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Tag: diet

Researchers unearth evidence of America’s earliest dog … and proof that it was eaten

A University of Maine graduate student says he has found a bone fragment from what he believes is the earliest domesticated dog ever found in the Americas — one that walked the continent 9,400 years ago.

And where he found it — ensconced in a dried-out sample of human waste — gives proof that eating dog was part of America’s culture, at least before America was America.

Graduate student Samuel Belknap III came across the fragment while analyzing a sample of human waste unearthed in  the 1970s. Carbon-dating placed the age of the bone at 9,400 years, and a DNA analysis confirmed it came from a dog — as opposed to a wolf, coyote or fox.

The Associated Press  reports that the fragment — which was the dark orange color characteristic of bone that has passed through the digestive track — was found in Hinds Cave in southwest Texas. 

The fragment provides the earliest evidence that dogs were eaten by humans in North America, and may have been bred as a food source, he said.

Belknap was studying the diet and nutrition of the people  in the Lower Pecos region of Texas between 1,000 and 10,000 years ago when he came across the bone.

Belknap and other researchers from the University of Maine and the University of Oklahoma’s molecular anthropology laboratories, where the DNA analysis was done, have written a paper on their findings, scheduled for publication in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology later this year.

The fragment is about six-tenths of an inch long and three- to four-tenths of an inch wide. Belknap said he and a fellow student identified the bone as a fragment from where the skull connects with the spine. He said it came from a dog that probably resembled the small short-haired dogs that were common among the Indians of the Great Plains.

Other archaeological findings have found evidence of domestic dogs in the U.S. as long as 8,000 years ago.

A 1980s study reported dog bones found at Danger Cave, Utah, were between 9,000 and 10,000 years old, but those dates were based on an analysis of the surrounding rock laters as opposed to carbon dating. In Idaho, researchers believed they’d found 11,000-year-old dog bones, but later tests showed them to be no more than 3,000 years old.

Worldwide, studies have found evidence of dogs going back 31,000 years from a site in Belgium, 26,000 years in the Czech Republic and 15,000 years in Siberia.

The earliest dogs in North America are believed to have come with the early settlers across the Bering land bridge from Asia.

Belknap said eating dogs was once common in Central America, and that some Great Plain Indian tribes ate dogs when food was scarce or for celebrations.

 ”It was definitely an accepted practice among many populations,” he said.

Bikinied “Lettuce Ladies” to dog Baltimore

PETA thinks Baltimore residents are too fat, and that a vegetarian diet could help them achieve a much-needed slimming down.

To that end, it is sending women clad in lettuce bikinis to the city to hand out veggie hot dogs.

Makes perfect sense.

Baltimore was recently ranked the eighth fattest city in the country, so PETA’s “Lettuce Ladies” are hitting the road to show Baltimore (and other fat cities, as well)  how healthy, compassionate, and delicious it is to be vegan.

The free veggie dogs will be handed out at noon this coming Friday at City Hall, 100 Holliday St.

PETA says meat consumption has been directly linked to obesity, and that adult vegans are, on average, 10 to 20 pounds lighter than adult meat-eaters. On top of that, PETA says, foregoing meat also helps fight heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and certain types of cancer.

Nature’s Variety expands voluntary recall

naturesvalleyNature’s Variety has expanded its voluntary recall of all Chicken Formula and Organic Chicken Formula products with a “Best If Used By” date on or before 2/5/11.

Nature’s Variety has received new test results from an outside facility that indicate that its Chicken Formula Raw Frozen Diet, issued under the ”Best If Used By” dates of 10/29/10 and 11/9/10, may be contaminated with Salmonella.

The company — out of an “abundance of caution,” it says — is also expanding the recall to include all Chicken Formula and Organic Chicken Formula Raw Frozen Diets for dogs and cats with any “Best If Used By” date on or before 2/5/11.

The products included in the expanded recall are:

UPC#7 69949 60130 2 – Chicken Formula 3 lb medallions
UPC#7 69949 60120 3 – Chicken Formula 6 lb patties
UPC#7 69949 60121 0 – Chicken Formula 2 lb single chubs
UPC#7 69949 50121 3 – Chicken Formula 12 lb retail display case of chubs
UPC#7 69949 60137 1 – Organic Chicken Formula 3 lb medallions
UPC#7 69949 60127 2 – Organic Chicken Formula 6 lb patties
The “Best If Used By” date is located on the back of the package above the safe handling instructions.

If you have purchased one of the affected products, you may return the unopened product to your local retail store to receive a complete refund, or exchange it for another variety. If your package has been opened, dispose of the raw food in a safe manner by securing it in a covered trash receptacle. Then, bring your receipt (or the empty package in a sealed bag) to your local retailer for a complete refund or replacement.

Dogs joining humans in enjoying longer lives

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Although it’s difficult to find any studies that back it up, dogs seem to be living longer — a result of improved veterinary technology, healthier diets and, we’d like to think, pet owners taking their reponsibility more seriously.

Veterinarians say it’s no longer unusual for some dogs and cats to reach 15 years or more, according to a recent MSNBC report, and there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting that.

The MSNBC report, for instance, mentions Chanel, the wire-haired dachshund who when she died last month at the age of 21, was heralded as the world’s oldest dog, according to Guinness World Records. It also mentions Max, a terrier mix whose owner thinks he deserves some heralding as well. He is 26 and going strong.

While there don’t seem to be statistics to support it, it seems dogs, like people, are seeing their life expectancy stretch to new lengths.

“Just as the average life expectancy for people keeps reaching closer to the century mark, we’ll continue to see the same parallels in our pet population,” says Martha Smith, director of veterinary services at Boston’s Animal Rescue League.

Melanie Otte, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine at Florida Veterinary Specialists in Tampa, believes someday it will not be uncommon to see dogs routinely reaching 19 years of age, according to an article in South Florida’s News-Press.

That strong bond between an owner and their pet is one reason why dogs are living longer, some experts say.

My guess is, in some cases, it’s one reason people are living longer, too.

(Photo by John Woestendiek)

American dog population rises to 77.5 million

Americans are increasingly making provisions for their pets in their will, placing their pet’s medical needs over their own, and planning vacations around their pet — all signs that pets, more than ever, are considered part of the family, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA).

The APPA has released its 2009-2010 National Pet Owners Survey, and it shows pet ownership at its highest level ever, with 71.4 million households in the U.S. owning at least one pet — 62 percent of all households.

Furthermore, during the past decade the current number of pet-owning households increased by 12 percent, up from 61.2 million pet-owning households in 1998.

According to the survey, there are 77.5 million dogs, 93.6 million cats, 171.7 million freshwater fish, 11.2 million saltwater fish, 15 million birds, 15.9 million small animals, 13.63 million reptiles and 13.3 million horses owned in the U.S.

“The findings in the survey clearly demonstrate the importance of the role our pets are playing in our every day lives. Two decades of trended data show that now more than ever people consider pets an important part of the family and are still providing for their faithful companions even in these trying times,” said Bob Vetere, president of APPA.

“As pet ownership continues to rise, so has the demand for quality products and services. This has led to an amazing evolution of innovative products and services that truly enhance the experience of owning a pet,” he added.

Since the inception of the APPA National Pet Owners Survey in 1988, dogs and cats have accounted for more than two-thirds of all households that own a pet. The actual number of pet owning households is significantly higher than it was twenty years ago, as is the overall number of U.S. households.

The survey showed 17 percent of dog owners have an electronic tracking device implanted in their dog, with the Western region having significantly more tracking devices than dogs in other regions.

The survey found dog visits to the veterinarian are up, averaging 2.8 visits a year. Thirteen percent of dogs and 21 percent of cats are considered obese or overweight by their veterinarian. When asked to indicate their priority if there was a choice between a large medical expense for themselves or their pet, 15 percent of dog owners would attend to their dog’s need before their own.

Seven percent  of dog, cat, bird and horse owners indicated they had made financial provisions for their pet in their will. One-third of dog, cat and bird owners and almost half of equine owners have named a caretaker or guardian for their pet in their will.

More than 20 percent of vacationing dog owners take their pet with them in the car when they travel. These owners take their dog on an average of five car trips per year. Three percent of dog owners take their dog to work at least more than once a month.

Read more »

My hero: Fat Georgia dog drops 100 pounds

Meet my new hero — Raleigh, the dog. I’m thinking of taping his picture to my refrigerator.

Raleigh, through diet and exercise — and we all know that, unfortunately, is what it takes — dropped 100 pounds in just over three years.

Raleigh weighed 60 pounds when owners Jane and Jay Whitehead of Oconee County adopted the then one-year-old mixed breed at a Gwinnett County animal shelter about six years ago.

But, as the Athens Banner-Herald points out in a lovely story about Raleigh’s weight battle, he just kept growing – sideways.

By February 2006, Raleigh was a Goodyear blimp on legs, ballooning to 187 pounds.

The Whiteheads tried cutting back on Raleigh’s food, and took him to their vet, who found no disorder. Other than his weight, he was perfectly healthy.

He couldn’t walk more than a few steps at a time before he flopped over on his side, and it would take three people to get him up again, his owners said.

“It just kind of equates to people you see on TV that are so obese they can’t get out of bed. That’s what he was,” said Jane Whitehead, the chief financial officer for a Gwinnett County company. “You just don’t know what to do. He had no quality of life, but nothing seemed to help.”

In late 2005, the Whiteheads’ vet referred them to Sherry Sanderson, a professor in the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine’s department of physiology and pharmacology who was beginning a study on a new weight-loss drug for dogs.”

Raleigh turned out to be ineligible for the study, but Sanderson remained interested in his case, and suggested the Whiteheads began feeding Raleigh a specially formulated dog food that is low in calories but has the nutrients dog need. It was was provided free by the Nestle Purina PetCare Co., which also helped pay for the rest of Raleigh’s therapy.

That was the other problem. Raleigh was too far gone for normal dog exercise, but Sanderson asked one of her students to set up three-times-a week sessions on an underwater treadmill in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Small Animal Hospital. The treadmill, most often used to rehabilitate dogs after surgery, allows dogs to move their legs without putting much weight on their joints.

The treadmill and new diet worked for Raleigh, who began shedding pounds. In a few weeks, he was able to walk short distances on his own.

By January 2007, Raleigh had slimmed down to 116 pounds, and by last April, he was down to 89. His owners are aiming for a goal weight of 70 to 80 pounds.

“After seeing what he did, I don’t think there’s any case that’s truly hopeless,” Sanderson said. “I hope he can be a motivator for others.”

World of Pets Expo starts today

The World of Pets Expo starts today at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium — a great chance to see the latest in pet products and learn more about your dog, cat, bird, snake, hamster, fish, frog or ferret.

Exhibitors will be touting thousands of products and services for pets, and some of the country’s foremost authorities in the pet industry will be presenting seminars and demonstrations about pet care and training.

Entertainment includes AKC agility trials, which will be going on all three days, grooming contests and demonstrations on everything from drug detection to dancing with your dogs, featuring the Boogie Woogie Bow Wows.

They include a talk by animal nutrition expert Richard Patton, PhD, lead nutritionist for K-9 Kraving, on the connection between diet and behavior (noon Saturday), and a seminar on hip dysplasia by Daren Roa, DVM, DACVS, of Chesapeake Veterinary Surgical Specialists (1 p.m. Saturday). Animal communicator Terri Diener, of Petspeak, will be holding two seminars, one on pet loss, and one on communicating with your animal.

Workshops and seminars take place all three days, You can find the full schedule here.

General admission is $9 for adults and $5 for children under 12. Admission includes all seminars and entertainment.

As for bringing your dog, well-behaved pets on a leash are welcome at the expo, but the organizers offer this note. “Due to the large number of pets performing in the many demonstrations and seminars, we believe you will have a greater enjoyment of the Expo, if you do not bring your pet.”

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