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Tag: health

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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Sometimes, the wealthy need help too …

huntington3Should an advertising executive and his wife who live in a $1.4 million home — she owning her own business, he making a six-figure salary — be asking for the public’s help to pay for their dog’s $10,000 surgery?

In retrospect, probably not — unless they’re willing to be called “shameless,” “pompous,” “greedy,” “selfish,” and “narcissistic,” and see themselves, and their yacht-cap wearing dog, roundly ridiculed on social media.

Richard Huntington, a chairman at the firm of Saatchi & Saatchi in London, and his wife, Annabel Bird, a fashioner designer who sells luxury dog products, made the plea after learning their dog Edward Lear needed surgery for elbow dysplasia in his front leg and torn cruciate ligaments in his two rear legs.

While they have pet health insurance, their policy set a limit on what it would pay — and that was only about a third of the cost being quoted to them by their celebrity vet Noel Fitzpatrick, star of the British TV show Supervet.

huntington2So they launched a Gofundme page with the aim of raising the additional £7,500.

On it, Annabel Bird wrote of the Welsh terrier, “I adore him more than anything in the world. Edward is a happy, friendly, popular dog who has lots of friends both in real life and on Instagram who check in everyday to see his adventures. (He is @edward.lear on instagram).

“All I want is for my funny little dog to be able to run around again like the crazy terrier he is and climb mountains in the Lake District and Snowdonia like he used to and enjoy his life to the fullest. He hasn’t walked for more than ten minutes in four months and I feel so bad for him. He’s missed out on so much fun and excitement.”

The dog has received two of the three operations his vet says he needs.

The Gofundme campaign raised about £5,400 of the £7,500 goal when the couple closed it out.

hungtington1Now, any member of the dog-loving community knows that such fund-raising pleas to cover the costs of veterinary surgery have become commonplace. Often they are legitimate. Sometimes they are scams. But those of this ilk are both disturbing and laughable.

It’s hard to have much empathy for a family that could easily — even if they are having cash flow problems — sell that fourth car, cancel the country club membership or go to a non-celebrity vet.

The couple says the campaign was aimed more at close friends and family than the general public.

Still, it’s not surprising, that their plea led to news coverage, and a barrage of criticism. What’s more suprising is how many people donated.

“Thank you again to everyone who contributed …” Annabel Bird wrote on the GoFundme page. “Unfortunately, his page has received some negative press because of who my husband Richard works for … As you know, this page was set up for our friends and family and those of mine and Edward’s Instagram followers who kindly asked to donate money to help with his recovery. This is not uncommon in the dog community on Instagram which is a wholly supportive and wonderful place to hang out.”

(Photos: Edward Lear, from Instagram)

Gang members arrested in China for selling poison darts used to kill dogs for meat

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Thousands of poisoned syringes that were sold to dog meat vendors to instantly kill dogs on the streets have been seized by police in China.

The police investigation led to the discovery of a ton of dead dogs at a storage facility in the eastern province of Anhui, and the arrest of eight gang members who were selling the weapon in 20 provinces and regions across the China, the news agency Xinhua said.

Police believe the gang sold more than 200,000 poisoned syringes to vendors who hunted pets on the street and traded their meat with restaurants.

The syringes contained a large enough dose of the muscle relaxant suxamethonium to kill the dogs instantly — and enough to be toxic to any human later consuming the dog’s meat.

Police said the needles were modified with a spring and a tailfin at the rear so they could be shot like a dart.

The Telegraph reported that the investigation into the gang began in September when police were tipped off by a postal worker who came across a suspicious package leaking a pungent smelling fluid.

syringesThey discovered 200 syringes in the package, and arrested the man who it was being delivered to in Huainan city, in Anhui.

Police then arrested two accomplices who shot the dogs in local streets, before finding a ton of frozen dogs at a nearby cold storage.

The men had frozen the meat and had planned to sell it in the winter.

Police also raided the gang’s workshop in central China’s Hubei Province, where they arrested another five men who were making the syringes.

At that site they discovered four kilograms of the chemical powder, 10,000 needles and 100,000 yuan, or more than $15,000, Xinhua said.

The poisoned darts have been in use for years. Two years ago, in Hunan province, a man who ran a dog meat-selling operation shot himself with one while demonstrating how to fire one with a crossbow. He died on his way to the hospital.

The other members of the operation were later arrested, and confessed to freezing the canine carcasses with the intention of selling the meat to restaurants.

“The dog meat trade in China is organized, large scale and facilitated by crime, with as many as 20 million dogs and four million cats killed every year,” said Wendy Higgins, from the Humane Society International. “Stopping the gangs involved is a major step in the right direction.”

She added: “The use of poison to catch dogs for the meat trade is a cruelty that very often sees people’s beloved pets targeted, and the animals involved can suffer enormously.”

Dog meat has long been consumed by humans in China and other Asian countries. It is eaten by a small minority of Chinese, and the practice is fading as dogs become a popular pet.

Dog’s head gets lost in the mail

There’s an undelivered package out there somewhere and it contains the head of a dog being sent to a lab for rabies testing.

With the package getting lost in the mail, three veterinary technicians —
one of whom as bitten by the dog and two others who were exposed to its saliva — are being forced to undergo a painful and expensive series of rabies shots.

And if the package does show up somewhere, anyone who opens it all the way up — if indeed the dog was rabid — could also be exposing themselves to rabies, making for a less than merry Christmas.

KLTV reports that veterinarians at Bright Star Veterinary Clinic in Sulphur Springs recently treated a dog showing symptoms of rabies.

During the consultation, one technician was bitten on the hand by the dog.

Since the dog was in poor health, and lacked proof of a rabies vaccination, the owner and the vet decided to euthanize it and, in accordance with state and federal guidelines, send its head to be tested at a state lab in Austin.

When the staff didn’t get a phone call from the state with the test results within the normal 24 hours, they contacted the lab and were told the head had never made it there.

Dr. Leah Larson said she contacted the company delivering the package, UPS, which told her they had no record of it.

“I told them I need help because I had my employee.” said Dr Larson. “I just don’t think they understood the risk, the health risk.”

UPS officials told KLTV that the clinic used a local shipping company that is authorized by UPS, but that UPS would not have accepted the package from the shipping business because of its content. Shipping materials of that nature requires UPS agreeing to it beforehand, they said.

UPS officials said the company refunded the veterinary clinic’s shipment fee back through the local shipping outlet, but Larson says she has not received it.

Meanwhile, Larson says, the clinic has spent thousands of dollars on testing the three employees, who were taken to a Dallas hospital for their first rabies shots.

Larson said the head was packaged in three layers of protection, inside a cooler with warning stickers on it.

Those living with a dog tend to live longer

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Dog owners have a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease and death, according to a comprehensive new study published by a team of Swedish researchers.

The scientists followed 3.4 million people over the course of 12 years and found that adults who live alone and owned a dog were 33 percent less likely to die during the study than adults who lived alone without dogs.

In addition, the single adults with dogs were 36 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, the study said.

While it’s already accepted that dog ownership can boost activity levels and lower blood pressure, especially among older people, the study was the largest to date on the health implications of owning a dog, according to WebMD.

The Swedish scientists analyzed seven national data registries in Sweden, including two dog ownership registers, to study the association between owning a dog and cardiovascular health.

And while their findings are Sweden-specific, they believe they probably apply to other European countries with a similar attitude to dog ownership.

Interestingly, they also found a connection between positive health effects and breeds.

“In general hunting type breeds had the most protective estimates, while mixed breeds and toy breeds the least,” said Tove Fall, senior author of the study and Associate Professor in Epidemiology at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University.

The study doesn’t explain how dogs may be responsible for providing protection from cardiovascular disease, but Tove speculated higher levels of activity and social contact lead to better health.

tove_dog_health“As a veterinarian I heard many stories on that vast impact a dog can have on their owner’s well-being and also on their physical activity levels,” she said.

The study’s authors suggested dog owners may have a lower risk because they walk more, feel less isolated and have more social contacts.

More than 3.4 million individuals, aged 40 to 80, were included in the study, which was published today in the journal Scientific Reports.

“Dog ownership was especially prominent as a protective factor in persons living alone, which is a group reported previously to be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death than those living in a multi-person household,” said Mwenya Mubanga, a Ph.D. student at Uppsala University and the lead junior author of the study.

The link between dog ownership and lower mortality was less pronounced in adults who lived either with family members or partners, but still present, according to the study.

(Photo: My dog Ace; Tove, with her puppy, Vega)

Two new studies show dogs can protect children from allergies, eczema

SONY DSC Even before your human baby is born, having a dog in the house can protect him or her against developing allergic eczema.

According to a study presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting, babies born in a home with a dog during pregnancy receive protection from allergic eczema, at least in their early years.

The study was one on two presented at the conference in Boston dealing with protections dogs provide to children with allergies — even allergies to dogs.

In the second study, researchers examined the effects of two different types of dog exposure on children with asthma in Baltimore, according to Medical News Today.

The first type was the protein, or allergen, that affects children who are allergic to dogs. The second type were elements, such as bacteria, that a dog might carry.

The researchers concluded that exposure to the elements that dogs carry may have a protective effect against asthma symptoms. But exposure to the allergen may result in more asthma symptoms among urban children with dog allergy.

“Among urban children with asthma who were allergic to dogs, spending time with a dog might be associated with two different effects,” says Po-Yang Tsou, MD, MPH, lead author. “There seems to be a protective effect on asthma of non-allergen dog-associated exposures, and a harmful effect of allergen exposure.”

In the first study, led by ACAAI member Dr. Gagandeep Cheema, researchers investigated how exposure to dogs before birth influenced the risk of childhood eczema.

Eczema is a condition characterized by rashes and patches of dry, itchy skin, most commonly on the hands, feet, face, elbows and knees.

While the causes of eczema remain unclear, it is believed to arise when the immune system overreacts in response to certain allergens or irritants.

“Although eczema is commonly found in infants, many people don’t know there is a progression from eczema to food allergies to nasal allergies and asthma,” Cheema said in a press release. “We wanted to know if there was a protective effect in having a dog that slowed down that progress.”

“We found a mother’s exposure to dogs before the birth of a child is significantly associated with lower risk of eczema by age 2 years, but this protective effect goes down at age 10,” says allergist Edward M. Zoratti, MD, ACAAI member and a study co-author.

(A girl and her dog in Baltimore, by John Woestendiek)

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)