Can You Offer a Home to a Pair of Crocodiles?

Yeah, me neither. But if you know someone who can, Cypress Gardens in South Carolina is having to rehome a couple dozen crocs due to budget cuts. The Crocodile Isle (I just love saying that) Vet would like to keep breeding pairs together.

Note: Photo is just a sample. Your actual crocs may vary.

Pet Food Ingredient Breakdown – #2

Today, I looked at a new, AAFCO approved food on the market for dogs. It contains all the usual advertising tags which make me suspicious: “100% complete and balanced”, “No fillers”, “High quality proteins”, etc. Here are the first seven ingredients leading up to the first source of fat:

1. Rice Flour – This is the main ingredient of the only food you want me to feed my dog – rice flour? Isn’t that better used for making gluten-free baked goods or something? Flour comes in a sack and it’s all powdery. My dog doesn’t want that as the main ingredient in his dinner! And I question the quality of any flour sold for use in pet food. I assume that like many other pet food ingredients, it’s of lower quality than the flour sold for human consumption in my local grocery store. Exactly how much nutrition is my dog supposed to get from this pet food grade sack of flour? The “no fillers” claim isn’t sounding so truthful right about now.

2. Chicken By-Product Meal – This is a euphemism for things such as chicken heads, feet, intestines, lungs, etc. If you don’t know (or won’t say) what exactly you are putting in this food, don’t expect me to feed it to my pets.

3. Meat Broth – What kind of “meat”? A hodgepodge of condemned carcasses that were covered in charcoal to distinguish that they are unfit for human consumption? Or is it something else, just as disgusting? Again, if you either don’t know or won’t tell – I won’t be feeding it.

4. Wheat Flour – See my powdery complaint above.

5. Glycerin – I was reading an article about how excited the pet food industry is about using glycerin – a waste product of the bio-fuel industry – in their products. Me, I was a little less excited.

6. Corn Gluten Meal – Another waste product obtained from the manufacture of corn syrup – not an ingredient I’m inclined to sustain my pet’s life and health on.

7. Corn Flour – Enough with the sacks of powder already – my dog wants some real food!

Overall product ingredients review: 4 paws down! Despite claims of “premium nutrition”, there is not one ingredient appropriate for a dog’s main meal among the first seven ingredients. And the product itself is far more expensive than many on the market. What exactly are we buying?


Related Bit: A group of pet owners have filed a lawsuit against several pet food companies and chain retailers claiming false advertising regarding the wholesomeness of pet foods. I’ll be following this case with interest.

Feeling Do-Goodish? How About AniMeals?

AniMeals is a community service, sometimes associated with local Meals-On-Wheels programs, which aims to keep low income families and/or senior citizens and their pets together. The programs vary but generally they provide pet food, sometimes kitty litter and toys as well, to those in need. There are a number of AniMeals programs around the country and probably many which don’t have websites. They not only need pet food donations but delivery drivers (and possibly webmasters!) too. Here is a list of some I found online, grouped by region:

Clark County, WA
King County, WA
Whatcom County, WA

St. Charles, MO

Know of any more pet food pantries? Let me know and I will add them to the list!

Arkansas Mayor Redefines the Word "Apology"

As has become obvious, it’s best when Mayor Set-Them-Free speaks for himself.  Please read his detailed “apology” letter here.  He’s not sorry he abandoned the dogs in the forest, he’s just sorry people complained.  Hard to pick a favorite from the many gems he has given us, but this one – which I assume is a typo – is a priceless bit of advice coming from someone who seems to be annoyed, at best, at having to serve the public in the course of his job as a public servant:

“Please, do let this opportunity to do good pass you by.”

Typo or not – well said, Mayor.

Paws Down and Paws Up

Breaking News – No action has been taken on the complaint filed by someone from the humane society against Mayor Set-Them-Free of Arkansas. Well, maybe not so breaking. But inaction speaks. And people are listening.

Mayor James Valley just endears himself more and more to animal lovers (and other people with brains) every time he opens his mouth. “The Humane Society is up to their regular old shenanigans, trying to get a man arrested for nothing,” Valley said. Full updated story here.

Meanwhile Mayor Shenanigans’ neighboring shelter has a very good plan for what to do when space becomes an issue: they have an “emergency adopt-a-thon” where pets can be adopted at no charge along with very low cost spay-neuter certificates. Now that’s a plan! Read that shelter’s reaction to the Mayor’s actions here.

MA Tourist Town Lacks Animal Shelter

The good citizens of Rockport, MA may or may not realize their town is not complying with state law mandating a shelter for stray pets. The town’s Recreation Committee chair and a local Veterinarian have organized an effort for a 10 foot by 20 foot modified shed to be placed next to the park-and-ride bathrooms at the Transfer Station. Although it sounds like a modest proposal, they have so far been unable to raise the funds needed for the project.

Rockport is located on Cape Ann, well known to tourists for its beautiful seaside landscapes and lighthouses. The median income per household in Rockport is $50,661, and the median income per family is $69,263.

Here’s hoping the town can come up with the remaining $5000 needed to put up the animal shelter. Anyone who’d like to donate to the cause can make checks payable to “The Town of Rockport” with “Animal Facility” on the memo line and mail to:
Town of Rockport
Box 2324
Rockport, MA 01966.

More on Southern Shelters in the News

God but I never get tired (yawn) of reading stories about how stupid Southerners breed their dogs, raise them badly then dump them irresponsibly at shelters so that smart Northerners, with no puppies in their own shelters because they are such upright citizens, must truck the unwanted problem dogs up North for adoption. But then – doh! – the unsuspecting Northerners get bushwhacked by these bad Southern dogs with behavioral problems.
Come on. There are irresponsible people everywhere. And there are dogs with behavioral problems left in shelters everywhere. It’s like 2008. Join us.

Update on Mayor Misdemeanor in Arkansas (misdemeanor is apparently all he could be charged with) – Someone from the humane society has filed a complaint seeking his arrest for “setting free” dogs under his city’s care into the national forest. No action has been taken on the complaint by the city’s judges toward actually issuing an arrest warrant. I’ll be holding my breath on that one. The complainant states that after hearing of the Mayor’s “freedom” plan for the dogs, she asked him for two hours to get together volunteers to assume responsibility for the dogs. He couldn’t wait. Full update piece here.

You Give Love a Bad Name: Pets Continue to Suffer in Southern Shelters reports on a public meeting held to discuss animal control issues in the Macon, Georgia animal shelter.
Citing Macon Animal Control’s 80% kill rate for 2007, the reporter notes that at the time she visited the facility, the tally of animals available for adoption was:
Dogs: 4
Cats: 0
Approximately 20 other animals were on hold, awaiting medical clearance before being released for adoption. The shelter’s inhalant anesthesia machine is broken and so presumably only those surgeries performed under injectable anesthesia are taking place. A local Vet offered to perform surgeries at his practice but apparently Animal Control doesn’t have the personnel or vehicles necessary to transport pets there.
The outdoor carbon monoxide gas chamber, where almost 4000 animals were killed in groups last year, is functioning however. Given the shelter’s proximity to the city landfill, where the gassed pets are disposed of, the transportation challenges haven’t been an issue.
A fund has been established in an effort to raise money for killing pets individually by injection and for possibly relocating the shelter in future. Contact Macon City Council at (478) 751-7260 for information on how to contribute.
Full story here.

Meanwhile a Mayor in Arkansas is handling his animal control challenges another way: by releasing homeless dogs into the St. Francis National Forest. He thought it would be better to abandon the dogs in the forest than to house them in the shelter’s horrible conditions. O and an animal control officer suffered two dog bites and a sprained ankle over a 3 month period, which the Mayor obviously considers outrageous.
Never mind the fact that domesticated dogs are not wild forest animals and releasing them to freedom, as the Mayor puts it, is inappropriate. Never mind that our elected officials are being paid to serve their communities, not make rash decisions which will have many layered negative consequences. Never mind probing the reasons why there is a surplus of homeless pets in the South (poverty, substandard education system, lack of community service programs, etc.). My question: Isn’t this against some kind of federal law governing our national forests? If so, can the Mayor and any relevant parties involved in this inhumane act be prosecuted?

Update: The Mayor was questioned on June 13 by investigators from the U.S. Forest Service. And apparently the community isn’t too happy with the actions of their public servant either and have been voicing their annoying opinions. Says the Mayor: “You would think that from all the emails and calls I just unleashed the world’s greatest problem… We’re talking about 10 dogs.”
Read the full follow up article here.

Personal Note: In case any of you are wondering – and if you rely on media reports then quite possibly you are – MOST of us in the South are kind and normal people. Those of us who choose to have pets are responsible. We just don’t make the news as often as the bad apples.
This is my dog Emily, rescued from a South Carolina shelter, well loved and cared for. She might not win any beauty contests but she is a treasure to me.

Land O’ Lakes Purina Feed Recalls Lamb Feed

UPDATE – June 12, 2008:  The FDA has updated its release and there are now four lamb feeds being recalled due to lambs dying.  Full updated release here.

As I have previously wondered when Purina recalled aflatoxin contaminated horse feed, is there any possibility of cross contamination to Purina pet foods from the recalled livestock feeds? Any sharing of ingredients, suppliers, storage facilities or processing equipment between the livestock feed manufacturing and pet food manufacturing?  I sure would like to know.  But Purina says that’s “proprietary information” and won’t answer those questions.  All we can do is hope that the pet food is safe.

Original post:

From the FDA:

“The Land O’Lakes Purina Feed plant in Fremont, Neb., has initiated a limited voluntary recall of two lamb feed products due to higher than acceptable levels of copper.


The recall was initiated after receiving a customer complaint regarding the products. In addition, Land O’Lakes Purina Feed stopped producing the lamb feeds at the Fremont, Neb. plant and immediately began product testing.

To date, the presence of copper above acceptable levels has been found, which can cause serious health issues, and at high levels, mortality in sheep.”

Full release here.

Heartworm Medications by the Numbers – Dosages for Dogs

Note: I did not go to Vet school and I’m not giving medical advice. For informational purposes, and because I like to research numbers, I’m sharing here some canine heartworm medication dosages along with sources for that information. If you have any questions about the medication you are giving your dog or if you want to make a change to the dosage, please ask your Veterinarian.

Heartworm drugs kill certain stages of heartworm larvae which may have developed in the dog’s bloodstream over the previous 30 days. This is commonly referred to as “heartworm prevention” although that is rather a misnomer. Perhaps it would be more accurately termed “prevention of heartworm larvae developing further”. The two most common heartworm drugs are Ivermectin and Milbemycin Oxime.

The minimum dosage of Ivermectin for heartworm prevention is 6 micrograms (mcg) per kilogram (kg) of body weight, every 30 days. For us non-metric-enians, that’s 2.72 mcg per pound (lb) body weight.

Some brand names of FDA approved Ivermectin tablets which your Vet may sell or you might order online are Heartgard (or Heartgard Plus which adds an intestinal dewormer to the Ivermectin), Tri-Heart Plus (Ivermectin plus intestinal dewormer), (Note: Tri-Heart got into some trouble with the FDA in 2007 over their claim of the product’s effectiveness against whipworms) and Iverhart who offers two products – both containing Ivermectin plus intestinal dewormers.

Rather than manufacture and market dozens of different products for various weights of dogs, pharmaceutical companies typically market just a few products, each one with a range of weights to be treated. For example, a product labeled “for dogs up to 25 pounds” contains the Ivermectin needed for a 25 pound dog. All dogs weighing less than 25 pounds are receiving more than the minimum Ivermectin necessary for heartworm prevention.

In order to dose specifically for the weight of an individual dog, some owners opt to purchase the 1% Ivermectin solution injectable labeled for cattle and dilute it with a suitable liquid (Ivermectin does not mix evenly with all liquids which would throw off the dosing) such as propylene glycol. Or you could purchase the Ivermectin already diluted. The 1% Ivermectin solution contains 10mg (10,000 mcg) per ml. (Note: 1ml=1cc) Diluted to .05% (a 1/20th dilution), each ml contains 500mcg. Looking at Chart A, a 50 pound dog needs a minimum of 136mcg of Ivermectin. Using the diluted solution, that would be about .27 of a cc given orally – not injected. Clearly a tuberculin syringe would be needed to measure this dosage. Alternately, the 1% Ivermectin solution could be diluted further. Note: Many Vets discourage this “off label” use of the cattle version of Ivermectin in dogs as it is not FDA approved. Vets are obligated to advise their clients to use the FDA approved versions of canine heartworm meds on the market – that doesn’t mean it’s unsafe.

The lethal dose for Ivermectin is 10mg/kg in rats. This is a huge dose. Super huge.  In other words, Ivermectin is a very safe drug (unless your dog happens to be sensitive to it).

Edited to add another source for LD50 info on Ivermectin (this dosage differs from the above cited info):

The following information is for the Ivermectin only, not the Horse Health Equine Ivermectin Paste.
LD 50 Mouse, oral 25 mg/kg
LD 50 Rat, oral 50 mg/kg
LD 50 Dog, oral apprx 80 mg/kg

This table has similar values but interestingly shows a difference in LD50 amounts for male and female mice.

And since I’m being an Ivermectin wonk, here’s some more info on toxicity:

Some dog breeds, most notably the collie, exhibit signs of ivermectin related central nervous system toxicity at ivermectin doses exceeding 150 to 200 ug/kg. [Note: ug=mcg]  […] Commonly prescribed veterinary formulations of ivermectin used for heartworm prophyllaxis limit dosages to the range of 6 to 12 ug/kg and are generally considered safe. A severe overdosage of ivermectin is required to produce ivermectin toxicosis.

Back to original post:

Which brings me to my next topic: opting to give your dog more than the minimum required dose. Many people choose to give more than the minimum Ivermectin dose:
– Those who like the convenience of purchasing the medicine in a dose for the top of the weight range but whose dog weighs less
– Those who add the diluted Ivermectin liquid to the dog’s food and don’t want the worry of “What if a minuscule amount got left in the food bowl and my dog got shorted?”

So how much more than the minimum is proven safe to give on a monthly basis? To answer that conservatively, we can look at the bottom weight range in the pre-packaged Ivermectin tablets. For example, if you follow the package instructions for a 51 pound dog, you are giving approximately twice the minimum required Ivermectin each month. Same for a 26 pound dog – the label instructs you to give one tablet monthly and that tablet contains approximately twice the amount needed for the dog’s weight. So the manufacturers and the FDA have approved routine monthly dosing of twice the minimum required amount of Ivermectin for dogs. If you are curious about giving more than twice the minimum dosage monthly, check with your Veterinarian.

The other drug commonly used for heartworm prevention is Milbemycin Oxime and is marketed under the brand name Interceptor as well as others. This drug is administered to dogs at a dose of 0.5 mg/kg body weight (.23 mg/lb) every 30 days. At this dosage, the drug works against heartworm and intestinal parasites. If you are wanting to use the drug for heartworm prevention only, you’ll want to use the “Safeheart dose“. (Safeheart was approved by the FDA in 1998 but never sold in the US.) The FDA states:

This supplement provides for a change in dose for dogs from a minimum of 0.5 mg/kg [which is the Interceptor dose, which also controls intestinal parasites] to a minimum of 0.1 mg/kg with a corresponding restriction in indications to the prevention of heartworm disease only. [bracketed addition=mine]

Interceptor is packaged in the following dosages: 2.3mg tablets, 5.75mg tablets, 11.5mg and 23 mg tablets. Looking at Chart B, the 2.3mg tablet would be the right dosage for a 45 pound dog if you wanted heartworm prevention ONLY. If your dog weighs less than 45 pounds, I don’t know of any options for purchasing smaller doses of Milbemycin Oxime in the US. Splitting pills is one alternative some people use with due care.

Further reading:

Dr. Khuly’s pitch for doing your “civic duty” and giving your dog heartworm meds

Dr. Khuly writes about a few of the reasons owners don’t give heartworm meds when they really should