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Tag: dog food

After euthanasia drug found in dog food, Smucker recalls Gravy Train and more

gravytrainThe J.M. Smucker Co. is withdrawing some shipments of dog food amid reports that it could be tainted with traces of a drug used to euthanize animals.

The company said Thursday it is pulling back shipments of 27 of its brands, including canned Gravy Train, Kibble ‘N Bits, Skippy and Ol’ Roy brands.

It said it is investigating how the euthanasia drug pentobarbital got into its supply chain and is focusing on a single supplier of a minor ingredient used at one manufacturing facility.

The recalls come after WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C., said it tested 15 cans of Gravy Train and found nine cans, or 60 percent of the sample, tested positive for pentobarbital.

Smucker pointed out that the low levels of the drug cited in the report do not pose a threat to pets.

“However, the presence of this substance at any level is not acceptable to us and not up to our quality standards,” the company said in a statement.

The company, based in Orrville, Ohio, said it does not use meat from euthanized animals in its pet food.

A consumer-level product recall has not been initiated, and neither Smucker nor any government agencies has said if any of the implicated dog food made it to retail shelves.

Smucker has requested retailers remove the potentially affected brands from their warehouses.

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Why does the drug we use to euthanize animals keep showing up in dog food?

Pentobarbital, part of the cocktail administered to dogs, cats and sometimes horses to euthanize them, continues to show up in dog food.

How that happens — and why it is allowed to — are questions raised in an investigative report last week by WJLA in Washington.

The station teamed up with Ellipse Analytics, a lab that specializes in testing food for contaminants,

gravytrainIn testing 62 samples of wet dog food, across more than two dozen brands, one brand came back positive for for the euthanasia drug pentobarbital. Nine of 15 cans of Gravy Train showed non-lethal levels of the drug.

Under federal law, no concentration of pentobarbital is permitted in pet food. WJLA reported the FDA didn’t initially seem too interested about its findings.

The agency declined requests for an on-camera interview, and referred the station to the Pet Food Institute — the trade organization that represents the pet food industry. Further requests for information from the FDA were met with the response that it will “investigate the matter and take appropriate enforcement action.”

It’s not the first time pentobarbital has been found in dog food.

About a year ago Evanger’s recalled some lots of its “Hunk of Beef” canned dog food after it was found to contain the sedative.

The company said at the time that the meat in question came from a cow rendered by a supplier, but, as WJLA reported, federal law does not allow use of the toxin to kill animals that are part of the food supply.

Gravy Train is made by Big Heart Pet Foods and owned by Smucker’s.

Big Heart Brands is also the maker of Meow Mix, Milk Bone, Kibbles’n Bits, 9 Lives, Natural Balance, Pup-Peroni, Gravy Train, Nature’s Recipe, Canine Carry Outs, Milo’s Kitchen, Alley Cat, Jerky Treats, Meaty Bone, Pounce and Snausages.

Dr. Nicholas Dodman, chief scientific officer for The Center for Canine Behavior Studies and former director of the Animal Behavior Program at Tufts University, said even non-lethal amounts of the drug should be a concern.

“Whether it’s doing something or nothing, what’s it doing there? Where did it come from? If they don’t like the explanation that it’s coming from animals that have been euthanized, what is their explanation as to how it gets in?” asked Dodman.

Smucker’s declined WJLA’s request for an on-camera interview, but issued a statement saying, “We launched and are conducting a thorough investigation, including working closely with our suppliers, to determine the accuracy of these results and the methodology used.”

Most believe pentobarbital, when it shows up in dog food, is a result of euthanized animals being blended into food by those who render the carcasses.

That, in itself is against federal laws that prohibits the use in both dog and human food of any animals that have not been slaughtered. Using euthanized animals is prohibited.

As Susan Thixton, a pet food consumer advocate told the station, “Billion dollar a year companies are making profit selling illegal adulterated products to unknowing consumers in the U.S. every day.”

She added, “The FDA tells industry ‘Yeah, it’s a violation of law, but go ahead, we’re not going to do anything,'” said Thixton.

When something as simple as feeding the dog requires technology, we’re in trouble

Because your dog is not going to tell you that he has already been fed, a California company is introducing a “smart scoop” that, via bluetooth technology and an app, will let you know if that daily deed has been done.

That’s right. A smart dog food scoop. What’s next? Smart spatulas? Smart doorstops? Don’t tell me if they already exist; I don’t want to know.

Leave it to 21st Century America to come up with fancy, complex, intrusive and expensive communication technology to get the most mundane of chores accomplished when much simpler ways exist, such as a hand-written note, or perhaps the spoken word.

YaDoggie delivers its brand of dog food and treats to your door, and it plans to make the smart scoop available this spring to those who sign up for subscription plans.

The company showed off the scoop at the CES tech show in Las Vegas Monday.

scoopCNET described how it works:

“The YaDoggie scoop will connect to an iOS app on your phone through a Bluetooth connection. A small light on the scoop will turn green if no one has picked up the scoop and connected with the app that day, which means you’re good to feed your dog. The light will turn red if the app has detected that someone has used the scoop. The app will also tell you who has fed the dog based on whose phone is closest to the scoop.”

Now I understand that, in an active, on-the-go modern American family, multiple family members might take it upon themselves to feed a dog not knowing he had already been fed. I understand that such mundane matters aren’t always communicated between family members.

I can understand that happening even when it’s just a couple sharing a home with a dog.

And I’ll admit that even those who live alone, such as me, might forget if they’ve already fed their dog on a particular day. (My solution is attaching a Post-it note to my forehead.)

In all seriousness, though, there truly are simpler, no-cost ways, to accomplish this.

I don’t think that multiple feedings alone are the main cause of overweight dogs, as the company’s promotional video (above) implies. Treats, lack of exercise and table scraps are all probably bigger factors.

On its website, the company says the “simple, elegant scoop,” when paired with the app, notifies everyone in the family that the dog has been fed. It also lets the company “figure out when you’re running low on food so we can make sure you never run out.”

At least it doesn’t keep tabs on how many times you are feeding yourself, or sneaking treats for yourself, in the kitchen — at least as far I know.

The company says the battery in the scoop will last at least “a year, if not more” so there is “no need to worry about charging or replacing batteries.” It doesn’t make clear whether you get a new scoop after a year, or a new battery, or have to spend hours reprogramming everything, but it says more information will be coming out before the device hits the market.

I don’t want one. I’m old school enough to suspected that the more “smart” devices we come to rely on, the more stupid we are going to get. And I’m already getting stupid enough. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m walking around with a Post-it note on my head — until the dog tells me.

Real housewife’s pink dog food is drawing some less than stellar reviews

sparkledogWe’re sure she meant well, but “Real Housewives of Dallas” star Kameron Westcott’s new dog food line is getting some harsh reviews.

Westcott is new to the series, and one of the plot lines it follows has revolved around her efforts to develop and market a bubblegum pink dog food brand called SparkleDog.

The new line supports the Susan G. Komen Foundation, but even that worthy cause isn’t keeping some critics from declaring the product gagworthy.

As the SparkleDog website explains it, Kameron noticed that the dog food industry has “overlooked the purchasing power of women. She has made it her mission to create packaging that would appeal to women using bold pink colors, a unique shape and easy to carry bag. Her pièces de résistance was adding pink heart shaped kibbles.”

westcott“Kameron has continued her passion for animal welfare by convincing her husband Court to invest in the first company that is going to bring kill free meat to the world,” the website adds.

(I’m a little bit baffled by just how the forms of chicken and fish listed as ingredients end up in the dog food without being killed … unless maybe they have all died of old age.)

In reality, the product is mostly brown with pink kibble bits. Cranberries help provide the pinkish coloring, along with Red Dye #3.

While the website lists the ingredients, it doesn’t specify what portion of profits will be passed along to the Komen Foundation. It has promised the foundation $10,000, though.

Kameron recently lost her grandmother to cancer, according to the website, “and when she reminisced about her grandmother, she realized her love for pink and her love for being a woman came directly from her.”

On Amazon, the dog food has an average rating of 3.3 out of 5 stars, but a number of reviews are pretty harsh.

“Make sure you buy a tarp to keep your dog on, cause you will have diarrhea everywhere!!!” Another claimed the food left her dog dehydrated and weak with diarrhea. One calls it “nausea in a bag.”

A review in the Dallas Observer, however, says the two dogs who tired it under their supervision enjoyed it very much and had no ill effects.

Westcott told Page Six that the 1 star reviews are fake.

“The 1 star reviews were done by people who never purchased the product and [are] meritless. Based on internal tests we have found that dogs bowel movements are unaffected by our food,” she said.

The dog food is not organic, says Westcott, who has been described as a real life version of Reese Witherspoon’s character in “Legally Blonde.”

SparkleDog_front-bagMaking it organic, she says, would have required charging an exorbitant amount for it.

The price strikes me as a little hefty, but then I’m not a Real Housewife.

An 8-ounce bag sells for $28 on Amazon.

(Photos: Kameron Westcott, her Yorkie Louis, and her dog food, from the SparkleDog website)

Woof in Advertising: Ellen’s dog food has new mascot — and it’s a turd with a halo

There’s a new animated turd in town, and no, it’s not a character on South Park.

Halo dog food, Ellen DeGeneres’ brand, has launched a new advertising campaign featuring a saintly pile of feces know as “Poopsie.”

woof in advertisingThe mascot appears in two advertising spots that have been made so far, both telling us that Halo brand pet foods are free of filler, and that the consumption of it leads to healthier, friendlier, more polite poops.

Halo promises dog owners “a poop that’s a pleasure to scoop.”

It’s not clear what, if any, role, DeGeneres played in conceiving the new mascot for the brand, but the ads were developed by RPA (Rubin Postaer and Associates), an advertising and marketing agency headquartered in Santa Monica, according to AdWeek.com.

mrhankyPoopsie is not the first animated poop to hit the airwaves. That honor, many think, belongs to Mr. Hankey, a talking, sewer-dwelling lump of human feces who first appeared in a Christmas-time episode during the first season of South Park. He went on to become a recurring character.

South Park, however, has been accused of stealing the character from Ren and Stimpy creator John K., who says the cartoon rips off a series of Spumco comics and cartoons that featured “Nutty the Friendly Dump.” The two characters look alike, and the plot lines are similar, too, with the talking feces surfacing to befriend a main character who has been rejected by classmates.

That controversy didn’t make a lot of headlines when it was playing out, back in 1997, so I don’t know, nor do I want to, whether it led to a court battle over who first produced talking poop.

Twenty years later, though I don’t think anybody is going to sue Ellen (because she’s too nice). And the advertising agency is probably in the clear, too, because Poopsie, being coiled, has an entirely different shape than either Mr. Hankey or Nutty. And Poopsie — as much as I would like to call him a spokesturd — doesn’t talk (at least not yet).

In any event, Halo brand has trademarked the name “Poopsie” and the Poopsie image — basically a spiraled piece of poop with eyeballs and a mouth and a golden halo hovering over it.

Poopsie’s point … and it does have one .. is that “the proof is in the poop.”

Dogs who eat Halo brand are avoiding difficult to digest filler and “meat meal,” and as a result they dispense poop that is, if not truly angelic, at least less offensive, the ads contend.

As the next ad says, “the truth always comes out in the end.”

(This link will lead you to more of our Woof in Advertising posts)

Texas dog seems to have a good grasp of emergency preparedness, and his dog food

otis

It’s not clear where Otis was heading when he escaped during Hurricane Harvey and hit the road.

But it is clear he didn’t leave unprepared.

Otis was photographed by a stranger while he was at large — with a giant bag of dog food in his mouth.

Otis, a German shepherd mix, got loose Friday night from a screened-in back porch in Sinton, Texas, where he had been left in the care of 65-year-old Salvador Segovia.

otis2Segovia was watching the dog for his 5-year-old grandson Carter whose family had fled the city due to flooding.

Segovia noticed the dog was gone Friday night when he went to check on him on the porch.

“I kept yelling his name and yelling his name and he wasn’t around,” Segovia told the Houston Chronicle.

When he checked the porch again Saturday morning, he noticed Otis’ bag of dog food was also missing.

A few people in Sinton — a town of about 6,000 — had seen Otis walking down the street with a bag of dog food in his mouth, including Tiele Dockens, who saw Otis, snapped a photo and posted it on Facebook.

The photo of Otis went viral, and Otis himself was tracked down Saturday and is back with Segovia — happily, all before his young master, Carter, returned home.

otis3

The dog has comforted the boy after several hospital visits, Segovia says, and is well-known around town. Wandering the streets is nothing new for him, though this is the first time he has brought his own food along.

Segovia said Otis is the “only dog allowed to lie down in front of the county court house,” and that he sometimes goes to Dairy Queen for a hamburger.

Maybe Otis was trying to get himself, and his dog food, back to his home. Maybe he sensed an emergency had been declared, and wanted to be prepared. Or maybe he just wanted to go for a walk, and knew the DQ was going to be closed Friday night.

We’ll never know, but it’s fun to speculate.

(Top photo by Tiele Dockens, from Facebook; photos of Carter and Otis courtesy of Salvador Segovia)

It DOES amount to a hill of beans

There are several things I have long wondered about Bush’s canned beans.

Why do they take up nearly a full half aisle of the grocery store?

How do they get Duke, the dog that appears in commercials with spokesman Jay Bush, to talk?

And what, exactly, is the difference between Bush’s Baked Beans and Bush’s Grillin’ Beans?

It’s time for some answers, America, or at least guesses.

For starters, I’m guessing that the Bush folks are paying off the grocery chains, or at least buying managers some lovely gifts, in order to be granted such large and prominent displays at so many stores.

Next, I am guessing that Duke is not speaking via special effects, but is an actual talking dog, on loan from the prestigious Hollywood Talking Dog Academy to play the role.

woof in advertisingAs for question three — and this is the one I have pondered most — I continue to wrack my brain.

At first, I assumed the Baked Beans were beans that had been baked, or were supposed to be baked, and the Grillin’ Beans were beans that had been grilled, or were supposed to be grilled.

But if they are meant for us to grill them, wouldn’t the Grillin’ Beans just be lost — kind of like the final “g” in grilling — as they fell through the grill slots?

(For you know-it-alls, putting a pot of something atop a grill grate is not grilling, and it’s definitely not grillin’; it is heating up.)

grillinbeans

I did some internet research, and visited the Bush’s website, but the only thing I learned is that Grillin’ Beans have a bolder flavor than the Baked Beans. It’s the same old bean, just in a spicier sauce.

I have no problem with bold and spicy. In fact, I think I prefer the bold and spicy version of Jay in the commercial above to the regular, far blander, version of him. As for Duke, to be honest, I prefer him unadorned, and non-speaking. I’m just not big on talkin’ dogs.

Call me a skeptic, but if you have a talking dog in your ad, I’m not going believe any of the other dubious and far-reaching claims you are making about any of your products. Then again, I’m probably not going to believe them anyway.

I am aware of few other products presented in so many variations as Bush’s Beans — hickory, chipotle, brown sugar, maple, honey, homestyle, country style, original, bold and spicy, vegetarian (meaning they haven’t added bacon) and different combinations thereof. And that’s not even including the products Bush makes from different beanages, such as the black, the kidney and the pinto, the red, the white and the garbanzo.

My theory is that those who make and market the beans figure the more selections they offer, the more grocery shelf space they can grab.

This is by no means strictly a bean thing.

Chips, such as your Pringles and your Doritos, also follow this strategy. And pet foods also use this approach (or perhaps, they led the way). A can of Alpo could be from their Prime Cuts, Chop House, Gravy Cravers or Prime Classics styles. Each one of those comes in multiple flavors, seven for Prime Cuts alone.

One dog food company takes things a step farther, offering more than 200 different products, each supposedly custom designed for a specific breed.
They want us to think that virtually every breed of dog needs a different formula of dog food.

Perhaps you’ve seen this Royal Canin commercial, which tells us that the golden retriever and the yellow Lab — similar as they are — “eat, digest and process energy differently.”

Royal Canin is a ridiculously priced dog food not sold in grocery stores, which is a good thing, because if it were, there would be room for nothing else. Even Bush’s beans would have to clear out. Maybe that’s why it’s not sold in grocery stores.

Or maybe it’s all a marketing gimmick aimed at making us think Royal Canin is such a special, exclusive and high end product it must be purchased from your veterinarian. It’s called a “prescription diet.” It’s nothing of the sort.

Show me, Royal Canin, how Labs and goldens differently digest food, and differently “process energy.” Sure, one of them (sorry, Labs) may generally wolf their meals down more quickly, but aren’t the various tubes and chambers that food goes through on its way out pretty much the same for both breeds?

Why, when I read the ingredients for both, do I notice hardly any difference?

The profusion of flavors in beanage, in chippage, in dog food and everything else, is not new. Remember when there was just one Coke?

And it’s not all about claiming more shelf space. By coming up with a flavor for every mood, companies are able to bring more customers into their folds, and dazzle them with their vast arrays.

Variety may be the spice of life, but it’s all becoming a little much. No longer do we just have to decide between brands, we have to decide within brands, and a trip to the grocery store requires making more choices than election day.

Regular or non-drowsy, diet, sugar-free or light; thick crust or thin crust; smooth or chunky; gluteny or gluten-free; plain or low sodium; regular, spicy, or super spicy.

By the time I get to the checkout line, I’m exhausted, and have used up all my decision making powers for the day.

But I still have to decide whether I want paper or plastic bags, and if I will pay by credit card, debit card, or cash.

Kind of makes me wish I had a dog like Duke I could bring along on shopping trips to tell me what to do. On the other hand, you can’t trust a talking dog, can you?

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