Pet Nutrition – Grain-Free Foods and FDA Reports of Increased Heart Disease in Dogs

On July 12th the US Food and Drug Administration published a report online entitled FDA Investigating Potential Connection Between Diet and Cases of Canine Heart Disease. You can read the entire report by < clicking here >.

Since the FDA report was released, the mass media has been jumping all over this story causing concern for many pet parents. We believe this is unfortunate as the FDA report is anything but conclusive, nor is it backed by hard evidence.

So what should you do if you want to do the best for your dog?

  • Read the remainder of this article and get the “rest of the story.”
  • Know that there are many dog foods available that do not contain the ingredients that the FDA is concerned about, certain legumes and potatoes.
  • Do not be in a panic to immediately change what you are feeding, however, if you stop by we would be glad to introduce you to other dog food options that do not contain those ingredients.
  • Rotate your dog’s diet through several different protein sources and even brands of foods. Not sure how to do that, ask us. We have been recommending dietary rotation for many years. FMIhttp://bit.ly/DietRotation
  • Never stop reading the ingredient list on your pet’s food nor presume that all pet food companies are equal and are primarily concerned with your pet’s health.
  • Subscribe to our email newsletter, Don’s Words, Woofs and Meows blog, and “Like” and follow the Green Acres Kennel Shop Facebook page. We will be updating this story as we get more information in all three areas.

At Green Acres Kennel Shop we are committed to offering the best products for your pet’s nutritional needs. We do not add a pet food to our offerings without doing a great deal of research on the specific brand of food including the company behind it. No matter how popular a brand is, if we are not convinced that it offers sound nutrition, we will not sell it. If you have followed which brands we have carried over the years you know, we do not hesitate to drop a brand when necessary. We offer a wide variety of dog and cat foods from many brands in many formats; dry food (kibble), wet food (canned), freeze-dried raw, and frozen raw. Many do not include potatoes or peas. We will be watching this situation closely and providing updates through our email newsletter, Don’s Words, Woofs and Meows blog, and on our Facebook page.

The key concern addressed in the FDA report is that veterinarians have observed an increase of dogs presenting with canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). While certain breeds are genetically predisposed to DCM ( Great Danes, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards, Doberman Pinschers, and American and English Cocker Spaniels ), some of the recent cases of DCM have occurred in breeds where DCM is atypical ( Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Whippets, a Shih Tzu, a Bulldog and Miniature Schnauzers, as well as mixed breeds ). The FDA report does not indicate the total number of DCM cases reported.

The FDA report than goes on to strongly suggest that the rise in DCM may be due to the increased use of grain-free foods, specifically those containing high levels of certain legumes or potatoes. The report states “…but it is not yet known how these ingredients are linked to cases of DCM.” Perhaps it is just poor wording, but this statement appears to say that the increase in DCM is directly related to legumes and potatoes, yet there is no evidence that this is the case. While there may be a correlation, there is no evidence of causation, at least yet.

There has been an increase in the percentage of pet parents requesting and feeding grain-free diets in the past several years. There has also been an increase in tick-borne diseases and the use of powerful chemicals to control ticks. I am not suggesting there is a link to DCM and the chemicals we use for ticks; I am just pointing out that there are potentially many other changes in our dog’s lives and environment that may correlate to the increase in DCM. If evidence is discovered, that proves the increase in DCM is caused by the composition of our dog’s food that would also suggest a serious deficiency in the regulations for the testing of pet foods.

The pet food industry is watching this situation closely and does want to understand it and make changes if the ingredients used in grain-free foods are indeed the cause. On July 19th on Petfood Industry.com, Tim Wall shared this quote from Greg Aldrich, PhD, Kansas State University pet food program coordinator, president of consultancy Pet Food and Ingredient Technology Inc.; “We may be jumping to some conclusions and over zealous speculation about what really underlies the challenge with DCM as it relates to what the FDA statement has been. There are probably more questions than there are answers at this stage of the game.”

The FDA was a bit more clear in an interview with Petfood Industry.com where Anne Norris, FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine health communications specialist stated; “The FDA is still investigating individual ingredients under the legume, pulse or potato “umbrella. So, I would suggest not taking intuitive leaps beyond what is explicitly stated in our public notice right now… It is still early in the investigation and right now we’re simply notifying the public, practitioners, and manufacturers that we are observing a signal that warrants further study, The common thread seems to be legumes and/or potatoes as main ingredients in the food. Currently, it’s a correlative link, not a causative one. We’re hoping that after receiving data from pet owners and veterinarians, we will have more data to further inform our investigation.”

 

Key points in the FDA report.

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting pet owners and veterinary professionals about reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients. These reports are unusual because DCM is occurring in breeds not typically genetically prone to the disease.”
  • Canine DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle and results in an enlarged heart. The underlying cause of DCM is not truly known, but is thought to have a genetic component. Breeds that are typically more frequently affected by DCM include large and giant breed dogs, such as Great Danes, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards and Doberman Pinschers. It is less common in small and medium breed dogs, except American and English Cocker Spaniels. However, the cases that have been reported to the FDA have included Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Whippets, a Shih Tzu, a Bulldog and Miniature Schnauzers, as well as mixed breeds.”
  • Diets in cases reported to the FDA frequently list potatoes or multiple legumes such as peas, lentils, other “pulses” (seeds of legumes), and their protein, starch and fiber derivatives early in the ingredient list, indicating that they are main ingredients. Early reports from the veterinary cardiology community indicate that the dogs consistently ate these foods as their primary source of nutrition for time periods ranging from months to years. High levels of legumes or potatoes appear to be more common in diets labeled as “grain-free,” but it is not yet known how these ingredients are linked to cases of DCM. Changes in diet, especially for dogs with DCM, should be made in consultation with a licensed veterinarian.” [ Emphasis added ]

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog ( http://www.words-woofs-meows.com )

< *Recommended to Read First >


*What do you feed your dog?
http://bit.ly/WhatDoYouFeedYourDog

*Pet Nutrition: Some Myths and Facts – My story with Gus – http://bit.ly/Gus-Nutrition

*Pet Nutrition – Should I Feed My Pet A Raw Diet? – http://bit.ly/ShouldIFeedMyPetARawDiet

*Nutrition – Why Rotating Diets Makes Sense – http://bit.ly/DietRotation

*Video – The Science and Dogma of Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Patton – A video of animal nutritionist, Dr. Richard Patton’s presentation, The Science and Dogma of Pet Nutrition, presented for Green Acres Kennel Shop in Bangor, ME on April 28th, 2016.  – http://bit.ly/Video-Dr-Richard-Patton

*Book Review – Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack – The paradox of pet nutrition by Richard Patton – http://bit.ly/RuinedByExcess-BookReview

*Book Review – Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purrfect Health by Kymythy Schultze – http://bit.ly/NatNutritionCats-BookReview

Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Changes in Pet Food and Nutrition – part 1http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/11/23/reflections-on-20-years-as-a-pet-care-professional-changes-in-pet-food-and-nutrition-part-1/

Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Pet Food and Nutrition – part 2http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/12/15/reflections-on-20-years-as-a-pet-care-professional-pet-food-and-nutrition-part-2/


Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 1 –
http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/06/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-1/

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 2 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/07/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-2/

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 3 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/08/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-3/

Nutrition – Determining True Pet Food Costshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2008/11/08/nutrition-determining-true-pet-food-costs/

Pet Nutrition – How Much Fat Is In Your Pet’s Food?  – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/10/12/pet-nutrition-how-much-fat-is-in-your-pets-food/

Pet Nutrition – New Zealand dog diet study a wake-up call for dog nutritionhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/05/19/pet-nutrition-new-zealand-dog-diet-study-a-wake-up-call-for-dog-nutrition/

Pet Nutrition –Vital Essentials® Pet Foodhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/08/14/pet-nutrition-vital-essentials-pet-food/

Shared Blog Post – FDA on a Witch Hunt Against Commercial Pet Food? A Little Spritz of This Makes Pet Food Far Saferhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/11/28/shared-blog-post-fda-on-a-witch-hunt-against-commercial-pet-food-a-little-spritz-of-this-makes-pet-food-far-safer/

Pet Nutrition – From Dr. Karen Becker – A Vegetarian or Vegan Diet Is Not Healthy For Your Dog or Cathttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/09/27/pet-nutrition-from-dr-karen-becker-a-vegetarian-or-vegan-diet-is-not-healthy-for-your-dog-or-cat/

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show ( http://www.woofmeowshow.com )

 < *Recommended You Listen to First >

*What do you feed your pets? – http://bit.ly/WhatDoYouFeedYourPets-Podcast

*Podcast – Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Patton – http://bit.ly/DrPatton-Podcast

*Podcast – Pet Fooled – A Look Inside A Questionable Industry with Kohl Harrington – http://bit.ly/WfMw-Pet-Fooled

 

 

©22-Jul-18, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

PET FOOD RECALL – Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Beef Toppers™” and “Vital Essentials® Frozen Beef Chub Entrée for Dogs” Pet Food

Vital Essentials has just sent us an email to inform us that they have initiated a voluntary precautionary recall of two limited batches of Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Beef Toppers™” and “Vital Essentials® Frozen Beef Chub Entrée for Dogs” Pet Food because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. They state “The potentially affected products can be identified by comparing the following lot numbers: “Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Beef Toppers™” with “Lot #13815, Best By 6/4/19 & Best By 6/20/19” and “Vital Essentials Frozen Beef Chub Entrée for Dogs, 5 lb.” with “Lot #13816, Best By 12/27/18”.


The company reports that the issue was discovered when product from a single batch was tested by the FDA for the presence of Salmonella. No other Vital Essentials products are subject to this voluntary recall.

Carnivore Meat Company, the manufacturer of Vital Essentials, has implemented new test and hold measures to bolster their efforts in delivering a consistent supply of dependable, ultra-premium food and treats for pets all across the world.

In the event you have any questions, please contact the Carnivore Meat Company at 920-370-6542.

This voluntary action has not yet been listed on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website – https://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/

Freshly Ground Beef Patties Being Flash Frozen

I continue to feed Vital Essentials product to my dog because I have complete confidence in the company. I have had the opportunity to tour the facility where Vital Essentials is made and remain impressed with the processes they use to handle the meat to prevent contamination. If the FDA put as much emphasis on checking the meat at the supermarket as they do on the frozen pet food companies, we would be hearing about many more recalls.

Recalls – What Do I Need to Do If My Pet’s Food is Recalled?

The information you will need when you learn of a recall includes:

  • The specific brand name and formula of the food being recalled. (g., Yummy Pet Adult formula)
  • The size of the package being recalled (g. 3.2lbs bag). In some cases only a specific size package may be recalled, other times it may be multiple package types.
  • The SKU number for the product(s)
  • The manufacturer’s lot number, used to identify the date and time the food was manufactured.
  • The “Best by” or expiration date.
  • What to do with the product you have remaining.

When Green Acres Kennel Shop learns of a pet food recall we first determine if any of our clients have purchased the product. If a client has provided us with contact information, we call or email them if they have purchased the recalled product. We then post a recall notice on our blog at www.words-woofs.meows.com and on the Green Acres Kennel Shop Facebook page to alert others who may have purchased the recalled product from someplace other than our store. If you subscribe to our blog, you will be emailed these notices automatically. If you like and follow the Green Acres Kennel Shop Facebook page and set Following to “See First,” any recall notice we post there should automatically appear in your Facebook newsfeed. I say “should” because we all know Facebook is constantly changing. You can also retrieve information on pet food recalls from the FDA’s website at https://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/.

Once you have the above information, you can determine what to do next. As long as you have kept the original bag/can/container/package which the food came in, you can compare the product SKU, lot number, and best by date to determine if you have a product that has been recalled. We recommend that you always keep the container the food came in until you have used all of the food. At Green Acres, we can tell you what SKU you purchased and when you purchased it, but we do not have access to lot numbers and best by dates.

If your specific pet food is not affected by the recall, you do not need to do anything.

If your specific pet food is affected by the recall, contact the retailer where you purchased the product, and they can provide you with instructions on how to proceed. At Green Acres, we will offer you a full refund on products that have been recalled, provided the product was purchased at Green Acres, and that you have the original packaging.

If you do not have the original packaging and therefore cannot determine if the food you have has been recalled, it will be safest to dispose of the food.

©10MAR18, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

PET PRODUCT RECALL – Redbarn Bully Sticks

Redbarn Pet Products voluntarily recalls all lots of bully sticks manufactured with raw material from a single supplier because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The recall is limited to products distributed March 2017 through February 2018. This supplier’s raw material was used to produce the Redbarn, Chewy Louie, Dentley’s and Good Lovin’ brand products listed below with best-buy dates ending in BC. In total, 24 SKUs are affected. No illnesses, injuries or complaints have been reported to date.

If you have products on the list below, it is recommended that you stop using them and that you return them to the place they were purchased for a full refund.

This recall has been expanded from the original notice of 9FEB18.

While Green Acres had not sold any of the products in the initial notice, we have sold some of the Redbarn Bully Sticks at Green Acres listed in the expanded notice. If you have them, please return them for a full refund.

Family-owned Redbarn takes the safety of our products, pets, and customers as a number one concern. Redbarn employs an extensive Quality Assurance team that run over 400 safety tests on their products every week. All products are tested multiple times, for bacteria like Salmonella, coliforms, and enteros. A product is declared safe to ship only after it tests negatively for these bacteria and other pathogens. As company President Jeff Sutherland explained, “In expanding this voluntary recall, in conjunction with the FDA, we are standing by our core values of quality and integrity. After further investigation, we have decided to recall all products that were produced from raw materials sourced from this supplier to ensure we fully captured all potentially affected product and keep our customers safe.”

Consumers with questions may contact the company via email at info@redbarninc.com or by phone at 1-800-775-3849, M-F, 8am-5pm PST.

More information is available at the Redbarn website at http://www.redbarninc.com/blog/redbarn-pet-products-issues-voluntary-recall-of-dog-chews/

Item # REDBARN – Product Description Best By Code Ending UPC
205001 Redbarn 5″ Bully Stick BC 785184205006
207001 Redbarn 7″ Bully Stick BC 785184207000
207016 Redbarn 7″ Bully Stick 6pk BC 785184207161
209001 Redbarn 9″ Bully Stick BC 785184209004
230001 Redbarn 30″ Bully Stick BC 785184230015
236001 Redbarn 36″ Bully Stick BC 785184236017
245002 Redbarn Steer Stick 6pk BC 785184245026
245010 Redbarn 5″ Steer Stick 10pk BC 785184245101
247000 Redbarn 7″ Steer Stick BC 785184247006
251005 Redbarn 7″ Bully Stick 3pk BC 785184251058
290091 Redbarn 9″ Bully 1lb Bag BC 785184290095
C207001 Redbarn 7″ Bully BC 785184207017
C207016 Redbarn 7″ Bully Stick 6pk BC 785184207062
C236001 Redbarn 36″ Bully Stick BC 785184236116
Item # Chewy Louie – Product Description Best By Code Ending UPC
807101 Chewy Louie 7″ Bully Stick BC 785184807019
Item # Good Lovin’ – Product Description Best By Code Ending UPC
2729250 Good Lovin’ 10pk Steer BC 800443272732
2729381 Good Lovin’ 6pk Bully Stick BC 800443272862
2729410 Good Lovin’ 7″ Bully Stick BC 800443272893
2729461 Good Lovin’ 5″ Bully Stick BC 800443272947
2729532 Good Lovin’ XL Bully BC 800443273012
207004 Prime Cuts 7″ Bully Stick BC 800443104798
207005 Time for Joy Holiday 7″ Bully BC 800443287781
207013 Prime Cuts 7″ Bully 3pk BC 800443120446
Item # Dentleys – Product Description Best By Code Ending UPC
920068 Dentley’s 7” Bully Stick BC 737257479852

This voluntary action is listed on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website – https://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/

©9MAR18, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

PET HEALTH ALERT-Xylitol Is Toxic & Deadly To Pets

It is not news that Xylitol is toxic to pets, but far too few dog parents know this and are not aware that Xylitol is used in many places that one would never expect.

A few weeks ago friends lost their dog when the dog accidentally ingested a piece of gum that contained Xylitol. Even though they immediately took the dog to the emergency veterinary clinic, the dog did not survive. As I write this article, another friend’s dog is at the vet’s after ingesting several pieces of gum containing Xylitol.

I want to spread the word about Xylitol and the danger it poses to our furry friends. Please help spread the word!

Xylitol is sugar-alcohol derived from plants and used as an artificial sweetener. While safe for human consumption, xylitol is very toxic to dogs. Xylitol can be found in; gum, candy, jam, syrup, baking mixes, protein bars, energy bars, flavored waters, drink powders, chocolate, gelatin and pudding mixes, condiments, ice cream, honey, yogurt, peanut butter, other nut butters, and other food products. While our dogs are not fed most of the items on this list, I know many people who use both peanut butter and yogurt as a treat. It is essential to check the ingredients label on products you purchase because sadly products containing Xylitol do not bear a large red warning label that says “Xylitol is toxic to dogs!”.

While Xylitol is usually listed as “Xylitol” on a products ingredient panel, it may also be listed as “sugar-alcohols.” When examining a label for Xylitol do so very carefully, and just because Xylitol was not an ingredient last time, do not presume it has not been added the next time you purchase the product. Your dog’s life may depend on it.

In addition to being used in food, Xylitol may be found in OTC medicines and vitamins, nasal sprays, prescription medications, cosmetics, and dental products. Because of its anti-microbial properties, Xylitol may also be found in athletic clothing and pacifier and bottle wipes. This link leads to the Preventive Vet website and a comprehensive list of products containing Xylitol.< Click to read >

Even though we do not routinely give our dogs products containing xylitol, it is essential that we recognize that a dog is an opportunistic scavenger and will often chew and consume many things that are not good for them. Just because that tube of xylitol-containing toothpaste is on the bathroom counter does not mean your dog cannot get to it.

Symptoms of Xylitol poisoning

When a dog ingests xylitol, it causes a massive release of insulin which in turn can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and acute hepatic necrosis (severe liver failure). Symptoms of xylitol poisoning include:

  • A racing heart rate
  • Abnormal mentation (disoriented, stuporous, or comatose)
  • Acute collapse
  • Black-tarry stool
  • Bruising
  • Clotting problems
  • Death
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Jaundiced gums
  • Seizures
  • Trembling or tremoring
  • Vomiting
  • Walking drunk
  • Weakness or lethargy

 

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog ( http://www.words-woofs-meows.com )

URGENT! – HEALTH ALERT – Don’t Feed Nut Butters to Dogs Without First Checking for Xylitol!http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/08/19/urgent-health-alert-dont-feed-nut-butters-to-dogs-without-first-checking-for-xylitol/

 

Web Sites

Pet Poison Hotlinehttp://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/xylitol/

 

©9MAR18, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

PET FOOD RECALL – Steve’s Real Food Raw Frozen Turkey Canine Recipe, 5lbs package, Lot E178

Steve’s Real Food is voluntarily recalling one lot (Lot E178) of 5lb Raw Frozen Dog Food Turkey Canine Recipe due to the possibility it may be contaminated with Salmonella. The recall was initiated after the Steve’s was notified by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture that a retail sample was collected and tested positive for Salmonella. No pet or consumer illnesses from this product have been reported to date.

While Green Acres Kennel Shop sells Steve’s Real Food for Pets products, we have not sold this particular SKU during the timeframe noted below. If we had, we would contact our clients by phone or email.

Because of their commitment to overall safety and quality, Steve’s Real Food is conducting a voluntary recall of this product. Consumers should also follow the safe handling tips published on the Steve’s Real Food packaging when disposing of the affected product. The potentially affected lot of 5lb. frozen turkey nuggets were distributed to retail pet food stores in states of CA, CO, CT, IA, KS, FL, MD, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, NJ, NV, NY, OR, PA, TX, UT, VA, and WA. Fifty-two cases of this product was distributed between 6/27/17 – 7/15/17.

The affected product was sold frozen in 5lb bags. Those bags affected by this recall are identified with the following UPC codes and the “Best by” date located on the bag.

PRODUCT – Steve’s Real Food Turkey Canine Recipe

Size – 5lbs Bag

UPC – 6-91730-15303-8

LOT# – E 178

Best By Date – 9/27/18

This voluntary action is listed on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website – https://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/

©4MAR18, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

PET FOOD RECALL – Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Beef Nibblets Entrée for Dogs, 1lbs package

Vital Essentials has just sent us an email to inform us that they have initiated a voluntary recall of a limited amount, 73 cases, of Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Beef Nibblets Entrée for Dogs in the 1lbs package. They state “The recall is being issued in an abundance of caution following the Michigan Department of Agriculture’s collection of a retail sample from a single batch which tested positive for Salmonella.  No other Vital Essentials products are included in this recall.  No illnesses in humans or pets have been reported.”

Affected products can be identified by following lot number: “Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Beef Nibblets Entrée for Dogs” with “Lot #13753”.

This voluntary action has not yet been listed on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website – https://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/

©24FEB18, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

PET FOOD RECALL – Gravy Train, Kibbles ‘N Bits, Ol’ Roy, and Skippy

< Updated 18FEB18 >

DogFoodAdvisor has reported that the J.M. Smucker Company is voluntarily withdrawing several canned dog food products because of a concern that these foods contain low levels of a euthanasia drug, pentobarbital. This begs the question, are euthanized animals being used as an ingredient in pet food, and if not, how does Smucker’s explain pentobarbital showing up in their food?

Gravy Train, Kibbles ‘N Bits. Ol’ Roy and Skippy are all brands affected by this recall. For more information on specific UPC codes, visit the following page at DogFoodAdvisor – https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-recall/smucker-withdraws-multiple-dog-food-brands/

This voluntary action has now been listed on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website – https://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/newsevents/ucm597135.htm

 

Is Your Dog Your Best Friend or a Family Member?

If Yes, Then Please Join Me and Take the Pledge

< A version of this article was published in the October 2017 issue of Downeast Dog News>

Dogs were first referred to as “Man’s best friend” in 1789 by Frederick, King of Prussia. Today it is not uncommon for a person to say that they consider their dog to not only be their friend but to be a member of their family. That is how I view both my dog and cats. In spite of this apparent devotion to dogs, there are still too many people in this country that routinely use electronic shock collars to subject their dogs to shock on a regular basis, all in the name of training and containment.

When a dog receives an electric shock from a shock collar, the shock is meant to be sufficiently aversive to change the dog’s behavior. An aversive typically causes either physical or emotional pain or both. If the dog does not find the shock aversive, the shock will not stop the behavior. That is basic psychology. Rewarding a dog for a behavior causes that behavior to increase, and punishing a dog or adding an aversive, causes a behavior to decrease. Those that insist the shock does not hurt the dog and that it is merely a “stim” or “tickle” are either misleading people or do not understand the fundamentals of psychology and learning theory.

What makes the use of electric shock on animals even more distressing than the fact that we are intentionally hurting our pets, is that science has demonstrated that the use of punishment is unnecessary to train or manage a pet. In fact, we know with certainty, that the use of shock and other aversives can be extremely detrimental. The use of aversives can damage the bond we have with our pet, impair our pet’s ability to learn, and often cause fear and aggression. Considering that shock is unnecessary, its use amounts to nothing less than abuse. So I ask, why would anyone intentionally abuse their best friend or a family member?

Since its beginnings in 2012, The Pet Professional Guild (PPG) has advocated against the use of aversives in the training and management of pets. In 2015, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), an accreditation body for veterinary practices and hospitals, issued their Behavior Management Guidelines. The guidelines clearly state: “Aversive techniques include prong (pinch) or choke collars, cattle prods, alpha rolls, dominance downs, electronic shock collars, lunge whips, starving or withholding food, entrapment, and beating. None of those tools and methods should be used to either teach or alter behavior.” [Emphasis added]. The experts on our pets health, behavior, and training agree; shock should NEVER be used.

Whether the use of electric shock is intentional, due to casual disregard because “it is just a dog,” or due to ignorance, I and many others believe it is time for this inhumane treatment of our best friends and family members to stop. On September 25th the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) launched the Shock-Free Coalition ( http://www.shockfree.org ) “…an initiative that aims to build an international movement committed to eliminating shock devices once and for all in the care, training and management of pets.” This noble cause is long overdue and one that I support without hesitation. I hope that you will join me in this movement to educate and advocate for the abolishment of the use of shock devices for the management and training of our best friends and family members. Please take the first step, and join me by taking the pledge at http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Sign-The-Pledge.

What else can you do to support the Shock-Free Coalition?

  • Dog Parents – Ask any and every pet care provider that participates in the care of your dog (animal shelters, boarding kennels, breeders, daycares, dog walkers, groomers, humane societies, pet related periodicals, pet sitters, places you buy pet food and supplies, rescues. Veterinarians, ) if they are aware of the Shock-Free Coalition and if they have taken the pledge. Encourage them to do so. If they chose not to take the pledge, ask them why. Suggest that they do some research and reconsider. You might even provide them with a copy of this column. If they are still unwilling to take the pledge, remember, you can choose who gets your pet related business. Sometimes money speaks louder than words.
  • Pet Care Professionals – Take the pledge and make your support known to your employees, customers, and clients. Tell them about the pledge and ask them to take it as well. Show your support for the Shock-Free Coalition with signs in your facility, articles in your newsletter, information on your website, and with posts on social media. I know that pet parents care about this issue and they want to know that you care too!
  • Dog Parents and Pet Care Professionals in Maine – It is my goal to place an ad in the November issue of Down East Dog News listing everyone one in the state of Maine who has taken the pledge. We need to show that those that still recommend and sell shock collars are a minority. We need to show them that we want to stop the unnecessary abuse of our pets. To make that ad happen, I need your help and some donations. Learn how to add your name to the list for the November ad and to make a donation at http://bit.ly/Shock-FreeME

To learn more about the problems with shock collars, visit these resources:

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collarhttp://bit.ly/ShockCollars

PPG Shock-Free Coalitionhttp://www.shockfree.org

Shock-Free Maine Information and Donation pagehttp://bit.ly/Shock-FreeME

PPG Guiding Principles – https://www.petprofessionalguild.com/PPGs-Guiding-Principles

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet-Friendly, Force-Free Pet Care – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2006/02/01/no-pain-no-force-no-fear-green-acres-kennel-shop-position-statement-on-pet-friendly-force-free-pet-care/

AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines – https://www.aaha.org/professional/resources/behavior_management_guidelines.aspx

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonradio.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at www.woofmeowshow.com. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com. He is committed to pet care and pet training that is free of pain, force, and fear. The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©1OCT17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
< Click for Copyright and Use Policy >

URGENT! – Health Alert – Canine Cough in Southern Maine

September 10th, 2017 – We have received information that there have been several cases of Canine Cough in Southern Maine (this is not to be confused with the Canine Flu). We have currently NOT experienced any here at Green Acres at this time, but there is always the potential that this may occur.

We have contacted local veterinarians and asked them to keep us advised if they start to see canine cough in the greater Bangor area.

As you may all know, Canine Cough can come from a variety of different strains, and while we do require the vaccination, it is not full-proof, particularly against strains that may not be covered by the vaccine. That being said, vaccinated dogs typically recover more quickly. While for most dogs, Canine Cough is a relatively mild cold with an hacking cough, there is always a concern for the development of pneumonia, particularly in the young and the old.

If you are seeing any signs of a “cold” in your dog (runny eyes or nose, sneezing, coughing, lethargy, lack of appetite, fever, etc.) please do not bring your pet for daycare, boarding, grooming or training until they have seen their veterinarian and have been cleared. Also, please contact us immediately so that we are aware. As we experienced earlier this year, often dogs are contagious well before they are symptomatic so the sooner we have a heads up the better for all.

At Green Acres Kennel Shop we do require that dogs that board or daycare with us, or that are enrolled in a training class, be current on a canine cough vaccine as administered by their veterinarian, or canine cough nosodes as prescribed and provided by the veterinarian. Not all boarding and daycare facilities require canine cough preventatives.

Canine cough or kennel cough are lay terms for Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC), which is highly contagious to other dogs, much like the common cold is with people. Canine cough can be transmitted through the air from one dog to the next or by contact with contaminated objects such as a common water dish at the dog park or in front of a dog-friendly store. Like the common cold is to humans, canine cough is not typically serious, but if you see symptoms in your dog (coughing, gagging, vomiting, or general lethargy) I would recommend that you call your veterinarian.

For More Information on canine cough <click here>

©2017, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>