Archive for May, 2012

No Excuse for Skipping Rabies Vaccination

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

The Carlsbad, New Mexico area just suffered through one of the worst rabies outbreaks in the state’s recent history. Over a three month period from the end of 2011 to the beginning of 2012, 32 dogs, 1 cat and 10 sheep had to be euthanized because they had been exposed to a rapid fox. During that December, January, and February tests also showed that 22 skunks in the area were infected with rabies.

 

What makes this outbreak especially painful is that almost all of the euthanasias could have been prevented if only the pets and livestock had been up-to-date on their rabies vaccines. In addition, twelve people in the Carlsbad area had to go through post-exposure prophylaxis even though no one was directly exposed to rabid wildlife. In one example, an unvaccinated dog came down with rabies and the entire family — all eight people — needed to get expensive, post-exposure prophylaxis according to Dr. Paul Ettestad, New Mexico’s state public health veterinarian.
I just don’t get it. Why do so many people fail to protect their pets and themselves from such a deadly disease when safe and effective rabies vaccines are so readily available? I understand when people can’t spend large amounts of money on a pet when the budget is tight, but that’s no excuse when it comes to rabies vaccines. They are dirt cheap. In fact, with a little research owners can oftentimes get them for free. In Colorado, 73 veterinary clinics just took part in a campaign providing complimentary wellness exams and rabies vaccinations to over 1,047 pets. Similar events can be found all across the country.
The only dogs or cats that I don’t recommend receive rabies vaccinations on the schedule dictated by local regulations are those that have had a documented anaphylactic reaction (i.e., a life-threatening allergic reaction) to a previous rabies vaccination and those that are so sick that the risk of vaccination outweighs the benefits. In these cases, veterinarians usually need to fill out a form or write a letter to the appropriate regulatory agency explaining why they have declined to vaccinate.
I don’t consider healthy old age or indoor only status a good reason to skip rabies vaccination even though I often recommend against vaccinating for other diseases under these circumstances. Why? Because if one of these pets is ever exposed to an animal that is known or suspected to have rabies or it ever bites someone, it’s lack of current vaccination is going to spell big trouble.
Many owners have heard of the ten day quarantine that is typically mandatory after a pet has bitten someone, but the situation is even more serious when a pet is exposed to a potentially rabid animal. Dogs and cats that are current on their rabies vaccines generally receive a booster vaccine and are quarantined for 45 days or so (this can often be done at home). However, if your pet does not have a current rabies vaccine, euthanasia is the most likely outcome. If you do not permit this, a strict quarantine of six months or longer will imposed, most likely at your expense.
Are your pets current on their rabies vaccinations? If not, what’s your excuse?

Euthanasia Means “Good Death”

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

If you are an animal lover, your pet is probably one of your best friends. When that best friend is facing the end, it’s tough to say goodbye.  In this NBC29 Special Report, we look at the difficulty of deciding when it is time to say goodbye and your options afterward.

When animal lovers adopt a pet, they make a commitment to care for them, even when they’re sick and close to death. Most humans will outlive their companions, and the end of life for pets can bring deep grief and raise a load of questions.  When that happens, we humans get very emotional.

When dealing with a pet with a terminal condition, people often have a difficult time deciding whether to euthanize, or when the time is right to end their companion’s suffering.

John Dove has two cats, Krogie and Mocha, and cherishes the friendship he has with them. “I don’t have any children, but if I had children, I don’t think I could love them any more than I love my animals, they’re my kids essentially.”

Dove recently experienced the profound pain of losing an animal when his 12-year-old cat Scamper had a stroke.

“And then all of a sudden, he let out a yelp and I looked around at him and he was hyperventilating very heavily, so it looked like something was really wrong,” he said.

A quick trip to an emergency veterinarian divulged the dilemma a lot of pet owners face. “So at that point I had to make that very painful decision.”

Dr. John Andersen deals with clients who face euthanizing their beloved pet. “We’re in control and there’s a time we just have to make that really hard decision.”

Dr. Andersen is not only a pet owner, he is also a veterinarian in Albemarle County and says he understands the deep human-animal bond. “They’re a best friend, they’re kind of a confidante, they’re an explorer with you, they provide a lot of things.”

Only last year, his dog Kaya died after a prolonged battle with cancer. “When we had our dog, I was not married, just a bachelor. She took me through that and getting married and having kids,” he stated.

After 30 years of practicing in a clinic, Dr. Liz Palmer decided to start a mobile veterinarian service specializing in end of life care for pets.  So when a pet goes from having good and bad days to bad and worse days, she can help with in-home euthanasia.

“When an animal gets very, very old, it can be very stressful to bring them to a clinic. They can get very nervous or confused,” she stated. “I hear an awful lot, that ‘I would prefer my animal to die naturally’…barring a heart attack in their sleep, I think dying naturally is overrated.”

Dr. Andersen says some people have such a tough time letting go, they often put off the inevitable. “If I hear regrets from people, it’s often because people feel like they waited a little bit too long and when they look back, they have this image of their animal suffering.”

After Dove decided to end his cat Scamper’s suffering, he took his buddy’s body to the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA for cremation.

The SPCA offers private cremation for $130.00 and a variety of decorative tins for people to choose.  “You leave your animal in their care and a day or two later, they call you and tell you the ashes are ready,” Dove said.  Dove has Scamper’s picture and tin displayed at his home in memory of his beloved companion.

Paws and Remember is a company that offers everything from jewelry stamped with paw prints, key chains that carry ashes, to tiny caskets.  The Staunton company also provides cremation, most packages start at about $150.00 and go up from there.

But some pet owners can’t afford any extras.  Paws and Remember general manager Todd Dean says “If they don’t want their pet’s cremains back, then we will place them in one of these gardens here.”

The company has above ground crypts and a place where people can visit and leave flowers or pictures of their pets.

Since the death of Kaya, Dr. Andersen has adopted a new playmate for his other dog Boon. She’s an 8-week-old black lab named Ruby.  Dove did the same for his other little cat Krogie. He adopted a playful 3-year-old named Mocha from the SPCA. The new addition to the family gives Krogie a friend, but can never replace Scamper.

When he thinks back on the loss, Dove says “Love your animal as much and as often as you possibly can because you never know. I mean it almost doesn’t seem fair in a way that they don’t live longer than they do.”

For people who are struggling with the decision of whether to end their pet’s suffering, Dr. Andersen says the meaning of the word euthanize might help:  it means “good death”.

 

Distributor States Canidae, Natural Balance, and one Wellness Product Recalled

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

 

The following information was just forwarded to me from an Independent Pet Store – from their Distributor, Phillips Feed and Pet Supply.  As of this posting, this information has not been confirmed on the respective pet food company’s websites.  This was from a  major pet food distributor, forwarded to me by a caring Independent Pet  Food Retailer.  I assume this information will become public soon, and  will be posted as soon as I have it. May 4, 2012
Dear Valued Retailer,  A few brands announced a recall late Friday, May 4th 2012.  We are starting to get information in and will pass along updates and information as it becomes available.  The information below is preliminary and each one of the brands below is preparing factual statements and processes and will be loading them on their individual web sites.  Once they have finalized this information, we will also be loading it onto our web site under the forms button for your reference.
The following brands have issued a voluntary recall.  More information will be following as it is released.
The below Diamond Pet Dry Dog Food Brands – To determine if what you have is affected, you should check the production codes on the back of bags that have a number “2” or a “3” in the 9th or 10th digit and an “X” in the 11th digit. The best-before dates for the recalled brands are December 9, 2012 through April 7, 2013.  Please note- not all Diamond brands were produced on the affected plant manufacturing lines. Phillips receives products from numerous Diamond plants.  Also, no cat or can skus are affected.
* Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul – All skus     * Country Value – All Skus     * Diamond – All Skus     * Diamond Naturals – All Skus     * Premium Edge – All Skus     * Professional – All Skus     * Taste of the Wild – All Skus
The below Wellness sku with a Best by Date of January 9, 10, & 11th  2013:
Wellness Large Breed Puppy in 15 pound and 30 pound
May 4th, 2012- No other Wellness skus were affected.
Please note that no salmonella cases have been reported on Wellpet. They are recalling for the safety of the pet and the pet parent.
The below Natural Balance Skus:
5 LB Natural Balance Sweet Potato & Venison Dog; Best By Date: December 12, 2012; December 13, 2012; March 12, 2013
15 LB Natural Balance Sweet Potato & Venison Dog; Best By Date: December 12, 2012; December 13, 2012; December 14, 2012; March 5, 2013; March 6, 2013
28 LB Natural Balance Sweet Potato & Venison Dog; Best By Date: December 12, 2012; December 13, 2012; December 14, 2012; March 5, 2013; March 6, 2013; March 7, 2013; March 8, 2013; March 12, 2013
5 LB Natural Balance Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Dog; Best By Date: December 10, 2012; December 21, 2012; December 22, 2012
15 LB Natural Balance Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Dog; Best By Date: December 10, 2012; December 21, 2012; December 22, 2012
28 LB Natural Balance Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Dog; Best By Date: December 10, 2012; December 21, 2012; December 22, 2012
5 LB Natural Balance Sweet Potato & Bison Dog; Best By Date: December 17, 2012; December 18, 2012; December 28, 2012; December 29, 2012
15 LB Natural Balance Sweet Potato & Bison Dog; Best By Date: December 9, 2012; December 17, 2012; December 18, 2012; December 28, 2012; December 29, 2012
28 LB Natural Balance Sweet Potato & Bison Dog; Best By Date: December 9, 2012; December 17, 2012; December 18, 2012; December 28, 2012; December 29, 2012
5 LB Natural Balance Vegetarian Dog; Best By Date: December 9, 2012
28 LB Natural Balance Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Dog Large Breed Bites; Best By Date: December 12, 2012; December 20, 2012; December 21, 2012
5 LB Natural Balance Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Dog Small Breed Bites; Best By Date: December 21, 2012
12.5 LB Natural Balance Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Dog Small Breed Bites; Best By Date: December 21, 2012
May 4, 2012- Please note that only these 5 flavors of Natural Balance were affected. The other flavors are produced on other lines and plants.
Please note that no salmonella cases have been reported on Natural Balance. They are recalling for the safety of the pet and the pet parent.
The below Canidae skus with production codes that have both a number “3” in the 9th or 10th digit and an “X” in the 11th digit with a best before dates of December 9, 2012, through January 31, 2013 which are being recalled.
Canidae Dog, All Life Stages
Canidae Dog, Chicken Meal & Rice
Canidae Dog, Lamb Meal & Rice
Canidae Dog, Platinum
A message from Canidae:
It is with regret that we are reporting a voluntary recall on a limited production run of CANIDAE dry dog food produced out of the Diamond Pet Foods South Carolina plant. Even though not one of our products have been tested positive for Salmonella, it is out of pure precaution that this product is being removed from the market place. We are working diligently to make this process as seamless as possible for you, our retailers and consumers.
Although there have been no animal or human illnesses related to Canidae Pet Food, and the product has not tested positive for Salmonella, the company has voluntarily initiated this recall out of caution to ensure the health and safety of consumers and their pets.
Following is an example of how to read the production code and best before date:
Production Code                              Best Before Date FDE0104R5 3X TS                              10 – January – 2013
The recall affects only products distributed in the following Eastern U.S. states which were manufactured at the Diamond Pet Food Gaston, South Carolina plant. Further distribution to other pet food channels may occur:
Florida, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee
Canidae Pet Foods apologizes for any potential issues this may have caused pet owners and their pets.
To ease this process, a returns/credit form will be posted on our web site soon. The form will request the following information:
Customer Name Phillips Account Number UPC Lot Code Best by Use Date Quantity Phillips Delivery Day Product Description Product Size
As of this posting, this information has not been confirmed on the respective pet food company’s websites.  This was from a major pet food distributor, forwarded to me by a caring Independent Pet Food Retailer.  I assume this information will become public soon, and will be posted as soon as I have it.

Updated Food Recall Includes Kirkland and Taste of the Wild

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Diamond Expands Voluntary Recall

Diamond Pet Foods Expands Voluntary Recall of Dry Pet Food Due to Potential Salmonella Contamination

Batches of the brands manufactured between December 9, 2011 and April 7, 2012 are affected

Consumer Contact: 866-918-8756 Media Contact: 816-255-1974

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 4, 2012

Diamond Pet Foods today announced that it is expanding a voluntary recall to include batches of nine brands of dry pet food formulas manufactured between December 9, 2011 and April 7, 2012 due to potential Salmonella contamination.

 

In April 2012, Diamond Pet Foods initiated three voluntary recalls of Diamond manufactured dry dog food. Although none of the additional products being recalled have tested positive for Salmonella, the company is pulling them from store shelves as a precaution. Diamond Pet Foods is coordinating efforts with federal and state health and regulatory agencies and decided to independently expand the recall to ensure the safety and well-being of customers and their pets.

The company stated: “We have taken corrective actions at our Gaston, S.C., facility and voluntarily expanded the recall out of concern for our customers and their pets.”

Brands included in the recall include:

  • Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul
  • Country Value
  • Diamond
  • Diamond Naturals
  • Premium Edge
  • Professional
  • 4Health
  • Taste of the Wild

To determine if their pet food is recalled, consumers should check the production codes on the back of bags that have a number “2” or a “3” in the 9th or 10th digit and an “X” in the 11th digit. The best-before dates for the recalled brands listed above are December 9, 2012 through April 7, 2013.

The following graphic illustrates how to read the production code and best-before date:

 

The recall affects only products distributed in the following U.S. states and Canada.  Further distribution through other pet food channels may have occurred.

  • Alabama
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Canada

The Kirkland Signature products included in the recall include:

  • Kirkland Signature Super Premium Adult Dog Lamb, Rice & Vegetable Formula (Best Before December 9, 2012 through January 31, 2013)
  • Kirkland Signature Super Premium Adult Dog Chicken, Rice & Vegetable Formula (Best Before December 9, 2012 through January 31, 2013)
  • Kirkland Signature Super Premium Mature Dog Chicken, Rice & Egg Formula (Best Before December 9, 2012 through January 31, 2013)
  • Kirkland Signature Super Premium Healthy Weight Dog Formulated with Chicken & Vegetables (Best Before December 9, 2012 through January 31, 2013)
  • Kirkland Signature Super Premium Maintenance Cat Chicken & Rice Formula (Best Before December 9, 2012 through January 31, 2013)
  • Kirkland Signature Super Premium Healthy Weight Cat Formula (December 9, 2012 through January 31, 2013)
  • Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Salmon Meal & Sweet Potato Formula for Dogs (December 9, 2012 through January 31, 2013)

To determine if their pet food is recalled, consumers should check the production codes on the back of bags must have both a number “3” in the 10th digit and an “X” in the 11th digit. The best-before dates for the recalled brands listed are December 9, 2012 through January 31, 2013.

The following illustrates how to read the production code and best-before date:

The recall affects only products distributed in the following U.S. states, Puerto Rico and Canada.

  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Canada
  • Puerto Rico

Diamond Pet Foods apologizes for any issues this may cause consumers and their pets. Pet owners who are unsure if the product they purchased is included in the recall, or who would like replacement product or a refund, may contact Diamond Pet Foods via a toll free call at 1-866-918-8756, Monday through Sunday, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. EST.  Consumers may also go to a special website, www.diamondpetrecall.com, for more information. The company is working with distributors and retailers to ensure all affected product is removed from shelves.

Pets with Salmonella infections may have decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. If left untreated, pets may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

Individuals handling dry pet food can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with surfaces exposed to this product. People who believe they may have been exposed to Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. According to the Centers for Disease Control, people who are more likely to be affected by Salmonella include infants, children younger than 5 years old, organ transplant patients, people with HIV/AIDS and people receiving treatment for cancer. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have received a limited number of reports of salmonellosis, the illness caused by Salmonella. We are working with the CDC, but due to patient confidentiality, we cannot comment further.

Help Your Senior Pet Live His Golden Years in Style

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

You and your furbaby have enjoyed ten glorious years together.   You’ve watched her grow from a frisky little pup learning to potty train  to learning to sit on command after snagging more than a handful of  treats. Sure you’ve had your moments like when she ran away and you  spent three hours combing your neighborhood only to find her patiently  waiting at your doorstep. She’s been a constant companion in your life  and the one who dutifully sat by your side when you were laid up in bed  with the flu. But lately, she seems to be slowing down and napping for  increasingly longer periods of time.

Of course at 10 years old, with each dog year being equal to about  seven human years, your furbaby is the ripe old age of 70 and you want  to make sure she lives out the remaining time she has left in the most  joyous way. Dr. Ernie Ward, author of Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter – A Vet’s Plan to Save Their Lives (2010 HCI) and owner, chief-of-staff at Seaside Animal Care in Calabash, North Carolina, recommends that pet parents be mindful of a host of  potential  health issues their senior pet’s caretaker.

“While we may still view our eight-year old Lab as our “puppy” the  reality is she is undergoing many of the same physical changes of a  50-year old person,” says Dr. Ward.”Simple changes in nutrition and  lifestyle can make a huge difference in preventing age-related diseases  and preserving quality of life.”

The definition of a senior pet

Historically, any pet over age seven is considered a  senior pet, says Dr. Ward. In strict physiological terms, giant breed  dogs over age five should be considered senior and toy breeds and cats  over age nine are viewed as senior pets. The differences in ages are due  to the rate of physiological changes in certain breeds; giant breeds  age faster.

Senior pets need specialized diets

As dogs and cats age so do their nutrient requirements and ability to  digest certain foods, notes Dr. Ward.  If your pet is over seven years  old, it’s important to talk to your veterinarian about switching to a  diet specially-formulated for older pets.

“Senior pets need less fat and carbohydrates and more highly  digestible proteins,” says Dr. Ward. “For example, older cats actually  require higher amounts of protein because studies show their ability to  digest proteins deteriorates as they age. In general, older pets need  fewer calories because they’re less active and begin to lose muscle  mass.”

Diet and supplements

Dr. Ward recommends that pet parents give their  senior pet low or no-grain, higher protein diets for older cats and  highly digestible, low-fat diets for dogs. And since nutritional gaps  and cellular damage can accelerate as pets  age due to genetics,  pollutants and illness, Dr. Ward advises giving nutritional supplements  such as omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils), glucosamine/chondroitin  sulfate, and a good multi-vitamin (especially B vitamins and vitamins A,  D, E, and K, biotin and beta-carotene) to almost every older pet. He  also prescribes SAM-e, silybin/milk thistle, superoxide dismutase (SOD)  and probiotics to many senior pets to combat age changes.

Preventative medical care: What you need to know

Start testing at seven years old. Changes in kidney,  liver and pancreatic function, arthritis, cataracts, heart disease and  high blood pressure are more common in older pets. To diagnose a disease  in the early stages requires consistent examinations and lab tests. As  soon as your pet turns seven, pet parents should ask for basic blood and  urine tests, even if their pet appears perfectly healthy. The value of  routine testing is that it establishes baselines for future reference.

“I recently saw a nine-year old cat for a routine visit,” says Dr.  Ward. “The owner reported her cat was in excellent health yet our test  results showed an increase in two kidney enzymes from the previous year.  While the kidney values were still within normal limits, the change  alerted me to a potential problem. Additional tests confirmed early  kidney disease. If not for the previous test results, we would’ve never  diagnosed kidney disease at this early stage. ”

Bottom line: The money you spend on routine  diagnostic tests may save you big bucks in the future and add years of  life to your pet. Never ignore that tiny voice telling you “something  isn’t right.” If you suspect something – anything – is wrong with a pet  over age 7, have it checked out.

 

Melissa Chapman, Contributor  to Care.com  www.care.com/pet-care

Things You Can Do to Keep Your Pet Young at Heart

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

When you think of your children, you make almost no distinction between your two-legged ones and four- legged ones. Unfortunately, our fur babies don’t have the same life expectancy as our own human children.  But with some vigilant attention to their diet and mental state, we can keep them with us (depending on the breed) for 12 to 15 years.  In fact, I’m banking on 20 years for my now 11-year-old Shih Tzu.  And I’m willing to undertake any measures that will both prolong her life span, and enrich the quality of her life as well.

Here are tips to keep you and your four-legged kid happily joined at the hip for years to come:

Obesity can shorten your senior pet’s life: less food equals longer life

According to Dr. Ernie Ward, author of Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter – A Vet’s Plan to Save Their Lives (2010 HCI) and owner, chief-of-staff at Seaside Animal Care, PA, obesity is a big problem in older pets that can cause and exacerbate many preventable diseases.

“Do your pet a favor and trade the treats for extra playtime,” says Dr. Ward. “You just may add years of high-quality life to both of you.”

Dr. Ward recommends substituting treats with healthy, whole foods such as carrots, broccoli, asparagus, celery, apples and bananas. Adding plain kefir or yogurt is also a great way to supply essential probiotics without all the calories.

Exercise more

Regardless of your pet’s current physical state, daily walks or play can rewind years’ worth of damage and boost your pet’s mental and physical health. For dogs, a brisk 20 to 30-minute walk once or twice a day is just what Dr. Ward orders. For cats, interactive toys such as feather dancers, laser lights or remote-controlled toys can get even the laziest cat on its feet. Whatever activities you choose, just do it.

Brain games

To keep mental reflexes sharp, Dr. Ward recommends that pet parents constantly provide their older pets with new experiences. Add a food puzzle, teach a new trick, take a trip to a different dog park or enroll in therapy pet classes. Rotate toys by packing old ones out of sight and offering a “new” one every two to three days.

“Even a simple change such as reversing your normal walking route can provide freshness to an otherwise stale routine,” says Dr. Ward. “As often as possible, ask yourself, ‘How can I make this more fun or interesting?'”

Don’t forget

Older pets tend to have a higher incidence of phobias and anxiety, notes Dr. Ward. If your pet suddenly becomes fearful of thunderstorms or loud noises, has accidents in the house, or begins to wake unexpectedly at night, see your veterinarian. Nutritional supplements, behavior training and medications can also help your older pet maintain normal abilities and combat age-related behavioral changes.

A new pet can breathe life into an older one

In almost 20 years of practicing veterinary medicine, Dr. Ward says he’s witnessed one thing innumerable times – a new pet breathes new life into older pets.

“Not long ago I diagnosed a long-time patient, Prince, with a serious form of heart disease. After outlining a treatment plan, I told the owner that my next best advice was a bit unorthodox: get a new puppy,” says Dr. Ward. “I shared with her the fact that many times the older pet seems to regain lost vigor and lives much longer than I’d ever dreamed possible whenever a new pet is introduced. What I didn’t tell her was that adding a new pet before losing one helps soften the loss.”

“Sure enough, two months later she appeared in my office with a brand new puppy and a brand new “old” dog. It had been years since I’d seen Prince prance like that,” Dr. Ward says.  “Prince lived another year and-a-half, at least six to 12 months longer than I originally estimated. The beautiful part of the story was that not only did Prince live longer and have a better life than I’d expected, but when it was time to let him go, the owner had a new friend to console her. I’ll keep recommending a new, best buddy for every old friend I see.”

 

Melissa Chapman, Contributor to Care.com  www.care.com/pet-care

Helping Kids Deal with the Loss of a Pet

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Losing a pet can impact the entire family, but it can be particularly traumatic for children because it’s usually their first encounter with loss and death.  As parents, we can feel overwhelmed and helpless knowing that we cannot shield our kids from the painful reality of death. Although we can’t stop our kids from having a broken heart, there are things we can do to make their bereavement process as healthy and manageable as possible.

The first step to help kids learn how to cope with the loss of a pet is to be honest with them. As difficult as this may feel it’s important to tell them the truth! Stay away from half truths and euphemistic descriptions about death. Instead, sensitively explain to your child that his or her pet has died. A child’s understanding about death will vary based on his age.

According to the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement, kids between the ages of 7 and 9 tend to have the most questions about death. If your child asks you what happens after death, you can explain your understanding about life after death, but it’s also okay to admit that you’re not entirely sure.

This loss can also trigger a child’s fears that you or other people he or she loves will die. Remember to be patient and try to address these fears as they come up. For example, if your child asks you if you’re going to die and leave them too, you can say something like, “Most people die when they are very old, and I don’t plan to leave this earth for a very long time.”

The second step is to honor your child’s feelings. Help your child to express his or her grief. You can encourage your children to make drawings or write stories about their pet. It’s also very helpful to have them recall happy memories, which allows them to both grieve and remember happier times with their pet.

Kids may need to cry and express their feelings of loss, which is to be expected. They might also struggle with other complex emotions like anger, denial and guilt. Encourage your child to talk with you about his or her feelings. This will allow you to explain that what they are experiencing is normal and a natural part of the grieving process. Ultimately, parents want to help their children move through their feelings of depression and eventually come to a place of acceptance.

One of the ways to encourage your child’s healthy acceptance of a pet’s death is to find a way to memorialize this passing. Having a burial, memorial or similar type of ceremony helps to reinforce the importance of the pet’s life while also marking its death. This can be done in many different ways. Kids should be allowed to participate in whatever way feels right for them. Maybe it’s marking the gravesite, making a garden stone with the pet’s name on it, planting a tree in remembrance of the pet, or designing a collage of the pet’s photos and placing it in a frame.

Managing loss and death is ironically one of the most difficult aspects of life.  But if handled correctly, the loss of a family pet can be a valuable opportunity to teach an important, yet tough life lesson about how to deal with loss in an open and healthy way.

 

Dr. Robi Ludwig, Contributor  to Care.com   www.care.com/pet-care

Another Diamond Pet Food Recall

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food product batch recalledA third dry dog food product is being voluntarily recalled by Diamond Pet Foods due to salmonella concerns.

Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food, like the other two dry dog food products, was made at the company’s South Carolina plant, which has been temporarily shut down.

The latest recall involves its Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food. No canine illnesses have been reported.

The product was distributed to customers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

The latest recall covers the following production codes for Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food:

  • Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food 40 lb. DPP0401B22XJW 6-Apr-2013
  • Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food 40 lb. DPP0401A21XAW 6-Apr-2013
  • Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food 40 lb. DPP0101C31XME 11-Jan-2013
  • Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food 40 lb. DPP0401B21XDJ 7-Apr-2013
  • Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food 20 lb. DPP0401B22XJW 6-Apr-2013
  • Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food 20 lb. DPP0101C31XME 11-Jan-2013
  • Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food 20 lb. DPP0101C31XRB 11-Jan-2013
  • Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food 8 lb. DPP0401B2XALW 7-Apr-2013
  • Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food 6 oz. samples DPP0401

Consumers who have purchased Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food with these production codes and best before dates should discard the product.

For more information about this recall, consumers can contact Diamond Pet Foods at 800-442-0402.

The company also announced in April that it was recalling batches of its Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul Adult Light Formula and Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice.