Your pet’s nutrition is crucial. Read about pet nutrition, what pet food & pet treats are good, what’s bad & what you need to know to make good decisions about your pet’s health & nutrition. The Pet Nutrition section has resources for further information about pet nutrition & diet, and will also include product reviews.Search pet product for further reviews.
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Archive for the ‘Pet Nutrition’ Category

Paws Off! Preventing Pet Poisoning!

Posted on March 4th, 2013

No matter how protective a pet parent you are, chances are there are still some things in your home that can be toxic to pets. Veterinary practices see thousands of cases each year of pets accidentally poisoned by everyday household items. With Pet Poison Awareness Month right around the corner, it’s smart to arm yourself with some information that could potentially save your pet’s life.pet poison

When you think about “accidental toxin ingestion,” fruit is probably not the first thing that springs to mind, but something as simple as a handful of grapes can sour a situation in a matter of seconds. Small breeds, like the Chihuahua or Maltese, show signs of distress pretty soon after ingestion, but even larger animals are at risk – dogs can go into acute renal failure within 48 hours after eating grapes (or raisins!).

Wondering what other everyday household items that can spell trouble for our furry friends? Here’s a list of some of the most common culprits:

Prescription or Over-the-Counter Medication

Human medicines, whether prescription-strength or not, are dangerous in the wrong paws. In fact, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin and ibuprofen, can present big problems for pets. I’ve seen dogs sickened from snacking on a bottle of aspirin, but I’ve also seen patients come in because their pet parents administered the drug thinking it would work for their dog the way it does for them. While there are some medications that work for both species, always, always check with your vet before giving your pet any type of human medicine. In the meantime, keep pill bottles behind closed cabinet doors.

Table Food/Drink

Kitchen staples like chocolate, onions, alcohol, coffee grounds and sugar substitutes (or foods containing sugar substitutes) are all a recipe for catastrophe. I see dogs come into the clinic who have eaten an entire pack of sugar-free gum from an unattended purse. Trust me; the minty-fresh breath is NOT worth the trip to the vet. Keep all food and drink meant for human consumption under lock and key – especially fatty foods. Even a single incident of eating high fat food can trigger pet pancreatitis, a potentially fatal disease from fatty foods that causes inflammation of the pancreas and requires prompt medical attention.

Cigarettes

Nicotine poisoning is also a danger to our pets. If you are a smoker, you pet’s health may already be compromised by secondhand smoke, but if he gets his paws on a pack of cigarettes and eats them, he can really get burned. The toxic level of nicotine in dogs is 5 milligrams of nicotine per pound of body weight. Just one cigarette contains 15 to 25 milligrams of nicotine – if your pet tears into half a pack, the overdose can be deadly.

House Plants

Every spring veterinarians see an increase in pets poisoned by lilies, and during the holiday season poinsettias pop up on our radar. Azaleas, tulips and autumn crocus are other threats, and in in regions that have sandy soils in tropical climates (Florida, California, and Texas, I’m looking at you!), sago palms are both common and extremely toxic if ingested. It’s worth a mention for our friends in Colorado and Washington (and maybe a few other states) that marijuana is toxic to pets, too. Keep all leafy greens planted firmly out of reach.

Zinc

If you have a baby in the house, watch out for diaper rash creams containing zinc. Also be sure to keep coins, screws, bolts and other galvanized metals out of reach, too, as they all contain dangerous levels of the element. Pennies are particularly toxic, so be sure your rainy day savings is safely stowed away.

These are some everyday items to look out for, but there’s plenty more around the house and garden that can make a pet sick. For a more complete list, check out a resource like Pet Poison Helpline for more information. Once a pet has snacked on something unsavory, time is of the essence. Get him to the vet immediately for the best chance of saving him from danger.

Dr. Jules Benson, BVSC, MRCVS, is a graduate of the University of Liverpool Vet School. Since arriving in the U.S. eight years ago, Dr. Benson has worked in a small animal practice near Philadelphia and is currently on the Board of Trustees for the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association and the Board of Directors for Second Chance Rescue. Now serving as the VP of Veterinary Services at Petplan pet insurance, Dr. Benson continues to practice veterinary medicine part time — both in the practice where he once spent all of his days, and at home, where he is both dad and vet to four cats, two rats, one rabbit and a gecko. He contributes regularly to Petplan’s Vets for Pets blog.

Dog Nutrition: Raw Dog Food Diet Becoming More and More Popular

Posted on November 20th, 2012

By J. Hale

Many of us share our lives with dogs and cats who have become absolute loves – our beloved friends and our faithful companions. Of course, we desire to provide them with the absolute best care so that they live long, happy, healthy lives.

Unfortunately, we are losing our pets in ever increasing numbers to cancer, heart, kidney, and liver failure, dental problems, allergic reactions, failing immune systems, and urinary tract disorders. This is but a few of the miseries that plague our pets these days.

Many of these issues have backgrounds or roots in the nutrition of the pet, or rather, the lack of it. By disregarding the basic nature of dogs and cats and feeding them food that they were never intended to eat, pet food corporations have set a stage for health problems. The fact that many animals can live long, healthy lives eating these foods, has less to do with the quality of the food, than the animals’ ability to survive on less than good nutrition. After all, until around the mid-1920’s, dogs and cats ate as nature intended… a raw food diet that they mostly caught for themselves.

Nature designed dogs and cats as carnivores – eaters of raw meat. Their internal systems were designed to extract the maximum benefits from meat in its raw state. Cats were hunters of mice and birds, dogs were meat-eaters, too, (in a less cat-and-mouse-game form)…

Feeding a raw diet to your dog has many benefits you might not be aware of.  The popularity of raw frozen dog food diets, which emphasize raw meat, fruits, bones and veggies, is definitely on the rise. According to WebMD, racing greyhounds and sled dogs have been eating raw food diets for decades… Extending those feeding practices to the family pet however, is a more recent idea.

Likely benefits of raw dog food diets include: shinier coats, healthier skin, cleaner teeth, higher energy levels, and smaller stools.

A raw dog food diet typically consists of:

  • Muscle meat, often still on the bone
  • Organ meats such as livers and kidneys
  • Bones, either whole or ground
  • Raw eggs
  • Apples or other fruit
  • Vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and celery
  • Some dairy, such as yogurt

Raw products are now one of the fastest-growing segments of the pet food industry, and sales of raw pet foods have climbed 15 percent annually for the past three years and are projected to keep up the fast-paced growth, according to David Lummis, the senior pet-industry analyst for Packaged Facts, a market research company, according to a recent article in the NY Times.

Some pet owners have turned to feeding raw frozen dog food products due to the growing number of recalls of processed pet foods, particularly the epidemic of pet food recalls in 2007 linked to Chinese ingredient suppliers.  Others complain of salmonella.

Makers of raw pet foods say their products allow cats and dogs to eat a more natural diet, similar to the way animals in the wild hunt prey and eat it raw. Cooking pet foods, they claim, kills a wide assortment of vitamins and enzymes. And pet digestive systems, advocates say, did not evolve to handle the corn, grains, flour and other fillers often added to highly processed pet foods.

Raw diets, in conclusion, deliver complete nutrition for every stage of your dog’s life. Most raw frozen pet foods are prepared with whole meats, fruits and vegetables to create a well-rounded meal. Through cold process pasteurization, they’re able to retain the natural nutrients that are beneficial in a healthy lifestyle.

PetSafe®: A Generous & Compassionate Company That Supplies Pets & Their People

Posted on October 23rd, 2012

About two weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be chosen to visit PetSafe… While it was a whirlwind of a daylong (or-so) trip, it was well worth it! You can read why in this post. I learned all about PetSafe’s:

-          Products and how they help pets AND their people

-          Initiatives in the community, like Bark for Your Park, which grants one lucky city a $100,000 dog park each year

-          Partnership with the University of Tennessee Veterinary College and the surprises that that relationship has brought to animals thus far

-          Their pioneering research into pet products

-          Their innovative solutions for housebreaking, feeding while away, behavior, containment & more

PetSafe®, owned by Radio Systems Corporation, is a multi-million dollar company with about 615 associates worldwide. Radio Systems owns many of the most recognizable pet brands in the world. This includes not only PetSafe® but also Invisible Fence® Brand, SportDOG® Brand, and other best-selling brands like Premier® Pet Products, Drinkwell® Pet Fountains, and Innotek® training products.

Rocky the Training Demo Dog. Photo Credit Patrick Mahaney VMD CVA at www.PatrickMahaney.com

The goal of the folks at PetSafe® is to create responsible solutions for the responsible pet owner and to always be looking to the future to see where they need to be (as that’s where WE as pet owners will be!) As the largest manufacturer of electronic pet training products in the U.S., PetSafe® is devoted to the most innovative research and most advanced designs available today.

And that has translated into success stories now spanning 52+ countries across six continents!

The PetSafe mission? “To be the most trusted brands in the pet ownership experience.”

They Pack the Pick of the Litter in Processes and People

What sets PetSafe’s product development process apart? As we were told, it starts with hiring a notable collection of scientists and pet-lovers –people devoted to the “pet-friendliest planet possible.” Together, they conduct a rigorous series of in-home tests with actual home- and pet-owners that put every product through real-world conditions just like yours, often hundreds of times! They gather feedback that ensures they’ve perfected every detail. Then and only then, with the added consultation of the world’s top trainers, veterinarians, and behaviorists, their products can stand alone in stores & online for both their excellence & value.

Giant Office Great Dane at PetSafe

People I met at PetSafe, people like Natalie Lester (Brand Marketing Specialist), Robin Rhea, Randy Boyd (CEO), Jim Tedford (Animal Welfare Director), Jill Weinstein (Senior Marketing Specialist), and at their UT partner facility veterinarians Dr. Donna Raditic and Dr. Joe Bartges are the kind of people who make the world go ‘round today. They make it better for us and for all pets; they’re trying harder and harder to do more and more for animals, and they’re just honest-to-goodness good-hearted people with manners, a true love and adoration of all animals and respect for all of our favorite other species too.

Bark-Tastic Processes = Beau-Mew-tiful Results

The process of innovation at PetSafe that we learned about was of particular interest to me because I’m in the marketing field and it’s always cool to get a peek at what companies do to brainstorm, etc. Anita White, Senior Program Manager at PetSafe® another Pick of The Litter said that the innovation process includes:

-          Generating ideas, Capturing those ideas, Evaluating those ideas, Developing those ideas and Launching the ideas

It’s an entire culture of innovation there really… you can tell by the automated coffee stuff in the kitchen (lol). Seriously though, White continued on to tell us that the innovative culture includes: promoting, encouraging, producing, supporting and driving the innovation process. Keys to success include research, keeping realistic timelines, keeping intellectual property safe and communication, communication, communication.

I also liked what she said about staying inspired and always learning. She mentioned going to places where you find inspiration whether that be events, conferences, or seminars or dog parks; refining concepts; understanding your customer; and finding internal sponsors. Indicators of an innovative culture at PetSafe® include: patents, associate engagement,  values and behaviors, and purpose-creating business value.

By the way, it takes PetSafe® about 12-16 months to get a product out. Currently, they have 458 Patents or Patents-Pending and 233 Registered Trademarks! WOW!

Pet Products Here Are the Cat’s Meow

Who knew that testing and re-testing so many different things would work out in such the company’s favor?  No one back then, but today, PetSafe® is the proud Momma of products like…

  1. Containment Systems and Fences – both electronic and non-electronic for dogs and cats. Mew- we mean Phew – they have them for kitties, too! They’re currently looking at in-ground and wireless fencing! Their Wireless Containment System™ and Stay + Play Wireless Fence™—are safe, reliable, and a cinch to set up. With five levels of correction and an adjustable electronic signal, our wireless systems will help your dog learn his boundaries in no time.
  2. The Invisible Fence® Brand: In-ground fencing. They go from 1 to 10 in static correction, aka shock and let out a little beep as the dog approaches the line. PetSafe® does make products with vibrations for hard-of-hearing dogs, too.
  3. Boundary Flags: Place flags approximately 10 feet apart to remind your pet of his off-limits area.
  4. Paws Away Barriers: Indoors for dogs and cats, these send  a radio signal or a series of beeps. They are a safe and progressive move if you don’t approve of the startling you might expect a dog to get from the static correction. These are designed to startle, not punish.
  5. Pet Doors:  Did you know that pet doors (cat doors, too!) have high consumer category awareness? Possible reasons for purchase are convenience, freedom, price/quality, but tipping points include getting a new pet, a change in schedule, or previously owned one and it broke/was damaged. PetSafe even has a Pet Screen Door!

    The famous Drinkwell® Water Fountain

  6. Pet Fountains: The auto-waterers, like the famous Drinkwell® and the Zen Fountain that I ordered, are easy solutions for clean water.
  7. Toys and Treats: Makers of Lickety Stik®, Feline Lickety Stik®, Busy Buddy bones/treats & more!

A House is Not a Home Without a Pet

Jim Tedford is the Director of Animal Welfare at PetSafe and I would bet you $5,000 right now that if you asked him that header question that he would say “true” or agree somehow… Tedford is just one of those genuine, affable, good-natured, good-down-to-the-last-drop guys. Plus he’s a pet-lover, sooooo…  Anyhow, Tedford is in charge of corporate philanthropy, which, you guessed it, includes mostly all animal-themed programs at PetSafe®. 

“We’re essentially working to make things better for all companion animals here, “Tedford said. “We’re a company that walks the talk…” That I LOVED! I can get on board with that anytime – a pet company that walks the animal welfare and pet donations talk is cool with me any way you slice the puppy pie.

The strategic objective at PetSafe is to support the community. PetSafe works in Knoxville, all of Tennessee and even has some national programs, too. Perhaps the biggest national program is one that auctions off a $100,000-dollar outdoor dog park each year to one lucky community, Bark for Your Park. The 2012 winner is Texarkana, Arkansas.

PetSafe Concord Dog Park. Photo Credit Patrick Mahaney VMD CVA at www.PatrickMahaney.com

In 2011, Concord, Tennessee, just outside Knoxville, and other cities were benefactors of a $500,000 grant from the company for more area dog parks. The PetSafe Concord Dog Park(see pictures at top of post) was the one we visited.  PetSafe made a $500,000 donation a few years ago for Knoxville to build 5 dog parks, but the government managed the money so effectively that they were actually able to build seven! WOOF! These seven local dog parks inspired PetSafe to create Bark for Your Park so other cities could have PetSafe dog parks like theirs. Huntington, West Virginia actually won in 2011 and opened their park earlier this year. We got to see the dog park the first night there, but unfortunately I was in class so I missed it. My good bloggie fwiends were nice enough to share their photos however and told me that they saw: a local dock diving club put on a dock diving exhibition. There were dogs playing in the four-acre fenced in dog park area and they saw some folks walking on the trails beyond the fenced in area. The dock was

PetSafe Concord Dog Park II. Photo Credit Patrick Mahaney VMD CVA at www.PatrickMahaney.com

on the edge of a lake – cool! There is also a canine swimming area, a dog jumping dock, access ramps, walking trails, stone and grass dog run areas and a dog wash station.

PetSafe® has also worked with Morris Animal Foundation to raise funds for their cancer research. They are a national sponsor of this organization and Knoxville hosted walks for them in 2011 and 2012. PetSafe® also did a Black Tie and Tails Gala in August with a full auction, entertainment, a Doggie Daycare room for the four-legged variety guest, and that event had over 300 people at it! The event raised $30k! The group, PetSafe®, as a whole, is “very concerned” about canine cancer according to Tedford.  In 2012 alone the company’s offices across the country raised $90,000 for the Morris Animal Foundation! PAWSOME!

These Dogs Wag Their Tails Using Their Hearts

Tedford continued to talk about the company’s animal welfare efforts and I nearly got teary…

He said the firm also offers grants and entertains proposals for everything from animal welfare to youth organizations within a seven-county radius and around the US. Other offices around the globe are also on the grant-train and the pet welfare generosity wagon…

“Paw it Forward” is a program that distributes products to qualifying humane organizations and animal rescue groups in the area; then there’s the Pet Ethos Fund, a tee-shirt program where $25 gets you a “Happy Dog” tee-shirt; all of that money is then  used to fund animal welfare organizations once annually.

The “Most Pet-Friendly Community Initiative” REALLY impressed me. This is an initiative managed by a multi-disciplinary volunteer committee that increases the number of pet-friendly businesses in a community, making that community more pet-friendly by virtue. The goal of PetSafe® is to make Knoxville the pet-friendliest community in the nation – and from what I saw, they have achieved their goal. Due to PetSafe’s hard work, an ordinance was finally passed earlier this year allowing pets nearly everywhere! Pets were EVERYWHERE in the Market Square area of downtown that we went to for dinner Friday night – on the movie lawn, in restaurants, on patios, in stores, all over! It was rad!

PetSafe® donated $250k to Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation to help them reach Phase II of their funding target for opening a new shelter. The last lump sum was badly needed to complete the shelter and PetSafe® came through for them in an area that has “never had anything like that before.”

They also assist in relocation. Knoxville is the mid-point on the trip between NOLA and New Jersey/NY. Local Spay/Neuter clinics, PetSafe® and UTCVM partnered on a temporary way-station for the ASPCA with all the work that organization is still doing in hurricane-ravaged NOLA. Once monthly, a large group of dedicated PetSafe volunteers meets a transport vehicle and provides care for the “cargo” for 8-12 hours. Since April, they have helped save over 250 dogs and 1 cat!

Finally, in 2012, PetSafe® donated $235 MILLION back into the community through product. In 2011 it was over $400 MILLION. WOW – tell me that isn’t tearing at your heart strings right now…

What Counts is Not the Size of the Dog in the Fight; it’s the Size of the Fight in the Dog

Mabel in PetSafe-Donated UnderWater Treadmill. Photo Credit Patrick Mahaney VMD CVA at www.PatrickMahaney.com

At the University Of Tennessee College Of Veterinary Medicine (UTCVM), PetSafe’s partner organization, we had a splendid time! PetSafe® has its underwater treadmill there, (seen in picture with logo on the top left), plus they have paid for UTCVM to develop and have a stance analyzer, a revolutionary product that accurately measures standing lameness and assesses a treatment effectiveness at a price that every clinic can afford. The last generous donation from PetSafe® to UT is the Intelect® Vet, which is for electrotherapy and ultrasound. PetSafe® has also introduced a PetSafe® Vet Therapy Laser but UT doesn’t have that yet.

PetSafe® funds Dr. Julia Albright’s position here, and her (lengthy) title is the Assistant Professor of Veterinary Behavior and PetSafe® Chair in Small Animal Behavioral Research.

Every Dog Has His Day

Be sure to see the pictures of Mabel the famous UTCVM weight loss dog. She has lost over 30 pounds since she was relinquished from a family to a shelter. The family said that they “couldn’t take care of her anymore.” Oh okay, but you’ve been stuffing her guts for the last year obviously? People are such assholes. Anyways, poor Mabel thoroughly enjoys her time on the underwater treadmill and is the most famous weight-losing pooch in the nation I think….

“Dogs are Getting Bigger, According to a Leading Dog Manufacturer…” Lol.

Mabel the Famed UTCVM Weight-Loss Dog

 

I’d like to personally thank PetSafe and the key stakeholders I met for making my trip one to never forget. You are all down-to-earth, sincere pet-lovers who are dedicated to bettering the lives of our furry friends and for those reasons, not only are you and I forever intertwined, but I also love and respect you and your organization. So thank you for all that you do for animals from the bottom of my heart.

 

 

I took an all-expenses paid trip to Knoxville for one day and two nights to tour the PetSafe campus and the PetSafe-initiated “Bark for Your Park” local dog park in Concord, TN. PetSafe covered all air travel, transportation, expenses and meals.

 

 

Nestle Purina® Pet Care Company Wows: Pet Food Company Emanates Integrity and Exudes Passion

Posted on October 19th, 2012

Stand Tall with Integrity. Smile Tall With Passion. Thrive Tall With Expertise. Live Tall With Performance. Create Tall With Innovation.

These are the “Five Talls” of Nestle Purina Pet Care Company – a maxim or saying of what each company associate is expected to do and be every day while they work at Nestle Purina Pet Care Company. (Or for this blog post’s purposes, NPPC.)

A company that operates by the original (Danforth) founders’ family motto of doing and being the right thing everyday, I found NPPC to be a passionate, knowledgeable, aware, generous company that is as involved in the animal welfare community as it is in the pet food industry. Its associates are as involved as they are dedicated, as loving as they are intelligent.

The Nestle Purina Pet Care “Campus” Building Entry Sign

(I was flown to NPPC for three days of learning and fun in the first week of October; all expenses were paid by Nestle Purina Pet Care. This blog post is an honest take on my experiences while there.)

The NPPC associates I met on this trip are honest to goodness down-to-earth, generous, passionate, smart, astute persons of great character who love their pets more than life – just like you and I do. Perhaps that’s why another motto is “Your Pets. Our Passion.” Because I got the

Gordon Wade Opening the Presentations

impression that ALL pets are their passion. According to Gordon Wade, Director of Marketing (see picture at left), Purina® has “high expectations of selves, a successful culture and a guiding principle that makes it all work.”

I can honestly tell you, as a guest of the company for three days, all three sentences are enthusiastically true.

“All we do is pets. We’re fully dedicated and passionate pet lovers,” he continued. Thus my assumption that all pets are their passion…

Indeed.

For example, I betchya didn’t know this: NPPC has partnerships with North Shore Animal League, The Humane Society of Missouri, The Michigan Humane Society, ARF – Tony LaRusso’s Animal Rescue Foundation, the Humane Society of Boulder Valley and Shelter Me Photography.

I was dually impressed and eager to learn of these partnerships. I had no idea before this that Purina® was so heavily involved in the pet welfare community. But it gets better. If you think this is great, scroll down to read more about their animal welfare efforts. They are REMARKABLE to say the VERY least.

Purina Kitty at Entrance, courtesy NPPC!

Nestle Purina Pet Care Company, to get some logistical stuff out of the way that some readers might be interested in, has 18 manufacturing plants and near 10,000 employees in the Americas. THEY DO NOT INVASIVE ANIMAL TESTING. Headquarters for the company is in St. Louis, Missouri. NPPC manufactures some of the most popular, recognized and trusted pet food brands, including Purina® Dog Chow®, Purina Cat Chow®, Friskies®, Fancy Feast®, Purina ONE®, Purina Pro Plan®, Tidy Cats® cat litter, and TONS more.

The Purina® brand stands for Trust, and the Purina brand consistently maintains a leadership position for “Trust” with pet owners. They earn that trust every with unparalleled knowledge of their consumers and their pets; their expertise in nutrition; their comprehensive range of high-quality established brands; and their dedicated associates, whose mission is to enrich the lives of pets and the people who love them.

A specially personalized Dog Chow bag for me!

Their site says, “At Nestlé Purina Pet Care Company, we’re passionately committed to making pets’ lives better. As the pace of change in pet care accelerates, our challenge is to lead with fresh, innovative approaches to making the lives of dogs and cats better. We are proud of our heritage, and we are constantly exploring new trends and ideas that define the future of pet care and of Nestlé Purina.” Purina is all about creating shared value.

And I realized that that is in full-swing while I was there.

We were first taken into the corporate headquarters for presentations by multiple associates. These included presentations about nutrition, pet welfare, health and wellness, commitment to quality and food safety and more. In my opinion, each associate/manager who spoke was extremely educated, experienced and passionate about their position – and about people’s pets… NPPC has some of the smartest associates on its side that I have ever come across in the pet nutrition and pet welfare communities.

These people include Dan Koehler, PR at Checkmark for NPPC; Gordon Wade, Director of Marketing; Tim Curran, Manager of NPPC Retail Innovation Center; Bill Cooper, VP of Pet Food Manufacturing North America; Adrian Palensky, VP of Quality Assurance for Nestle Purina North and Latin America; Arleigh Reynolds, Senior Research Scientist in the nutrition group; Jill Villarreal, Senior Behavior Scientist (her presentation was AWESOME and her job includes pet wellbeing programs, research and cat elimination behavior research); Brenda Bax, Director in Marketing responsible for Purina’s work to build better communities for people and pets (her presentation on pet welfare was my favorite because Purina is amazing and SO involved in bettering pets’ lives everywhere); and Amanda Hassner, Chef.

We got to sample the recipes that inspire foods like Friskie®s Tasty Treasures® – a tuna and aged cheddar sformato with roasted chicken and pan juices. Then we tasted the inspiration behind Beggin Strips® Collisions™ — peanut butter bacon toast. I know they sound weird but they were delicious and Chef Amanda loves her job dearly — and it shows.

We also got to take a campus tour, which included sights and learning opportunities at the Research and Development lab, a campus overview and the Pilot Plant peek. This was interesting because we got to see the operational and day-to-day doings of the staff.

The second day started with a presentation by Candy Caciolo, Portfolio Director for Specialty, Breeder and Pet Acquisition at NPPC. She gets to manage Purina’s pet specialty exclusive brands, the Breeder/Enthusiast group, Pet Welfare/Pet Cause and Purina Farms.

Purina Farms promotes responsible pet care, humane education, community involvement, and the positive bond between people and their pets. You’re able to get up close and

Cow at Purina Farms

personal with a variety of animals on a self-guided tour, making the experience a truly unforgettable one. I went through with Cat Chat Caren and hugged horses, caressed cows, and rubbed rabbits!

Purina Agility Field

We were at Purina Farms that whole day, a strikingly beautiful farm seemingly in the middle of nowhere with 350 acres. Here there’s an actual farm with cows and goats and bunnies, plus the Purina Pro Plan Performance Team and Purina Incredible Dog Challenge area set-up. It’s like, an actual diving dock and a HUGE field for the performance and agility events like Frisbee and Jack Russell racing.

We got to spend the day watching the Team practice, touring the farm, touring the Purina Events Center, a world-class facility (45,000-square-foot exhibition space) with all the amenities to make every show exceptional. They have a café and a dog bathing room – they even had changing rooms for the show dog owners! The Purina Events Center is designed to host a variety of canine activities from conformation shows to performance events such as obedience and agility.

This is where the Pet Project Event was the next day.

Dog Bowl Design at Pet Project Event

The Purina Pet Project Event was my favorite part of the trip! So many people came from so many places (I saw license plates from Illinois, Missouri and Ohio in the parking lot)

Painting Dog Houses

to participate in making items for shelter dogs and cats who are currently going without. (See pictures with descriptions.) We made doghouses, dog beds, cat beds, cat blankets, dog bowls, dog Frisbees, and adoption kits for both cats and dogs. The adoption kits included food, a toy, a place-mat, bowl, and more.

We also – before the pet project event – learned about cat training and dog training and got to see a live demo of a cat going through an agility course and several cats doing several different tricks. The trainer was intelligent and perceptive/astute and told me how I can train my own cat. (See my cat agility pictures to left courtesy Cat Fancy.)

Taking a Cat Through the Agility Course

The best part of this trip to me was learning about all the animal welfare and community-oriented programs the company has. They have programs that they do “with pets” and ones that are “for pets.”

These programs include:

-          Purina Donation Program

Me Studying Hard the Presentations…!

-          Rally to Rescue

-          AdoptaPet.com

-          Changing Perceptions

-          PetSlimdown.com (a very large effort to stop pet obesity)

-          Dream Dog Park

-          Disaster Relief Program

-          Pet Advocate Leader

-          PetsforPeople.com

-          Purina One Shelter Program

-          St. Louis Pet Care Coalition ‘Pet Care Pride Day”

Nestle’s Logo

-          Pets for Seniors

-          PAW (P@W) – Pets at Work

-          Canine Health Foundation

-          Pet Partners

-          “America’s Pet Debate”

According to Bax, “pet welfare programs are very complex at Purina; they’re done by many organizations and we need them to partner with to work together”

The best part of this? PURINA SPENT ALMOST $40 MILLION ON ANIMAL WELFARE IN 2011.

$40 million dollars.

That’s astounding. It’s amazingly generous. It’s beyond comprehension to me.

Frisbee Dog on the Agility Course, courtesy NPPC

The bottom line here after all of this, is that Purina is wonderful. They are caring, they are loving, they are generous, they are smart, they are hard-working and they are enthusiastic.

All the people I met at NPPC make the company what it is today – a caring, whole-hearted, passionate place to be and work.

And I’d like to give four paws up to all who are there who make it the wonderful company that it is.

Shelter Pros Say Food Quality Impacts Fate/Adoption Rates of Rescue Dogs & Cats

Posted on September 26th, 2012

Cite Ellen DeGeneres’ Halo Spot’s Stew as “Definitely Helping” Adoption Rates

When it comes to feeding shelter pets, popular wisdom might assume quantity is more important than quality, but a recent survey of shelter professionals reveals that feeding higher quality food may actually increase adoption rates.

The survey, conducted by Freekibble.com and Halo, Purely for Pets, uncovered the voice of shelter professionals, many of whom have vast experience feeding shelter pets.

The 86 survey respondents – who have collectively fed over 450,000 shelter animals – were recipients of food donations from Freekibble and Halo, Ellen DeGeneres’ pet food company.

Halo and Freekibble.com regularly request feedback from shelters that have received their food donations.

“The group we surveyed began to tell us about the difference the quality food was making,” said David Yaskulka, vice president of marketing communications for Halo. “We noticed a common message: that having access to high quality food was helping with many health issues, and ultimately increasing adoption rates.”

The experts surveyed have fed an average of 5,000 pets each and have an average of 11 years’ experience in shelter work – 950 collective years of experience in working with and feeding shelter pets.

Of the shelter workers surveyed:

- 71% said that better food quality “definitely helps” dogs and cats to get adopted. An additional 19% said it “helps somewhat,” and 9% said, “It might help.”
- 75% said the quality of Halo Spot’s Stew “definitely helps” dogs and cats to get adopted. Not even one professional said, “it doesn’t really help.”
- 77% said they would choose Halo Spot’s Stew over any other brand. Other brands mentioned were Purina (3.5%), Wellness (2.3%), and Hill’s Science Diet, Natural Balance, Eukanuba and Blue Buffalo (1.1% each).

Freekibble donation recipients like Best Friends Animal Society agree that high quality food is paramount to adoption success.

“Best Friends Animal Society understands that feeding high-quality, nutritious and all-natural food contributes to the overall health of the animals, and healthy animals have a better chance of being adopted,” says Lisa Salvatore, Best Friends’ development officer.

Susan Daffron, the founder of the National Association of Pet Rescue Professionals, is happy to see this information brought to light.

“Does quality food make a difference in adoptability? I think it does. Animals that feel better and look better are more adoptable,” she said.

The survey reveals that many shelter workers say the pets on high quality food like Halo are healthier, happier, have more energy and look better. In some cases, pets who were sick or having troubles, after being put on a high quality diet, made strong recoveries and put them in the category of “adoptable” rather than “special needs.”

“Many of the dogs we take in are suffering from malnutrition or from allergies and other issues related to poor food quality,” says Shannon DeBra of Recycled Doggies in Cincinnati, Ohio. “We definitely see a difference in the health and vitality of our dogs when we feed super high quality food like Halo. And when our dogs look healthy, they are definitely more adoptable.”

These findings are encouraging for Halo, a company dedicated to making a difference for all pets, including shelter and rescue animals. In 2010, Halo donated one million meals to shelter pets in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Service Adopt a Shelter Pet stamps and, recently, sponsored “Shelter Me,” the PBS film featuring the positive impact shelter pets make on humans’ lives.

Also in 2010, Halo became Freekibble.com’s exclusive kibble sponsor, providing nutritious, high quality food to shelters across the nation.

Freekibble, started in 2008 by then 11-year-old Mimi Ausland, is a pet-related trivia site. Each day, visitors answer a question and, right or wrong, earn a donation of 10 pieces of kibble to feed shelter pets. When Mimi started the site, she committed to donating the best quality kibble possible. “Shelter pets deserve the best – in the shelter, and in their forever homes!” she said.

Today Freekibble has donated more than 8 million nutritious meals to shelter pets nationwide and is making a difference in the fate of homeless animals.

“Using Halo has helped our kitties have better coats, better health and in general better looking and feeling felines,” says Tammy Barker, of Cat House on the Kings, an all-cat rescue in Parlier, Ca. “Cats and kittens are more likely to get adopted if they feel and look great,” she adds.

For more survey details, please visit: http://www.halopets.com/sheltersurvey

About Halo, Purely for Pets®
For over 25 years, Halo, Purely for Pets® has created holistic pet products of uncompromising quality. Halo believes nutrition is the single most important factor in the quality of a pet’s life. Halo offers natural pet food, treats, supplements and grooming products – including the award-winning Halo Spot’s Stew, Dream Coat and Liv-a-Littles treats. Ellen DeGeneres – a long time Halo customer – became a part-owner of Halo in 2008. In 2010, Halo donated one million meals to shelter pets in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Service Adopt a Shelter Pet program. Halo is also the official kibble sponsor of Freekibble.com, a pet related trivia site that has donated more than eight million meals to shelter pets. Halo’s natural dog food, natural cat food, treats, supplements and grooming products are available at PETCO, Whole Foods Market, your local pet specialty and natural food store, and online at http://www.halopets.com.

About Freekibble.com
Sixteen-year-old Mimi Ausland created Freekibble.com when she was 11-years-old, to help feed the homeless dogs and cats at her local animal shelter. Freekibble.com and Freekibblekat.com are two of the five most-visited animal rescue web sites in the world, with over 115,000 combined daily visitors. With the help of Freekibble’s 475,000 loyal monthly followers, they have donated more than 8 million nutritious meals to over 200 shelters, rescues and food-banks across the country. Freekibble is played in 137 countries