by Dr. Jean Hofve & Jackson Galaxy
Library of Congress ISSN #1550-0764
In this issue:
1. News Bites
- Animal advocacy groups help promote proper wellness care for cats…
- February is Pet Dental Health Month…
- “Low-cal” and “weight management” cat foods—ain’t necessarily so…
- Irradiated Food? No Thanks!…
- Study looks at personality of dog, cat people…
- Warming: possible Salmonells contamination in dog treats…
2. The “Greening” of Cats
3. Safer Pet Vaccination and Health Care: A Benefit Seminar
4. We Get a Nice Note from Wellness
1. News Bites
Animal-advocacy groups help promote proper wellness care for cats. The CATalyst Council listed San Francisco, Tampa and Phoenix as being among the top feline-friendly cities in the U.S. in an effort to increase public consciousness of the welfare and proper care of cats. The American Association of Feline Practitioners and the American Animal Hospital Association also hope to promote proper care with the publication of the Feline Life Stage Guidelines. These efforts come in the wake of a 2007 AVMA report showing that more dogs receive regular veterinary care than do cats. While we often joke that that the further away from vets cats stay, the better, we do in fact recommend annual veterinary exams for all cats; and more often for sick or elderly cats.
February is Pet Dental Health Month. Did you know that oral disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem for pets? View the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) instructional video on dental health and tooth brushing, and share photos of your pets’ pearly whites through http://www.petdental.com. Though we rarely agree with the AVMA, dental care is one of the most important things you can do for your cat to keep her healthy. Many clinics are offering special discounts throughout February, so if your cat hasn’t had his teeth checked in a while, please take advanatage of this important wellness exam.
“Low-cal” and “weight management” pet foods—ain’t necessarily so. We’ve been saying this for more than 15 years now, but a study finally proves that the feeding directions on pet food labels are often over-stated and can cause weight gain. According the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, “Wide variation existed in recommended calorie intake, kilocalories, and cost for diets marketed for weight loss in pets. This variability could contribute to challenges of achieving successful weight loss in pets.” As always, Little Big Cat recommends feeding on a timed-meal schedule, and avoid dry food as much as possible, as it is the major source of concentrated calories. Unlike Tufts University, we receive no funding or support from pet food companies.
Irradiated Food? No Thanks! Last year, 90 cats were sickened or killed by irradiated dry cat food in Australia (which, at the time, required such irradiation. A just-published study looked at cats fed similarly irradiated foods found that the foods produced neurological signs and lesions, called leukoencephalomyelopathy, similar to the Australian cats. While we don’t irradiate finished pet food in the U.S., irradiation of wheat flour, white potatoes, spices, herbs, herb teas, pork, poultry, beef, lamb, eggs in the shell, seeds for sprouting, and many fruits and vegetables is legal. Although fresh products are required to be labeled as irradiated, when such products are processed or used in another food, such as deli salads or frozen dinners, they not be labeled. It is very possible that many pet food ingredients are irradiated, but currently there is no way for consumers to know.
Study looks at personality of dog, cat people. According to CNN, researchers recently surveyed 4,500 people about five personality traits, and found that those who call themselves “dog people” tend to be more social, while “cat people” tend to be more philosophical and nontraditional. Ummm…no comment!
Warning: possible Salmonella contamination in dog treats. The FDA is advising consumers not to feed their dogs Merrick Beef Filet Squares labeled “Best By 111911” because of possible Salmonella contamination. The move comes after routine tests by the agency last month detected traces of Salmonella in the product. A follow-up investigation also revealed flaws in the product’s manufacturing and packaging processes
2. The “Greening” of Cats
As promised last month, here are a few good ways to make living with a cat “greener” (that is, more “environmentally friendly”) by exercising some discretion in how you shop.
Buy earth-friendly cat products. Such products are made from recycled or recyclable materials, minimally packaged, and sustainably harvested and produced. Buying “green” pet products, supports their manufacturers with your pocketbook, and motivates them and others to move in a more sustainable direction.
Use earth- and pet-friendly household products. Pet-safe substitutes for detergent, furniture polish, glass cleaner, scouring powder, and even insecticides can be made from lemon juice, vinegar, baking soda, and other items you may already have in your home.
Buy from green businesses. Selling earth-friendly products is not necessarily proof of green business practices like recycling and choosing wind-power or other carbon footprint offsets. Make sure that the companies you buy from “walk the walk.”
Look out for toxins in paint, furniture, and flooring. It’s true that indoor air can be as polluted—or more so—than the air outside. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently reported that industrial chemicals can accumulate in our pets at dangerously high levels. The most common chemicals detected were stain- and grease-repellent coatings, and flame retardants used in furniture, bedding, clothing, and flooring. Flame retardants in particular have been linked to feline hyperthyroidism—a disease never seen before the 1970s, but now occurring at epidemic proportions. Green alternatives are available; and though they may cost a bit more initially, the savings in health costs for your pets and family members more than make up for it.
Don’t use air fresheners or synthetic plug-ins. These “chemical soups” can do great harm while they mask other odors. They typically contain toxins (like pthalates and formaldehyde) that are linked to asthma and other respiratory problems. Also use caution with scented candles and incense. What smells good to us may not be as attractive to your cat, so always provide an “escape route” to an area with “unmodified” air.
Adopt from a shelter or rescue. While there are a few “good” breeders out there, most pets available in stores, online, or in newspapers come from irresponsible backyard breeders or puppy or kitten “mills” which keep a stable of animals used as production machines. Millions of friendly, healthy pets, including a large percentage of kittens, puppies, and purebreds, are euthanized every year in shelters for lack of homes. Please support “recycled” pets as well as products.
3. Seminar: Safer Pet Vaccination and Health Care
Are you over-vaccinating your pet? Would you know if you were?
World-renowned pet vaccination experts, Drs. Jean Dodds and Ron Schultz, spoke at the Del Mar Hilton at a day-long seminar on March 28, 2010, in San Diego, CA. Having raised the issue of over-vaccination decades ago, these two experts have been instrumental in changing the vaccination protocols of major veterinary organizations, schools and vets throughout the world.
· Dr. Ron Schultz: “What Every Pet Owner Should Know About Vaccines and Vaccination Programs”
· Dr. Jean Dodds: adverse vaccine reactions, titer testing (to test your pet’s immunity to disease), blood tests for wellness, homeopathy to help make vaccinating safer and more
· Both speakers answered questions during a roundtable Q & A session
Veterinarians and vet techs earned six continuing education credits.
All proceeds (less direct costs) benefit the Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust, a nonprofit working to prove the duration of immunity conveyed by the rabies vaccine with the goal of increasing the period between rabies shots from 3 years to 5, then 7. They are also working to establish a blood “titer standard” to provide a scientific basis to avoid unnecessary rabies booster vaccination. The rabies vaccine can cause autoimmune disease, skin and digestive disorders, injection site tumors, behavior changes, and other adverse reactions.
This important even was organized and hosted by national award-winning author, Jan Rasmusen (Scared Poopless: The Straight Scoop on Dog Care). San Diego-based company The Honest Kitchen, makers of humane-grade dehydrated pet foods, is the Platinum Sponsor.
If you missed the seminar, be sure to order a copy of the DVD!
4. We Get a Nice Note from Wellness
A representative from WellPet, maker of Wellness® pet foods, sent us a cordial email, taking exception to a footnote in our special report, “What Cats Should Eat,” that expresses concern about Wellness’s expansion into major pet discount stores. Because of what happened when another pet food company expanded into grocery stores some years ago, I was worried that the quality of the product might decline over time. The marketing representative states that the recipes used for Wellness pet foods has not changed at all, and will not change. See their online reassurances here.
Nevertheless, we all know that big business cannot always be trusted, and in fact we did notice a change in texture and odor in Wellness canned foods this summer (2010); and there have been scattered reports of pets becoming ill from the food since the change took place. Dr. Jean’s own cats still seem to like it, and have done well on it…but we always recommend variety for all pets, so Wellness is only one of many foods they get.