Sunday, June 17, 2012


The first half of 2012 has been full of news about pet food recalls and even some bad news about contamination involving pet treats.  This has been going on for years but it appears to be increasing in frequency now.  Is there anything you can do to protect your pet from being exposed to these contaminants?  If your pet has been exposed, can you do anything to help your pet?  Are you, yourself,  in any potential danger from these contaminants?

Unfortunately, this is a good news/bad news situation because the answer to all 3 of those questions is...YES!

Helpful Buckeye has a lot of very helpful information for our readers about the food you are feeding your pets.  So much information, in fact, that it would be far too much for one issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats.  Therefore, the overall subject of pet nutrition will be best divided into these groups: 

1) How Safe Is Your Pet's Food?
2) What's For Dinner?
3) What Shouldn't Be For Dinner?

The second and third parts will be presented as we move further into summer.  Be sure to tell your pet-owning friends about these upcoming topics because this stuff is of interest to ALL pet owners.  Stay tuned!

Pet Food Safety

Part of your responsibility as a pet parent is to help protect your pet from potentially harmful products. While it is nearly impossible to ensure that your pet will never come in contact with recalled pet food or treats, you can help to reduce your pet's risk. Also remember to practice good hygiene with your pets' food and bowls.

An updated list of recalled pet food products can be found at the web site link at the end of this article.

Latest News: A recall of dry pet food from Diamond Pet Foods and other companies triggered by Salmonella infections in people who came in contact with pet food is expanding in the U.S. and Canada. The Humane Society of the United States will continue to follow the situation and post each new recall on the above-mentioned web link. Return to this site for regular updates and share the information with your friends and family.

Tips for protecting your pets from contaminated food and treats:

1. Check our list of recalled foods and treats regularly for the latest information on items that have been recalled. You may also want to join our online community to receive information about recalls via the Pet of the Week e-newsletter. In addition, the FDA website is a helpful tool that provides updated information for all product recalls.

2. If your pet's food or treats are recalled (see list) , immediately stop feeding the product to your pet. Recalled products may be returned to the store where they were purchased for a full refund or thrown away in a secure area not accessible to animals. If you have questions about recalled food or treats or require additional information contact the company that manufactures the product.

3. If your pet may have consumed a recalled product, consult your veterinarian, even if your pet does not appear to have any symptoms.

4. If your pet has become ill or died because of a recalled food or treat, please report it to The FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in your state.

Adapted from:

Tainted pet food can make pet, owner sick

By Michelle Marshall

In April, Diamond Pet Foods announced a voluntary recall on three brands of pet food because of concerns the food was contaminated with Salmonella. In May, two more recalls involving several brands of dry dog and cat foods were issued. The latest recall includes foods that were distributed in Missouri. Some of the recalled foods include Diamond Naturals Small Breed Lamb and Rice Formula, Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul, Canidae, Taste of the Wild and Kirkland. For a complete list of involved foods, production dates and areas of distribution, go to .

The main concern with this recall is pet owners who become ill after touching the pet food, cross-contamination of their own food with products that touched the affected pet food, or direct contact with an infected pet. According to a May 11 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confirmed outbreak cases have been documented in Alabama (1), Connecticut (1), Michigan (1), Missouri (3), North Carolina (3), New Jersey (1), Ohio (2), Pennsylvania (2) and Virginia (1). Five people were hospitalized. One Canadian case was reported by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection in people can include fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or cramps, and diarrhea (often with blood) lasting more than three days. Symptoms in animals are similar and include loss or lack of appetite and lethargy. Pets can be infected with Salmonella but show no symptoms. Unaffected pets might still shed the bacteria in their feces and serve as a source of infection to other animals and humans.

If you suspect your pets have been eating any of the foods involved, stop feeding and handling the food. Wrap any unused food in a closed plastic bag, secure the top and place it in a sealed trash container to prevent any other animals, including wild animals, from eating it. Use gloves to clean any surfaces or containers that might have contacted the food.

Salmonella can be shed in the feces of pets for 4-6 weeks after infection, so use caution when cleaning up after your pet. All stools from a suspect animal should be immediately picked up and disposed of in a secure container. Family members should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water after handling any potentially contaminated surfaces or pets.

Other recommendations for avoiding cross-contamination with pet products include feeding your pet in a room other than the kitchen, washing pet bowls and scoops with soap and hot water regularly, and not washing these items in kitchen sinks or bathtubs. Do not use the pet's feeding bowl as a scooping utensil — use a clean, dedicated scoop or cup.

If you are concerned that you or your pet have been affected by or exposed to Salmonella, contact your physician or veterinarian. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are needed to prevent potential complications.

Adapted from:

Tainted Dog Food Sickens 14 People

Salmonella in Diamond Pet Foods

by Mary Rothschild

Fourteen people have been sickened with Salmonella infantis infections in a 9-state outbreak linked to dog food. At least five of the individuals have been hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reported recently that multiple brands of Diamond Pet Foods dry dog food - including several that have been recalled in recent days - are the likely source of the human illnesses, either through contact with the contaminated food or through handling an animal that has eaten the tainted kibble. The dog food was produced at a single manufacturing plant in South Carolina.

How many dogs may also have been sickened was not mentioned in the CDC report. In some recall notices, Diamond Pet Foods has claimed that no dog illnesses have been reported. Those recall alerts from the company did not reveal that human cases of infection were being investigated.

According to the CDC, routine tests by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development first detected Salmonella in an unopened bag of Diamond Pet Foods Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice dry dog food on April 2.

PulseNet, the national surveillance system for foodborne illnesses, then spotted several cases of human Salmonella infantis infections with a genetic fingerprint identical to that found in the dog food, the CDC said.

The outbreak strain of Salmonella infantis was isolated from an opened bag of Diamond Brand Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul Adult Light Formula dry dog food, found in the household of an ill person in Ohio. The outbreak strain was also isolated in samples taken from an unopened bag of the dog food obtained from an Ohio retail store.

A sample of Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food collected by the Food and Drug Administration during an inspection at the South Carolina production plant yielded Salmonella, the CDC said.

Seven of 10 outbreak victims interviewed said they had contact with a dog during the week before they became ill. Of five people who could remember the type of dog food they had handled, four said it was a Diamond Pet Foods brand.

Missouri and North Carolina each confirmed 3 cases related to the dog food outbreak. Ohio reported two cases while Alabama, Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey , Pennsylvania and Virginia each reported single cases.

The first onset of human illness reported was Oct. 8, 2011 and the most recent illness onset was April 22 -- more than two weeks after the first pet food recall. The case patients range in age from 1 to 82 years old with a median age of 48. Seventy-seven percent of the ill people are female.

Diamond Pet Foods recalled certain batches of its Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice dry dog food on April 6 as a "precautionary measure" and stated then that "no illnesses have been reported and no other Diamond manufactured products are affected." That was four days after the Michigan test results.

Then a second recall was announced April 26 for certain production codes of Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul Adult Light formula dry dog food. This time, the recall alert stated more narrowly that "no dog illnesses" had been reported.

On April 30, the company expanded the recall to include Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food and again said there were no reports of dog illnesses related to the product. No mention was made of human infections in the recall announcement.

"There have been numerous human outbreaks linked to pet food," said food safety attorney Bill Marler, managing partner at Marler Clark (publisher of Food Safety News). "It again shows how important food safety is, both to your pet and your family."

According to the CDC, dogs and cats infected with Salmonella usually have diarrhea and may seem lethargic, but they also can carry the infection and not appear to be sick. Humans can become ill by touching infected animals, contaminated food, or objects and surfaces such as food bowls, especially if they do not thoroughly wash their hands after the contacts.

The CDC offered this advice for pet owners:

- Consumers should check their homes for recalled dog food products and discard them promptly. Consumers with questions about recalled dog food may contact Diamond Pet Foods at telephone number 800-442-0402 or visit .

- Follow the tips listed on Salmonella from Dry Pet Food and Treats to help prevent an infection with Salmonella from handling dry pet food and treats.

- People who think they might have become ill after contact with dry pet food or with an animal that has eaten dry pet food should consult their health care providers. Infants, older adults, and persons with impaired immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness.

- People who think their animal might have become ill after eating dry pet food should consult their veterinary-care providers.

Additional information for pet owners can be found here.

Adapted from:

More Aflatoxin-Related Dog Food Recalls Revealed

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration posted two dog food recall notices on its website Wednesday, including one dated Dec. 12 and an "updated" alert dated Dec. 14.

Both recalls of dry dog food were the result of elevated levels of aflatoxin, caused by a fungus on grains such as corn that in significant quantities can cause liver damage in pets. These recalls are apparently related to the Dec. 7 announcement by manufacturer Cargill Animal Nutrition that it was pulling dry dog food off the market because of excess amounts of aflatoxin.

Aflatoxin, which cannot exceed 20 parts per billion under FDA standards, has been found in levels above that in dog food produced at Cargill's plant in LeCompte, LA and in Iams puppy food manufactured by Proctor and Gamble in Henderson, N.C. Advanced Animal Nutrition recalled its Dog Power food, also for elevated aflatoxins.

All the companies have said that, to date, no illnesses or adverse affects have been reported in connection with the recalled dog food, but did not explain why dog food was on the market for more than a year before it was tested for aflatoxins.

O'Neal's Feeders Supply of DeRidder, LA, said it has recalled dry Arrow Brand dog food manufactured over an entire year -- between Dec. 1, 2010, and Dec. 1, 2011 -- because it contains corn detected to have higher than acceptable levels of aflatoxin.

O'Neals said the recall applies only to dog food distributed in Louisiana and Texas with packaging date codes lot numbers 4K0341 through 4K0365 and 04K1001 through 4K1325.

It said retailers have already been instructed to remove the following affected brands and products from store shelves:

-- ARROWBRAND 21% Dog Chunks SKU #807 40 lb. bag

-- ARROWBRAND Super Proeaux Dog Food SKU #812 40 lb. bag

-- ARROWBRAND Professional Formula Dog Food SKU #814 50 lb. bag

Consumers may return the recalled dog food - in opened or unopened packages - to the place of purchase for a full refund. For more information contact 800-256-2769 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Petrus Feed and Seed Stores, in what was described as an updated alert, said it has recalled its dry dog food - 21% Protein Dog Food in 40 lb Petrus Feed bags because the product was manufactured with corn that tested above acceptable levels for aflatoxin.

The company said the affected products were manufactured by Cargill in LeCompte, LA between Dec. 1, 2010 and Dec. 1, 2011.

The recall is only for 21% Dog Food, packaged in 40 lb. Petrus Feed bags, with the packaging date codes (lot numbers) 4K1011 through 4K1307. Updated lot numbers are 4K1011 through 4K1335. The affected dry dog food was distributed in Petrus Feed and Seed in Alexandria, LA.

Consumers may return the recalled dog food - whether in opened or unopened packages - to their place of purchase for a full refund. For more information contact 318-443-2259, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Both companies advised that pets that have consumed any of the recalled products and exhibit symptoms of illness including sluggishness or lethargy combined with a reluctance to eat, vomiting, yellowish tint to the eyes or gums, or diarrhea should be seen by a veterinarian.

Adapted from:

Nearly all U.S. pet food contains ingredients from China, other countries: Animals in the News

By Donna J. Miller

The "buy local" food slogan so popular with environmentalists may catch on with people shopping for pet food.

"Avoid the newest products on the shelves and buy made-in-the-USA pet food," veterinarian Brian Forsgren said recently at a news conference called by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown to publicize the death of a Westlake dog that died after eating chicken jerky made in China.

The Food and Drug Administration has received several hundred complaints since 2007 from pet owners whose dogs suffered serious or fatal kidney damage after eating chicken treats. But the agency's scientists, although they've previously found pet food products that contained harmful contaminants from China, have not been able to identify a toxin and link the jerky treats to the illnesses.

Meanwhile, Forsgren, Brown and the Westlake dog owner urge pet owners to avoid products made overseas. But is it possible to buy totally made-in-the-U.S.A pet food?

Chicken breasts "are not produced domestically in sufficient quantity to meet demand," said Kurt Gallagher, director of communications for the Pet Food Institute, which represents 98 percent of U.S. pet food companies. "In China, consumers prefer to eat dark meat chicken and other cuts, so white meat chicken breasts are available for making quality dog treats."

And other pet food ingredients are only available from foreign sources, including certain vitamins, amino acids, minerals and micronutrients, he said.

Interestingly, the only significant supply of vitamin C worldwide, which is also taken as a daily supplement by people around the globe, is China," Gallagher said in an email.

"It would be difficult to purchase a pet food that is made from 100 percent U.S. ingredients."

Senator Brown and U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich have called on the FDA to recall the jerky treats; step up its search for toxins in them and other pet food; hold U.S. companies accountable for the quality of their overseas ingredients; and improve communications with the public about potential threats.

"Would a consumer who goes to the store to purchase dog treats have any way of knowing that a particular product is under review other than scouring the FDA's website?" Brown wrote in a letter to the agency.

While the senator awaits a response, veterinarians and pet owners can learn more at the American Veterinary Medical Association's user-friendly site; .

Adapted from:
FDA Sets New Priorities for Foods and Veterinary Medicine

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently released the Foods and Veterinary Medicine Program's Final Strategic Plan for 2012 to 2016.

The plan highlights seven strategic "program goals" to better orient the U.S. food supply toward science-based food safety and labeling standards. It also includes nearly 100 initiatives to help achieve those goals.
The goals, as outlined in the plan, are to:

1. Establish science-based preventive control standards across the farm-to-table continuum.

The FVM Program will aim to set preventive standards against foodborne illness and intentional contamination for every link in the chain between growing and eating. This includes standards for production, processing, distribution, storage, transportation and marketing. Looking to the future, the program will continue to evaluate its standards and research improvements by working with industry experts.

2. Achieve high rates of compliance with preventive control standards domestically and internationally.

The program suggests inspectors be empowered to assess facilities more thoroughly on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the nature of the processes under inspection, the inherent risk of the food produced there, and the facility's food safety record.

3. Strengthen scientific leadership, capacity, and partnership to support public health and animal health decision making.

The program aims to foster "a culture of collaboration" with other research and health agencies in government, academia and private industry -- both domestic and foreign -- to expand each others' scientific capabilities.

4. Provide accurate and useful information so consumers can choose a healthier diet and reduce the risk of chronic disease and obesity.

The program hopes to work with industry and consumer groups to improve the nutritional information on not only human food products, but animal foods as well. The end goal is to allow consumers the ability to make healthier decisions about their diet (or their pet's).

5. Encourage food product reformulation and safe production of dietary supplements.

The program plans to use its influence and regulatory tools to help promote production of healthier foods and improve safety oversights on dietary supplements.

6. Improve detection of and response to foodborne outbreaks and contamination incidents.

Recognizing that preventive methods cannot protect against every contamination event in a complex food system, the program will encourage new advancements in detection and containment.

7. Advance animal drug safety and effectiveness.

In an effort to encourage safe and effective use of animal drugs, the program will work to reduce the use of unapproved animal drugs and the overuse or abuse of legal drugs. Furthermore, the program will promote information on the "appropriate, judicious" use of medically important antibiotics in farm animals.

The mission to establish preventive strategies for the food system stems from new goals set forth by Congress in the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011.

The FVM issued its final plan after first issuing a draft of it on Sept. 30, 2011, which then opened a 30-day commenting period. According to the FVM, the final plan was published after the program carefully reviewed and considered comments it received.

Adapted from:

U.S.-made dog treats are far safer

By Julie Damron

Where dog treats are made can make a difference.

China has been in the news again the past few weeks related to problems with a dog food product. (In 2006, China was responsible for the melamine contamination of the food additives/extenders known as wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate. This triggered a nationwide recall of several dog food items from a variety of manufactures.) This time the item of concern is chicken jerky treats.

As of November 2011, the Food and Drug Administration is warning pet owners that chicken jerky food products that are imported from China may cause a Fanconi-like syndrome in dogs who routinely consume them. Fanconi's syndrome is a disease that affects the kidneys, causing them to leak glucose and electrolytes into the urine. Symptoms of this illness include drinking a lot of water, urinating a lot or more frequently, decreased energy, diminished appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting.

In these dogs, there is a high sugar level in the urine with or without an elevated protein level in the urine and/or an electrolyte imbalance termed metabolic acidosis. These dogs have a normal blood glucose, so they are not considered diabetic despite the fact that they have an elevated level of glucose in the urine.

There may also be elevations in the blood kidney levels of blood urea nitrogen and creatinine. If left untreated, renal failure can develop, and death is possible.

Problems were first identified in 2006, around the time of the melamine food contamination issue. In 2010, there were 50 reports of an association of Fanconi-like syndrome potentially connected to chicken jerky treats from China. In 2011, there were more than 70 reports. Most of the original cases occurred in Canada, but now there are animals becoming ill in the United States. To date there hasn't been a specific causal link or contaminant identified, according to the FDA. Currently they are "testing multiple different chemical and microbiological contaminants. They are continuing to test for possible contaminants."

This week the FDA has announced it is now analyzing products upon import for melamine and diethylene glycol because of an increase in complaints for problems related to chicken jerky. There have been 467 reports placed with the FDA since they issued a warning in November. The alert this fall was the third regarding chicken treat products from China.

Until more is known, the FDA has made the following recommendations:

» Chicken jerky products should not be substituted for a balanced diet and are intended to be fed occasionally in small quantities.

» Consumers that feed chicken jerky products to their dogs should monitor for symptoms of decreased energy, decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, increased water consumption, and increased urination.

» Discontinue the products at the first occurrence of such problems.

» Report any triggering food product to the FDA.

» Seek immediate veterinary care if symptoms are severe or persist for more than 24 hours.

I encourage all of my clients to only purchase products that are made in the United States. Our country's food safety requirements are much more strict than the laws in other countries. I also encourage pet owners to limit treats to less than 15 percent of the overall calorie intact for their canines. Please keep in mind that raw or cooked vegetables such as carrots, green beans and broccoli make wonderful treats, especially for those canines that are struggling to lose weight. Don't use food to show love to your pet. Interact with them, cuddle them or take them for a walk. Both of you will benefit from the time together.

Adapted from:

You'd perhaps think that, with all the advancements in technology, the safe production of food products would be an easy goal.  But, there are several variables that make that equation go haywire from time to time.  In any mass-produced product, there can and will be accidents along the way.  Then, you can throw in the notion of toxins getting into the production process, whether again by accident or outright negligence.  When you think about all the food that needs to be produced and handled to feed the billions of people on the planet, plus all the pet food that needs to be produced for the hundreds of millions of pets around the world, it only stands to reason that problems will arise.  The companies that produce all that food operate under fairly strict regulations, especially in the USA, and are the first line of defense against a contamination.  Then, the FDA is the giant in the background, trying to watch everything related to the food production process. 

Being very careful about what type of food you buy for your pet, talking with your veterinarian about how to evaluate those choices, and remembering to practice good hygiene when handling your pet's food will help you keep your risk of a problem at a very low level.  In today's environment, that's about as good as you can hope for.
The LA Dodgers took 2 of 3 games vs. the Chicago White Sox, one of the hot teams in the American League, to remain the team with the overall best record.  Even though we lost 2 games to the LA Angels, our record during interleague play is much better than it has been for 7 years.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have played like they can win the NBA title; however, the Miami Heat will have something to say about that, after going ahead, 2 games to 1, in the series.

Even though this isn't one of my "Big Three" events for 2012, a bike ride this week here in Flagstaff will definitely go toward getting me ready for the first one on my assault on Vail Pass, up in the Colorado Rockies next month.  I've done this one before and it involves a climb of 7 miles from 7000 ft. up to 9500 ft.  Desperado plans to meet me at the turnaround at the top, share a "light" snack, then watch as I scurry back down the mountain on my way home.  She already has a celebratory event scheduled for that afternoon at one of our favorite watering holes.

After 13 years of planting flowers outdoors here in Flagstaff, I may have finally hit on just the right combination of planting time and choice of plants.  At this early stage of our growing season, my flowers and herbs look better than ever!  Must be some good karma in the air....

Following certain events this past week, my new favorite numbers are 180 and 160...good numbers to have around and I can live with them.

Desperado and Helpful Buckeye have a close friend who will turn 92 this week and we are hosting a birthday party for him.  It's impressive for anyone to make it to that age, but to still be as sharp as he is makes even more of an impression.

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.