I Just Can’t Help Myself

So I’m reading through the Pet Food Institute website page on the “History of Pet Food”. Maybe I just like to torture myself but I have to do these little comparisons now and then. I know many people go to many different websites to find information on the best dog foods. It often leads to places like my website encouraging people to dig deeper and think for themselves. So I pop around often to get the take from all different directions.

Today, I’m reading along and this jumps out at me and provokes a, “What?”

Writing about the first “dog foods” actually stemming from Ohio salesman James Spratt’s encounter in 1860 with sailors giving their otherwise wasted leftovers to the dogs at the ports, (The beginning of the pet food recycling program as we know it today.)

“He saw dogs being fed left-over ship’s biscuits and decided he could do better with a carefully compounded preparat­ion of wheat meals, vegetables, beetroot, and meat. It was clearly a step in the right direction, for Spratt’s company thrived selling food to English country gentlemen for sporting dogs.” (bold is my emphasis)

Keeping in mind this is quoted from the Pet Food Institute’s website, I’m clenching my teeth over a statement that assumes the decision Mr. Spratt made to feed dogs his own form of biscuits, was “clearly a step in the right direction…” simply because people bought what he was selling. It’s PEOPLE, PEOPLE! They’ve been looking for ways to make their lives easier since the dawn of having Life get complicated.

When you read on they call this an “early effort to provide pets a more balanced diet”. It’s no wonder that the industry continues to hold itself up as the bridge between starvation and malnutrition and people feeding their own dogs the hunting and scavenging diet of the pre 1860’s. I’m not saying all dogs had perfectly balanced nutrition prior to modern dog food. I’m saying that pretending that marketing and selling is the same as looking out for the health of dogs is a simply ignoring the draw of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on pet food in this country.  James Spratt was a business man. The Pet Industry is a business. It’s about profit.

The existing food and farming industries admittedly used the new pet food industry to make profit from its “by-products”- the stuff it couldn’t use. Again, recycling the waste considered unfit for us to eat, into our pets, in the name of “better foods for their pets”.

When the Pet Food Industry website turned from skewing the information to their favor to outright lying, I had to call “FOUL!” When they wrote that the Department of Agriculture, state feed control officials and AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) “provide[d] additional assurance to pet owners that the processing methods and quality controls used by American pet food manufacturers meet the same safety stand­ards expected for foods for human consumption.” I just couldn’t contain myself!

The FDA and AAFCO regulations allow the use of toxins and diseased flesh considered not suitable for human consumption (READ DANGEROUS) to be put into our dogs’ food, as long as it’s cooked at the right temperature or has the right paperwork filed! (CPG Sec. 675.200 Diversion of Adulterated Food to Acceptable Animal Feed Use, AAFCO September 21, 2012 State Members Letter from Robert D. Waltz, PH.D. 2012 President AAFCO)

The arm of the FDA known as the Center for Veterinary Medicine has a Policy that falls under Compliance Policy Guides (CPG) Sec. 690.300 applicable to Canned Pet Food states that “Pet food consisting of material from diseased animals or animals which have died otherwise than by slaughter, which is in violation of 402(a)(5) will not ordinarily be actionable, if it is not otherwise in violation of the law. It will be considered fit for animal consumption.”

If that’s not enough, according to the FDA website, the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act, states the “courts have interpreted “food” as something that provides nutrition, taste, or aroma.” Did you get that “OR” in there? So according to law “food” for our pets can be something that provides “aroma”. Really? Smell is food now? Great weight loss program.

When the PFI website goes on to say “Pet owners at this time were beginning to understand the importance of balanced diets for dogs and cats, with proper weighting of protein, fat, and carbohydrates…” it’s just making things up. They have no way of proving that. People didn’t know what dogs actually needed, and carbohydrate levels are still not required on pet food labels because no one is demanding it as a way to be sure the foods they feed are healthy, balanced or complete in any way.

The scariest part is near the end of the “History” when they write, “As a result, it is estimated that approximately 95 percent of the calorie intake of pet dogs and cats in the United States comes from commercial pet food – higher than in any other country.” This, my dear friends, is one of the top reasons why we have such a problem with canine disease in this country. Obesity, diabetes, kidney, liver and joint disease, immune-deficiency, cancer, and on and on. It all links back to the foods we feed. If it all started with a great marketing plan that was labeled as “clearly a step in the right direction”, how could it possibly not be healthy? Right?! Isn’t every great food marketing plan geared toward our health and proven by how well it sells?!?

GRRRR!

 

Pet Food Institute: The Voice of U.S. Pet Food Makers

Vegetarian Carnivores?

I’ve been reading some posts regarding feeding dogs and cats vegetarian diets. Regardless of the pure abandonment of biology that this movement necessitates, the larger point I see is the hypocrisy.

So, yes, I’m being bold in this one. When I look at the websites and talk to people who have chosen to change their dogs (or worse yet, cats) to vegetarian diets, I can agree with their concerns, but not their conclusions.

Among the lists of reasons for choosing vegetarian diets, the death and suffering of countless animals is big on the list. The environmental impact of waste and animal feed production are right up there as well. I’m right there with all of the activist who work to change the use of barbaric and toxic means to supply the ever-growing greed for animal flesh that is the United States of America. This country has created a system that can in no way sustain itself, and will continue to increase the deaths and illnesses of the animals and people demanding it. The ethical and health problems of the American food system are blatantly obvious.

Some of the other reasons for choosing a vegetarian diet for carnivores are listed as concern for “conditions such as allergies which are caused by beef, lamb and other meat-based dietary ingredients…”. I also agree this is a problem for many of our dogs, although it is seen most frequently with chicken. This abused and overworked animal has every stage of its life taken for the benefit of others.

Some advocates like to claim “evolutionary adaptations” or “domestication” as reasons to ignore the almost identical biology of dogs to their ancestors. (aprox. .2% difference in their DNA) They sight the “increase in enzymes for starch digestion” or amylase, discovered in the guts of some dogs. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23354050) Even in the “scientific research” categories that I’m a big fan of, I find so much bias and misinformation- or should I say “false conclusion”?

I can be in complete agreement that the U.S. food system is a mess, and it pours over into our dogs’ food through not only the mere fact that the USDA and FDA allow for a lessor quality of ingredient in pet foods, but actually encourage the recycling of human food waste into pet foods. However, I do not agree with feeding foods that are not at least biologically adequate for our dogs either.

Although I can completely agree that many dogs show allergic reactions or sensitivities to some meats, rejecting the natural source of amino-acids, vitamins and minerals needed for health and balance in the canine body as the means of solving that problem is putting blinders on. There are countless toxins introduced to our dogs’ bodies yearly, monthly and sometimes daily from the foods, vaccines (grown on chicken and beef by the way) and flea and heartworm treatments administered. The high amount of carbohydrates and starches in plant-based foods account for excessive amounts of inflammatory responses in dogs. These levels often outweigh the meats in foods with meat listed as the first ingredient.

Although we may see a slight change in gut enzyme production, it isn’t conclusive of a complete change in actual nutrient absorption. When you force a body to consume huge amounts of carbohydrates and starches for a 100 years it’s bound to change a bit. That doesn’t mean it’s “thriving”. It doesn’t change the triggers for insulin release, liver taxing and inflammation produced in dogs or people. Starting with the studies by Weston A. Price showing the horrible degeneration processed foods have on people, so unfolds the effect of kibble on dogs. (In case you don’t know, most kibble is over 40% carbohydrates or starches from plant matter.)

The big picture is totally ignored by most proponents of vegetarian diets for dogs and cats. It’s so hypocritical to lament the suffering of the food industry animals only to ignore the natural needs of the dog you have in your own care.

One of the biggest problems we have in the U.S. is that we cannot produce enough meat to meet the demand if we raise the animals in a humane and healthy way. We cannot give chickens and cows, and sheep, and pigs enough space for the stress-free environment and healthy grazing activities they need. In short, we cannot treat the animals with dignity and appreciation, and continue to benefit from the clean source of nutrition they can provide, unless we completely change our culture.

We also can’t ignore the incredible increase in devastating health problems such as diabetes, kidney and liver disease, tumors, cancer, obesity, immune system and thyroid disease that has shot up in our dog population in the last 50 years due to the excessive use of plant and waste products in dog foods, AND food animal feed. (That’s the food the animals you eat…eat).

If you can look at a cow and know that it needs to be out in a field eating grass and wandering all day in the sun and rain to be healthy. It shouldn’t be that far of a stretch to see that a dog needs to be doing the same thing as its wild counterparts. We’ve taken them into our homes, so we need to modify how they exercise (running at a park or playing ball instead of hunting) and how they eat (from a dish in our home instead of the middle of a field after a hunt).

However, the circumstance doesn’t change the need. The cow may have to live on a farm rather than wild on a hillside. It doesn’t change that she needs fresh grasses or she will grow harmful bacteria and become ill. The same is true of the chicken. Look at an egg from a true pasture raised, omnivorous fed chicken compared to an egg from a ”cage-free” chicken, and you will see the difference immediately.

The dog needs its natural source of amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals from easily accessible animal sources (meats, internal organs and animal fats) as much as a cow needs grass. Just because we can’t feed a cow meat and expect it to survive, but we can feed a dog plants and it will survive, doesn’t mean it’s what’s best for the dog. It simply means that dogs are absolutely incredible compensators when good nutrition isn’t unavailable. We’ve seen that for the last 100 years. It doesn’t kill them it just makes them sick.

It’s obvious biologically that a dog is not designed to eats plants as its main source of nutrition. It’s evident from even the vegetarian dog food websites that the need for supplementation is high, and the risks of adverse effects have to be monitored and compensated for when feeding a dog only plant sources.

How about we all stop being hypocrites and leave the meat for our dogs, and buy only products that use humane, clean practices. Create the demand for what our dogs need rather than depriving them of it because the rest of the country has decided to put the blinders on. Perhaps that will allow us all to thrive.

Trifexis – interview application

I’ve spoken to veterinary offices, people in pet stores, and friends in “the business” who all have different opinions about the safety of the treatments prescribed by vets for heartworm, flea and worm “prevention”. A big hot topic is the drug Trifexis.

One of the things I think is important to do in order to educate ourselves is to separate the social media hype from the fear-inducing advertising, from the actual look at the known available information.

You may be familiar with the Facebook pages and websites that are full of stories about dogs that have been killed or become ill after using Trifexis. You may have seen or received information from a vet about the “serious threat to your dog’s health” that can come from parasites in your home or yard. Both points of view are based on experiences. Dog guardians have had their pets die or become ill while both using and not using Trifexis. Veterinarians have given Trifexis doses in the thousands and prevented parasites. What an educated Dog Snob needs to do is get the facts about what really goes on when these drugs are approved for use in our dogs.

When it comes to approving a drug for the market, the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) (a branch of the FDA) relies upon the drug manufacturer’s data to determine the safety of the drugs seeking approval for use. Yes, you read that right. The CVM doesn’t have the ability to do their own testing, so they rely on scientific studies provided by credited laboratories, and supplied by the drug applicants. Since that is the guideline used to make this drug available to the public, I thought it prudent to look at what was actually submitted. I found the January 4, 2011 Freedom of Information Act, Original New Drug Application for Trifexis on the FDA website at http://www.fda.gov/downloads/animalveterinary/products/approvedanimaldrugproducts/foiadrugsummaries/ucm252248.pdf.

When reviewing the numerous “studies” (read experiments) that were done for the drug, one has to understand the actual requirements for these tests include the use of beagles bred for laboratory testing and destruction for necropsy. One has to understand the controlled environment, foods and stressors put on the dogs used for the “studies”. The language is repetitive, excessively scientific, and clinically cold. The most significant aspect of the available information is at the conclusion of each record. No matter what the “study” recorded as far as results, the conclusion was always “The data demonstrate that TRIFEXIS Chewable Tablets, when used according to the label, are safe and effective for the prevention of…” heartworm, flea, or worms, depending upon the “study”.

Also significant are the CVM approval statements:

VI.AGENCY CONCLUSIONS: The data submitted in support of this NADA (New Animal Drug Application) satisfy the requirements of section 512 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and 21 CFR part 514. The data demonstrate that TRIFEXIS Chewable Tablets, when used according to the label, are safe and effective for the prevention of heartworm disease (Dirofilaria immitis). TRIFEXIS Chewable Tablets kill fleas and are indicated for the prevention and treatment of flea infestations (Ctenocephalides felis), and the treatment and control of adult hookworm (Ancylostoma caninum), adult roundworm (Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonina) and adult whipworm (Trichuris vulpis) infections in dogs and puppies 8 weeks of age or older and 5 pounds of body weight or greater.”

When I read the document, I was not surprised that my standards for what is considered “safe” did not seem to be in line with what the veterinary branch of the FDA thinks is “safe”. This is the reason I find it necessary to look things up for myself rather than assuming a product is safe because it made it onto the market. It’s also interesting that the word “safe” is only used in the first section referring to the prevention of heartworm disease. It’s not used in reference to the other applications.

When I actually read the Trifexis study information from the actual drug application, I had no explanation for why anyone would believe this product was safe to give to a dog at any time.

While not all of the “studies” reported “adverse reactions”, the most consistent statements were:

“Vomiting and diarrhea were likely associated with treatment with TRIFEXIS Chewable Tablets.”

“… loose stool in one dog and regurgitation of food … These adverse reactions were likely treatment related.”

“The vomiting in each case occurred within two hours after dosing with TRIFEXIS Chewable Tablets.”

“… loose stool, were observed in three dogs treated with TRIFEXIS Chewable Tablets”

“The most frequently reported adverse reactions for TRIFEXIS Chewable Tablets were vomiting, pruritus, lethargy, diarrhea, dermatitis, reddening of the skin, decreased appetite, and reddening of the ears.”  (This was in a “Field safety study” of “client owned” dogs.)

Some of the studies accounted for 20% to 30% of the animals having adverse reactions to the Trifexis.
That’s a 1 in 5 or better chance of having a reaction. While some “studies” showed no recorded reactions, if it was a food no one would feed it. When a dog has a month to try to recover from the effects of this drug combination, the likelihood that consistent and close consumption would result in increased side-effects to serious illness is obvious. Why people don’t make this connection is not clear to me. Maybe it’s just a memory problem. The symptoms go away till the next time they give it. Until they don’t go away, but get worse. Is it too late then?

To prove this common-sense string of logic wrong, companies perform “studies” that give the dogs multiple times the recommended dose over the same amount of time. If they come out alive and with minimal side-effects, the company considers it proof of safety. In the case of Trifexis it went something like:

 “c. Study Design: 1) Objective: Evaluate the safety of TRIFEXIS Chewable Tablets when first administered to 8-week old dogs at 1X, 3X, and 5X the upper half of the recommended therapeutic dose based for six dosing periods.”

The significant part of this “study” is the conclusion:

A conclusion about dose proportionality for plasma milbemycin A3 5-oxime could not be made because of a limited number of quantifiable concentration measurements. One dog in the 1X group had a red ovarian cyst found at necropsy. The few additional macroscopic observations were considered incidental and unrelated to treatment. There was a decrease in mean kidney/brain weights for the 3X dogs and an increase in mean kidney/body weight values in the 5X group both when compared to controls. The relevance of the changes in the 3X group is unknown as that group was not histologically examined. One 5X dog had minimal glomerular lipidosis observed microscopically. The clinical relevance of this finding is unknown. Conclusions: The oral administration of TRIFEXIS Chewable Tablets at 1X, 3X, and 5X the upper half of the therapeutic dose band once monthly for six dosing periods in dogs was well tolerated in this study. Plasma concentrations of spinosad and milbemycin oxime indicate that expected systemic exposures were achieved throughout the study. Clinical signs related to treatment were salivation, tremors, decreased activity, cough and vocalization. Vomiting was seen in all groups, including the control group.”

Just so you understand what I hear when I read this, I will give my synopsis.
Scientists gave puppies 1 times, 3 times and 5 times the recommended dose of Trifexis in a controlled study to evaluate the safety of the product. They couldn’t make any conclusions about dosing Trifexis because some unexpected things showed up that they weren’t prepared to factor into the study. To keep things moving along they noted them as ‘things they saw’, and said they don’t know why they happened.
The conclusion was that the puppies tolerated the excessive doses of Trifexis for 6 months very well because they got the drug in them and all groups, even the control groups that didn’t receive the Trifexis, had side-effects like tremors, low energy, coughing, vomiting and crying.

As far as I know, a study is not considered to be done correctly if the control group and the dosed group have even some of the same responses. I think they call that “inconclusive”. Oh yea, they actually did say “A conclusion…could not be made…” That study should have been done over with different results in order to make any properly scientific conclusions. To say they saw things they couldn’t account for and then write that off as not significant seems completely…what’s the word? ABSURD!

As if that wasn’t enough, the “study” done on pregnant females noted “With the exception of weight loss in the first six weeks at the 3X dose, spinosad and milbemycin oxime (Trifexis) administration throughout the female reproductive cycle was clinically well-tolerated in adult Beagle dogs. The relationship between spinosad and milbemycin oxime treatment and the 1X and 3X dogs that did not become pregnant, the specific pup malformations, and the unthrifty 1X group pup are unknown.

Again- ‘We don’t know why the stuff we saw happened so…’

The “specific malformations” referred to included: “… a pup with cleft palate and a littermate with anophthalmia (absence of one or both eyes), fused single nares (fused nose), misshapen palate, hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain), omphalocele (organs outside the body), and small testes malpositioned cranial to kidneys; a pup with a malformation of the anterior tip of the urinary bladder and umbilical blood vessel; and a 4-day-old pup with patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)(blood vessels around the lungs don’t close and abnormal blood flow results between the aorta and the pulmonary artery, ie heart disease).”

The significance of these birth defects to the puppies of the bitches given 1 to 3 times the recommended dose of Trifexis is interesting in two ways. One: it happened. Um, perhaps we need to look into this more, or maybe recommend it not be given to pregnant females. The package recommend “use with caution in breeding females” and notes it has not been evaluated for breeding males.

Two: the second part of the report states”

Malformations in the 3X group included three 2- to 3- day-old littermates with PDA Malformations in the control group included a pup with a malformed sternum (pectus excavatum), and a 2-day-old pup with PDA and a malpositioned superior vena cava. The incidence of cleft palate is not unexpected based on the historical data collected at the breeding site.

That means the dogs used in the study are noted as having a predisposition for heart disease in the tested groups, as well as an additional heart diseases, cleft palate and sternal malformations. This is why they write the birth defects off as not related to the drug being tested.

Now I’m no scientist, but I do have a brain, and if there’s no sure method of testing a drug to make sure it’s safe, I’m not o.k. with pretending. I think most actual scientists are not big fans of just pretending either.

Now there’s a whole lot more in that original drug application that I can expand on, like the significance of vomiting and diarrhea, the build-up of toxins in the body, and the testing parameters used in 6 month experiments.

However,  I think you understand my concerns.

My biggest concern for everyone out there using Trifexis is this:

Almost every significant part of the “studies” done on Trifexis are actually printed on their labels.
Check it out at http://www.elanco.us/labels/Companion-Animals/Trifexis.pdf

If you have a package at home, you should already know about everything I just wrote. Take a closer look.

Get Educated For Dogs’ Sake.

“Spent Hen” Dinner

With so many aspects to take in from the latest ingredients definition AAFCO meeting I listened to on Tuesday August 4th, I’ have to say one subject that really caught my attention was the poultry by-product definition. I found myself having a new understanding of the problem we face as pet owners who are opposed to poisoning our animals through their own food.

It’s not that I don’t already know that AAFCO is not looking out or our pets when it comes to what goes into “pet foods” (which AAFCO categorizes under “feed”). For those who don’t already know, just briefly- AAFCO sets nutritional minimum and maximum requirements in pet foods based upon the National Research Council’s Nutrient Requirements for Cats and Dogs, (and other research and opinions) and defines the ingredients, labeling requirements and methods of laboratory testing on ingredients in animal feed.  If a company abides by their “regulations” it can avoid having to make new labels and food for each state it sells to. That’s a condensed version, but you get the idea.

The significant part of the meetings I listened to are boiled down to the complete lack of knowledge of the products they are defining, and the fact that definitions are created for what already exists in the industry.

The committee representative, Megan, admitted that she had no idea that, in this case chicken, was processed in so many different ways. She mentioned ‘dry rendering’, ‘wet rendering’, and ‘pet rendering’ as a few. She stated that as far as the poultry processing facilities, “very few of us have been there.” It is in- fact the USDA that would be inspecting those facilities, not AAFCO. The significance is that the people (AAFCO) who are defining what the facilities are processing actually don’t know what it is.

A comment was made by a representative of the rendering industry regarding actually defining poultry products, in which he voiced the opinion that users of the products can’t define them because “manufacturers know what can and can’t be done”. Since the ingredients poultry and poultry by-products are not used exclusively for pet foods they (I think he means consumers) can’t dictate what the definition is. He wanted a broad definition because of the wide use in so many other industries, and suggested companies can decide what they want to use in their own products.

Now this was interesting to me. I believe we as pet guardians get very focused on the responsibility AAFCO and the USDA and FDA have for making our pet food safe. I think we forget how these regulators and rule-makers classify pet food as feed. (Read Susan’s recounting of the conversation about recycled grocery garbage going to dairy feed on her blog) They are willing to feed garbage (literally) to the animals that they themselves will someday eat. Do we really think they’re going to create a special category of clean, healthy food regulated for our pets? They don’t know what the rendering and processing plants are actually doing. They are making definitions that are accommodating what is considered necessary to do to keep unwanted items out of the landfills! That’s what the pet food industry has been doing for 100 years.

So when the fancy new consumer information part of the website AAFCO just launched at  http://www.aafco.org/Consumers/What-is-in-Pet-Food tells us that:

“Poultry is the clean combination of flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from the parts or whole carcasses of poultry or a combination thereof, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet and entrails. It shall be suitable for use in animal food. If it bears a name descriptive of its kind, it must correspond thereto. If the bone has been removed, the process may be so designated by use of the appropriate feed term.””

And

““Poultry By-Products must consist of non-rendered clean parts of carcasses of slaughtered poultry such as heads, feet, viscera, free from fecal content and foreign matter except in such trace amounts as might occur unavoidably in good factory practice. If the product bears a name descriptive of its kind, it must correspond thereto.””

And

““Poultry By-Product Meal consists of the ground, rendered clean parts of the carcasses of slaughtered poultry such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices.….{the definition goes on to include the required mineral specifications and required nutrient guarantees}….. If the product bears a name descriptive of its kind, it must correspond thereto.””

you may have some really big questions. I certainly can point out some major problems in consistency with these definitions- let alone the actual allowed ‘parts’. The part I’d like to address was what came up in the Definitions Committee meeting-  the committee member admitted she couldn’t recommend a change in the definition of poultry by-product meal because she didn’t actually have enough information on what in the industry actually is being used as poultry by-product meal.

Leave it to Susan Thixton of Truthboutpetfood.com to bring up a tiny little question that changed an entire definition in a matter of minutes. Susan had a question about feathers which may be present in the “unavoidable…good processing practices”.

She was concerned about the fact that the definition allowed for feathers in the definition of poultry by-products and poultry meal because it is obviously not something pet owners want in their dog or cat food. An industry representative was quick to point out that they couldn’t avoid feathers completely because of “spent hen” disposal as part of these products. Whhhaat?

Now I know there are so many things to keep track of in the “pet industry” that it makes my head spin, but I guess I’ve been so otherwise occupied that I missed this one. “Spent hens” are those that can no longer lay eggs. They’ve been used up. Typically they’re around two years old and have lived their whole lives as egg layers, often being forced into a molting state to increase their production before they are “retired”. These hens are generally too scrawny to be used for human consumption and become expense and waste the egg farms need to recover. In come the rendering companies who will take the “spent hens” and turn them into pet food.

The little problem with using “spent hens” is that they generally have fragile bones and so little meat, that processing is simply done by rendering the animal whole. That is where our “…feathers except in such amounts as might occur avoidably in good processing practices” come into play. Thousands upon thousands, millions upon millions of “spent hens” are processed as whole animals into “poultry by-products” and “poultry by- product meal” in our country. Check your labels. Do they say ground, whole “spent hens”? NO. Why? Because AAFCO defines them as “exclusive of feathers except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices.

The even more fascinating thing that came of that question from Susan was the decision to remove the feather part of the definition because it was a given that they were going to be in the products due to the amount of “spent hens” used. The concern voiced then was, does that mean feathers can be added? Gee I wonder? If it doesn’t say they can’t…

Significant on so many levels. Remember, the man said there ‘should be a broad definition for many uses in the industry’. What are you eating that has “spent hen” as an ingredient?

Does this seem o.k. to you?

I think I’ve just been a Dog Snob too long to really know what other people see anymore. I came across an ad in my local paper for a low cost spay and neuter hosted by Pasado’s Safe Haven. The ad stated that in addition to the low cost spay and neuters, “additional services of flea control and vaccines [were] available WITH surgery.” (The bold type is my addition.)

Now, I appreciate organizations that can offer veterinary services to those of us who may not be able to afford something needed at the time. However, not only did the thought of giving vaccines and flea treatments to an animal WITH a surgery make me want to scream, “STOP!” but the “clinics” are being held outside of a veterinary office. These clinics are being held all over the area at pet stores and even grocery store parking lots.

If you have no idea why this bothers me, you’re not a Snob and I recommend getting yourself educated for your dog’s sake.

I don’t like going to the vet any more than the next person, but I appreciate what their facilities are for. When a dog needs a surgery, he needs to have a clean environment with IV fluids, and proper anesthetic equipment and monitoring. He needs access to emergency and precautionary measures. He also needs appropriate recovery monitoring. I will admit I’ve not been to a low cost spay and neuter clinic offered by Pasado’s , but I’m guessing they don’t have the pet owners stay for an hour or three to be sure the animals recover properly form the anesthesia. The last surgery one of my dogs had involved most of the day due to my vet’s monitoring of her recovery.

If a dog is undergoing a surgery which involves cutting the dog open in any way, removing any internal organs (which both a spay and neuter do) the dog will have an inflammatory response due to the trauma on the flesh, AND an immune system response due to the exposure of the internal body to the external world, AND an adrenal response to send needed extra nutrients to all the hard working blood cells, enzymes, nerves, and other tissue and anti-body responders. It doesn’t take a scientific degree to know that there’s a tremendous amount of stress on the body when a dog undergoes surgery.
In addition- a dog does not understand what’s happening when he’s being forced to submit to the handling needed for a surgery. Think of it much like trying to explain it to a two or three year old child. I’m sure there are parents out there who know exactly what that’s like. How do you keep someone who doesn’t understand what’s happening from becoming overly stressed? What does stress do to a body? Stress brings the body’s defensive mechanisms into action. In the case of a spay or neuter on a dog, this means the animal is in a more heightened state of immune re-activity and body-protective, and nutrient-expenditure activity.

So why would anyone in their right mind add injectable diseases and neurotoxins to the dog’s body at the same time? The body will then be asked – while in this heightened state of re-activity- to form or send antibodies to combat the typically multiple diseases injected in to the musculature or blood stream, AND address skin (the largest organ on the body) exposure to absorbable neurotoxins that direct the body’s attention to the surface, which is already broken open and reactive to the surgery.

If one of the animals at those clinics has a reaction, how will the veterinarian on site know what the animal is reacting to? How will he know what to treat for when so many dangerous and disruptive procedures are done at one time? Does he even have what he needs on site to address a surgical emergency? What about a vaccine reaction? I’m not a fan of any of the offered services for these clinics, but I don’t understand how a veterinarian can ethically do them all at once in a parking lot of a local pet or grocery store.  Think about it. Would you let someone do it to you? Your kid? Do you think it’s a good idea just because it’s “low cost”?

 

Make it Routine

Sometimes it’s the little things we learn that can make a big difference in our dog’s lives. I almost skipped the July 22nd newsletter of the day from Dr. Karen Becker. (or whomever is putting out the e-mails for her these days) Many of the titles that come through my e-mail box are a bit dramatic and I sometimes get resistant to the big headline pressures. This one I was glad I opened.

I’ve always believed having IV fluids administered during surgery was a necessity for anyone, including my dogs. I’d always thought of it as one of those extra steps vets take to do a thorough job. What I hadn’t done is really looked at what it actually IS for. I hadn’t educated myself yet.
After reading Dr. Becker’s article, I felt even more confident that it was needed, and now I know exactly why. (Lesson learned- at least take a quick look at any of Dr. Becker’s articles to be sure I don’t miss anything important.)

According to her article about the study led by Deborah Silverstein, Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) School of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Clinical Studies, the routine practice of administering IV fluids during any surgery for humans, should also be routine for our dogs. According to the article that practice is only “recommended” by the American Animal Hospital Association, not routine.

According to the study it could mean the difference between low blood pressure caused by dehydration of the “microcirculatory system” in a dog’s body, and a well oxygenated circulatory system allowing nutrients to come in and waste to leave. This could be the difference between a dog that develops major organ damage after anesthesia, or possibly dies on the table, and one that maintains its body’s ability to do its job and heal after the trauma of surgery.

According to Dr. Becker, “Your dog’s circulatory system transports oxygen and nutrients to the cells and tissues of his body, and removes waste products and carbon dioxide. Arteries and veins travel to and from the heart, lungs, and other organs, and these larger vessels branch off into smaller arterioles and venules that contract and expand to allow blood to flow to and from the capillaries. Cells reside inside the network of tiny capillaries. “…” Anesthesia can inhibit the body’s ability to regulate blood pressure, and the combination of fluid loss and anesthetic drugs can result in a decrease in blood flow to and from the cells of your pet’s body.”

While the overall study only showed more significance in the larger vessels, these are the ones that feed the smaller parts of the circulatory system. The other aspect I felt was significant was that they didn’t measure the blood flow after the surgery. When I think of all the possible complications from a dog being anesthetized to begin with, including possible kidney damage, I’m all for giving the body the fluids it needs to cleans and keep oxygen levels up once that surgery is over. I think they should have continued to check the circulation in the smaller vessels as the body was recovering.

So why isn’t IV fluid routine for any surgery for animals? In her article Dr. Becker suggests it’s due to the added cost. Now, I don’t know about you, but I consider it my veterinarian’s job to look after the health of my dog when something as complex as a surgery is on the line. If my dog’s ability to get oxygen and prevent damage to his organs during and after surgery is related to his hydration level, it seems like IV fluids should be on the checklist for every surgery.

I did manage to find the recommendations from the AAHA regarding the use of IV fluids, and you can read them here.

It’s significant that an excess is also mentioned as a cause of complications, so any fluids administered need to be done by a licensed and experienced veterinarian.
It’s also significant that the IV fluid recommendations are under an entirely separate section of the guidelines under “Fluid Therapy” rather than the guidelines for “anesthetizing dogs and cats that can be used daily in veterinary practice”. I say they make it routine to “offset fluid loss” and feed the tissues and cells. In my experience (which has been all too recent) IV fluids run between $50 and $130 depending on your local vet or a specialty veterinary hospital. In the scope of things, I still say make it routine.

You can check out Dr. Becker’s article here.