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Sun, Dec. 08

All About Pets: New pet food warnings have hit the shelf

BoJay and Lacy don’t pay much attention to the outside temperature. They just watch the clock - and when it is walk-time they get excited. (Christy Powers/Courtesy)

BoJay and Lacy don’t pay much attention to the outside temperature. They just watch the clock - and when it is walk-time they get excited. (Christy Powers/Courtesy)

The busy Fourth of July holiday is behind us. I do hope that all the pets that were frightened are now able to relax. Hopefully, none ran away.

Such a frightening time for them. In my neighborhood, we heard no fireworks except on television!

We all (I hope) are committed to feeding our families and our pets the best possible diet. I have mentioned before the importance of having lots of meat protein heading the ingredient label in our pet’s food.

But the craze lately, has been for grain-free. Many people have gone grain-free in their own diets, and when dog food became available that was grain-free, many thought that was a great new choice.

But now, the new warning is - grain-free can cause heart damage. There were articles in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times about health problems caused by the grain-free products. A whole list of dog foods have made the list - and the interesting thing is, these brands are the top of the line dog foods. It will be interesting to see where this all leads.

According to the reports, vets are seeing more heart issues in our pets and in their investigations, have found that the grain-free foods just might be the culprit. The FDA is investigating the potential link between certain diets and Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). For more information on this go to FDA - dog food.

Many have claimed that in the wild, dog’s ancestors did not eat grains. However, when they made a kill of a grain-eating animal, they chowed down on the whole thing.

I have always believed that bread is the staff of life. I certainly enjoy healthy, whole grains in my own diet from breakfast cereal to a slice of toast.

In time, the truth will be told about this report. Because the report lists only these top-quality products, I contacted a pet food expert whose opinion I greatly respect. He believes this just might be a marketing ploy by the mega pet food companies, as their market share has fallen with the addition of these high quality products.

However, he adds, he used to promote the grain-free products, but now has changed his opinion. The protein sources in the foods with grain seem to be higher quality and at higher percentages.

However, if a pet has an allergy to grain, certainly grain must be avoided.

The important thing here is, if you plan to change foods, do it gradually to avoid stomach upset. Take several days to a week and mix the two together, increasing the quantity of the new product while cutting down on the old one.

One final miscellaneous thought here, I have been reading all the warnings about walking our dogs on hot roads. Naturally, we have to be careful, but I have one older, short-haired dog and we always walk along the side of the road. She chooses where she walks. She is enjoying the smells and she ranges from one side of the road to the other. When there is a cooler option, rather than the road, she does not seem to be guided by that.

I have read so many theories: put the back of your hand on the road or take off your shoe and if the road is too hot for you, it is too hot for our dogs. I will admit that we need to be paying close attention to how they react to the various surfaces, but keep in mind, our dogs do not wear shoes, so the pads of their feet are toughened by constant contact with rough, cold and hot surfaces.

No matter the temperature, both my guys want their (at least) two walks a day. If I mention the word walk, they are ready at the door.

Christy Powers is a freelance writer whose passion is studying and writing about pet health, nutrition and training. She can be reached at

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