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Avoid a Pet Emergency Super Sunday Overtime: Championship Game Parties Can be Dangerous to your Dog and Cat

Your Super Sunday party may be dangerous to your pet. Here are some tips to make sure your Big Game party activities don’t end up with an overtime veterinary emergency.

Super Sunday now trails only Thanksgiving in terms of US food consumption. This enormous engorgement not only threatens many New Year’s weight loss resolutions, it also may add unhealthy pounds and pose hidden dangers to our dogs and cats. Sharing a few nibbles of healthy snacks such as celery or carrots is fine — pizza and wings are not.

When we look at weight gain in humans and pets, big single-day caloric consumption can have life-long consequences. A pet can be fed a healthy, low-calorie diet and have their efforts erased with a huge feast.

There are several foods to avoid feeding your pet on Super Sunday. Don’t feed your pet anything fried or battered, covered in creamy sauces and steer clear of salty snacks. In fact, I recommend limiting any super snacks to crunchy vegetables such as broccoli, baby carrots, celery and asparagus. Each chicken wing has about 55 calories. A 20-pound dog fed a single chicken wing is similar to an average adult eating almost seven wings. Feed a 40-pound dog one-half slice of pepperoni pizza and that’s the same as an adult consuming two slices of pepperoni pizza and a 12-ounce cola. That adds up.

It’s not just the game day calories that worry me. Americans will eat about 1.25 billion chicken wings during the Big Game. That equals 1.25 billion chances for a dog or cat to ingest a bone that can cause serious complications, even death. I want to warn pet owners not to feed their pets chicken wings due to the risk of intestinal obstruction or worse.

An often overlooked risk of chicken wings is salt. One buffalo wing has 160 to 200 mg of sodium. That’s about the amount of sodium recommended for a 20-pound dog in a single day. Feeding a dog too much salt can cause high blood pressure and can contribute to kidney and heart disease. Other foods high in salt that should not be fed to pets include pizza, hamburgers and cheeseburgers, fries, pretzels, potato chips, canned beef stew, potato salad and many sauces.

“Chicken wing bones and salt are not the only potential dangers a pet may face on Championship Sunday.” adds University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine veterinary nutritionist and internal medicine specialist Dr. Joe Bartges. “Foods such as chocolate, raisins, macadamia nuts, and foods containing Xylitol may be toxic. Eating foods high in fat not only increases calorie intake, but may cause problems such as vomiting and diarrhea or life-threatening pancreatitis.”

Alcohol is another potential danger for pets. Dogs and cats are extremely sensitive to alcoholic beverages and will often drink from half-empty cups and bottles and become ill. As little as a few ounces of beer or wine can prove toxic to a dog or cat. It’s important that pet owners never leave alcoholic beverages unattended and discard any containers as soon as you’re done.

One final Super Sunday danger I want to warn you about – stress. You may have friends and family over, rooting for your favorite team with lots of loud noises and high-fiving. All of this may prove especially stressful for the four-legged family members that have little interest in the big game. If you notice your dog or cat cowering or pacing, provide a quiet, safe space for them to relax away from the action. Otherwise, you may be awakened early Monday morning by unwelcome stress-related diarrhea.

PET FOOD RECALL AvoDerm Natural Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Adult Dog Formula

The FDA has announced a recall of AvoDerm Natural Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Adult Dog Formula due to risk of possible Salmonella contamination. AvoDerm is made and distributed by Breeder’s Choice owned by Central Garden & Pet Company based in Walnut Creek, California. The recalled pet food was distributed in:

  • California
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Nevada
  • Virginia
  • Washington




The full FDA recall is here:

Breeder’s Choice Pet Food Recalls AvoDerm Natural Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Adult Dog Formula Because of Possible Salmonella Health Risk


Mark Newberg

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 11, 2012 – Breeder’s Choice Pet Food is recalling a single manufacturing batch of Breeder’s Choice AvoDerm Natural Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Adult Dog Formula due to possible contamination with Salmonella. The product affected by this recall is identified below and has the following “Best Before” dates:

Product Code/SKU/ Material # UPC Code Size Product Name/Description Best Before Code (day/month/yr)
1000065074 0 5290702043 8 26 lb. AvoDerm Natural Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Adult Dog Formula 28 Aug 2013
29 Aug 2013
30 Aug 2013

Product and product lots that do not appear on the list above are not subject to this recall.

Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is a risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Healthy people exposed to Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

No human or pet illnesses have been reported to-date. The recall notification is being issued based on a single manufacturing batch wherein a sample with the “Best Before” dates of August 28, 29 and 30, 2012 had a positive result for salmonella. The AvoDerm Natural Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Adult Dog Formula product was originally manufactured on August 29, 2012 and distributed on August 30 and 31, 2012. Salmonella testing was conducted by Silliker, Inc. (Southern California Laboratory). Breeder’s Choice Pet Foods has taken immediate action to remove the product from all applicable distribution centers and retail customers, and is fully investigating the cause.

Recalled products were distributed to retailers and distributors in the states of California, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, Virginia, and Washington.

Consumers who have purchased the AvoDerm Natural Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Adult Dog Formula product with the above-referenced “Best Before” dates are urged to contact Breeder’s Choice Customer Service representatives.

A letter and instructions have been forwarded to all Breeder’s Choice Pet Food customers. Breeder’s Choice Customer Service representatives and company veterinarians are responding to inquires through the 1-866-500-6286 phone number and will answer any questions regarding pets that have been fed the product. Pet owners can also visit the Breeder’s Choice Pet Food website for more information http://www.avoderm.com/.


Making Made in China Pet Foods Awesome

How pet food manufacturers are hoping to erase the stigma attached to pet foods made in Asia

Made in China. Three words I don’t like to see associated with my pet’s food or treats. After the 2007 massive and deadly pet food recall, I know many pet parents feel the same.

You can imagine my surprise when I received the following invitation to an upcoming pet food conference in Shanghai:

Say it ain’t so. Looks like at least some pet food companies are up to their old tricks again. In an effort to divert attention from current concerns over Chinese-made petfoods and treats, this seminar is designed to help manufacturers reshape their image and make “Made in China” pet food awesome again. Or at least make you comfortable buying it.

This seminar at the upcoming Petfood Forum China is offering pet food companies advice on how to “overcome a perception in the American marketplace that Asian-made consumer goods are poorly made.” Wonder where we got that crazy idea? Oh yeah, that whole melamine-poisoning thing and now these jerky treats the pesky FDA is warning us about. All those toys containing lead. Poisoned infant milk replacer. Fortunately we have someone who is pledging to teach pet food companies how to “move away from the stigma.” Thank goodness.

To be clear, Asia is a big place. I’m no geographer, but I believe Asia is the largest of our planet’s seven continents. On that king of all continents, China is by far the largest country, with some 1.3 billion Chinese living inside its borders. Also in Asia is Thailand, nestled in-between India and China. The reason I mention this is that Thailand has reportedly some of the best food production standards for pets and people found anywhere in the world. China, not so much. This is important because most people, including myself, think “China” whenever they hear “Asia.” I’ve got no beef with Thailand. I have serious questions for China.

What I am concerned about is how pet food marketers are deliberately, strategically and quietly setting out to sway our perceptions of pet food made in Asia. Maybe this seminar is limiting its definition of “Asia” to “Thailand.” If so, we’re all good.

Somehow I doubt it. Regardless, the Chinese could certainly learn a thing or two from the Thai when it comes to pet food manufacturing standards. I’m not sure if the conference organizers in Shanghai, China would agree but at least Petfood Forum China has an out card to play. Sort of. It depends of what the definition of the word “is” is. Or “Asia” in this case. I seem to remember there’s a lot of Asia on the map.

Speaking of maps, why are we making pet food in a foreign country when we have a perfectly good country of own? Can’t we at least keep pet food production on the North American continent?

What really peeved me is that the seminar is designed to teach companies “ways to prove regulations, quality and safety practices are being followed.” Prove that regulations are being followed in Asia? Are they? At least it appears not in that largest of Asian countries, China. NBC News reported on August 22, 2012 that Chinese officials “have refused to allow U.S. inspectors to collect samples for independent analysis…” Sounds like someone’s not playing by the rules. Is that “Asia” or “China?” China, oops, Asia really is quite lovely.

When it comes to pet foods, I’m not sure how lovely China currently is. I’m not so eager to feed my pets and patients Chinese foods yet. I’m not even keen on importing and relying on foreign foods in general. With historically high unemployment in our country, are there not American ingredient sources for pet foods? Those are jobs we’re exporting to Asia. Every can or bag represents another lost American employment opportunity. It’s hard for me to defend that. I may not understand why iPods are made in Asia, but I do know farming and food production. Last time I checked American farmers were arguably the best on the planet. They don’t call us the “food basket of the world” for nothing. Sure, there are loads I’d like to see changed about my country and our agricultural system. No matter how mad I get at my legislators sometimes, I relish the fact that our food safety inspectors can inspect unfettered and unannounced. I can’t say the same for many other countries.

What I really want to alert American pet parents to is the fact that pet food manufacturers are actively plotting to remodel the debate on Asian (read “Chinese”) food, ingredients, and processing. I believe they’re largely doing this because it’s cheaper. Despite a massive nationwide pet food recall, lack of transparency by Chinese officials, and ongoing concerns over Chinese-made treats, it looks as though at least some pet food manufacturers are ignoring these facts in favor of making more money. Maybe this seminar can help.

And they can. The fact that you’re reading this is helping focus attention on how Asian-made pet foods can be made correctly. Thailand is apparently already doing it. I can only hope the conference organizers will use their influence to pressure the Chinese, er, Asian pet food manufacturers to allow the FDA to inspect certain pet food facilities and adopt our food handling and processing guidelines. There’s hope that one day veterinarians and pet owners like me will brag about the safety and quality of Chinese, sorry, Asian pet foods in general. That would be a great day, indeed. I hereby declare to Petfood Forum China this challenge: help clean up the Chinese, dang it, Asian pet food industry.

Consider yourself warned, American pet owners. With the upcoming Presidential election, we’ll be voting for who we think can best guide us through the current foreign relations, social policies, and economic messes we find ourselves in. Choose carefully.

You also vote for American jobs each time you make a purchase. I, for one, am not interested in new marketing and advertising strategies to try and convince me that everything’s fine with pet foods coming out of Asia. There are plenty of problems with all pet foods, American or foreign made. This was just one marketing maneuver I wasn’t expecting. You’re now officially notified. Let’s do something about it. Cast your vote with your purchases, find out where your favorite products are made, and stay vigilant about food safety. Together we can make pet food awesome again.

Buster and the Botanical Brownies

by Dr. Ernie Ward

“Uh, Doc, how bad would it be if a dog ate a bunch of brownies?”

The late night caller’s speech was a little slow and slurred. “Me and my girlfriend were cooking brownies and our dog accidentally ate some of them.”

While it’s true chocolate is toxic to dogs, the small amount of milk chocolate in a few brownies probably wouldn’t cause anything worse than vomiting or diarrhea.

“How is your dog acting now?” I asked.

“Well, she’s kind of stumbling around.”

Large amounts of dark chocolate can cause abnormal neurological symptoms. Now I was getting worried.

“Did you use dark chocolate in your brownies?”

“No, man. We just used whatever’s in the box.” I hear a female giggling in the background.

“Does your dog have any current medical conditions? Epilepsy, seizures, liver or kidney disease, anything?”

“Nothing, man. I’ve never seen her act this way before.” More giggling in the background.

An important part of being a veterinarian is learning to interpret what the pet owner isn’t telling you.  I was beginning to get a good idea of what was going on. I also wanted to have a little fun.

“Oh, my, this could be serious.” (I had to suppress my own giggling.) “Tell me, are you taking any medications? Could you have perhaps dropped something on the floor that she ate?”

“Nah, dude. I ain’t taking no medicine.” (Raucous laughter is now heard as he covers the phone.) “What kind of medicine would hurt a dog?”

Finally a serious question. “Many human drugs are toxic to dogs and cats. Are you sure there’s nothing your dog could’ve accidentally gotten into? Maybe someone left something at your house?” It was time for the caller to give up the answer.

“Well, uh, what if a dog somehow stole some skunk, I mean, marijuana, and ate it. Would it hurt them?”

Bingo! I’d just won the “Name that Narcotic” game! Marijuana is one of the more common accidental toxins for dogs. This is not only because of widespread illegal use but also due to the increase in medicinal marijuana. This wasn’t my first case of canine cannabis consumption.

“As long as she didn’t eat a large amount, say over a bag’s worth, she should be okay in a few hours.” One ounce or about a storage bag full of marijuana can be lethal to a 20 pound dog. That’s a lot of weed. Lethargy, incoordination and dribbling urine are classic signs of marijuana exposure in dogs. “Is she leaking urine? Did she have any accidents in the house?”


“Yeah, man. She’s been going like every coupla minutes. Is that bad?” Now it was time for the real fun.

“Have you been leaking any urine?”

“Nah, man.”

“Well, if she only ate one or two brownies I think you should observe her very carefully for the next hour. If she gets any worse, we’ll need to see her.  You need to watch out for any problems with your own urination or bowel movements. You and your dog may have been exposed to contaminated marijuana. If you notice any symptoms during the next six months, you should see a physician immediately.” I hope he didn’t hear my snickering. Maybe that will teach him to stay away from drugs.