Are you like me? You've heard something about dog treats or chews or maybe it is food, manufactured in China that is somehow dangerous for your pet. You aren't sure what all is included AND you aren't sure what to do about it.
If so, this blog is going to help! (If you want to cut right to the chase, read my 7 suggests at the end of the article.) Last week, I wrote about toys from China containing lead or other heavy metals. This week, I want to look into the items our pets eat -- not just the things we give them to play with (that they eat anyway!).
In my research, I found "Truth about pet food website" Susan Thixton created the website and it's resources when her family pet died, most likely due to preservatives in pet food. When Ms. Thixton investigated the ingredients in her pet's food she found out that the shelf life of the dog food was 25 years. (Most canned beans or soups aren't designed to last more than 2 to 3 years -- what is in our dog's food?)
I realize that this blog can't possibly be as thorough as her years of research -- but I do hope to at least give you a head's up.
Let's start with an item in the news: "Food Safety News on Jerky Pet Treats" Chicken jerky treats from China appear to be linked to one dog illness -- Fanconi-like Syndrome. Fanconi is similar to, and can be misdiagnosed as, diabetes. Dogs lose their appetite, act listless, drink more water, urinate more frequently and vomit.
As of November 2011, the one common factor in dogs being diagnosed with Fanconi-like Syndrome, has been their consumption of chicken jerky treats manufactured in China. The treats have not been recalled because when they are tested, nothing is found in them that would indicate they are contaminated.
According to the FDA: Product samples were tested for Salmonella, metals, furans, pesticides, antibiotics, mycotoxins, rodenticides, nephrotoxins ... and were screened for other chemicals and poisonous compounds. DNA verification was conducted on these samples to confirm the presence of poultry in the treats. Samples have also been submitted for nutritional composition... Some samples from recent cases (2011-2012) have been submitted for multiple tests and we are awaiting results. More samples are in the process of being collected for testing.
What all this means is the FDA is testing it for a lot of different things but they haven't gotten the results back. Unlike pet toys, which no one is monitoring for safety, at least the FDA does regulate pet food (though standards for what is safe for pets are not the same as what is safe for humans).
I did find it ironic that they had to "confirm the presence of poultry in in the treats." I am now wondering what the percentage of poultry IS and what else those things are made of!!!!
In humans, Fanconi Syndrome can be genetic or it can be caused by exposure to heavy metals. In dogs, Fanconi Syndrome is also genetic and is more common in certain types of pure-breed dogs. The designation, "Fanconi-like" simply means the cause is not believed to be genetic.
Dogs with the gene for Fanconi, show symptoms after 3 years of age -- by which time many have had at least one litter. Other chemicals linked to Fanconi-like Syndrome include Lysol, cephalosporins, and outdated tetracycline. Remember that having a dog is like having a toddler -- everything goes in the mouth! Lock up your cleaning items and please be careful to dispose of your leftover prescriptions!
On the website, "How to Read a Pet Food Label" there is an article on what to look for when buying pet food. This reminded me of the old Breyer's Commercial on YouTube where people read the ingredients on ice cream cartons. The short version is, if it doesn't say what it is or you don't recognize what it is, you don't want your dog eating it.
In just about every pet food, there are additives to extend the shelf life. A safe additive is tocephorol (vitamin E). Additives to avoid include BHA and BHT.
BHA is used in skin care products as a preservative, and one we are warned to avoid- it is "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen" as well as a high concern for organ system toxicity AND endocrine disruption AND persistence AND bioaccumulation. This is for exposure in skin or hair care products -- not consumption! BHT has similar warnings.
Here are 7 suggestions for what you can do to protect your pet and others:
- Visit Truth about pet food website and subscribe to the newsletter. Consider making a donation to buy the list of pet foods she uses. Donations are used for her advocacy efforts.
- Look for the manufacturing location of your pet's treats and food. If it is made in China, try a different brand! (Especially if it is chicken jerky.)
- Use treats as treats, not food.
- Limit your pet's exposure. Make your own pet treats
- Read the ingredient list! If BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) or BHT (Butylated Hydroxytolunene) are listed, put it back!
- Read the ingredient list! (Yeah, it is that important!) If you have no clue as to what is in it, don't feed it to your pet.
- Use us to help! If you can't read the ingredient list (maybe you left your glasses at home or you sent someone else to do the shopping), don't buy a bunch of the stuff!!! Feed your pet for now and email or post on this blog. I'll look it up for you!
Thanks for reading our second blog post! Please share any questions, comments or suggestions below! We want to hear from you. Next up, heart worm treatments.