4th of July Safety Tips for Pets

 

4th of July Pet Safety

While Fourth of July celebrations can be quite enjoyable and exciting for us humans, for animals it can be quite stressing and even hazardous to their health and well-being. Fireworks, backyard cookouts, alcoholic beverages, mosquito repellant candles, lighters, matches and ‘glow’ jewelry are all part of the holiday fun…again, for humans, not for pets. In fact, all of these things pose as stress triggers, toxic agents and health hazards to our beloved 4-legged family members. To help keep your pets safe this Fourth of July holiday, browse through the following Fourth of July safety tips for pets.

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“Ag-Gag” Laws to Criminalize Activists Exposing Cruel Factory Farm Practices

 

(article by Elizabeth Renter)

Whether you consider yourself an animal rights activist or you’re “just” a pet owner, seeing an animal brutalized can conjure feelings of outrage and disgust. Even meat eaters don’t really want to know what goes into the production of their burger, because ultimately, it’s distasteful. But when meat and/or dairy production amount to horrific abuse, don’t we have a right to know?

Continue reading “Ag-Gag” Laws to Criminalize Activists Exposing Cruel Factory Farm Practices

What is Really in Your Pet’s Commercial Food

(article by Jonathan Reynolds)

If dogs and cats were capable of visiting the places where commercial pet food comes from, would they still want to eat it? It’s perhaps an interesting question, but realistically, most dogs and cats will never visit a factory farm over the course of their lives. They rely entirely on their human caretakers to research, understand, and decide what’s best for them.

Ingredients on pet food containers are listed in decreasing order according to weight. Meats which tend to sponge up water, such as chicken, are usually higher on the list when it comes to canned foods, even though the actual amount of meat may be less. Wet foods are especially beneficial to cats for this reason, as they have a tendency to not realize when they become dehydrated. Dry food generally has less water, more plant material, and more calories for energy. Wet food tends to have more protein, but it is also usually more expensive and must be refrigerated after opening.

One ingredient typically found in commercial pet food for both dogs and cats, known as “meat by-products”, consists of dead animal pieces mostly deemed unfit for human consumption. According to bornfree.org,“about 50% of every food animal does not get used in human foods. Whatever remains of the carcass — heads, feet, bones, blood, intestines, lungs, spleens, livers, ligaments, fat trimmings, unborn babies, and other parts not generally consumed by humans — is used in pet food, animal feed, fertilizer, industrial lubricants, soap, rubber, and other products.”

Meat meals, poultry meals, by-product meals, and meat-and-bone meal are also common ingredients in dry pet foods. Meals go through a “rendering” process which requires the dead carcasses to be boiled for several hours to separate fat and proteins. Because rendering must be gentle enough to remove the valuable nutrients intact, there is the possibility that the end-product might carry biological pathogens.

Some preservatives used in dry pet food are worth avoiding, such as butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), propyl gallate, propylene glycol, and ethoxyquin (pdf), all of which are used frequently.

Animals living on factory farms are regularly injected with antibiotics. The FDA estimates that in 2009, around 29 million pounds of antibiotics were pumped into farm animals by the meat industry.

Pet food is frequently the target of recalls (pdf). Between 2006 and 2007, 60 million containers of 180 different brands of pet food and treats, produced by 12 different manufacturers, were recalled due to the intentional contamination of wheat gluten and rice protein imported from two Chinese companies. This recall is considered to be the largest in US history.

Taking all of this into consideration, combined with our knowledge of what regularly goes on in factory farms, what options do vegetarians and vegans have if they want happiness and health for their non-human companions, but also want to avoid supporting the meat industry? Meatless alternatives exist for both cats and dogs, but both animals and their specific dietary requirements differ greatly.

Dogs are technically classified as carnivores; however, they do exceedingly well as omnivores too, and there are many examples of dogs living long, healthy lives as vegetarians.

An adult dog needs fats (energy and vitamins), carbohydrates (energy), vitamins, and proteins, all of which should be found in any quality vegetarian pet food. Protein is made up of amino acids, of which there are 23 different kinds (pdf), 13 that a dog can create, 10 which the dog needs added to his/her diet. Milk, fish, soy, eggs, beans, legumes, and nut butters are all adequate sources for many of these proteins.

Dogs can eat a variety of vegetables. However, because of their small digestive tracts, steaming vegetables to soften them, or putting them into a liquid form, makes digestion easier. One study (pdf) showed that textured vegetable protein (“soy meat”) is only slightly less digestible in dogs than beef. Veggies that dogs can eat include: broccoli, carrots, cabbage, cucumber, celery, green beans, kale, squash, and spinach. As for fruits, apples, bananas, and watermelon are a good place to start.

Canned vegetarian dog food can be found at most pet stores. Perhaps surprising, it’s not much more expensive than regular food (I purchased a 13 oz. can for only $2 in NY). Some brands of canned vegetarian dog food may be sufficient on their own for maintaining a dog’s health. Try researching different brands via the internet to find the best product for your dog.

There is perhaps more research into homemade and non-commercial vegetarian/vegan dog food than there is of the commercially-produced kind. For example, CNN reported the story of 4-year-old Cleo, who switched to a vegan diet after her caretaker’s vet recommended it to fight an ear infection. Cleo was fed beans, rice, and sweet potatoes for five months. Afterwards, not only was her ear infection gone, but so was her dandruff and bad breath. She also had a shiner coat. Caretakers of vegetarian dogs shared their experiences in James Peden’s 1999 book, “Vegetarian Cats & Dogs“. The health benefits they reported include decreased ectoparasites (fleas, ticks, lice and mites), improved coat condition, allergy control, weight control, decreased arthritis, improved vitality, improved stool odor, and cataract resolution. A two-year study (pdf) conducted by university researchers in 2002 placed young and aging Beagles on a diet of regular dog food, or a fortified diet consisting of d,l-alpha-tocopherol acetate (vitamin E), l-carnitine, d,l-alpha-lipoic acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and 1% inclusions of spinach flakes, tomato pomace, grape pomace, carrot granules, and citrus pulp. The study concluded that such a fortified diet has the potential to drastically reduce cognitive decline in aging animals.

Donna Spector, a veterinary internal medicine specialist who runs SpectorDVM (an animal nutrition consultancy), and six other pet experts who spoke with CNN conceded — some more reluctantly than others — that “most dogs could biologically live on a vegan diet. But doing so requires substantial attention to creating a balanced diet that makes up for the loss of animal protein with substitutions of beans, soy and, to a lesser extent, vegetables and grains.”

Even if one chooses to not make such a dietary change for their companion, at least incorporating more vegetables into meals along with meat and fish can substantially alter their health for the better.

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But what about cats?

Cats are obligate carnivores. Because of this, they rely on nutrients typically found in animals: high protein, moderate fat, and minimal carbohydrates. Animal-based proteins also contain taurine, arginine, cysteine, and methionine, all of which are key ingredients for cat nutrition. Lack of taurine can lead a cat to experience heart or respiratory problems, blindness, and even death.

Armaiti May, a certified veterinarian, elaborates on veganhealth.org in further detail where research currently stands on cats and vegetarian/vegan food:

“Cats on a vegan diet can develop abnormally alkaline (high pH) urine due to the more alkaline pH of plant based proteins in comparison to the acidic pH of meat-based foods which cats have evolved to eat. When the urine pH becomes too alkaline, there is an increased risk of formation of struvite (also known as magnesium ammonium phosphate) bladder crystals and/or stones. Calcium oxalate stones can also occur, but these do not occur if the urine is too alkaline, but rather if it is too acidic. Such stones can create irritation and infection of the urinary tract and require veterinary treatment. In male cats who form such crystals or stones, they can suffer more severe consequences than simply irritation or infection of the urinary tract because the stones can actually cause an obstruction of the urethra so the cat cannot urinate. This is a life-threatening emergency requiring immediate veterinary care; this involves passing a urinary catheter to relieve the obstruction, placing an indwelling urinary catheter, and starting supportive intravenous fluid therapy, along with appropriate pain management and antibiotics if indicated. These “blocked” cats frequently need to be hospitalized and monitored closely for several days before they can go home and the associated veterinary fees can easily be between $1000-$1200. The sooner a problem is identified and the cat is treated, the better the prognosis for recovery. Some cats who get blocked repeatedly require a highly specialized (and expensive, ~$2000) surgery called a perineal urethrostomy (PU).

Cat guardians who put their cat on a vegan diet should have their veterinarian check the cat’s urine pH 1-2 weeks after switching them to a vegan diet and then once a month for the first several months to ensure the pH remains stable. If the pH is too high, urinary acidifiers may help the urine pH to become more acidic. Urinary acidifiers that may be used include methionine, vitamin C, and sodium bisulfate. James Peden, author of Vegetarian Cats and Dogs states there are natural urinary acidifiers, including asparagus, peas, brown rice, oats, lentils, garbanzos, corn, Brussels sprouts, lamb’s quarters (the herb Chenopodium album, also known as pigweed), most nuts (except almonds and coconut), grains (not millet), and wheat gluten (used in kibble recipes). Once the pH is regulated, the urine pH should be checked at least twice a year. If a cat shows signs of pain or straining while using the litter box, immediate veterinary attention should be sought. It is important to not supplement the cat’s diet with urinary acidifiers unless it is actually needed because a too acidic pH can cause a different kind of stone to form (calcium oxalate stones). While many cats appear to thrive on a vegan diet, there are also anecdotal reports of cats with recurring urinary tract problems, including infections associated with previous urethral obstructions caused by urinary crystals.

For cat guardians who find it too tedious to monitor their cat’s urine pH, they should perhaps consider feeding a non-vegetarian cat food or not keeping a cat as a companion. […]

Many cats are very picky eaters. Although adding vegan mock meats and nutritional yeast to flavor vegan cat food will encourage many cats to eat it, there may be many cats who still refuse to eat, especially if they are sick. Cats who are anorectic for a prolonged period are at high risk for developing hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver syndrome), a serious condition that requires extensive veterinary care. Some cats may require more patience and a gradual transition from a meat-based diet to a vegan diet if they are accustomed to eating a meat-based diet. Most commercial pet foods contain “digest” which consists of partially digested chicken entrails, that makes the food more palatable.”

Caring for a cat through a vegetarian/vegan diet requires a lot of time and work. The possible health implications could also be fatal if carried out improperly.

In an article posted on the ABC News website in 2009, Eric Weisman, CEO of Evolution Diet Pet Food Corp., a manufacturer of vegan cat and dog food, said in an interview that his company has been in business more than 20 years. “We have dogs over 19 years old in good health. We have cats over 22 years in good health. Our food is 100 percent complete according to state requirements. We have all the proteins and all the fatty acids found in meat-based [foods] but without the cruelty and destruction of the environment.”

If you’re skeptical of a vegetarian/vegan diet for your cat, yet remain concerned about the health effects of commercial pet food, there are still options. If you buy canned meat for your cat, try looking for brands without “meat by-products” added. This may be a bit more expensive (depending), but the long-term health benefits should be worth the investment. Cats also like fish, which is good (in moderation) because it contains beneficial fatty acids.

Take note of your companion’s health before any new diet is introduced, and after a few weeks of the new food, check it again to determine the nutritional impact. Make sure to gradually phase out the old food instead of making a sudden change. Both of the former points apply to cat and dog diet modifications.

Vegetarian/vegan diets cannot be considered healthy without exercise. Always have a dish of fresh water available for dogs and cats. Adequate hydration is critical for the maintenance of good overall health.

Some vegetarian dog and cat food companies also produce canned meat pet food, so if your objective has anything to do with a desire to economically starve the meat industry, keep this in mind. Some pet food companies also test their products on animals, another point worth consideration.

Always consult a veterinarian if you are even the slightest bit unsure of anything regarding your companion’s diet. If possible, ask multiple vets to get a more varied opinion.

And lastly, be sure to do your own research. Vegetarian/vegan pet food is relatively new in the market, at least in a commercial sense. But its presence is a sign that a demand exists, which is definitely a good sign. Hopefully, research will continue and more effective brands will be created and released in the future.

About the author

Jonathan Reynolds is a contributing writer for the website www.thisdishisvegetarian.com, the site that is dishing up all things pertaining to animal rights, vegan, vegetarian and eco-friendly news. He is a freelance writer and blogger, who lives in upstate NY. For more of his writing visit TDIV or his blog,http://screechingkettle.blogspot.com/.

Dangerous Dog Food – 25 Foods That Could be Dangerous for Your Dog

(article by Dan Bar)

Dogs always seem to want to eat the stuff we’re eating. Problem is, that many of the foods we people eat are not healthy for dogs and some may be hazardous to the dogs health. Some foods which we humans eat, might be dangerous for dogs because dogs have a different metabolism system than us. Some foods may cause only mild digestive problems, while, others can cause serious illness, and even death. There are plenty of foods you should never give your dog but sometimes its hard to ressist your dog’s pleading eyes… The begging face….you know what I mean…. But, before you give in to his pleadings, think about his health.

Understand that you are not doing any good by giving these foods to your dog. I have compiled a list of 25 foods to avoid giving your dog. Take a look at this list and make sure you make the right decision when you are feeding your dog.

Table leftovers (in high measures)

Table scraps are definitely not nutritionally healthy and balanced. They should, under no circumstances amount to be more than 15% of the dogs diet. Fat needs to be trimmed from meats and bones should not be fed

Pork

Although the dog may love pork and ham, it is something that you ought to stop giving him. It could produce many bad effects on his digestive tract. You will Probably notice that the dog will eat pork or ham he will have diarrhea, and he might even vomit with blood.

Tomatoes and uncooked potatoes

Tomatoes and raw potatoes have in them the Glycoalkaloid Solanine, a toxic that may lead to digestive problems in animals.

Chocolate, coffee, tea, as well as other products that contain caffeine

These foods can be toxic and have a bad effect on the heart and nervous systems.

Bones

Bones from fish, chicken, or other meat sources may cause obstruction or laceration in the digestive system.

Liver

Considerable amounts of liver may result in Vitamin A toxicity, which generally affects muscles and bones

Milk and other milk foods

Some adult dogs don’t have sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down the lactose in milk. This can lead to diarrhea. You can provide him with lactose-free dairy products which are available for pets.

Raw eggs

Have an enzyme which decreases biotin (a B vitamin) absorption. This can lead to hair and skin problems. Raw eggs could also have Salmonella.

Onions and garlic (raw, cooked, or powder)

Contain sulfoxides that can harm the red blood cells which in turn may cause anemia.

Sugary foods

Sugary foods might lead to obesity, that cold lead to diabetes. It may also cause dental problems,

Artificial sweeteners

Sweetners usually contain Xylitol that may cause liver failure.

Raw fish

Can cause deficiency in thiamine (a B vitamin). This may lead to seizures, loss of appetite, and in severe cases even cause death.

Mushrooms

Contains toxins, which may affect multiple systems in the body, cause shock, and sometimes result in death.

Salt

If eaten in large quantities salt may lead to electrolyte imbalances.

Alcoholic beverages

Can cause intoxication, coma, and death.

Baby food

Can contain onion powder, which can be toxic to dogs. Can also result in nutritional deficiencies, if fed in large amounts.

Cat food

Cat food is generally too high in protein and fats.

Citrus oil extracts

Can cause vomiting.

Fat trimmings

Can cause pancreatitis.

Grapes and raisins

Contain toxins, which can damage the kidneys.

Human vitamin supplements

Containing iron Can harm the lining in the digestive system. It can be toxic to other organs as well, including the kidneys and liver.

Macadamia nuts

Contain toxins, which affect the muscle, the digestive and nervous systems

Garbage, spoiled and moldy foods

Contain a variety of toxins which may cause diarrhea and vomiting. It can also affect other organs.

Persimmons Seeds

Can cause intestinal obstruction and enteritis.

Peaches and plums pits

Can cause obstruction of the digestive tract.

Yeast dough

Can expand and produce gas in the digestive system which causes pain and may possibly cause rupture of the stomach or intestines.

Dan is an internet author that shares his knowledge and experience online for the past few years. You can get the latest about Motion Detector Alarm and Motion Sensor Alarm by clicking the links.

(article by Dan Bar)

Benefits of Vegetarianism and the Inhumane Industry of Animal Abuse in the Name of ‘Food’

For a number of years now, I’ve become a huge, huge fan of a man named Gary Yourofsky. He is a crusader for animal rights, and advocate of a vegetarian lifestyle. He travels all around the world speaking to audiences, and has gotten arrested probably too many times to count at this point, all in the course of spreading his message.

His approach speaks to the everyday person, and his words and efforts come straight from the heart. He has many videos available, and I chose this one in particular, because it is a great overall speech regarding the ugliness of animal abuse in the name of food, as well as all the incredible health benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. Watch this video all at once, or piece-meal. It’s powerful, and I promise it WILL move you!

Bon Veggie Appetit!
Gina ‘The Veggie Goddess’ Matthews

Apple Cider Vinegar Remedies for Pets

For those already familiar with natural remedies, you most likely already know of the many virtues of pure apple cider vinegar.  However, not as many are aware of the many benefits apple cider vinegar can bring to the health and well-being of our beloved cats and dogs.  So, if your household family consists of one or more furry four-legged family members, then be sure to print out the following list of pet remedies using apple cider vinegar.

Ear Health – To both prevent and relieve a yeast infection in your dog or cat’s ears, swabbing their ears with pure apple cider vinegar helps to dry the inner ears out, as well as balance the pH level.  These are 2 things that make an environment impossible for yeast to live in.

Itchy Skin or ‘Hotspots’ – If your dog or cat is suffering from itchy skin, or has a particular ‘hotspot’ that is causing discomfort, using full-strength apple cider vinegar can bring rapid relief.  Fill a spray bottle with undiluted pure apple cider vinegar, and wherever there is an area of itchy skin or hotspot reaction, part the hair and liberally spray the area with the ACV (apple cider vinegar).  Do this 2-3 times the first day, and you and your pet should start to notice relief within 24 hours.  For areas with broken skin, dilute to a 50/50 ratio of apple cider vinegar 50% ACV – 50% water.

Improve Appetite and Digestion – When transitioning to healthier food options for your pet, it can take a while for your dog or cat to resume their normal eating habits.  To help make this transition smoother and quicker, add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per 50 pounds of body weight, to their meals.  Stir in well, to coat their food and ensure that they will ingest the ACV.  This works best for dogs.  Cats are even pickier, so the best way to get them to ingest ACV, is to put a few drops on each of their front paws.  As they lick their paws during daily grooming, they will also be ingesting the apple cider vinegar.

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Respiratory Health – To help alleviate the symptoms of a mild upper respiratory infection and watery discharge from your pet’s eyes, add 1 teaspoon of ACV to their food daily for smaller dogs, and 1 tablespoon of ACV to the daily food of larger dogs.

Fleas, Ticks, Etc. – One of the easiest methods for repelling fleas, ticks, ringworm, external parasites, bacteria, fungus, mange, staphylococcus, streptococcus and pneumococcus, is by keeping your pet’s system in an alkaline balance, both inside and out.   For keeping your pet in alkaline balance externally, after bathing and water rinsing, spray a final ‘rinse’ of a 50-50 ratio of ACV-water mixture to their coat, and massage in.  To avoid picking up fleas and ticks during a camping trip, liberally spray your pet with ACV and allow them to air dry, before letting them romp in and around through the trees, weeds and grass.  This has also been proven effective at relieving ringworm in cats as well.  And, to help keep your pet’s internal pH balance within optimal alkaline range, just add 1 teaspoon of ACV to their food daily.

Bon Veggie Appetit!

Gina ‘The Veggie Goddess’ Matthews

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4th of July Safety Tips for Pets

While Fourth of July celebrations can be quite enjoyable and exciting for us humans, for animals it can be quite stressing and even hazardous to their health and well-being.  Fireworks, backyard cookouts, alcoholic beverages, mosquito repellant candles, lighters, matches and ‘glow’ jewelry are all part of the holiday fun…again, for humans, not for pets.  In fact, all of these things pose as stress triggers, toxic agents and health hazards to our beloved 4-legged family members.  To help keep your pets safe this Fourth of July holiday, browse through the following Fourth of July safety tips for pets.

Fourth of July Safety

Pets Don’t Do Fireworks – While crowds, loud noises and bright lights excite us humans, it has the exact opposite affect on our pets, and causes quite a bit of stress.  Don’t bring your dog or cat to the fireworks shows, and, instead, ensure that your pet has the comfort of a quiet, sheltered area of your home, hotel room or vacation RV, while all those bright lights and loud explosions are going on.

Alcohol is Poison to Pets – If you’re hosting a Fourth of July party, and serving alcoholic drinks, please remind your guests to be mindful of where they place their cocktails.  Alcohol is poison to pets!  It causes respiratory depression, weakness and intoxication, that can result in coma and even death.  So, please…keep those alcoholic drinks on tables and counters, and not lying on ground level, where pets are easily able to access and drink them.

No Sunscreen – No Insect Repellant – While we think we might be protecting our pets from too much sun exposure, and lather them up with some of our sunscreen, sunscreen made for human use is actually quite toxic to pets.  And, the same goes for trying to protect our pets from mosquitoes, by spraying them with insect repellant meant for human use only.  Ingestion and absorption through the skin of sunscreen and insect repellant products meant for human use only, can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, , excessive thirst and lethargy in pets.  To protect your pets from sunburn and bugs, ONLY use sunscreens and insect repellants meant that are specifically formulated and safe for animal use.

Keep Those Citronella Products Out of Pets Reach – Just as with sunscreens and insect repellants, citronella-based candles, coils and other products, are very toxic to pets.  Ingestion of citronella can cause severe digestive disruption, nervous system depression and, if inhaled, the oils can cause aspiration pneumonia.  Don’t ever apply any product that contains citronella on your pet, and keep all candles, coils and other citronella products safely out of your pet’s reach.

Keep Fireworks, Matches and Lighters AWAY From Pets – Preferably, you are heeding the first safety tip, and your pet is safe and secure in a quiet area of your home, hotel or RV, during the lighting and watching of fireworks.  Exposure to fireworks can cause severe burns and trauma to pets, just as with humans, and ingestion of used fireworks debris can cause extremely harmful system damage due to the hazardous chemicals contained in fireworks, as well as potentially fatal intestinal blockage.  Don’t think it can’t or won’t happen to you.  Please secure your pets in a safe area away from any fireworks activity.

Matches contain chlorates, which damage blood cells, can cause difficulty breathing, and in some cases, even cause kidney damage.  Lighter fluid is very irritating to skin, and, if ingested, can cause severe digestive disturbances and nervous system depression.  If lighter fluid is inhaled, it can cause breathing problems as well as aspiration pneumonia.

No ‘Glow’ Necklaces for Your Pet – ‘Glow’ type jewelry is quite popular these days, and come in necklace, bracelet and stick varieties.  While they are generally safe for use, this doesn’t mean that you should adorn Fido or Fluffy with a ‘glow’ necklace.  If ingested, in whole or in part, it can cause gastrointestinal disturbances, as well as potentially fatal intestinal blockage, so keep them these items off, and away, from your pets.

Bon Veggie Appetit!

Gina ‘The Veggie Goddess’ Matthews

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