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Tag: dog food

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.

Woof in Advertising: Rocky and Dawn

If there are two things that melt the average American’s heart, they are dogs and returning soldiers.

Put them together — as in a soldier coming home and reuniting with his or her dog — and you have  a slam dunk in terms of public appeal, as the plethora of real videos of that on YouTube, and the number of views they’ve received, attest.

This one, despite what many viewers think, isn’t real, but a staged presentation aimed at selling Iams dog food.

“Rocky the dog didn’t know why Dawn was gone for so long,” the commercial tells us. “But when she showed up in military camoflouge, he was there ready to greet her with the biggest welcome home. So, to keep Rocky strong and healthy, Dawn chooses Iams dog food.”

The ad features a magnificent Irish Wolfhound (whose real name is Monster) and his real owner, named Andrea. But it’s not capturing a real reunion. (Search YouTube for “dog” and “soldier” and “reunion” and you can find plenty of those.)

Before airing it on television, Procter & Gamble unveiled the ad, and others in its “Keep Love Strong” series, on Facebook, to let viewers share, like and comment on them.

“Welcome Home was voted the favorite of the dog ads, while cat lovers chose  “Unspoken,”  in which a cat named Ziggy shows up on the doorstep of a developmentally challenged young man.

The campaign, which started airing late last year, was created by the New York firm of Saatchi & Saatchi and showcases “the important role premium nutrition like Iams plays in keeping a dog or cat’s body as strong as their love.”

“At Iams, we trust our fans and value their opinions a great deal, so we wanted to give them an opportunity to participate in choosing our  next commercial,” Iams brand general manager Ondrea Francy said in a press release about the ”Keep Love Strong” campaign. “…One of the most exciting things about our new campaign is that it was all inspired by real stories of unconditional love.”

Despite all that trust they have for us, Procter & Gamble didn’t go out of its way to point out that the commercial was made with actors, as opposed to depicting a real returning vet reuniting with their pet,  leaving the issue subject to debate among online commenters.

Reading through the comments about the ad on YouTube, most seem to be from those smitten by the dog, and many are from viewers pointing out the ad made them cry.

One commenter insists he looked it up and determined that it was made with a real video of a dog and returning soldier.  (Here’s some proof it wasn’t.)

Mostly, the ad is praised, but some question whether it’s using the military to sell dog food: “You’re doing a disservice to service members like my husband who wear the uniform PROUDLY,” said one.

Maybe, but the fact of the matter is that patriotism – like dogs, catchy tunes, scantily clad models and talking babies — can be a powerful sales tool, and not too much is out of bounds these days when it comes to advertising, including shamelessly blatant heartstring tugging.

That doesn’t mean (this being a free country, where we can speak our minds and buy the dog food of our choice) that we can’t criticize or pick nits.

Some commenters point out that the generic camouflage uniform worn by the “soldier” doesn’t pass muster.

“This is not real. She has no rank or anything on her uniform. No flag, no unit patch and her hair (is) completely wrong! This is probably a really well trained dog but she is not a real soldier … And she’s wearing Air Force boots with an army uniform! This would never fly in the military.”

A couple of commenters make the point that a dog as tall as an Irish Wolfhound should not be eating out of a bowl on the floor, but from a raised feeder: “You’d think the DOG FOOD company would know that…”

A handful of viewers seemed concerned, instead, that the dog and returning soldier are getting a little too intimate.

That was also the viewpoint of a post on the blog, Why I Hate Dogs, whose author says the ad “veers into the bestiality zone…”

“It shows a woman dressed in military fatigues, apparently just back from deployment somewhere. She is seen inside the house gushing over her huge Irish wolfhound (Russian wolfhound?), and walks outside, where she proceeds to lie flat on her back on the driveway, while the dog lowers itself on top of her, its legs splayed. The genital areas match up. Yes, it looks like this man-sized dog is having sex with her.”

How do you spell “Geesh?” (Is it two “E’s” or three — as in “geeesh” — and if so, might those naugbhty vowels be having an illicit threesome?)

As for me, it’s not the canine-human genital proximity that’s of concern, or the fact that the soldier’s uniform does or does not meet specs.

It’s that people don’t know whether the reunion video is real or staged. Some commenters, with whom I’d disagree, wrote that, as long as we are touched by it, that doesn’t matter.

Maybe I just need new glasses, but the line between truth and fiction seems to be getting awfully blurry these days. It doesn’t serve us well. And it would seem to me that it wouldn’t serve the dog food company well, either. If we don’t know whether the company is showing us a real event, or a staged generic re-creation, might we also wonder about how true the advertisement’s claims are, and how nutritious their product really is?

What is clear is this: Advertisers, while they may have a hard time finding unconditional love, are quick to seize upon the theme — especially if it might sell some dog food.

(“Woof in Advertising” is an occasional ohmidog! feature that looks at how dogs are used to sell stuff.)

Plans for whale meat dog treats dropped

A Japanese company has canned its plan to buy the meat of endangered whales killed in the waters around Iceland and sell it in the form of luxury dog treats.

An Icelandic firm, Hvalur hf,  set to resume commercial whaling next month, had planned to kill up to 174 endangered fin whales and sell the meat to Tokyo-based Michinoku Farm, the Telegraph reported.

Protests from environmentalists prompted the Japanese company to cancel its order, but the whale hunt is still on.

“It’s outrageous,” said Claire Perry of the Environmental Investigation Agency. “It is grotesque to kill an endangered species and then ship it half way around the world in order to feed it to dogs.”

Takuma Konno, head of Michinoku, confirmed that plan has been scrapped.

“Dogs are like family members for many people in Japan,” he said. “We just wanted to supply a wide variety of food for them. We consider dogs as just as important as whales. But it’s not worth selling the product if it risks disturbing some people.”

That hasn’t changed plans for whalers in Iceland, who, after a three year break, will resume hunting for fin whales next month.

Iceland, along with Norway and Japan, refuses to abide by the moratorium on whaling.

Feed the hungry … dogs

Mention the idea of food stamps for dogs and you’re likely to get one of two reactions:

Those touchy-feely animal lovers (such as me) will say it’s a great idea that could help keep dogs from being surrendered to shelters, abandoned, or worse, by owners who can’t afford to feed them anymore.

Those “It’s-just-a-dog” types will say its ludicrous, that they’d hate to see their tax dollars used for something like that, and that, if you can’t afford a dog, don’t get one in the first place.

When the idea does float to the surface, there’s usually some quick debate — then it vanishes as quickly as a bowl of kibble.

Now, in a way, the concept is back, and it’s being carried out on a national scale — with no involvement from government, and no use of tax dollars, it should be noted. It’s the mission of a nonprofit organization formed by a New York man who describes himself as a stockbroker, journalist, entrepreneur and business consultant — a frightful combination if ever there was one.

The organization is called Pet Food Stamps, though no stamps actually appear to be involved. Instead, low income individuals can submit applications, which, if approved, lead to six months worth of deliveries of dog food from Pet Flow, an online pet food store. It’s all to be funded through private donations, founder Marc Okon says.

Pet Food Stamps and Pet Flow announced their “exclusive partnership” in February:

“Pet Food Stamps aims to provide pet food for pets of families receiving public assistance and for food stamp recipients who otherwise could not afford to feed their pets. Based in New York City, the program is open to anyone in the United States. More than 80,000 pets have already been registered …”

Okon, 36, said the idea was inspired in part by a friend going through some economic hard times who told him “she sometimes fed her cat before herself,” Wall Street Journal columnist Al Lewis reported. Also, he says, doing something philanthropic helps remove the bad taste that remains from some of his previous employment experiences in corporate America.

Okon says he briefly worked for a firm that sold dubious medical benefits to seniors in the South. “Their whole corporate philosophy was to manipulate seniors who didn’t have any type of insurance,” he said. “I could only do that for about a week and half,” Okon said. The article calls him “a man so disgusted with the lack of ethics he witnessed in private enterprise that he founded a nonprofit to hand out dog food.”

While many a humane society operates similar programs on the local level, Pet Food Stamps says it has been swamped with applications — 45,000 in the first two weeks alone, according to a press release.

Okon says the applicants often describe how they’ve lost their jobs and homes.

“Millions of pets are surrendered to shelters each year and euthanized because their owners can’t afford to feed them,” he said.

Okon says he isn’t against the idea of the government providing food stamps for dogs, but that it’s not part of the current picture.

“We’re not looking for government funding at this point,” Okon told ABCNews.com. “Should the government be willing to provide assistance further down the line, we will look into it.”

It seems a noble idea, and we hope it’s nobly carried out — with enough transparency that dog lovers who make donations know exactly how much money the organization is receiving, how much of that is going to buy and ship dog food, and what profits, if any, the private dog food company is making.

We’d point out, too, that people unable to afford to feed their pets can check with their local humane society or SPCA to see what programs might be available in their area. Some food banks distribute dog food and cat food, and some chapters of Meals on Wheels deliver pet food, too.  In 2006, Meals on Wheels started the We All Love Our Pets (WALOP) initiative after finding some of their clients were sharing their meals with their pets because they couldn’t afford pet food.

For a state by state list of programs offering free and discounted services — from food to veterinary care — check out this Humane Society of the United States link.

Natura Pet recalls all dry dog and cat foods

Natura Pet Products is recalling its dry foods for dogs and cats because of concerns they may be contaminated with salmonella bacteria.

The recall includes all dry pet food products with expiration dates prior to and including March 24, 2013. The brands include California Natural, EVO, Healthwise, Innova, and Karma.

Based in Fremont, Neb., Natura Pet is a maker of “natural” and “holistic” pet foods, according to a company statement.

The recall is an expansion of one that had been announced by the company last month, according to a Food and Drug Administration press release.

The affected products were sold through veterinary clinics and select pet specialty retailers throughout the United States and in Canada, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and Costa Rica. The products were also sold online.

No canned wet foods or biscuits are included in the recall.

Pets infected with salmonella can appear tired, and have diarrhea and vomiting. Some pets may not show obvious symptoms, but experience decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Pets can spread the bacteria to other animals, including humans.

Natura Pet said people who have purchased the products should discard them. If their pets have consumed the recalled product and are showing symptoms, they should contact their veterinarian.

Pig ears recalled amid Salmonella fears

 Jones Natural Chews Co of Rockford, Illinois,  is recalling 2,705 boxes of pig ears after random tests found some of the product contaminated with Salmonella, the Food and Drug Administration reports.

The recall was the result of a routine sampling program by Washington State Department of Agriculture which revealed that the finished products contained the bacteria.

No illnesses have been reported.

The pig ears in question — also sold under the Blain’s Farm and Fleet and Country Butcher brands — were distributed in Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin. They were shipped to distributors and retailers between September 15, 2010 and November 2, 2010

Consumers who have purchased any of these pig ears are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-877-481-2663

Salmonella can affect animals and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products. People handling dry pet food and/or treats can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the chews or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. If your pet consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

To see a full list of the recalled lots, keep reading. Read more »

New book has a quibble with kibble

Richard Patton thinks we’re killing our dogs — not with kindness, but with carbohydrates.

Dogs, as good as they are at adapting to most things, are poorly adapted to cope with the constant diet of soluble carbohydrates — i.e. kibble — that many pet owners provide, he maintains in his new book.

In “Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack: The Paradox of Pet Nutrition,” Patton points out that pet owners, believing they are providing the best nutrition, are robbing their pets of health and longevity by failing to restrict their animals’ intake of carbohydrates.

Fat, he believes, is not the evil monster we once thought it to be — either for animals or humans — and most animals will benefit from a diet more in line with what their predecessors ate when they lived in the wild.

For millions of years, dogs and their predecessors managed to survive and adapt to a life without carbohydrates.  Then, 10,000 or so years ago, once domesticated, man took over their feeding. And man’s choice for dogs — a diet heavy on grains –was based in part on ease, cost, misunderstanding and misinformation.

“Not only is the modern day dry diet higher in soluble carbohydrate than anything animals ever ate throughout evolution, but also the animal’s biological machinery was perfected to eek out a survival in a world of near constant lack of soluble carbohydrate. This exquisite, designer perfect biological machinery is at a loss to deal very effectively with constant, excess soluble carbohydrate.”

In other words, by feeding our animals a steady diet of kibble, we’re flying in the face of billions of years of evolution. It’s akin, he writes, to taking an animal who spent four billion years evolving to be able to see in the darkness and thrusting him into the sunlight.

Patton’s book is an academic work — this isn’t dog food for dummies — but it’s one that covers all the bases when it comes to nutrition, including how diet can affect a pet’s behavior.

For anyone interested or concerned about animal nutrition, it’s worth digesting.

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