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Newsletter - April 2009

The News At Home

Our Sundays are spent with my father. We do some errands together and bring him over to our house where Tori waits patiently. This week was no different but Tori’s reaction most certainly was. She was so thrilled to see dad that she wasn’t quite sure what to do with herself. The typical tail wags and sniffs escalated to cries accompanied by throwing herself at dad as she tried to lick his face (roughly five feet above her) but ended up licking air. She tripped over own feet, and almost tripped him in the process. I was horrified. This soon turned into bringing one toy after another to him, and it stopped only to be replaced by Tori leaping on the couch and curling herself around dad’s head as if she were a cat while she “groomed” his head.

Obviously, this uncontrolled exuberance reflects our poor attempts at dog training, and I was embarrassed. I apologized to dad even while he laughed. “When was the last time anyone was this excited to see me?” he asked. Yes, I explained, but it’s unacceptable behavior and it’s particularly annoying if someone doesn’t like dogs. He looked at me oddly and said “Well, I like dogs, and people who don’t should not come into this house”. So, Tori has her grandfather as a pretty good advocate - but more training started on Monday!

Fact of The Month

Dietary supplements can have hidden ingredients

If you’ve ever wondered why your allergy prone dog scratches nonstop, don’t rule out dietary supplements as culprits. In fact, dogs with intestinal allergy can show aggravated symptoms due to the very supplements that we would expect to help them. Here’s why:

The word “hypoallergenic” is used to describe supplements or foods that are less likely to cause allergic reactions. But in the real world, this word doesn’t have much meaning. Many scientists scoff at it. Although some things aren’t the cause of an allergic reaction, an adverse response can still occur, and ultimately, the goal of pet owners is to minimize or do away with these reactions. Supplements that contain protein can lie behind allergic reactions.

Although most people don’t consider kelp to be a source of protein, it does contain it. This is enough to set a reaction off. Other supplements that fall into this category are L-Glutamine which, in many cases is derived from wheat or an animal source. In the case of L-Glutamine, “hypoallergenic” is an important word to look for, but ask how it has become this way. In other words, what is the mechanism that would make it a non-issue for your dog? If a supplier doesn’t know or provides an answer that makes you skeptical, don’t ignore your inner radar.

Hidden ingredients in supplements include the source of protein used when making gelatin capsules. For instance, our wild salmon oil is encapsulated, but in this case, the dog that tolerates salmon (therefore the oil), will also tolerate the capsule because the gelatin is derived from wild salmon. Most fish oil capsules are not made with fish gelatin and certainly not from the same type of fish the oil is from.

Vitamin E can be an issue for some dogs. Much of the vitamin E on the market is derived from soy. Dogs that have consumed soy in the past may have developed an allergy to it, but that’s not the most common problem. Instead, the source of gelatin the vitamin E capsule contains can be an issue. Most retailers don’t know the source of gelatin and few labels provide this information. So, if your dog is ingesting anything in capsule form, s/he may react to the capsule rather than the ingredients in the product itself.

Don’t feel overly confident if you use loose powders rather than tablets or capsules. There’s another trap waiting for your dog, and that is that dry products can harbor a great deal of mold or yeast. Some products contain large amounts of both. So, despite that you may have purchased something that sounds top-notch (organically grown, etc), you are not assured that this powder (it’s even riskier if this is a blend of powers) isn’t adding mold or yeast into the body.

Independent supplement reviewers seem to promise that you are purchasing a high-quality product if they have given it a thumbs up.. Keep in mind that they are looking at one lot number of a product whereas you are, in all likelihood, buying another. Not only is it very common to have variables between one lot number and another, but manufacturers can send a preferred lot number in for review. Once the product has earned a five-star rating, it’s easy to think that all lots are good even though this may not the case.

Assurance of quality comes from seeing laboratory assays that are updated to reflect the current lot of a given supplement. The result should come from an independent lab because the lab on the premises of the manufacturer can make errors or reflect bias. Ask the hard questions, understand the difference between truth and hype, and you will help to raise the bar in this industry. More importantly, you may be able to help your allergy-prone dog more than you had considered.


“A friend told me that her dog was so smart he was heading to a nearby college. I told her to say hello to my dog because she is a professor there..’ -- Laura Mintz (retired trainer)



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