Everyday Adventures in Havachon Heaven

The Good, Crazy, & Adorable Life of One Havachon Puppy

FDA Warning: Toxic Treats From China = Russian Roulette With Your Pet’s Life

We’re interrupting our usual Crazy Daisy silliness because of a new FDA warning about the dangers of pet treats imported from China. We don’t want any fellow pets or pet lovers to suffer the devastating effects of these potentially toxic “treats”.

It’s more important than ever to check the small print on that bag of treats or pet food you’re buying to make sure it wasn’t made in China. Apparently, giving your pet treats made in China is like playing Russian roulette with your pet’s life.

It doesn’t get any scarier than that, my fellow animal-lovers.

The 12/03/2011 Natural News article (you can read it in its entirety by clicking on that link) said there’s been an “uptick in adverse event reports” regarding pet treats made in China. “MSNBC reports that at least 70 dogs so far this year have been sickened or killed by chicken jerky products imported from China“. 

And those 70 are only the ones vets reported – how many more illnesses and deaths went unreported or unattributed to poisonous imported edibles?

Seriously, we have to stop this madness. Imported glass roasting pans have exploded when taken out of the oven (it happened to a friend of my mother’s), toxic toothpastes and makeup items sicken and kill people, cheap ceramic  glazes (or lack thereof) leak toxins into our drinks, and so, so much more. And now our pets are becoming victims too. But as long as we keep feeding these manufacturers’ wallets, they’ll keep mass producing toxic waste for our ingestion. Or should I say indigestion? 😉

My friend’s dog was horribly sick for a month because one of these slipped past her in a sample packet. She was just lucky her little cutie survived, but he suffered horribly with constant vomiting and diarrhea. And, of course, his human family suffered right along with him.

I’m usually a pretty easy-going sort of person who believes in the “live and let live” motto, but when manufacturers have a total disregard for the health and safety of others, it makes my blood boil and I have to take a stand. So here it is.

Don’t – buy – cheap – Chinese – imports. Your life and your pet’s life may be at risk.

I’m certainly not saying that China is the only country producing dangerous things, but they’re the ones producing an overwhelming majority of it. We have to start discouraging this wanton disregard for life and safety somewhere.

Since we can’t be sure which Chinese manufacturers use dangerous toxins in their products, we can’t take chances with any of them. Sure, there are recalls from even the most trusted manufacturers, but they’re usually unintentional and few and far between. What I’m talking about is a constant stream of deliberately cheap and dangerous goods.

Personally, I’d rather buy one item that’s more expensive if it comes from a manufacturer I have good reason to believe is safe than buy ten questionable items from any country we know exports toxins. How many more warnings do we need before we take action and protect ourselves?

And while we’re on the subject, the Natural News article also advised that we avoid any pet foods/treats with the irradiation symbol, which looks frighteningly innocent and has an earth-friendly appearance:

Radura Symbol

Natural News reports that radiation is used to blast “pathogens and viruses” out of pet foods (how and why did they get in there in the first place?!), but instead it can render pet food toxic. Several pets in Australia died from ingesting irradiated pet food; there’s a link in the article where you can read about such cases. Unfortunately, some US manufacturers use this process too, so look for the Radura Symbol and steer clear of any pet products that have it. Better safe than sorry.

My goal in writing this is NOT to point the finger of blame, but rather to help keep our beloved pets safe. If we know there’s a risk with anything, we need to pass that information along to help others so we can all make informed buying decisions. And that’s all I’m hoping to do.

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Thanksgiving’s Over – On Toward Christmas!

Well Thanksgiving was wonderful as always. Daisy loved meeting her new relatives and they certainly enjoyed playing with her!

Point me to the Christmas tree!

With Daisy’s sensitive tummy, we have a strict “no table food” rule, and I’m happy to say that everyone honored it. Daisy only tried once to tempt an aunt into sharing her dinner by jumping up so her front paws were on my aunt’s lap, but as soon as we told her “down”, she resigned herself to the fact that today was no different from any other, and went about playing.

Now comes the big challenge – decorating for Christmas and keeping Daisy from eating the decorations. We usually put tinsel on our tree – we like the icy look it gives the tree, as well as the Christmas-of-yore feel of it. But I don’t think we’ll be using it this year – according to an article at  Pet Education.com, tinsel is one of those sparkling, moving things dogs are attracted to and will eat, causing blockages that require surgery. Even tree needles can be toxic, so we’ll be vacuuming a lot and keeping a very close eye on Daisy, only allowing her near the tree when we’re there with her.  And we certainly won’t be bringing toxic poinsettia plants in. As a young puppy, she’s curious about everything!

Pedigree Pups has a wonderful article about the dangers of Christmas trees for dogs and how to make them more pet-friendly. One big thing to be cautious of is glass ornaments, which dogs like to play with and can result in serious mouth cuts (we won’t even discuss what could happen if they swallow some pieces). I think we’ll put the glass ornaments higher on the tree this year and put non-breakables at the bottom.

The site also recommends securing the tree so it’s not wobbly, spraying the lower part of the tree with bitter apple or other citrus sprays to make it unappealing to your dog, keeping a cover over the tree’s water supply so you dog won’t drink it, keeping light cords out of the dog’s reach (or at least putting something over them that the dog can’t chew through), keeping ornament hooks off the floor so they won’t cut your dog’s paw or wreak havoc on his insides if he swallows one, and much more. The article is definitely an important dog-owner’s holiday safety guide.

Taking safety precautions will give you and your dog happier holidays!

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Dog Toy Bacteria Danger – Wash or Waste?

Daisy has one toy that has survived her sharp teeth for several months – it’s the only “veteran” in her toy collection. Clearly the best made toy we’ve invested in!

This is the toughest toy I've ever had!

It’s a small stuffed ring with little squares of material protruding from it like stumpy spokes. Every other “spoke” is filled with a crinkly material that makes a crunchy sound when Daisy bites it. Daisy LOVES anything with sound to it.

Lately I noticed that when she plays with this toy, the stuffed ring gets saturated. Not just wet – saturated. It’s pretty gross. Thinking about this, I became concerned about the bacteria that could be growing inside this toy and could possibly make Daisy sick.

Yup, it sure can.

Apparently, stuffed dog toys are notorious bacteria breeders. Your dog can get any number of symptoms from diarrhea to gum issues because of the bacteria growing in toys, and even if your vet gives Puppy an antibiotic to clear up the problem, poor Puppy will just keep getting re-infected if he/she keeps playing with that dirty toy.

It’s been suggested by companies like Hartz that chewing ropes and stuffed toys can “harbor all sorts of microbes”. (::shudder:: ) A US government study found that bacteria can be killed by microwaving bacteria-producers like sponges, and some dog toys can be microwaved safely too.

To keep your dog from ingesting potentially hazardous bacteria, Hartz recommends cleaning these types of toys:

  • Chewing ropes – these can be microwaved for one minute, but it’s recommended that you keep an eye on the rope just in case, and use protective covering on your hand when removing the hot rope from the microwave. An alternative is to run the rope through the hot cycle of your dishwasher without adding detergent. The water is much hotter than running hot sink water over the toy, which won’t kill bacteria.
  • Stuffed toys – wash in your washing machine on the hot water setting; flimsy toys may not be sturdy enough to withstand a wash cycle, but a better made toy will. They should also be able to go through the dryer.
  • Any toys that are breaking or that your dog can bite chunks off should be thrown away. We had a Nylabone that Daisy was able to destroy within a few days at only 4 months of age. However, we found a hard plastic Nylabone specifically made for tough chewers, and she’s been working on that for 2 months. She’s only just now starting to take small shreds off it and make good-sized dents in it. She’ll be getting a new one in the near future!

I put Daisy’s ring toy through the hot water wash with her bath towels and blankets; I use one of the “free and clear” detergents with no perfumes, dyes, etc. to make sure nothing irritating gets left behind. That magical ring went through the washer and dryer and still looks like its ol’ self! And it was only a $4 toy!

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Botched Spay Surgeries…Yes, They Do Happen

I never knew about this, but lately I’ve been hearing an awful lot about botched spay surgeries. What a scary concept.

DD’s coworker has a poodle whose neutering actually was botched – the vet neglected to reattach a critical vein. I also read about a dog whose ovaries weren’t completely removed; her owner only realized it when the dog went into heat the following year.

In fact, when we first brought Daisy to the new vet, he told us about several clients who came to him because of mistakes made by the Bad Vet we originally went to (on a friend’s recommendation), and one of the most common issues was botched spays. Wouldn’t you think that such a common surgical procedure would be part of Vet 101?

How do you know when a dog’s spay surgery has gone wrong? Here are some of the symptoms:

  • Bleeding.
  • Vomiting.
  • Bloody stools.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Won’t drink water.
  • Distended abdomen.

If a dog starts going into heat after being spayed, it means that a remnant of the ovary was accidentally left behind. A vet can do a blood test to check the dog’s hormone levels, which will definitively determine if a piece of ovary was left behind.

Besides the obvious risks of these poor animals having to undergo surgery yet again, there are other complications that can be caused by a botched spay or neutering. An ovarian remnant can become cancerous over time, just like it can in humans (this happened to an aunt of mine). There’s a clinical but thorough article on Ovarian Remnant Syndrome.

There’s also something called “stump pyometra”, which is an infection caused by ovarian remnants. A different issue,  “stump granuloma”, occurs when sutures become infected by remnant ovarian tissue – this isn’t a botched surgery, it’s just a post-spay surgical risk. Symptoms of both are similar to the symptoms listed above, but can also include a foul odor coming from vaginal discharge, fever, and weight loss. Both are corrected with additional surgery and antibiotics.

The best way to know if your pet’s surgery has gone well is to simply watch him/her and be aware of any abnormal behaviors or issues. Call your vet with any questions; he should also be willing to see your dog if you’re really concerned about issues during your dog’s recovery.

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Dangerous Dog Drugs: When the Cure is Worse Than The Problem

My tummy itches... 😦

Daisy is having an allergic reaction to something. At least we think it’s an allergic reaction, the vet’s not sure.

She developed some medium-sized red spots on her tummy and on the inside of her back legs, and they must have been itching a bit because from time to time, she’d lick them. We tried to stop her from licking when we caught her doing it, but then after several days, a bunch of tiny red spots appeared on her tummy.

We took her to the vet, and he said it could be an allergic reaction to anything she’d come in contact with – or it could be something else – so his plan of attack was to get rid of this rash and then start an elimination program to find out what the culprit was. He gave her a cortisone shot and then two prescriptions: Medrol and Simplicef.

I’m not a fan of medication if there’s an alternative route, but being that Daisy’s scheduled to be spayed tomorrow (and it needs to be done NOW, she’s 7 months old and officially in heat!), I went ahead with the meds.

Not my best decision.

From the first day, they affected her. Especially the Medrol. She gets both pills in the morning, one with food, then one mixed with cream cheese a little later. In the middle of that first night, she threw up a lot of her food. Same thing the next night, and then on Tuesday night she threw up 3 separate times during the wee hours of the morning. In addition,  she was peeing like a leaky water bottle – way more than she was drinking.

So I stopped both meds Wednesday morning, left a message for the vet, and went online to check out these drugs. Wow. Turns out that dogs taking Medrol should be watched carefully – it’s a “potent” cortisone and owners need to watch for signs of attitude change and a stoppage of eating and/or drinking, among other things. We didn’t witness any of that, but the fact that Daisy was losing all her nutrients was bad enough.

When the vet called back Wednesday evening, he said that if Daisy was exhibiting either of the two symptoms mentioned above, he needed to see her immediately. That’s startling enough. But in our case, he said to take her off the meds for 24 hours (which I’d already done), and then just continue with Simplicef, an antibiotic. He said that the combination of the two drugs was causing these adverse reactions.

Since the rash was already improving, I decided not to put her back on anything, since she’s going in for her spaying tomorrow and will most likely be on antibiotics afterwards anyway. Immediately the side effects went away – no vomiting in the night, and her water elimination went back to normal.

There’s a wonderful article I found (http://www.k9web.com/dog-faqs/medical/canine-allergies.html) about canine allergic reactions, and the author discusses both traditional and the less caustic, alternative therapies. It’s hard to apply any topical treatments to a rash like this, because dogs will just lick it off and it could be dangerous to them. But apparently there’s a topical spray with witch hazel that may be a good alternative treatment – it’s not hazardous to dogs if they lick it and it doesn’t have the dangerous side effects of these more powerful medications.

If this rash continues, I think we’ll go to a local alternative vet for a second opinion; if we can get rid of this thing without polluting (or poisoning) Daisy’s system, I’ll go that way in a heartbeat. And if it doesn’t work, at least she’s no worse off.

Before giving your dog or cat any prescription drugs, check the medications out so you’ll be aware of what’s considered a “normal” reaction and what side effects should raise a red flag and indicate an immediate call to your vet. You may also decide that the risk is greater than the potential cure and request a different approach to the problem after understanding the medication more thoroughly.

One word of caution, though – be aware of what type of website you’re looking at. Sites driven by unsupervised contributor content (like eHow and other free content sites) are not necessarily trustworthy because anyone can post anything they want, including drug companies who are simply pushing their drugs. As a freelance writer and researcher, I can’t even begin to tell you how much misinformation is on these types of sites – even Wikipedia, which many people use, has a lot of misinformation because anyone can post changes to one of their topics without authority. (I’m not saying that these sites have nothing to offer, but I wouldn’t take medical advice from them. If you use them, consider them as a starting point of basic information, then check reputable sites to confirm or eliminate what they said.) On the other hand, sites like About.com put applicants through some rigorous testing and training and, when it comes to medical writers, they have actual medical professionals overseeing content, so they’re more trustworthy.

Similarly, a website selling medications will tout only the positive aspects of a drug in order to make sales. So stick with a site with content from more educated, reputable sources, and then double and triple check that information against other similar sites.

Here are a couple of good websites to start with; there are plenty more on Google:

Drugs.comhttp://www.drugs.com – an excellent site with human and veterinary drug information. Everything from side effects and counter-indications to dosages and the latest news on drug recalls and newly approved drugs.

Vet 4 Petzhttp://www.vet4petz.com – covers traditional as well as alternative therapies for pets, as well as preventive information, articles, and more. There’s even an “Ask the Vet” link and links to other sites too.

I’ll throw in one more thing – there’s a website called Ask A Patient (www.askapatient.com) where people rate the different drugs they take and talk about their pros, cons, side effects, etc. It’s laid out in a table format, so you don’t have to read through long forum discussions. Some drugs, like Medrol, are prescribed for both humans and animals, so even though the human and canine systems are different, you can still check people’s reactions to and comments on different drugs, which may give you some insights. I looked up Medrol – it seems many people feel it should be BANNED. Apparently they had very bad reactions…and some scary ones, too. It’s worth a look.

I like our vet, but if this rash continues after the spaying is over and done with, I’m going to get a second opinion from a local vet who combines traditional and alternative veterinary practices.

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