Apple That size of a number seems crazy and makes me wonder if posting the list of NON poisonous would be shorter?!

This list can’t possibly begin to cover every single poisonous plant in existence, and it should also be noted that some of these plants are much more toxic than others.  It is important to use your best judgment when determining whether or not these plants should remain in your home or garden.

Consider your personal situation and the normal behavior of your Sheltie.

Alfalfa (multiple exposures)
Aloe Vera
Amarylillis
Apple – The seeds of an apple can be poisonous.
Apple Leaf Croton
Apricot (pit)
Arrowgrasses – These are marsh type plants whose leaves contain poisons.
Asparagus Fern
Atropa Belladonna – This is a type of garden herb in which the entire plant can be poisonous, especially its seeds & roots.
Autumn Crocus – This is a commonly found garden flower in which the entire plant can be poisonous.
Avacado (fruit & pit)
Azalea
Baby’s Breath
Baneberry  – This is a wildflower whose berries & roots are the poisonous portions.
Bird of Paradise – This is a garden flower whose pods are poisonous.
Bittersweet
Black Locust – This is a tree in which the entire plant can be poisonous, especially the bark & shoots.
Bloodroot – Is a wildflower & herb whose stem & roots are most poisonous, however the entire plant is toxic.
Box – Is an ornamental shrub that is poisonous in its entirety, but especially the leaves.
Branching Ivy
Buckeye – This is a tree whose sprouts, nuts & seeds contain poisons.
Buddist Pine
Buttercup – This is a wildflower & garden herb that is poisonous in its entirety but mostly in the leaves.
Caladium – Is a houseplant that is poisonous in its entirety.
Calla Lily
Carolina Jessamine – This is an ornamental plant whose flowers & leaves contain poisons.
Castor Bean
Ceriman
Charming Dieffenbachia
Cherry (seeds & wilting leaves)
Chinaberry Tree – Is a tree whose berries are poisonous.
Cineraria
Chinese Evergreen
Chockcherries – This is a wild shrub whose poisonous parts include the leaves, cherries & pit.
Christmas Rose – Is a garden flower that contains toxic leaves & rootstock.
Clematis
Common Privet – Is an ornamental shrub whose leaves & berries can be poisonous.
Cordatum
Corn Cockle – Is a wildflower & weed whose seeds are particularly poisonous.
Corn Plant
Cornstalk Plant
Cowbane – This is a wildflower & herb that is poisonous in its entirety, especially the roots.
Cow Cockle – Is a wildflower & weed whose seeds are poisonous.
Cowslip – Is a wildflower & herb whose entire plant is poisonous, especially the leaves & stem.
Croton
Cuban Laurel
Cutleaf Philodendron
Cycads
Cyclamen
Daffodil – Is a garden flower whose bulbs are poisonous.
Daphne – This is an ornamental shrub that contains poisonous bark, berries & leaves.
Death Camas – This is a field herb whose poisonous parts include the leaves, stems, seeds & flowers.
Delphinium – Is a wildflower that is poisonous in its entirety, especially the sprouts.
Devil’s Ivy
Dieffenbachia
Dracaena Palm
Dragon Tree
Dumbcane – This is a houseplant & is poisonous in its entirety.
Dutchman’s Breeches – Is a wild & garden flower whose roots & foliage are poisonous.
Elaine
Elderberry – Is a tree whose poisonous parts include the leaves, bark, roots & buds.
Elephant’s Ear – This is a houseplant poisonous in its entirety.
Emerald Feather
English Ivy – Is an ornamental vine that is completely poisonous but especially the leaves & berries.
European Bittersweet – This is a vine poisonous in its entirety but especially in the berries.
False Flax – Is a wild herb whose seeds are poisonous.
False Hellebore – Is an ornamental flower whose roots, leaves & seeds are toxic.
Fan Weed – This is a wildflower & herb whose seeds are poisonous.
Fiddle-leaf fig
Field Peppergrass – Is a wildflower & herb that contains poisonous seeds.
Flax – Is a wildflower & herb whose seedpods contain poisons.
Florida Beauty
Foxglove – This is a wild & garden flower whose leaves are poisonous.
Fruit Salad Plant
Geranium
German Ivy
Giant Dumb Cane
Glacier Ivy
Gold Dieffenbachia
Gold Dust Dracaena
Golden Pothos
Hahn’s Self-Branching Ivy
Heartland Philodendron
Holly – Is a shrub containing poisonous berries.
Horsechestnut – Is a tree containing poisonous nuts & sprouts.
Horse Nettle – Is a wildflower & herb poisonous in its entirety, especially the berries.
Hurricane Plant
Hyacinth – This is a wild & houseplant whose bulbs are poisonous.
Indian Rubber Plant
Iris – Is a wild & garden flower whose leaves & roots are poisonous.
Jack-in-the-Pulpit – Is a wildflower that is entirely poisonous, especially the leaves & roots.
Janet Craig Dracaena
Jatropha – This is a tree & shrub whose seeds are poisonous.
Jerusalem Cherry – Is an ornamental plant whose un-ripened fruit & foliage are poisonous.
Jimsonweed – Is a field plant that is entirely poisonous, especially the seeds.
Kalanchoe
Laburum – Is an ornamental plant whose seeds, pods & flowers can be poisonous.
Lacy Tree Philodendron
Lantana – Is a houseplant whose foliage is poisonous.
Larkspur – Is a wildflower that is poisonous only as a young plant.
Laurels – This is a type of shrub with poisonous leaves.
Lily of the Valley
Lupines – Is a shrub whose seeds & pods are poisonous.
Madagascar Dragon Tree
Manchineel Tree – A tree containing poisonous sap & fruit.
Marble Queen
Marijuana
Matrimony Vine – An ornamental vine containing poisonous leaves & shoots.
Mayapple – A wildflower poisonous in the form of its un-ripened fruit as well as the foliage & roots.
Mexican Breadfruit
Milk Vetch – A wildflower poisonous in its entirety.
Miniature Croton
Mistletoe – A houseplant with poisonous berries.
Monkshood – A wildflower poisonous in its entirety, especially the roots & seeds.
Moodseed – A vine whose fruit & roots are poisonous.
Morning Glory – Is a wildflower containing poisonous seeds & roots.
Mother-in Law’s Tongue
Mountain Mahogany – Is a shrub with poisonous leaves.
Mustards – These are wildflowers whose seeds can be poisonous.
Narcissus – This is a garden flower whose bulbs contain poisons.
Needlepoint Ivy
Nephytis
Nicotiana – Is a garden flower whose leaves are poisonous.
Nightshade – Is a wildflower & vine with poisonous leaves & berries.
Oaks – Are trees with poisonous leaves & shoots.
Oleander
Onion
Peace Lily
Peach (wilting leaves & pits)
Pencil Cactus
Philodendrons – Are houseplants poisonous in their entirety.
Plumosa Fern
Poison Ivy
Poison Oak
Pokeweed – Is a field plant containing poisonous roots, seeds & berries.
Poinsettia – Is a houseplant with poisonous leaves, flowers & stems.
Poison Hemlock – This is a field plant containing poisonous leaves, stems & fruit.
Potato – A garden plant whose shoots & sprouts can be poisonous.
Pothos
Potato Plant (green fruit, stem & leaves)
Precatory Bean
Primrose
Rattle Box – Is a wildflower that is entirely poisonous.
Red Emerald
Red Princess
Red-Margined Dracaena
Rhododendron – Is an ornamental shrub whose leaves are poisonous.
Rhubarb – A garden plant with poisonous leaves.
Ribbon Plant
Rosary Pea – Is a houseplant whose seeds are poisonous.
Saddle Leaf Philodendron
Sago Palm
Satin Pothos
Schefflera
Silver Pothos
Skunk Cabbage – A marsh plant whose entire plant is poisonous but especially the roots & leaves.
Smart Weeds – Are wildflowers c
ontaining poisonous sap.
Snow-on-the-Mountain – This is a wildflower whose sap is poisonous.
Sorghum – Is a type of grass whose leaves are poisonous.
Spotted Dumb Cane
Star of Bethlehem – Is a wildflower poisonous in its entirety.
String of Pearls
Striped Dracaena
Sweetheart Ivy
Swiss Cheese Plant
Taro Vine
Tomato Plant (green fruit, stem & leaves)
Tree Philodendron
Tropic Snow Dieffenbachia
Velvet Grass – A variety of grass whose leaves are poisonous.
Weeping Fig
Wild Black Cherry – Is a tree with poisonous leaves & pits.
Wild Radish – A wildflower with poisonous seeds.
Wisteria – Is an ornamental plant containing poisonous seeds & pods.
Woody Aster – A wildflower whose entire plant is poisonous.
Yellow Jessamine – An ornamental vine that is entirely poisonous.
Yellow Pine Flax – A wildflower poisonous in its entirety but especially in the seedpods.
Yew

Thanks to Sheltieboy for the pic of Patrick enjoying his Christmas treat!

Back to: Sheltie FAQ

Trevor pondI know we are still many weeks away from spring here in the Northeast, but it is a good time to review & check our homes for some of the most toxic plants for dogs.

Azalea – The toxins in azalea plants can be very severe and potentially cause drooling, diarrhea, vomiting, central nervous system weakening and depression, and in some cases possibly coma or death.

Castor Bean – Poisoning as a result of this plant can cause abdominal pain, drooling, diarrhea, vomiting increased thirst, loss of appetite and weakness.  More serious cases could also lead to dehydration, tremors, seizures, twitching muscles, coma and possibly death.

Cyclamen – The most poisonous portion of this plant is located in the root.  Ingestion of the plant can cause severe vomiting and gastrointestinal irritation.  In some cases death has been reported as a result.

Kalanchoe – Ingestion of this plant can cause gastrointestinal irritation and cardiac rhythm and rate problems.

Lilies – Plants of the lily variety are very poisonous to cats as well as dogs.  Even very small amounts of this plant could cause serious kidney damage.

Marijuana – Animals who attempt to snack on this plant can suffer serious consequences such as diarrhea, vomiting, increased heart rate, drooling, in-coordination, and even possibly seizures and coma.  You really shouldn’t have this plant around anyway.  ;)

Oleander – All portions of this plant are poisonous and can cause gastrointestinal irritation, hypothermia, heart problems and possibly death.

Sago Palm – While the seeds and nuts of this plant are most poisonous, the entire plant is toxic.  Animals ingesting parts of this plant may suffer from diarrhea, vomiting, depression, seizures and liver failure.

Tulips – The toxic portion of this plant is the actual bulb, which can cause drooling, central nervous system depression, gastrointestinal irritation, cardiac issues and convulsions.

Yew – Poisoning as a result of the yew plant can affect the nervous system and cause in-coordination, trembling and breathing difficulties.  It may also result in gastrointestinal irritation, cardiac failure and could possibly lead to death.

And on a related note…

Coco bean mulch is also toxic to dogs.  I don’t know why more people do not know about it or make the connection between coco & chocolate, but the manufacturers need to do a better job of informing customers of the dangers.

Snopes gives the following information:
http://www.snopes.com/critters/crusader/cocoamulch.asp

Cocoa Mulch, which is sold by Home Depot, Foreman’s Garden Supply and other Garden supply stores, contains a lethal ingredient called ‘ Theobromine’.  It is lethal to dogs and cats, but it really attracts them because it smells like chocolate.

Theobromine is in all chocolate, especially dark or baker’s chocolate which is toxic to dogs. Cocoa bean shells contain potentially toxic quantities of theobromine, a xanthine compound similar in effects to caffeine and theophylline.

Next: There are over 700 plants that can be toxic to your dog!

Back to: Sheltie FAQ

This reminder came in from a member of Sheltie Nation, Momo’s Mom. 

TeaTreeMaybe you all know this already, but I just learned it the hard way:  TEA TREE OIL IS POISONOUS TO DOGS AND CATS.  My dog Momo is okay now, but I STUPIDLY put some tea tree oil on his paws and a few hours later, he could not stand up.” 

“We rushed to the vet ER and he required IV flushing, activated charcoal, discussion with Poison Control, overnight monitoring, and an extreme bath.   It is SOMETIMES it is used in very diluted amounts in dog shampoo and as a flea or tick repellent;  but, I would urge you to research it before using it IN ANY AMOUNT.  (That is what I should have done!)  It is just as dangerous when it is absorbed through the skin as when it is ingested orally and causes NEUROLOGICAL REACTIONS and can cause LIVER DAMAGE.”

“THANK GOD there was a good doctor at the ER that night to make up for my own idiocy.  Anyway, I hope this will prevent this from happening to everyone elses pets….Oddly enough, it is not included on any of the lists of things that are toxic to dogs.”

Momo’s story is a good reminder to us all to review possible toxic substances and our dogs.

The fact is, tea tree oil, like other essential oils, is graded on an LD 50 basis. What this means is: when tested on laboratory animals, the lethal dose needed to kill 50% of the animals is measured, and the results reported as LD50 at a certain number of grams or milligrams by weight.

Tea tree oil toxicity ranges between 2 and 5 g/kg body weight.  This is why, it is common for folks who are uninformed or who have received bad information, poison their own pets -particularly small cats and dogs.

So remember, just because it’s natural, an herb, used in aromatherapy, or has potential health benefits, does not meanit’s safe for all uses.

If you suspect that your pet has been poisoned, contact the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.  This is 24 hour a day hotline.  (In some cases a consultation fee may be charged to your credit card.)

Next: 10 Most Common Poisonous Plants for Dogs

Back to: Sheltie FAQ

No these wounds were not caused by a leash or a fence, rather a lack of them!

Fences2Fences“Yesterday afternoon Autumn, my mom and I were taking a walk around the neighborhood when a large dog that was loose on its front lawn without a leash or any kind of fence came at us.  (No, it was not a pit-bull and the breed doesn’t matter because unfortunately any breed can have a rotten apple in the bunch.) The owner was in front of their house and the dog was lying in the grass.   There was no barking or any kind of warning before it started running at us and of course nothing to stop it from reaching us.  When I saw the dog come at us all I could do was scoop up Autumn in my arms and turn my back to the other dog.

Fortunately because of that the other dog was only able to bite Autumn’s knee and foot.   The owner was very apologetic and did pay her vet bills.  Autumn will be fine, nothing very serious, and my mom and I were not hurt.”

“I want everyone to know how important it is to have your dog on a leash or fenced, for their safety and the safety of others.  I know we think our furry kids are little angels, but you are taking a risk by not insuring everyone’s safety.

Ultimately the decision is yours and I would hate to see this happen to your dog/cat or anyone else.  Also, get to know about the dogs in your neighborhood and I like for my human neighbors to know Autumn.

There is another benefit I find with my neighbors knowing Autumn when we go for walks.  If she ever accidentally get away from us there would be a better chance of someone who knows her spotting Autumn and getting her back to us.”

Thank you Lisa!

After reading the Sheltie Nation post, “Does your Sheltie have bad breath?”, Duncan the rescue Sheltie wanted to show us an example of why it is so important to provide regular dental care for your Sheltie.

“If you remember, Duncan is a Puppy Mill   Rescue.  He had never been provided any dental care.  I don’t have any “before” pictures, but suffice it to say that his teeth were almost as bad as the worst of the pictures in your post.  When he finally went in for a teeth cleaning, the Vet had no choice but to extract eighteen teeth because they were so bad!  That’s right, 18!  These pictures show his now nearly empty mouth.  Please Sheltie Moms and Dads!  Take your Sheltie in for regular dental care!”

“On a side note, Duncan is doing very well without the majority of his teeth.  He is actually back to eating hard food again, which I didn’t expect him to do!  Just another one of the ways that Duncan continues to impress me with how he overcomes!”

He still has a great smile Tatha!  :)

Did you know: ACE can be fatal to dogs with potential for the MDR1 gene mutation?  Breeds known to carry the mdr1 mutation include Australian Shepherds, Collies, English Shepherds, Longhaired Whippets, McNabs, Old English Sheepdogs, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Silken Windhounds.  Research has shown that three of every four Collies have at least one copy of the mutated gene.

Just to be safe, if you have a Sheltie and the Sheltie NEEDS SURGERY, THAT YOU ASK YOUR VET WHAT HE IS USING FOR PRE- OPERATIVE MEDICATIONS.  ACE is a VERY COMMONLY used pre-operative medication.

ACE can also cause prolonged and very deep sedation in dogs with the MDR1 mutation, so dosage reductions are recommended.

The MDR1 gene helps keep drugs which could cause toxic reactions in the brain, from getting into the brain. If a dog has one MDR1 gene and one normal gene (remember all genes come in pairs, so this gene pattern would be mutant-normal), that dog is more likely than a normal-normal dog to have a bad reaction. If a dog has two mutant MDR1 genes (mutant-mutant), the dog is likely, not just “more likely” to have a bad reaction. The problem exists with a limited number of drugs, including ACE. Perhaps most important, there is a big problem with ivermectin (Heartgard) in the mutant-mutant dogs. With mutant- normals, the problem is primarily with the large doses of ivermectin used to treat demodectic mange, rather than the normal preventive dose.

What happens is that one mutant gene lets a small amount of these drugs get into the brain where they cause toxic reactions. Two mutant genes let even more drug get into the brain and so can cause a really bad toxic reaction.

Here is a list of drugs which are known to have caused toxic reactions in MDR1 dogs. In addition to ivermectin and ACE, these are: butorphanol, used for pain; doxorubicin, vinblastine, vincristine and cyclosporin, used for chemotherapy; loperamide (Imodium), used for diarrhea; and digoxin, a heart medication. Other drugs may have caused problems in MDR1 dogs, but the evidence is still largely anecdotal and not established.

There is a test available to check for the presence of the MDR1 gene. It is a simple test, requiring only a cheek swab. The swab is collected at home, and mailed in for analysis. The results of your dog’s test will be returned to you and should be provided to all your veterinary care-givers.

You can ask your vet for a test. If he doesn’t have a test kit, ask him to request an MDR1 test kit (with instructions) from:

Washington State University
College of Veterinary Medicine
Clinical Pharmacology Laboratory
P.O. Box 609
Pullman, WA 99163-0609
Phone/FAX-509.335.3745
or visit WSU on the web at: http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/depts-VCPL/test.asp

You can order one yourself, but I think they are packaged in sets of 4 for $60.

The veterinary school at the University of Washington also has more in-depth info on the MDR1 mutataion, which you can find if you go to http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/depts-VCPL/.

How frequent is the MDR1 mutation in the breeds mentioned above? A 2004 article (highly technical) noted that in Collies, the likelihood of a mutant-mutant pattern is almost 25%, and the chance of having one mutant gene is almost 50%. In Australian Shepherds, the chance of one mutaant gene is about 30%, with the chance of a double mutant pattern, just under 2%. The risk is slightly greater for mini’s. For anyone who would like to read this article in its entirety, you can go to: www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0402374101.

Thanks to Kim K for the great reminder!

Back to: Sheltie Health

barkeatingThis is Part II of an article by Sheltie Nation member & guest author Ann Compton.  You can read Part I here (Ann is an accomplished Animal Journalist with more than 20 years specializing in canine topics.  Currently, she writes a weekly column on animal care for one of Connecticut’s newspapers.)

This year’s widespread pet food recalls came as no surprise to some industry watchers, who have predicted a disaster such as this for quite some time and wondered what it would take to make manufacturers sit up and take notice. The shame is that it took the lives of more than 4,000 dogs and cats to date. More than 100 brands’ products have been recalled since this past March.

Even more astounding is that initially, no one could isolate the reason for the illnesses overtaking the nation’s pets. A variety of questionable ingredients were floated and speculation abounded, up to and including intentional poisoning, before the Food and Drug Administration was able to identify the cause as wheat flour containing the chemical melamine, sold as wheat gluten imported from China.

Some pet food companies are crying “foul,” claiming they didn’t know wheat flour was used in their food. Others have vowed to improve quality control—sorely lacking in most cases and long overdue.

The trouble is that most pet food companies outsource the manufacture of their products. Menu Foods, the culprit in most of the recalls, is a primary manufacturer of canned pet food.  Typically, the food is produced from a recipe given to the manufacturer by the pet food company, who assumes its recipe is followed.

Therein lies the problem. Many pet food companies do not manufacture their own food, and have little or no oversight into how, or with what, it is actually made. Manufacturers supply the ingredients; in some cases, pet food companies don’t even know the sources for them.

If there is any good news from this tragedy, it is that companies will be pressured to manufacture their own food or, at the very least, control the ingredients through audits or quality controllers in the manufacturing plants. Natura Pet Food, makers of top quality natural brands Innova, California Natural, and Evo, has pledged on its website to buy or build its own facility for the manufacture of its food.

While all this is ongoing, however, what should you, the consumer, do to assure the safety of the food you buy for your pet?

Pet food bags should list an expiration date, as well as the telephone number of the company so that if you do have a problem or a question on any aspect of your animal’s feeding, you have someone to call. This is also why it’s important to keep the bag your food comes in, even if you transfer the food to another container.

Check the website of your pet food company. Most list whether they manufacture their own food, as well as any precautions they have taken to ensure their food is safe. If they don’t, ask—or switch to a food that does supply this information.

Be alert to your pet’s eating habits. If your dog suddenly turns fussy and refuses his food, there’s a reason. He may not immediately become sick. Stop feeding the food and call the manufacturer to check on whether there have been any other reports of problems. Contact your vet to alert him to your pet’s symptoms and see how to proceed. Switch your pet to another good quality food, but don’t feed more than one brand at the same time. This makes it more difficult to identify a problem and isolate the cause.

There are three basic ways to feed your dog: a commercially prepared food, whether dry or wet; a home-cooked diet, or a raw food diet. Most of us opt for the first, although the second two alternatives are excellent. If you choose a home-cooked diet, be sure to consult one of the many excellent recipe books available on what your pet needs in terms of nutrients to make his meal balanced and complete.
There are prepared packaged supplements that can be added to home-cooked diets to make them nutritionally complete for convenience’s sake. The same is true of raw food diets, available prepackaged at local natural pet stores.

A good list of resources for both home-cooked and raw food as well as other helpful information may be found at www.dogaware.com. However, before you transition your pet to a completely different type of diet, check with your veterinarian and follow up immediately should your pet experience any type of problem.

Finally, if you think your food may be tainted, there is an up-to-date list
of identified contaminated pet food on the Food and Drug Administration’s website at www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/petfood.htm.

Unfortunately, in years past, there has been little oversight of the pet food industry and few standards enforced. Certainly, the tragedy of thousands of lost and sick pets will implement much needed changes. In the meantime, it’s important to be your pet’s advocate. Be an educated consumer; it’s the best safeguard you have for your pet.

Thanks to Ann for the great reminders about being vigilant about our furkids health!

pixeatingBy Sheltie Nation member & guest author Ann Compton.  (Ann is an accomplished Animal Journalist with more than 20 years specializing in canine topics.  Currently, she writes a weekly column on animal care for one of Connecticut’s newspapers.)

One of the most important things we can do for our dogs to keep them healthy is to feed them good food. With so many name brands compromised this year—even some veterinary foods and ‘premium’ brands–many people are understandably confused about what they can and should feed their pets.

There are ways to make sure that what you feed your dog is wholesome, nutritious, and safe. Unfortunately, what you cannot do is pop into the supermarket or local chain store and grab a bag of whatever happens to be on sale. You must aware of what the dog food you are buying contains.

The single most important thing you can do for your pet is to be an educated consumer. This means that you MUST read the ingredients on the label! Of course, you must know what you are looking for when you read ingredient labels, and what you shouldn’t buy.

It’s really a simple formula. All pet food should consist of whole ingredients.  Avoid foods with the words, “by-product, “wheat or rice gluten/protein,” “wheat bran, rice bran, rice flour,” or ingredients such as “animal fat” or “meat protein.” These are fillers of inferior quality or unknown origin, or what is known in the pet food industry as “fractions,” including over-processed ingredients that have no nutritional value—in other words, doggie junk food.

The recalls we saw this summer centered primarily around wheat gluten, made in China. What is wheat gluten, and why is it in your pet food? The answer is, it shouldn’t be. Wheat gluten, although not as well known, is an alternative to soy-based meat substitutes such as tofu; some types may taste even more like meat than tofu due to their chewy or stringy texture. It is often used in place of meat in Asian, vegetarian/vegan, and macrobiotic cuisines. Good quality foods with whole ingredients do not use wheat gluten.

A term frequently found on some pet food labels is “by-product.” By-products are just that: leftovers from the good part of the meat; parts you really wouldn’t want to feed if you knew what they were—parts “not fit for human consumption.” The translation is this. The label should read “chicken,” or “chicken meal,” but not “chicken by-product.”

Next, the first ingredient on your dog food label should be named meat or fish, such as “chicken” or “lamb” or “beef,” not unidentified “meat” or “poultry.” It’s very important that one named meat or fish be the first ingredient listed on the label, since ingredients are listed in order of their total weight in the food and what your dog’s diet should consist of first is a meat or fish, unless he is under veterinary care and has dietary restrictions. Succeeding ingredients should be whole grains, vegetables or broth.

The same is true for vegetables and grains. Whole grains such as rice or vegetables should be named, so you know what you’re getting in the food. Avoid foods with artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, sweeteners or sugar.

Does this food cost more? The answer is yes. But you’ll save money in the long run on vet visits, avoid potential health issues, and you can usually feed less of a natural, quality food because it doesn’t contain the fillers found in other brands.

If you don’t know where to find good, natural pet food, consult your local yellow pages for natural or holistic pet food stores. Since the recalls, even some chain pet stores have begun carrying a few premium brands such as Old Mother Hubbard. There are also many natural pet food sources online; all offer delivery.

There are a growing number of healthy, whole foods for dogs and cats. Some brands that top the list include Eagle Pack, Innova, Solid Gold, Canidae, Wellness, Wysong, and Merrick. If you can’t find these foods locally, try an online resource such as www.waggintails.com or www.jbpet.com .  Doctors. Foster and Smith also make an excellent line of pet foods that can be ordered online (www.drsfostersmith.com ) or through their catalog.

Remember to check your pet’s biscuit and treat labels as well. They contain similar ingredients that can also be questionable. Look for the same whole ingredients when buying treats and chews.

Stay tuned for part II of Ann’s great article & what you should do to assure the safety of the food you buy for your pet!