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The Rant: A Monday Morning View - Pet Food

Updated on December 11, 2012
Luna, the looney Italian Greyhound
Luna, the looney Italian Greyhound | Source

I bet you're wondering what prompted this one. So, let's just get it over with. Bear with me for a moment because it's important to give you a bit of a history lesson first.

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Luna (see photo) is my 10 year old Italian Greyhound. She is the first small dog I've ever owned, and may be my last. I grew up taking in stray dogs, big dogs. All my dogs were shelter dogs or dogs that no one else wanted. There were mix breed Shepherds, Collies, Great Danes, and...purebred mutts. I loved them all.

In my adult life, I raised Chow Chows, adopted Labs, and took in a renegade Irish Setter, and another Great Dane. All were big dogs weighing from 60 to 110 pounds. Luna, the Italian Greyhound weighs 24 pounds. For all you breeders, don't start. I know she's fat and shouldn't weigh more than about 17 pounds. She's a biggie Iggy and it's my fault entirely because it's almost impossible to say no to her.

Luna was supposed to be a big Greyhound, a retired racer. I had always wanted one and had started the search about 11 years ago. Then, life threw me a curve ball and I moved to an apartment. Pets were allowed but only if they weighed less than 35 pounds. There went my dream of owning a retired racer since most weigh at least 70 pounds.

I rarely give up on anything so I thought I would just scale down. I would get a Whippet. They have that same sleek sight hound body and long beautiful nose. They also cost a ton of money. There was no way I was going to pay $700 (plus) for a dog. I gave up my dream, temporarily.

The universe never makes it that easy for me. A few weeks went by and there it was, an ad in the paper for Italian Greyhounds. Affordable Italian Greyhounds! I called, went to see them, and yeah, I made a deposit. These little guys were adorable and would never weigh more than 20 pounds. I had myself a miniature greyhound. Nothing could be further from the truth. Italian Greyhounds may look like the big guys but they are total opposites. They are fast, they are funny, and they are precocious. At least mine is.

Purebred Small Dogs and Health

Luna has been a real experience for me, the person who always had big dogs. Big dogs are easy. You feed them, play with them, and they entertain themselves with dead birds, skunks, and sticks. They eat anything and everything and weather the digestive storm just fine, for the most part.

You might want to read my hubs on Italian Greyhounds before getting one. Small, purebred dogs are not so easy. They seem to have more sensitive digestive systems and, Luna has a whole host of other health issues. Maybe all small dogs don't but Luna has been challenged by:

  • seizures after getting vaccines
  • anal glands that are asymmetrical and get blocked frequently
  • food allergies that cause internal and external hives
  • prolific fatty tumors (lipomas)
  • lousy teeth (ten have been pulled)

Rant Time

When Luna had her first food allergy reaction, it scared me nearly to death. I had purchased some new doggie treats and gave her one as soon as I got home with them. Luna was raised on "all natural" dog food and treats but when the economy crashed, I started buying the lesser expensive treats from the grocery store instead of going for the high-end treats from Pet-Smart. Six hours later, Luna went nuts. We had already gone to bed but she would not settle. She was up every few minutes running through the house like a Luna-tic. I assumed she had gotten a sugar rush and just ignored her. Neither of us got any sleep and when I turned the light on the next morning, I freaked. Luna was covered in hives and her throat was almost swollen shut. An emergency trip to the vet resulted in her getting an injection of epinephrine to reverse the immediate threat, cortisone to continue to calm the reaction, and benadryl to calm her down. The new treats went in the trash.

Grocery store display of dog treats
Grocery store display of dog treats | Source

Needless to say, we don't buy treats at the grocery store any more but look at the photo. There are no "natural" treats anywhere to be found. Granted, some are less "artificial" than others but why can't we get healthy foods for our beloved pets at the grocery store? Is it another consumer conspiracy to drive us to the specialty pet stores? I know that's a stretch of an over-active imagination but still, why don't the big chain grocery stores consider the health of our pets? Maybe because they don't consider our health either.

Cat food display in a major grocery store chain.
Cat food display in a major grocery store chain. | Source
Timber, my kitty with allergic rhinitis
Timber, my kitty with allergic rhinitis | Source

I'm not partial, cats matter too.

For all you cat lovers, don't worry. I'm concerned about your babies too. I lost my last kitty to allergies; respiratory allergies. Allergic rhinitis to be specific. Although I can't prove it, I do worry that it was all the air fresheners I used, or, even the scented cat litter. I have no proof but I can't help but wonder.

My question is - are we poisoning our pets inadvertently, with all these fancy products? Our pets once died from old age or from being hit by cars. In recent years I've lost this kitty to allergies, a Chow Chow to melanoma, a Great Dane to seizures, and now poor Luna has all this crazy stuff going on. Are the chemicals we are using to make everything smell better, cleaning easier, and feeding more varied, killing our pets?

This is not a scientific article. It's just a rant.

Our pets trust us. Should they?

Our pets give us unconditional love and all they ask is to get a little of it back. They don't judge us or treat us bad when we don't have enough time for them or forget to speak to them in the morning. No matter what we do to them, they look at us with adoration and love and what do we do to them? We feed them garbage and poison them because as consumers, we don't take time to think about the hazards we expose them to.

Let's take a look at the following hazards because...we can do something about it.

  • artificial foods vs healthy food
  • owner responsibility and household exposure

Let's look at them individually.

Artificial foods: For starters, the good stuff isn't readily available without going to a specialty pet product store and paying higher prices. What we're left with for convenience is food that is high in fat, low in protein, and loaded with additives like red dye, propylene glycol, preservatives, meat by-products (whatever that is), and corn (probably GMO grown).

Owner responsibility and household exposure: What are we doing to our pets by using the aerosol air fresheners, the scented kitty litters, and the cleaners we use on our carpets or vinyl floors? Do we stop and think that all domestic pets lick their feet? So, when you use the chemical compounds to shampoo your carpet, did it ever occur to you that the residual chemical will end up on your pet's feet and ultimately, in their gut?

Solutions

Complaining is for wimps. So if I can't offer a solution, I shouldn't be complaining.

There are things we can do to show some love to our pets. We can become advocates and activists.

  1. We can tell the manager of the grocery store we want some healthy choices.
  2. We can tell the manager of the specialty pet shop that we would love to shop there but can't afford to.
  3. We can research and replace those toxic household cleaners with non-poisonous, organic cleaners. Most do a better job anyway.
  4. We can get back to basics where clean was considered a pleasant scent and get rid of all the air fresheners in the form of aerosol, oil, candle, and infusers too.

Luna says thanks. She is sleeping better now that she knows you're going to be her advocate.

Luna resting peacefully
Luna resting peacefully | Source

The Future

It's just a rant but maybe if we all started thinking about our own health and the health of our pets, we could end some of the suffering in the world. Maybe we could reduce the number of children suffering from reactive respiratory illness like asthma or allergic responses to simple foods like wheat and peanut butter and milk. Maybe our pets would live longer healthier lives instead of being riddled with allergies and developing cancers.

I'm no scientist but I can't help but believe we are living in a toxic world and it doesn't have to be this way. Let's start thinking and speaking and see if we can make a difference. Thanks for listening to one more rant. I do it because I care and I know you do too.

© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.

Read more of my hubs here.

Comments

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  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Bev has to buy the dog food for our three mutts. I get too confused, too anxious, and then too pissed. lol It is not good sending me in search of dog food or treats.

    I love your last point....this is a toxic world we live in. Do you remember when we were kids and our parents got dog food? Anything that was on sale....and the dogs were fine. What has happened since then? I don't have an answer, but I know things have changed drastically over the years.

    Great job Linda, but then I expect a great job from you! :)

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Bill! You make a great point. What has changed. Everything! We want more, bigger, and faster and companies aren't worried about paying for it. They expect more from less employees and what suffers? Quality. Add to that faster processing, cheaper ingredients, GMO's, and is it any wonder that our pets don't get to die of old age anymore. See, I'm still ranting. lol

    I love your comment about shopping. We also have too many choices. lol ranting again!

    Please, don't expect greatness from me. I can't handle the pressure from one as great as yourself. :-)

    I'm off to read your latest piece of genius. Enjoy the day!

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Believe me, I understand your rant. My own beloved dog (a mini schnauzer) has allergies, reacted badly to a vaccine and has other health issues. I stopped buying any commercial dog food after all the scares/recalls and began making her meals at home using grass-fed protein and other organic ingredients. (I have a hub about this--see my profile page if you're interested.)

    Luckily, I finally found a healthy organic treat that has no wheat so my dog can have something crunchy to chew. It was called Barkwheat dog biscuits, but the name's been changed to Cruncherz. You can find it in several flavors at Amazon.com, and Luna will love this healthy treat.

    Voted Up++ and shared.

    Jaye

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Wow JayeWisdom, thanks for the tips. I'll certaily read your hub. What do you do about vaccines now? I do titers on Luna and if she needs another vaccine to bring her level up, we give her one at a time and she gets steroids first. I hate having to give her the steroids though. But a lot of kennels won't take a dog that hasn't been vaccinated, especially for Bordertella, which is the vaccine that causes the worst reaction in Luna. Just wondering what you do.

    I really appreciate your visit and the comment and, the votes too.

  • Melissa A Smith profile image

    Melissa A Smith 4 years ago from New York

    They actually do sell natural pet food at every grocery store. It's just in the 'meat section'.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    I stand corrected Melissa. I guess I should have been more specific and stated pre-packaged, dry, commercial, all natural pet food. And, in my grocery stores, there is nothing natural about the meat section. It's full of hormone-laden chicken and beef, and fish from unknown sources.

    Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    My dog's vet does titers also, but of course the law determines rabies vaccinations. At least they're every three years now instead of annually. So far, every titer has shown she's still protected with antibodies.

    By the way, the word "natural" on any type of food--processed or unprocessed, doesn't mean "healthy." Arsenic is a natural substance, but it's toxic. Meat or fowl labeled "natural" may not be factory farmed, and may not even be full of hormones, but the word "natural" on the label does not pose any requirements. On the other hand, organic foods must meet USDA standards to be sold in the USA.

    If a food is not organic, I don't buy it. This limits my options and costs more, but in my opinion, it's worthwhile for protecting human and animal health. As you mentioned, Irc...grocery stores are full of all types of nasty and/or unsafe food additives. Reading labels is a necessity.

    Jaye

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Great comments JayeWisdom. I did learn my lesson with the non-organic treats. It was horrible. Thanks for adding to this important discussion.

  • Melissa A Smith profile image

    Melissa A Smith 4 years ago from New York

    Oh, well if it's truly natural that you want, either a farmers market, or going outside to raise or hunt the animals would be the best options. I just figured this wouldn't be feasible or economical for most people's situations. But then I guess you've answered your question, if they don't have natural food for humans, of course they won't be having it for dogs. But dog food is of a much poorer quality than even human food. I feed Orijen, the ingredients are where they need to be but it is massively expensive. I doubt a conventional pet store would make the profit to justify selling this brand. They are only available in specialty pet stores, not even Whole Foods has it. Also, this is a very rich brand, and some dogs experience problems with it, such as diarrhea. Many dogs also have issues with raw, and certain types of meat. It really is a balancing act to find the right food for some dogs.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thanks Melissa. I can get Orijen locally at one of our alternative medicine veterinarians. Unfortunately, I am unemployed at the moment and need another solution until I am earning a wage again. I really appreciate your comments and references.

  • TigereyesRose profile image

    TigereyesRose 4 years ago

    This makes you stop and think, I love this hub! :) ....and I love your dog, so cute!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hey TigereyesRose! My dog is a nut case but I adore her. :-) Thanks so much for reading. Making the right choices isn't easy but I'm determined to get the hang of it.

  • DrMark1961 profile image

    Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

    Are you still in an apartment? I realize there are a lot of start up costs even if you have the space, but raising poultry is really an excellent option. I try to feed my birds mostly from my garden; not only do they provide me, my dog, and my lizard with protein, they also have a low impact on the environment (their feed is not shipped, utilizing fuel and polluting our environment).

    If this is not an option, I apoligize but I would really like to help your and your Iggy find a solution. Jaye has a great dog food recipe at her profile page. I hope something works out for you all. I just don't think it is going to come from a grocery store.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hey DrMark1961. I was hoping you might weigh in on this one. :-)

    Yes, I'm still in an apartment so raising chickens isn't an option. For the past 6 weeks or so, I've been cooking chicken (from the grocer) and rice to supplement the (grimace) Rachel Ray Nutrish that Luna loves. I'm adding carrots and some sweet potato but she balks at the sweet potato. At this point, I'm most concerned about the lipomas that seem to be sprouting everywhere and I'm sure is an immune response to something. I stopped the exterminator from coming araound about a year ago so it's not pesticides. I only use vinegar and baking soda to clean with. No aerosols anymore.

    I will check out Jaye's recipe but will welcome any other ideas you might have. Thanks so much for your kindness and input.

  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

    Id love to have your dog, she is beautiful. My cat is almost 18 and has some allergy problems but not near as bad as she did at one time. I think where we lived a few years back she got in a neighbors barn and there was something there she was allergic to. Maybe fiberglass or something but anyway now she is mostly over it.

    Thanks for sharing your story, I enjoyed it!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Jackie! Thanks so much. Luna says she would be happy to come visit you but she can't stay. lol Don't we worry about them? It breaks my heart when Luna doesn't feel good. I'm glad your kitty is better. Thanks so much for reading. I really appreciate you being here.

  • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

    Dexter Yarbrough 4 years ago from United States

    Wow! This same thing happened to my dog! I really hate how the food industry - pet or human- has opted to forsake wholesome and nutritional for the almighty dollar. Shameful!

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Dexter. Thanks for reading. I hope your dog is doing okay. It's frightening, isn't it? It's hard to fight the super power of the dollar but we have to try. I appreciate your visit.

  • rcrumple profile image

    Rich 4 years ago from Kentucky

    Linda - The FDA has been so busy checking out all the foods for chemicals, they've forgotten to remember that it's supposed to be food. At the same time, Americans have gotten so "sue crazy" that they refuse to read labels for expiration dates. To protect themselves from suits and crazy Americans, they've included so many preservatives, we're being preserved! And it shows around our waistlines. What's funny is to watch an animal refuse to eat food from a fast food restaurant. That really tells you that if it's not good enough for them, why should it be good enough for us? Great Rant!

  • tirelesstraveler profile image

    Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

    Great idea. I used to by my Aussie hepherd/German short hair mix food from Costco. Atta Boy. He has the most beautiful shinny coat. After he died and we got the Border Collie boys I went looking for the same dog food. Nowhere. We have tried different foods , guys would get crummy looking. Their coats have no shine and they itch with grocery store food. I shall ask the grocery store to carry better foods. Though my son swears by the Kirkland brand food for his dogs.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hey Rich! I really am going to just start being more vocal with my grocer. They aren't any different from politicians after all. Waistline? Did you say waistline? What's that?

    Thanks so much for the conversation. Are you surviving? lol

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Tirelesstraveler! I love Aussies! Keep asking. Maybe we can make a difference. Thanks for the read.

  • rcrumple profile image

    Rich 4 years ago from Kentucky

    Linda, you stuck it to me, for sure. : ) Between my newscast and the lollipop hub, I spent 37 straight hours either writing, publishing or answering comments! (I did fall asleep in the chair once, but my wife got home 45 minutes later and woke me up!) Got to bed at 5 and didn't get up until noon. Between blogging and HP, I wrote 8 articles or hubs last week. I'm still burnt out! lol

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Rich, I know the feeling well. As lovely as it is, the Lollipop is somewhat of a curse. lol

  • Jamie Brock profile image

    Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

    This a very useful, informative hub for pet owners... I live in an apt so can't own a pet but will definitely be keeping this stuff in mind for the future as I plan to one day. I had no idea that store bought treats could actually be harmful to your pet.. and honestly, hadn't thought of the other things you talked about. Thank you for bringing this out and to our attention.. It is so true, pets depend fully on their owners, they are helpless as children. It's up to the owner to make the best decisions for them. Also will keep this in mind for friends and family who have pets.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thanks Jamie. I'm glad you found the hub useful. Pets make our lives fuller, for sure.

  • suziecat7 profile image

    suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC

    These days I make my own dog food for my aging lab. I also make her peanut butter and pumpkin oatmeal biscuits for a treat. I don't trust commercial pet foods at all. For the cats it's different and I still rely on store-bought food for them. Great Hub and I'm a fan too.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thanks susiiecat! I'm headed in the same direction, making my own dog food. My local grocer added free range, all natural chicken this week, finally. I appreciate your visit and comment. You motivate me!

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