Dog and Cat Food Safety Issues

Genetically modified corn could cause kidney damage to your pet.

One thing is for certain, the food industry is changing — on many levels. The Monsanto Company is the leader in diversifying agriculture to the point of engineering foods that appear on your dinner plate and in your pet’s bowl. The most recent travesty involves corn. The MON863 is a genetically modified corn that contains the Bacillus thuringiensis gene. Why is Monsanto inserting the bacillus gene into a corn’s gene? Because this lovely little gene actually causes the corn to produce a pesticide!

This is nothing new. Genetically engineered grains have been distributed since 1996. We are talking about corn, soy, wheat, rice, barely, and various types oil seeds, even alfalfa. The seeds are labeled “hybrid” seeds and the rationale behind using these seeds is higher crop yield. In today’s corporate farming world, the bottom line is what counts, not your safety and certainly not the safety of your pets. The defense is that these crops are used primarily for livestock. Yet, there is no evidence that this is the case. In fact, there are no laws preventing these crops from being sold for human (or pet) consumption.

Back in 1998 corn, wheat, soy, and other grain seeds developed by Monsanto to resist the Roundup herbicide were approved by the FDA. The corn is a GA21 and contains a modified epsps gene that results in the plant’s resistance to the Roundup herbicide. However, it also results in the plant’s absorption of this herbicide. (All plants exposed to an herbicide will absorb the herbicide, resulting in death of the plant.) The argument is that most plants treated with herbicides are not slated for the dinner table, hence the reason for killing them off. In the case of the GA21 corn, it is the opposite. The plant is sprayed, it absorbs the herbicide, but it resists the herbicide and does not die. Ultimately this corn ends up in the human and animal food chain.

In the case of humans or livestock, it can be argued that there is not enough concentration of the herbicide to create problems. In fact, many studies support that these genetically modified foods are perfectly safe for consumption. This is despite many reports that reveal just the opposite. Additionally, this argument can not be made for our pets, who are much smaller than us. Furthermore, independent laboratory tests have revealed that genetically modified grains can create liver, kidney and spleen damage — at least in rats. What exactly does this mean to your pet? Damage to the kidneys can result in renal failure. Damage to the liver results in liver toxicity. And damage to the spleen is fatal. For our companion animals damage to any of these vital organs spells out a death sentence.

Despite all the modern advances in pet health care and the nutritional information available to consumers, our pets are developing some alarming diseases: Diabetes, kidney failure, and cancer. These common human ailments are on the rise in our pets. Why jeopardize your pets’ health by serving food that can place them at risk? By taking the initiative to purchase only grain-free food for your pet, you will reduce their exposure to harmful GMOs. The conclusion is that any genetically modified grain that enters your dog’s and cat’s food is counterproductive to their health.

Gyvel Young is a journalist and published author. Her passion is animal behavior and nutrition.


Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B, 6:211-225, 2003

Food and Chemical Toxicology, Volume 44, Issue 7, July 2006, Pages 1092-1099

de Vendômois JS, Roullier F, Cellier D, Séralini GE. A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health. Int J Biol Sci 2009; 5:706-726.

Dog Flu? Is your Pooch at Risk?

It’s known as canine influenza virus and it’s causing quite a stir among dog owners. The dog flu, known as H3N8, does not affect humans. It is however quickly spread from dog to dog. Originally this virus affected only horses, or so it was thought, until a pack of greyhounds turned up with it in 2004.

The outbreak on the East Coast and Colorado has caused alarm among pooch pet parents. And that is understandable, after all , who wants to see their beloved Fido go through the misery of the flu? The good news is there is a vaccine that was approved in May. It doesn’t prevent your furry canine from getting the flu but it does reduce the severity of the symptoms. This vaccine is administered in shots given two weeks apart.

But is it really necessary to vaccinate your dog or to be concerned? Apparently not if you live in Texas. The doggy flu has not hit Texas—yet.

Dogs who are at high risk for this flu are dogs who are enrolled in doggy day care or who are boarded at the kennel. Dogs who travel extensively are also at risk.

The good news is that if your dog is the typical household dog who goes for walks around the neighborhood and who rarely has social contact with strange dogs the risk of contracting dog flu is very low.

The canine doggy flu has hit the East Coast and Colorado but so far Texas has not had a single case.

What are the symptoms of doggy flu? The same as any human flu: runny nasal discharge, sneezing, coughing, and fever. Your veterinarian can do a test to see if your dog has the H3N8 virus.

ASPCA Poison Control Center FAQs

January 11, 2008 by Editor  
Filed under ANIMAL NEWZ, Health Advice

Courtesy of the ASPCA.

Animal Poison Control FAQ

We’ve compiled the answers to your most frequently asked questions here. Feel free to bookmark this page for easy reference.

Quick Response

I think my pet has ingested something potentially dangerous, but she seems normal. What should I do first: call the APCC or rush her to my local emergency veterinarian?

If you suspect that your pet may have become exposed to a harmful substance, but is not showing signs of illness, stay calm!  Contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline at (888) 426-4435 first.  Not all exposure situations require an immediate trip to the clinic.

What should I do if I think my pet ate something poisonous?

If your animal is having seizures, losing consciousness, is unconscious or is having difficulty breathing, telephone ahead and bring your pet immediately to your local veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic. If necessary, he or she may call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

Otherwise, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline at (888) 426-4435.

What information will I need when I call you?

When you call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline at (888) 426-4435, it’s most helpful to be ready with the following information:
- the species, breed, age, sex, weight and number of animals involved
- the animal’s symptoms
- information regarding the exposure, including the agent (if known), the amount of the agent involved and the time elapsed since the time of exposure.

Have the product container/packaging available for reference. Collect in a sealable plastic bag any material your pet may have vomited or chewed.

How do I get in touch with ASPCA animal poison control experts?

The APCC experts are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you think that your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, make the call that can make all the difference: (888) 426-4435. The call is toll-free. A $60 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.

What kind of services does the APCC provide?

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center provides 24-hour-a-day, year-round advice on animal poison-related emergencies to pet parents, veterinarians and animal clinic professionals. With experience in more than one million cases involving pesticides, drugs, plants, metals and other potentially hazardous items, our specially trained staff of veterinary toxicologists has access to an extensive database, which they can quickly access to help diagnose problems and give treatment advice.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center also provides corporate services such as consulting on legal cases, product formula issues, product liability and reporting on alleged cases of animal illness due to product exposure.

How many cases does the APCC handle daily?

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center manages an average of 375 cases each day.

Where is the APCC located?

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is located in Urbana, IL.

Where does the APCC get its information about toxins and their effects on animals?

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is staffed by 30 veterinarians, including 13 who are board-certified in general and veterinary toxicology. In addition, our experts use Antox, our unique veterinary medical database system of more than one million animal exposure case histories. With the combined knowledge of our experts and our medical database, we are able to provide the most timely and accurate information on the potential effects of poisons and how to manage exposures to them.

I live in Illinois—can I bring my pet to the APCC to be seen by a vet?

While the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is staffed with veterinary experts, our facility is a call center. We work with you and your local vet via phone to provide your pet with the best poison emergency care possible.

I just spoke with a staff member on the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline, but I have more questions. Can I call back?

Absolutely. Our consultation fee covers as many additional calls pertaining to your pet’s current case as are needed to provide the best care and answer any questions that you or your local vet may have. During your initial call, you or your vet will be provided with a special follow-up telephone number to use should you need any further assistance with your pet’s case.

General Information

Are there certain potentially harmful substances that pets get into more than others?

In 2007, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center managed more than 130,000 cases. The top calls of 2007 involved the following common household goods and products:

Prescription and over-the-counter drugs, both of the human and pet variety, including painkillers, cold and flu preparations and antidepressants. The ASPCA cautions pet owners to never give their four-legged family members any type of medication without first talking with a veterinarian. All drugs should be kept out of reach, preferably in closed cabinets above countertops.

Insecticides and insect control products such as flea and tick preparations and insect baits. Some species of animals can be particularly sensitive to certain types of insecticides, so it is vital that you follow label instructions exactly and never use any product not specifically formulated for your pet.

Common household plants such as lilies, azaleas and kalanchoe. Rhododendron, sago palm and schefflera can also be harmful to pets.

Chemical bait products designed for mice, rats and other rodents. When using any rodenticide, place the product in areas that are completely inaccessible to companion animals.

Common household cleaners such as bleaches, detergents and disinfectants. Gastrointestinal distress and irritation to the skin, eyes or respiratory tract may be possible if a curious animal has an inappropriate encounter with such products.