Tuesday, October 20, 2009


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I received the following press release from a reader. It was originally posted on the
Bark Buckle Up website.


Bark 10-4™” Campaign Created to Help Fire Departments Across America
Get Pet Oxygen Masks

Annually, an estimated half million pets are affected by fires in the United States and more than 40,000 pets die each year due to smoke inhalation. With the right equipment, police, fire and emergency medical service (EMS) rescuers can often save a pet's life. Losing a pet in a house fire can be a devastating experience for a family member. Even the best value pet insurance won't help here. SurgiVet® Pet Oxygen Masks are effective with dogs, cats and other companion animals, but only if they are on hand at the scene of an emergency.

Smiths Medical, the US manufacturer of the SurgiVet® brand of animal health products, announced today that it has teamed up with Bark Buckle UP® to launch the “Bark 10-4™” campaign. During October, which is National Fire Safety Month, industry leaders and pet safety experts Bark Buckle UP®, and Pet Safety Lady™ Christina Selter are teaming up with Smiths Medical and fire departments nationwide to launch the “Bark 10-4™” campaign to raise awareness of the need for Pet Oxygen Masks.

Currently, most of the more than 30,000 fire departments and EMS offices nationwide have more than one truck, and funds to purchase Pet Oxygen Masks often fall short.

The “Bark 10-4™” Campaign was created with the goal of getting a Pet Oxygen Mask on board every fire truck in the country by encouraging the public to sponsor the purchase of Pet Oxygen Masks for their local fire departments. A $25 sponsorship ensures that one mask can be purchased for a fire department; a $65 sponsorship buys a mask set, which includes a small, medium and large mask.

Sponsorship can be completed at www.Bark10-4.com or from a link at www.surgivet.com. The sponsor designates the specific fire department to receive the gift, which will be delivered with the shipping/handling costs paid by Smiths Medical.

“Vets have used oxygen masks designed especially for animals for years,” according to Lisa Huston, SurgiVet® Product Manager at Smiths Medical. “These masks have found their way into the hands of first responders primarily through word of mouth and the generosity of compassionate pet owners. This program will go a long way toward raising awareness about a product that can save a lot of pets’ lives.”

“The mask only works if it is on the truck,” states Jose M. Torres, Battalion Chief ‘A’ Platoon Santa Monica (California) Fire Department. “Together we can save pets lives.”

About Bark 10-4™
Bark Buckle UP®, is a nationally recognized innovative leader in pet safety that created the program Bark 10-4™ to assist first responders and the public on pet emergency issues and needs. With tours throughout the USA and Canada, and company volunteers in over 20 cities, Bark Buckle UP® leads the charge for educating and promoting awareness for pet safety. For more media information about the Bark 10-4™ campaign,
visit: www.BARK10-4.com, BarkBuckleUp.com or Petsafetygear.com

About Pet Safety Lady™, Christina Selter
Pet Safety Lady™, Christina Selter works closely with Fire, Police, Coast Guard and EMT personnel who support the pet safety program. She has been featured on television, radio, international auto shows, pet expos, news articles and guest speaking engagements nationwide. For more information about Pet Safety Lady™, visit www.PetSafetyLady.com

About Smiths Medical - SurgiVet®
Smiths Medical designs, manufactures and distributes a line of veterinary-specific medical devices under the SurgiVet® brand. SurgiVet® is a globally recognized brand of products specific to the animal health industry, including a comprehensive range of monitoring devices, anesthesia systems and critical care consumables. Smiths Medical is part of the global technology business Smiths Group.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

How do they make this stuff? (and who are these uninvited guests?)

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By now we have covered most of the ingredients found in commercial pet foods, both the good and the bad. We have learned how to read the labels, what to look for, and what to avoid. Even with that it is sometimes difficult to determine whether or not a food is really a good choice for our pets.

While most pet parents want to give their babies what is best for them, it isn't easy to do. If we were to believe all the advertisements and commercials, all we would have to do is pour some commercial kibble in their bowl, give them fresh water, and all will be right in their world.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Let's look at the processes by which commercial pet foods are made. And what can go wrong.

Most dry kibble is made with a machine called an extruder (or expander). The raw ingredients are blended according to each company's recipes, usually developed by their own animal nutritionists. This blended mix is fed into the expander, then subjected to steam, pressure and high heat as it is extruded through dies that determine the shape and size of the final product. The steam expands and "puffs up"the kibble. The food is allowed to dry, and then usually sprayed with some sort of fat or flavoring to make it more palatable to the pet. A few foods are baked at high temperatures rather than being extruded. This results in more dense, crunchy kibble that is palatable without the need for sprayed on enhancers. Pets can eat about 25% less of these denser baked foods.

Food ingredients are similar for wet, dry and semi-moist foods. Wet or canned foods start with ground ingredients mixed with various additives. Special extruders are used if chunks of any type are to be included. The mixture is cooked and then canned. Some foods are cooked right in the can. The sealed cans are then put into large pressure cooker type containers and are commercially sterilized.

The cooking process kills most of the bacteria present in the food, but drying, fat coating, and packaging processes may reintroduce bacteria so that the food loses its sterility. The cooking process does not get rid of the endotoxins that some bacteria produce as they grow and are released as they die. Mycotoxins may also be present. These are toxins from mold or fungi from improper drying and/or storage of grain crops such as wheat, corn, or soy meal. Most pet food manufacturers do not test for these toxins.

Commercially produced or rendered meat meals and by-product meals often contain animals that have died because of disease, injury or natural causes. Sometimes the deceased animal is not rendered right away, allowing the growth of bacteria such as Salmonella and E. Coli. More than 50% of meat meals are estimated to be contaminated with E. Coli.

Improper food storage and some feeding practices may result in the growth of toxic bacteria.
Adding water or milk to a dry kibble and then leaving it at room temperature causes bacteria to multiply, yet this feeding method is suggested on the packages of some puppy and kitten foods.

While the higher end, super premium foods tend to use much stricter manufacturing methods, contamination can occur even in these. In recent years, vomitoxin and aflatoxin have appeared in a couple well-known premium foods, causing many pets to get sick...and even a few deaths. These cases were caused by mold or fungi from the cereal grains used, not by the manufacturing process of the pet food company itself.

This doesn't leave us feeling particularly confident in any commercial food, does it? Bear in mind that the best super-premium foods do usually have higher standards for their ingredients, avoid the use of cheap "filler"products and cereal grains, stricter controls over their manufacturing processes, and more thorough testing of the raw ingredients going into the food, as well as the finished products. As always, read your labels and, if you have any doubts, research the company that produces the food to see if there have been any problems in the past or what methods they use in their production process.

Next time we will take a look at the nutrient value of commercial food. Regardless of how good the raw ingredients going into a food are, if all the nutrients are cooked out of them......

Well, you get the idea.

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