Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Is Your Garden Hose Safe for Drinking Water?


Do you keep a bowl of water outside for your pets that you fill up with the water hose?

In an ongoing effort to minimize the toxins we and our pets are exposed to as much as we can, something that is often overlooked is the garden hose. Is your garden hose "drinking water safe"? If so, it will be labeled as such. If it's not, it's likely the water will contain lead, bromine, phthalates and other toxins that are leached from the hose and/or the fittings on the hose into the water. 

Researchers at HealthyStuff.org, a project of The Ecology Center, which is a Michigan-based nonprofit environmental organization, discovered that half of the vinyl (PVC) hoses they tested contained electronic waste (e-waste) vinyl contaminated with toxic chemicals.

In a study they did in 2016, 32 garden hoses from 6 national retailers (including The Home Depot, Lowe's, and Amazon) were tested for lead, cadmium, phthalates, bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants); PVC plastic, antimony, and tine. Water from select hoses was also tested. These chemicals have been linked to birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, hormone disruption, premature births and early puberty in laboratory animals, among other serious health problems.


You can read about the study here and the test results can be found here. Do you see your garden hose on this list?
“The good news is that none of these chemicals are necessary in garden hoses, and a number of safe hoses are available,"  said Gillian Miller, Ph.D, a staff scientist at the Ecology Center.

They offer some helpful tips on buying safer garden hoses here. After learning about the toxins found in water hoses, I bought a safer drinking water hose, (the last one on this list) to use for filling up the pets' water bowls.
Structured Water Garden Unit

Even better, now we have structured water coming through the hose (and the rest of the house), which neutralizes all toxins by changing their molecular structure, rendering them harmless to us and our pets. This is the best defense against toxins yet! Learn more about this new technology and how it works in my book Structured Water: Nature's Gift, in this article, and also on our website - just click on the structured water tab.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Fleas Can Be Deadly

Kilo - "I'm not feeling well."
Fleas are not just pesky little blood suckers that make you itch. They can carry diseases and infect our pets with them -- things like tapeworms and Mycoplasma haemofelis and Mycoplasma haemocanis. These are diseases I have experienced with my own pets over the years. Mycoplasma causes anemia and if left untreated can cause death.

Just recently our 1-1/2 year old cat Kilo starting acting lethargic and didn't have his normal appetite. After taking him to the vet for an exam, nothing was found. It wasn't until we got an x-ray and bloodwork done that it was revealed that his spleen was inflamed and he was suffering from severe anemia -- on the borderline of needing a blood transfusion -- from Mycoplasma haemofelis (formerly known as Haemobartonella felis). Mycoplasma haemofelis attacks the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout a cat’s body.
Kilo

Even though Kilo gets his monthly flea treatments (especially since he is an inside/outside cat and we live in the Houston area), he managed to contract this flea (or tick) carrying disease. We comb him often and have never found any ticks on him. Could it have been due to the fact that the flea treatment I had been using on him (Revolution), seemed to have stopped working recently so I had to switch to something different (Advantage)? 

I really don't like putting chemicals on my animals at all, but the risk of them getting a disease like this (not to mention just fleas in general, which can cause allergic reactions in some pets) if I don't use some type of flea and tick control that works, is too great. Here in Houston, where it's hot and humid 9 to 10 months out of the year, is the perfect environment for fleas and mosquitoes. I wish there was a natural, safer flea treatment that really works but I just haven't found one yet. (Not that I haven't tried!)

Kilo is recovering nicely, feeling a little better every day while being treated with antibiotics, steroids and vitamin B12 (and lots of love!). After ten days he will get a blood test again to confirm he no longer has the Mycoplasma.


Ellie (1998 - 2013)
In 2011, our Australian Shepherd Ellie, who was 13 at the time, had to receive a blood transfusion after collapsing from what turned out to be immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, which was caused by Mycoplasma haemocanis, the same disease as Kilo got, only the canine version. We hadn't found any ticks on Ellie either, so we had to assume it was from a flea, even though she was treated with monthly flea and tick prevention. Ellie was at a disadvantage though, as she didn't have a spleen to help her deal with the Mycoplasma. She had her spleen removed a year prior due to a tumor that had ruptured. She was treated and recovered nicely. I wrote about her ordeal here.

In 2008 my husband rescued a tiny six week old kitten (now our 9 year old Dusty) from
Dusty
getting run over on a busy street, only to have him pass out in my arms a short time after getting him home. He was so covered in fleas that they caused him to become anemic and he had to have a blood transfusion to save his life -- again. The fleas literally sucked the life out of his tiny body. 


So can fleas be deadly? They certainly can! This is why it's so important we protect our pets against these pests.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Accepting New Dog Walking Clients


We are currently looking to fill some open time slots for regular mid-day dog walks during the week. For many years we were unable to take on any more daily mid-day dog walks because our schedules were full of them -- many of whom we walked for their entire lives. Now, after 15 years, that generation has passed away and we are looking for a new generation of dogs that need walked to fill the open time slots we now have available.

Whether your dog(s) needs a walk two, three, four or five days a week, give us a call or send us an email. We're looking forward to making some new friends!

We service zip codes 77005, 77025, 77096 & 77401.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Food Forensics

We are fortunate to have organizations like the Cornucopia Institute, Consumers Lab, Association for Truth in Pet Food (ATPF) and Consumer Wellness Center (CWC) Labs, that are not associated or funded by companies or universities, and that test pet foods, treats and products so we the consumer can know what we are actually giving our pets and if there is anything to be concerned about or aware of.

I just finished reading Food Forensics (2016) by Mike Adams, founder and Science Director of the CWC Labs, and although the book primarily has to do with the toxins that were found via laboratory testing, and how to avoid them in human food, there was testing done on some pet treats that are worth mentioning.

  • High amounts of lead were found in popular pet treats made in China. A good reason to read the fine print on the back of packages to make sure it says "Made in the USA". (China has worse problems with heavy metals in the soil and foods than we do in the US, and it's pretty bad here. I warned about treats made in China back in 2012. Remember the largest pet food recall in 2007 that killed thousands of pets? Ingredients sourced from China!) 
  • Fish treats for cats contained large amounts of cadmium. Fish and other seafoods are known to contain toxic heavy metals. I wrote more extensively on this in 9 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Seafood Cat Foods. They also sell dog foods and treats with fish so the dangers apply to their foods and treats too (see herring strips for dogs below).
  • A high level of copper was found in a sea vegetable supplement for pets. Too much copper can have detrimental health effects.
  • Gourmet munchy rawhide as well as natural rawhide rings had  extremely high levels of lead.
  • Herring strips for dogs tested high of mercury. 
  • Munchy stix (for dogs) tested really high in lead.
  • Freeze dried ocean whitefish cat treats were found to be high in mercury.                                         
  • Although these items were not listed under pet foods or treats per se, they can be found in some of them or sold as pet treats by themselves: an extremely high amount of arsenic was found in dried shrimp, high levels of cadmium and lead in dried whole anchovy, and also a high amount of mercury in dried shaved bonito.
These heavy metal amounts were compared to the "allowable" or "safe" amounts as per the various government agencies (EPA, FDA, WHO, etc.) who determine these limits. Actual amounts of the metals found in each item are listed in the book.

Brand names are not shown for many products in the book for the simple reason that a book takes so long to publish and distribute that many products tested may have shifted in composition over that time. 

Another important point to mention here is that even when buying something that is certified USDA Organic -- whether for people or pets -- know that the USDA's organic standards have no limit whatsoever on heavy metals! This is not good. That means when it comes to toxic heavy metals, even if it's labeled USDA organic, it could be loaded with them!

I highly recommend reading this very informative and eye-opening book for your own benefit as well as for your pets. Awareness is the key.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Pet Food Quality Resources


Did you know there are some great resources available at your fingertips when it comes to figuring out or deciphering the best quality foods and treats to buy for your pets?

One of these resources is the Cornucopia Institute, founded in 2004. You can read more about this non-profit public interest group here. They research and investigate many things, not just pet foods.


In 2015, they put out a very informative and educational report called Decoding Pet Food, which is a great resource to assist pet owners in finding high quality pet foods. It also explains which ingredients you want to avoid feeding your pets. You can become a more educated and informed pet food consumer by reading their report here.

 For instance, do you know what carrageenan is? Did you know that extensive peer-reviewed and published research indicates that food-grade carrageenan does in fact contain the dangerous carcinogen poligeenan in varying amounts, usually around 5%? "The fact that food-grade carrageenan contains poligeenan in any amount should be enough to ban its use in both human and pet food, considering it's well-documented carcinogenic properties, even at small doses", says the report's author. Poligeenan is widely used in cancer research to give test animals inflammation cancer, for testing cancer treatments and anti-inflammatory drugs. It causes intestinal inflammation with the potential to lead to cancer, even in small doses. 

Also, studies funded by the American Diabetes Association have linked the consumption of food grade carrageenan to insulin resistance and glucose intolerance.

The Cornucopia Institute's research found that more than 70% of can foods contain this ingredient. Is it any wonder that inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in cats, the most common cause of vomiting and diarrhea, has become so commonplace? 

Even veterinarians agree that research reveals many references to ‘carrageenan-induced inflammation’. As one vet was quoted in the report:  “Animal studies have repeatedly shown that food-grade carrageenan causes gastrointestinal inflammation and cancer at lower doses than the average daily intake. Given the high rates of colon cancer in both dogs and cats, I highly recommend removing carrageenan from your pet’s diet.

The Cornucopia Institute also has an accompanying Pet Food Guide. Is the pet food you buy on this guide? Does it contain carrageenan? Does it contain other ingredients you want to avoid like rendering products or food dyes? Are there foods that don't contain these unwanted ingredients? Yes. Check out their handy guide here.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Pet Food Ingredients To Avoid


When it comes to pet foods and what we should feed our pets, we (myself included) have put our trust in those outside of ourselves, like the pet food manufacturers and veterinarians, to know what the best foods are to feed our pets because we think they are the experts on the subject. At least that's what we are led to believe. However, this is not the case.

We are bombarded with marketing and advertising on mass media, a form of brainwashing, which the pet food industry has very deep pockets to pay for. If you see certain words, pictures, phrases or jingles enough times, you will go for the familiar. They know this. They know all the tricks.

Pet food Manufacturers are in the business of making money from their products. The pet food industry violates U.S. federal food safety laws and are allowed to get away with it.

Unfortunately, the amount of pet nutrition that is taught in veterinary schools is very minute. Hopefully this will change for our future veterinarians, if it's not already. So unless they take additional years of college to get a degree in nutrition or pursue the subject of pet nutrition on their own, the only education they have in regards to pet foods is from the pet food manufacturers themselves -- the same ones whose foods they sell. And as I've written about in more detail before: this is a little biased, don't you think?

The hard reality is that we have to take responsibility and educate ourselves about what it is that we are feeding our pets. We must be proactive to protect our pet's health. I've written about some excellent books available on the subject herehere and here.

For starters, it helps to know which ingredients to avoid in pet foods and why. This means reading the ingredient list on all the foods and treats you buy. Become an educated pet food consumer. And remember: every dollar you spend speaks volumes.Wouldn't you rather support the businesses who create healthier foods and products with your animals' health more of a concern than just making a buck?

Here's a great list already provided by our pet food consumer advocate, Susan Thixton, of the "deal breaker" pet food ingredients to look out for:

http://truthaboutpetfood.com/deal-breaker-pet-food-ingredients/

I have also written in more detail about the subject of pet food ingredients here.