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Alert!!! Pet FOOD RECALL is your pet's food safe?

Corn Wolves? Wheat Tigers?  By Tina Valant-Siebelts            February 2007

Every day, we enjoy a wide array of food choices and styles, from fast food to elegant multi-course feasts. But, our pets have to eat what we serve, when we serve it. As a pet mom who cooks (and bakes) for her pets, I thought  I was very knowledgeable about their nutrition. I could spend hours researching new treat recipes, online.

Evidenced by extra ribcage padding, our vet kindly
suggested Mack and Jackpot needed to drop some
weight. Rudy had a chronic problem with itchy feet—
which kept me up nights with his gnawing and licking.
We assumed it was a grass allergy. I know a lot of dogs
with skin and ear problems. I wondered if it could all be
food-related. I had to discover how my pets’ food was
affecting their health. Was I feeding them “fast food” or
solid nutrition which could improve health and vitality,
and possibly increase their life spans?

Gently look in your dog or cat’s mouth. The four long pointy teeth are “canines” and indicate a carnivore, a meat-eater. Review your pet’s food label. The first five ingredients are fundamental.  Ground yellow corn was the first ingredient, in the food I had. Did you ever see a dog, wolf, coyote, or fox chomping down on an ear of corn?  Do zoo care-givers offer wheat or soybeans to the tigers, lions, or cougars? After all, our domestic pets are tiny replicas of their wild cousins. 

So, then why do pet food manufacturers use corn and wheat? A little research yielded that shortly after World War II, there was a grain surplus. Unfit for human consumption—it was directed to the pet food industry. Cheap, readily available, with a long shelf life; add a colorful label, clever advertising, and grocery store convenience---for a now multi-billion dollar industry.

The second ingredient was chicken by-products (what remains after choice cuts). By-products can include unappealing items (heads, feet, tendons, intestines)….. No wonder they can be difficult to digest.  I learned an optimum food would first list “meal”, (ie chicken meal) a human grade, concentrated source of protein with the majority of water extracted.  Along with a meat meal, what else should your dog’s food contain?  Vegetables, an animal based fat source, beet fiber, antioxidants, bacterial cultures and proteinated minerals.

What to avoid in your pet’s food
Grains (soy, corn, wheat, corn gluten or wheat gluten)
Chemical preservatives (BHA, BHT, ethoxoquin)
Refined sugar, artificial sweeteners
Artificial colors

I found the right foods, complete nutritional systems; and my pets are thriving. Rudy no longer keeps me awake. His feet are fine—it was an allergy to corn. Mack and Jackpot achieved their target weights. Our cat, Chance’s coat is more gorgeous than ever. The little bumps she had vanished after about a month of being on the holistic food and supplement. And, I can't tell you the last time I saw a hairball, on my sofa!!!

Yes, holistic foods usually cost more, but since they are more digestible, you feed less. Bonus: less to “pick up”! Factor in, less trips to the vet (we miss him) for allergy relief. By taking an active interest in my pets’ nutrition, I believe I have increased and enhanced their lives. Our pets deserve to be healthy and happy, as long as we are entrusted with them.  Learn more.

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Harming My Own Dogs? By: Tina Valant-Siebelts      updated Sept 2006        

I like to think I am an exemplary dog-mom. Casey, my black lab-shepherd mix lived to be over sixteen. Generally speaking, the average life span of a dog (kept as a family house pet) in America is ten to twelve years. Being a dog owner/lover my entire life, I knew that small dogs usually outlive large breeds. “All Americans” (mutts) enjoy an added benefit, their blended genetic code often enables them to outlast purebreds. When I finally had to put Casey down, due to arthritis, dysplasia, and cancer…..it hit me especially hard. Adopted from the shelter at nine weeks old, she had been the constant companion of my adult life.

Our five rescued Australian shepherds are a top priority and a bright light in my (and my husband’s) life. We want to give them the very best life—physically, nutritionally, emotionally….I just returned from a fabulous seminar with Cesar Millan of The Dog Psychology Center—you’ve seen him on National Geographic channel. Most of the behavioral things, we’re doing right; and a few things we need to work on.

We are often stopped while walking “The AusSiebelts”. We have to say,“Uh, we are NOT professional dog walkers—these are ours. And NO!!!  We are not breeders”! Our pack enjoys a twice-daily walk (usually over an hour -- off lead, most of the time), a weekly swim, and each has“a job”. Rudy is our comic and squirrel patrol, Mack is a pet-facilitated therapy dog; Chloe is the calendar model, Lacey is our alpha dog, and Jack is in training for pet therapy— and often models.

Since two had rough starts as backyard breeders, and two endured heartworm treatment, I am especially sensitive to their diet and health. Our vet often teases me that I know every inch of my dogs’ bodies (and, yes, I do!).  Rudy has always had a grass allergy; his feet get red and sensitive. We tried an antihistamine, and I wiped his feet off with baby wipes before and after walks. It helped a little…after researching; maybe his allergy was to grain? 

Bob and I lovingly prepare daily meals for them—last night was chicken, brown rice and organic green beans, with super premium kibble. This weekend I made them doggy ice cream (lowfat plain yogurt with a little wheat germ and a dash of sprinkles for color, frozen into ice cube trays). I often bake chicken liver brownies and other seasonal treats for them, too. They sleep in our bed. They go on vacations with us. We take our dogs seriously—they are a huge part of our lives. Cesar would not like me saying this, but they really ARE the kids we never had!

Remember, years ago when a particular new dry food was introduced, through great commercials? Wow, it was the talk of the dogpark!  With all the fresh chicken and vegetables…..uh, why did they need to add red food coloring, then?  A friend sent me a link to an educational pet nutrition website, where I compared the kibble I was now feeding (and the above mentioned brand), to theirs. Basically, I was giving them fast food—every day.  Granted, it was only a third to a quarter of their diet, but it still, it shocked me. Our “super premium” included chicken by-products (which might include beaks and feet). How gross is that?! The multitude of grains used in current shelf brands are not only cheap; they have a long shelf life—a manufacturer’s dream. NOT necessarily the best thing for my babies!!! How long had the super premium sat on the shelf before I was serving it up? Quite possibly six to twelve MONTHS!

Mack (68 lb) and Jackpot (78 lb) are constantly battling the bulge. I read an excellent article in Prevention, and learned, we were “feeding the bowl, not the dog”. Portion sizes were reduced. And with this new food, there was more useable protein, so they don’t need as much to feel full. Guess what? Something doesn’t smell as bad, and there’s not “as much” to pick-up!

Our girls are picky eaters. Mack and Jack are on the lite formula, Rudy, Chloe and Lacey, all around forty pounds, are on maintenance. They all love it! We say “they licked the stainless off the steel”. We still add stuff to their food—like organic green beans, chopped apple…and I still am going to make them special treats……old habits are hard to break. Compare to your dog's food!
Mack also gets a joint supplement, which has made a huge difference.

About a month later I got all the cats on the holistic food . Chance (aka Binky) was going to the vet every other month for a shot for her inhalant allergy......within the month, she stopped itching and we have not been back for a shot in MONTHS! Less stress for Binky and her mom!! The  cats share a can every morning over their dry food. I learned why to feed the wet in the morning....and get this, even the tortoise loves it.

Recent university studies PROVE that our pets CAN live past twenty (yes, that’s 2 – 0 ) years old. I never would have imagined. Oh great, I felt like the meals I had so lovingly prepared may actually have been lessening my dear pets’ lives! I’m glad I was educated and have already had such great results, I became an independent field rep….Oh geez, now I sound like that guy, “I’m not just a customer of the hair club for men, I’m the president’!

Dogs to Dine in FLA?!
Maybe you want to take your dog out, to an outdoor cafe and socialize with other owners and their pets? You may recall me getting quoted in the papers and on the radio about Florida's Doggy Dining Bill. Well, it has passed the initial stages, but we still need your help to ensure well behaved canines can enjoy this luxury. Click here!

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