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Tag: dog food

Is the quality of dog semen declining? And are contaminants in dog food to blame?


Researchers at the University of Nottingham say they’ve documented a serious decline in the fertility of male dogs — and suggest that dog food or environmental causes may be to blame.

In a study spanning 26 years, researchers tracked the sperm motility levels of five different breeds — Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, curly coat retrievers, border collies and German shepherds.

They took samples from between 42 and 97 dogs each year, according to the study, published in Scientific Reports.

Between 1988 and 1998, the team recorded a 2.5 percent decline in the amount of motile sperm per year. Between 2002 and 2014, this trend continued at a rate of 1.2 percent each year.

The researchers also found that male pups produced by dogs with declining sperm quality had an increased incidence of cryptorchidism, a condition where one or both of the testicles don’t descend properly.

The study suggests that the sperm quality may have been impacted by contaminants in dog food.

“We looked at other factors which may also play a part, for example, some genetic conditions do have an impact on fertility,” said Dr Richard Lea, leader of the study. “However, we discounted that because 26 years is simply too rapid a decline to be associated with a genetic problem.”

Dogs used for the study were all bred, raised and trained as service animals for disabled people at an unidentified center in England, according to the New York Times.

The scientists said that in addition to collecting samples throughout the study, they examined the testicles collected from dogs that had undergone castration.

Both showed environmental contaminants in high enough concentrations to affect sperm motility. These same chemicals were also discovered in various commercially available dog foods.

The researchers say the findings raise the question of whether a reported decline in human semen quality over the last 70 years could also be a result of environmental factors.

(Photos: Roscoe, a yellow Lab who was not involved in the study, and has no interest in the results, by John Woestendiek)

Woof in Advertising: Eukanuba makers agree to drop claims that food extends lifespans

Under pressure from the Federal Trade Commission, the makers of Eukanuba dog food have agreed to stop claiming their brand extends the lives of dogs.

In a settlement that resolves a false advertising complaint filed by the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, Mars Petcare will cease making the claim.

The FTC announced yesterday it had reached a settlement with Mars. Eukanuba began an advertising campaign last year claiming the brand could extend the expected lifespan of a dog by 30 percent or more.

woof in advertisingThe ads — like the longer version promotion shown above — featured aging black Labs, inspiring music and the bold claim that Eukanuba had been “scientifically proven” to extend the lives of dogs.

“Two-thirds of all Americans have pets at home, and they spend billions of dollars to ensure that their pets are healthy and well-fed,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Pet owners count on ads to be truthful and not to misrepresent health-related benefits. In this case, Mars Petcare simply did not have the evidence to back up the life-extending claims it made about its Eukanuba dog food.”

The order settling the FTC’s charges prohibits Mars Petcare from making any misleading or unsubstantiated claims that its Eukanuba-brand pet food or any other pet food will enable any dogs to extend their lifespan by 30 percent or more or live exceptionally long lives.

In May 2015, Eukanaba began the marketing and ad campaign on television, in print, and on the Internet.

“Ten years ago, we launched a long life study,” one ad said. “What we observed was astonishing. With Eukanuba and proper care, dogs in the study were able to live beyond their typical lifespan.”

The ad then showed a dog named Iowa who, at 17, had lived five years beyond than the typical Labrador lifespan.

eukanubaThe ads were based on a “10-year Long Life Study” purportedly carried out at the Eukanuba Pet Health and Nutrition Center. Dozens of Labrador retrievers were fed Eukanuba and given “proper care” over that span.

The study found 90% of the dogs lived beyond the typical lifespan of the breed, with 28% living longer than 15 years.

The study was begun while Eukanuba was still owned by Procter & Gamble Co. Last year, Eukanuba, along with Iams and other smaller brands, was acquired by Mars Petcare.

The FTC alleges that the longevity claims are false or unsubstantiated and that the claim that longevity was proven through scientific evidence is false.

“Among other things, the evidence relied on by [Mars] for its representations concerning the Eukanuba brand dog food consisted primarily of results from a single study, the results of which showed no significant difference in the median age at death of the dogs in the study relative to the typical age at death of dogs of the same breed,” reads the complaint. “Therefore, the representations… were, and are, false or misleading.”

The FTC decision does not penalize the pet food company financially, and under it Mars neither admits nor denies any wrongdoing.

(More of our “Woof in Advertising” posts can be found here.)

Woof in Advertising: What the dog knows

This new ad campaign for a dog food company in Brazil is neither warm nor fuzzy.

Instead, it’s a little macabre — and aimed at persuading you that you should feed your pooch Special Dog brand dog food because, otherwise, he might share your secrets with the world.

woof in advertisingCreated by Rio agency DM9DDB, it centers around the idea that your dog has gathered a lot of insider information about your lifestyle in the time you’ve spent together.

In the spot above, for example, a Great Dane confronts his owner in bondage gear.

And in the one below, a Pomeranian catches his owner adding some of her deceased husband’s ashes to her tea.

And in what’s probably the most distasteful one of all, a pug becomes even more bug-eyed after he sees his owner sniffing his own fingers after engaging in some groin related couch behavior.

The message is your dog sees all, and knows all, so you better treat him right.

Kinda gross. Kinda funny. Not the kind of information a dog food customer is looking for, but you must admit they kind of stick in your head.

Company recalls Tremenda Sticks pet chews

1tremendaThe Natural Dog Company is recalling 12-ounce bags of 12-inch Tremenda Sticks pet chews due to possible Salmonella contamination.

The product was sold in retail stores in North Carolina, Ohio, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Montana, Utah and Washington, according to the FDA.

The potential for contamination was noted after a Colorado Department of Agriculture inspection of the product revealed the presence of Salmonella, the FDA said in a press release.

Production of the bully sticks has been suspended while FDA and the company continue their investigation into the source of the problem.

While no illnesses have been reported so far, the company says the product can make dogs sick, as well as humans who touch it. Infected animals can be carriers and infect other animals or people.

Symptoms of salmonella in pets include lethargy, diarrhea, fever and vomiting.

The Tremenda Sticks pet chews in question come in a 12-ounce bag with UPC number 851265004957 but with no lot number or expiration date. The company says products with new packaging, which includes both a lot number and expiration date but the same UPC, are not affected by this recall.

The Natural Dog Company, based in Windsor, Ohio, says unused treats may be returned for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-888-424-4602.

Stella & Chewy’s recalls dog and cat dinners

stella&chewysPet food maker Stella & Chewy’s is recalling some of its products because a routine test found Listeria in a sample of its chicken freeze-dried dinner patties for dogs.

On Thursday, Stella & Chewy’s was notified by the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) that it issued a stop sale order on a single lot of Chewy’s Chicken Freeze-Dried Dinner Patties after monocytogenes were detected in the product.

Listeria can cause serious illness and even death in children, the frail and the elderly. Healthy people may suffer flu-like symptoms, such as high fever, headache, nausea and diarrhea.

The Milwaukee-based company said there have been no reported pet or human illnesses.

A complete list of recalled products can be found on the pet food company’s website.

As a precautionary measure, the company says, it is voluntarily recalling all products from Lot # 111-15 including:

Freeze-Dried Chewy’s Chicken Dinner for Dogs /15oz/UPC: 186011000045/Lot: 111-15 and Use By Date: 4/23/2016

Freeze-Dried Chewy’s Chicken Dinner for Dogs /15oz/UPC: 186011000045/Lot: 111-15 and Use By Date: 4/26/2016

Freeze-Dried Chicken Dinner for Cats/12oz/UPC: 186011000434/Lot: 111-15 and Use By Date: 4/29/2016

Freeze-Dried  Chicken Dinner for Cats/12oz/UPC: 186011000434/Lot: 111-15 and Use By Date: 5/3/2016

Carnivore Crunch – Turkey Recipe/3.25oz/UPC: 186011001103/Lot: 111-15 and Use By Date: 5/3/2016 and 5/4/2016

Frozen Duck Duck Goose Dinner Morsels for Dogs/4lb/UPC: 186011001394/Lot: 111-15 and Use By Date: 4/21/2016

Frozen Chewy’s Chicken Dinner Morsels for Dogs/4lb/UPC: 186011001387/Lot: 111-15 and Use By Date: 4/21/2016

Frozen Surf ‘N Turf Dinner Patties for Dogs/6lb/UPC: 186011000533/Lot: 111-15 and Use By Date: 4/21/2016

Frozen Chewy’s Chicken Dinner Patties for Dogs/6lb/UPC: 186011000120/Lot: 111-15 and Use By Date: 4/21/2016

Frozen Chewy’s Chicken Dinner Patties for Dogs/3lb/UPC: 186011000038/Lot: 111-15 and Use By Date: 4/21/2016

What’s the matter with the bladder?

SONY DSC

The test results are in: Those stones in Ace’s bladder — the ones that clogged him up and made for a scary weekend — are of the struvite variety.

That’s good news. Struvite stones, unlike calcium oxalate stones, are commonly treated by switching to a prescription diet — rather than surgery.

With a little luck, things will continue to flow through his bladder as freely as Niagara Falls (pictured above), which he visited a few years back.

urinary soFor now, Ace is taking antibiotics and has been switched to a prescription dog food with the unappetizing name of “Urinary SO.”

He seems to like it anyway.

I am to continue monitoring his urine stream (given I have nothing better to do), make sure he drinks plenty of water, and hope that the stones remaining in his bladder decompose and exit his body smoothly and without incident.

Struvite stones are often the result of infections, but most experts say one’s choice of dog food — particularly choosing a dry food that’s high in grain — can also be the culprit.

I don’t want to blame the Beneful he has been eating for the past four years,  even though the Purina product is being blamed for far worse these days — so much so that I was contemplating a switch already.

I’m hoping he doesn’t have to stay on the Urinary SO for too long. The vet’s office recommended four cans a day for a dog of his size. It costs more than $3 per can. That amounts to more than I spend at the grocery to feed my own self.

In a compromise, the vet’s office said I could mix in some Urinary SO dry food, which costs slightly less.

Maybe, in the future — once we’re done with Urinary SO — I’ll return him to a raw diet. The years he was on that seemed to be his healthiest.

Since his Saturday emergency, when a catheter was used to get things flowing again, he has been peeing freely and abundantly. You might see it differently, but to me that, like the falls, is a glorious sight to behold.

Pop goes the dog treat

No longer do those of us who like to watch our dogs catch treats in mid-air have to go to all the effort of tossing them.

New from Purina, Beggin’ Party Poppers have hit the market — bacon and cheese-flavored treats that come in a canister with a lid that resembles a pig face.

Push in the pig’s nose, place a treat inside and, in a matter of seconds, the treat will be popped into the air for your dog to catch.

Sure, it may be easier to just toss the treat yourself, not to mention more of a bonding experience with your dog. But why bother with that when, for $18.97, you can let the canister launch a dog treat skyward for you?

poppersThat’s the price listed for the product — treats and canister — on Amazon. A refill bag of treats, meanwhile — and we hope this is a mistake — is listed at $26.86 on Amazon. Other online sources have the refills in the $6-7 range. You can learn more at www.pighead.com.

It seems, at first glance, an over-priced little gimmick, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it evolve, perhaps into an app that allows you to shoot your dog a treat while sitting in your workplace cubicle, or a self-loading version that shoots out a treat every hour for dogs left home alone.

Imagine that. Your dog, if he’s anything like mine, would spend 59 minutes of each hour staring at the machine, one minute of each chasing, catching and eating the treat. Dogs would begin to worship the treat machine even more than they do us. They’d sleep next to the treat machine. They’d bark at anyone who threatened the treat machine. They’d follow the treat machine — once a moving version, like those robo-vacuum cleaners, was perfected — everywhere it went.

And we’d have nothing to do but lay alone in our cold beds and look at our arms, grown flabby after we stopped tossing treats ourselves.

Yes, we’re stretching to make a point, but, propelled by technology, the pet industry does seem to be going in that direction — coming out with products that make it easier than ever for us to pamper our dogs while ignoring them.

Purina’s treat-launching pig is a harmless novelty, kind of fun, and it still requires a human’s involvement to work.

But with automatic feeders already a reality, automatic treat dispensers can’t be too far behind. Once automatic ball tossers and automatic ear scratchers hit the market, we dog-owning humans could find ourselves out of a job.

It’s nice for our dogs to stay occupied, but we shouldn’t turn too much of that job over to machines and robots.

That will only make our dogs, and us, more robot-like.