My Photo

Keep Up

Flickr


  • www.flickr.com
    christiekeith's items Go to christiekeith's photostream

« That loathsome twerp Joe Lieberman | Main | What's going on with the San Francisco SPCA? »

11 June 2008

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Robin

#3 is why I can't go on pet message boards any more. Seeking emotional support when my cat went into heart failure, I was mortified by how many posters in the feline CHF group I joined treat their cats with homeopathy and supplements. Not in combination with regular veterinary care and medicine, INSTEAD of it. I was horrified. I agree that holistic veterinary care includes conventional care. If you can't afford veterinary care you shouldn't have an animal.

The OTHER Pat

I put a "snip" in my quote from Gina, but it disappeared. Just don't want anyone thinking I deliberately truncated her post in a misleading way.

The OTHER Pat

My post was meant as a commnentary on how it felt then - while it was "live" and real. Christie's article just kind of sent me back there all over again. Gina says:



"In retrospect, we probably would have handled that better here.



But of course, we were working around the clock and doing our best."



And I absolutely understand and concur with that. H. Houlihan makes some good points in her post. Still, for many of us, this represented a fairly substantial paradigm shift, and even a suggestion as innocuous-seeming as "Give ‘im some chicken and green beans while you sort through it" represented SUCH a departure from things we'd taken so for granted that it just wasn't all that easy to do.



And for the record, when suggestions such as "Give ‘im some chicken and green beans while you sort through it" (I'm talking here of things I experienced on other boards I participate in)were offered up, they were invariably followed by a slew of other posters aaying "No! Wrong carbohydrate!" "Too much protein!" "What about the calcium!" "OMG! Gotta balance that phosphorus!" And so on. It seemed there WERE no "simple sugeestions" of what to do while you sorted things out that didn't get jumped all over by SOMEONE. More hysteria during a time already pretty well pumped up with that emotion. It's just something for folks to think about.

H. Houlahan

Hey, I'm *almost* a PhD. Is that why it's cognitively pretty easy for me to feed my dogs non-commercially, while a DVM/PhD is completely stymied by this mystery?



Of course, my ABD label o' shame comes from six years in a political philosophy program, which some might view as less than perfectly applicable to feeding the dog, but what the hell. I went to *much* better schools than Dr. Sundlof. (snark snark)



Pat, here's the deal.



Imagine you eat a pretty healthy diet. The way you eat is a product of how your gramma cooked, the way your Mom cooked, the nutrition segment of your eighth-grade health class, your doctor's advice, what you have read in the popular press about healthy diet, the labels down at the food co-op and maybe a little bit of reading and "research." But overall, you've developed a diet that works for you over some number of decades, and you don't think much about it on a daily basis -- you just habitually eat low on the food chain, choose local/organic when possible, have variety in your diet, maybe take a few supplements that are right for you. You don't sweat it when you splurge on something fatty and wonderful and bad for you, because it's a "sometimes food." You just eat the way you eat -- it's a habit and a lifestyle, not an equation.



Then your neighbor, who has subsisted on Burger King and Hot Pockets for the past decade, gets the bejeezies scared out of her by the latest salmonella outbreak. She comes to you and wants to know WHAT DO I EAT? HOW DO I COOK? WHAT KIND OF PAN SHOULD I USE? TELL ME NOW!



That's kind of how us homemade-dog-diet folks felt during the pet food recalls.



So the answer "go read a book" was, I think, a perfectly reasonable one. I'd for sure tell that ersatz neighbor to go pay a nutritionist and take a cooking class. I wasn't put on this earth to do her Momma's job.



And it's not as if you were going to give your dog kwashiorkor by feeding him "wrong" for a week or two while you figured it all out. Give 'im some chicken and green beans while you sort through it. He'll be fine. IT IS NOT ROCKET SURGERY, despite Dr. Sudlof's expression of awe.

Christie Keith

Yes, BUT.... I understand the pet food recall crisis and I linked to BalanceIT in my own articles and posts many times, and gave books that have recipes, but here's the thing: Do you use a recipe for every meal you feed YOURSELF?



Dogs aren't hothouse flowers, and you can feed them basically what you eat yourself. The whole idea that you have to have a "balanced recipe" for every meal is no more true for them than it is for us.



But again, for us and our dogs, we should have some ideas about how we should eat to get all our required nutrients, as well as what works with our budget, lifestyle, and any special needs or preferences. And that's where things like reading and research come in.



Cook up some veggies and chicken while you're reading. Give him some stew (no onions). Cottage cheese and sweet potatos. It's all fine. No one "needs" an immediate recipe. We've been seriously brainwashed into thinking that every bite our dogs take has to be "balanced," but it's not true. They just have to get all the nutrients they need, and nothing in excess, over time, just like we do.

Gina Spadafori

In retrospect, we probably would have handled that better here. (And I think we DID post a recipe or two that Dr. Pion got for us from one of the veterinary nutritionists who are VIN consultants.)



But of course, we were working around the clock and doing our best.



I know many of my friends, family and co-workers think it overkill at best and nuts at worst, but I can tell you the pet-food recall has changed my life. Like most people,I just assumed our food came from great American farmers and those "amber waves of grain." What a horrifying "surprise" to find out otherwise, as well as that the FDA/USDA were looking the other way, if they were looking at all.



Now, of course, I source everything I can, am starting to grow a lot for myself, research like crazy and am a confirmed "locavore." It's amazing what's out there, but it does take time to find. (Example: I found another source of organic chicken feed, by asking around at the horse show over the weekend. This one is 90 minutes closer.)



But yes, I remember clearly that statement of Sundloff. I laughed out loud. But you know what? He probably doesn't know how to cook for himself, his family or his pets. Like many of us, he grew up believing what he was told: Trust the multinationals. Trust the government. They know what's best for us.



We have become so reliant on and firm believers in convenience, cheap oil and cheap food.



We have to go back, and pick up what we lost.



Truly, I'm starting to think the most revolutionary thing you can do these days is plant a garden. I guarandamnteeya that MY tomatoes won't have salmonella.

slt

I understand exactly what you are saying Pat and I observed many people in the same boat last year. That was one reason I was so angry at Stephen Sundlof (and most other Vets) saying during the recall that you'd have to be a PhD to feed your dog on your own and Sundlof added that he himself would not know how to feed his own dog from the kitchen. Outrageous IMO. And yeah, as far as books and internet sites go, they are contradictory and sometimes contain misinformation along with the "everybody else is wrong" attitude.

The OTHER Pat

Oh - and by the way - it's not like I wasn't capable of obtaining and reading a book. But there was more than a little "analysis paralysis" going on what with wondering which was the RIGHT book, and what to do in the meantime as I sorted it out. Looking back, it seems a little silly I suppose. But I - and a lot of other people - were having to let go of a lot of messages that had been drummed into us pretty successfully by people we'd THOUGHT we could trust, and that was hard enough without feeling like we were putting our pets' lives in danger with every day that passed that we couldn't reach a decision.



It really was very unsettling while we were in the midst of it, no matter how simple it may appear from the 20/20 perspective of hindsight.

The OTHER Pat

Just a comment on #2: During the rolling recalls, I had some pretty unhappy experiences which I know others had as well. I was quickly approaching being terrified to feed my dog ANY kibble while at the same time being told what a risk I would be taking if I started cooking for him myself. When asking those who had already been home-feeding (either cooked or raw) I first had to deal with the self-congratulatory preening of how THEY weren't caught up in the general panic because THEY had been smart enough to stop feeding commercial kibble YEARS before. Then they would send me to read a book. Or books. Oftentimes which contained contradictory information, as pointed out by the NEXT person to respond to my pleas, since obviously THEIR homemade feeding choices (protein percentages, carbohydrae sources, etc., etc., etc.) were RIGHT and the first poster's were WRONG.



And on it went. And all I wanted was a RECIPE. But no one would give me one because it had to be customized to MY dog. (Um, yeah. Kinda like all that kibble that dogs survive on okay between recalls is customized to each dog . . . . . . . . . ) Or because I had to read ALL the books, figure out what they were saying, and decide for MYSELF which author I thought was right.



And meanwhile, the rolling recalls went on, I felt like I was putting my dog's life at risk every time I poured his food in his bowl, but no one would just tell me where - without becoming an amateur veterinary nutritionist - I could just find one, bloomin' bloody recipe to start my dog on while I figured out what I was going to do!



Anyway, finally the BalanceIT site came along, and I got a nice recipe that he appears to be doing really well on, so all is good.



But getting there was way more traumatic than it needed to be.

Christie Keith

LOL, yes, I'd be honored. ;)

Dr. Patty Khuly

Can I copy this and paste it in the exam room?

Lynette

There are two great cat food recipes available for the "average" cat at catinfo.org and catnutrition.org. I don't know much about dogs, but the BalanceIT recipes for cats are HORRIBLE. WAY too high in carbohydrates, and they require a carbohydrate source, even though cats have NO need for carbohydrates in their diet.

Gina Spadafori

Worth repeating here:



One of the reasons we didn't get into the home prepared/commercial food debate during the recall (aside from the fact that we were busy, you know, covering the recall) is that we felt VERY strongly that the whole thing shouldn't be turned into a debate about commercial pet food.



We believed all along and STILL DO that it's perfectly reasonable to expect that no matter what you buy or where you buy it, you should be able to have a pretty good amount of confidence that what you buy won't kill your pet.



The issue remains food safety and import safety, and it hasn't been addressed yet, for people OR pets.



Nor will it, with a lame-duck administration and an election on the near horizon. Right now, all the top-level policy lifer in the Washington Merry-Go-Round are readying their resumes to land the best possible job they can depending on their relationship to the next POTUS.



Maybe next year someone will give a damn about the melt-down of our food-safety system.

slt

I just went and checked the recipe I had received from "BalanceIT" last Spring. For a 60 pound dog:

4 C cooked brown rice

6 oz cooked ground beef

5/8 tsp corn oil

20 grams of their Balance IT supplement which I don't know what's in that, presumably Calcium and whatever else.

The OTHER Pat

Oh, I got a recipe with a LOT more variety. It has chicken, broccoli, carrots, spinach, celery, sweet potato, yogurt, flaxseed oil and canola oil. I make up 20 days at a time.



I took the option of having them provide me with a recipe to make up the supplement on my own, and as well as I remember everything that's in it off the top of my head, it has two types of Calcium, a multivitamin, choline, Lite Salt (for the potassium) and zinc gluconate. I grind it all up with a mortar and pestle and he gets 1/4 teaspoon of it per day.

Deb

Alas, I am one of those who gloated, but tried hard to keep my superiority private. I didn't chip in for recipes for home cooked because I really don't cook for my dogs. Well one I do, but I open a 2 pound frozen roll of either pre mix or complete meat to which I add organic veggies, defrost and nuke in the microwave. So what do I know about recipes???? Nada. What advice could I offer? None.

I don't have as long a history as Christie does, but when my first IG started having seizures at a year and half ( he'll be 11 in Aug), he changed my world (again) and opened me to all sorts of non traditional approaches to pet care, including raw food.

Vitamin supplements? I buy them from a specific company.

I was much more worried about my cats during the Recall as they eat kibble. I haunted this place, Itchmo and other sites during that time, learning everything I could. I was lucky. Even though I fed kibble, the brand I was using was well manufactured enough not be involved, and I credit that to having done research ( thanks to my IE dog) to find the best food I could on the market.

I have tried unsuccessfully to interest them in a raw diet to no avail. I have caught one of them on occasion sampling the cooked food the one dog gets, but when I put a dish of it out for the cats, it sparks no interest. Must be a cat theft thing!

cheriecat

I'd like to recommend a wonderful cat book i recently read. "Your Cat" by Elizabeth M. Hodgkins, D.V.M., Esq. It was published in 2007. Dr. Hodgkins is a feline veterinarian. She worked as a veterinary executive for the company that made the first dry kibble dog foods, then eventually cat kibble. Her opinion of commercial pet food, especially dry kibble, is extremely low. That includes so-called "prescription diets," too. It made me feel like i've been feeding my cats crack cocaine all these years by giving them any dry food, even Innova Evo. I have always given my cats good brands of canned food, but have (unfortunately) always kept down bowl of kibble for them to nibble on. I tried to get them to eat raw and then cooked meat during the pet food recalls last year. They absolutely won't eat raw meat or recipes of home-cooked. I especially liked Dr. Hodgkin's book because of her "insider" view of commercial pet food. This book is full of very useful information about felines health.

slt

Comment by The OTHER Pat — June 11, 2008 @ 2:26 pm



Wow - that sounds great! Why did I get such a dud recipe? You musta had the golden ticket.

Lis

Alas, I am one of those who gloated, but tried hard to keep my superiority private. I didn’t chip in for recipes for home cooked because I really don’t cook for my dogs. Well one I do, but I open a 2 pound frozen roll of either pre mix or complete meat to which I add organic veggies, defrost and nuke in the microwave. So what do I know about recipes???? Nada. What advice could I offer? None.



No advice to offer at all? Not even, "this is what I do, my dog has been healthy and happy on this for almost ten years, maybe you could try this while doing all that reading?



During the pet food recalls, so many of the advocates of home-cooked and raw behaved like you, Deb--gloating, whether openly or privately, over the fact that people's pets were sick or dying, or the owners were in panic over how to feed their still-healthy pets safely, and deliberately not sharing some simple "this is how you get started while you're doing your research" advice. With so many of the advocates of home-cooked or raw, there was no sympathy, no compassion, and no willingness to place the welfare of the animals over their glee at what the owners were experiencing in trying to feed them safely.



On my Chinese Crested forum, though, the home-cookers were willing to share. And my vet (you know, one of those awful people who know nothing about nutrition and are only interested in shilling for Hills?), when I told my vet I wanted to try home-cooking, she asked me to come in the next day, and gave me recipes, advice on portions, and information on where to find human-grade supplements in usable form.



Vitamin supplements? I buy them from a specific company.



Over a year later, still reveling in your superiority and not willing to share.



I was much more worried about my cats during the Recall as they eat kibble. I haunted this place, Itchmo and other sites during that time, learning everything I could.



And yet, felt no compassion for other people experiencing the same thing, because feeding home-cooked to one of your animals made you superior to them. And no sense, apparently, that your experience with your cats might not be unique.



I was lucky. Even though I fed kibble, the brand I was using was well manufactured enough not be involved, and I credit that to having done research ( thanks to my IE dog) to find the best food I could on the market.



Purina? You were feeding your cats Purina?



I mean, you do realize, don't you, that the pet food crisis was not about the quality of the formulas? You do know that, right?



Good formulas, poor formulas, fantastic formulas; kibble, canned, or pouch--all kinds of foods were recalled. Some of the food recalled weren't even supposed to contain any wheat gluten or rice gluten--but the contract manufacturer did unauthorized substitutions.



The pet food recall was about contamination, not formulas, and the only companies that can absolutely control what goes into their food are the companies that either own their own plants, or else have their own people onsite overseeing the process. Purina owns its own plants, and manufactures most of their own foods--and the only products they had recalled were the bottom-end brands they did contract out.



And yet very few people here would say that the Purina formulas are superior formulas, and it's not where careful nutritional research would have led someone.



Lots of people who had done lots of research found themselves scrambling to find a replacement for their pets' recalled high-quality food. What kept your cats safe was not actually your research, but pure dumb luck.

Sharon

After 3 cats fell ill, and all three being exposed to round two of the more tainted pet food in supposed organic pet food, we immediately switched to home cooked foods. The cats didn't like it. But then, they do nothing quickly. It's always at their own speed.



My vet was very skeptical. Told me things were safe, etc. The other vet in the practice recognized that after $3000 in vet bills, we weren't feeding out of a can until we knew said can was safe. She supported what we were doing, realizing that a large part of it was for our own peace of mind. In addition, she also realized that the true scope of the contamination wasn't really known.



Plain and simple, what came off the table was 100 percent safer than what came out of a can.



We gave them supplements from the vet. We also scanned a few recipes and then cooked stuff up. It wasn't any big production but solely based on our fear of having three elderly cats exposed for a third time.



I cannot reconcile that I put the food in their dishes every day. I blame myself and I will always. My choices harmed them. My choices have cost me 2 cats in one year.



I still have Maui. Surprisingly, she was the one who fell ill the fastest at the beginning. I guess the immediate IV and flushing made the difference. She's fed off the table now - she has what we eat for dinner if she's inclined. Plus her own Instinct food that she loves. She's fed 4 times a day - no kibble. And I'm eternally grateful for every extra moment I have with her old kitty self.



Cleo and Dude's ashes sit in their cherry wood boxes on my mantel.



Deb, I'm glad you never had to feel the pain that I do every day when I look at my mantel.

Gina Spadafori

Sharon writes: I cannot reconcile that I put the food in their dishes every day. I blame myself and I will always. My choices harmed them.



**

Sharon, this just made me cry. HOW COULD YOU KNOW? How could you know that across the world some greedhead substituted plastic for food? How could you know that U.S. importers didn't question how cheap the ingredients were, and ask why? How could you know that a manufacturer tried to do the very minimum to let the world know when they realized they'd put millions and millions of containers of lethal product on the market? How could you know, when companies dropped their recall notices on their Web sites late on Friday nights hoping no one would notice? How could you know when the FDA wouldn't even acknowledge for weeks and weeks that more than a handful of pets had been killed?



Girlfriend, this WAS NOT YOUR FAULT!!



And it goes back to my original statement. This is NOT about home-prepared vs. commercial food.



Everyone, EVERYONE, has the right to expect that at the VERY LEAST, no matter what they buy and where they buy it, the pet food, no matter how inexpensive or how fancy, will NOT KILL THEIR PETS. Man, talk about a minimum nutritional requirement!



This is about import safety and food safety, and a system of broken safeguards that reminds one of how FEMA -- once a model agency we were proud of and counted on -- was gutted and left to rot in the hands of political cronies. The pet-food recall was the FDA's early warning. Next time, it'll be their Katrina.



This is not about pet food, really. It's about import safety and food system safety for animals and people both, and it still is.

Christie Keith

I can only echo what Gina said here. I wrote at the time and I repeat it now: I refused to use the pet food recall as a platform for home feeding because that's NOT what the recall was about. The recall was about CONTAMINATED FOOD, about food safety, about the gutting of the federal government, about corporations over people.



By getting into divisive arguments about how we choose to feed our pets, we let greedy corporations and careless regulators and legislators off the hook. And I won't do that.



Even the cheapest generic food in the store should NOT HAVE POISON IN IT.

Sharon

My pets, my family, my responsibility. My husband feels the same way and he got the cats and me as a package deal. It was brutal to watch them die and it will be brutal to watch Maui go. I'm certain it'll be by kidney failure.



Gina, I understand what you've and I thank you for it. The logical part of my brain knows all that. But my heart weeps every day for my lost cats. I miss them - they were a part of my life for over 16 years.



I agree with both you and Christie that food choices are a personal choice - between a vet and a pet parent. I wouldn't presume to tell anyone what to feed (except my Mom). I do, however, remind anyone I'm discussing pets with to for recalls with pet foods on a regular basis. Nothing can be taken for granted anymore.

Sharon

Good lord, I left out so many words! I must be tired! Completely ignore that above post and read this edited one instead :)



------



My pets, my family, my responsibility. My husband feels the same way and he got the cats and me as a package deal. It was brutal to watch them die and it will be brutal to watch Maui go. I’m certain it’ll be by kidney failure.



Gina, I understand what you’ve said and I thank you for it. The logical part of my brain knows all that. But my heart weeps every day for my lost cats. I miss them - they were a part of my life for over 16 years.



I agree with both you and Christie that food choices are a personal choice - between a vet and a pet parent. I wouldn’t presume to tell anyone what to feed (except my Mom). I do, however, remind anyone I’m discussing pets with to check the internet for recalls of pet foods on a regular basis. Nothing can be taken for granted anymore.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner