Dog-Friendly Travel Blog
Like to travel with your dog? Then you should check out Car Go Dogs. I drive all over the Midwest competing with my dogs in agility trials, so I'm always looking for dog-friendly vehicle info, accessories and travel tips. It's nice to find all these things in one spot!
Julia Kamysz Lane
Toy Requires Tongue Amputation
If your dog plays with a pimple ball with bell (pictured here) manufactured by Four Paws Inc., please remove it immediately. Then read what happened to 10-year-old Lab mix Chai, whose tongue had to be amputated after playing with the ball.
When Chai's owner first brought this to Four Paws' attention two months ago to demand a public recall of this product, he was ignored. Then he was told that all of his correspondence had been forwarded to its insurance company! Four Paws did not publicly acknowledge the defective toy and recall it until August 27, 2008. The long-time dog toy manufacturer claimed that this had never happened before.
Daniel planned to accept a financial settlement from Four Paws to cover Chai's vet bills and rehab until he learned that a 5-year-old Lab mix named Cole died from his horrific tongue injuries sustained by the ball back in 2005. Four Paws was aware of this and did NOTHING. Who knows how many other dogs suffered or died over the past THREE YEARS due to this company's negligence and greed?
Julia Kamysz Lane
If You Feed Pedigree ...
... there is a recall of 20-pound bags of Pedigree Complete Nutrition Small Crunchy Bites purchased from some Albertson's stores in Southern California and Las Vegas, Nevada, out of concern over Salmonella. If you have this product, please return it immediately to Albertson's for a full refund.
According to a press release from Pedigree parent company Mars Petcare US, "Pedigree Complete Nutrition Small Crunchy Bites is a multi-component dry pet food. Last week, a component that should have been on hold due to positive testing results was inadvertently shipped to our Tracy, California facility and used in the production of 100 bags of Pedigree Complete Nutrition Small Crunchy Bites with best buy dates of 07/2009."
Out of curiosity, what exactly is a "multi-component" dry pet food? I'm guessing it means fillers like corn and other grains that our dogs don't need. If you have a bag of Pedigree, please check out the ingredients list and let me know.
For tips on how to safely purchase, prepare and handle pet food, please check out this comprehensive resource page from the FDA.
Julia Kamysz Lane
Feds Seize Food From PETCO Warehouse
Will the pet food industry ever get its act together? Yesterday, federal marshals seized allegedly contaminated pet food from a PETCO distribution center in suburban Chicago. The Food and Drug Administration inspected the warehouse in April and May and at both visits, found "live and dead rodents and birds on or around the pet food containers."
You'd think the third time would be the charm, but the food was again found to be stored in supposedly unsanitary conditions. PETCO vice president of corporate communications Kevin Whalen told the Associated Press the company has "acted aggressively to address each and every concern that was raised" at the government's last visit. Apparently, they need to do more.
This warehouse distributes food to Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. No one has reported any adverse effects in their pets after eating food from PETCO. However, if you live in one of these states, the FDA recommends you take precautions when handling the food. If your pet becomes ill, contact your vet immediately and alert an FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator.
Julia Kamysz Lane
Bored with the same old walks? Then you and your pup might like to try the Dog Powered Scooter and the Dog Powered Trike. They're similar to mushing, except the dogs are harnessed from behind the human driver so he can steer without worry. Architect Mark Schuette of Bend, Oregon, invented the dog scooter and trike as a way to spend more time with his dog and give him enough exercise. For a cool video demo with a Husky and a Rottie, click here.
Julia Kamysz Lane
Littlest Pet Shop Glosses Over Harsh Reality
My three-year-old niece is enamored with the Littlest Pet Shop line of toys. As I struggled to open her latest collection of admittedly adorable creatures, it was all I could do not to throw them in the trash and lecture on the horrors of puppy mills and corporate greed. On its Web site, toy maker Hasbro infers that the Littlest Pet Shop promotes responsibility by allowing children to collect a variety of animals without the um ... responsibility of caring for live pets. Nice marketing spin but I'm literally not buying it. And it pains me to see kids play with a product that only shows one side of the commercial pet industry.
Perhaps Hasbro could add some new locales to its collection for a more well-rounded perspective. How about the Littlest Pet Shelter, where many pet shop puppies eventually end up due to the health and behavior problems that result from poor breeding, malnutrition and lack of socialization? Or the Littlest Commercial Breeder, where purebred dogs are kept in cages and forced to reproduce as often and as long as they are able. Once the breeding pairs no longer prove useful, they can go to the Littlest Pet Auction, available to the highest bidder.
It's possible to teach children how to take proper care of animals without promoting or glorifying pet shops. Many therapy dog groups, such as Therapy Dogs International (of which I'm a member) and Delta Society offer children an opportunity to interact with a healthy, friendly dog and learn about his needs. Some libraries and schools smartly encourage kids to read aloud to therapy dogs, as a way to improve their reading skills without fear of judgment. Or you could always give them an old-fashioned stuffed animal to hug, pet and feed.
Julia Kamysz Lane
Most gag-inducing toy of the year
Recently, I was hitting a few of the post-Christmas sales when I discovered a certifiably gross squeaky toy, Mr. Poops (see my iPhone picture), probably the most disgusting dog toy I'll see all year. Although the toy’s “story” is that Mr. Poops was left on a lawn and washed into a drain, the 10-inch poop critter with eyes and a frown peers out from packaging—here’s the kicker—illustrated to look like a toilet seat. No, Mr. Poops and the five-inch Mini Poo aren’t just unclaimed land mines; these squeakers conjure floaters of human origin that your dog is supposed to chomp, chew, lick, and retrieve. Ugh.
Auto Wash Is All Wet
Have you read about these automated dog washers? Like something out of the brain of Dr. Seuss de Sade, they are essentially side-loading washing machines for dogs and cats (yeah, like a cat’s going to tolerate this). Insert your pet into a glass cabin for a five-minute wash, 30-second rinse and a 20-minute blow dry. According to the recent story in The Vancouver Sun, an owner of a public dog wash sees it as a way to reduce the stress of keeping a reluctant groomee in a tub. Whose stress? Certainly not the dog’s! The Sun followed up its own report with a guest editorial decrying the invention, which got me wondering: Do we have these in the states? Wired wrote about the Spanish-designed Lavakan machines back in 2001 (Pet Wash: A Sadistic Sudser?), and reported that 90 machines had sold in the U.S. and that plans were underway to launch a chain of pet stores using them. They haven’t come to my neighborhood, but I wash my dog at home. I’m hoping these aren’t catching on, but I may just be in my own bubble.
Get the Lead Out
I’m having a case of déjà vu. Months after Iams, Eukanuba, Ol’ Roy, and dozens of dog and cat food products were swept off shelves due to melamine poisoning, and after Thomas the Tank, Barbie, Polly Pocket and other China-produced toys were recalled due to the dangers of high-energy magnets and lead in toys, members of our families are once again chomping on products that could endanger their health.
Thanks to some enterprising reporters and consumer advocates toxic metals have been detected in pet toys, food bowls and other items produced overseas. The amounts exceed the safety standard set for children by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Of course, CPSC has no safety standards for pets.
While the veterinarians consulted by ConsumerAffairs.com (which found lead and chromium in dog and cat toys) downplayed the dangers, others aren’t so sure. Haven’t we learned anything from the pet food recall?
Consumers need to be smart, and take matters into their own hands. Some experts say tracking down American-made products is a good start (though not foolproof). Others suggest, avoiding latex toys, which are not only frequently implicated in lead testing but also tend to shred. The most important thing will be gathering and sharing the latest information.
The Canine Lifestyle
I just returned from spending a few days at a convention called "SuperZoo", purportedly the world's largest tradeshow for pet retailers. Over one-thousand vendors were on hand to display products for a variety of companion animals, but the most-popular pet, by far, was the dog. While snake enthusiasts may have had one or two booths of related products to visit, dog aficionados had to rush to hit the hundreds and hundreds of displays solely devoted to canine happiness. Despite the crowds and the noise, one statement from the pet industry came through clearly: Your dog needs clothes, jewelry, and enough furniture to fill a studio apartment.
This was the third year in a row that I've attended SuperZoo, and this was the first year that a large section of the floor was set aside just for canine fashion. A sign hanging above the area read, "Rodeo Drive". All the vendors here were selling clothing for dogs, shoes for dogs, and jewelry. Not just fancy collars adorned with rhinestones, either; retailers feel your dog would look good in a gemstone tiara and sterling silver hairclip. Some of the clothing was just the usual "cute t-shirt with funny saying", but you could also find leather jackets, tulle skirts, and just about every other frou-frou accoutrement the brain could imagine. Matching outfits were common, so you and your dog can wear the same shirt and look just like parent and furry child. Not surprisingly, the clothing and jewelry retailers feel small dogs are their market, so if your dog weighs more than fifteen pounds, it may have to go naked.
The other newly-emerging trend in dog products is furniture. Gone are the days of the plywood doghouse or the old pillow as a dog bed. I saw displays of dog beds built into nightstands, dog beds styled like the cylindrical cone chair from the 1960s, and beds which heat up and give your pet a vibrating treatment of "magic fingers" (no quarter needed). Some dog beds had been designed by chiropractors to ensure support for older dogs or dogs with back problems. The styles and colors seem practically endless, and the prices of some beds approach the price of a cheap used car. Keeping your dog in âthe lifestyleâ is going to set you back thousands of dollars.
Sociologists have been quoted as saying that dogs have become pseudo-children for many families, and it's hard to deny that when you see a large floor display with two dozen strollers and half a dozen dog "playpens". These sorts of products didn't exist even a year ago, yet now you can not only buy a playpen for your puppy, you have choices about which one to purchase. A person walking into SuperZoo could have been easily convinced that they'd stumbled across a baby retailers' convention and not a display of pet products.
While I found the jewelry and dog clothing a bit disconcerting, I was happy to see signs of other, very positive trends. There were more and more vendors of raw food, and more and more treats made from a single ingredient, like salmon or beef. Wheat and flour had left the building. Signs of high-quality were everywhere, not just in the strollers and playpens. There's also increased attention being paid to dog healthcare and safety, with a number of products available to help your elderly or disabled pet remain comfortable. Maybe the pet industry as a whole had a bit of a fright earlier this year with the pet food recall, and decided to start taking pet care more seriously. They certainly seem willing to treat dogs like little people, and it will be interesting to see if this trend continues twelve months from now.