Thursday, December 17, 2009

for Atlanta locals - nose work

The American Bouvier Rescue League presents
K9 Nose Work Scenting Workshop
Canton, Georgia
February 27-28, 2010

“You’re hooked as soon as you see your dog’s face when he realizes that
he will be rewarded for using his nose.” –from “Your Dog Nose No Bounds,” Whole Dog Journal, August 2009

Join us for the southeast’s first “K9 Nose Work” seminar featuring nationally renowned K9 Nose Work co-founders and Certified Nose Work Instructors (CNWI) Ron Gaunt and Amy Herot. They’ll join us from California to teach us
more about this exciting new sport, suitable for energetic and timid dogs alike. Ron began training dogs for police work in 1970, and among his many accomplishments are multiple national certifications in detection, both Explosives
and Narcotics. Amy is a professional detection handler and trainer with certified teams in Narcotics and Explosives for the private sector and law enforcement and has earned first place finishes in national detection competitions.

Why Nose Work? Our dogs have an amazing sense of smell and a natural desire to hunt. This detection-style sport is designed to develop your dog’s natural scenting abilities by using their desire to hunt and their love of toys, food, and
exercise. A great way for your dog to have fun, build confidence, and burn lots of mental and physical energy, and possibly even compete one day in a scent work trial. The sport was featured in the Whole Dog Journal, August 2009.

Saturday, February 27, 9 am – 1 pm OR 2 pm – 6 pm
“Introduction to Nose Work.” Choose from morning or afternoon session. 10 working (with dog), and 20 audit (no dog) slots are available per session. This introductory workshop will concentrate on the basic concepts and
foundation skills for dogs and handlers. $75 to work, $50 to audit. Dogs work one at a time.

Sunday, February 28, 9 am – 5 pm
“Introduction to Odor,” is for Saturday attendees to gain more advanced learning. Pre-requisite: Attendance at Saturday session. Sunday’s session advances the dog’s scent discrimination skills taught in the basic nose work
class and includes an overview of techniques and tactics for building better dog/handler teamwork. Good session to audit. 10 working (with dog), and 20 audit (no dog) slots available. $100 to work, $60 to audit. Includes lunch.
Dogs work one at a time.

The Canine Ranch, 165 Doug Smith Lane, Canton, GA 30114
This workshop is being sponsored by the American Bouvier Rescue League;
please do not contact the Canine Ranch with questions about the seminar. They will not be able to answer them!

Any breed of dog can participate, with any level of training. Dogs must tolerate the instructors coaching the team, many people watching in the audience, and dogs in the area, and should be comfortable and quiet being crated or
kenneled out of your sight. Dog-reactive and timid dogs are welcome, but please leave people-aggressive dogs at home.

Contact Lisa Rodier, or (770) 521-8690. Or go to and click on Nose Work link.

To learn more about our highly credentialed workshop leaders, Ron Gaunt and Amy Herot, K9 Nose Work Co- Founders/Instructors, go to and

The American Bouvier Rescue League (ABRL) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue of Bouvier des Flandres dogs. Visit us at Any event proceeds will be donated to the ABRL.

Registration Form
K9 Nose Work Scenting Workshop
Canton, Georgia
February 27-28, 2010
Sponsored by the American Bouvier Rescue League
On Saturday, we will hold the same workshop twice; please indicate your preference of the morning or afternoon session. To work a dog on Sunday, you must also have worked the same dog on Saturday. Working slots are limited to 10 dogs per session to allow ample time for each dog to work. 20 auditing slots per session are available.
Registration is first come, first served.

NOTE: Working dogs will be crated behind a visual barrier when not working. Your dog must be able to remain quietly in his crate out of your sight. A limited number of indoor/outdoor kennel runs will be available for day use at a rate of $10 with advance reservation through the Canine Ranch. For kennel reservations ONLY, contact Chris at or call (678) 493-8040 and reference “Nose Work.”

I. SATURDAY: Introduction to Nose Work (indicate 1st and 2nd choices of session time and choose working or audit)
Morning: 9 am – 1 pm Working (with dog) @ $75 Audit (no dog) @ $50
Afternoon: 2 pm – 6 pm Working (with dog) @ $75 Audit (no dog) @ $50

II. SUNDAY: Introduction to Odor (pre-requisite: Intro to Nose Work)
9 am – 5 pm Working (with dog): @ $100 Audit (no dog): @ $60
Lunch will be included on Sunday. Check here if prefer Vegetarian option:

TOTAL PAYMENT ENCLOSED: $ (make checks payable to ABRL)
City St Zip
Email Home or cell phone
Breed/name of dog (if working):
Send check, made payable to “ABRL” to:
Lisa Rodier
615 Gantt Road
Alpharetta, GA 30004
Questions? Email Lisa at or call (770) 521-8690.
Registration closes February 13, 2010. No refunds two weeks prior to event.

Friday, December 4, 2009

why kidney patients won't eat

I'm asked frequently to formulate homemade diets for dogs and cats with chronic kidney disease. The main reason is that they won't eat their prescription diets. While I'm all for trying a homemade food and some pets (usually dogs) accept them better, these patients are trying to tell us something. Switching foods is ultimately a failing solution to the anorexia thing, unless we address the reasons they won't eat.

Here are the top reasons these patients don't eat:
1. Dehydration, dehydration, dehydration - this is most common and occurs because the kidney cannot conserve body water. Dehydration is uncomfortable!
2. Gastrointestinal ulcers (this is due to elevated gastrin levels, a hormone that increases acid secretion). This will result in nausea, vomiting and pain.
3. Uremia (elevated levels of urea nitrogen, creatinine, phosphorus, parathyroid hormone, etc).
4. Anemia (due to the kidney's inability to produce erythropoietin, a hormone that stimulates the bone marrow to make blood precursors)
5. Hypertension which, in people, can cause headaches and dizziness, among other problems.
6. Infection, especially urinary tract infections to which these animals are more susceptible than normal animals
7. Acidemia - high levels of organic acid that accumulate from the metabolism (and inadequate elimination) of protein.
8. Side effects of drugs (and don't forget herbs and nutraceuticals here either)
9. Other conditions present at the same time - especially pancreatitis
10. Food aversions - usually from offering more and more foods when the pet is feeling nauseous.

So that's a lot to stack against a new diet! I have taken to giving my clients this list as a 'checklist' when the appetite goes south. To address the checklist, we usually need to get blood and urine for a biochemical profile, cbc, urinalysis, and urine culture at least. Checking blood pressures on a regular basis is a good idea too. I'm also a proponent of calcitriol, an 'activated' form of Vitamin D that is deficient in kidney patients. I'm told that it does help some animals have a better appetite - we use this if the calcium and phosphorus levels are normal, and preferably after checking parathyroid hormone levels.

I make sure everyone knows how to check for dehydration, and teach them how to give fluids to correct it. Since we are not using endoscopy to look for ulcers during office visits, we may start long term pepcid at any of these visits just in case they are a factor.

My best pet owners bring me a current written list of all their drugs and supplements at every visit too - this is so that I don't rely on my medical records and possibly misunderstand changes that have gone on at home - people sometimes add things or change doses on their own, or run out of drugs and forget to refill them. That list is a big help to all of us so we can check the most recent regimen and analyze the doses for the potential for side effects.

Check list complete? NOW we can try a new diet!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

AVMA and the use of antibiotics in food animals

My professional association, the AVMA, has come out opposing the passage of H.R. 1549 and S. 619, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA). The bills aim to ban the use of certain antibiotics in large food animal production and finishing facilities, known as CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations). Within two years of enactment, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to review the previous approvals for animal feed uses of seven classes of antibiotics that are important to human medicine. Any found to be associated with human antibiotic resistant bacteria will have their approvals rescinded.

The FDA, AMA, Union of Concerned Scientists and many other consumer, scientific and agricultural associations support passage of this bill. The agricultural industry and AVMA do not. The Pew Charitable Trust to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health was commissioned to investigate problems with industrial farm animal production, resulting in the Final Report of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production: I was saddened to read this quote:

“There have been some serious obstacles to the Commission completing its review…while some agriculture representatives were recommending potential authors for technical reports to the Commission staff, other industrial agriculture representatives were discouraging those same authors from assisting us by threatening to withhold research funding for their college or university. We found significant influence by the industry at every turn: in academic research, agriculture policy development, government regulation and enforcement”.

I’ve become uncomfortable with the AVMA’s close relationship with ‘big agriculture’ and their stance on this bill, primarily because the AVMA is supposed to represent me and my colleagues. I’ve read the entire Pew Commission report ( as well as the AVMA’s response to it (, and I remain unconvinced that AVMA is really advocating for its 67,000+ members (constituting about 86% of veterinarians in the U.S.).

What I’ve gleaned from the response is this:
1. AVMA disagrees with the Pew’s contention that prophylactic use of antibiotics in food animal production can be classified as “nontherapeutic”. AVMA says that antibiotics recommended for feed efficiency or growth promotion prevent or treat subclinical disease. My take: antibiotics NEVER *prevent* disease – they don’t work when bacteria are not present. So they are preventing undiagnosed, uncharacterized bacterial diseases before they become clinical. I was taught in vet school that antibiotics should be used intelligently, with knowledge of what kind of bug is likely present in a documented infection. Maybe that’s good, maybe it’s not, but the point being raised is that widespread indiscriminate use is EXACTLY what causes antibiotic resistance.

2. AVMA believes that everyone is all up in arms about nothing until risk assessments have been done. In fact, there are 4 strong studies mentioned in the Pew report that suggest CAFOs contribute to environmental pollution, and the AVMA refutation quotes from one of them (p. 26) that the present study is only preliminary and deserves further study. Um, this is a common dissimulation pretty much required of any author publishing a strong but small or early study in an area. That doesn’t lessen the strength of the association in this case.

3. Weirdly, the Pew report says that after the antibiotic ban in Sweden and Denmark, animal reservoirs for antibiotic resistant pathogens were reduced and that there was no diminishment in animal health (citing a 2002 WHO report -Impacts of antimicrobial growth promoter termination in Denmark. In: International Invitational Symposium: Beyond Antimicrobial Growth Promotersm in Food Animal Production. Panel wir (ed). Who Department of Communicable Diseases, Prevention and Eradication: Foulum, Denmark.). AVMA directly disputes this, and yet neither report give references to peer-reviewed publications. AVMA cites a report from Denmark in 2007 ( That summary report says things like this:

“The veterinary antimicrobial consumption in animals increased by 5.2% from 115.2 tonnes in 2006 to 121.1 tonnes in 2007.”

“These results support that the use of antimicrobial agents might select for multiple resistant clones and that this might be the driver of changes in antimicrobial resistance within a serovar.”

“Increased use of cephalosporins in the animal production and for humans has undoubtedly led to the present situation with increasing prevalence of ESBL producing bacteria.”

” Like in previous years, resistance to ciprofloxacin, nalidixic acid and tetracycline was significantly higher in C. jejuni from imported broiler meat compared to Danish broiler meat.”

I did not see the following referenced inn the AVMA report, which actually DOES support its position:

My take: it’s too early to tell if animal health has really declined from the antibiotic ban by what is now almost the entire EU (if Pew is correct), but by 2007, we are still documenting the danger of using antibiotics prophylactically in food animals.

4. AVMA notes that one cannot make assumptions about the level of animal health based on the size of the farm, and imputes that Pew seems to have a bias against big farms. AVMA pointedly avoids referring to intensive and factory farms, which is what MOST if not all of these large farms do. They even defend big farms by saying that more veterinarians are employed by big farms than small ones, saying that veterinary oversight is a critical preventive strategy. I agree, but I’m not sure that’s why big farms employ more veterinarians – maybe it’s because big farms express more production-based illness. While I would like to support large animal veterinarians, I do think we need to take a looking glass to this defense by AVMA.

5. Pew makes quite a few recommendations for increased monitoring and regulation by government agencies. AVMA counters most of the recommendations with the claim that the infrastructure is already there. Yeah, but…is it working?

6. Pew claims that CAFOs have serious detrimental effects on the environment, particularly because of animal waste. They show how large and small farms use recycled manure effectively as fertilizer. Strangely, AVMA attacks Pew’s contention that CAFOs have detrimental effects, then go on to show how large farms use recycled manure as fertilizer. Whatever, but I wonder, don’t we get E.coli and salmonella infected produce because…the big CAFOs are leaching or selling manure contaminated with antibiotic resistant bacteria? Hm?

7. AVMA makes a very reasoned response to the Pew’s contention that animal welfare is suboptimal in CAFOs, but it doesn’t directly address some of the examples given by Pew. I’ll go back to my old favorite- ramming a metal tube down a duck’s throat for weeks in order to make fois gras isn’t *proven* to be painful (maybe because no one has bothered to study it), but let’s have a little common sense, shall we? We know that if we wear a parachute when falling out of an airplane, we are likely to have fewer injuries and that if we stop catastrophic bleeding, we’ll probably feel better and have a chance of living longer. Do we really need studies to tell us that this is unpleasant for the duck? Or that dehorning and castrating cattle without anesthesia is painful? Or that amputating tails on dairy cattle and sheep without anesthesia is painful?

AVMA may be correct that we can’t guess at the unintended consequences of banning prophylactic antimicrobial use in food animals – I’ve no doubt about that. But I’m a little confused by a minor hypocrisy I’ve seen lately. Recently I brought up the possibility of rabies vaccine exemptions for sick pets, and was thumped down at my local VMA because the people accustomed to working with public health and political officials said ‘if we were blamed for even ONE human death from rabies, the consequences would be unimaginable’. I ask now – have we been responsible for even ONE human death by giving intensively raised, stressed out food animals antibiotics that contributed to bacterial resistance? I fear that our use of antibiotics to support an intensive production system is unfair to animals, and in addition enables Americans to eat more animal protein that makes them fatter and unhealthier with each passing year.

I appreciate AVMA’s need to rely on science-based policy making, but where science is absent, we cannot fail to act. And anyway, science does not exist in a vacuum, and is accountable, at least where the public health and public funding is concerned, to the public.

However you feel about this, you should read the bill and both reports, then contact your legislator. And if you're a veterinarian, contact your AVMA delegate.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Genetic relationships: African wild dogs and purebreds of supposed African descent

Press Release 09-147
Of Mutts and Men

Genetic study of African village dogs challenges the ancestral origins of several dog breeds

August 3, 2009

..."They found that most African village dogs are genetically distinct from non-native breed dogs, but share some markers with mixed breed dogs from North America. These results indicate that African village dogs descend from indigenous ancestors related to Basenjis, while Pharaoh hounds and Rhodesian ridgebacks, previously believed to be African in origin, are more closely related to mixed-breed American dogs."

Entire article here:

Genetic relationships: African wild dogs and supposedly

Press Release 09-147
Of Mutts and Men

Genetic study of African village dogs challenges the ancestral origins of several dog breeds

Watch the audio slideshow.
Credit and Larger Version

August 3, 2009

View an audio slideshow of researchers studying village dogs.

Domesticated animals provide man with benefits such as food, clothing and muscle power. Dogs, which descend from gray wolves that originated in Eurasia, were the first animals domesticated by man. Since that time, man has imposed a strong artificial selection pressure for desirable traits, resulting in the various dog breeds we have today.

A recent study published in the August 3 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides insight into the origin of some popular breed dogs and how domestication has affected the overall level of diversity in dogs. Adam Boyko in the Department of Biological Statistics and Computational Biology at Cornell University is the lead author of the study.

Boyko is optimistic that this NSF-supported study will help refine the statistical models scientists currently used to understand evolution and genetic diversity. He stated, "How the domestication process affects genetic diversity is poorly understood. We were interested in studying village dogs because we expected them to be the modern day dogs most similar to dogs that existed before man began to create breeds. Our study is unique because we are able to surmise whether specific village dog populations are more genetically similar to breed dogs or indigenous ancestral dogs."

Mobility is another factor that affects genetic diversity of dogs. Because ancient dog populations have a location-specific genetic "signature," researchers can learn about migration patterns and population history by comparing the markers found in breed dogs to those observed in the semi-feral village dog populations of geographically isolated areas.

Boyko and his team, which includes his brother, sister-in-law, and a number of African research partners, sampled 318 village dogs from seven distinct regions of Africa. They compared the genetic signature of village dogs to Pharaoh hounds, Rhodesian ridgebacks and other breed dogs thought to be native to Africa, in addition to Puerto Rican street dogs and mixed breed dogs from the U.S.

They found that most African village dogs are genetically distinct from non-native breed dogs, but share some markers with mixed breed dogs from North America. These results indicate that African village dogs descend from indigenous ancestors related to Basenjis, while Pharaoh hounds and Rhodesian ridgebacks, previously believed to be African in origin, are more closely related to mixed-breed American dogs.

"For the most part, African dogs are distinct from other dogs we have studied, and these village dog populations display more diversity than purebred dogs across the markers we tested," explains Boyko. "We found exceptions in Namibia and Giza, which may be due to European colonization or proximity to Eurasia, the ancestral home of modern breed dogs."

The unique relationship between humans and dogs provides the opportunity to infer details about the ancient people that also inhabited the places in which these dogs lived. Using genetics to trace the movements of dog populations across continents will likely yield insights into the migrations of man during these periods. Therefore, the genetic history of man's best friend may also speak to the history and habits of man.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Popularity of CAM in the U.S.

Despite skeptical outcry, Americans continue to utilize complementary and alternative practices, although the level of use may be plateauing....

"Approximately 38 percent of adults use some form of CAM for health and wellness or to treat a variety of diseases and conditions, according to data from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)....CAM accounts for approximately 1.5 percent of total health care expenditures ($2.2 trillion2) and 11.2 percent of total out-of-pocket expenditures (conventional out-of-pocket: $286.6 billion2 and CAM out-of-pocket: $33.9 billion1) on health care in the United States. "

Full story here:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

liver shunts and proper diets

Congenital liver shunts are quite common in some breeds of dog - in the U.S., this is notably the yorkie. The proper terminology is "Portosystemic shunt" (PSS), and it denotes a situation where blood flow from the GI tract bypasses processing by the liver. This critical mistake means that protein particles absorbed from the GI tract are left untended by the gentle ministrations of the liver. The liver specializes in converting ammonia, a by-product of protein breakdown, into urea, which is less toxic and easily eliminated by the kidneys.

When ammonia accumulates in the blood, changes in neurotransmitters lead to brain dysfunction and the clinical manifestation ranges from simple lethargy to outright seizures. This condition is called hepatic encephalopathy or HE. For dogs with PSS, this is the limiting factor on quality of life and life expectancy, although the disease can be managed more or less with surgery or diet change (and often both).

It helps to restrict the protein in the diet, because that will lower overall ammonia levels. Some evidence also suggests that the *type* of protein influences the types of neurotransmitters orchestrating brain function. If aromatic amino acids predominate (more common in meat protein), the neurotransmitter balance will be tipped towards brain dysfunction.

This study compared the clinical results of feeding a low protein diet composed primarily of soy protein vs a low protein diet containing primarily poultry protein.
Dogs with PSS were fed first one of these diets, then the other, in blinded fashion so that neither the investigators nor the owners were aware of the diet being fed.

The study showed that both diets reduced signs of encephalopathy, which might be expected when reducing overall protein content. Interestingly, when dogs were eating the soy-based diet, ammonia levels were significantly reduced. In addition, these dogs had better blood coagulation capacity. [When the liver fails, the clotting factors normally produced are decreased, leading to possible bleeding episodes). This improved clotting capacity, along with an increase in another protein made by the liver, suggests that the soy-based diet actually enhances the liver's capacity to function.

The results of this study may be particularly important to owners considering shunt surgery for their dogs. Elevated ammonia levels (with the associated changes in brain neurotransmitter levels) mean that anesthesia is a bigger risk in these dogs than in normal dogs of the same age. And if clotting is immpaired, surgery could lead to uncontrolled bleeding.

So the study is *really* interesting because it suggests that feeding a low protein soy based diet BEFORE surgery could reduce the risk surgery presents. Nice.

Proot S, Biourge V, Teske E, Rothuizen J. Soy protein isolate vs meat-based low protein diet for dogs congenital portosystemic shunts. J Vet Intern Med 2009;23:794

Friday, July 17, 2009

More web claptrap from pet nutrition expert


7 reasons dogs and cats should not get table scraps or eat people food
1. Giving pets table scraps supplements their diets with unnecessary calories. Animals depend on the nutrients found in food specially formulated for them. If they eat people food, they will eat less of their own food and miss out on adequate nutrition.

COMMENTS FROM DR. WYNN: There are really two different issues. Yes, most dogs and cats eat formulated foods, designed to provide complete nutrition. If you provide a lot of some other, non balanced food, it could cause very real deficiencies. But this one irks me – “Giving pets table scraps supplements their diets with unnecessary calories”. Well, yeah, if you assume people are giving junk food, pure meat and cheese, etc. But let’s try to parse this out for the majority of people who are capable of understanding the difference between veggies/fruits and everything else. How about a better sweeping statement, that goes like this: “Giving pets table scraps supplements their diets with unnecessary calories, unless the scraps consist primarily of fresh veggies and fruits”.

2. Animals who eat their normal amount of pet food in addition to the extra calories in table scraps can easily gain weight. Obesity puts animals at risk for health problems.

COMMENTS: see #1

3. Receiving table scraps or people food encourages unhealthy food behaviors. It can cause food aggression in both cats and dogs, and it encourages begging at the table.

COMMENTS: Ok, help people understand how to give fresh foods in the bowl at mealtime, or as a reward for a requested behavior.

4. Some food is toxic to cats. Cats are carnivorous and cannot digest many vegetables or starch. Franny Syufy from reminds pet owners that “...may have forgotten that the gravy slathered over your Thanksgiving turkey used broth that was flavored with onion, among other things. While it is tasty and harmless to humans, onions are very toxic to cats.” In her article titled “Human Foods for Cats?” Syufy lists onions, garlic, green tomatoes, raw potatoes, root vegetables, chocolate, grapes and raisins, and milk as food especially toxic to cats. (If the cats insist on drinking milk, they should drink lactose free milk such as CatSip, which can be purchased at most pet stores.)

COMMENTS: milk toxic to cats? Are you kidding me? OK, some cats might not tolerate it, like humans with lactose intolerance, but toxic? And what on earth is she talking about with root vegetables being toxic? Ok, onions are toxic, but sweet potatos? Burdock? Perhaps we need better sources for our information than

5. Some foods are toxic to dogs, such as chocolate in large quantities, and dairy products. Onions can also be poisonous to dogs so pet owners should be aware of the ingredients in anything they feed to animals (even onion powder can have adverse effects on pets.) Fatty foods can lead to pancreatitis, and excessive levels of sugar can lead to obesity and diabetes.

OK, I’ll support this except that I still don’t think that lactose intolerance is in the same class with toxicity.

6. Animals cannot digest all food. Corn and sugar are especially tough on animals' digestive systems. Potatoes, lunch meat, and condiments often have high sugar contents.

COMMENT: I’m not sure what this means – corn and sugar are tough on digestive systems? Sugar is highly digestible, but lots of it will lead to metabolic problems. Corn – it’s not digestible if given as whole kernels because none of us break down that cellulose kernel coat very well. But it’s digestible if processed either by human teeth (dogs don’t spend a lot of time chewing), a food processor, or in dog food factories. Do we want a corn-BASED diet? No, but let’s try more precision when we talk about the effect corn has on digestive systems.

7. Any meat product containing bones can break and puncture the throat, stomach, or intestines, or cause constipation by actually blocking the digestive path. Even if bones do not cause an injury, they are sure to cause discomfort. Crushed bones or very frail bones typically do not cause problems. (If the dog insists on getting the bone from the roast, monitor the dog and remove the bone once it breaks or becomes small enough to be a choking hazard.)

COMMENT: I’ll go with this. By the way, I’ve never found authoritative support for the raw feeding claim that cooked bones are more brittle than raw ones. I can see how it might be true but I’ve never seen a good explanation. Has anyone else?
Likewise, dogs receive too much protein from cat food, and dog food lacks important nutrients like taurine for cats. There's a reason these foods are labeled for what they are. The best way to ensure animals get adequate nutrition is to find a quality pet food they enjoy and stay consistent.

COMMENT: Cat foods do not supply too much protein to dogs. Protein is not toxic unless you have severe kidney disease. What cat foods do provide along with all that meat is a high fat level, and that can lead to diarrhea and/or pancreatitis. But there is no doubt that cats can die from eating dog food – which I’ve seen happen when food is left down for the dog free choice – yet another reason not to do that!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

This is a picture of the lines for 2 restaurants at the Seattle airport. The sign on your left denotes an asian restaurant with sushi, salads, and udon. The one on the right is, well, a popular American fast food joint.

See the lady in the salmon shirt? She is at the end of the line for sushi place - maybe 7-8 people at most. See the line behind her for the burger place? Add another 50% and you'll know how long it was.

What is WRONG with us?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pet glucosamine products fail

If you're not already familiar with the work of ConsumerLab, you should get to know them and consider forking over the very reasonable subscription fee. They regularly quality test nutraceutical and herbal supplements and have reported some pretty startling results, such as lead contamination in common pet multivitamin products ( and mold in a probiotic product ( The manufacturers generally responded with reasons why the testing was inaccurate or irrelevant. Whatever. But please note that by the time the dust settled, those manufacturers likely corrected those problems, so you can view negative ConsumerLab reports as wake-up calls.

The most recent is an updated review of glucosamine/chondroitin products for people and pets. Most of the products (including Cosequin which had been found to have deficiencies in a previous review) tested fine.

4 pet products did not past muster, however. One product contained only 6% of the claimed glucosamine and 15.9% of the claimed chondroitin. Not to mention that each treat only claimed to have 13.6 mg of glucosamine, which is enough to treat a 1 lb pet daily.

Another contained only 17% of the claimed chondroitin. A third product contained only 15.9% of claimed chondroitin. Another contained only 5.4% of claimed chondroitin.

I note that at least 3 of the companies with approved products are members of the National Animal Supplement Council ( None of the non-approved products come from NASC members. I'm just sayin.....

ADDENDUM: I posted the names of the products that failed and passed, but heard from ConsumerLab that those results are copyrighted. They wrote that posting these products publicly impacts their ability to collect subscription fees and conduct research. I understand that and have removed their names, and would again encourage everyone to subscribe - the rate is about $30/year and you would be pretty surprised at what you'll learn about over the counter products that you might think are good quality!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I'm a wild foodie

I'm posting this picture of a wild foods dinner I attended a couple of weeks ago - freshly harvested daylily (stuffed with saffron rice), wild greens, and some roasted burdock root. And that was just the first course- you should have tasted the rosehip shortbread and elderberry sorbet for dessert! If you get a chance to attend a wild foods dinner with Patricia Kyritsi Howell near Clayton GA, do it!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Faith based feeding and the defense of science

I’m a clinician, not a scientist. But I’ve known quite a few scientists, starting in college when I worked in a physiology lab, through 4 years of veterinary school, 3 years of post doctoral immunology research, and 2 years of a residency. And one very common characteristic of scientists is that they are very aware of what they don’t know. In fact, one DVM, PhD nutritionist told me that studying for the board examination should be done with an eye to the limits of our knowledge – what we don’t know about nutrition rather than what we do.

I’ve been following a very interesting email dialogue between, on the one hand, a person who is feeding a prey-model raw diet to her dog with kidney disease, and on the other, people who have studied nutrition and are trying to convey what is and is not known about feeding renal patients based on existing science.

What’s interesting to me is that the raw feeder has developed a feeding regime that she thinks is working, and states that she is a die hard raw feeder who is not likely to change her mind about that aspect of feeding her dog. That’s consistent with every die-hard raw feeder I’ve ever met – they know what they know and really don’t want to be confused by facts.

One theme that needs to be explored is why they’re so sure of their facts. This is clearly based on first hand experience and the remarkable improvements we often observe in dogs who are switched to raw. But that certainty, when based on an n of 2 (the two dogs that live in the house) or even 200 rescue dogs, is suspect. Because there are usually other factors at work, such as whether a diagnosis is accurate in the first place, changes in environmental stressors, drugs stopped or started, supplements started, etc. And in the case of rescue dogs, there is inadequate follow-up to know whether improvements were sustained and whether the dogs lived normal (or shorter or longer than normal) lifespans. Veterinarians and other scientists require more information about cases to be convinced by new information, rightfully addressing all other mitigating factors as is done in properly written, peer reviewed case reports.

The other theme here is the raw feeders’ attitudes towards science. What we do know about nutrition of the renal failure patient is that restriction of phosphorus slows progression of the disease, and that in the later stages of kidney disease, restriction of protein reduces the number of uremic episodes that require hospitalization. Prey model diets by definition cannot be restricted in either, and reducing the phosphorus in other ingredients like carbs and veggies (if being used at all) will have minimal impact compared to reducing meat levels.

When confronted with this science, the information is brushed off, but other science is presented to support the contention that the way they feed high protein diets is just fine for these patients.

You see, some die-hard raw feeders are using faith-based care for their animals. They pick and choose the science that fits their faith, but wrap themselves in a pseudoscientific exterior to try and persuade others that they are knowledgeable about the science of feeding. A good scientist remains open to conflicting information and incorporates it into the existing knowledge base going forward. Are die-hard raw feeders the Christian Scientists of the pet owning world?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

If you're in Atlanta....

Caring for aging and ailing pets...

It’s a tender and emotional subject, but one in which many people have many questions. Georgia Veterinary Specialists (GVS) is here to help.

GVS, a multi-specialty veterinary referral hospital and 24-hour emergency center in Sandy Springs, will offer a free seminar to the public to help pet owners navigate the often unfamiliar road we face when supporting an aging or ailing pet.
What: Caring for Your Aging or Ailing Pet: The Road Ahead

This seminar with feature discussions from veterinary specialists, Nick Berryessa DVM, DACVIM and Dr. Susan Wynn CVA, CVCH, experts in caring
for our geriatric canine and feline friends. In addition, Robin Chisolm-Seymour, M.Ed., will address loss and grief.
· What to expect with elderly pets
· Myths and Facts: age is not a disease
· Understanding the changes: evaluating quality of life
· How a pet owner can help
· Knowing when to say goodbye
· Coping with loss: before, during and after

When: Saturday, July 18th
10 am to 12 pm

Where: Georgia Veterinary Specialists
455 Abernathy Road, NE
Sandy Springs, GA 30328
The seminar is free to the public, but seating is limited.
To make a reservation, please contact:
Kimberly DeMeza, 404.459.0903. ext. 193, or email

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pedigree recall- correction

Post deleted - yesterday's news feed apparently posted something that was news in August 2008. Apologies, and please ignore that notice.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

New perspectives on 2 tough feline problems

At the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine meeting 2 weeks ago, I spent some time in the poster sessions, which are brief communications about new research. It's important to keep in mind when reading these projects that these are preliminary communications and haven't undergone peer review in their expanded forms; nonetheless, they are sometimes harbingers of things to come.

There were some great posters, like the one that showed that GFR (glomerular filtration rate or the kidney's waste elimination function) is different between different breeds (just as we know that digestibility of food is different and many other breed differences).

But one that interested me was the ongoing work showing that cats with asthma may benefit from hyposensitization injections. Let's back up - asthma is an allergic response, centered in the lungs, to an allergen. In children, food allergy is a major concern but in adults, this is usually an environmental allergen although other triggers include pollution, exercise and infections. We presume the same triggers affect cats.

For other allergic signs such as itching, we identify the allergens using skin testing and treat it (with about 75% success) with allergy shots. So why not approach asthma the same way? This was the thinking behind the project. Unfortunately, these cats were rendered asthmatic experimentally and the project was not designed to show clinical benefit, measuring only immunologic markers of improvement. But improvement there was. And I've heard of at least one veterinarian who swore that allergy shots saved his cat's life.

So if your cat is asthmatic, will allergy testing and shots cause harm? We don't know, but depending on the severity of the cat's problem, you may be desperate enough to try it.

Also related to cats is a recent report from the ICA update, the news magazine of the Interstitial Cystitis Association, summarized here:

Websites about IC have long talked about food triggers but always acknowledge the controversial nature of the food connection. This article suggests that up to 40% of one doctor's IC patients have food allergies, but there may be a larger population who are sensitive to environmental allergens as well. Doctors who shared certain patients were noticicng that as their environmental allergies (known as atopy) were treated, the symptoms of IC were improving as well. This has inspired new studies to better define the link and potential for treatment.

So again - do we skin test and administer allergy shots to IC? The most well known researchers on feline IC would probably say no, as they would consider an experimental procedure yet another stress, which is now considered the most well understood cause of feline IC. In fact, this group would probably also argue that a food allergy trial (using an elimination diet containing ingredients that are novel to the cat) is enough of a stress to avoid in an IC patient.

I'm not sure this is a well enough proven concept to prevent me from doing a food trial in a gentle, gradual matter in these guys. But we do have another route to take if food allergy is playing a part, and that is to treat "leaky gut". We know that many allergy patients have a hyperpermeable intestinal tract, allowing exposure of the immune system to too many normal components of the gut. At the very least, probiotic therapy may be worthwhile because probiotics can reduce permeability and inflammation in the gut. Oh by the way, probiotics are being intensely studied right now in the treatment of atopic disease (or environmental allergies).

Just some thoughts to consider if your cat has one of these tough to treat chronic diseases.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Why are Americans fat?

Interesting study - it suggests that unhealthy food is discounted and made more affordable than healthy food. This shouldn't be news to anyone, but since it takes proof to make policy, maybe this is a breakthrough?

Supermarket discounts: Are they promoting healthy non-alcoholic beverages?
Sarah POLLOCK, Louise SIGNAL and Carolyn WATTS

Aim: The present study investigates the role of supermarket discounts in promoting healthy choices through evaluation of discounts applied to non-alcoholic beverages in New Zealand supermarkets.

Methods: Discount information was collected from four supermarkets in the Wellington region over a four-week period. These included two supermarkets aimed at customers of a high socioeconomic status and two aimed at low-socioeconomic-status customers. The beverage brand and size were recorded along with the original and discounted prices. The beverages were classified into green (drink most), amber (drink in moderation) and red (drink less) categories based on the Waitemata District Health Board Beverage Guidelines.

Results: A total of 1487 discounts were documented over the four-week period with the majority (57.6%) of these from the high-socioeconomic-status supermarkets. A higher percentage of beverage discounts were classified as amber (40.9%) or red (44.1%) rather than green (14.9%) across all beverage groups except water (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: This research suggests that less healthy beverages are discounted more frequently and to a larger extent than healthier beverages, but a nationwide study is required to confirm this. It appears likely that supermarkets could play a role in promoting healthy beverage choice if they refrain from discounting amber and red products.

The greening of pet foods

Greenopia is an online directory that purports to help people make 'green' choices in their every day living. They have just posted a rating of 30 pet foods, with the most green being Karma (made by Natura brands) and Raw Advantage.

I found it very difficult to determine how they rated the products as the website doesn't appear to post their criteria. Pet food Industry magazine reports:

"Greenopia collected data from manufacturers and independent sources about each brand's ingredients, packaging, sustainability reporting, supply chain, animal testing policies and green building design. Companies were given additional points for their adoption of environmental initiatives. One-third of the brands evaluated earned zero-leaf ratings, revealing them to be below Greenopia's minimum green threshold."

You can see the entire listing here:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Australian outbreak of feline neurologic disaster prompts govt policy change

From Pet Food Industry magazine:

Australia suspends irradiation of cat food
Release Date: Tuesday, June 09, 2009

An outbreak in neurological disorders in cats has lead Australia to cease sterilization of cat food by irradiation. Scientific studies have suggested food irradiation as the source of the illnesses afflicting cats, but exactly how irradiation is causing food to be toxic to cats is unknown.

Ninety cats in Australia were afflicted with neurological disorders after they ate Orijen imported dry cat food, manufactured by Champion Petfoods, according to Dr. Georgina Child, a neurologist familiar with the cases.

Only Australia, which requires irradiation of pet food, has reported issues with Orijen cat food; all other countries who imported non-irradiated Orijen cat food reported no problems.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

veggies aren't necessary in diets for dogs and cats, are they?

A colleague lamented to me that she had recommended a homemade diet containing vegetables, and the pet owner's regular veterinarian said that vegetables didn't contribute anything and weren't necessary. The owner apparently found that the undigested chunks of carrots in her dog's stool supported the regular veterinarian's opinion.

Here was my answer:

It is true that vegetables contain much cellulose and that if the cell
walls are not broken down by prolonged mastication, steaming/cooking,
or pulping them, they will pass out unidgested. Dogs are gulpers, and
descend from animals that got any benefits from vegetable matter
secondarily from their prey, who predigested it for them. So veggies
cannot just be given as chunks, unless you are trying to give the dog
something to chew on just for fun.

The benefits of veggies to dogs are mostly unknown, though one study
in Scottish terriers showed that dogs eating vegetables in their diets
had lower cancer incidence. In the absence of studies, we kind of
assume that the benefits are similar to the benefits for humans,
including not just some of the essential vitamins and minerals, but
also functional ingredients that may prevent cancer, like flavonoids.
In addition, vegetables are great for diluting the calories in a diet,
and with so many overweight dogs, they can be an essential part of
weight management.

I recommend that pet owners feeding complete and balanced of ANY type - dry, canned or homemade, include veggies as part of that dog's regular fare. If you start from the time they're puppies, they won't object to the taste, which helps later in life if veggies are used therapeutically in the diet.

If your vet tells you not to feed veggies or fruits, smile sweetly and reply that you appreciate the reminder and that you would never feed onions or grapes to your dog!

Monday, May 25, 2009

What is holistic medicine anyway?

Ask some people, and they confidently define holistic medicine as use of natural remedies. Others would suggest that it is the studious avoidance of conventional medicine. Professionals who don't bother to read before they use the language of another discipline believe it is synonymous with homeopathy.

Holistic medicine has been defined in alot of different ways:

Princeton word database: medical care of the whole person considered as subject to personal and social as well as organic factors; "holistic medicine treats the mind as well as the body" Alternative Health Glossary (this is the business website of a reflexologist): Sometimes called alternative medicine or natural medicine, this type of health care involves a whole mind-body approach to health emphasizing preventive medicine and often effective at relieving chronic conditions like recurrent colds, headaches, arthritis and even cancer.

From Missouri's Dept of Health and Senior Services: An approach to medical care that emphasizes the study of all aspects of a person's health, including physical, psychological, social, economic, and cultural factors.

The Veterinary Botanical Medicine Association had a discussion on their email list in 2004, and decided that a good definition was: "Holistic veterinarians are those who offer all therapies (both conventional and alternative) which are potentially safe and effective, assess and treat the whole patient's lifestyle, genetics, environment, and history, provide long term relief where possible, and who spend sufficient time educating clients so that animal owners are satisfied that they understand their animal's condition, prognosis and treatment plan."

On occasion I have discussions with new clients (and sometimes immediately ex-clients) who prefer their own definitions of holistic medicine. This usually means that they define holistic medicine as [usually] homeopathy, adherence to the single right way to feed your pet (note my inability to remove tongue from cheek) and strict avoidance of vaccines and drugs.

So where do people get these ideas that holistic medicine is so narrow in scope? Do they really believe that after all of these centuries, their chosen therapies have suddenly become more effective than they once were?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Recall of Nutro cat foods due to other manufacturer'rs formulation error

Nutro Products Announces Voluntary Recall of Limited Range of Dry Cat Food Products

Monica Barrett
Nutro Products, Inc.
(615) 628-5387

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- Franklin, Tennessee (May 21, 2009) -- Today, Nutro Products announced a voluntary recall of select varieties of NUTRO® NATURAL CHOICE® COMPLETE CARE® Dry Cat Foods and NUTRO® MAX® Cat Dry Foods with “Best If Used By Dates” between May 12, 2010 and August 22, 2010. The cat food is being voluntarily recalled in the United States and ten additional countries. This recall is due to incorrect levels of zinc and potassium in our finished product resulting from a production error by a US-based premix supplier.

Two mineral premixes were affected. One premix contained excessive levels of zinc and under-supplemented potassium. The second premix under-supplemented potassium. Both zinc and potassium are essential nutrients for cats and are added as nutritional supplements to NUTRO® dry cat food.

This issue was identified during an audit of our documentation from the supplier. An extensive review confirmed that only these two premixes were affected. This recall does not affect any NUTRO® dog food products, wet dog or cat food, or dog and cat treats.

Affected product was distributed to retail customers in all 50 states, as well as to customers in Canada, Mexico, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Israel. We are working with all of our distributors and retail customers, in both the US and internationally, to ensure that the recalled products are not on store shelves. These products should not be sold or distributed further.

Consumers who have purchased affected product should immediately discontinue feeding the product to their cats, and switch to another product with a balanced nutritional profile. While we have received no consumer complaints related to this issue, cat owners should monitor their cat for symptoms, including a reduction in appetite or refusal of food, weight loss, vomiting or diarrhea. If your cat is experiencing health issues or is pregnant, please contact your veterinarian.

Consumers who have purchased product affected by this voluntary recall should return it to their retailer for a full refund or exchange for another NUTRO® dry cat food product. Cat owners who have questions about the recall should call 1-800-833-5330 between the hours 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM CST, or visit

Recalled Pet Food

The varieties of NUTRO® NATURAL CHOICE® COMPLETE CARE® Dry Cat Foods and NUTRO® MAX® Cat Dry Foods listed below with “Best If Used By Dates” between May 12, 2010 and August 22, 2010 are affected by this voluntary recall.

Nutro Products Recall List – Dry Cat Foods

U.S. Product Name

Bag Size



4 lbs

0 79105 20607 5


8 lbs.

0 79105 20608 2


9.2 lbs.

0 79105 20695 2


20 lbs

0 79105 20609 9


1.5 oz



4 lbs

0 79105 20610 5


8 lbs.

0 79105 20611 2


9.2 lbs

0 79105 20694 5


20 lbs

0 79105 20612 9


1.5 oz



4 lbs

0 79105 20622 8


8 lbs

0 79105 20623 5

NUTRO® NATURAL CHOICE® COMPLETE CARE® Adult Oceanfish Flavor (Bonus Bag)

9.2 lbs.

0 79105 20698 3


20 lbs

0 79105 20624 2

NUTRO® MAX® Cat Adult Roasted Chicken Flavor

3 lbs

0 79105 10228 5

NUTRO® MAX® Cat Adult Roasted Chicken Flavor

6 lbs

0 79105 10229 2

NUTRO® MAX® Cat Adult Roasted Chicken Flavor

16 lbs

0 79105 10230 8

NUTRO® MAX® Cat Adult Roasted Chicken Flavor (Sample Bag)

1.5 oz


NUTRO® MAX® Cat Indoor Adult Roasted Chicken Flavor

3 lbs

0 79105 10243 8

NUTRO® MAX® Cat Indoor Adult Roasted Chicken Flavor

6 lbs

0 79105 10244 5

NUTRO® MAX® Cat Indoor Adult Roasted Chicken Flavor

16 lbs

0 79105 10245 2

NUTRO® MAX® Cat Indoor Adult Roasted Chicken Flavor (Sample Bag)

1.5 oz


NUTRO® MAX® Cat Indoor Adult Salmon Flavor

3 lbs

0 79105 10246 9

NUTRO® MAX® Cat Indoor Adult Salmon Flavor

6 lbs

0 79105 10247 6

NUTRO® MAX® Cat Indoor Adult Salmon Flavor

16 lbs

0 79105 10248 3

NUTRO® MAX® Cat Indoor Weight Control

3 lbs

0 79105 10249 0

NUTRO® MAX® Cat Indoor Weight Control

6 lbs

0 79105 10250 6

NUTRO® MAX® Cat Indoor Weight Control

16 lbs

0 79105 10251 3

Sunday, May 17, 2009

For serious students - the details of the 'anti-cancer' diet

Special diets for canine cancer patients have been in use since the 90's, based on research that spans from the 1940's to present. Proof that they really make a difference is lacking, but I do tend to use them because many dogs show general improvements in health and over attitude - at least when homemade versions are used.

Tumors take up large amounts of glucose, and they can metabolize it only via anaerobic glycolysis. The end result of tumor glycolysis is release of lactate into circulation. The patient converts lactate back to glucose via the Cori cycle. Increased lactate negatively effects Cori cycle functioning, resulting in a net loss in energy. Tumors also preferentially metabolize certain amino acids at the expense of the host.

Ultimately the metabolic state of cancer patients resembles that of a Type II diabetic – these patients exhibit glucose intolerance, glucose recycling, increased hepatic glucose production, and insulin resistance. A recent study showed that administration of insulin to human patients with a variety of cancers significantly improved food intake and survival (Lundholm, 2007).

Lactate, resting insulin and glucose levels are elevated in dogs with cancer (Ogilvie, 1994a), and they do not improve after treatment (Ogilvie, 1992). Studies in dogs have shown that those with cancer have different lipid profiles than normal dogs. Dogs with cancer had higher levels of cholesterol, total triglyceride and very low density triglycerides, and treatment normalized only cholesterol levels (Ogilvie, 1994b).

In theory, a diet in low in carbohydrates would help to minimize lactate production and prevent complications of glucose intolerance. Special diets targeted towards ameliorating these metabolic changes have been tested in dogs, though apparently not in humans. A high carbohydrate, low fat diet resulted in elevated lactate and insulin levels in dogs with cancer. A high fat, low carbohydrate diet increases the probability that dogs with lymphoma would go into remission and have longer survival times (Ogilvie 2003), (Tisdale, 1987), although these limited data remain unconvincing to many veterinary nutritionists.

A commercial diet formulated to be low in digestible carbohydrates, high in fat (particularly n-3 PUFA) and moderate in protein is Hill’s N/D for dogs. This was the diet tested to improve outcomes in canine lymphoma. However, that study (Ogilvie 2000) did not test a high carb diet vs a low carb diet - both diets tested were low in digestible carbohydrates.Dietary management using these principles is still controversial, as oncologists note that the majority of dogs and cats die or are euthanized because of their tumors but are not cachectic, suggesting that this state of insulin resistance and hyperlactatemia has little clinical significance. I do recommend low carbohydrate diets, however, based on the fact that dogs and cats have no dietary requirement for carbohydrates and on my positive observations of cancer patients on these diets over the years.

Pet owners often find “grainless” commercial “holistic” diets, but should be made aware that if the food in question is a dry food, it must be processed using some kind of starch, and most of these foods contain potato or tapioca. These are starch sources and should perhaps be avoided if possible. The other difference between the commercial low carbohydrate diets and N/D is that the omega-3 levels are not nearly as high nor the proportion of n-3:n-6 fatty acids controlled.

I really prefer homemade food if we are going to change a cancer patient's diet. One of the problems with any of the commercial diets is their very high fat contents. Meat comes with fat, ya know. Homemade diets can be formulated for an individual's specific tastes, medical history and body condition score. Take a fat dog with a history of pancreatitis, for instance - the commercial diets are simply not an option. Not only can we manipulate the fat content, we can change the ingredients to address patient preferences, especially as they may change due to chemo-induced nausea.

My recipes always include veggies and some fruits as well. Plant-derived flavonoids have been studied in the prevention of cancer. These include resveratrol from red grapes (and wine), green tea polyphenols, and phytoestrogens from soy and other plants. Other less well known flavonoids commonly found in medicinal herbs include curcumin (from turmeric), apigenin, anthocyanidins (from berries), quercetin, and many others (approximately 4000 flavonoids have been described). In addition to well-recognized antioxidant effects that may help in prevention of cancer, certain flavonoids have been found to have activity in inducing differentiation and apoptosis, inhibiting protein kinases, facilitating cell-cell communication, inhibiting angiogenesis, cancer cell invasion mechanisms and metastasis mechanisms, as well as enhancing immune function (Boik 2002), (Lopez-Lazaro 2002).

I know, that was a lot of details.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Factoid: Tomato pomace

The leftovers from production of tomato juice, sauce and paste include seeds, skin and pulp – about 750,000 metric tons yearly. Since humans don’t eat tomato pomace, where does it go? That’s right – the pet food market, like beet pulp, grape pomace and other by-products of processing for human food.

Dried tomato pomace has a nutritional profile of about 20% protein, 13-15% fat, 3-5% fat, and 25-57% crude fiber. The fiber includes 4% soluble fibers- the stuff that primarily supports probiotic populations in the gut. The other fiber can also be fermented by bacteria as well, and as with many foods, there is a concern that a high fiber content can lead to flatulence. As it turns out, testing shows that tomato pomace produces less gas on fermentation than most other fiber sources.

Tomato pomace contains approximately 50% linoleic acid, followed by oleic (20%) and palmitic (15%) acids. Other FAs present in lower concentrations are myristic, stearic, arachidic, linolenic, behenic, erucic, and lignoceric acids. Because of this high fat content, tomato pomace usually has a preservative added by the manufacturer (which, you will recall, means that this preservative is not listed in the final ingredient list on a pet food bag). The pomace is included in pet foods at about 3-7% of the total mix.

Other nutrients contained in tomato pomace include lycopene, Vitamin E and other tocopherols and phytosterols, giving it antioxidant potential. The nutrient composition might be expected to differ between lots of this product however, depending on the types of tomatoes used and how they are raised. One study found differences in the contents of minerals like cesium, iron, potassion, molybdenum, and sodium between tomato seeds from conventional or organic systems.

Some people have voiced concern about the connection of nightshade products to arthritis and other problems. Vegetables in the nightshade family – potato, tomato, eggplants and peppers – contain much lower levels of the offending alkaloids than do the poisonous plants in this family. They do contain traces of alkaloids such as solanine, chaconine, nicotine, and tomatine, but the connection with arthritis remains unclear if it exists. On the other hand, some of these alkaloids seem to prevent cancer, at least in test tubes.

My conclusion remains the same – feed your pets a variety of different brands and flavors, and if some of them contain tomato pomace, that’s ok.

Aldrich G. Functional Fiber with Color. Pet Food Industry, April 2009, p. 42-43
Cámara, M., Del Valle, M., Torija, M.E. and Castilho, C. 2001. Fatty acid composition of tomato pomace. Acta Hort. (ISHS) 542:175-180
A. A. Ferrari, E. A. De Nadai Fernandes, F. S. Tagliaferro, M. A. Bacchi and T. C. G. Martins. Chemical composition of tomato seeds affected by conventional and organic production systems. Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry. Volume 278, Number 2 / November, 2008.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Critical care nutrition - what to expect if your pet is hospitalized?

None of us want to consider the eventuality that our pets may develop some sort of critical illness requiring hospitalization. If it does happen, we want to be sure that the critical care being provided is the best it can be. One sign that this is the case is when the attending clinician demonstrates an eye to nutrition from the first days of hospitalization.

Active nutrition therapy is known to preserve normal immune function, attenuate the metabolic response to stress, prevent oxidative damage and may involve feeding enterally (through a tube that supplies food via the GI tract, known as enteral nutrition (EN)) or parenterally (intravenous nutrient infusion, known as parenteral nutrition or PN).

The American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN) has published guidelines for nutrition support for hospitalized people in critical condition. While guidelines for people cannot be applied to dogs and cats without question, the sad fact is that there is a lack of evidence to support most of their recommendations, and there is even less to support any recommendations at all for dogs and cats.

It’s the best we have, and veterinary internists, criticalists, and nutritionists will use evidence from human clinical trials in light of their knowledge about metabolic differences between the species to find the best plan for each individual patient. The recommendations are made, but provided with qualifiers so we can see the level of evidence supporting them. Those levels are A (supported by more than one controlled clinical trial) through E (uncontrolled studies or expert opinion).

So without further delay, here are relevant recommendations for nutrition support of critical patients – they are abridged, paraphrased and modified for animals here, and the grade is supplied in parentheses at the end. I present them here so that pet owners can have a conversation with their veterinarians about providing nutrition actively, and for veterinarians to have a sense of the place of nutrition in the human ICU. These recommendations should not be viewed as a standard of care, but rather as a point of discussion.

A. Regarding the Initiation of Enteral Feeding

Nutritional assessment should include a history that documents changes in weight and food intake and the functional status of the GI tract as well as the severity of the disease and other medical conditions (E). For pet owners, this means you need to be very aware of weight changes in your pet – get a diary and document this on your own at every hospital visit.

Enteral nutrition therapy should be provided in critically ill patients who cannot eat on their own (C). This means that if your pet is not eating in the hospital within a day or two, your doctor should be having a discussion with you about placing a feeding tube or starting parenteral nutrition as appropriate for the medical condition. Enteral nutrition is always the preferred route of feeding over parenteral nutrition (B)

In patients suffering from severe hemodynamic aberrations (for example, shock or blood loss), enteral nutrition should be initiated only after the patient is stable (E).

B. When to Use Parenteral Nutrition

If early enteral nutrition is not feasible for the first 7 days following admission of a patient with no evidence of malnutrition, it is not necessary to provide alternative nutrition support except to encourage voluntary food intake (C). If there is evidence of malnutrition, and enteral nutrition is not feasible, parenteral nutrition should be initiated as soon as possible (C)

C: Dosing of Enteral Feeding

If energy requirements cannot be met after 7-10 days of enteral feeding, supplemental parenteral nutrition should be provided (E). Earlier supplementation does not improve clinical outcomes. This means that your pet could be receiving nutrition from both a feeding tube and intravenously depending on their progress in the ICU.

D: Monitoring Tolerance and Adequacy of Enteral Nutrition

Ileus (lack of gut motility) is propagated by lack of food intake, so npo orders should be minimized (C). This means that if a patient is undergoing multiple anesthetic episodes for procedures, they are spending a lot of time with orders not to be fed. Doctor and pet owner should be aware of this and watch for weight loss in the hospital.

E. Selection of Appropriate Enteral Formulation

Immune modulating enteral formulas should be used for patients undergoing elective surgery, trauma, burns, head/neck cancer and patients on mechanical ventilation, but with caution in patients with sepsis. These formulas contain such supplements as arginine, glutamine, nucleic acids, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. In particular, there is good evidence for these supplements in surgical ICU patients (A) and medical ICU patients (B). Other patients should receive standard enteral formulations (B).
Soluble fiber and small peptide formulas should be used if the patient develops diarrhea (E)

F: Adjunctive Therapy

Probiotic administration has shown definite benefit in post-op transplant and major surgery patients and those with severe trauma (C). Studies have shown both benefit and potential harm in conditions such as pancreatitis, so the benefit of probiotic use in other conditions is unknown (C). Combinations of antioxidants, including selenium, should be administed to all ICU patients. Enteral nutrition for burn,trauma and some other ICU patients should incorporate glutamine.

If a patient on enteral nutrition develops diarrhea, soluble fiber may be beneficial. Insoluble fiber should be avoided in critical patients. Hemodynamically unstable patients are at risk for bowel ischemia, and fiber supplementation of any sort may harm these patients (C).

G: When Indicated, Maximize Efficacy of Parenteral Nutrition

Serum glucose should be closely monitored and strictly controlled during parenteral or other nutrition therapy (E).

Periodic attempts to introduce enteral nutrition should be made while on parenteral nutrition. Parenteral nutrition should be terminated when enteral nutrition is providing ≥ 60% of target calories.

K: Acute Pancreatitis

People with acute pancreatitis should have a nasoesophageal tube placed and enteral nutrition therapy initiated as soon as hypovolemia (dehydration, low blood pressure) is corrected (C). This is currently being debated by veterinarians and veterinary nutritionists.

Patients with mild/moderate pancreatitis should not be fed unless they fail to eat on their own within 7 days or develop an unexpected complication (C).

Use of parenteral nutrition should be considered only where enteral nutrition is not feasible (C) and only after the first 5 days of hospitalization (E).

L. Nutrition Therapy in End-of-Life Situations

Nutrition therapy is not obligatory in futile care or end-of-life situations. Decision to provide nutrition care should be based on family desires and communication and realistic goals.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

are grains all bad?

There is no nutritional requirement for carbohydrates for dogs. There is also none for fiber, though we well recognize the benefits, and the same could be said for other nutrients like glutamine, Vitamin C and even probiotics. Carbohydrates (in the form of starches) contain calories. Grains contain carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, fiber, and a little protein.

Recently, carbohydrates (presumably starch, in particular) included in diets for dogs have been vilified, especially in the form of grains such as rice, wheat, corn, barley, oats, etc. The reasons are myriad:

Fallacy 1: Dogs have a shorter GI tract than people, so they cannot digest grains unless they are partially digested first.
Fact: Decades of research proves that dogs digest grains as well as starch quite well.
• The lack of salivary amylase has been stated to be one reason why dogs don’t digest carbohydrates well. Why would dogs need salivary amylase when they gulp their food? Dogs produce potent pancreatic amylase as well as ‘brush border’ enzymes to digest their carbs (like humans).
• Most digestion of carbohydrate occurs in the first part of the small intestine (like humans).
• Some have stated that dogs have more acidic stomachs and retain food in their stomachs longer than people, making a meat based diet more suitable for dogs since protein is initially digested in the stomach. The pH of the dog's stomach ranges from 1.08 to 5.5 (Ouyang et al., 2006, Smith, 1965, Buddington et al., 2003, Sagawa 2009). For people, the pH ranges from 1-4 (Krause's Food and Nutrition Therapy). This makes the acidity equivalent between the species, with the dog ranging slightly more alkaline in certain settings.
It is true that like humans, dogs cannot digest cellulose, a single structural carbohydrate used by plants to form stalks, seed coats, vegetable structure etc. Only herbivores like cows can digest cellulose, turning it into some other vital nutrient, but it doesn’t seem reasonable to compare the GI tracts of dogs and people to cows. Canine digestive physiology resembles human digestive physiology much more closely, so grains and veggies should be cooked or ground as finely as possible (either before or during the act of chewing) to derive the benefits contained in them.

Fallacy 2: Feeding carbohydrates place stress on the pancreas.
Fact: The pancreas was created to produce enzymes to digest fats, proteins and starches. That’s its job. Many people feed digestive enzymes as a daily supplement, I suppose to support what they see as this delicate flower of an organ do its job with protein and fat. There is evidence that supplementing enzymes actually downregulates the pancreas’ own production of proteases. That’s not necessarily a good thing – see my blog from 1-27-09 for more information. But during bouts of pancreatic inflammation (otherwise known as pancreatitis), where those very enzymes are released to cause inflammation and damage to the pancreas and surrounding organs and tissues, the treatment is to reduce fat in the diet in order to suppress production of those enzymes. The treatment is…….high starch diets - and they work.

Fallacy 3: Since food moves through the GI tract rapidly, there is no time to ferment carbohydrates and therefore no need for them. Because carbohydrates are not fermented, if they are included in the diet they will cause gas and voluminous stools.
Fact: Like humans, dogs harbour many lactic acid producing bacteria which ferment starch and soluble fibers contained in grains. This fermentation itself can cause gas. Odiferous gas can also be caused by clostridial organisms. Clostridia are more numerous in the GI tract when dogs are fed a high meat, high fat diet such as raw, grainless diets.

Fallacy 4: Grains cause allergies.
Fact: If dogs have the genetic predisposition to develop food allergies, they can become allergic to certain foods. A recent review of 7 studies indicates that dogs are most commonly allergic to the proteins in the following foods (in descending order): beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb/mutton, soy, pork, rabbit and fish. In cats, the most common allergens are beef, dairy, fish, lamb, poultry and barley/wheat (in equal numbers), egg and rabbit in equal numbers. I will admit that I’ve seen higher numbers of corn allergy than would be suggested by these numbers, as well, but please note that grains do not constitute the majority of allergy offenders.

While dogs do not require the starch found in grains or potatoes or any other food, there are some instances where you still might derive benefit from them being there. For instance, grains (and starch-containing tubers) contain certain fibers that are beneficial for the growth of probiotic bacteria in the gut. They also contain various required vitamins and minerals. And since grains, as compared to meats, contain lower fat contents, they can be used as a “place-holder” in a diet that fills a dog up while reducing the fat content. I’ve seen people feed pitifully small amounts of raw diets to dogs whose weights needed better control. Poor hungry dogs!

This is not to say I approve of diets formulated with high concentrations of starch-containing ingredients simply to limit cost. I just want to note that there is no reason to expressly avoid them unless your dog has a specific intolerance to them or some condition that requires use of a diet that is low in carbohydrates. And remember that cats are another matter entirely- they are true, pure carnivores, and as such, should probably not be fed diets that contain noticeable carbohydrate levels.

Back to carbohydrates vs grains – take this to the bank: If it’s a dry kibble, it contains carbohydrates. This is because kibble is made by the process of extrusion, which doesn’t work without a certain minimal level of starch. So those grainless diets that sound so good, and so paleolithic – yeah, those contain carbohydrates. Just in the form of potato, tapioca, or other starch containing food.

My point is that if we are going to eschew grains, let’s do it for the right reasons, and if we instead want to avoid starch, we *have* to read the labels carefully.

I'm back!

OK, I’ve spent a couple of months finishing some schooling and moving my house. One I’ve almost finished, and the next I’ll never do again. At any rate, I can get back to studying, which means my notes become your blog postings. I hope to be a more regular correspondent!

Controversial post, coming up next....

Friday, March 6, 2009

Holistic vets: a threatened species

So considering the post yesterday suggesting why a holistic veterinarian might have a better understanding of holistic choices for sick pets.....

Would you believe that the single 'accreditation' body for veterinary continuing education (CE) has just tightened the rules on signing off on CE related to complementary/integrative/alternative/holistic medicine? In this day and age when more human medical centers are opening integrative medicine programs?

The American Association of Veterinary State Boards maintains a registry of approved continuing education (RACE). From their website: "RACE is a national clearinghouse for the approval of continuing education providers and their programs. All RACE-approved providers and programs are listed on this website. Providers voluntarily apply to the RACE program and agree to abide by the RACE Standards."

"An important aspect of RACE-approved continuing education is that it meets the definition outlined in the RACE Standards: “Continuing education ...shall build on or refresh the participant in the standards for practice and courses as found in the curriculum of accredited colleges or schools of veterinary medicine or accredited veterinary technician programs.”

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine defines complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as "a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine."

This pretty much means that any RACE approved CE is automatically going to be accepted by a veterinarian's state veterinary board as approved CE. And a CE program that is not approved -well, the veterinarian may have to fight this state government entity to ensure that it's acceptable as required CE. And since CAM (or CAVM, for veterinary medicine) is not considered conventional medicine and therefore not taught in accredited colleges or schools of veterinary medicine.....well, you can see where this is going.

And considering the economy, veterinarians will have to choose wisely how they spend their limited continuing education funds.

So if you want intelligent discussion of holistic options by a veterinary-educated professional, it may be time to get over it. RACE and the AAVSB are going to 'disappear us' right out from under the public's collective noses. What do you think of that?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Treasure Hunts in Alternative Medicine Land

Teaching gives me a chance to get a new perspective on a problem every time. I love it.

So I have a favorite teaching device or two when it comes to educating veterinary students on what their clients will face out there in alternative medicine land. It’s called a treasure hunt, and it puts them face to face with the best and the worst of holistic capitalism…. er….. healing.

Today, I sent two students to a local feed store that apparently concentrates its inventory on the natural/holistic diets. What is a natural/holistic diet, you might ask? Actually, you would only be asking that if you are a veterinarian, nutritionist or a skeptic, because people interested in holistic medicine seem to understand it on an intuitive level, and for everyone else, there is no regulatory definition.

I know what *I* think a holistic diet is. And I plan to talk about that one day, but I’d be more interested in what YOU think it is. Of course, you’ll have to post to start that discussion, and I hope you will.

But back to the treasure hunt. I ask my students to pose as typical pet owners who are interested in natural and do-it-yourself cures for a chronic and frustrating problem. Not actually all that hard for them to do, because many are faced with the same problems you are – not much money and a long term veterinary expense.

So one goes to a feed store and asks about her cat who has a history of lower urinary tract disease (LUTD). This is a painful and potentially deadly set of diseases – one version is severe inflammation of the bladder, not due to infection and not well understood which, like the similar condition in women, can lead to a serious diminishment in quality of life because the patient lives in constant pain. Another version of LUTD is due to the accumulation of mucus and mineral crystals that form an uncomfortable sludge in the bladder, in some cases blocking the urethra which requires emergency treatment to prevent death.

Veterinarians need a good history and some labwork to decide which of these disorders afflicts your cat. But that doesn’t stop the holistic food manufacturers….no….they simply propose to treat your cat without this information.

Let’s look at the treatment for interstitial cystitis, the horribly painful, bloody cystitis that has nothing to do with a urinary tract infection. Veterinarians doing research in the field believe that this disorder is associated with stress, and some are investigating the theory that an underlying viral infection or other pathology may make it re-activate when the cat is stressed. Recommendations are to dilute the urine by feeding food that has more water in it (i.e. canned or fresh/homemade food) and possibly to treat with glycosaminoglycans (like glucosamine) that are thought to protect the bladder wall. Stress reduction is a vital part of treatment of this disease.

On the other hand, if your cat forms crystals and mucus plugs, the treatment is mostly to dilute the urine so that those crystals are less likely to form. To a lesser extent, we try to manage the acidity of the urine, but on a long term basis this is fraught with danger as preventing one type of stone (struvite) by urine acidification can predispose to another type (calcium oxalate) which gives us a completely different set of management problems.

The newest thinking is that it’s best to manage cats with these problems by making sure they are getting plenty of water in their diets – and this isn’t gonna happen if they eat dry food, unless it’s a prescription diet. Although we used to talk about management of mineral concentrations in the urine by limiting ‘ash’ and then magnesium in the diet, we realized sometime in the last decade or two that this wasn’t really the right target.

And since these problems are sterile (at least initially) – that is – they are not urinary tract infections – no antibiotic therapy is needed at all.

So back to the treasure hunt – here is what the holistic pet food store employee recommended:

1. a low ash diet
2. a diet that contained cranberry (cranberry being for urinary tract infections and to acidify the diet).
3. Not a word about avoiding dry food.

Sigh. Disappointing not only that they are giving out inaccurate information, but that the information is at least 10 years out of date! And this store actually holds ‘nutrition seminars’ given by a local dog trainer!

OK, I’m a fan of holistic diets too, but friends, please ASK about the medical training of a person making recommendations for your sick pet. There are veterinarians out there who can help you with holistic diet and other therapeutic choices. My students now better understand why they need to help their clients find reasonable holistic options rather than leaving it up to chance.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How do I get thee to eat? Let me count the ways…..Part II

So we’ve talked about how we are at fault in making our pets overweight. We somehow get the idea that dogs and cats who have no control over the food they are offered would hold out for some theoretically yummier food that they haven’t ever seen or tasted before. Not.

But animals often stop eating when they are sick. Animals with acute conditions will give you signs of a new development by not eating, often before they show other signs of illness like vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, respiration difficulties, lethargy, etc. Those with chronic disorders signal that they are escaping good control or management by not eating well – often before primary signs of that disorder recur.

Let me list just a fraction of the reasons that a *sick* dog or cat won’t eat:
1. Dehydration. Which can be a part of many, many, many disorders.
2. Constipation. Animals absorb bacterial toxins from the accumulated feces through a compromised colon, and just feel under the weather. Or uncomfortable from the back-up.
3. Nausea. Another sign of many, many, many disorders. And not one that’s always easy to diagnose, except in those animals who are actually vomiting, but sometimes they will salivate or smack their lips.
4. Pain or discomfort. Also not easy to diagnose in some cases. If your general practitioner or internist can’t find the reason your pet isn’t eating, I think it’s a good idea to have a veterinary acupuncturist evaluate your pet using different methods- they often find real pain where no one else can using traditional Chinese medical examination techniques.
5. Infection – fever, pain, dehydration – all of these associated problems make animals with infections less likely to eat.

What I’ve listed above are general causes for loss of appetite. You may or may not be able to pinpoint those causes at home. Here’s the rub- you still don’t have the key to resolving the problem because a diagnosis is needed. This is why your vet wants you to come in for an exam, and usually labwork. Your pet is going to regain his or her appetite only after the renal disease, inflammatory bowel disease, cystitis, food allergy, hepatitis, pancreatitis, ketoacidosis, diabetes insipidus, gastrointestinal obstruction, gas, back pain or other serious disorder is diagnosed and appropriately managed.

My particular challenge in practice as a nutritionist is to convince people that they need more than a yummy diet. Just this week, 2 clients expressed their surprise when I recommended labwork to find out why their pets weren’t eating. I’m very happy to charge an office visit and diet formulation fee, but I want your pet to eat my diet, and if he or she is sick, we are all going to lose. Your close attention to your pet’s appetite is a powerful diagnostic tool, and diet is a powerful treatment. Let’s keep them in their proper places.

So the take-home message is as I’ve said – if your pet isn’t eating, he or she is either over-fed or sick. Learn how to do a body condition score, keep ‘em lean, and if anorexia persists for longer than 2 days, get ‘em checked out.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How do I get thee to eat? Let me count the ways…..Part I

I see so many pets presented for a picky appetite, you’d think I could make a living recommending a diet they will eat, right?

The overriding theme among the owners I talk to is that their pets won’t eat because they are tired of their diet. I think dogs and cats are honest and plain-spoken in their own ways, and I’ll break it down for you. They are either overfed, or sick. Repeat after me – if my pet isn’t eating s/he is either overfed or sick.

Let’s start with the overfed pets. I’ve talked a lot about body condition scores in the past week or two. What is your pet’s body condition score? If you don’t know, please go to my website and look at the body condition score charts from Purina:

So if your dog or cat is overweight, let me suggest a way of thinking from their perspectives. Lessee…..”I spend a bunch of time around the house hanging out, not doin much, not enough trips outside…….I get fatty meals that taste great and lots of them……I’m feelin a bit full and need to cut back… my bowl has even yummier stuff – this is great and I’m gonna eat all of it!......oh man I’m full – I’m gonna cut back…..Oh wow, now she’s putting the real gourmet stuff in front of me – what’s a dog to do?– I’ll eat it all….for awhile…. And why has it become some darn difficult to jump up on the bed or take long walks?”

Now the interesting thing here is that we make some assumptions about what dogs and cats understand about food. Let’s take a 5 month old puppy adopted from the shelter – this pup has probably never had anything but cheap dog food, may be enough of it and maybe not. We adopt him, put too much food in his bowl, and when he leaves some behind, we assume it’s because he envisions some delicious meal that he’s never had, but that must be perfect. And he’s holding out for it. Where’s the logic?

So we note that they eat less and less, but we ignore the fact that the ounces and pounds are piling on while we try to find foods they like even more! All the while, this lovely dog or cat has been trying to stay trim and we sabotage them every step of the way!

Here’s my advice: feed your pet a diet that is high in variety – different manufacturers and different ingredients (just avoid the exotic ones like venison, duck, rabbit, pheasant etc – more on that at a later date). Learn what your dog or cat likes and looks best on. Feed the amount that maintains him or her at a perfect body condition score. If the body condition score goes over 5/9 (or 3/5), don’t feed so much.

There are times these rules don’t apply. Dogs and cats who refuse to eat anything for more than a day or two, or who LOSE WEIGHT while refusing to eat aren’t healthy – they should be checked out right away. Dogs and cats with confirmed diagnoses of chronic conditions like kidney disease or pancreatitis need to be checked out if they don’t eat for a couple of days. More on this in the next post.

Monday, February 23, 2009

New dog treat recall

Recall -- Firm Press Release
FDA posts press releases and other notices of recalls and market withdrawals from the firms involved as a service to consumers, the media, and other interested parties. FDA does not endorse either the product or the company.

American Health Kennels, Inc. Announces a Voluntary Recall of Baked Dog Treats Containing Peanut Butter
4351 NE 11th Avenue
Pompano Beach, Florida 33064
1-954-781-0730 or

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- Pompano Beach, Florida -- February 13, 2009 -- As a result of the expanded recall by the Peanut Corporation of America’s (PCA) Blakely, Georgia facility, American Health Kennels, Inc. has issued a voluntary recall for certain baked dog treats containing peanut butter supplied by PCA. The Blakely PCA facility is the subject of an ongoing U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigation into potential Salmonella contamination of peanut butter. American Health Kennels, Inc does not know that any of the peanut butter from PCA that was used in our process was infected with salmonella. The parameters in our formulation and baking process (280F) are well in excess of the CDC’s guidelines (190F) for an effective salmonella bacteria kill; further American Health Kennels Inc. has had no reports of illness associated with our products.

We are effecting this recall in the interest of public safety even though we know our product is safe.

According to the FDA, pets with salmonellosis may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets may exhibit milder systems such as decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain while other pets may show no symptoms at all. Well animals can be carriers and transmit the bacteria to other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and exhibits these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

While the risk of animals contracting salmonellosis is minimal, there is risk to humans from handling these products. It is important for people to wash their hands--and make sure children wash their hands--before and, especially, after feeding treats to pets.

The following items manufactured by American Health Kennels, Inc. are subject to this recall:

American Health Kennels, Inc., Cookie Bars: Creamy Peanut Butter UPC 725999522004; PB & Carob Chips UPC 725999523001; Lucious Carob UPC 725999521007; 4pack Cookiebar Assortment UPC 725999538005; Best Before: 11/09

American Health Kennels, Inc., Peanut Butter Crunch 12oz UPC 725999001103; 16oz UPC 725999161104; Best Before: 11/09

American Health Kennels, Inc. Bark Bars Peanut Butter: 1.5oz Jumbo UPC 725999000168; 2.25 Pillow Pack UPC 725999333105; 2.5lb canister UPC 725999005064; 5lb bulk UPC 725999001257; 6oz Smiles UPC 725999530009; Giggles UPC 725999530009

American Health Kennels, Inc., Christmas Stocking 6oz UPC 725999000175; Christmas Card Mailer UPC 725999513003; Birthday Mailer UPC 725999528006; “With Love” Hearts UPC 725999512944; Holiday Smiles UPC 725999222300

American Health Kennels, Inc., 100 Calorie 2oz Pillow Pack UPC 725999539101; 100 Calorie 14oz dispenser UPC 725999539200; Gravity Trial 2oz UPC 725999400166; Best Before: 11/09

American Health Kennels, Inc., Bark Bars Minis UPC 72599953300; Best Before: 11/09

American Health Kennels, Inc., Bark Bars Animal Snackers 3oz UPC 725999512098; 12oz UPC 725999512098; Best Before: 11/09

American Health Kennels, Inc., Bark Bars Milk & Cookies UPC 725999333808; Best Before: 11/09

American Health Kennels, Inc., Dog Ate My Homework Jumbo UPC 725999531006; 2oz Pillow Pack UPC 725999535004; Best Before: 11/09

American Health Kennels, Inc., Bark Bars Naughty or Nice UPC 725999530092; Best Before: 11/09

American Health Kennels, Inc., Bark Bars Carob & Peanut Butter, 2.5lb canister UPC 725999005071; 2.25oz Pillow Pack UPC 725999333402; 5lb bulk UPC 725999003251; Best Before: 11/09

American Health Kennels, Inc., Bark Bars Brownie Delight 12oz UPC 725999003107; 5lb bulk UPC 725999003251; Best Before: 11/09