Friday, October 23, 2009

The Dangers of Artificial Preservatives in your Pet's Food

I had a few people email me this week with questions about artificial preservatives in pet food, so I thought I'd post about them.  The three major artificial preservatives are BHA, BHT, and Ethoxyquin.  They are found in many grocery store treats (the soft ones), and some veterinarian prescribed dry and wet food formulas.   Here is information on all three:
The U. S. Dept. of Agriculture for toxicology information lists ethoxyquin in their Farm Chemical Hand-Book as a pesticide, used in fruit scald control. It is also used as a rubber preservative. It is FDA approved for use as an antioxidant for carotenes vitamin A and E and the prevention of the development of organic peroxides.
It is approved at 150 ppm in paprika and chili powder, and because it is used as a preservative in livestock feed, the following residue allowances in human consumed animal products as follows: 5 ppm in or on the uncooked fat of meat from animals except poultry; 3 ppm in or on the uncooked liver and fat of poultry, 0.5 ppm in or on the uncooked muscle meat of animals, 0.5 ppm in poultry eggs, and zero in milk.
The above information brings up the question why the FDA allows such a small amount of ethoxyquin residue (5 to .5 ppm) in human consumed foods yet allows such high amounts (150 ppm) to be used in pet food and livestock feeds?
In the case of the dog, pound for pound, a dog is consuming up to 300 times more ethoxyquin than allowed for people. (depending upon the weight) Also many dog food manufacturers are not always listing it as an ingredient on the packaging, but sometimes merely print "E".
Check your dog or cat food label to see what the pet food you are using is being preserved with.
Monsanto's (the manufacturer) own cautionary warnings in using and handling this product: They warn that it may cause allergic skin reactions, irritation to the eyes and skin. They advise that workers must wear eye and respiratory protection. The container of ethoxyquin has a very prominent skull and crossbones with POISON written in capital letters.
Ethoxyquin is listed and identified as a hazardous chemical under the criteria of the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910, 1220).
The Chemical Toxicology of Commercial Products says that ethoxyquin has a toxic rating of 3 (on a scale of 1 to 6, with 6 being super toxic requiring less than 7 drops to produce death). At that level it can slowly develop depression, con-vulsions, coma and death; skin irritation and liver damage.
In a recent study by The Department Of Pathology, Nagoya City University Medical School Japan, it was found: ethoxyquin promoted kidney carcinogenesis. Also, it significantly increased incidence of stomach tumors and enhanced bladder carcinogesis.
The FDA maintains it is safe, yet have asked pet food manufacturers to "voluntarily" lower the levels to 75 PPM.
Specifically, BHA, short for Butylated Hydroxyanisole, and BHT, Butylated Hydroxytoluene, are both artificial preservatives added to oils to slow down deterioration. BHA and BHT (as well as ethoxyquin) are used in numerous pet food brands, including both "premium-grade" brands like Science Diet (even their prescription diet product line) and lower-grade brands like Alpo and Pedigree, to replace vitamin E, which is removed during oil processing. Studies have shown that BHA and BHT promote liver disease and other medical problems.
Enhanced stomach and urinary bladder carcinogenesis.
Causes squamous-cell carcinomas in stomachs.
(Cancers of this type are among the most lethal and fastest acting, the swiftest effects being seen among animals with light colored fur.)

Promoted urinary bladder carcinogenesis.
Could be a promoter of thyroid carcinogenesis.
Studies have noted that BHA and other antioxidants, particularly Propyl Gallate and ethoxyquin, showed additional effects in inducing stomach hyperplasia and cytotoxicity.

Please read your pet food labels!  I suggest subscribing to The Whole Dog Journal  for some great research and facst about pet food.   If you have questions, feel free to email me, too and I can point in the right direction of some great resources!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dr. Nicholas Dodman

In the early 90s, a book came out that changed my life.  I think it was even before I finished graduate school (soooo long ago!).   Originally, I wanted to be a film director and went to film school.  Then I changed my mind and decided I wanted to train dogs for film, so I started on that path.  The book that changed that path was "The Dog who Loved too Much" by Dr. Nicholas Dodman.  He is a veterinary behaviorist at Tufts University.  Back then there wasn't a whole lot of research in psychopharmocology of dogs, but Dr. Dodman was pioneering the effort.  He was also delving in to the un-chartered waters of diet/nutrition and how it effects behavior.

In March of this year, I had the giddy pleasure of meeting Dr. Dodman at a seminar in San Diego.  Dr. Dodman's behavior cohort, Dr. Ian Dunbar, and he gave a 3 day lecture series on dog behavior, among many other things.   I was smart enough to remember to bring 2 books with me, both written by Dr. Dodman- one was my dog-eared, highlighted, water stained, and faded "The Dog who Loved too Much" and the other was his new book, "The Well-Adjusted Dog".   During a break in all the action, I asked him to sign my books, and he did!  I swear it was like I was a teenager and meeting Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran in 1985 ( I didnt, but back then he was my favorite)- I could barely even open my mouth to thank him I was so gobsmacked.  I came home with a perma-grin on my face, and memories to last my entire life.  Of course, some of those memories were because of Laura Brody, my good friend, business associate, and frequent travel partner, but I digress.

For this blog post, I'd like to share a few excerpts from "The Well-Adjusted Dog" (hopefully I won't get sued), because it too has added to my knowledge, education, and experience tremendously.  These excerpts really get to the point of what I try to do every day- change dog/owner relationships and behavior.

Excerpt #1:
"A dog's lifestyle, daily routine, and interactions will, to a large extent, determine how he feels and how he behaves.  When behavior is out of kilter, it is important to address the bigger picture rather than try to suppress the symptoms of an underlying problem."

Excerpt #2:
"Real leaders in the human world, as in the dog world, do not have to resort to physical measures to get their point across.  Real leaders do not dominate; they listen, think and often defer.  Real leaders do not intimidate; they instill confidence.  People follow real leaders not because they have to but because they want to.   The human-companion animal bond is not forged through the metal of a choke chain or prong collar, but rather through mutual respect and trust."

Excerpt #3
"...some 4 million dogs are surrendered to shelters annually, predominantly for behavioral reasons, and over HALF of them are subsequently euthanized.  Most of the behaviors that lead to dogs' relinquishment arise through no fault of the dog's and are, in fact, normal canine behaviors that owners cannot properly control or redirect.  It is breeders' and owners' failure to understand what it takes to raise, care for, and communicate with dogs that underlies many potentially avoidable canine behavior problems."

How do you like them kibbles?  :)

Thank you, Dr, Dodman, for effecting and changing my life in so many positive ways.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Importance of Chew Toys

I've always been a fan of appropriate chew toys for puppies, but did you know that adults need chew toys too?  They need them more than puppies!  I call it "Give your Dog a Job".  Please click on this link for information on Errorless Chew Toy Training.  Your dog will thank you!

My favorite Chew Toys are Kong, Everlasting Treat Ball and/or Fireplug, any Premier Busy Buddy toy, Tricky Treat Ball, Buster Cube, and the Planet Dog toys.  If you have other suggestions, please let me know!