Don’t Fear Black Cats

October 31, 2009

Actor Dario Deak and his beautiful rescued black cat, Penelope.

North Shore Animal League.

Black cats are near and dear to me, having adopted a number of them.

Thanks to Mickey

Pet Net Safety 2009: Pet Food Safety

October 21, 2009


Did you know that:

There is a pet food recall on an average of once every three months. The past month alone has seen at least two pet food product recalls and a “product withdrawal” (an under-the-table way of recalling product without the scary “recall” word being put in front of the public). Potentially toxic mold, omission of critical nutrients, over-or under-dosing of vitamins and minerals—all these are threats to the lives and health of our pets, and all have been present in pet foods in the very recent past.

Over the past few years, two horrible pet food disasters stand out especially. The widespread presence of kidney-damaging melamine in pet foods made by Menu Foods, a subcontractor company that does food production for many well-known brands, caused an estimated 14,000+ dead and damaged pets in the US and Canada in 2006 and 2007. Melamine, a plastic used in dishes and fertilizer, was deliberately added by Chinese suppliers of wheat gluten, one ingredient in the pet foods, to falsify protein tests. In 2008, a very high-end brand of dry cat food was subjected to high levels of irradiation when imported to Australia, causing changes in the food that resulted in very severe neurological damage and ended in death for many cats whose families are still paying the costs. Many problems caused by pet food go undiagnosed or unreported.

The “standards” for nutrition in commercial pet foods are very weak. AAFCO, the Association of American Feed Control Officials, specifies in its handbook the following protocol for assuring an adult dog food is nutritionally adequate:

Eight dogs older than 1 yr. must start the test. At start all dogs must be normal weight & health. A blood test is to be taken from each dog at the start and finish of the test. For 6 months, the dogs used must only eat the food being tested. The dogs finishing the test must not lose more than 15% of their body weight. During the test, none of the dogs used are to die or be removed because of nutritional causes. Six of the 8 dogs starting must finish the test.

Not very stringent standards, are they? All the food has to do to “meet standards” is not starve or kill your dog in six months. That’s all. Yet many pets eat the same food every day for fifteen to twenty years. And the members of AAFCO themselves are all members of the pet food industry. Talk about the fox guarding the henhouse!

The FDA cannot issue mandatory recalls for pet food that is known to be unsafe. (In fact, the FDA has no authority to mandate a recall on anything but baby formula.) Recalls are at the discretion of the manufacturer. So a company that knows a given batch of pet food contains, say, fragments of metal from a machine that broke during a production run, is under no absolute obligation to do anything about it. And when customers call with complaints, the pet food company’s answer is almost always, “We have had no other complaints about that problem,” when in fact there may have been plenty of other complaints.

What you can do:

  • If your pet is ill, contact your vet and let the vet know if you have reason to believe the food is causing a problem.
  • If you have a pet food problem, contact both the company and the FDA.
    Contact Us
    240-276-9115 FAX
    Issued by: FDA, Center for Veterinary Medicine
  • Learn about pet food ingredients; what’s good, what’s bad, and where they come from. Carefully read the labels on your pet’s food.
  • Save all receipts for pet food, and save the original packaging until the food is consumed by your pet.
  • Become involved in advocating for safe, nutritious pet food.

For more information: An active pet forum with information about food ingredients, recalls, specific product reviews and experiences. ItchmoForums does not receive corporate sponsorship or funding, and does not accept advertising. Pet Food Products Safety Alliance, a consumer group that tests pet food and posts test results.
Timeline for the Menu Foods recalls of 2007.
Description and discussion of effects of irradiated food on Australian cats. Consumer Affairs lists consumer complaints about a large variety of products, including pet foods. Search for your pet’s food on this site, and you may be surprised. Also publishes articles on pet food problems and recalls.

Update: FDA Alerts Pet Owners to Voluntary Recall of Premium Edge Cat Food

October 20, 2009
October 20, 2009

FDA is providing the following information from Premium Edge Pet Foods to alert pet owners of a voluntary recall of certain cat foods manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods for Premium Edge. The affected brands were found to contain an inadequate level of thiamine, which may cause clinical signs of thiamine deficiency in cats eating this food. FDA is working on this situation and will provide additional information as it becomes available. If your veterinarian diagnoses that your cat has become ill from consuming the affected pet food, please ask your veterinarian to file a report with FDA.

Diamond Pet Foods has issued a voluntary recall on the following date codes of Premium Edge Finicky Adult cat food and Premium Edge Hairball cat food: RAF0501A22X 18lb., RAF0501A2X 6 lb., RAH0501A22X 18 lb., RAH0501A2X 6lb. The date of manufacture is May 28, 2009. All retail outlets shipped the above lots were contacted, asking them to pull the product from the store shelves. The retailers were also asked to contact their customers via email or telephone requesting them to check the date code of the food. However, if you or anyone you know has these date codes of Premium Edge cat food, please return them to your retailer.

Symptoms displayed by an affected cat will be neurological in nature. Symptoms may include wobbly walking or muscle weakness, paralysis of the hindlimbs, seizures, ventroflexion (bending towards the floor) of the neck, and abnormal eye movement called nystagmus. Any cats fed these date codes that display these symptoms should be immediately taken to a veterinarian.

The company tested the product and found no contaminants in the cat food; however the cat foods were deficient in thiamine. Diamond tracked the vitamin premix lot number that was utilized in these particular cat foods and have performed testing on another lot of Premium Edge cat food that used the same vitamin premix, and it was not deficient in thiamine. No other neurological signs have been reported on any other product manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods.

To contact Premium Edge Pet Foods, please call 800-977-8797 between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm central time, Monday through Friday.

How to Report a Pet Food Complaint
Contact Us
240-276-9115 FAX
Issued by: FDA, Center for Veterinary Medicine

Communications Staff, HFV-12
7519 Standish Place
Rockville, MD 20855

Halloween Pet Safety

October 17, 2009

scaredy cat

Halloween is meant to be a scary holiday for us humans, but our pets don’t appreciate the fright! There are many dangers to our furry companions on and around Halloween. Here are some tips for keeping your pet safe:


  • On Halloween and during the days before and after, do not leave your pet outdoors unattended, and most especially do not allow cats to roam. Even dogs in a fenced yard are not safe from harassment by those who may throw objects over a fence, including things that may not be safe for your pet to eat. Such activities tend to increase around Halloween. Horribly, many pets, especially cats, disappear at this time, never to be heard of again. One can only speculate as to what their awful fate may have been.
  • On trick-or-treat night, your dog, cat, or bird may be happiest in a quiet area behind closed doors. Even pets who normally welcome visitors may be spooked by repeated ringing of the doorbell and strangers in costumes. This stress may cause your pet to behave unpredictably, to dart out an open door, relieve him- or herself on the floor, or even bite and scratch. Dogs may enjoy a filled bone or Kong to work on and stay occupied while separated from the activity, especially if crated. A bed to snuggle in, or a blanket to hide under, may comfort a scared cat. Birds may do best with their cages covered. Try to have a family member spend time with pets who are thus confined, playing with and reassuring them.
  • Young trick-or-treaters may be intimidated by dogs who greet them at the door, or who are in the yard in front of your house; another good reason to keep your pet in a private, safe area.
  • Keep bowls or bags of Halloween treats out of your pet’s reach, and don’t underestimate where they can find these! Dogs may eat a whole bag of chocolate bars with the wrappers still on, and experience serious consequences. Chocolate is toxic to pets and can be deadly. Many cats love pumpkin, and may be attracted to your jack-o-lantern. While pumpkin is in general good for cats and dogs, consuming too much can cause digestive upset.
  • Be extremely careful with lighted candles; do not use them where they may contact wagging tails or inquisitive whiskers, or be knocked over. The best option is to use battery-powered candles or flashlights.
  • Use caution with decorations and costumes. Pets may swallow beads, strings, glitter, or other materials that can cause choking or bowel obstruction, or damage the stomach or intestines. Check carefully to make sure that small parts do not come off and become available to a curious pet.

Wishing you and your pets a safe and happy Halloween!

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Photo copyright ItchmoCommunity member.  Used with permission.

Pet Food Express Pulls All Wysong Dry Products Due To Dog Food Mold

October 16, 2009

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Pet Food Express has now announced that they are pulling from their shelves all Wysong dry products, not just the recalled lots of dog food, until Wysong can demonstrate that the food is safe and unaffected by the current problem.

The Pet Food Express statement is here:

Pet Food Express deserves kudos for their attention to product safety.

National Feral Cat Day, October 16

October 16, 2009

October 16th is recognized as National Feral Cat Day, a day set aside to help feral cats.

Most of us have probably caught a fleeting glimpse of a feral cat now and again, a feline shape just on the edge of darkness. Do we just ignore them and hurry on with our busy lives, or do we try to help them to survive?

Many, many volunteers do work behind the scenes on a daily basis to maintain feral cat colonies, seeing they are trapped, spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and returned to their living areas.  But that is only the beginning.  These volunteers also commit to seeing feral cats have food, water, and shelter from harsh weather on a daily basis.  That is quite a commitment.  TNR groups are unsung heroes in my mind, and deserve our gratitude not only on this day, but every day.

See Alley Cat Allies’ website for information on how you can help feral cats, their rescuers, and celebrate National Feral Cat Day.

This page has links to activities in many states. See if your state is listed and how you can get involved.

NFCD Calendar of Events

More On Wysong Dry Dog Food Recall/Mold

October 15, 2009

Consumer Affairs reports on the Wysong recall, including interview with owner whose dogs became ill after eating moldy food.

Thanks for the link, Carol.

Wysong Dog Food Recall Update

October 15, 2009

Wysong has now posted an update to the recent mold issues.  It’s refreshing to see a company responding to pet owners’ concerns, but one wonders why this isn’t posted on the home page of their website. 

There is further information at the link.


-Notice, Explanation, and Response-

Mold has been found in some bags of Wysong dry extruded foods manufactured in June and July of 2009. To be safe, no suspect products from these batches should be sold or fed. The affected products are:

Wysong Maintenance™: lot #: 090617
Wysong Maintenance™: lot #: 090624
Wysong Maintenance™: lot #: 090706
Wysong Maintenance™: lot #: 090720
Wysong Senior™: lot #: 090623

Mold spores are in all natural foods. When there is heat, oxygen, and sufficient moisture the spores can bloom into mold. Everyone has experienced this with foods at home. 

From what can be determined, the problem with the Wysong foods stems from unusually high heat and humidity on those summer dates. This combined with a malfunctioning moisture checking device is believed to be the cause of the higher moisture.

Sometimes the enrobed dust-on ingredients used on Wysong foods are confused with mold. If there is a question, discontinue feeding and contact Wysong for a determination.

As noted in the article below, mold is a ubiquitous problem in all packaged foods. Wysong takes many measures to address this:

1. Incoming ingredients are tested for moisture and mycotoxins.
2. Finished products are also tested.
3. Ingredients are used to inhibit mold growth.
4. The NutriPak oxygen and light barrier packaging inhibits aerobic mold growth.
5. Products are nitrogen flushed to remove oxygen.
6. Products are fresh batched.
7. Ingredients are used to help adsorb toxins should they be present.
8. People are advised to refrigerate or freeze unused product, i.e. treat it like any fresh natural food is treated.
9. Most importantly, Dr. Wysong has advised for the past 30 years against feeding any singular food meal after meal. Diets should be rotated and fresh foods incorporated into meal planning in order to decrease the risk of chronic exposure to toxins that may be present in any one food. This information is on all Wysong packaged pet foods.

Notice of the problem:

1. Immediately alerted all distributors and retailers.
2. Posting to website
3. Report to FDA and attempted contact with USDA/APHIS
4. Replies to all customer inquiries

Concerns, questions, allegations:
We ask that you please consider the following before giving credence to allegations and committing to an opinion. Also consider that Wysong has led the pet food industry in almost every natural and healthy food innovation for the past thirty years. This has resulted in wonderful health to tens of thousands of pets through multiple generations.

As will be seen below, the primary complaint seems to be about the speed with which we gave notice. At first report of potential mold in our products, Wysong launched an internal investigation. Batch records were re-examined, numerous bags of product opened and scrutinized, product samples were acquired from customers, and testing in-house and out-of-house conducted

Once Wysong ascertained that there was mold presence and the potential for mold (based on moisture tests) in certain batches we alerted our distributors, who were the primary recipients of these batches of product. Distributors were instructed to dispose of the product, as well as pull product from stores that had already received the product. Product from these problematic batches that remained in-house was disposed of.

Additionally, Wysong immediately contacted stores that received recalled product from us directly, and asked them to remove the products from store shelves.

Much of the criticism regarding the recall has centered on us purportedly not publicizing the recall enough, or that we are attempting to downplay or hide the recall. What is missed here is that we keep thorough records pertaining to who receives what products. Accordingly, when we determined a recall was necessary we put our focus into alerting those that actually received the products, and not those that had no reasonable chance of acquiring the affected products. Also, consider that Wysong is a small family business, not on the scale of most pet food companies that sell products far and wide with no knowledge of who purchases. Such companies would need to do a more generally publicized recall.

Wysong response to comments on Internet sites, blogs, and messageboards:

>Heard about recall but do not see on website

W (Wysong) response: Recall notice was/is posted on the website.

>Questioning of cat products and has our line somehow been compromised

W response: No problem with cat products as of this date. The production line is not the problem, mold spores are ubiquitous in every food production facility. The problem products were too high in moisture.

>So…..You “put principle ahead of market”, eh?Where’s the recall notice?????I will NEVER AGAIN buy your product and I will tell everyone I know to avoid your products as well. Liars.

W response: See above. The recall was targeted at the people who actually purchased the products, not to the population at large.

>There is no date on that document. Recall post.

W response: The date of the recall notice to distributors and retailers was the date mold was confirmed in the products – 9.29.2009.

>Been feeding recalled product Please advise me if there have been adverse effects on dogs that have eaten this product.

W Response: There have been reports that we cannot confirm as cause/effect. If there are problems, please contact us.

>Where to find lot numbers on bags or boxes.

W Response: The lot numbers are on the top flaps of our boxes and pressed into the bottom seal of bags.

Lot numbers are unreadable.

W Response: Contact us if difficulty in reading.

>I’m seeing no difference between Wysong and Diamond and Nutro…

W Response: There is no difference among any foods in terms of potential vulnerability to mold. See below article.

>Wysong? Thank you for showing me what kind of company you really are, it just saved me from buying some of your food for my pet.

W response: Any food you purchase could have this or a similar problem. That is why all consumers are told to follow the Wysong Optimal Health Program. Dr. Wysong has alerted the public to the dangers in all foods for the past 30 years, and we are the only company to actively help people feed in rotation and variety, including foods that have nothing to do with Wysong.

>I made repeated phone calls and emails before they posted the information. I was told “we’ll get the info to you” but had to hound them to get it. And what do they do – they hide the darn recall notice! 

W response: That is the opposite of what we do and have done.

>Just out of curiosity – is Wysong being produced at the Diamond plant?

W response: No. We have our own facility that has produced our products for the past 20 years.

>A week after notifying retailers, Wysong Pet Foods just put a notice on their website about a recall.

How about apologizing for taking a week to tell.

That’s a shame.

W response: Our primary focus was on alerting customers who actually purchased the foods, not people who were buying products unaffected.

>I’m feeling better and better about my decision to go all raw. I guess it just goes to show that bad things can happen even with good companies, which I think Wysong is.

W response: Thank you. Please keep in mind that raw products have their dangers as well. Try to follow the Optimal Health Program for not only best health but best safety.

Wysong Announces Limited Recall on Some Dry Dog Food, May Contain Mold

October 13, 2009

Wysong Senior Canine Diet Four 4-lb bags


From the Wysong site.

“Wysong has issued a limited recall of select canine dry diets. For more information please
The following batches of Wysong Canine Diets Maintenance™ and Senior™ have shown above acceptable moisture levels and may contain mold.

Wysong Maintenance™: lot #: 090617
Wysong Maintenance™: lot #: 090624
Wysong Maintenance™: lot #: 090706
Wysong Maintenance™: lot #: 090720
Wysong Senior™: lot #: 090623

We ask that if you have received any of these Wysong products to please not feed them, and contact Wysong for product replacement.

Subject: Product Replacement

Alternatively, please return or exchange at the store from which you purchased the product. Credit will be issued via our Distributors to the Retailer.

We apologize for the inconvenience.”

PetAg KMR Do Not Use If Off Odors

October 8, 2009

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PetAg has issued the following statement on their website:

“KMR® Powder Update Recently, a limited number of KMR powder users have experienced product producing an off odor. Normally, the product exhibits a faint “milky” smell.

It has been determined that some packaged KMR powder may have been exposed to excessive heat outside the manufacturing process.

Do not use the product if it has an off odor. Please contact PetAg Technical Services at 800-323-0877 and provide all of the information printed on the bottom of the can. For any bagged product, you can find the information on the sticker near the UPC on the back of the bag. This will provide production and tracking information for further analysis.

Replacement KMR product will be sent, following contact with Technical Services.

Liquid KMR products have exhibited no impact from heat stress.”

(Thanks lesliek)