Realizing the Dangers of Raw Pet Food

For some pet owners, a raw food diet for their cats and dogs seems obvious – animals thrive on food they would naturally eat in the wild. While some vets agree with this and others do not, the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) has released new information warning against feeding your pet a raw food diet due to the risk of bacteria that thrive in uncooked meat.

These bacteria include Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes and pose a health risk not just to pets but to their owners as well.

In an extensive study, the FDA took samples from commercial brands of raw pet food, jerky-type treats, semi-moist, and dry pet foods for cats and dogs. The research found that while dry and semi-moist foods were virtually disease free, nearly 24% of the 196 raw pet food samples contained either salmonella or listeria.

The bacteria that could potentially be housed in raw pet food poses a risk not only to the animals to eat it, but to their owners as well. Without careful sanitation practices, these bacteria can easily make their way into the human immune system.

While the FDA wants to highlight the potential threat of raw pet foods, it also acknowledges that some owners choose raw food for their pets and thus recommends specific food safety tips for owners when handling raw meat:

To Protect Your Dog

  1. Freeze meat until use
  2. Defrost in the refrigerator or in the microwave
  3. Immediately cover and refrigerate what your pet doesn’t eat. If it’s been sitting out for a while, go ahead and toss it.

To Protect Yourself

  1. Keep raw pet food separate from other food
  2. Clean and disinfect all surfaces that were used for raw food preparation
  3. Always wash your hands after preparing or cleaning up raw food.
  4. Don’t accept kisses from your pet after they eat raw food. If their mouth comes in contact with your face or hands, be sure to wash the area thoroughly.

Salmonella bacteria are a familiar cause of food poisoning in the United States. It can cause fever, vomiting, diarrhea that may be bloody, and lethargy in both humans and animals.

Listeria is a less known and less common cause of food poisoning. While it rarely affects dogs and cats, it is more dangerous for humans than salmonella. The FDA reports that it is the leading cause of food borne illness hospitalization and death in the developed world. Signs of listeria in humans include fever, stiff neck and headache, loss of balance, and convulsions.

Given the new research, pet owners should consider the risks and benefits of raw food pet diets for both their pets and themselves,

Regardless of what you choose to feed your pet, the Pet Super Store has a wide variety of bowls and feeders to make your pet feel like royalty. And if you’re looking for tips on nutrition or other pet care concerns, be sure to visit our Knowledge Center to learn more.

11-25-13

Interview With SlimDoggy Founder Steve Pelletier

Welcome to Ask a Pet Pro, where animal experts share their knowledge and experience, and help us all become better pet parents. For this edition, dog fitness expert Steve Pelletier graciously agreed to answer our questions about canine fitness and nutrition.

steve_pelletierStephen Pelletier is an experienced technology and start-up executive with a passion for health and fitness for people and pets. He is the founder of SlimDoggy.com and PetsMove.org, both of which provide tools and tips to dog owners to help their dog achieve and maintain a healthy weight and a healthy and happy life. Prior to that, he was SVP for LibreezeFitness, a curated directory of “the best of the web” health and fitness content. Pelletier was also the founder and former CEO of FatTail, the premier provider of contract and inventory management, workflow, and reporting software for online publishers.

Steve and his family are active contributors to several LA area dog rescues. He and his wife currently share their home with Jack and Maggie, two Labrador rescues who never cease to make them smile.

Question: Your dog Jack was the inspiration for SlimDoggy, and one of the more interesting parts of his story is the fact that he was able to stop taking behavior modifying medications after you put him on a healthy eating and exercise routine. What are some of the other more surprising issues that good diet and exercise can help alleviate in dogs?

Answer: Although I wouldn’t call them ‘surprising’, there are several major benefits to properly exercising and feeding your dog:

• A lean dog will live almost 2 years on average longer than an overweight dog. This is an approximately 15% longer life span. To put this into perspective, that would mean an extra 12 years to the average person living in the US.

• A lean dog will cost their owners a lot less money. People spend a lot of money on extra food, medicine, and medical care for their dogs that they might not otherwise need to spend if their dog was lean and fit. We estimate that in the US alone, this cost to the owners of the almost 37 million overweight dogs, in aggregate, is near $8 billion each year.

Some of the health risks to having an overweight dog include:

o Shorter life span
o Arthritis
o High blood pressure and cardiovascular disease
o Cancer

• Having an active and lean dog can reduce the symptoms of arthritis and generally minimize some of the issues that older dogs are prone to experience. Jack is a good example: at 10 years old, he is still very active and acts like a puppy and he is not on any regular medication like many older dogs are.

Question: Is there a fitness activity you’d recommend for the whole family?
Something we can all do together with both of our dogs, even if one’s a feisty lab and the other is a lazy dachshund?

Answer: First of all, there is no such thing as a lazy dog, only lazy owners! Dogs love to get up and exercise. In fact, there was a recent study which showed that dogs, like humans, experience a form of “runners high” when they exercise intensely.

That said, our dogs and other family members are not always athletically compatible due to size differences or injury limitations. For these cases, family outings like hikes or family workouts that incorporate sprint drills and core work are fairly easy to modify based on each participants capability. We also recommend using a weighted vest, like the K9 Fit Vest by DogTread, on the stronger dogs. This can help increase the activity intensity for them while allowing the less able dogs to participate in a less stressful way.

Question: What myth about canine nutrition or fitness do you wish could be debunked once and for all?

Answer: One of the things that many dog owners fail to realize is that having a big backyard does not mean that your dog is getting proper exercise. You need to monitor, if not participate in the dog’s exercise routine to ensure they get adequate activity.

Regarding nutrition, a big issue is relying on the feeding instructions on the dog food label. You cannot assume that the serving recommendation on the dog food label is appropriate for your dog. These recommendations are far too generic and often result in incorrect serving amounts.

Question: Canine obesity seems to be on the rise. What do you think is responsible for the increased number of overweight dogs?

Answer: There are many reasons for this. Here are a few that come to mind:

• Lack of knowledge about how much you should feed your dog given their age and activity level. As I said earlier, food labels are not specific enough. Up until we released the SlimDoggy app, there really was no place to go to learn how exactly much you should feed your pet.

• Failure to properly measure food servings. Knowing how much you should feed your dog is not enough. You have to make sure that you actually feed the correct amount. We always tell people to Measure, measure, measure!

• Failure to account for ‘treats’ and human snacks that are provided to your dog each day. We all love giving or dog’s treats and table scraps and there is nothing wrong with it. You simply have to account for those calories and adjust your regular feedings accordingly. It helps to know the calorie content of the dog foods and treats you use—another benefit of using the SlimDoggy app or our food calculator widget.

• Lack of proper exercise for your dog. Dogs need exercise! They thrive on it. They need 30 minutes or more each day of vigorous exercise depending on their age, breed, and medical history. They will feel and look better. So will you!

Question: Our family fosters rescues. Since many of these dogs have no training, giving lots of treats is a necessary evil. What ingredients we should look for or avoid to keep their treats as healthy as possible?

Answer: Treats are potential problem areas for pet owners. They often contain sweeteners like sugar, corn syrup, fructose, which provide calories but little nutritional value. And speaking of calories, we recommend using small treats as training tools so you can minimize the added calories. We often cut our treats into small, 1-3 calorie servings, and use products with higher quality ingredients like CloudStar Dynamo treats or Smart Cookee home baked products.

As an adjunct to your foster rescue question, we often volunteer to help foster families that have overweight or hyper-active foster dogs, dogs that have difficulty finding their forever home. We do a food analysis to ensure proper feeding and then take these dogs out on runs so that they are properly exercised. We have found universally that by doing this, their behavior improves and they quickly get adopted!

5 Ways Your Pet’s Diet Impacts Health

hungry puppyObesity is a major concern with pets because it at the root of many illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.

A sick pet can end up costing a lot of money. Just ask any pet owners who has experienced a sick pet or one that required surgery.

Multiple trips to the vet are to be expected whether the pet has a short term illness or a chronic one. Thankfully, there are things that pet owners can do in order to help their pets live a healthier, happier life.

The best place to start is to take a look at your pet’s diet, which can have a huge impact on their health.

New pet owners often don’t realize just how important the quality of food is that they feed their pets. What a pet eats is something that affects nearly every aspect of their wellbeing. Your pet’s diet is important and should not be overlooked.

Our diet affects our health as humans just as it does for our pets. For pets to be healthy, they need certain specific nutrients. Feeding them an unhealthy diet essentially prevents them from getting the nutrients needed to be healthy.

Here are five ways our pets’ diet can impact their health:

  1. Allergies and sensitivities. It’s not uncommon for cats and dogs to suffer from irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. Foods that contribute to the problem include things like corn, soy, dyes, and preservatives.
  2. Urinary tract problems. Urinary tract problems, including stones or crystals, and inflammation and infection are also common. Pets tend to have less of a problem when eating canned food that contains more water content that also usually contain more meat.
  3. Weight issues. Obesity is an issue for pets just as it is for people. Contributing factors include overfeeding, getting too many treats or eating people food regularly. Weight problems can lead to numerous other health and quality of life issues for your pet.
  4. Diabetes. Overweight dogs and cats are also more susceptible to developing diabetes, which can lead to a variety of quality of life and health issues on its own.
  5. Dental concerns. Pets who are not eating a healthy diet and, thus, not getting the proper nutrients can also suffer from dental problems like periodontal disease. Many people prefer to buy dry pet food because it is cheaper, but it tends to be harder on the teeth for many cats and dogs.

In an effort to save money, people often feed their pets whatever is cheapest. However, in the long run it isn’t cheaper when you add in the health problems and vet bills that can occur. The better quality food is more likely to help your pet avoid being sick and having to visit the veterinarian more often.

Look for brands that more closely fits your pet’s natural diet: high in meat/protein and no fillers or by products. Foods such as rendered animal fats, corn, soy, wheat, sugar, and artificial flavors and preservatives, can be difficult for your pet’s digestive system.

Taking care of your furry little friend will be a cinch with the outstanding products and quality brand names we have to offer at Pet Super Store. With a vast number of products to choose from, you will get exactly what you’re looking for all in one stop.

From the eyes to the ears, teeth to the fur, all aspects of your dog is covered with the flurry of products available.

Feed Pets on Demand

water

Whether you’re going away for a night or just don’t feel like getting out of bed on Sunday morning, an automatic pet feeder can take over your pet watering and feeding obligations.

Many of us work and are unable to be there for our beloved pet every moment of the day. Having a back-up feeding plan is not just convenient –it can help keep our pets healthy.

Between work, soccer practice, Girl Scouts meetings and stopping to grab milk, by the time we get home, Fido has been out of water for two hours and his stomach is growling with hunger.

Auto pet feeders will keep your pets hydrated and properly fed.

On the days you must be away for 12 to 15 hours, you never have to worry about your pet going thirsty or hungry with auto feeders.

Even when our days run like clock-work, some days our pets are thirstier than other days. It’s great comfort knowing our pets are hydrated. Try one of our fountain auto water options.

Pets come in all sizes, shapes and forms as do automatic pet feeders. We have an excellent choice of different sizes and styles to choose from ensuring you get the perfect fit.

We even carry auto feeders you can program to whatever schedule you choose. This allows you to feed your pet once, twice, three times a day or more without physically lifting a bowl or pouring a bag.

At the pre-set time, your pet will be jumping for joy with a full bowl of water and delicious food at paw! The automated pet feeders put a whole new meaning in the word convenience for you and your pet.

Automatically control the time and quantity of your pets’ meals.

Designed specifically for the on-the-go pet owner, the ERGO pet feeder allows you to feed your pet at set intervals during the day. Also controlling the amount of food dispensed, gives you full control over your pets’ food intake even when you aren’t home.

Featuring a stylish design that is pleasing to the eye and can be kept anywhere in your home. The bowl is detachable for easy cleaning and is removable without having to empty the container. Controlled dispensing allows up to 8 feedings a day, and the feeder holds up to 20lbs of food.

The K-9 Cafe Tray pack is the perfect automatic pet food dispenser for those pet owners with large dogs. Automatic dog feeders capable of storing and dispensing up to 25lbs of food and keeps the food sealed inside until your pet decides it is time to eat. It will also hold and dispense up to 5 gallons of water.

This is a great solution for pet owners take frequent trips and need a solution to keep their pet dog fed while they are gone. Order today and have it delivered to your doorstep.

Remember, we have free shipping on all orders over $75!

Infographic: Foods Toxic to Dogs

Infographic_blog imageLet’s be honest, we all do it. Even the most conscientious pet parent will toss their dog some table scraps from time to time.

While it’s true that dogs have pretty tough constitutions, it’s also true that they don’t inherently know what’s food and what’s not. If you’ve ever even met a dog, then you know the kinds of things they will indiscriminately put in their mouths. As pet parents, though, it’s our responsibility to make sure that that the foods they eat – while they might not always be the healthiest options – aren’t dangerous to their well-being.

Think you know what’s safe to feed to your furry friend? Each pair of foods below contains one item that’s dog-approved, and one that could potentially make your canine companion very ill. Do you know which is which?

Make your choices, then click the link below to check out our infographic and find out how much you know about which foods are toxic to dogs.

a. Eggs
b. Alcohol

a. Milk
b. Peanut Butter

a. Caffeinated Foods and Beverages
b. Cheese

a. Cooked Chicken
b. Raw Meat

a. Grapes
b. Carrots

a. Yogurt
b. Avocado

a. Salt
b. Green Beans

a. Macadamia Nuts
b. Pumpkin

a. Sliced Apples
b. Onions & Garlic

a. Salmon
b. Yeast

a. Oatmeal
b. Artificial Sweeteners

Check Your Answers on our Infographic!

Additional references: Dog Approved People Food