Jerky Dog Treats “Made In The USA” Still Not Safe jerky treats made in the USA and china are not safe

By now we’ve all probably heard about the toxic dog treats from China that have caused so many tragic dog deaths and complications. Since 2007, that FDA has received more than 5000 reports of illnesses believed to be related to consuming jerky treats. Since these tragedies, there has been a mass movement to take all treats that are made in China off the store shelves and most pet parents have been paying attention to where the treats are made before giving them to their dogs.

jerky treats from china recalledBut come to find out… even if the treats have the “Made In The USA” sticker/label, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the treats are healthy for your dog to consume. One of the scariest facts about this whole issue is that the specific toxin or poison that has caused all of these illnesses and deaths hasn’t been determined. The FDA believes that there is an association between these illnesses and the treats made in China, but it has not been proven that this is the cause. The truth is that they still haven’t determined the cause of these deaths. 

china treats recalledThe FDA warns consumers that until they can determine which ingredients in jerky treats are poisonous, there may not be a single jerky treat brand on the shelves that is safe for consumption. “I don’t recommend pet owners feed their pets jerky treats until the FDA can actually tell us what in the jerky treat is actually causing the sickness,” said Studio City veterinarian Dr. Julio Lopez

Jerky treats at Petco - some make claims of their ingredients being sourced in the USA

Jerky treats at Petco – some make claims of their ingredients being sourced in the USA

The FDA warns us that jerky treats labeled “Made In The USA” may pose just as many health risks as the treats made in China because while many of these treats are “assembled” in the United States, they are likely to include ingredients from China. The Supervisory Veterinary Medical Officer for the FDA explained that “manufacturers do not need to list the country of origin for each ingredient used in their products.”

"Family-Owned Spot Farms" makes it known that the chicken is raised in Kentucky

“Family-Owned Spot Farms” makes it known that the chicken is raised in Kentucky

Los Angeles residents Henry Alvarez and Lynn Thanarajakool say they’ll never feed a pet a jerky treat again, no matter where it’s manufactured, after their beloved Dachshund Kingsley died within days of eating a treat from a package labeled “Made in China.” “I only gave him one treat and it was Wednesday night and he started feeling sick by I would say noon the next day,” Alvarez recalled. The veterinarian ruled Kingsley’s cause of death as kidney failure which is a consistent symptom that the FDA associates with feeding pets chicken, duck, or sweet potato jerky treats. 

The FDA is continuing to investigate all jerky treats and the causes of these illnesses and deaths. If you choose to continue to feed your dog jerky treats purchased in stores, the FDA warns:

  • Adhere to weight guidelines listed on the package: smaller dogs may be more vulnerable to health problems related to the treats
  • Monitor your pets for signs of sickness
  • Report any serious symptoms to the FDA and your vet 
  • If your pet gets sick, keep the packaging so the FDA can track the origin of the ingredients if your

For more information from the FDA on jerky treats, visit this website.

Homemade, organic, locally-grown, inexpensive, quick & easy... what more could you ask for?!

Homemade, organic, locally-grown, inexpensive, quick & easy… what more could you ask for?!

 We make homemade jerky treats for our dogs because it’s much less expensive, we can be sure where the ingredients are coming from and that they are healthy ones, and our dogs have given us clear and obvious signs that they prefer their treats homemade – can you say spoiled?! Zoey was given a treat at a friend’s house the other night that was made by a family company in Texas and kept putting it in her mouth, spitting it out, putting it in her mouth, spitting it out, and so on. She only ended up eating it because the other dogs wanted it and were trying to take it from her! She didn’t want the treat, but she wasn’t going to surrender her treat knowing that another dog would get to enjoy it – typical alpha dog behavior. 

I’m confident that I can make homemade jerky treats for less money than the store-bought kind and with less hassle than going out to the store, so why would I take the chance on the store-bought treats when we don’t know what’s causing these deaths? Have you or anyone you know experienced anything out of the ordinary with treats or dog food? And do you trust the store-bought brands?

For more of our healthy homemade treat recipes:



Easter Dangers That Can Poison Your Dog Easter Dangers That Could Poison Your DogEaster is a great time of year full of egg hunts, bright spring flowers, yummy chocolate bunnies, baskets full of goodies, and fun family dinners. But for your dog, there are many things we enjoy that can really harm him from the food you prepare to the flowers you decorate with. Yes, there really are spring flowers that are poisonous to dogs! And they’re some of the most popular ones you see this time of year. 

Jem from smelling the spring flowersPoisonous Spring Flowers 

I was so surprised to learn that some of the most common spring flowers are actually poisonous to dogs! Laci seems to eat anything she can get ahold of when she explores outside, and the other dogs are just as curious. I’m so glad I know now that I need to watch out for these flowers in the spring time and make sure they don’t ingest them!

Vets Now warns us to look out for poisonous Spring plants and flowers. These include:

  • Lilies
  • Daffodils
  • Spring bulbs
  • Azaleas

RadioFence dogs avoid spring flowers because they're poisonous!I went to our local grocery store, Publix, to buy my Easter goodies and easily found all of these flowers, so they’re definitely popular this time of year! That means we have to be extra careful to keep these plants out of reach for our dogs if we buy them, or avoid bringing them home altogether. If you’re out for a walk with your dog or visiting a friend’s house and spot these plants, make sure to keep your dog away from them.  Jem from curious about the Spring flowersSigns that your dog may have ingested a poisonous plant include:

  • Excessive salivation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • “Drunk” symptoms

If your dog isn’t acting normal or has any of these symptoms, you need to take her to the vet as soon as possible. 

Poisonous Easter Candy

Easter baskets almost always have some kind of candy in them whether it’s chocolate, jelly beans, or sugary sweets. dogs exploring their Easter BasketAs dog parents, it’s vitally important that we familiarize ourselves with the foods that are poisonous to dogs. During the Easter holiday, the most common ones to worry about are:

  • Chocolate
  • Grapes and raisins in your fruit bowls and baked goods
  • Macadamia nuts when you’re making cookies
  • Yeast dough for baking
  • Xylitol in candy

Jem and Zoey from love Easter!I would say that Xylitol is probably the poisonous ingredient that dog parents overlook the most or are unaware of. It’s an artificial sweetener that can hide in many foods that you may not think could hurt your dog. Be extra careful leaving any sugar candies or chocolates within your dog’s reach and teach children that these sweets are for humans only and not to share with a begging dog. And never underestimate a dog’s will to climb on the furniture to reach a sweet treat that she isn’t allowed to have! 

Dog-Proof Your Easter Egg Hunt

An Easter egg hunt is the perfect opportunity for a dog to sneak and indulge in sweets and candies that are poisonous to him.

Buddy and Laci from love Easter egg hunts!Unless you’re compulsive about counting how many eggs you hide and making sure all of them were found, chances are a few are going to be forgotten and left behind.

Jem from on an Easter egg huntYour dog is sure to find these, and from my personal experience the dogs had no problem opening the eggs and getting the treat that’s inside. It’s scary to think that your dog could eat candy that’s poisonous to him so easily and you wouldn’t know it until he becomes ill and shows symptoms. 

Buddy and Laci from on an Easter egg huntIf you’re having an Easter egg hunt with dogs around, the easiest and safest way to avoid any complications is just to fill the eggs with items that are safe for them to ingest. Rather than filling the eggs with chocolate that could make your dog sick and melt in the sun or candy that can spoil and poison your dog, fill them with cute little trinkets that kids will enjoy finding just as much as candy. Then you can reward the kids with candy later if you wish. The fun part of an Easter egg hunt is searching for the eggs anyways, so what you fill them with won’t change that!

Buddy from's first Easter with us!We put our homemade dog treats in our Easter eggs and set them up specifically for the dogs to have their very own Easter egg hunt, and they loved it! Definitely a fun Easter activity for the whole family to do as a tradition from year to year. 

Our new rescue dog Buddy that you see in the picture above is spending his first Easter with our family, and he acted like he couldn’t be happier! He was such a ham for the camera and acted like he was a famous model – it was so funny that I wish I had it on video! I’m so happy he loves participating in the blog just as much as Zoey, Jem, and Laci!



The Shelter Dog That Changed Our Lives Forever- Who Rescued Who?

Buddy from They say things in life come full circle. Everything happens for a reason. You don’t choose your fate, it chooses you. And most importantly, never say “never.”

There are times in our lives when surprises, big or small, come our way unannounced with no warning. We make plans and imagine our future only to find it can all change in an instant, and our lives take a different course that we never saw coming. Things we “never” imagined for ourselves turn out to be the blessings in our lives that we’re most thankful for and never knew we needed. 

The surprising “never” of our family’s fate walked into our lives on four legs, covered in fleas and ticks, malnourished, battered and bruised, with a heart of gold and a tail that has never stopped wagging since the moment we met him. 

Buddy from Pet ProductsI was driving to a doctors appointment one Wednesday afternoon when a dog that reminded me of Jem walked across the road right in front of my car. I quickly pulled over to check if he had an ID tag for me to call his home. When I jumped out to look for him, I couldn’t find him anywhere! I was so worried that I missed my opportunity to reunite him with his family. After no luck finding him, I got back into my car and shut the door. In my rear-view mirror I saw big brown eyes staring back and me and heard the sound of a tail thumping against the seat. I had left my car door open when I was looking for him, and he jumped in!

Buddy from Pet ProductsHe chose me. I couldn’t believe how fateful it felt that he walked in front of my car and then made his choice to jump on in to join me on whatever road was ahead of us both.

Buddy from looking forward to a new futureMy first impression of him was “wag more, bark less.” He was such a sweet, quiet, gentle, obedient, and overly happy boy who never stopped wagging his tail. His unwavering positivity was so inspiring because I would expect a dog in his condition to be as emotionally damaged on the inside as he appeared to be on the outside, but he acted like he was the luckiest and most grateful boy in the world just to be alive and in the care of someone who could potentially give him a future. 

He didn’t have a collar or ID tag, the vet didn’t find a micro chip, and Animal Control and the shelters had no reports of a missing dog that matched his description. He was officially a stray without immediate hope of a family.

Buddy from on a walkI have seen lots of success stories on Facebook of pets being reunited, so I posted his picture with a description of where I found him and his traits such as gender, size, condition, and the fact that he had not been neutered.

Introducing Buddy To The Pack

I brought him home and hesitantly introduced him to Zoey, Jem, and Laci. They can be cliquey at times and unfriendly to new guests that threaten their pack, but I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw how welcoming they were to him. Laci jumped all over him like they’ve been best friends for years, Zoey wagged her tail as she sniffed him, and Jem only gave a few curious howls. Our dogs welcomed him so easily and accepted him in a way that felt like they knew him all their lives. I had a fateful feeling that was their way of telling us this new dog was always meant to be here with us. 

Buddy Meets The OthersI was also worried how he might react to them since I had no idea what kind of trauma he had been through in the past or if he had dog aggression. I was so impressed with how gentle and kind he was with our little dogs as he towered over them sniffing them curiously and wagging his tail.

Buddy from sharing dinner with LaciHis tail has never missed a beat since we met him. He could be standing outside all alone and he would be wagging as if to say he was happy and content no matter what he was doing or what the circumstances were.

I was sad for him when I noticed he didn’t seem to know how to interact or play with our dogs or their toys. It was like he had never learned how to be a dog, and maybe he was never given that chance. We would try to play ball, fetch, or tug of war with him and he seemed confused like a new puppy being introduced to a toy for the first time.

Buddy from didn't know how to play with toysHe was cautious, looked for approval, and aimed to please us. He would look up at us for permission before going inside the house wondering if he was welcome. He was extremely smart and attentive from the start. He even knew the general commands like “sit, stay, come, no, etc.”

Buddy from Knows "Sit"He loved being in the car more than any other dog I’ve met. We’d take him on as many car rides as we could, and when we got home he didn’t want to get out. He wanted to stay in there for hours by himself just parked in the garage. It was his comfort zone. He could only be coaxed out with a treat, and even then he needed a lot of encouragement before he would give in. We wondered if he felt most comfortable there because he associated it with being rescued. Maybe he figured if he stayed in the car we would have to take him with us if we ever left, and he wouldn’t be abandoned again. 

Buddy from wouldn't get out of the carHe had such a selfless spirit and gentle soul from the second he walked into our lives. We didn’t know what to call him or if we should name him. Naturally we would say, “come here Bud,” or “hey Buddy, good boy!” His friendly spirit led us to instinctually call him Buddy as a term of endearment, and after a few days the name stuck. 

Buddy’s Past In The Kill Shelter Is Revealed

 The day after finding him, two women came forward on Facebook saying he was their dog and his name was Elvis, but he may not know his name because they had only had him for less than a week. They said he dug out from under their fence while they weren’t home. They had just started a non-profit out of their house with a mission to rescue dogs from kill shelters. They arrived at the kill shelter 30 minutes before the dogs were scheduled to be euthanized and rescued them from that fate.
Buddy's rescue from the kill shelter

Minutes Away From Being Euthanized 

We called the kill shelter that “Elvis” came from, and the woman on the phone couldn’t speak more highly of him. She said he was such an amazing dog that they actually gave him two weeks longer than protocol before they are euthanized hoping that he would be rescued.

Every Creatures Salvation saved him only minutes before he was scheduled to be euthanized. I was speechless and numbed at the thought of how close this remarkable dog was to never walking out of that kill shelter.

Buddy from RadioFence.comBecoming His Foster Family 

The women who rescued him had saved multiple dogs at once and were tight on resources. We asked them if we could foster Buddy at our home. We were attached and didn’t want to see him leave, but mainly we knew it was in his best interest if we funded his journey to adoption. There was a PetSmart adoption event in one week that they originally planned for him to attend, and he needed to be neutered by then to be eligible.

Surprise Of A Lifetime On The Operating Table

 We scheduled Buddy to be neutered with a wonderful veterinarian in town, and we joked that we should get the operation at half price because he only had one testicle. The veterinarian laughed and warned us that it would actually be more expensive because they have to make an incision in his abdomen to go looking for the other testicle that hadn’t dropped.

Buddy from after surgeryWhen we picked Buddy up, the veterinarian said it was a miracle that he happened to make the incision in the location that he did, because as soon as he opened Buddy up he saw a large bubble on his bladder that was moments away from bursting. The vet said his bladder could have ruptured just from playing or rough housing with him and couldn’t believe it was still in tact. He said an injury like that is only consistent with being kicked in the stomach or hit by a car. Both scenarios were tough to stomach thinking about him in either of those dreadful situations. We began to feel like we should be calling him Lucky rather than Buddy!

Is Buddy A Boy Or A Girl?

The surprises didn’t stop there, when looking for his other testicle, the vet instead found a uterus and an ovary. Buddy was a boy on the outside but a girl on the inside! The poor thing went in for a routine neutering surgery and came out with a bladder repair, full hysterectomy, and neutering. We slept with him on the living room floor throughout the night to care for him after this extensive operation. 

Buddy from recovering from surgeryAdoption Event Cancelled

Buddy’s recovery time doubled once these surprises showed up in the operating room, and the plan to have him ready for the adoption event that weekend was no longer an option. We were going to be caring for him through his recovery for another week or two.

Buddy from recovering after surgeryWe had all been getting more attached and emotionally invested in him at this point, and on Valentine’s Day Buddy suffered from a seizure in the front yard which scared us half to death. We rushed him to the vet, and once we got there he acted like nothing had happened. The vet said he could just be epileptic, and this may not be the last time he has one. He took a long nap that day because he was so tired from the seizure.  Buddy from taking a nap

A Change of Heart – Or Was It?

It’s hard to pin point the exact moment when we realized we could never give Buddy up for adoption to another family, or if we somehow knew it all along. But after everything he went through at the kill shelter, getting rescued moments before being euthanized only to find himself on the streets again within days, his surgery, seizure, and how positive he still remained, my dad was the first person to utter the words that we were all thinking -“maybe we should just keep him.”

He had already been through so much and reshaped our family’s structure to include his resilient spirit. I don’t think we could have felt whole again with his absence, and we couldn’t imagine putting him through another huge life change of being re-homed. He is finally home, he has a forever family, and he isn’t going anywhere unless it’s in the backseat with us. 

Buddy and Laci going for a car rideBuddy’s Transformation 

There was a noticeable change in Buddy once we established that he was a permanent member of our family. When we were fostering him, it felt like he didn’t want to play with the toys and join in with the other dogs because maybe he was worried it was just temporary and didn’t want to get his hopes up or get too used to it. After we adopted him, we could notice him letting his guard down. I will never forget the night he opened himself up and learned to play with Laci and the toys in the living room.

Buddy and Laci PlayingHe and Laci have been inseparable and obsessed with each other ever since.

They sleep together…

Buddy and Laci from Sleep Together Cuddle…

Buddy and Laci from CuddleWatch TV…

Buddy and Laci watching TV!Laugh together…

Buddy and Laci from Swapping JokesNap…

napKeep each other company…

Buddy and Laci from Hanging OutAnd comfort each other

Buddy and Laci from Have A Strong BondThey have such a great bond and fun adventures. 

He has finally been given the chance to learn how to be a dog, and he’s probably the purest-hearted one we’ve ever known. He still loves going for car rides, but he trusts that he can go inside with us afterwards until the next ride without worrying he that will get left behind.

Buddy from Loves The CarWith all of the improvements he has made, our favorite thing about Buddy hasn’t changed since the moment he came into our lives – he still wags his tail constantly without fail. And now he goes to bed every night with a smile on his face.

smileThere are few people or animals in this life that are so wonderful they make you feel indebted to them. It’s like they have done you a favor just by giving you the honor of knowing them. That is how Buddy has made our family feel – blessed, gifted, indebted, uplifted, inspired, thankful. We didn’t choose our fate, he chose us.

Buddy from's Cheesy Smile

The Essential Vet Exams for Your Dog

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 4.55.43 PMHave you ever left the vet feeling like you spent all of your budget but aren’t sure if your dog really got your money’s worth out of it? Sometimes the open communication between ourselves and our veterinarian can be rushed or lacking, and we are left feeling like we’re in the dark about our dog’s wellness regimen. Its better for our wallets, peace of mind, and our dog’s health if we understand exactly what the essential vet exams are, and which treatments are unnecessary and excessive. 

Denise Petryk, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services at Trupanion and our friends at The I Love Dogs Site gave us all the answers about what healthcare is essential for your dog.

What Exams Are Essential?

Your dog needs routine wellness exams in the same way that we need routine physicals. If your dog doesn’t have a wellness exam between the ages of two and six, that’s like you not seeing a doctor between the ages or 24 and 40! If you can imagine how many changes and risks there are to your health in those years then you can imagine the same for your dog. A year is a long time in a dog’s life. If he lives through his early teens to be 13, yearly exams will only equate to 13 exams in his whole life which isn’t a lot when you think of it that way!

Routine Wellness Exams

Wellness visits are essential for maintaining a relationship with your veterinarian and establishing the best preventative care so you can address health concerns early on. We all know that preventing disease and catching it early is so much better than treating it once it has progressed to a severe stage. Preventative health care on a regular basis saves you and your dog from needless suffering and a greater financial strain.

Zoey and Laci Waiting to See The Vet

Zoey and Laci Waiting to See The Vet

Wellness exams play a crucial part in prolonging your dog’s life and keeping her healthy long term. Puppies should have wellness visits 2-3 times per year at the beginning of their lives, and adult dogs should go at least once per year and twice per year if your budget allows it. Laci goes to the vet more often than Zoey and Jem because she’s a seven month old puppy. Zoey and Jem see the vet twice per year for preventative care and wellness exams. We love to see how comfortable they are at the vet from going regularly. Jem even fell asleep on the floor of the exam room! Now that’s relaxation.

Senior dogs should begin having wellness exams twice per year minimum and sometimes three times per year. This is when things can change most rapidly with your dog’s health. You want to catch any diseases or concerns as early as you can for the best chance of curing it. These visits are important for:

  • Understanding age-related changes and degenerative conditions
  • Exercise and diet
  • Comfort support
  • Routine lab tests to detect disease early

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 9.33.42 AMWellness Exams Check List:

  • Share any concerns with your vet
    • Have questions addressed, answered, and documented for future reference
  • Diagnose any health problems in the early stages
  • Update vaccines
  • Test for/control intestinal parasites, fleas, ticks, and mites, heart worm
    • Refill prescriptions for preventatives
  • Nutrition
  • Dental health
    • Care you can administer at home, observe any odors, pain, or signs of disease and establish a course of treatment  
  • Exercise
    • Note how much exercise your dog is getting including how often, what kind, and any changes in your dog’s ability or enthusiasm to exercise
  • Ears and Eyes
    • Note any discharge, redness, irritation, itching, or smell and treat for infection
  • Stomach and intestines
  • Breathing
    • Report any coughing, shortness of breath, sneezing, or nasal discharge
  • Behavior
    • Share with your vet any changes in mood, happiness, behavior problems, or changes in temperament
  • Urinary
    • Note any abnormal accidents and an increase in the frequency of urination for signs of infection
  • Feet and legs
    • Report any limping, weakness, lameness, or toenail concerns
  • Coat and skin
    • Any hair loss, pigment changes, lumps, itchy spots, shedding, mats, or anal gland problems
  • Blood tests
    • Especially for geriatric dogs, dogs with medical problems, and those receiving medications
  • Preventative care options
Zoey's Weight Is Still Slim and Trim Since Last Time!

Zoey’s Weight Is Still Slim and Trim Since Last Time!

The American Heartworm Society firmly recommends your dog be tested for heartworm every year at her wellness visits, even if you are religiously following a heartworm prevention regimen. There have been numerous cases where dogs were on heartworm prevention and still contracted the disease. The AHS strongly suggests getting tested every year so if your dog contacts the disease you have a better idea of the time frame it was contracted than if you haven’t had him tested in 3 years or more. Annual testing and uninterrupted routine heartworm prevention can make the difference between life and death of your furry best friend. You’ll never wish you had used prevention more than when it becomes too late! Never take that unnecessary risk.

Jem Tested "Negative" For Heartworm! That Preventative Really Works!

Jem Tested “Negative” For Heartworm! That Preventative Really Works!


According to an article from, experts agree that the core vaccines necessary for all dogs are:

The non-core vaccines that vets will give dogs include:

There have been controversies recently about vaccines for dogs and cats. Some researches believe that we don’t need to vaccinate every year for most of the diseases. However, they haven’t determined exactly how often we should vaccinate for each disease because they actually don’t know how long the protection from the vaccine lasts. Surprised? Me too! I always assumed it was a pretty exact science and trusted that yearly vaccinations were the necessary standard. They say that one vaccine may last 5 years, another for 3 years, and a different one for only 2 years. 

Almost all researchers still believe that we need to give puppies at least three combination vaccines that must be repeated when they turn one year old. Rabies must continue to be given within the guidelines of local ordinances. 

Zoey Was Due For Her Vaccines and Took It Like a Champ!

Zoey Was Due For Her Vaccines and Took It Like a Champ!

There is new research from the veterinary schools at the University of Minnesota, Colorado State University, and University of Wisconsin that suggests a new approach to vaccines where we alternate which vaccines we give our dog from year to year. Instead of vaccinating against more than one disease at once, your dog would receive the distemper vaccine one year, canine adenovirus-2 the next year, and parvovirus the third year repeated. However, other researchers still believe we don’t know enough about these vaccines yet to recommend only vaccinating every three years. It is up to each individual dog parent to discuss vaccines with your vet to determine the best course of prevention for your dog. 

Controlling Intestinal Parasites 

Fecal exams and deworming is as controversial as vaccines when it comes to how often your dog should be tested. Testing and deworming decisions should be based on:

  • The age of your dog
  • Likelihood your dog is exposed to feces from other animals
  • If your dog is on a heartworm preventative that controls intestinal parasites
  • If your dog has been infected before
  • If there are children who play with your dog

The American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and The Companion Animal Parasite Council all suggest testing for parasites and deworming at your yearly wellness visit. If your dog follows a strict heartworm/intestinal parasite preventative regimen year-round, they still suggest having a fecal test done. If your dog is not on a heartworm/intestinal parasite prevention (have your dog tested immediately and started on a preventative), then he needs a fecal test 2-4 times per year and to be treated accordingly. 

Senior Dogs

Older dogs are at risk for conditions that younger dogs are not. If your dog is reaching his senior years, you may want to have him tested for:

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Kidney disease
  • Hormonal diseases

Identifying these conditions before severe or irreversible damage is done is vital for treating the condition early. A normal, healthy result is extremely helpful so future test results can be compared. If your dog is on medication, blood work and screening is important to see how the medication is affecting his body. 

Jem and Zoey Love Seeing the Vet Twice A Year!

Jem and Zoey Love Seeing the Vet Regularly!

Annual wellness exams, vaccinations, heartworm testing, and parasite control combined with recommended blood tests will play a critical role in keeping your dog healthy and help him live longer! Jem and Zoey are used to having a calm and stress-free exam at the vet, so they don’t dread the visits or get nervous and scared. They are very calm and content at their regular wellness exams.

The responsibility of keeping your dog in tip-top shape isn’t only up to your veterinarian. You should always keep a close eye on your dog’s health at home year round and report back to your vet regarding her personality, activity level, eating habits, etc. Check for lumps, bumps, flakes, scabs, irritation, redness, and itching. Pay close attention to eating and drinking habits because changes can be signs of serious problems. We all wish our dogs could just tell us what is bothering them, hurting, or when they feel sick. Unfortunately, we have to rely on our gut instincts, observations, and subtle signs our dogs show us. If you can remember to pay attention to changes in your dog from home and stick to a routine vet exam regimen, then your four legged furball will be in great shape!

Disturbing Lab Results Prove Top Dog and Cat Food Brands Are Unsafe

Our family is extremely concerned with the quality and safety of our food as well as our dogs’ food. We recently started making our own organic treats at home and posting our recipes to the blog for you to enjoy. The next step in our plan is to make our own homemade dog food, and after reading these lab results we aren’t going to wait any longer to get started! 

I can always count on for great content about pets, and this morning I was so happy to come across their article about unsafe pet foods. Pet food consumers just like you and I donated funds to The Association for Truth in Pet Food (ATPF) to test pet foods sold in North America. This test and it’s results are monumental because this is the first and only time a test of this size has been funded and controlled by concerned consumers themselves instead of a regulatory agency that is in charge of governing and selling pet food. Consumers of these pet food brands are left to wonder if these agencies that have conducted tests in the past were too close to the product and the profit to release accurate and honest results. 

Susan Thixton, Pet Food Safety Advocate at ATPF and author of “Buyer Beware” and co-author of “Dinner PAWSible”, was in charge of leading the test along with industry experts such as Dr. Tsengeg Purejav of INTI Service Corporation who lab tested the foods.

Susan explained that “this is history making. No one has ever taken such an up-close and thorough examination of pet food like this before – and most importantly, this was done by pet food consumers!” Thixton said the pet food testing results are “shocking and little did we know we’d find serious risks to ourselves and our human families too.”

The six top dog food brands tested include:

The six top cat food brands tested include:


Did you see any brands you’ve fed your dog before? Because I see two that I’ve fed to Zoey and one that I’ve fed to Jem before! Zoey has been eating Hill’s C/D Urinary Tract Health canned dog food for about a year after she had three consecutive UTI’s. Her veterinarian at Banfield at PetSmart recommended Hill’s brand and explained to me that it is one of the top two brands she would recommend because “they’re the only ones that actually lab test their dog food for health standards.” That feels like a very misleading and untrue statement now that these test results have come out and I see that it’s one of the most UNSAFE brands of food! I can’t believe I’ve been feeding her this food for so long. Jem was eating Blue for the first year of her life until we switched her because of her very stinky farts. Now I’m glad we switched her when we did! 


Test Results:

The tests conducted on the most popular dog food brands mentioned before indicate that many of these foods contain high levels of dangerous mycotoxins, nutrient concerns, bacterial contamination, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria that the FDA calls “Qualifying Pathogens.” None of these dog foods have ingredients from China, but they do have ingredients from other countries outside of North America. 

The Hill’s Prescription C/D Urinary Tract health canned dog food that my vet suggested was the safest, laboratory tested dog food option for Zoey tested to contain 7.72% calcium which is almost three times the legal limit of calcium allowed in adult dog food (AAFCO maximum is 2.5%). The Mycotoxin Risk Equivalent Rating was 16 (20 being High Risk), and it contained several bacteria including two bacteria that the FDA calls “Qualifying Pathogens” that pose a “serious threat to public health.” 

Now What Do We Do?

Thixton believes that consumers’ trust in pet food and the regulatory agencies responsible for “testing” these foods is rapidly declining and I believe she is right. I know my trust in them is completely gone after seeing these results. She explains that “it is truly sad that consumers found the many risks in pet food they did. Now we can hope – with this scientific evidence – that authorities will finally listen to the many complaints of consumers and make pet food safe. Not only for the pets, but for the pet people too.”

1. Find A Food That Is Lab Tested and Proven Safe:

Thixton created a list of the safe pet foods from her studies and lab tests that can be purchased for a small donation. What’s crazy and surprising about this list is that there are only 20 dog foods that make the “healthy” list, and NONE of them can be purchased in big box pet stores. They are only available at independent pet food stores, online pet food stores, or purchased directly from the manufacturer. That really makes you think about the integrity of the big box stores and makes me wonder why they are only making unsafe dog foods available for us to purchase and none of the healthy options are on the shelves!

We love to support small businesses any chance that we can since we are a small business ourselves, and this was the third strike for the big box pet stores like PetSmart where I have been buying Zoey’s C/D Urinary Tract food. I will definitely not be buying any more food or other items from big box pet stores after learning that they don’t sell any healthy of the healthy pet food brands. I’m happy to support the small businesses who are morally selling nutritious food.  

2. Feed Your Pet A Homemade Diet Using Balanced Recipes:

The other thing included in Thixton’s list that really excites me is the two homemade dog and cat food recipes! I’m so thrilled to use these recipes and rest assured that I’m providing Zoey and Jem a healthy, organic, homemade diet.

3. Speak Up To Make A Change:

Thixton also encourages us to make a change by sending letters to our representatives in Washington D.C. She only asks that we don’t send petitions – only letters: “No petitions (please) – representatives in government need to receive hundreds of thousands of personal messages directly from pet food consumers demanding change,” she explains. You can simply go to your state government website for the information on how to contact your representatives. She even created a sample letter for you to send without having to do any of the work! 

Sample Letter to Send to Representatives:

Consumers recently raised the funds to test 12 of the most widely-purchased brands of pet foods sold in the U.S. and Canada. What was found in this consumer funded testing were violations of pet food regulations (nutrient imbalances), dangerously high levels of mold (mycotoxins), and very concerning bacterial contamination (bacteria determined by the FDA and CDC to be antibiotic-resistant).

Consumers pay an estimated $1 billion dollars a year to states in sales tax revenue (for pet food purchases alone). Please explain to me what consumers are getting in return for that revenue?

Pet food consumers have been complaining about the condition of pet food since the 2007 pet food recall, complaints have fallen on deaf ears. For more than seven years consumers have waited on FDA to find the lethal contaminant of Chinese jerky treats – FDA has provided us nothing. In 2007 Congress told FDA to establish pet food ingredient standards and definitions, processing standards of pet food and provide updated standards for the labeling of pet food. This work was required – by Congress – to be completed by September 2009. More than five years after the deadline – consumers still wait for the FDA. I ask you, how much longer should consumers wait for safe pet food?

Testing of pet food that should have been performed by tax dollar supported regulatory authorities was done by consumers. Now, consumers – myself – are asking you Why? How? could pet food pose such a serious risk to the pets that consume it and the humans that handle it?

Please read every page of our Pet Food Test Report – you can do that here:

I await your response on this very concerning issue.


[your name]


Thank You For Listening

I hope this post helped open your eyes to how misleading dog food companies and big box retailers are when they claim their food is wholesome and healthy for our pets. We really can’t trust their marketing terms like “natural, no preservatives, non GMO, etc.” because they negate the tried and true results from the tests in the lab. Food is what fuels our bodies and our pets’ little bodies, and it’s so important that we are knowledgeable about what we are feeding them because they depend on us whole heartedly. For the full report and findings from these lab tests click here.