Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Another salmonella tainted dog biscuit recall

American Nutrition, Inc. Announces a Voluntary Recall of Baked Dog Treats

American Nutrition, Inc.
1-800-257-4530 or

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- Ogden, UT – February 10, 2009 –As a result of the expanded recall by the Peanut Corporation of America’s (PCA) Blakely, Georgia facility, American Nutrition, Inc. has issued a voluntary recall for certain baked dog treats containing peanut paste 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 paste and other peanut products.

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 Nutrition, Inc. are subject to this recall:

American Nutrition Vita Bone Flavors Large Dog Treats (48oz. box)
UPC 0 12623 73480 4, Best Before: All Dates prior to JAN 18 10

American Nutrition Vita Bone Flavors Medium Dog Treats (24oz. box)
UPC 0 12623 73241 1, Best Before: All Dates prior to JAN 18 10

American Nutrition Vita Bone Flavors Small Dog Treats (24oz. box)
UPC 0 12623 73240 4, Best Before: All Dates prior to JAN 18 10

American Nutrition Vita Snacks Peanut Butter (3oz. plastic bag)
UPC 0 12623 81315 8, Best Before: All Dates prior to 01/18/10

Farm Style Small Assorted Dog Biscuits (5 lb. plastic bag)
UPC 0 78601 90205 4, Best Before: All Dates prior to 01/18/10

Hill Country Fare Small 5 Flavor Dog Biscuits (4 lb. plastic bag)
UPC 0 41220 52080 0, Best Before: All Dates prior to JAN 18 10

Hill Country Fare Small Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits (4 lb. plastic bag)
UPC 0 41220 17538 3, Best Before: All Dates prior to JAN 18 10

Integrity Small Assorted Dog Biscuits (4 lb. plastic bag)
UPC 0 64237 14639 8, Best Before: All Dates prior to 01/18/10

Northwest Royal Small Dog Biscuits Assorted Flavors (5 lb. plastic bag)
UPC 0 71357 00337 2, Best Before: All Dates prior to 01/18/10

Mill Creek Premium Large Assorted Dog Biscuits (20 lb. box)
UPC 0 78601 95106 9, Lot Codes: 001A7xxx to 018A9xxx

Mill Creek Premium Small Assorted Dog Biscuits (20 lb. box)
UPC 0 78601 95105 2, Lot Codes: 001A7xxx to 018A9xxx

Premium Smarty Dog Biscuits Assorted Flavors Small (4 lb. plastic bag)
UPC 0 41512 04609 4, Best Before: All Dates prior to JAN 18 10

Springfield Prize Multi-Flavor Dog Biscuits (26 oz. box)
UPC 0 41380 14169 3, Best Before: All Dates prior to JAN 18 10

Springfield Prize Multi-Flavor Dog Biscuits (4 lb. plastic bag)
UPC 0 41380 13965 2, Best Before: All Dates prior to 01/18/10

Western Family Biscuits Multi-Flavor (10 lb. box)
UPC 0 15400 06229 9 , Best Before: All Dates prior to JAN 18 10

Western Family Biscuits Multi-Flavor (4 lb. plastic bag)
UPC 0 15400 06408 8 , Best Before: All Dates prior to JAN 18 10

Western Family Biscuits Multi-Flavor (18 oz. box)
UPC 0 15400 03886 7, Best Before: All Dates prior to JAN 18 10

Next Gen Pet Products Small Assorted Biscuits (30 lb. box)
Lot Codes: 001A7xxx to 018A9xxx

Small Assorted Dog Biscuits-Bulk (1/25# box)
Lot Codes: 001A7xxx to 018A9xxx

Western Family (Canada only) Small Dog Biscuits 4 Assorted Flavors (2 Kg. plastic bag)
UPC 0 62639 29585 1, Best Before: All Dates prior to 01/18/10

Yeaster Small Assorted (30 lb. box)
Lot Codes: 001A7xxx to 018A9xxx

Consumers who purchased the recalled items should discontinue use immediately and return items to the store location where they were purchased or destroy any remaining product.

No other products other than those listed above are part of this recall. For more information on Salmonella, please visit the FDA website at

Consumer safety is important to American Nutrition, Inc. The company sincerely regrets any inconvenience this may cause our valued customers. For additional information, please contact American Nutrition at 1-800-257-4530 between 8 A.M. and 5 P.M. Monday through Friday, Mountain time.

For a list of other company recalls and more information on FDA’s ongoing investigation, visit FDA’s website at

The false comfort of numbers

Obesity is epidemic among our pets, and unfortunately, the calorie-counting strategy indeed works best for pets as well as their owners. Even if every bag of pet food or every batch of homemade food carried the exact calorie count, however, we couldn’t predict whether an individual animal is going to maintain, gain or lose weight on it without a lot more information. We need to recognize that there is variability in both an individual’s daily calorie needs as well as what a food provides.

For instance, we can calculate, based on your pet’s weight, what he or she probably needs to maintain weight. We do it by starting with the “resting energy requirement” or RER (there are a variety of more or less accurate equations out there for doing so). That is the number of calories it takes to sustain the weight of a pet who is doing nothing but laying around , breathing and metabolizing stuff. For pets with active daily lives, we tack on an activity factor that takes into account their level of activity, life stage, tendency for obesity, etc. So that’s a level of variability that we can guess at. But it turns out that the RER can vary by 50% on either side of our calculated value, so our guesses are often rendered useless.

A new paper from the nutrition department at Florida’s veterinary school shows that we also can’t put 100% faith in the numbers we get from bags or cans of food. Each pet food sold in the U.S. is required by states to list a guaranteed analysis so that we can get a sense of the protein, fat, fiber and moisture contents of the food. Hill and colleagues gathered data from state agriculture departments which are charged with chemically analyzing these foods to see if the guaranteed analysis is accurate.

In these guaranteed analyses, expensive nutrients are expressed in terms of minimum guaranteed amounts, while less expensive nutrients are expressed as maximums. In this study, guaranteed minimum protein and fat contents were off by – on average – 1.5% and 1% respectively. That means that if you have a dog food with a guaranteed minimum protein content of 22%, it is most likely to contain closer to 22.3% protein – not all that significant. The less expensive nutrients were off by 0.7%, 4%, and 0.5% for crude fiber, moisture and ash, respectively. For instance, a water content of 70% could actually be closer to 67.2%. It’s important to remember that these were averages – some diets erred on the wrong side of that minimum and maximum stated level, but this was not deemed to be a consistent or dangerous deviation.
BUT – the calorie content could vary more widely.

As a very general rule, dry foods contain about 4 kcal per gram of food, and canned foods contain about 1 kcal/gram of food. However, if you look at the actual nutrient analyses on these foods as opposed to the stated guaranteed analysis, those differences (especially because of overages in the minimum fat content) could account for as much as a 23% error in the calculated calorie count for the food. The example used in the paper is this: Let’s say that we think a canned food contains 1 kcal/gram, but that the nutrient analysis actually showed a difference from the guaranteed analysis of about 0.23 kcal/gram of food above calculations, giving a difference of 23% in the calculated calorie count vs the actual calorie count. The potential difference for dry foods was smaller –closer to 6%.

This means that the guaranteed analysis causes the manufacturer to OVERestimate the amount of food necessary to carry a certain number of calories. So here we have a level of uncertainty about how many calories our pets are getting in addition to how many an individual actually requires.
Bottom line? Learn to do a “body condition score” (BCS) on your pet. You can find these score sheets on some of the manufacturers websites. I have posted one made available to veterinarians from Purina on my website –
Chart for dogs:
Chart for cats:

If you are feeding to an ideal body condition score rather than worrying about caloric requirements and caloric density of different foods, you can almost not go wrong.


Hill RC, Choate CJ, Scott KC, Molenberghs G. Comparison of the guaranteed analysis with the measured nutrient composition of commercial pet foods. JAVMA 2009; 234(3):347

Monday, February 9, 2009

Patent fighting - David vs Goliath?

From Pet Food Industry Magazine, today:

Nestle/Purina vs. Wysong over patent
Release Date: Monday, February 09, 2009

"Nestle, parent company of Purina, and the Wysong Corp., a health education and nutritional development company, have filed suits against one another in the Eastern District Federal Court in Missouri, according to a press release by the Wysong Corp.

The suits are related to a technology invented by Dr. R. L. Wysong in the early 1980s to enrobe pet and human foods with probiotics – health-giving organisms such as found in yogurt. Although Wysong’s company did not seek a patent, it has used the technology in both animal and human foods since the early 1980s.

Nestle/Purina obtained a patent granted in 1999 for the same technology. To this date, however, Purina has not incorporated probiotics in its own products. Instead, it is attempting to prevent Wysong and other companies from enrobing dry extruded petfoods with probiotics unless a licensing fee is paid to Purina, according to Wysong.

A patent is not valid if the invention (prior art) exists in the public domain prior to the patent. The evidence of Wysong’s prior art for over 15 years before the 1999 Nestle patent was granted is, according to Wysong, incontrovertible and ample. In fact, within the last few years just a portion of Wysong’s prior art evidence swayed a European patent review board to deny Nestle/Purina a like European patent. The decision was upheld upon appeal."

Are drug treatments causing nutrient deficiencies?

I was just reading a review of multivitamin/multimineral supplements by a scientist with the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health. Elizabeth Yetley (2007) attempted to determine what we could garner from the large reviews about supplement use in people, focusing on just these multis, rather than other nutraceuticals or botanicals. The paper essentially focuses on the uncertainties regarding how the actual dose varies from label claim (let's just say that's a wide variation above and below what the label says). It also touches on what we don't know about bioavailability (absorption, utilization) and bioequivalence (differences in activity between different chemical forms) between the various forms of vitamins and minerals.

Bioavailability is affected by the person (or animal) taking the supplement, and not just the product itself. Every individual has genetically determined differences in their ability to absorb and metabolize nutrients, which clearly suggests that individuals have DIFFERENT nutritional requirement for the same nutrient. Further confounding these differences are the effects of various life stages and conditions - sex, age, and medical condition all change the way nutrients are handled metabolically. And the drugs being taken for those medical conditions impose even more obstacles to what would otherwise be considered 'normal metabolism' of any single nutrient.

A large host of drugs can affect absorption and utilization of nutrients, and vice versa. Just SOME of these interactions of importance to veterinary medicine are [HINT - if you are administering any vitamin, mineral, or drug to your pet, you can visually scan the lists below, or just search for the generic or chemical name on this web page. Press Ctrl F and type the generic or chemical name into the search box for either Explorer or Firefox]:

Pancreatin and sulfasalazine - decrease absorption of folate

Omeprazole (Prilosec) - reduce absorption of B12, and reduces bioavailability of iron

Aluminum hydroxide - along with extra Vitamin C, can increase the potential for aluminum toxicity. It can also decrease absorption of iron.

Vitamin C - reduces the amount of B12 available for serum and body stores

Pau d'arco - may reduce effectiveness of vitamin K

Calcitriol - can increase absorption of magnesium and calcium to dangerous levels

Digoxin - can decrease blood levels of magnesium

Doxycycline - can decrease the effectiveness of iron supplementation

Calcium absorption may be reduced by: atenolol, cefpodoxime (Simplicef), ciprofloxacin, enrofloxacin (Baytril), doxycycline, ketaconazole, itraconazole, sucralfate, tetracycline.

Magnesium supplementation may reduce the effectiveness of: allopurinol, azithromycin, cefpodoxime (Simplicef), cimetidine (Tagamet), ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, gabapentin, iron, itraconazole, thyroid hormone (thyroxine), misoprostol, penicillamine, sotalol, sucralfate, tetracycline

Zinc - decreases iron and copper absorption, and decreases the effectiveness of ciprofloxacin

Iron supplementation can decrease the effectiveness of: ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, penicillamine.

Complete and balanced pet foods do contain supplemented vitamins and minerals, and these levels are probably not causing drug interactions. The question to be asked, and that we have no answer for that I know of, is whether therapy using these drugs interacts with these 'adequate' nutrient levels, rendering them inadequate. We do know that some sick animals have lower levels of certain nutrients in their blood than healthy ones – for instance, cats with kidney disease have lower levels of Vitamin E and cats with diabetes lower levels of magnesium. Another reason why nutrition, and often a veterinary nutritionist, should be involved when your pet has a chronic illness.

Yetley EA. Multivitamin and multimineral dietary supplements: definitions, characterization, bioavailability, and drug interactions. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jan;85(1):269S-276S.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Supplements for cognitive dysfunction in dogs

Cognitive dysfunction is a problem of aged dogs that is distressingly similar in symptoms to human Alzheimer's disease. Older dogs may appear apathetic, irritable, anxious, disoriented, forgetful of where they are, stand as if stuck with their head in a corner, inability to sleep at night, seeming loss of housetraining, or they may pace compulsively. In dogs, we have the additional difficulty of discriminating between behavior changes from degenerative processes from those due to disease or pain. If you are a pet owner who suspects your dog is having behavior changes and haven't read Lisa Rodier's excellent article in Whole Dog Journal about cognitive dysfunction, it's worth purchasing for a thorough review of the problem.

Clinical trials have shown that antioxidants, and combinations of antioxidants with acetyl-l-carnitine, vegetable extracts and phosphatidylserine can improve daily function in these dogs. The best trials were done using Hill's B/D. In fact, the improvements noted when aged beagles were fed this food were greater than the benefits from the drug approved for the condition - selegiline. For pets who require other types of diets or owners who prefer a different food type, combinations of these nutrients can be used as nutraceutical supplements.

Your vet can offer supplements designed specifically for dogs and proven in clinical trials to be helpful. Senilife, a product by CEVA, contains ginkgo biloba, phosphatidylserine, Vitamin E and Vitamin B6. Araujo and colleagues tested the efficacy of this combination using the same test system (beagles in an experimental lab) and some of the same researchers. This trial showed that the supplement improved dogs' performances on cognitive tests significantly over placebo.

Another trial by another group tested the efficacy of SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) on signs of cognitive dysfunction in dogs. SAMe has been used for liver disease (in animals), depression and arthritis (in people). In this trial, Novifit (made by Virbac) was administered to 36 client-owned dogs at a dose of 18.5 mg/kg for 2 months. The average improvement in the level of activity (57.1%) and awareness
(59.5%) was significant in comparison to those dogs given placebo. The results were collected from owners' evaluations of their dogs' progress.

The primary problems reported by the owners were “looks tired,” “inactive,”
“does not run anymore,” “does not climb stairs anymore,” “does not play anymore”,“sleeps too much,” “awakens at night,” “has nightmares”, and “worried,” “feels insecure,” “tries to hide,” “follows me everywhere”. I found these survey answers interesting because I have a problem calling them signs of cognitive dysfunction. And we know that antioxidants are helpful in other geriatric disorders, such as arthritis - which could cause some of these same observations to be made. These authors actually did state that locomotion scores were not improved, distinguishing an effect on arthritis from that on cognitive problems, but I don't buy it since there were no objective measurements of arthritis pain done. Antioxidants have too many multisystemic effects. Which is usually a good thing in a geriatric patient.

One other thing - old cats can develop signs that are often taken as cognitive dysfunction, and again, these are frequently due to medical disorders like hyperthyroidism or arthritis. While all of the approved and studied treatments for cognitive dysfunction are for dogs only, I think it's important to supplement geriatric cats with antioxidants in many cases, especially since we don't have great options for pain or senility, as compared with dogs.

Until very recently, we had to depend upon human supplement companies to supply us with ingredients that were proven in humans. Suddenly we have excellent probiotic products shown to work in pets, and now we have supplements proven to work for cognitive dysfunction in dogs. Ask your vet for more information if you have a family member that might benefit.


Araujo JA, Landsberg GM, Milgram NW, Miolo A. Improvement of short-term memory performance in aged beagles by a nutraceutical supplement containing phosphatidylserine, Ginkgo biloba, vitamin E, and pyridoxine. Can Vet J. 2008 Apr;49(4):379-85.

Rème CA, Dramard V, Kern L, Hofmans J, Halsberghe C, Mombiela DV. Effect of S-adenosylmethionine tablets on the reduction of age-related mental decline in dogs: a double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. Vet Ther. 2008 Summer;9(2):69-82.