Animal Health Foundation Blog

Archive for May, 2018

Merrick Recalls Multiple Dog Treats

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

May 23, 2018 – Merrick Pet Care, of Amarillo, Texas, is initiating a voluntary recall of a limited amount of beef dog treat varieties due to the potential that they contain elevated levels of a naturally-occurring beef thyroid hormone.

What’s Recalled?

Batch Information

The voluntary recall is limited to the production codes listed below.

To locate the production code, consumers should look on the lower back of the treat bag.

No other production codes, sizes or varieties of these products are affected. The voluntary recall covers only specific production codes of the following beef treat products:

About Beef Thyroid

Dogs consuming high levels of beef thyroid hormone may exhibit the following symptoms: increased thirst and urination, weight loss, increased heart rate and restlessness.

These symptoms may resolve when consumption decreases.

If a dog consumes high levels for a long period of time, these symptoms may increase in severity and may include vomiting, diarrhea and rapid or labored breathing.

If your pet has consumed the product listed and has exhibited any of these symptoms, please discontinue feeding and contact your veterinarian.

What Caused the Recall?

This potential health risk was brought to Merrick’s attention as a result of the FDA sharing one consumer complaint where the dog’s health was temporarily impacted while eating Merrick Backcountry Great Plains Real Beef Jerky 4.5 ounce.

The dog’s health improved and fully recovered after discontinuing consumption of the treat.

Message from Merrick

Pet owners should know there is limited risk given treats are not intended for full nutrition and should only be occasionally consumed.

However, out of an abundance of caution and to maintain trust with our consumers, we are withdrawing all potentially impacted product.

We have not received any similar reports to date from consumers about issues with these products.

As a company of pet owners and pet lovers, we know our consumers place a tremendous amount of trust in us when their pet uses our products.

The quality and safety of our products are the top priority for our company.

We apologize to our retail customers and consumers and sincerely regret any inconvenience and concerns caused by this voluntary recall.

We are working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on this voluntary recall and will cooperate with them fully.

What to Do?

If you have product, please contact Merrick at 800-664-7387 from 8 am to 5 pm Central Time Monday through Friday.

Or by email at customerservice@merrickpetcare.com so we can provide a refund.

Or visit Merrick’s website and fill out a form: www.merrickpetcare.com/customerrelations.

No other Merrick or Castor & Pollux products are impacted. These treats are distributed in the U.S. through pet specialty, grocery and online retailers with limited distribution in Canada.

For more information visit www.MerrickPetCare.com.

U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to http://www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints.

Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

Get Dog Food Recall Alerts by Email

Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Dog Food Advisor’s emergency recall notification system.

What You Should Have in Your Pet’s First-Aid Kit

Friday, May 18th, 2018

From the Humane Society

Learn what supplies you’ll need to keep your cat, dog, or other pet safe and healthy

Everyone who shares a home with a pet should have a basic pet first-aid kit on hand.

Keep your pet’s first-aid kit in your home and take it with you if you are traveling with your pet.

One way to start your kit is to buy a first-aid kit designed for people and add pet-specific items to it. You can also purchase a pet first-aid kit from a pet-supply store or catalog. But you can easily assemble your own kit by gathering the items on our lists below.

Pet-specific supplies

  • Pet first-aid book
  • Phone numbers: your veterinarian, the nearest emergency-veterinary clinic (along with directions!) and a poison-control center or hotline (such as the ASPCA poison-control center, which can be reached at 1-800-426-4435)
  • Paperwork for your pet (in a waterproof container or bag): proof of rabies-vaccination status, copies of other important medical records and a current photo of your pet (in case he gets lost)
  • Nylon leash
  • Self-cling bandage (bandage that stretches and sticks to itself but not to fur—available at pet stores and from pet-supply catalogs)
  • Muzzle or strips of cloth to prevent biting (don’t use this if your pet is vomiting, choking, coughing or otherwise having difficulty breathing)

Basic first-aid supplies

  • Absorbent gauze pads
  • Adhesive tape
  • Antiseptic wipes, lotion, powder or spray
  • Blanket (a foil emergency blanket)
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  • Gauze rolls
  • Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting—do this only when directed by a veterinarian or a poison-control expert)
  • Ice pack
  • Non-latex disposable gloves
  • Petroleum jelly (to lubricate the thermometer)
  • Rectal thermometer (your pet’s temperature should not rise above 103°F or fall below 100°F)
  • Scissors (with blunt ends)
  • Sterile non-stick gauze pads for bandages
  • Sterile saline solution (sold at pharmacies)
  • Tweezers
  • A pillowcase to confine your cat for treatment
  • A pet carrier

Pre-assembled first-aid kits

The hassle of creating a kit for your pet can be reduced by purchasing one pre-assembled.

Other useful items

  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®), if approved by a veterinarian for allergic reactions. A veterinarian must tell you the correct dosage for your pet’s size.
  • Ear-cleaning solution
  • Expired credit card or sample credit card (from direct-mail credit-card offers) to scrape away insect stingers
  • Glucose paste or corn syrup (for diabetic dogs or those with low blood sugar)
  • Nail clippers
  • Non-prescription antibiotic ointment
  • Penlight or flashlight
  • Plastic eyedropper or syringe
  • Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) to clean the thermometer
  • Splints and tongue depressors
  • Styptic powder or pencil (sold at veterinary hospitals, pet-supply stores, and your local pharmacy)
  • Temporary identification tag (to put your local contact information on your pet’s collar when you travel)
  • Towels
  • Needle-nosed pliers

Common-sense advice

In addition to the items listed above, include anything your veterinarian has recommended specifically for your pet.

Check the supplies in your pet’s first-aid kit occasionally and replace any items that have expired.

For your family’s safety, keep all medical supplies and medications out of the reach of children and pets.

To spot a true service dog, check its behavior – not its vest

Friday, May 18th, 2018

    • From the YakimaHerald.com
    • Jim Camden – Spokesman-Review

Apr 6, 2018

service dog
Sheryl Womble embraces Nia, her German Shepherd service dog, after exercising near their home on Wednesday. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

OLYMPIA – For the past 20 years, service dogs have helped Sheryl Womble with day-to-day tasks like opening doors and picking things up off the floor, and even taking off her coat and gloves.

So when a dog wearing a “service animal” vest growled and lunged at her dog during a crowded community gathering several years ago, she knew the menacing dog was not a trained service animal. Womble, a quadriplegic, did the only thing she could.

She maneuvered her wheelchair to block the attacking dog. She got bit.

To be a real service dog takes extensive training, at least a year and sometimes longer depending on what the dog will be doing to help its owner.

A new Washington law that allows businesses to question whether the animal accompanying a customer is a true service animal may provide some clarity and keep some people from trying to pass off their untrained pet, Womble and others said.

“It might help a little,” said Debbie Wing of LynnDee’s Grooming and Dog Training Center. “It might scare some people off” from trying to pass off their pet as a service animal just because they want to bring it into a store or restaurant, or take it with them on a bus or plane.

The law, which was signed late last month by Gov. Jay Inslee and takes effect Jan. 1, makes it a civil infraction with a penalty of as much as $500 to falsely claim an animal is a service animal in a “place of public accommodation.”

But the ADA does not set up a certification program for service animals, Wing said, so it’s easy for a person to make that claim and hard for a business to challenge it. Under the new law, a business employee or law enforcement officer can ask the owner two questions if they suspect a dog that is causing a disturbance isn’t a true service animal: Is the animal required because of a disability? What tasks is the animal trained to perform?

Deputy Mark Gregory, a spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, said the new law could provide some clarity for officers responding to complaints that come in from time to time. Whether it will result in more calls, or fewer, is hard to predict, but the department will sit down with legal advisers and human rights advocates to form a policy before briefing deputies on procedures, he said.

“This always has been a case of you don’t want to turn around and infringe on someone’s rights who is disabled and needs that assistance,” Gregory said. “As with any other law, we’re going to have to use common sense.”

Usually, law enforcement is called when a dog or another animal is creating a nuisance or disturbance in a store or a restaurant and the owner refuses to leave, claiming it’s a service animal.

But the size or breed of a dog is not an indicator, she added. A 6-foot man who is diabetic could have a Chihuahua for a service animal, trained to detect by smell when he needs to take his insulin.

Also not an indicator: a vest on the dog or a badge the owner is wearing that says service animal. Those are available online, for a price, by filling out a form. “It’s a racket,” Wing said.

Buying a trained dog can cost thousands of dollars and require years on a waiting list, she said.

Training a service animal also takes time and money. Womble said owners start with basic obedience, and work toward specific tasks they need the dog to perform. They keep a log of training and tasks accomplished, and the instructors used. They refresh their training every year or so.

“You never stop working your dog,” she said.

Most people quit, because they either don’t have the time or money, or both. And really all they want is to take their pet with them somewhere, she said.

The law does not cover therapy dogs, which have separate training to go into schools, hospitals or other facilities to help people. Nor does it cover comfort or emotional support animals, terms that some people use for a wide variety of pets they might claim they need to calm their nerves.

Gregory wonders if that might be something the Legislature will have to consider in the future, because some returning veterans and others with post-traumatic stress disorder do have a legitimate need for a therapy animal to help them cope with severe anxiety they might experience in aspects of daily life.

PTSD isn’t covered under the ADA, so they aren’t included in the state law, he said.

An officer who believes an owner is falsely claiming their disruptive dog is a service animal will be able to write a ticket for a civil infraction. The owner can contest the ticket and possible fine of $500 in court by presenting proof that the dog is a service animal.

Judges familiar with the ADA should know not to accept a simple certificate from some website, Womble said. They should ask to see the owner’s log with the times, dates and places where the training took place, and the instructors who provided it.

If the law cuts down on incidents with untrained dogs, there may be an added benefit to real service animals and their owners, who sometimes get critical looks or comments from people, Wing said.

Rep. Mike Steele, R-Chelan, the sponsor of the legislation, said the goal of the law is to balance the rights of disabled people to have the assistance they need with the rights of the rest of the public to be safe from misbehaving and possibly aggressive dogs. It’s designed to give businesses and police some options when there’s a problem.

“As long as (a dog) is not misbehaving and being disruptive, you’re not going to have a problem,” Steele said. “No one’s going to come after your dog if it’s by your side, behaving itself.”

Big rabbit brings big smiles at Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks

Friday, May 18th, 2018
Robyn Flans, Special to Ventura County Star
Published 11:55 a.m. PT March 7, 2018 | Updated 4:30 p.m. PT March 7, 2018

Diana Metzgus of Newbury Park kisses Henry, a Flemish Giant Rabbit at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center. The rabbit has joined the Pet Therapy Program and has stolen the hearts of patients and staff with his snuggly cuddles.

On a recent visit to Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center, Henry had a long list of patients to visit.

It would take some time getting to them, though, because hospital visitors stopped Henry’s stroller every couple of steps to take photos.

  • That’s because Henry is 2½ feet long and weighs more than 20 pounds.

And he’s a rabbit.

A Flemish Giant rabbit, to be exact, and his owner, Candy Apple, has turned him into a therapy animal. She brings him to the hospital every couple of weeks, and he brings smiles to everyone who sees him.

“Oh, God, you’re beautiful!” she said to Henry as Apple placed him on her hospital bed.

Metzgus was a little girl when her father got her a bunny she named Puca. It turned out Puca was a Flemish Giant rabbit.

“It grew and grew and grew and grew,” she said.

Puca went swimming with her, and she pushed him in a stroller. So seeing Henry made her day, she said.

It was the same story with Robert Moss. The minute Henry entered his room, Moss lit up and exclaimed, “Oh, my God! You’re a big guy.”

Apple placed him in Moss’ bed.

“Awww, you’re like a big plush toy,” Moss told the animal. “You’re a sweet, cute guy.”

Then it was on to Arnole Levine, who once owned a pet store.

“I want one,” mouthed Levine, who was not able to speak. He was content to pet Henry while the rabbit lay quietly beside him.

She ended up with Henry when a friend’s daughter realized she didn’t have enough time to take care of him properly. Apple adopted him when he was 8 weeks old and took him to Home Goods, a local home furnishing store, two days a week to socialize him.

“He would sit with children, and parents would take pictures,” Apple recalled. “People would hold him and fuss over him so he was used to everybody. Flemish Giants don’t normally like to be held a lot.”

When Henry was about 8 months old, a woman who did pet therapy at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center approached Apple at Home Goods.

“She said, ‘Henry has to be a therapy rabbit,’” Apple said. “I had never thought about it. I went home and looked up Pet Partners, which is one of the most involved therapy organizations in the States.”

Both Apple and Henry took the necessary tests. Apple’s was a written examination and Henry’s was a hospital simulation.

“You go into a room and they do everything that could happen in a hospital,” Apple said. “They throw things and scream and bump into you and bring in dogs like therapy dogs.”

Henry passed with flying colors.

“Henry is very special,” Apple explained. “Flemish Giants are known for their docile personalities anyway, but Henry is like a dog. Henry follows me around. He scratches at the door to go outside. He goes potty in a litter box. He has the run of the entire house. He sleeps with the dog on the dog bed. The cats all lay around him.”

Henry has nearly 15,000 followers on his Instagram page, where many say he’s a unique animal.

But even after Henry was certified, it took a couple of tries at Los Robles. At first, the staff said the hospital only accepted therapy dogs because of disease control.

“Two months later, I got a call: ‘Henry’s in!’ They did all their homework and found out that Henry’s one of the cleanest animals,” Apple said.

It turns out Henry’s a superstar.

Lucille Porter-Chapman expressly requested visits, and Henry stopped by her hospital room about 12 times before the Newbury Park woman passed away Feb. 19.

“God’s love comes in animals and nature,” Porter-Chapman said during one of the visits. “He makes me feel so good.”

Apple can’t imagine her life without Henry.

“He is a miracle rabbit. He’s my therapy rabbit. He helps me a lot, too,” Apple said. “The cuddles I give him and he gives me … I was crying one day and he ran right up to me and sniffed my tears and cuddled me.”

Pet Disaster Preparedness from Red Rover

Friday, May 18th, 2018

Make sure your pets are protected when disaster strikes. Download our 5 Animal Disaster Preparedness Essentials checklist (PDF):

[English]  [Espanol]

Get more details on emergency planning for specific types of disasters:

Planning ahead is the key to keeping yourself and your pets safe if disaster strikes. Follow these tips to make an emergency plan for your pets:

1. Microchip your pets
Microchip identification is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your pet are reunited if you are separated. Be sure to keep the microchip registration up-to-date, and include at least one emergency number of a friend or relative who resides out of your immediate area.

2. Keep a collar and tag on all cats and dogs
Keep several current phone numbers on your animal’s identification tag. Identification on indoor-only cats is especially important. If your home is damaged during a disaster, they could easily escape.

3. Plan a pet-friendly place to stay
Search in advance for out-of-area pet-friendly hotels or boarding facilities, or make a housing exchange agreement with an out-of-area friend or relative. Never leave your pet behind if you evacuate!

Search for pet-friendly accommodations at:

4. Use the buddy system
Exchange pet information, evacuation plans and house keys with a few trusted neighbors or nearby friends. If you’re caught outside evacuation lines when an evacuation order is issued, your neighbors or friends can evacuate your pets for you.

5. Prepare an emergency kit for each animal
Stock up on the items you may need during a disaster now so you do not get caught unprepared. Below are basic items you should include in your pets’ disaster kits. Store your disaster kit supplies in an easy-to-grab container.

  • One-week supply of food. Store it in a water-tight container and rotate it every three months to keep it fresh. If you use canned food, include a spare can opener.
  • One-week supply of fresh water. If officials declare your household water unfit to drink, it’s also unsafe for your pets. Follow American Red Cross guidelines for storing emergency water for your family and your pets.
  • Medication. If your animal takes medication, a replacement supply may not be easily available following a disaster.
  • Copies of vaccination records
  • Photographs of you with your pets to prove ownership
  • Photographs of your pets in case you need to make “lost pet” fliers
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Temporary ID tags. If you’ve evacuated, use this to record your temporary contact information and/or the phone number of an unaffected friend or relative.
  • Carrier or leash for each animal. Caregivers of multiple cats or other small animals can use an EvacSak, which is easy to store and use for transport.

Get more details on emergency planning for specific species:

6. Identify emergency veterinary facilities outside of your immediate area
If a disaster has affected your community, emergency veterinary facilities may be closed. Pets may become injured or ill during the disaster, so make sure you know how to access other emergency facilities. You can also check with your veterinarian to find out if they have an emergency plan that includes setting up in an alternate, emergency facility.

7. Plan for temporary confinement
Physical structures, like walls, fences and barns may be destroyed during a disaster. Have a plan for keeping your animal safely confined. You may need a tie-out, crate or kennel.

Often, when animals are evacuated to unfamiliar locations, their stress and fear can lead to illness injury. Read more tips for ensuring your pets’ safety during an evacuation.

8. Comfort your animals
Your animals will appreciate your calm presence and soft, comforting voice if they are stressed following a disaster or while evacuated, and you may find it comforting to spend time with them, too. Some animals, especially cats, may be too scared to be comforted. Interact with them on their terms. Some animals may find toys, especially long-lasting chew toys, comforting.

9. Know where to search for lost animals
When animals become lost during a disaster, they often end up at a local shelter. Keep handy the locations and phone numbers of the shelters in your area.

10. Get children involved in disaster preparedness plans. The book Ready or Not, Here it Comes! by RedRover Responders Team Leader, Howard Edelstein, discusses how to prepare for all types of disasters to safeguard families and the animals in their care.


If a disaster hit your town, would you be prepared to care for your pet? Assemble your kit, then join our “We’re Ready” campaign:

Post the “We’re Ready” sign on your Facebook page to show everyone that you and your pet(s) are evacuation-ready.