If ever there was a video that did more to inadvertently promote feeding raw, or high quality kibble at the very least, here’s one that I found interesting (via Dog Food Chat).
How Pet Food Is Made
I guess it’s from a Discovery Channel program about how stuff is made.
Some of my favorite ironic highlights (emphases mine):
“Wanna bet some dogs and cats eat healthier than their owners?”
“It’s the stuff of sophisticated nutritional science… but the basic ingredients that factories grind up to make dog and cat food are generally similar. First, CORN KERNELS.” [Okay, I rearranged that one for effect.]
“As the continuous stream of shaped mixture exits the die, a spinning knife cuts it into pieces.”
Hey, I like my uniformly-shaped niblets just as much as the next chowhound, but you didn’t have to call it that.
“Once the pieces exit the dryer, they enter a revolving drum where they’re sprayed with fat and flavoring. The fat is designed to add FOOD ENERGY, while the flavoring gives the bland pieces an appetizing odor and taste.”
Can someone translate for me what the hell “food energy” is supposed to mean? Does it mean that this slick coating actually accounts for some nutritional value, since they’re getting almost nothing from the corn meal mixture? Besides, something seems to be missing from this kibble (rated at 2 stars on Dog Food Analysis, FWIW). That is… where’s the meat? Does it count if it’s sprayed on animal fat/flavoring? That’d be like licking the grease off the surface of my wok and saying I had “oysters” for dinner. Did they conveniently skip that part in order to sanitize this video presentation??
Or perhaps the truth is just that most commercially-available kibble has been made not so much with animal health in mind, but with profit margins and a minimal level of acceptability that appeals to the average human consumer, literally! After all, many of us eat corn meal and grains as staples and can thrive just fine on such a diet. Since these are not ingredients that I ever had to question, I never would have thought to question its appropriateness for my pets until I started looking into it. Still learning new things every day, too.
We went for a quick walk in a woodsy area behind one of my favorite libraries on campus. For some bone-headed reason, I decided to lead the dogs off the paved trail and up through a narrow dirt path. Not 20 seconds into our detour, Bowpi suddenly began to dart madly about, binding my legs with the leash. She collided into Bowdu’s side, which pissed him off so he barked and snarled at her and even though he didn’t touch her, she started screaming bloody murder, as she is prone to do. It took about two seconds to calm them down (though I’m sure that was plenty of time to freak out whomever might have been within earshot), and when I bent down, I saw that they were both covered with these tiny little burs. Dozens and dozens of them…
It took me a good ten minutes per dog to get rid of the mess, and I still have a tiny little sliver on my finger that I haven’t been able to extract from one that I pinched too hard. Lesson learned — STAY ON THE PATH. Exploration is punishable by A PLAGUE OF BURS.
If anyone knows what kind of weed this is, please let me know so I can avoid these noxious things at all cost.
Bowdu got a new collar from Earth Dog today since his last “new collar” was such a joke (the plastic cone of shame). It’s made of hemp canvas, very sturdy, yet soft and pliable when new. It’s advertised as being naturally hypoallergenic, which is obviously a concern of mine at the moment, especially since Bowdu still has a touch of a bald spot on his neck (you can kind of see it in the photo above).
The Doggy Daddy was sad to see the old collar go. “But it’s his collar…” he protested, meaning the solid red Martingale that he’s been wearing for the past nearly-four years straight, with only a handful of runs through the washer. Ew. The way I see it, I don’t wear anything for months on end without laundering, and even if I have articles of clothing that I’ve worn for years, nothing that presses that close to my skin has made it that long through daily use. A new collar might do him good, and all the better if it’s reputedly hypoallergenic. Besides, it’s not like the old one’s being tossed out…
Maybe the Doggy Daddy’s sentimental attachment stems from how brilliant a device the Martingale collar seemed when we first got one. They didn’t sell anything like it in Taiwan, and everything else we had tried to put him in — harnesses and collars alike — just slipped right off whenever Bowdu decided to disprove the necessity of any such accoutrements. “Trappings” indeed, hmph. True to shiba reputation, he got really good at escaping, such that our daily walks (something he never enjoyed in urban Taipei) always required maximum alertness and vigilance levels at 300% just in case he decided to shake free of his collar or harness the moment he sensed we had been lulled into assuming we were going to have a nice, relaxing stroll.
I took almost a devilish delight in seeing Bowdu fail at slipping out of his Martingale the first time. Two quick backward tugs, and he found himself… still leashed! Walking him on a loose lead only got easier after that.
So we can’t use anything else but a Martingale with Bowdu. Thus, when my advisor gifted our two dogs with special Southwestern themed buckle collars (we dogsat for him while he was in Arizona), I guess felt bad that Bowpi was able to enjoy some new duds, but Bowdu was not. Well, the plastic cone is currently affixed to his Southwestern collar — that hardly counts as enjoyment. So in the interest of fairness, Bowdu gets a new collar too.
A scruff of tree-blanketed hill looming over the horizon catches my eye whenever I take the dogs to any of the bayside dog parks and gaze back towards land. I thought it was a protected grove of eucalyptus, and only recently realized that it was publicly accessible. So today, I brought the dogs along for an exploratory hike. We entered from the steep back trails. I quickly learned that I am not a good visual judge of the relative difficulty of inclines. By the time we were halfway up the hill, I was groaning like a little old lady. The descent required some nimble footwork, thanks to my grip-less shoes.
At the top of the hill, I also learned, or rather confirmed something I’d previously observed about Bowpi. She absolutely hates sticks or stick-like things raised overhead. I’d go so far as to say that she’s terrified of sticks held in any sort of striking position. Dramatic proof of this fear presented itself at the park today, when we crested a steep incline, and suddenly came upon a group of people rehearsing Kendo drills. The scene took us all by surprise due to the angle of our approach, but as soon as Bowpi saw all the people brandishing sticks, she made an immediate 180-degree turn and zipped down the hill like a furry red rocket.
Afraid that Bowpi would try to run all the way back to the car, but also fearing I would tumble down the hill if I moved too quickly, I crept just a few yards down the path and crouched down with Bowdu, calling her name. I figured pursuit would just agitate her. Worse yet, she might figure I was following her, thus giving her allowance to keep running ahead. Within a minute or so, she had recovered her wits and courage (as she usually does), and returned to where Bowdu and I sat waiting. However, she could not be convinced to proceed back up that path, so we changed routes and finished our walk.
An incident where she was similarly startled occurred maybe a month or two ago. I had a flyswatter in hand to do battle with an offending insect in my study. I was about six feet away from Bowpi, and didn’t even swing in her direction, but the very moment that the flyswatter descended, she was OUT of the room in a flash and had no interest in reentering until the next day. Under normal circumstances, she cannot be ousted from her position on the futon in my study — all it took that day was the whisk of a flyswatter.
Just stumbled across this blog, They Are What They Eat, a blog about feeding my inus. The author claims to no longer be updating, having exhausted the topic, so I’m not adding it to my link sidebar. I still find it a useful and detailed resource.
Looking better every day, especially his front paws! Bowdu’s spending most of his time outside of the cone now, though he still can be a neurotic and obstinate little squirt about licking when there’s nothing better to do.
Bowpi seems unimpressed with all the attention he gets from the camera these days. Her coat, after all, is lustrous and soft. When she arrived, her coat wasn’t terrible, but it was a bit dull, and she had a crusty rim around her ears and quite a bit of dandruff, which is now completely gone. Maybe it was a seasonal thing. But overall, she has clearly benefited from an improved diet and the battery of supplements that we give to both dogs.
Left to right: plain yogurt, about 1.5-2 tablespoons in the morning on a separate dish; apple cider vinegar, up to 2 teaspoons mixed in with their kibble also in the morning; fish oil, one 1200 mg pill split between the two of them in the evening (sometimes more, but they both get fish in their current food); Plaque-Off, a seaweed extract that’s supposed to help with tartar buildup (just started using this about 2 weeks ago, mainly for Bowpi — nothing yet to report).
Not pictured: one raw egg every few days or so, beaten and mixed in with food; about 2-4 dried Japanese sardines given as daily treats, a trick I learned from this post which was an inspiration for starting this blog.
From ABC News: “Traveling with Pets: Airlines with the Most Dog Deaths“
Summary: In terms of sheer numbers, Continental Airlines is the worst offender, followed by Delta (now merged with Northwest), Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, and United.
It’s always unnerving to read about the things that could go wrong on a simple flight, even a domestic one. I travel internationally more than domestically, but I’ve got to leave the dogs at home (and boyfriend, who takes over their care). Bowdu, in fact, moved with my boyfriend and me from Taiwan, where we were living at the time we got him, to the United States. We chose an inopportune time to return to the States — the beginning of August 2006, when most US airlines had heavy restrictions or a total embargo on the transport of pets. Rather than fly Bowdu separately with a cargo or pet-shipping service (or worse, abandon him like so many do in Taiwan), we shelled out a lot of money to fly an alternate route that only took off and landed at nighttime/early morning. In retrospect, we should’ve just bought him a seat of his own!
We booked tickets through EVA Air 長榮航空 (Taiwan) through Vancouver and Toronto with Air Canada, with a final destination in Detroit. The folks at EVA were extremely helpful and accommodating, perhaps because by coincidence, the flight attendant who checked us in also had a shiba at home and had been watching out for us the whole time. We arrived a little late, having wrestled too long with transport and administrative details, and the flight attendant saw that we were visibly agitated about the whole trip — perhaps why she bumped us up to business class. The transfers through Canada did not proceed as smoothly (including an unexpected extended layover in Vancouver due to a canceled flight), but we got back safe and sound, which is the important thing.
One of my greatest wishes for a changed world is to see traveling with pets become easier. Fees are relatively exorbitant, in my opinion, relative to the amount of additional “services” rendered in most cases. In other cases, outright prohibitions close off negotiation altogether. It has been pointed out to me that these kinds of rules will change only when standards of pet ownership change; overall, pet owners are just not responsible enough. The laws in place reflect rampant negligence that I am ultimately powerless to prevent. Still, we can strive and hope for progress.
There will be more about Bowpi eventually. She’s no less loved, she just has a much shorter history than Bowdu, as we only recently adopted her back in March of this year. And she sleeps a lot and is in great health and is an angel around all dogs and people, so she doesn’t have as many stories as Bowdu — at least for now! She’s a wonderful example of how a rescue dog is far from “damaged goods.” Even though we didn’t raise her from a puppy, and she’d been through a couple other homes before ours, she has bonded so nicely, like she’s as grateful to have us as we are to have her.
Some noticeable improvement in the dark spots on his front legs, the areas right underneath his muzzle, since we started making Bowdu wear the cone. We’re also letting him spend more and more time outside of his plastic prison, since it appears to be chafing his neck. We keep it on him very loosely — we don’t even have the collar buckled. But he was developing a distinctive funky odor about his head and large patches of fur have gone missing.
It’s not actually as noticeable as the picture above suggests, because Bowdu has a lot of fur. And this does coincide with his biannual coat blowing, so I’m thinking the heavy plastic collar just exacerbated his condition. I tossed him into the bath today for a rubdown with GreenTree Septiderm-V Skin Care Bath shampoo ($9.99 a bottle from Pet Store B), massaging it gently into his skin with my fingertips and knuckles. The stuff doesn’t seem to lather up nicely like human shampoo, but maybe that makes it easier to wash out — I just felt like I had to use a lot. It’s slightly medicated, and smells like it too, though it’s not altogether unpleasant. And it got rid of Bowdu’s neck odor and seemed to alleviate his itching for a bit, as intended.
I thought I did a good job bathing him on my own — normally my boyfriend handles the doggybaths. With Bowpi, we enjoyed a collective reward at the off-leash dog park. Then I swung by the pet store to pick up a small bottle of lotion from the same company ($5.99 at Store B) since the shampoo seemed to have helped so much.