dog ice cream

News, Nutrition for Dogs

Chinese Imported Dog Treats Cause Of Canine Deaths

Jerky treats from China have made news headlines again because more pups have lost their lives. We decided it was time to learn why this keeps happening. What we found is certainly eye-opening and scary. 

For those of you who might be asking if we use Chinese jerky in our treats, the answer is a resounding NO! One of our signature treats has beef jerky but it’s handcrafted and locally sourced from a small company in rural Michigan.  

Speaking of beef, let’s begin. Remember when the little old lady in the Wendy's commercial asked “where’s the beef” she just wanted a bigger burger. Today, that same question leads us all the way to China.  

Beef is one of the commodities in a high-stakes trade deal between the U.S. and China and may indirectly be responsible for thousands of dogs dying in this country and Australia. Chinese poultry, the other commodity, is likely the killing agent. 

As of May 1, 2014, the FDA has received almost 5,000 complaints of illness in pets that ate chicken, duck or sweet potato jerky treats, nearly all of which are imported from China.

The reports involve more than 5,600 dogs, 24 cats, three people and include 1,000 canine deaths.

This is a complicated and twisted tale that raises many other questions like why the U.S. continues to import these products or why can’t top-notch FDA specialists figure out the cause. There’s more to this story and if chickens could talk, maybe we’d have those answers.

Background

In the past ten years, there has been a dramatic increase in the import of pet food from China. That’s because people in China prefer dark meat poultry which leaves a massive amount of light meat available for export.

From 2003 to 2011, the volume of pet food exports to the U.S. from China has grown 85-fold. Nearly 86 million pounds of pet food came from China in 2011 alone. What’s more, pet treats, including jerky, are now the fastest growing segment of the pet food market.

Drugs

In January 2013, chicken jerky recalls were sparked by the New York State Department of Agriculture when they found some products adulterated with antibiotics that are banned in the U.S. as well as amantadine, an antiviral and anti-parkinsonian medication.

Manufacturing Plant Corruption

After inspecting five high volume jerky producing plants in China, the FDA identified one that falsified documents regarding their use of glycerin. Why is this significant? It’s because glycerin is a toxic by-product in making biodiesel fuel and it has been found in nearly every Chinese jerky treat’s list of ingredients.

Glycerin

Got your chemistry book handy? Glycerin is a sugar and filler. It’s classified as a humectant which means it absorbs water or moisture. It’s used in pet treats so the manufacturer can sell you the weight in water. Glycerin binds the water so as to disguise the water as a solid treat or food, and inhibit mold growth. To make a food soft, moist or semi-moist, glycerin makes up about 10-18% of the product. It’s about 60% as sweet as sugar so the treat maker benefits since dogs can taste sweetness.

Glycerin Market

Now it’s time to grab that economics book. Right now there is an extraordinary amount of biofuel glycerin coming into the market since one gallon of biodiesel yields one pound of glycerin. At this rate, the glycerin market is forced to find new uses for this product. Animal food is where it’s being dumped. 

Below are some of the brand names that contain glycerin: 

  • Beggin’ Strips
  • Beneful (Baked Delights and Snackin’ Slices)
  • Bil-Jac  (liver treats for dogs and Gooberlicious)
  • Blue Buffalo (Blue Bits, Blue Bites, Blue Stix, Super Bars, Blue Bones, Wild Bites, Blue Wilderness Wild Bites)
  • Blue Dog Bakery (Softies, Perfect Trainers)
  • Buddy Biscuits (Soft and Chewy, Chewy Tricky Trainers)
  • Busy Bones
  • Canyon Creek Ranch
  • Carolina Prime
  • Cesar Treats
  • Dentastix (from Pedigree)
  • Good Bites (from Pedigree)
  • Halo (Spot’s Chew)
  • Milo’s Kitchen
  • Pur Luv (Chewy Bites, Little Trix, Grande Bones)
  • Purina Pro Plan (various treats including Roasted Slices)
  • Real Meat Jerky Treats (Jerky Bites, Bitz, Long Stix, Large Bitz)
  • Solid Gold (Beef Jerky, Turkey Jerky, Lamb Jerky, Tiny Tots)
  • Snausages
  • T-Bonz
  • Waggin Train
  • Wellness (Wellpet, Wellbites)
  • Zukes  (Hip Action, Natural Purrz, Jerky Naturals, Mini Naturals)

Natural vs. Natural Glycerin

Until recently, most glycerin for pet food was produced as a byproduct of soap making and considered safe for pet consumption. Pet food makers that use soap glycerin try to distinguish their products by calling it “natural." Buyer beware because bio-diesel glycerin is also categorized as “natural” but it’s not been approved by the FDA yet.

Irradiation

Here’s another interesting fact. According to FoodandWaterWatch.org (a consumer advocacy organization) there are no reports of pet illness or death linked to the same jerky treats in Europe. What’s different? Both the U.S. and Australia use irradiation – the process of exposing food to ionizing radiation to destroy microbes. The problem is it doesn’t successfully destroy all of them and can alter the food. From the OrganicConsumers.org website:  “Studies show that animals fed with irradiated food have shown increased tumors, reproductive failures and kidney damage.

Symptoms

Symptoms reported by pet owners include gastrointestinal, liver, kidney and urinary disease.

About 10% of the illnesses included neurologic, dermatologic, and immunologic symptoms and about 15 percent tested positive for Fanconi syndrome – a rare and fatal kidney disease.

Consumer Awareness

Incredibly, even with all the media coverage over the years, there are still pet parents that are totally unaware of the jerky treat situation. Otherwise, how could they knowingly continue to buy the foreign jerky?  Maybe it’s because manufacturers don’t have to list the country of origin for each ingredient used in their products which means they still may be sourced from China.

Or, they just don’t get it. Nina Leigh Krueger, head of Purina’s recalled Waggin ‘Train brand, said they had thousands of customers calling for it to be back on store shelves. 

So Purina re-launched the treat, now including two varieties made in the U.S.  “We still produce our Chicken Jerky Tenders in China but we now get our chicken there from a single U.S.-owned supplier which oversees the process from egg through to treat,” said Bill Cooper, Nestle Purina’s vice president of manufacturing. He declined to name the supplier but said the company now routinely tests for 40 types of antibiotics.

Recalls

Due to consumer pressure, PetSmart and Petco will ban all treats from China by year end 2015. 

Processing in China

Food Safety News just revealed that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will soon allow U.S. chickens to be sent to China for processing before being shipped back to the states for human consumption. Considering that there are no plans to station on-site USDA inspectors at these subpar Chinese plants, it’s disturbing to say the least. Also, consumers won’t know which brands of chicken are processed in China because there’s no requirement to label it as such.

Report Complaints

You can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area  or go to:  http://www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints. 

You can also get dog food recall alerts delivered to your Inbox by subscribing to The Dog Food Advisor’s Dog Food Recall Alert email notification list or follow them on Twitter.

Wrap Up

I hope this article has raised awareness of what’s going on in the pet industry.  Personally, I was blown away by what I discovered.  I recommend reading the Hearing on the Threat of China’s Unsafe Consumables by Patty Lovera, Assistant Director of Food and Water Watch dated May 8, 2013 for a good overview.   http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/china_house_testimony_may_2013.pdf

We want you to know that Arrfscarf will continue to source locally and maintain close relationships with our vendors. Our goal has always been and always will be to give your pups the very best.  

Until now, who would have imagined that jerky could be the tipping point for economic trade disaster and personal tragedy. It’s certainly a story of international intrigue. But as we found out, the real story is not about jerky, chickens, or even dogs.  It’s all about money and there’s only one way to fight back. Voting with your purchasing dollars. Buy local and U.S. made products.

Tips

4 Winter Tips To Keep Your Pup's Paws Healthy

Christmas decorations are up in stores and that got me thinking that it really wasn’t too early to start preparing for the wind, rain, and snow heading our way soon.  But instead of raking leaves and putting away patio furniture to mark the end of a season, I get ready by changing out my wardrobe. Like me, Ms. Maru has both a summer and winter one which includes sweaters, scarves, coats, and … boots.  Maru really hates her boots.  She tries hard to shake them off and when that doesn’t work – her body freezes into a catatonic pose and she stares me down with pitiful sad eyes.  Quickly though, she resigns herself to the fact that either the boots go walking or she won’t. 

dog-boots-winter-arrfscarf.jpg

Of course, then I start to think.  Am I being mean by forcing her to wear those boots?   Do I want her to wear them because I like them?   Or, is there a legitimate safety or health reason she should wear them?  Here’s what I learned. 

Researchers in Japan discovered how dogs keep warm on frozen ground thanks to a specialized circulation or “heat transfer” system built in their paws.  Using electron microscopes, they found that that even though a dog’s paw has less insulating fur than on its body, the pads contain a high fat content and connective tissue which are freeze resistant. 

When warm blood arrives in the paws via arteries, heat is transferred to small veins -  or venules - which warm the blood before it returns to the rest of the body. This special system prevents the body from cooling and ensures the paw temperature stays constant. This same network has been found in penguins, Arctic foxes and even dolphin fins.

This latest discovery has interesting evolutionary implications and may suggest that the ancestors of the domestic dog lived in cold climates.

Keep in mind that while dogs have this intricate heating and cooling system, not all domesticated dogs are able to withstand icy conditions or sub-zero temperatures on their paws.  Their size, breed, and environment are all determining factors. 

Here are some helpful tips to keep your dog safe and healthy this winter.

Frozen Lakes & Ponds

Animals don't know what "thin ice" is. If they fall in, it’s very difficult for them to climb out and hypothermia is a very real and life-threatening danger. "Ice skating" dogs are prone to injuries such as cruciate tears if allowed to "skate" with their pet parents.  This is also true of icy walks.

Salts & Chemical De-icers

Pets who walk on sidewalks that have been "de-iced" are prone to dry, chapped, and painful paws. To soothe them, pets will lick their paws.  Ingestion may cause gastrointestinal irritation and upset. Wash off your pet's feet after an outing with a warm wet cloth or footbath.

Antifreeze

Thirsty and curious pets will lap up antifreeze. Just a few licks can be fatal. Lock up antifreeze containers and clean up spills immediately, especially if your dog stays in the garage.

Foot Care

Dogs walking in snowy areas may get large ice balls between their pads, causing the dog to limp. Be sure to keep ice clear from this area. For dogs that have a lot of hair between the pads, keeping it clipped shorter will help with ice ball formation.   Avoid cold feet by ensuring pads are not split or injured and to spray paws with cooking spray before taking out in the snow…. or WEAR BOOTS!

 


And that brings us back to my original question of boots or no boots for Ms. Maru?  It’s a definite yes now.   I feel better and less guilty knowing that there are good reasons why it makes sense to make her a little uncomfortable for a few minutes. 

And, that triggers another question.  Why do dogs walk so funny in their boots?  That’s because they have hairs between their toe pads that send the same signals to their brain that their whiskers do.  So, really they walk funny because of a neurological response to the foreign object on their paws.  You guessed it.  The dreaded but ever so cute BOOT!    

 

dog-boots-winter-arrfscarf-snow.jpg

Nutrition for Dogs

Arrfscarf Dog Ice Cream Q & A

We frequently are asked specific questions about our Dog Ice Cream. This Q & A hopefully answers some of those frequent questions. 

Q- Why Dog Ice Cream?

A- Why not? People love this frozen dessert treat year round, so should our best friend! If pups are going to have a frozen treat, it should be a treat designed around their unique digestive system. We would hate for pups to consume large amounts of processed ingredients. Our dog ice cream takes into consideration pup's sensitive stomachs. 

Q- My dog has never had Dog Ice Cream, how do they eat it?

A- Arrfscarf Dog Ice Cream comes in a 4 oz. container and contains 3.3 oz which is a single serving. Most dogs know to start licking as soon as the cup hits the floor. Tiny dogs sometimes need you to hold it for a bit, and a small amount of dogs prefer it to defrost a tad. If your dog tends to eat everything in sight, we recommend that you squeeze out the contents into their bowl so they don’t eat the plastic container (which is bpa free).

Q- I thought dogs couldn’t have ice cream because of the dairy?

A- Real ice cream is made from milk or cream which contains large amounts of lactose. Lactose is hard for some people to digest, and that is the same for dogs. Using yogurts with live cultures breaks down the lactose so it can be easily digested. 

Q- What kind of yogurt does Arrfscarf use in their Dog Ice Cream?

A- We use both Greek non-fat and regular low-fat yogurts. None of which have any added  sweeteners. All contain live cultures and probiotics.

Q- Are their real benefits to having your dog eat Dog Ice Cream?

A- Yes. The yogurt is an excellent source of protein and calcium for your dog. The probiotics aid in a healthy immune system and keep the bad bacteria in check.

Q- What makes Arrfscarf Dog Ice Cream different than others?

A- A lot! We only use quality yogurts, real ingredients (no flavorings), and no preservatives. We do not add stabilizers, sugar, or salt. The meat used in all of our Dog Ice Cream is sourced locally in Chicago and every batch is handmade. For example, when we make the Beef Brisket flavor, we slow roast the beef for 8 hours so it can get real tender before being added to the Dog Ice Cream. 

Q- What if my dog can only have certain fruits or vegetables, or has a sensitive stomach?

A- At Arrfscarf we have worked hard to select and use only ingredients that are good for dogs. All Dog Ice Cream we make is grain and wheat free. There are many flavors we have done in the past that are not listed on our site using strawberries, mint, blueberries, carob chips, etc. 

Let us know if you have any other questions, and please remember that Arrfscarf Dog Ice Cream is a treat and not a meal replacement. 

 

Watch a video of Pretzel eating our dog ice cream