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KC Animal Hospital Staff

Grain-Free Diets and Heart Disease

By | Pet Nutrition, Veterinary Alert | No Comments

You may have heard about the recent FDA investigation into heart disease and grain-free pet foods.  I wanted to clear up some misinformation and help our clients understand what’s really going on.  Most importantly, I don’t want anyone to be overly concerned if their brand of dog or cat food was listed or to think that their pet is safe if it wasn’t.

The FDA has been investigating a possible link between grain-free pet foods and a type of heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).  The investigation is still underway, and they aren’t sure what is causing the increase in DCM cases as of yet.  Until they know more, they have been updating the public via their website periodically.

From the information they have so far, grain-free diets were being fed in 91% of the cases that were reported to them, so they are considering that as a possibility.  Without grains, pet food manufacturers have had to use other ingredients to get the nutrients as well as the consistency of dry dog food.  Some of the more common ingredients were peas, lentils, and potatoes (including sweet potatoes).  There is a possibility that those may be the source of the problem, but again, they aren’t certain.

DCM is not an extremely rare disease to begin with.  Many of the cases that were reported to the FDA were likely not related to any diet.  Since the FDA only started receiving so many reports after they first announced the investigation, it’s hard to know how much change there has truly been.  Their concern is the fact that it is occurring more in breeds not usually prone to it.

We are monitoring the investigation and will continue to keep our clients informed.  Meanwhile, let me explain that we do not believe a grain-free diet is necessary for most pets.  While some pets can be sensitive to grains, the majority of food allergies are to the protein sources in food such as chicken or beef.  So, if your pet does not need to be on a grain-free diet and you’re concerned about this possible link, you may consider switching foods.  As always, remember to switch foods gradually so as not to upset your pet’s stomach with a sudden change.

I also wanted to note some confusion in recent news reports.  Many reports have stated that the FDA “named 16 dog food brands with an increased risk” of this disease.  The truth is that those were the top 16 brands they came across in the investigation.  That may be due to the fact that they are some of the most popular brands of grain-free pet foods on the market.  They also listed proteins by frequency, and salmon came up far more frequently than goat.  That does not mean goat is better for your dog or cat’s heart; it just means that it’s a rare protein source for pet foods.

If you have any concerns about your own pet, please call us. 

If you’d like to find out more, you can see the recent reports on the FDA’s website at:

July 4th Safety

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Here are some tips to help keep your pet safe taken from the AVMA website. 
As always, if you have any questions or concerns please give us a call (480) 451-8375.

July 4th fireworks, picnics and other Fourth of July traditions can be great fun for people; but all of the festivities can be frightening and even dangerous for animals. Noisy fireworks and other celebrations can startle animals and cause them to run away; holiday foods can be unhealthy; summer heat and travel can be dangerous; and potentially dangerous debris can end up lying on the ground where pets can eat or play with it.

Whether or not you’re planning your own Independence Day celebration, it’s important to take precautions to keep your pets safe both during and after the July 4th festivities.

Make sure your pets – cats and dogs alike – have identification tags with up-to-date information.

If your pets aren’t already microchipped, call us to talk about microchipping. This simple procedure can greatly improve your chances of getting your pets back if they become lost.

If your pets are microchipped, make sure your contact information in the microchip registry is up-to-date.

Take a current photo of all of your cats, dogs and horses – just in case.

Make sure the environment is safe and secure. If your neighbors set off fireworks at an unexpected time, is your yard secure enough to keep your pet contained? Evaluate your options, and choose the safest area for your animals; and make improvements if needed to make the area more secure.

Leave your pets at home when you go to parties, fireworks displays, parades and other gatherings. Loud fireworks, unfamiliar places and crowds can all be very frightening to pets, and there’s great risk of pets becoming spooked and running away.

Consider putting your pets in a safe, escape-proof room or crate during parties and fireworks.

If you’re hosting guests, ask them to help keep an eye on your pets to make sure they don’t escape. Placing notes on exit doors and gates can help both you and your guests remain vigilant.
Keep your pets inside if you or your neighbors are setting off fireworks.

Keep sparklers, glow sticks, fireworks, charcoal and kabob skewers away from curious pets.

Don’t let pets get near your barbecue grill while it is in use or still hot.

Never leave your pet in your car when it’s warm outside. Vehicle interiors heat up much faster than the air around them, and even a short time in a locked car can be dangerous to pets.

Check your yard for fireworks debris before allowing pets outside to play or relax. Even if you didn’t set off fireworks yourself, debris can make its way into your yard, where curious animals may pick it up to play with or eat.

April is National Heartworm Prevention Month

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The start of April marks a lot of awareness topics for our pets. Aside from being National Pet Month, National Greyhound Adoption Month, Prevention of Lyme Disease Month, Pet First Aide Awareness Month and ASPCA’s Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month it is also National Heartworm Prevention Month. Prevention is the best way to ensure your pet remains healthy. This means scheduling your pet’s semi yearly exams, staying up to date on vaccinations and giving them their monthly Heartworm Prevention medications. Call us at (480) 451-8375 to make an appointment for your pet’s health checkup. You can also request an appointment on our website at We have also included information regarding Heartworm from the American Heartworm Society so you can learn more about it!

What is heartworm disease?
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets in the United States and many other parts of the world. It is caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body. Heartworm disease affects dogs, cats and ferrets, but heartworms also live in other mammal species, including wolves, coyotes, foxes, sea lions and—in rare instances—humans. Because wild species such as foxes and coyotes live in proximity to many urban areas, they are considered important carriers of the disease.

The dog is a natural host for heartworms, which means that heartworms that live inside the dog mature into adults, mate and produce offspring. If untreated, their numbers can increase, and dogs have been known to harbor several hundred worms in their bodies. Heartworm disease causes lasting damage to the heart, lungs and arteries, and can affect the dog’s health and quality of life long after the parasites are gone. For this reason, prevention is by far the best option, and treatment—when needed—should be administered as early in the course of the disease as possible.

Heartworm disease in cats is very different from heartworm disease in dogs. The cat is an atypical host for heartworms, and most worms in cats do not survive to the adult stage. Cats with adult heartworms typically have just one to three worms, and many cats affected by heartworms have no adult worms. While this means heartworm disease often goes undiagnosed in cats, it’s important to understand that even immature worms cause real damage in the form of a condition known as heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD). Moreover, the medication used to treat heartworm infections in dogs cannot be used in cats, so prevention is the only means of protecting cats from the effects of heartworm disease.

The mosquito plays an essential role in the heartworm life cycle. Adult female heartworms living in an infected dog, fox, coyote, or wolf produce microscopic baby worms called microfilaria that circulate in the bloodstream. When a mosquito bites and takes a blood meal from an infected animal, it picks up these baby worms, which develop and mature into “infective stage” larvae over a period of 10 to 14 days. Then, when the infected mosquito bites another dog, cat, or susceptible wild animal, the infective larvae are deposited onto the surface of the animal’s skin and enter the new host through the mosquito’s bite wound. Once inside a new host, it takes approximately 6 months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms. Once mature, heartworms can live for 5 to 7 years in dogs and up to 2 or 3 years in cats. Because of the longevity of these worms, each mosquito season can lead to an increasing number of worms in an infected pet.

Signs of heartworm disease may include a mild persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue after moderate activity, decreased appetite, and weight loss. As heartworm disease progresses, pets may develop heart failure and the appearance of a swollen belly due to excess fluid in the abdomen. Dogs with large numbers of heartworms can develop a sudden blockages of blood flow within the heart leading to a life-threatening form of cardiovascular collapse. This is called caval syndrome, and is marked by a sudden onset of labored breathing, pale gums, and dark bloody or coffee-colored urine. Without prompt surgical removal of the heartworm blockage, few dogs survive.

Signs of heartworm disease in cats can be very subtle or very dramatic. Symptoms may include coughing, asthma-like attacks, periodic vomiting, lack of appetite, or weight loss. Occasionally an affected cat may have difficulty walking, experience fainting or seizures, or suffer from fluid accumulation in the abdomen. Unfortunately, the first sign in some cases is sudden collapse of the cat, or sudden death.

The American Heartworm Society recommends that you “think 12:” (1) get your pet tested every 12 months for heartworm and (2) give your pet heartworm preventive 12 months a year.

Heartworm disease is a serious, progressive disease. The earlier it is detected, the better the chances the pet will recover. There are few, if any, early signs of disease when a dog or cat is infected with heartworms, so detecting their presence with a heartworm test administered by a veterinarian is important. The test requires just a small blood sample from your pet, and it works by detecting the presence of heartworm proteins.

All dogs should be tested annually for heartworm infection.
Annual testing is necessary, even when dogs are on heartworm prevention year-round, to ensure that the prevention program is working. Heartworm medications are highly effective, but dogs can still become infected. If you miss just one dose of a monthly medication—or give it late—it can leave your dog unprotected. Even if you give the medication as recommended, your dog may spit out or vomit a heartworm pill—or rub off a topical medication. Heartworm preventives are highly effective, but not 100 percent effective. If you don’t get your dog tested, you won’t know your dog needs treatment.

Heartworm infection in cats is harder to detect than in dogs, because cats are much less likely than dogs to have adult heartworms. The preferred method for screening cats includes the use of both an antigen and an antibody test (the “antibody” test detects exposure to heartworm larvae). Because there is no approved treatment for heartworm infection in cats, prevention is critical.

No one wants to hear that their dog has heartworm, but the good news is that most infected dogs can be successfully treated. The goal is to first stabilize your dog if he is showing signs of disease, then kill all adult and immature worms while keeping the side effects of treatment to a minimum.

Here’s what you should expect if your dog tests positive:

Confirm the diagnosis. Once a dog tests positive on an antigen test, the diagnosis should be confirmed with an additional—and different—test. 
Restrict exercise. This requirement might be difficult to adhere to, especially if your dog is accustomed to being active. But your dog’s normal physical activities must be restricted as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed, because physical exertion increases the rate at which the heartworms cause damage in the heart and lungs. The more severe the symptoms, the less activity your dog should have.
Stabilize your dog’s disease. Before actual heartworm treatment can begin, your dog’s condition may need to be stabilized with appropriate therapy. In severe cases of heartworm disease, or when a dog has another serious condition, the process can take several months.
Administer treatment. Dogs with no signs or mild signs of heartworm disease, such as cough or exercise intolerance, have a high success rate with treatment. More severe disease can also be successfully treated, but the possibility of complications is greater. The severity of heartworm disease does not always correlate with the severity of symptoms, and dogs with many worms may have few or no symptoms early in the course of the disease.
Test (and prevent) for success. Approximately 6 months after treatment is completed, your veterinarian will perform a heartworm test to confirm that all heartworms have been eliminated. To avoid the possibility of your dog contracting heartworm disease again, you will want to administer heartworm prevention year-round for the rest of his life.

Like dogs, cats can be infected with heartworms. There are differences, however, in the nature of the disease and how it is diagnosed and managed. Because a cat is not an ideal host for heartworms, some infections resolve on their own, although these infections can leave cats with respiratory system damage. Heartworms in the circulatory system also affect the cat’s immune system and cause symptoms such as coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing. Heartworms in cats may even migrate to other parts of the body, such as the brain, eye and spinal cord. Severe complications such as blood clots in the lungs and lung inflammation can result when the adult worms die in the cat’s body.

Here’s what to expect if your cat tests positive for heartworm:

Diagnosis. While infected dogs may have 30 or more worms in their heart and lungs, cats usually have 6 or fewer—and may have just one or two. But while the severity of heartworm disease in dogs is related to the number of worm, in cats, just one or two worms can make a cat very ill. Diagnosis can be complicated, requiring a physical exam, an X-ray, a complete blood count and several kinds of blood test. An ultrasound may also be performed.
Treatment. Unfortunately, there is no approved drug therapy for heartworm infection in cats, and the drug used to treat infections in dogs is not safe for cats. Nevertheless, cats with heartworm disease can often be helped with good veterinary care. The goal is to stabilize your cat and determine a long-term management plan.
Monitor your cat. Heartworm-positive cats may experience spontaneous clearing of heartworms, but the damage they cause may be permanent. If your cat is not showing signs of respiratory distress, but worms have been detected in the lungs, chest X-rays every 6 to 12 months may be recommended. If mild symptoms are noted, small doses of prednisolone may be administered to help reduce inflammation.
Provide veterinary care. If the disease is severe, additional support may be necessary. Your veterinarian my recommend hospitalization in order to provide therapy, such as intravenous fluids, drugs to treat lung and heart symptoms, antibiotics, and general nursing care. In some cases, surgical removal of heartworms may be possible.
Maintain prevention. A cat that has developed heartworm disease has demonstrated that it is susceptible to heartworm infection, and both outdoor and indoor cats are at risk. It’s important to give your cat monthly heartworm preventives, which are available in both spot-on and pill form. Preventives keep new infections from developing if an infected mosquito bites your cat again.

Poison Prevention Week – March 18th – 24th

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March 18th – 24th is National Poison Prevention Week. This week serves as a reminder to all pet owners to watch for both natural and processed pet toxins, especially as we prepare for spring cleaning and as plants start to poke their way through the snow.  We have listed the top ten toxins for both cats and dogs from the Pet Poison Helpline website.   

Pet Poison Helpline online is a resource available for pet owners to learn what other poisons are out there and how to respond if your pet is exposed to something harmful. Should your pet be exposed to any of these or other toxins that are cause for concern, contact us at (480) 451-8375 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680.

Top Ten Cat Toxins

Lilies: All plants in the lily family, if ingested, can cause kidney failure in cats. These plants are common, so be especially careful what types of plants you have accessible in your home.

Household cleaners: Watch especially for concentrated products like toilet or drain cleaners, which can cause chemical burns.

Flea and tick prevention products for dogs: Certain pyrethroid based products can cause tremors and seizures in cats and are potentially deadly if ingested.

Antidepressants: Cats seem strangely drawn to these medications. Keep them tightly sealed and out of reach, as they can have damaging neurological and cardiac effects on cats.

NSAIDs: Drugs like Ibuprofen found in Advil, Motrin, and Aleve are even more dangerous to cats than they are to dogs. Even those meant for pets should be used with caution.

Prescription ADD/ADHD medication: Can cause tremors, seizures or other cardiac problems that could be fatal to cats.

Over the counter cough, cold & allergy medicine: Those containing acetaminophen (like Tylenol) are particularly dangerous and can cause damage to red blood cells and cause liver failure.

Insoluble Oxalate Plants: Other common household plants like the Philodendron and Pothos can cause oral irritation, foaming at the mouth and inflammation.

Household Insecticides: Most sprays and powders are fairly safe, but it’s best to keep cats away until the product is fully dried or settled.

Glow Sticks: Though these may seem like cute toys to cats, if punctured, the chemicals inside can cause pain and foaming at the mouth. If exposed to these, food and water are a safe remedy.

Top Ten Dog Toxins

Chocolate: Dark and bakers chocolate are the worst, and milk chocolate in large amounts can also be dangerous.

Xylitol (sugarless gum sweetener): Also found in some candies, medications and nasal sprays, this sweetener causes a fast drop in blood sugar and possible liver failure in dogs.

NSAIDs: Drugs like Ibuprofen found in Advil, Motrin, and Aleve.  Dogs are not good a digesting these and the continued exposure can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure.

Over the counter cough, cold & allergy medicine: Particularly those containing acetaminophen or decongestants.

Mouse and Rat Poison: Even small amounts may cause internal bleeding or swelling of the brain in dogs.

Grapes & Raisins: May cause kidney damage.

Insect bait stations: While these stations themselves are not poisonous to dogs, pets who are intrigued by the plastic casing and swallow it may experience obstruction in their bowels.

Prescription ADD/ADHD medication: Can cause tremors, seizures or other cardiac problems that could be fatal to dogs.

Glucosamine joint supplements: These can be extremely tasty for pets, and in excess can cause diarrhea or even liver failure in dogs.

Silica gel packets & oxygen absorbers: While the gel packets found in new shoes or purses do not pose a significant threat, oxygen absorbers found in food packages, even pet treats, can cause iron poisoning.

If you think your pet has come into contact with any of these items please call us immediately (480) 451-8375 or contact the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680.

Recall Alerts

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With all the pet food recalls over the last couple months, we urge everyone to check your foods and make sure that they are safe. The link below has a list of recent pet food recalls. You can also find them on the FDA website under “Animal and Veterinary”. The recalls link will be on the right side of the page.  As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns please feel free to contact us. (480) 451-8375

List of recent dog food recalls as tracked by the editors of The Dog Food Advisor

Recall Alert

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February 15, 2018 — J.M. Smucker Company has initiated a voluntary withdrawal of various wet dog food products due to the potential to contain low levels of pentobarbital, a euthanasia drug.

What Products Are Affected?

Affected products include canned wet dog food versions of the following brands:

  • Gravy Train
  • Kibbles ‘N Bits
  • Skippy
  • Ol’ Roy

The following updated table is taken from a company news release:

Message from the Company:

The following text is taken from an email received from Smucker by The Dog Advisor on February 15, 2018:

Out of an abundance of caution we initiated a voluntary withdrawal (not a recall) on specific shipments of Gravy Train, Kibbles ‘N Bits, Ol’ Roy, and Skippy canned/wet dog food because they do not meet our quality specifications.

This means retailers will remove the impacted shipments from their warehouses.

Veterinarians and animal nutrition specialists, as well as the FDA, have confirmed that extremely low levels of pentobarbital, like the levels reported to be in select shipments, do not pose a threat to pet safety.

However, the presence of this substance at any level is not acceptable to us and not up to our quality standards. We sincerely apologize for the concern this has caused.

Although veterinarians and animal nutrition specialists, as well as the FDA, have confirmed that extremely low levels of pentobarbital do not pose a threat to pet safety, we understand pet owners may have concerns.

We encourage them to contact us at 800-828-9980

Please know our internal investigation into this situation is ongoing.

We take this very seriously and are extremely disappointed that pentobarbital was introduced to our supply chain.

We have narrowed the focus of our investigation to a single supplier and a single, minor ingredient, used at one manufacturing facility.

What to Do?

Consumers who purchased the affected products can call the Company at 800-828-9980, Monday through Friday 9 AM to 5 PM ET.

Or by email at with any questions, concerns, or for a refund or replacement product.

U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to

Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.


Veterinary Alert: Rabies Confirmed in Animals Found in Superstition Mountain Area

By | Veterinary Alert | One Comment

FLORENCE, AZ – Public Health officials in Pinal and Maricopa Counties today said the Arizona Department of Health Services State Public Health Laboratory has confirmed at least two cases of rabies from animals near the Superstition Mountains, which includes Lost Dutchman State Park, the First Water Trail and the Tonto National Forest, is a popular destination for hikers during this time of year.  Signs warning hikers and campers have been posted at numerous locations including trailheads, campgrounds and entry stations.

“From the reports we have been getting from hikers in the area, it looks like we have an increase of rabies in wild animals,” stated Pinal County Epidemiologist Graham Briggs.  “Two of the cases have been confirmed, but park officials have reported seeing dead animals along with aggressive animals on the trails.” Pinal County Animal Care and Control Director Audra Michael said that hikers should be careful when bringing their pets on a hike.“The first thing is to make sure your pets are properly vaccinated,” Michael said.  “The other is not to let them roam free while you are hiking, always have them on a leash.”

Facts about Rabies

Rabies is an infectious disease that affects the nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord of animals and humans.  It is caused by a virus present in the saliva of infected animals and is transmitted to humans through contact with the live virus. Rabies is fatal to humans once symptoms appear.  If you feel you have been exposed to an animal with rabies, see a doctor immediately.

While human exposures to rabid animals are rare, family pets are more often exposed to wild animals, including wild animals that are rabid.  Vaccination against rabies is available through your veterinarian or County Animal Care and Control.  This will prevent them from getting rabies if exposed to a rabid animal.  Unfortunately, household pets that are not vaccinated against rabies need to be put to sleep after having an exposure to a wild animal.

Rabies is found mainly in wild animals such as bats, skunks, foxes, raccoons, bobcats, and coyotes.  Cats, dogs, and livestock can also become infected with rabies if they are bitten by rabid wild animals and they have not been vaccinated.  Rodents such as rats, mice, gerbils, guinea pigs and squirrels are not likely to be infected with rabies.  Wild animals exhibiting unusual behavior should be reported to local animal control officials.  The best way to protect yourself and your family is to avoid touching, handling, or adopting wild or stray animals.

The first sign of rabies is usually a change in the animal’s behavior.  Animals may act more aggressive or more tame than usual.  Animals usually active at night such as skunks, foxes, and bats may be out during the day.  Rabid animals may appear agitated and excited or paralyzed and frightened.  Sometimes, rabid animals do not show any signs of illness before death from rabies.  That is why contact with wild animals should always be avoided.

Animal Care and Control recommends the following precautions

  • Keep people and pets away from wild animals. Do not pick up, touch, or feed wild or unfamiliar animals, especially sick or wounded ones. If someone has been bitten or scratched, or has had contact with the animal, report it immediately to animal control or health officials.
  • Do not “rescue” seemingly abandoned young wild animals. Usually, the mother will return. If the mother is dead or has not returned in many hours, call the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
  • Vaccinate all dogs and cats against rabies. Pets should be kept in a fenced yard.
  • Take precautions when camping, hunting or fishing. Avoid sleeping on the open ground without the protection of a closed tent or camper. Keep pets on a leash and do not allow them to wander.
  • Do not disturb roosting bats. If you find a bat on the ground, don’t touch it. Report the bat and its location to your local animal control officer or health department. Place a box over the bat to contain it. Be careful not to damage the bat in any way since it must be intact for rabies testing.

For more information on rabies, go to

Golden kitten and golden puppy with kibble

How To Pick a Pet Food – Part 1 – What Not to Look For

By | Pet Nutrition | One Comment

I get people asking me all the time, “What’s the best dog/cat food brand?”  The problem is there is no one food that is best for every pet.  Just as people have different body types, activity levels, and nutritional needs, so do our pets.  To make things even more confusing, pet foods are subject to more lenient regulations than human foods, and companies aren’t always the most trustworthy.  Frequently, pet food companies follow social trends instead of what they know to be best for the pet.  Here are a few things that don’t mean as much as you may think they do.


Natural everything has become quite a trend lately.  As with most trends, it’s not a bad thing at all; I’d even venture to say it’s a good thing.  Unfortunately, anything trendy gives some of the less ethical corporations an opening to take advantage of people.  The Association of Animal Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is the group in charge of writing definitions for ingredients in animal food.  They are not a regulating agency, but most states have adopted their guidelines. [1]  AAFCO’s definition for “natural” is actually pretty permissive.  It includes anything that was derived from a natural product and allows for some chemically synthetic additives “in amounts as might occur in good manufacturing practices.” [2]   In other words, natural can still be highly processed.

Also, if the package says “natural with added vitamins and minerals”, this actually means that the product would fit the definition of natural until they added the possibly artificial vitamins and minerals. [2]

 Human Grade

The term “human grade” isn’t regulated in the pet food industry at all.   Neither AAFCO nor the FDA has a definition for “human grade” pet food. [3]  Even if they did, fit for a human does not equal fit for a pet.  Our bodies are designed differently and do not have the same nutritional needs.  For instance, dogs and humans can generally make sufficient amounts of taurine from plant based sources.  Cats, however, cannot manufacture their own taurine and need to eat animal proteins to get what they need. [4]  Every species of animal has unique nutritional needs, so be sure to find foods that are designed for your pet.

No Animal Byproducts

Another common label on pet foods is “no animal byproducts.”  There are a lot of rumors flying around about byproducts.  The claims that animal byproducts might be euthanized dogs and cats are simply untrue.  By AAFCO definition, any meat byproduct that is not specifically listed by the species it came from must be from cattle, swine, sheep or goats. [5]

Also, animal byproducts are frequently nutrient dense.  Simply put, byproducts are anything left over after the original product was processed. [5]  This is usually the parts that us picky Americans don’t want to eat.  For example, organ meats are extremely nutritious but not nearly so appetizing, and certain parts (i.e. lungs) that are not considered edible for humans would be part of a dog’s natural diet.  These are common meat byproducts.  Some things byproducts cannot be are “hair, horns, teeth and hoofs.” [5]

Grain Free

One last trend I need to discuss is the “grain-free” diet.  The first problem is that grains are not the most common pet allergy.  The usual allergy triggers in animals are proteins.  Beef, chicken, fish, and dairy are among the top. [6]  Of course, grains do have protein too, and wheat is included with these as a common dog food allergen. [6]  However, grains can’t all be lumped together as one thing.  Most grains do not make it into the top 10 list of pet food allergies.  Why leave out barley, rice, rye, oats, etc?    With all the benefits of eating whole grains, I’d hesitate to throw it all out the window.

So, as you can see, a lot of advertising money goes into making you believe the food you’re buying is the best.  I’m not trying to discourage you or make you feel like you can’t trust anyone.  I just want to make you aware.  In short, don’t judge a food by its package.

If you want to learn more about what you SHOULD be looking for in your pet’s food, keep watching for Part 2 of How to Pick a Pet Food.

Tanya Brown, CVT

tanya and norman

Works Cited

[1] AAFCO, “The Role of AAFCO in Pet Food Regulation,” AAFCO, [Online]. Available: [Accessed 21 September 2016].
[2] AAFCO, “Natural,” AAFCO, [Online]. Available: [Accessed 21 September 2016].
[3] AAFCO, “Human Grade,” AAFCO, [Online]. Available: [Accessed 21 September 2016].
[4] VET Info, “Cat Taurine Requirements,” VetInfo, 2012. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 21 September 2016].
[5] AAFCO, “Byproducts,” AAFCO, [Online]. Available: [Accessed 21 September 2016].
[6] S. Eckstein, “Caring for a dog with food allergies,” WebMD, 27 April 2012. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 21 September 2016].


Vet 85259

We’re Hiring!

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We’re looking for another energetic, fun-loving Certified Veterinary Technician to join our staff.  If you or someone you know fits this description, we’d love to hear from you.

Our policy is to provide equal employment opportunity to all qualified persons without regard to race, creed, color, religious belief, sex, age, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, or veteran status.