CDC Investigates Salmonella in Pig Ear Dog Treats

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with the US Food and Drug Administration, recently issued a health warning to pet owners who feed their dogs pig ear treats.

They are advising people not to buy pig ear treats for their pets, and not to feed your dog any you might already have in the home.

There have been many cases of multi-drug resistant Salmonella, a bacterial infection, associated with these treats.  The Salmonella can affect both dogs and people who handle the treats.

The latest numbers from the CDC show that 127 people in 33 states have become infected.  26 people have been hospitalized, and 24 of the infections have occurred in children under 5 years of age.

While some companies have recalled their pig ear dog treats, the CDC and FDA advise pet owners to avoid all pig ears while the Salmonella outbreak is being investigated.

Here is a brief summary of their advice to dog owners.  Be sure to check out the CDC website for the full story.

  • Avoid buying pig ear treats.
  • Throw away any pig ear treats you might already have (make sure your dog can’t get to them in the trash).
  • Wash areas where pig ear treats were stored.
  • Signs of Salmonella in people include diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps.
  • Signs in dogs include tiredness, vomiting, fever, bloody diarrhea.
  • Report any suspected Salmonella infections to the FDA here.

 

FDA Updates Findings on Link Between Grain Free Dog Food and Heart Disease

The US Food and Drug Administration has been investigating a possible connection between grain free diets and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs.

DCM is a heart condition that is most commonly seen in certain medium to large breed dogs.  The heart becomes enlarged and loses its ability to pump blood to the body.

Veterinarians began noticing an uptick of DCM cases in dogs not normally known to suffer from this disease.  In many of these cases, the dogs were eating grain freed dog food that contained different kinds of potatoes, peas, or lentils instead of wheat.

The FDA updated its findings at the end of June.  What does the latest research say?

  • The most reported breeds among all the cases are Golden Retrievers, mixed breeds, and Labrador Retrievers.
  • The mean age of affected dogs is 6.6 years, and the weight is 67.8 pounds.
  • The vast majority of reported cases were fed a dry dog food diet.
  • 90% of reported food products were labeled as grain free and 93% of reported products contained peas and/or lentils.
  • No one source of animal protein stood out more than others.
  • The most reported pet food brands are Acana, Zignature, and Taste of the Wild.

What are the next steps in this ongoing research?

The FDA is still investigating a possible connection between taurine (an amino acid) and DCM.

Taurine deficiency is associated with DCM in dogs.  Certain breeds are especially susceptible, and researchers are currently looking at taurine deficiency and DCM in Golden Retrievers.

The FDA reports that it continues to work with pet food manufacturers, veterinarians, and pet owners to understand more about this issue.

They encourage vets and owners to report any possible diet related cases of DCM.  You can find more information on reporting HERE.

Be sure to talk to your vet about the best diet for your individual dog.

DCM can be life-threatening.  If your dog is showing unusual signs of weakness, tiredness, difficulty breathing, or collapse, seek veterinary care right away.

 

How to Find Quality Pet Nutrition Information Online

Pet owners commonly seek out dog and cat food information online, whether it’s product reviews, advice on alternative diets, or how to manage your pet’s weight.

But how do you know if the information you are looking at is trustworthy and accurate?

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association has created two helpful guides for finding quality dog and cat nutrition information online.

 

Here are a few important tips (be sure to check out the full guides and other great pet resources on the WSAVA website):

  • Research the credentials of authors of the materials you are reading.  Advice from a certified veterinary nutritionist is more reliable than information put out by pet owners and pet food companies.
  • Be aware if a website’s address is a .com (commercial), .edu (educational), or .org (non-profit).  This can make a difference in the quality of the information.
  • Check to see if any statements or claims are backed up by legitimate sources.  Does the article link to any references, and are they quality references?  Research studies are better sources than promotional materials.

  • Make sure the information you are reading is recent and up to date, as veterinary medicine is always changing.
  • Be especially careful of any anecdotal information, such as pet owners stating that their pets were “cured” by a particular product.

  • Many articles about the “best” pet foods or ones that rate pet foods come from websites that get financial compensation if you click on a product link (such as Amazon affiliate websites).  View these sites with plenty of caution.
  • When in doubt about any information about pet nutrition you find online…ask your veterinarian for guidance and advice!

 

Vets Explain Health Risks of Homemade Cat Food Diets

Researchers at the University of California–Davis have found that homemade diets for cats are often lacking in essential nutrients and could even contain potentially toxic ingredients.

The study, shared in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, evaluated over 100 published recipes and found significant problems with almost all of them.

Most of the recipes, even those written by vets, lacked three or more essential feline nutrients, such as zinc, iron, thiamine, and vitamin E.

Some of the recipes contained ingredients that are toxic to cats, including garlic, onion, and leek.  Some also included bones, which can damage the gastrointestinal system.

Many of the recipes also lacked adequate preparation and feeding instructions, forcing readers to make assumptions about how to make the food and how much to feed their cats.

Feline health experts note that the trend of homemade pet food diets, while popular for dogs, can be trickier for cats because of their unique nutritional requirements as true (or “obligate”) carnivores.

Cats require certain specific nutrients (like taurine) that are only found in animal proteins in order to survive.  The safest option for cat owners is to buy high-quality commercial cat food.

Sometimes vets will recommend a homemade diet for medical reasons, but it’s important to follow a diet that has been created by a certified veterinary nutritionist.

 

The Most Common Food Allergen Sources for Dogs and Cats

Many pet owners struggle with adverse food reactions in their dogs and cats.  It can be difficult to determine what exactly is causing the reaction, and if the reaction is a sign of a food sensitivity or a true food allergy.

The term cutaneous adverse food reaction (CAFR) is used by vets to describe food sensitivities, food intolerances, and food allergies that affect the skin.  The digestive system may or may not be involved in pets with CAFRs.

Veterinary researchers reviewed dozens of scientific studies and published an article listing the most common food offenders for dogs and cats that experience CAFRs.

The most common allergens for dogs are beef, dairy products, chicken, wheat, and lamb.  Less common sources include soy, corn, egg, pork, fish, and rice.

Cats also experience adverse food reactions.  The most common sources for cats are beef, fish, chicken, wheat, corn, dairy products, and lamb.

Talk to your vet if you suspect your pet has a food allergy or intolerance.  Many vets will advise you to try an elimination diet that removes a suspected food source like beef or chicken.  Always make pet dietary changes with guidance and supervision from your vet.

True food allergies tend to be less common than food sensitivities.  If your pet’s skin is affected (as in a CAFR) and not just the digestive system, there’s a better chance that it’s an allergy and not simply a digestion issue.