The Rant: A Monday Morning View - Pet Food
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.
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Italian Greyhounds need a responsible owner. If you're up for it, these little clowns will fill your days and nights with love and laughter. They trust you to keep them safe. Before bringing an IG home, make sure you are ready for the responsibility.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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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?
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.
- We can tell the manager of the grocery store we want some healthy choices.
- We can tell the manager of the specialty pet shop that we would love to shop there but can't afford to.
- We can research and replace those toxic household cleaners with non-poisonous, organic cleaners. Most do a better job anyway.
- 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.
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.