handling) while another group received daily visits from an experimenter who petted, handled, played with, and talked to the rabbits, essentially making them pets. The pet rabbits, who ate the same food as the other experimental rabbits–and whose blood cholesterol levels, heart rate, and blood pressure were also the same00had 60 percent less damage to their arteries. Hmmmm, me thinks love is pretty essential but how much love went into the making of that food at the pet food factory or goes into opening a can of food or tearing open a bag of kibble in our homes?

 

THE RAW FACTOR: AN ESSENTIAL COMPONENT IN YOUR CAT’S FOOD
Many people become very squeamish when they first hear about feeding raw meat and raw bones. Remember that this would be the cat’s choice in the wild, if they were given one. Now that cats live with us in our homes, we have removed that choice and forced them to eat things they would never find in the natural world, like kibble! There are no kibble bushes out side for them to graze on!

Bacteria and parasites found in raw meat mandate safe meat handling procedures (by humans). The cat itself has its own natural defenses. First, saliva contains an enzyme called lysozyme that attacks bacteria and other pathogens as the raw meat enters their mouth. After this, any remaining contaminants must pass through the cat’s extremely acidic stomach where the vast majority of bacteria are killed. The cat’s very short small intestine pushes the raw meat through their system quickly so invaders cannot get a foothold. (The cat’s body length-to-digestive tract ratio is only 1:4, compared to 1:6 for the dog and human, 1:12 for the horse, and 1:20 for the cow.) Another great bit of information for why it is imperative to feed cats raw meat! This short intestinal tract is one of the hallmarks of a carnivore.

Finally, the undigested portion of the food passes through the large intestine, where competition from normal resident bacteria protects against invaders. These defenses destroy approximately 98 percent of bacteria such as Salmonella.

Freezing raw meat for seventy-two hours at 24°F (-4°C) kills protozoal parasites such as Toxoplasma. While it’s true that bacteria aren’t affected by freezing, consider that a mother cat licks the backsides of her kittens, and she ingests what comes out of them for several weeks following their birth. Cats lick their own bacteria-laden backsides and bodies for the rest of their lives, so you can appreciate the natural cleansing ability of the cat. However, depending on the health of your cat, you should proceed cautiously to introduce a home-made diet. If your cat is extremely immune compromised by cancer or another serious condition, you may need to begin by cooking the meat a little bit at first and proceed to the ultimate goal of 100% raw with your vets approval.

A PROPERLY PREPARED HOMEMADE DIET
Okay, now you have decided for all the right reasons to make your own cat food. You may have performed independent research or perused some books, hopefully my own Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care, which I co-authored with Jean Hofve, DVM.

Be cautious about some diets you might find on line and the recipes found in pet “cookbooks” as many of these are not complete or balanced nor have they been adequately tested over long periods of time on multi-generations of felines. Serious problems can arise from simply feeding raw meat without bones or bonemeal for a source of calcium. The feline diet needs to consist of raw meat, organ/glandular meat and raw bones/bonemeal, but also whole food supplements that provide all necessary nutrients, including vitamins, minerals (besides calcium), trace minerals, co-factors, healthy fats, enzymes, amino acids, pro-biotics and possibly a few other super-nutrients which may be helpful for individual conditions. Please don’t add a human supplement without clearing its ingredients because several super foods such as alpha-lipoic acid and resveratrol are dangerous for cats.

Here is the diet that I raised 11 generations of my beloved Tonkinese Cats on for nearly 20 years with incredible health results as the reward for this effort.

 

MY CELESTIAL RAW MEAT AND RAW BONE RECIPE
YIELD: Approximately two to four days worth of food for an average ten-pound (4.5 k) adult cat. Increase for kittens and pregnant or lactating queens who require more meals per day.

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. (0.45 kg) raw coarse ground, or diced beef or poultry, up to 25 percent fat (Do not use pork or fish) Try lamb, venison, elk, bison, ostrich, quail, and alternate and/or combine meats for variety if you wish.

1⁄4 lb. (100 g) raw diced organic, organ meat, such as liver, kidney, heart, and gizzard, spleen, etc. (turkey, chicken, beef, or lamb).

8 ounces (250 ml) purified water combined with 4 drops of grapefruit seed extract (GSE) liquid concentrate.

2 level tablespoons (20 g) of a feline supplement vitamin/mineral mix, made for a homemade raw meat diet which contains organic bone meal preferably from New Zealand. Note: Cut the amount of feline supplement in half if using bone-in ground meat or just add a pinch of organic spirulina and/or cholorella. Probiotics are also a wonderful addition as are digestive enzymes. (Follow the amounts recommended on the label)

One small tin of organic sardines in extra virgin olive oil,

or EFA (essential fatty acids) Oil supplement designed for cats,

And/or one cold extracted, organic, Omega-3 and antioxidant capsule containing a combination formula consisting of a marine lipid from New Zealand greenlip mussles, kiwifruit seed oil (which contains all the known forms of natural Vitamin E) and white grape seed husk extract.

Or if unavailable use 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of fermented Cod Liver Oil, or cold pressed organic salmon oil, which must be refrigerated after opening, plus 100 IU of Vitamin E oil.

One drop of liquid garlic extract such as Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract.
(Too much garlic can cause serious health consequences. Do not over-supplement and never use raw garlic or raw onions.)

1⁄8 to 1⁄4 teaspoon digestive enzyme supplement made for cats or one human digestive enzyme capsule.

500 milligrams taurine (powder or capsule).

OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS
Many people swear by adding 2 to 4 ounces (60 to 120 g) food-processed raw zucchini (or pureed steamed), food-processed or pulped raw or baked yams, canned organic unsweetened pumpkin, or organic baby food vegetables such as sweet potatoes (yams), carrots, or winter squash. (No corn or white potatoes, please.) However, I only feed the meat mixture as described above with the raw bone ground right into it. I have found a butcher who does this for me and he includes the appropriate organ meats, such as a bit of kidney, liver, heart, gizzards, etc.

PREPARATION

1. Because all whole bones (including vertebrae) can possibly splinter, (it is said by many that only cooked bones splinter) you can have your butcher grind chicken backs and necks or even a whole chicken. Be sure the butcher runs them through the grinder at least three times. This is what I have my butcher do for me with the organ meats included. You could also purchase your own meat grinder and grind your own meats and poultry.

2.You may also use a mallet to crush whole chicken necks and cut into thirds and tuck them into their food to give them something to “bone crush” which also serves to clean their teeth naturally. Do this if you are nervous about feeding them cut into good size chunks, but feed the chicken necks with food as it helps them to have food in their stomach already. This is the order in which they eat in the wild, bones are their desert!

3. Treat the raw meat/poultry with the purified water/ grapefruit seed extract liquid concentrate as described in the recipe above.

Note: Never use grapefruit seed extract straight (internally or externally). It will cause serious chemical burns. It must always be properly diluted.

4. Place the meat in a bowl and pour the liquid over it in small amounts, blending it into the meat as you go. Use only enough of this solution necessary to make the food the consistency of a thick chili. (Alternatively, you could let the meat defrost from its frozen state, in this solution, with your supplements included, placing it in the refrigerator, but again do not drain off this liquid.)

5. Cut the organ meats and any other larger pieces of meat into bite-size chunks. A combination of some ground meat helps the supplements mix nicely and then chunks of meat of cut chicken necks give them the chance to bone crush. Liver can be cut partially frozen and cut into cat size bites. Chicken necks can defrost and marinate in this solution as well rendering them a little softer until you are ready to serve them.

6. Mix all ingredients.

RAW FOOD RECIPE NOTES

SWITCHING FOODS can be dicey, if you are just starting your cat on raw meat and raw bones you will find that many cats and kittens immediately love their new homemade diet. It’s a good sign to have a cat with a hearty appetite. But for others it takes a bit of strategy to accomplish this goal. Here are some tips for making this transition.

For cats who have had food available day and night (free choice), the first step is to go to a timed meal schedule, where you leave the food out for an hour in the morning and again for an hour in the evening, but put it away the rest of the time. Believe me, your cat will not starve to death in twelve hours. The eat-fast-eat schedule is more natural to carnivores, and it gives them time to digest between meals. Also with this schedule, you don’t have to worry about restricting the amounts you feed; the cat will eventually self-regulate on this schedule. The other big advantage of timed meals is that your cat will be hungry at mealtime, and thus more willing to try new things. This is particularly critical when switching from dry food.

Increase portions or feed more small meals if your cat gobbles it all up and wants more; amounts can vary from meal to meal. About two heaping tablespoons per cat twice a day for adults, (3 to 4 times per day for kittens, pregnant queens and nursing mothers).

Do not overfeed because cats have a mechanism that will cause them to throw up their entire stomach contents if it is over filled even by a tiny bit and over 2 heaping TBSP’s at one serving, is over filling. Better to feed more often then risk this. But cats don’t always want to eat every meal you serve them. Give them a little flexibility to make their own decisions. Some times, at some meals, you are not so hungry, right?

Leave food down to begin with for approximately an hour. If it’s too warm in your home, or if flies are a problem, shorten the time. If ants are a problem set the cats flat plate on another slightly larger plate with a little rim, filled with purified water. Ants don’t like to cross the moat! Many people, myself included have left the food out for hours, even all day without incident but again err on the side of caution and do what you feel comfortable doing. So much of this is merely common sense.

I recommend that cats be fed on flat plates (a slight rim is fine as cats hate to have their whiskers touch the side of a bowl) and let them eat at their convenience in peace. If they walk away, so be it. They’ll be back when they are ready!

Cats and kittens want their food very fresh. Therefore, keep food in the refrigerator for no more than three to 4 days. Store the food in glass bowls with tight fitting lids. Plastic off-gasses organo-chlorines, which are toxic to people and pets and alters the taste for the cats. (Always defrost meat in the refrigerator, not on the kitchen counter. And never microwave it, (that is a whole other story). Keep in mind you can make up large batches of this recipe and freeze for later meals, too! Freezing is fine in plastic but change to glass to defrost.

Safe handling of raw meat is imperative. Wash hands, dishes, and utensils in hot soapy water. Clean surfaces with environmentally safe cleaning products, such as a solution of 1 drop of (GSE) grapefruit seed extract per ounce (30 ml) of water.

Try to use a vitamin/mineral supplement designed for a homemade carnivore diet. Because noting existed for this purpose when I began making my own food, I designed one with a holistic veterinarian formulator as I simply couldn’t find anything suitable and easy that met my requirements for my own animals and my clients. I will only use human grade ingredients and I am very picky about everything that goes into their body and mine. This particular supplement that I have used for nearly 20 years includes correct proportions of bone meal, super greens, plus gland and organ powder to balance this raw meat and raw bone recipe properly. Check my website or your own internet sources as new products come and go all the time.

Please remember that there is nothing better than a properly prepared homemade diet but nothing worse than an improperly prepared one! You may have already worked all this out for yourself, but if not and you need help…I’m here for you!

Budget-Friendly Cat Food Guide

By PetMD

When considering the cost of feeding your cat along with all of your other expenses, it can be difficult to find that balance between what is best for your cat and what is best for your budget. Fitting everything into a tight budget can be a trial, and many families are having to make the very difficult decision of either giving up a member of the family — that is, the family pet — or switching to a low quality food. Finding the best quality food that is available, at a reasonable price so that you do not have to consider giving your cat up, is possible if you follow some basic parameters.

Price is Only One Objective

Grabbing a bag of the cheapest food on the shelf is often not a good plan for the long term since it can lead to unintended consequences, such as vitamin and mineral deficiencies, or unhealthy weight gain (for grown cats). These health consequences alone can lead to clinical health problems requiring medical care, and now is not a good time to be taking chances with your pet’s health. Before deciding on the most economically viable food brand, do your research to make sure you are choosing the best formula at the best price.

Hunt Down the Best Prices Before Buying

Discount stores are a great place to begin comparison shopping, but before you decide on a brand or store, make notes of the prices offered at the big discount/super-stores as well as at the bulk and warehouse stores. In many cases, the prices are comparable, or one choice may be more convenient in terms of travel and location.

There is also the web to take into consideration as you hunt down the best food at the best price. Some web-based companies will offer loyalty discounts, discounted or free shipping, and even coupons for free samples of products. It can be worth it to invest the time in searching for the best deals.

Reducing costs does not only mean looking for the cheapest price, though. You might find that something as simple as switching from a wet food to a dry food can save quite a bit of money, since wet foods cost considerably more due to the type of packaging. Some cats will not miss eating wet food, while others have to be patiently weaned from wet food to dry, and still others have to be fed a mix of the two.

Read the Labels

The ingredients listed on the label can differ significantly from brand to brand. Generally speaking, your pet needs a food with high levels of protein, as well as some fat. The first ingredient listed on the bag should be an animal protein source, such as chicken, beef, lamb, or fish. Fat sources include oils, tallow, and lard. It is important to keep in mind that cats are strictly carnivorous and do not need carbohydrates or grains to be healthy. While a dog can not only subsist, but thrive on a food that is made with a high proportion of carbohydrates and grains, a cat can suffer significantly, even fatally, if fed the same formulas.

However, a lot of cat food makers will add a carbohydrate source, such as corn meal, sorghum or barley, rice, or berries. While experts agree that cats do not need these ingredients, there is some disagreement over whether these ingredients can be problematic. If the carbohydrate content is more than the protein content, your cat will be hungrier because he will need to eat more to get the needed animal protein content. This of course will result in more carbohydrates being ingested, and the possibility of excess weight gain as a result. In the end, the lower priced, carb-rich cat food is not an economical choice at all. The best thing is to do your research, know how to read a label, and make an informed decision.

Ideally, you should feed your cat a food that has been certified “complete and balanced” by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This certification means that the food has been tested by a board of veterinarians and has been shown to be a nutritionally complete food for your cat.

 

Talk to Your Doctor

Changing the diet is not for everyone, and it may not be the solution that will best serve your family’s needs. If your cat is on a prescription diet or is being treated for a long-term medical condition, ask your veterinarian for advice on whether another brand can be substituted to reduce your household costs. It is possible that there is no other food that can be fed to your cat because of an underlying health condition, but in most cases, a way can be found so that you can feed your cat the food he needs while keeping him with the family.

Finally, while table scraps and leftovers of your family’s food is a good treat for your cat, they should not take the place of formulated animal food that has the added minerals and fats your pet specifically needs. Cats in particular need taurine, arginine, niacin, preformed vitamin A, and specific types of essential fatty acids. Cats that are deficient in any of these food ingredients can suffer severe health problems.

Do not be shy about asking your veterinarian what you can do to make your situation easier to handle. You are not alone, and veterinarians encourage families to stay together, even during the rough times. Your vet may know who you can contact for cat food assistance, if needed. Again, research is key. Call around and see if there are any pet charities or shelters that are having pet food fund raisers or food collection drives to help families in need.

Special Kitty of the Day for February 2nd

Timothy, the Cat of the Day
Name: Timothy
Age: Eight years old
Gender: Male
Kind: Domestic long-hair
Home: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
This is Timothy. He’s a long-haired, (neutered) male. He lives here in Atlanta, Ga with my husband and I, six other cats, six gerbils, and four mice. Timothy is a wonderful, friendly, out-going, and fun-loving kitty. Timothy loves everybody… adults, children, other cats, dogs, rodents, birds, whatever you may be!

Timothy is the best bedwarmer ever, although, he only wants to sleep on the bed when no one is looking. He’s never met a creature of any kind that he didn’t like. Timothy has no fear… of anything. When he does escape, he lets himself into other people’s homes via the kitty/doggy door. He has been found in someone else’s bed at 3:00 in the morning! And, he eats their food, too. Dog food, cat food, people food… whatever!

Tim lives to eat, and he’ll eat just about anything you put down… whether it’s for him, or not.

Timmy is very social, and makes toys out paper, trash, pens, coasters, bottles, anything really. When he feels we’re depriving him of our attention, he turns our stuff into toys… name badges, glasses, wallets, rings, belts. He paws at them and chews on them until we get the hint.

Thanks for letting me show him off to someone, he sure is special!

Eco-Friendly Pet Care

Eco-Friendly Pet Care

  • Adria Saracino

With an increasing number of us choosing to make the change to a greener, more sustainable way of life for ourselves and our families, it makes sense to extend our eco-friendly inclinations to caring for our four-legged friends. Our pets are exposed to the same pesticides and toxins as we are, so it is natural for us to want to protect them, too. Here are some environmentally sound ways of caring for your pets.

Eco Eating

A healthy diet is essential for maintaining good pet health. Many of our most trusted brands of “premium” pet food have been revealed to be using low-quality ingredients that would not be fit for human consumption, and if it’s not good enough for us, then it’s not good enough for Fido!

Thus, look for organic options and ask yourself, “do I really know what’s in my pet’s food?” Certified organic pet food must meet strict standards set by the USDA. It is guaranteed to be free from hormones, chemicals, genetically-modified ingredients and artificial flavors and colorings. Luckily, most organic pet foods also tend to be sustainably sourced, so you will be helping local communities in addition to improving your pet’s diet.

Green Grooming

Although looking after your pet’s insides is extremely important, what you put on the outside makes a huge difference to their health and well-being, too. For both bathing and getting rid of fleas, there are plenty of natural options available at retail centers like Native Remedies. This site offers products that provide a gentler alternative to support your pet’s immune system, and won’t contain potentially harmful chemicals which can wreak havoc with your pet’s health if ingested.

 

Conscientious Cleaning

Cleaning up after your pet has the potential to be a much greener activity, too. Did you know that every year approximately 10 million tons of pet waste will end up in the nation’s landfills? Clay-based cat litter is not an eco-friendly product, but thankfully there are many biodegradable and organic alternatives available.

The equivalent in “business management” for your dog is the biodegradable waste bag. Picking up after your dog is essential, but using plastic bags won’t help with your green ambitions. Biodegradable bags decompose naturally and can reduce landfill waste substantially. Also, when it comes to all the little accidents that accompany pet training and muddy paw prints, using natural cleaning products such as baking soda and lemon juice helps to reduce the toxins you’re letting loose in your home.

Holistic Health Care

If your pet was to get sick, there are many alternative treatments that you could try. Chiropractic, homeopathic and holistic remedies are becoming more and more common for pets. Acupuncture, veterinary orthopedic manipulation, massage therapy, hydrotherapy and pet rehabilitation are also available. These types of treatments are thought to vastly increase the comfort of pets that suffer from conditions like epilepsy, cancer, allergies, and injury.

While these options can improve your pet’s comfort and overall health, they tend to come with a price. Thus, look into pet insurance options. Note, not all insurance providers include coverage for holistic methods, so be sure to read the coverage details carefully. Embrace pet insurance is one option for alternative therapy coverage. They offer both cat and dog insurance that includes coverage for treatments like chiropractic, acupuncture, and more.

These are just a few ideas to get you started, but it doesn’t have to end there. Think green and enjoy the immense satisfaction you’ll get from knowing that you and yours are doing your bit for the planet. The pets of the future will thank you for it!

What is Really in Your Pet’s Commercial Food?

What is Really in Your Pet’s Commercial Food?

  • Eden, selected from AllThingsHealing.com

Love ‘Em Like Family, Feed ‘Em Like Family: What is Really in Your Pet’s Commercial Food?
by Jonathan Reynolds, Contributor to Animals & Pets on All Things Healing

If dogs and cats were capable of visiting the places where commercial pet food comes from, would they still want to eat it? It’s perhaps an interesting question, but realistically, most dogs and cats will never visit a factory farm over the course of their lives. They rely entirely on their human caretakers to research, understand, and decide what’s best for them.

Ingredients on pet food containers are listed in decreasing order according to weight. Meats which tend to sponge up water, such as chicken, are usually higher on the list when it comes to canned foods, even though the actual amount of meat may be less. Wet foods are especially beneficial to cats for this reason, as they have a tendency to not realize when they become dehydrated. Dry food generally has less water, more plant material, and more calories for energy. Wet food tends to have more protein, but it is also usually more expensive and must be refrigerated after opening.

One ingredient typically found in commercial pet food for both dogs and cats, known as “meat by-products”, consists of dead animal pieces mostly deemed unfit for human consumption. According to bornfree.org, “about 50% of every food animal does not get used in human foods. Whatever remains of the carcass — heads, feet, bones, blood, intestines, lungs, spleens, livers, ligaments, fat trimmings, unborn babies, and other parts not generally consumed by humans — is used in pet food, animal feed, fertilizer, industrial lubricants, soap, rubber, and other products.”

Meat meals, poultry meals, by-product meals, and meat-and-bone meal are also common ingredients in dry pet foods. Meals go through a “rendering” process which requires the dead carcasses to be boiled for several hours to separate fat and proteins. Because rendering must be gentle enough to remove the valuable nutrients intact, there is the possibility that the end-product might carry biological pathogens.

Some preservatives used in dry pet food are worth avoiding, such as butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), propyl gallate, propylene glycol, and ethoxyquin (pdf), all of which are used frequently.

Animals living on factory farms are regularly injected with antibiotics. The FDA estimates that in 2009, around 29 million pounds of antibiotics were pumped into farm animals by the meat industry.

Pet food is frequently the target of recalls (pdf). Between 2006 and 2007, 60 million containers of 180 different brands of pet food and treats, produced by 12 different manufacturers, were recalled due to the intentional contamination of wheat gluten and rice protein imported from two Chinese companies. This recall is considered to be the largest in US history.

Taking all of this into consideration, combined with our knowledge of what regularly goes on in factory farms, what options do vegetarians and vegans have if they want happiness and health for their non-human companions, but also want to avoid supporting the meat industry? Meatless alternatives exist for both cats and dogs, but both animals and their specific dietary requirements differ greatly.

Dogs are technically classified as carnivores; however, they do exceedingly well as omnivores too, and there are many examples of dogs living long, healthy lives as vegetarians.

An adult dog needs fats (energy and vitamins), carbohydrates (energy), vitamins, and proteins, all of which should be found in any quality vegetarian pet food. Protein is made up of amino acids, of which there are 23 different kinds (pdf), 13 that a dog can create, 10 which the dog needs added to his/her diet. Milk, fish, soy, eggs, beans, legumes, and nut butters are all adequate sources for many of these proteins.

Dogs can eat a variety of vegetables. However, because of their small digestive tracts, steaming vegetables to soften them, or putting them into a liquid form, makes digestion easier. One study (pdf) showed that textured vegetable protein (“soy meat”) is only slightly less digestible in dogs than beef. Veggies that dogs can eat include: broccoli, carrots, cabbage, cucumber, celery, green beans, kale, squash, and spinach. As for fruits, apples, bananas, and watermelon are a good place to start.

Canned vegetarian dog food can be found at most pet stores. Perhaps surprising, it’s not much more expensive than regular food (I purchased a 13 oz. can for only $2 in NY). Some brands of canned vegetarian dog food may be sufficient on their own for maintaining a dog’s health. Try researching different brands via the internet to find the best product for your dog.

There is perhaps more research into homemade and non-commercial vegetarian/vegan dog food than there is of the commercially-produced kind. For example, CNN reported the story of 4-year-old Cleo, who switched to a vegan diet after her caretaker’s vet recommended it to fight an ear infection. Cleo was fed beans, rice, and sweet potatoes for five months. Afterwards, not only was her ear infection gone, but so was her dandruff and bad breath. She also had a shiner coat. Caretakers of vegetarian dogs shared their experiences in James Peden’s 1999 book, “Vegetarian Cats & Dogs”. The health benefits they reported include decreased ectoparasites (fleas, ticks, lice and mites), improved coat condition, allergy control, weight control, decreased arthritis, improved vitality, improved stool odor, and cataract resolution. A two-year study (pdf) conducted by university researchers in 2002 placed young and aging Beagles on a diet of regular dog food, or a fortified diet consisting of d,l-alpha-tocopherol acetate (vitamin E), l-carnitine, d,l-alpha-lipoic acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and 1% inclusions of spinach flakes, tomato pomace, grape pomace, carrot granules, and citrus pulp. The study concluded that such a fortified diet has the potential to drastically reduce cognitive decline in aging animals.

Donna Spector, a veterinary internal medicine specialist who runs SpectorDVM (an animal nutrition consultancy), and six other pet experts who spoke with CNN conceded — some more reluctantly than others — that “most dogs could biologically live on a vegan diet. But doing so requires substantial attention to creating a balanced diet that makes up for the loss of animal protein with substitutions of beans, soy and, to a lesser extent, vegetables and grains.”

Even if one chooses to not make such a dietary change for their companion, at least incorporating more vegetables into meals along with meat and fish can substantially alter their health for the better.

But what about cats?

Cats are obligate carnivores. Because of this, they rely on nutrients typically found in animals: high protein, moderate fat, and minimal carbohydrates. Animal-based proteins also contain taurine, arginine, cysteine, and methionine, all of which are key ingredients for cat nutrition. Lack of taurine can lead a cat to experience heart or respiratory problems, blindness, and even death.

Armaiti May, a certified veterinarian, elaborates on veganhealth.org in further detail where research currently stands on cats and vegetarian/vegan food:

“Cats on a vegan diet can develop abnormally alkaline (high pH) urine due to the more alkaline pH of plant based proteins in comparison to the acidic pH of meat-based foods which cats have evolved to eat. When the urine pH becomes too alkaline, there is an increased risk of formation of struvite (also known as magnesium ammonium phosphate) bladder crystals and/or stones. Calcium oxalate stones can also occur, but these do not occur if the urine is too alkaline, but rather if it is too acidic. Such stones can create irritation and infection of the urinary tract and require veterinary treatment. In male cats who form such crystals or stones, they can suffer more severe consequences than simply irritation or infection of the urinary tract because the stones can actually cause an obstruction of the urethra so the cat cannot urinate. This is a life-threatening emergency requiring immediate veterinary care; this involves passing a urinary catheter to relieve the obstruction, placing an indwelling urinary catheter, and starting supportive intravenous fluid therapy, along with appropriate pain management and antibiotics if indicated. These “blocked” cats frequently need to be hospitalized and monitored closely for several days before they can go home and the associated veterinary fees can easily be between $1000-$1200. The sooner a problem is identified and the cat is treated, the better the prognosis for recovery. Some cats who get blocked repeatedly require a highly specialized (and expensive, ~$2000) surgery called a perineal urethrostomy (PU).

Cat guardians who put their cat on a vegan diet should have their veterinarian check the cat’s urine pH 1-2 weeks after switching them to a vegan diet and then once a month for the first several months to ensure the pH remains stable. If the pH is too high, urinary acidifiers may help the urine pH to become more acidic. Urinary acidifiers that may be used include methionine, vitamin C, and sodium bisulfate. James Peden, author of Vegetarian Cats and Dogs states there are natural urinary acidifiers, including asparagus, peas, brown rice, oats, lentils, garbanzos, corn, Brussels sprouts, lamb’s quarters (the herb Chenopodium album, also known as pigweed), most nuts (except almonds and coconut), grains (not millet), and wheat gluten (used in kibble recipes). Once the pH is regulated, the urine pH should be checked at least twice a year. If a cat shows signs of pain or straining while using the litter box, immediate veterinary attention should be sought. It is important to not supplement the cat’s diet with urinary acidifiers unless it is actually needed because a too acidic pH can cause a different kind of stone to form (calcium oxalate stones). While many cats appear to thrive on a vegan diet, there are also anecdotal reports of cats with recurring urinary tract problems, including infections associated with previous urethral obstructions caused by urinary crystals.

For cat guardians who find it too tedious to monitor their cat’s urine pH, they should perhaps consider feeding a non-vegetarian cat food or not keeping a cat as a companion. […]

Many cats are very picky eaters. Although adding vegan mock meats and nutritional yeast to flavor vegan cat food will encourage many cats to eat it, there may be many cats who still refuse to eat, especially if they are sick. Cats who are anorectic for a prolonged period are at high risk for developing hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver syndrome), a serious condition that requires extensive veterinary care. Some cats may require more patience and a gradual transition from a meat-based diet to a vegan diet if they are accustomed to eating a meat-based diet. Most commercial pet foods contain “digest” which consists of partially digested chicken entrails, that makes the food more palatable.”

Caring for a cat through a vegetarian/vegan diet requires a lot of time and work. The possible health implications could also be fatal if carried out improperly.

In an article posted on the ABC News website in 2009, Eric Weisman, CEO of Evolution Diet Pet Food Corp., a manufacturer of vegan cat and dog food, said in an interview that his company has been in business more than 20 years. “We have dogs over 19 years old in good health. We have cats over 22 years in good health. Our food is 100 percent complete according to state requirements. We have all the proteins and all the fatty acids found in meat-based [foods] but without the cruelty and destruction of the environment.”

If you’re skeptical of a vegetarian/vegan diet for your cat, yet remain concerned about the health effects of commercial pet food, there are still options. If you buy canned meat for your cat, try looking for brands without “meat by-products” added. This may be a bit more expensive (depending), but the long-term health benefits should be worth the investment. Cats also like fish, which is good (in moderation) because it contains beneficial fatty acids.

Take note of your companion’s health before any new diet is introduced, and after a few weeks of the new food, check it again to determine the nutritional impact. Make sure to gradually phase out the old food instead of making a sudden change. Both of the former points apply to cat and dog diet modifications.

Vegetarian/vegan diets cannot be considered healthy without exercise. Always have a dish of fresh water available for dogs and cats. Adequate hydration is critical for the maintenance of good overall health.

Some vegetarian dog and cat food companies also produce canned meat pet food, so if your objective has anything to do with a desire to economically starve the meat industry, keep this in mind. Some pet food companies also test their products on animals, another point worth consideration.

Always consult a veterinarian if you are even the slightest bit unsure of anything regarding your companion’s diet. If possible, ask multiple vets to get a more varied opinion.

And lastly, be sure to do your own research. Vegetarian/vegan pet food is relatively new in the market, at least in a commercial sense. But its presence is a sign that a demand exists, which is definitely a good sign. Hopefully, research will continue and more effective brands will be created and released in the future.