Pet Ownership Trends for 2019

What will the hottest pet trends be in 2019?  The Michelson Found Animals Foundation surveyed 1,000 dog and cat owners and compiled a list of pet trends to watch in the coming year.  Here are the highlights:

Pet-related technology will play a greater role in the daily lives of our pets.  What are the most popular pet tech items?

  • Pet health and nutrition apps
  • Pet servicing apps (pet sitting, dog walking, etc.)
  • Pet monitoring cameras
  • Smart pet toys

Alternative therapies for pets are on the rise.  What types of treatments are our pets receiving?

  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic
  • CBD oil (aka cannabidiol oil, a non-intoxicating compound of the cannabis plant)

Pet food trends will continue to mirror human food trends.  Here’s what we’re feeding our pets:

  • Special diets for health and fitness
  • Organic pet food
  • Protein-rich diets
  • Pet food subscription services

 

 

Advertisements

FDA Issues Warning on Vitamin D Toxicity in Several Brands of Pet Food

The US Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning for pet owners about high levels of vitamin D in several brands of dry dog food.

Currently, the affected dog foods are sold under the labels Nature’s Promise, Nature’s Place, Abound, ELM, ANF, Evolve, Sportsman’s Pride, Triumph, Orlando, Natural Life, and Nutrisca.

While already a long list, the FDA notes that the situation is still developing, and more brands may be added in the coming days.  Right now, the list does not include cat food or wet dog food.

Although vitamin D is an essential nutrient, too much vitamin D can cause vitamin D toxicity in dogs.  The symptoms pet owners should know about include:

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Excessive drooling
  • Weight loss

Serious cases can lead to kidney failure and death.

Stop feeding your dog any food on the list and see your veterinarian if you suspect vitamin D toxicity.  Show your vet the food packaging.  The FDA notes that some of the symptoms can mimic those that follow the ingestion of rodenticides.

Pet owners and veterinarians are encouraged to report cases of vitamin D toxicity to the FDA via their safety reporting portal.

 

Why Euthanasia Drugs are Being Found in Pet Food

You may have seen some stories in the news lately about small amounts of euthanasia drugs getting detected in some popular pet food brands.  How does this type of drug end up in dog and cat food?  The answer is obvious but may come as a surprise to many pet owners.

A recent article on the website Gizmodo explains why the sedative pentobarbital, which is commonly used in euthanasia, has been found in at least 27 brands of pet food.  No, pet food companies are not deliberately adding it to their food, but it is ending up in food via third-party suppliers of ingredients used in the food.

Veterinary experts explain that the pentobarbital is coming from euthanized animals, usually horses, that go from farms to animal rendering operations, and eventually, to pet food manufacturers.  The FDA has been aware of this issue since the 1990s, so pentobarbital in pet food is not new.

This recent spotlight on the issue has caused many pet owners to wonder where the meat used in their animals’ food is actually coming from.  The pet food industry says that most makers source meat from livestock slaughtered in the same facilities used for human food.

The problem occurs when some of their suppliers use cheap ingredients as a way to cut expenses, such as euthanized and rendered farm animals like horses, as evidenced by the pentobarbital.

The drug amounts in the food are very small, and although there is a new awareness of the issue, it is unlikely that it will ever completely disappear from all pet foods, given the economic realities of the pet food industry.

What can you do to ensure that your pet is eating quality food?  Talk to your vet about the best pet food options for your individual pets, educate yourself on how to read and understand pet food labels, and be sure to keep track of all pet food recalls and withdrawals via the FDA’s pet food recall webpage.

 

The Many Scientific Reasons that Explain Why Cats are Finicky Eaters

A recent article in The New York Times outlined the different biological and behavioral reasons that explain why many cats are such discriminating eaters.  Turns out your cat isn’t being difficult, she’s just being a cat!

Here are some underlying reasons why your cat may be turning his nose up at dinner:

  • As solitary hunters and eaters, cats tend to eat more slowly and carefully than dogs.  Dog are pack animals and group competition for food makes them eat quickly.
  • Even though a cat’s sense of smell is weaker than a dog’s, it is still very keen, and an unappealing smell can turn your cat off to his food.
  • A cat’s teeth are more well-suited to ripping and tearing meat, not grinding, so wet food is easier to eat than dry food.  Many cats swallow pieces of dry kibble whole, which can then be vomited back up.

  • Cats are true carnivores, so their taste receptors are not geared towards a wide variety of food types, like ours.  Cats naturally prefer protein and are indifferent to sweets and carbohydrates.
  • Cats do have very sensitive taste receptors for bitter foods, however, as anyone who’s ever eaten citrus around a cat can tell you!

Interested in learning more about proper feline feeding and nutrition?  Check out this article from Cornell’s Feline Health Center.

 

New Study Outlines Hazards of Raw Meat Diet for Dogs and Cats

Thinking about switching your pet to a raw meat based diet (RMBD)?  A new study of commercial RMBDs available in pet stores and supermarkets found a significant number of harmful bacteria and parasites in these pet foods.

The results, published this month in the journal Veterinary Record, found the following rates of bacterial contamination in 35 commercial RMBDs from 8 different brands tested:

  • Escherichia coli serotype O157:H7 : 23%
  • Extended-spectrum beta-lactamases-producing E coli : 80%
  • Listeria monocytogenes : 54%
  • Other Listeria species : 43%
  • Salmonella : 20%

Two parasites, Sarcocystis cruzi and Sarcocystis tenella were found 11% of the products. The parasite Toxoplasma gondii was found in 6% of the samples.

Researchers found that the large number of bacteria and parasites in these commercially prepared RMBDs pose a health threat to both pets that consume the food, and humans via handling and exposure to contaminated food.

They also note that dogs and cats on a RMBD are more likely to become infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria than those that consume cooked food.

If you choose to feed your pet a RMBD, it’s important to be aware of the health risks of a raw diet, and how to handle these foods safely.

To learn more about the possible dangers, you can read the American Veterinary Medical Association’s position paper on feeding pets a raw food diet HERE.