Friday, October 29, 2010

Veterinarians warn pet owners about Halloween dangers: 4 common hazards

During the week of Halloween, calls to the veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline increase by 12 percent, making it the call center’s busiest time of year. The helpline, which is a 24-hour service, assists pet owners, veterinarians and veterinary technicians who are treating potentially poisoned pets.
The four most common food-related Halloween hazards for pets:

1. Chocolate – Of all candy, chocolate is one of the most toxic to pets. Over the past year, more than 1,100 calls to Pet Poison Helpline involved exposure to chocolate and 98 percent of them involved dogs. Many dogs are inherently attracted to the smell and taste of chocolate, making it a significant threat. In general, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more poisonous it is. The chemicals in chocolate that are dangerous to pets, methylxanthines, are similar to caffeine and more heavily concentrated in the darker varieties. In fact, a 50-pound dog can be sickened by ingesting only one ounce of Baker’s chocolate! On the other hand, it may take up to eight ounces, (half a pound) of milk chocolate to cause poisoning in that same sized dog. White chocolate contains very low amounts of methylxanthine and rarely causes poisoning. To avoid issues, keep Halloween candy well out of the reach of pets at all times. If you think your pet may have ingested chocolate, symptoms to watch for include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, agitation, increased thirst, an elevated heart rate, and in severe cases, seizures.   

2. Candy overindulgence – Pets are indiscriminate when it comes to eating tasty treats and can gorge themselves on snacks and food meant for humans. Large ingestions of sugary, high-fat candy can lead to pancreatitis in pets. Potentially fatal, pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas and very painful. It may not show up for two to four days after the pet ingests the candy. Symptoms include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, and potentially, kidney failure or organ damage.

3. Raisins – Some people prefer to distribute healthy snacks instead of candy on Halloween, such as mini-boxes of raisins. These are extremely are poisonous to dogs! Very small amounts of raisins (and grapes) can cause kidney failure in dogs and, potentially, cats. When it comes to your pets, raisins deserve the same pet-proofing treatment as chocolate – stored in secure containers far from their reach. Unfortunately, some dogs develop idiosyncratic reactions at any dose – in other words, they can ingest any amount and potentially be poisoned. Therefore, any ingestion of raisins or grapes should be treated as a “poisoning” case. Symptoms include vomiting, nausea, decreased appetite, lethargy, abdominal pain, and severe kidney failure.

4. Candy wrappers – Generally when pets eat candy, they don’t bother to remove the wrappers. Ingestion of foil and cellophane wrappers can cause a life-threatening bowel obstruction, which if severe, can require surgical intervention to correct. Watch for vomiting, decreased appetite, not defecating, straining to defecate, or lethargy. X-rays may be necessary to diagnose this problem.
For more tips, click here.

Gather your senior management team for the Global Macroeconomic Outlook Webinar

In the petfood manufacturing industry, the drastic changes in the global economy have affected the way you run your company. In these challenging economic times, you need reliable forecast information to help you make confident business decisions moving forward.
Join Dr. Bruce A. Scherr, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Informa Economics, for the " Global Macroeconomic Outlook" online seminar on December 9, 2010, at 8 a.m. CST.
In his 60-minute presentation, Dr. Scherr will address critical economic questions plaguing business decision-makers today including:
  • Global economic recovery:  On track or stalling?
  • U.S. debt accumulation:  Can the U.S. find buyers?
  • U.S. economy:  Shape of the recovery?
  • Eurozone prospects:  Real recovery or stagnation?
  • Asian economic expansion: Can Asia lead the global recovery?
The formal presentation will be followed by a Q & A session, giving attendees the opportunity to interact with Dr. Scherr.
No business planner, manager or C-level executive should miss this invaluable online seminar. Gather your senior management team together to attend for one low price of $250 per login.
Space is limited, so reserve your seat today!

Virtual Petfood Forum recorded webinars and slides available on-demand

If you registered for the free Virtual Petfood Forum, which was held October 21, remember you can access an archive of the event through January 21, 2011.

Simply use the link and log-on information provided by email the morning of October 21. To view any of the five expert presentations, now available as recorded webinars, click on the Conference tab in the black bar at the top of the page, then Conference Centre.

That will take you to a list of the five webinars, where you'll see each listed. Click the "Attend Now" button under the title of the presentation you're interested in seeing and hearing.

When the page for that recorded presentation comes up, you'll see three tabs in the top center of the page, including one for Handouts. Click that to find a PDF of the slides for that presentation.

If you did not previously register for Virtual Petfood Forum, you still can!

Canidae pet foods launches new single grain protein food

Canidae Pet Foods announced it will begin shipping its newest product, Single Grain Protein Plus, to distributors in North America during the fourth quarter of this year.
Single Grain Protein Plus is the first product in Canidae's new line of natural and holistic petfoods. The company says the nutritional focus of its Single Grain Protein Plus is to offer 29% total protein from chicken, turkey, lamb and fish meals and restrict grains sources to a combination of brown and white rice.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Study published in AVMA journal busts canine nutrition myths

A 14-year study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association has managed to bust several canine nutrition myths.
Forty-eight pairs of Labrador Retriever littermates were followed. Among other things, the results suggested that a 25% restriction of food intake—or maintaining an ideal body condition throughout a dog's life—increased the median lifespan of a dog by 1.8 years and delayed the onset of chronic disease symptoms. "Knowing what to feed and how much to feed are equally important," said Mike Grant, PA, the nutritional science director for "Your veterinarian is always the best way to get the correct information. They are up to date on all the new science."
Several nutrition myths were disproved during the study:

1) A raw meat diet is the only one for canines: Today's domesticated dogs are not true carnivores. They need small amounts of grains, like rice, oatmeal, pasta, vegetables and fruits to round out their dietary needs.

2) Raw eggs are an absolute no-no for dogs: Dogs are far less susceptible to Salmonella poisoning and the occasional raw or boiled egg is a good source of protein for canines.

3) Dogs should never have any dairy products: Some dogs may be lactose intolerant, but cottage cheese and yogurt are two low-lactose options that are high in calcium.

4) Fat only gives dogs empty calories: Fats are the main source of energy for dogs. Fat is also necessary for the proper absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K, especially in low-saturated forms such as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

5) A dog is unable to digest grains: This is partially true, but dogs can digest starch grains that have been converted by the cooking process. Rice is a better option than wheat or corn.

6) All commercial dog foods are bad: Research has shown that the quality of commercial dog foods is more than able to meet a dog's nutritional needs.

7) A diet must be specifically tailored to a dog's age or breed: In most cases, the same diet throughout a dog's life is sufficient. However, puppies need more food than seniors and older dogs may need nutritional supplements.

Royal Canin to host 'Week of the Cat' celebration

Royal Canin will host a national celebratory "Week of the Cat" campaign November 13-20, ending with the Supreme Cat Show in Birmingham, England.
Consumers will be able to sample pet products at Birmingham’s Martineau Place, and the Feline Advisory Bureau will be at Royal Canin's cat show stand, hosting seminars and answering questions. Photographic and display competitions will be held for retailers to compete for prizes, including a two-day trip to the South of France or a 32-inch flat screen TV for the national winner.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Betty White joins Sergeant’s, Morris Animal Foundation for the 'Happy, Healthy Cat Photo Contest'

Betty White is joining forces with Sergeant’s Pet Care Products and Morris Animal Foundation for the "Happy, Healthy Cat Photo Contest." The contest celebrates Morris Animal Foundation’s annual campaign to bring attention to feline health and features a range of products from Sergeant’s Pet Care that promote happier, healthier lives for cats.
“Cats are wonderful pets and sometimes don’t get the respect they deserve. They make you laugh and they can laugh with you. They can be the best friends in the world,” says Betty White, an avid animal advocate and strong supporter of Morris Animal Foundation. She will serve as judge of the photo contest. “Send your photos in now, while you’re thinking about it! We want to see those happy, healthy kitties!”
The contest will run from Oct. 26 to Dec. 15. Entries can be uploaded to and will be available to view in the contest photo gallery. Photos can be entered into one of three categories: 
1. The Happy, Healthy Cat category includes photos of cats that best represent the happy, healthy contest theme.

2. The My Favorite Human category includes photos of cats with their favorite family, child or adult.

3. The My Favorite K9 category includes photos of cats with their favorite dog, to show the bonds of friendship common between the species.
Finalists in each category will be reviewed by White, who will choose the Grand Prize winner and runners up. The Grand Prize winner will be featured on the cover of AnimalNews and highlighted in an article in this publication from Morris Animal Foundation. They will also receive a gift card to PetSmart and a gift assortment of products for cats from Sergeant’s Pet Care Products. Runners up will also receive gift cards and gift assortments.

Pet owners may be to blame for pet's obesity, veternarian says

The adorable Princess Chunk.
Pet owners play a crucial role in monitoring their pets' weight so that they do not become obese, according to veterinarian Dr. Debbye Turner Bell of CBS' "The Early Show."  
Obesity can cause many health problems and reduce a pet's lifespan by up to half, so owners must monitor their pet's food intake and exercise, Bell said. The desired weight of a pet depends on several factors, such as gender, breed and age. According to Bell, dog owners can monitor their pets' weight by checking that the ribs can be felt but not seen. Cat owners should be able to see a slight indentation at the waist of the cat when looking down on it and the cat should have a rather flat belly.
Bell said to achieve a healthy weight for their pets, owners should reduce the amount of treats given and feed pets based on product guidelines, taking into account activity level, age and general health. Dog owners should provide their dogs with a minimum of 20 minutes of daily exercise, including walks and indoor agility training. Bell recommended exercising cats with chase games and by making them work to find food.

Performance Pet Products petfood facility certified by USDA inspection service

Performance Pet Products announced that its canned petfood facility was approved by the US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for shipments to the European Union (EU).
In compliance with APHIS regulations, every ingredient used in these products must be sourced from EU-certified suppliers. FDA is currently in the process of establishing more rigorous guidelines for petfood processing plant compliance and inspections of petfood facilities.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vet warns human foods can be deadly to dogs

Different metabolic tolerances explain why certain human foods can be deadly for dogs, according to a Las Vegas Review-Journal article. 
In the article, Dr. David Henderson warns of foods that are especially toxic to dogs because they detoxify foods differently than humans. Xylitol, a popular sweetener in gum and candy, can cause fatal hypoglycemia if ingested by dogs.
"The (dog's) body processes it as sugar so there's an insulin surge, but there's no sugar there for the cells to uptake," Henderson said. "It's like an insulin overdose."
Henderson said that in addition to the choking hazard of bones, corncobs and foods with pits, dogs cannot digested these foods, which can splinter and become lodged in the intestines. Dogs should not consume grapes or raisins due to potential kidney failure, as well as anything with onions because the disulfides in them destroy a dog's red blood cells.

FDA finds 'potential correlation' between dog breed, weight loss drug side effects

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggested a "potential correlation" between dog breed and side effects from Pfizer's weight loss drug Slentrol, according to a health blog from the Wall Street Journal.
These preliminary findings are part of FDA's study of genetic data on dogs that have taken Slentrol, to determine if certain breeds are more susceptible to problems. The blog says Pfizer disagreed with FDA's results, saying the  dog breeds most often associated with adverse side effects from Sentrol, including Labrador Retriever, Beagle, Golden Retriever, Dachshund, Pug and Chihuahua, are very common and some are predisposed to obesity. The company claims its side effects listed on the label are usually mild and do not seem to disproportionately affect specific breeds.

Monday, October 25, 2010

San Diego Humane Society named 'Top Pet Tale' by Purina, Ralphs

Purina and Ralphs awarded the San Diego Humane Society with “Top Pet Tale” in the third-annual “Tales for the Pet Lover’s Heart” campaign.
The San Diego Humane Society received a US$53,000 donation during a presentation hosted by campaign spokesperson, Trista Sutter, from ABC’s “The Bachelorette.” Another 17 animal welfare organizations from across the US also received donations as part of the campaign, which gave away a total of US$150,000. 
To participate in the campaign, each animal welfare organization submitted a written tale and then turned it into a video. The finalists were chosen by Sutter and  production company, Blind Squirrels, based on creative content, storytelling and the pet tale’s direct connection to the "Tales for the Pet Lover’s Heart" mission. The videos can be viewed on the "Tales for the Pet Lover's Heart" website.

Victam International 2011 will host three tradeshows, including Petfood Forum Europe, in one location

Victam International announced its 2011 event, planned for May 3-5, 2011 in Cologne, Germany.
The event will feature three tradeshows and several conferences all at one location. The Victam International tradeshow will display new technology and equipment used in the manufacturing and production of animal feeds, dry petfood, and aquafeed. Alongside the Victam event, Petfood Forum Europe will be held for the petfood industry.
The two other tradeshows are FIAAP International tradeshow for the feed processing industry and GRAPAS International, for the flour milling, grain and rice processing, and pasta production industries.

Friday, October 22, 2010

FDA issues letter clarifying GRAS labels on animal food substances

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a letter to clarify the marketing of a substance as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for use in animal food.
A substance marketed as GRAS is not subject to premarket review or approval by FDA, the letter explains. This marketing is done at the company's own risk, however the substance and firm are subject to FDA enforcement action if the agency determines a substance is not GRAS.
The letter also explains FDA’s voluntary pilot program for GRAS notifications. A firm may participate in this program by submitting a "GRAS notice" to FDA, summarizing information the firm relied on as its basis for the GRAS label. FDA then evaluates the "GRAS notice" to determine if there is sufficient evidence for the firm's GRAS product marketing.

Cricket virus leads to shortage in Canada

A virus that hit cricket breeding operations has caused a shortage of petfood for exotic animal owners across Canada, according to an article from CBC news. The Densovirus affecting the industry disrupts the neurological system of insects, leading to paralysis and death.
"Customers are coming to us now," said Brad Gutka, a Canadian cricket producer. "Pet stores and things like that are coming to us and looking for new supplies."
Some pet store owners are looking to import crickets resistant to the disease, but this species is not currently on Canada's approved list of insect species. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is investigating the matter further.

Petfood sales expected to rise, according to Euromonitor report

Global petfood sales are forecast to rise 2.5%, according to a Financial Times article citing a Euromonitorreport.
The trend of pet humanization has consumers purchasing higher-premium products for pets they view as children, reported industry leaders Mars and Nestle in the article. The Euromonitor report expects Brazil to overtake Japan as the second-largest market in 2015. The "pet humanization" trend is most pronounced in America where sales in the petfood industry, which is triple the size of its baby food industry, are expected to grow by 1.5%. The report says Western Europe is following this trend too, with the Chinese petfood market growing close to 5%.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Texas A&M hosts course on feeds and petfood extrusion

A Practical Short Course on Feeds & Pet Food Extrusion will be presented Jan. 30 through Feb. 4, 2011 at Texas A&M University.
The program will cover information on designing new feed mills, and selecting conveying, drying, grinding, conditioning and feed mixing equipment. Texas A&M staff, industry representatives and consultants will review current practices for processes like petfood production; extrusion of floating, sinking and high fat feeds; spraying and coating fats, digests and preservatives; use of encapsulated ingredients and preparation of premixes. Practical demonstrations of petfood, vacuum coating and more will be given on four major types of extruders using various shaping dies.
Reservations for the event are accepted on a first-come basis. For more information, programs and application forms contact Dr. Mian N. Riaz by phone at +1.979.845.2774 or by E-mail at

New iPhone app launched to monitor calorie intake, weight of pets

An iPhone app from Cornell University is designed to keep pets from piling on the pounds. / Photo courtesy
A new iPhone app was launched by Cornell University to help consumers monitor their pet's calorie intake.
The US$3.99 app, called CUPetHealth, was developed by seven computer science students at Cornell as part of a class project and examined by university veterinary experts for accuracy. Consumers enter their pet's daily diet and several lifestyle factors into the app, which determines the appropriate number of calories each day by responding with "overfeeding," "underfeeding" or "appropriate." The app also keeps track of medication, vaccine and flea control information.
"Nutrition is an ever-growing concern for pets," said Joe Wakshlag, assistant professor at Cornell's Vet College. "The Centers for Disease Control says that America has become 'obesogenic,' meaning that we live in a world that promotes increased food intake, unhealthy food choices and reduced physical activity. Our pets live in the same world and are suffering the same consequences of obesity."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pumpkin may be beneficial to pets, article claims

During the fall season, pumpkin is a popular flavor that may have many health benefits for pets too, according to an article from the Brandon Sun.
Pumpkin alone is a very healthy food packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients, the article claims. It contains a number of vitamins that are beneficial to humans and pets, including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and vitamin E. It also contains minerals such as manganese, magnesium, zinc, potassium, copper and iron. The article says that pumpkin is high in essential fatty acids and contains no trans fats, all of which may have health benefits for pets.

Nestle Purina launches new Pro Plan petfood in Canada

Nestle Purina PetCare launched its Pro Plan Shredded Blend petfood in Canada.
The company describes its Pro Plan Shredded Blend as a multi-textured combination of crunchy kibble and tender shredded pieces with real chicken or lamb. Nestle invites Canadian pet owners to register online for a free sample and coupon.
"By simply visiting our website, and entering their information, a free sample of the Pro Plan Shredded Blend product will be delivered to their home. They will also receive a coupon, because once they've tried it, we're sure they and their dog will want to go out and buy a bag, and we further back this up with a complete satisfaction or money back guarantee," said Shelly Tandon, senior marketing manager for the company.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Top 5 consumer picks - pet food industry books

We all have to balance our information sources to get a realistic picture. Books, studies, reports, scientific journals, colleagues, seminars, and industry events can all have a part in forming our final opinion on any given topic.

Unfortunately, humans are inclined to believe what they want to believe and the more it shocks our senses, the better. It's easy for consumers to believe that big industry is greedy and cold. Pet parents are no exception, and their mistrust is fueled by the endless pet food recalls.

For Pet Parents

What pet parents need to keep in mind is that book, magazine, newspaper, and online publishing is also an industry. The more shocking the information, the more the publication sells, especially if it feeds the fear and uncertainty that pet parents feel today. Consumers need balance in their information sources.

When books are published about any industry, consumers feel they can rely on the information contained therein. They'll also trust a quote from a book when they find it online in a blog, forum, etc. While there are some very good books and websites out there, there are also some that use shock, suggestion, and general paranoia to make the sale. My advice to pet parents is always to keep reading and verify the information - don't read one book or website and take it as gospel. If nothing else, the information may be outdated.

Be it in a book or online, consumers must watch for signs of fear mongering, such as constant attempts to nurture suspicion even when the facts suggest otherwise. You may also notice that they'll take the word of a Vet, the FDA, etc., at face value if it happens to support a point they're trying to make, but will otherwise ridicule and question them at every turn. Reading the information will leave you with the nagging fear that nobody in the corporate, medical, or regulatory world can be trusted except of course, the author. These people are exploiting your love for your pet as surely as any other industry could, and they're profiting from it too.

That said, there certainly is accurate information that pet parents are reading as well.

For the Pet Food Industry

The industry has to read what pet parents are reading so they can prepare for, and address, their concerns. We have to provide as many sources of information as we can, and familiarize ourselves with the issues so we can accurately explain our position. There is often more than meets the eye and your average, reasonable pet parent understands that, but they need proof.

It's important for the industry to address these book-based concerns in their content and marketing. If a book suggests that many pet foods contain dead pets and your rendering plant doesn't include them, for example, you want the pet parent to find that information when they visit your website. If there are independent studies or other sources of sound information to back your claims that something is harmless when the books say it isn't, you'll want to provide those sources of information. We also need to educate our customer support staff, so they can address consumer concerns and refer pet parents to reliable sources of information.

There are advantages outside of damage control that we can gain as well. There are many concerns raised in these books that you may have already addressed, such as preservatives, which presents marketing opportunities. Being aware of consumer concerns may also lead to a more acceptable procedure or formulation, or even new products. Being in the know gives you a competitive advantage. Don't be surprised if you learn a thing or two, especially if you outsource.

Through sales rankings, visiting pet communities, reading blogs, etc. I have determined which books are most commonly read and quoted. I strongly suggest that you circulate these books around your company. Use them in your training sessions. Quote them in your sales meetings. Have your writers, researchers, product developers, and the entire marketing department use them as a guide.

Most importantly, emphasize openness and honesty every step of the way. As I've said many times, if you have to lie about any facet of your product, then it's time to change that facet.

Top Five Books About the Pet Food Industry:
Food Pets Die For
Ann N. Martin
Protect Your Pet
Ann N. Martin
Pet Food Politics
Marion Nestle
Not Fit for a Dog
Michael W. Fox, Elizabeth Hodgkins & Marion E. Smart

Read 'em but don't weep - take action.

Pricing strategies differ in developed Asian petfood markets

Pricing strategies vary among market leaders in the petfood segments of South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand, according to a Euromonitor report.
In South Korea, the premium dry dog food segment is highly competitive, with four main companies dominating the market share. In 2009, Colgate-Palmolive’s Hill’s Science Diet, Procter & Gamble’s Eukanuba and Nestle Purina's Pro Plan held market shares of 19%, 18% and 17.5%, respectively. Premium brands like Hill’s Science Diet are not usually sold in hypermarkets or discount stores where price competition is usually more intense, but are instead marketed through veterinary clinics, pet shops and the Internet.
The petfood market in Taiwan is dominated by Hill’s Science Diet, who held 28.3% of the market share in 2009. Little variation in price exists here, as most brands in the premium dry segment were priced around NT$150/kg (US$4.66/kg) in May 2010. The relative uniformity of pricing in this segment suggests that manufacturers do not think they can gain significantly more of the market share by undercutting prices of other brands.
A difference in Thailand's petfood market is that price remains an important consideration for middle-class consumers who are driving growth in this segment by trading up to premium foods. Hill's Science Diet replaced Eukanunba as the dominating brand over the past decade, partially due to its prices that are set about 13% lower than Eukanuba's. Veterinary clinics are a major distribution channel in this segment and accounted for 27.8% of value sales in the dry dog food marketplace in 2009.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Go mobile with Petfood Industry

Petfood Industry’s new iPhone and iPad App gives a new definition to a digital magazine. The App, which can be downloaded free from Apple’s App Store, gives readers full access to the magazine, interactive features, and news and product feeds from Petfood Industry.
The App is more than a simple page viewer. The reader can chose between seeing thumbnails of a page, a full page or enlarged text versions of stories. It also allows viewers to link directly to more features, advertising information, and videos, as well as access to RSS feeds from The App also gives readers the ability to easily bookmark stories, share stories with colleagues, and to search current and past issues.
The App can be downloaded here or by searching for “Petfood” in the Apple App Store.

Works on most Smartphones
We’ve also launched an enhanced Mobile Web Reader that gives readers many of these same features on other mobile devices, such as the Droid or Blackberry, by simply pointing the device’s browser to
With the App and Mobile Web Reader, readers now have access to all digital editions on any portable device they choose. Readers can now use the digital editions of the magazine from anywhere on their mobile devices.

Virtual Petfood Forum: Innovation is Four days away!

What innovations are happening in petfood that could help you continue to drive your business forward? Find out by signing up for Virtual Petfood Forum: Innovation on October 21. You can learn from experts, network with industry peers and leading suppliers from around the world—all for free and without leaving your office or home.

Think of Virtual Petfood Forum as an online event where petfood nutrition, safety and regulatory, production and packaging professionals along with veterinarians, nutritionists, technical consultants, sales professionals, C-level executives, business owners and buyers can engage in real-time interaction via chats, group chats, e-mails, Twitter or the exchange of electronic business cards.

Plus, this event will feature five industry experts sharing their knowledge on:
·         Innovation in nutrition and ingredients by Serge Boutet, agronomist and manager of petfoods and nutrition for Mondou Ltd. in Canada. Boutet has focused his career on developing unique petfood products, which in his mind starts with innovative ingredients. In fact, he says his suppliers often come to him first with their new ingredients.
·         Innovation in petfood packaging by Scott Whiteside, PhD, associate professor of the Department of Packaging Science and associate director of the Center for Flexible Packaging, both at Clemson University. Dr. Whiteside works with numerous companies on food and packaging issues. He believes some of the most innovative packaging in recent years has been happening in petfood, and he’ll share some of his favorite examples.
·         Innovation in marketing: exploring social and online media by Julie Lenzer Kirk, CEO and chief muse of Path Forward International, which works with businesses and entrepreneurs to help them improve, grow and succeed. Lenzer Kirk is a regular on Twitter and uses it, along with other social networking formats, to connect with her clients and help them market their companies and products.
·         Innovation in petfood processing by Mian Riaz, PhD, director of the Food Protein R&D Center at Texas A&M University. Dr. Riaz and his team hold several extrusion seminars each year, including one focused on petfood, and keep up-to-date on the latest advances in equipment, processes and techniques.
·         Innovation in petfood safety by James Marsden, PhD, Regent’s Distinguished Professor of Food Safety and Security and associate director of the Biosecurity Research Institute, both at Kansas State University. His research has focused on the safety of food products, particularly controlling dangerous bacteria and other contaminants in meat. He’s now applying his learning to petfood.

Registering for Virtual Petfood Forum: Innovation gets you access to these live presentations—including live Q&A with each speaker—plus the sponsor center and networking lounge. You can enter and leave the event throughout the day as your schedule allows—or, if you can’t participate at all on October 21, you can access an archive of the event for 90 days afterward. Visit

Register online!
Visit to register for free to Virtual Petfood Forum: Innovation on October 21. You can enter and leave the event as your schedule allows—or access an archive for 90 days afterward.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

RECALL:Blue Buffalo Co. recalls dry dog foods due to disproportionate Vitamin D levels

The Blue Buffalo Co. issued a voluntary recall for three of its dry dog food products that may contain excessive amounts of Vitamin D, which could cause Hypercalcemia in dogs.
The following dog foods were recalled by Blue Buffalo: Wilderness Chicken in 4.5-pound, 11-pound and 24-pound bags, marked with "best by" dates JUL1211B, JUL1311B, JUL2611Z, JUL2711Z and JUL2811Z; Basics Salmon in 11-pound and 24-pound bags, marked with "best by" dates AUG2111B and AUG2211B; and Large Breed Adult Chicken in 30-pound bags, marked with "best by" dates SEP 22 11 P, SEP 23 11 P, and OCT 26 11 P.
The affected products were sold nationwide at pet stores, retailers and wholesale outlets. Consumers are asked to return any unused product for a refund. According to the company, 36 dogs nationwide were reported having symptoms consistent with too much Vitamin D in their systems after being fed these recipes.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Petfood Industry allows professionals to expand knowledge with WATT eLearning

Petfood Industry brings on-demand access to the industry’s top thought leaders from any home or office with WATT eLearning.
This online educational portal from WATT Media (parent company of Petfood Industry and Petfood Forum) allows industry professionals to expand their knowledge without the added expense of travel and time spent away from the office. WATT eLearning allows users to view on-demand presentations from Petfood Forum events on a computer or smart phone, featuring speakers recognized as key experts in their industry. Some topics covered by eLearning Petfood Forum presentations include, probiotics, prebiotics, marketing petfood brands, importance of a balanced diet, mycotoxin control in grains and emerging petfood safety technologies. In the future, WATT eLearning will also eventually offer online courses taught by industry experts and academia.
To browse the selection of Petfood Forum presentations, log onto WATT eLearning's website and click on “Watt eLearning Catalog” in the upper right corner.

Stella & Chewy's founder featured on Inc. magazine cover

Marie Moody, president and founder of Stella & Chewy’s, appeared on the cover of Inc. magazine's October issue in an article discussing why she founded her petfood company.
The cover article, entitled “How to Launch Your Dream Company,” recounts the careers of five entrepreneurs from different industries who built successful enterprises based on what they love to do. In the article, Moody explains that she had no intention of launching a natural petfood line in 1998 when she was was nursing Chewy, a seriously sick dog she rescued from an animal shelter, back to health. Upon a veterinarian’s advice, she put the dog on a natural, raw diet to help him recover. With the help of veterinarian nutritionists, Moody then created her line of petfood and treats, and opened her production plant in 2007 in Muskego, Wis., USA.
“Chewy’s dramatic recovery inspired me to learn more about the benefits of less processed, natural petfoods,” Moody said in the article.

Good news from the Gulf, but not quite clear sailing yet

Petfood is once again proving to be a harbinger, as reports say scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as industry, are finding no signs of contamination from the Gulf oil spill in menhaden. Menhaden is a fish commonly used in many industries and foods, including petfood ingredients like fishmeal or omega-3 oils or powders, such as those supplied to the industry by Omega Protein.The good news is that results of a two-step testing process (involving officials smelling the catch of menhaden and other species and testing it for chemicals) have been favorable. Steve Wilson, chief quality officer for NOAA, says because menhaden tend to move around and swim away from problems in the water, the fact that the fish themselves have tested favorably means there is even less concern regarding the products made from them.Ben Landry, spokesperson for Omega Protein, says the company has also conducted its own tests of both menhaden and its own products and found no problems -- and some of its customers have even done their own testing."Nothing came back that would cause any concern either in our own testing or state or federal government testing," says Landry in an article on "The products we're making are completely safe."But we can't breathe easy just yet: A bigger fallout from the oil spill might be a decline in the menhaden population.Perhaps because his company's future depends on it, Landry again offers a positive outlook, saying the company's spotter planes and captains report seeing a "tremendous amount of fish out there ... Now again, this is anecdotal, but a lot of these captains have 30-plus years' experience."The commercial fishing season closes in less than a month, November 1, when menhaden begin their spawning season. Let's hope that brings good news, too.

Improved reporting makes petfood recalls more common, Reportable Food Registry better detect contamination

Petfood recalls are becoming more common partially due to improved reporting methods, according to a spokeswoman for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“Because of the Reportable Food Registry, the violations or problems are being reported to us, whereas before it was up to an inspection to find it," said Shannon Cameron, FDA spokeswoman. "Also, the agency has hired more personnel to follow up on complaints.”
FDA created the Reportable Food Registry in September 2009. The system mandates that manufacturers, packers and distributors of human food and animal feed report contamination or safety issues within 24 hours of detection. In addition, VIN News Service established an online recall center in response to complaints from veterinarians about the large number of recalls, which shows up-to-date lists of recalled feeds and veterinary drugs.

Iams kicks off 'Home 4 the Holidays' to help find homes, feed orphaned pets

Jack has taken part in the Iams Home 4 the Holidays initiative and adopted Jane from the Bideawee animal shelter in New York. / Photo courtesy Iams
Iams kicked off its "Home 4 the Holidays" initiative to help place 1.5 million orphaned pets into permanent homes this holiday season.
Between October 1, 2010 and January 4, 2011, Iams and founding partner Helen Woodward Animal Center will work to help pets find homes, and to provide 5 million bowls of food through the company's "Bags 4 Bowls" program. For every specially marked package of Iams dog or cat food purchased during the campaign, Iams will donate one bowl of food to a participating animal organization.
Additionally, anyone can visit Iams' Facebook page and "Like" the page itself, various messages, photos or videos posted. In return, Iams will donate up to 100 meals per "Like" or comment to feed orphaned animals. 

All American Pet Co. offers new products at convenience, drug stores

All American Pet Co. Inc. (AAPT) launched a new product strategy focused on the drug store and convenience store marketplace.
The company's Grrr-nola Dog Food Bar and Grrr-nola Natural dog food products are now available to consumers on the shelves of convenience and drug stores. This new product availability comes after a 67% increase in pet product sales over the previous year for 37,700 US drug stores.
"We are very excited about the opportunity to focus on this very large and un-tapped distribution channel for our new product forms. In addition to the health advantages, our convenient packaging now allows us to achieve a much broader product placement footprint, thereby touching many more customers," said Lisa Bershan, president of AAPT.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Making the case for pets in our lives

Those of us who love, live with and/or work with pets know intuitively the many benefits they bring to people. But can those benefits be quantified and backed by sound, scientific research?
More and more experts and entities seem to think so. About this time last year, global petfood giant Mars Petcare announced that its Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition was teaming up with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study whether animals have a tangible effect on children's well-being.
In fact, NIH recently issued a "funding opportunity announcement" -- government-speak for a grant application -- for the study of the impact of human-animal interaction on child health and development.
Its involvement is nothing new for the Waltham Centre, which Mars says "conducts and funds extensive research into the study of human-animal interaction." Just last week Mars unveiled its latest initiative, Power of Pets, a collaboration with YMCAs in five US cities to promote the benefits of pet ownership to human health. The project even has its own Facebook page.
Along with Power of Pets, Mars also released results of a study of 1,000 US pet owners on exercising with pets and other aspects of health and well-being they believe their pets confer. Highlights include:
  • Improving their overall well-being was the main reason respondents gave for having a pet, with 66% choosing it; 61% also said they owned pets because they wanted the companionship.
  • Half of the respondents said it's more important to maintain a positive relationship with their pet than with their best friend. Women were more likely to say this than men, 53% to 46%.
  • 95% said they have a very strong emotional connection to their pet, and 63% said they're extremely attached to their pet. Again, women were more likely to be extremely attached than men, 69% to 56%.
  • Respondents reported a gamut of positive emotions associated with their pets, such as happiness (83%), love (70%), calmness (65%), excitement (31%) and even invigoration (18%).
  • 36% of pet owners ages 18-44 admitted quality time with their pet excites them, compared to 22% of those 45 and older.
You might be thinking right about now: Of course a huge company like Mars can throw its vast resources behind research in this area. But it's not alone. Recently the American Pet Products Association (APPA), which represents hundreds of petfood (and other pet) companies of varying sizes, announced a similar initiative. APPA is partnering with Dr. Alan Beck at Purdue University to launch the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) with the main goals of creating a central database for all research on the topic and encouraging the US Congress to provide resources to NIH so it can allocate money toward such research.
For people in an industry like petfood, all of this may seem like preaching to the choir. In the September issue of Pet Business magazine, Bob Vetere, president of APPA, made the case: ... "The fastest growing demographic in the US population (Hispanic, Black, Asian and children) represent some of the lower incidences of pet ownership. Left unchecked, this does not bode well for such a vibrant industry. HABRI is one very positive way to address this trend."

Scientists track fish used in petfood after BP oil spill

Following the BP oil spill, scientists are closely monitoring the menhaden, or pogy, fish species used in petfood. Harvested menhaden are undergoing a two-step testing process that involves officials smelling the catch and testing it for chemicals.
"This was a deepwater spill," said Steve Wilson, chief quality officer for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s seafood inspection program. "In general, the fish tended to avoid the area, or when they did swim through, they did not maintain that contamination for long at all — at most, two days."
Wilson said because of this, tests of menhaden have been favorable, causing even less concern over contamination in products made from the fish. Scientists' main concern is whether or not the menhaden species will decline overall due to the Gulf oil spill, an effect that could be felt by consumers.
Ben Landry, a spokesperson for Omega Protein, a supplier of omega-3 based ingredients to the petfood industry, said the company's spotter planes flying over the Gulf so far are reporting good news. "Honestly, the population, as reported by our spotter planes and our captains, has been that there are a tremendous amount of fish out there," he said. "Now again, this is anecdotal, but a lot of these captains have 30-plus years experience. We’re hearing there’s a lot out there."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mars Petcare, YMCAs team up for Power of Pets program

Mars Petcare launched the Power of Pets program, a new community-focused initiative to help pets and their owners live healthier, happier lives.
A recent survey of 1,000 US pet owners conducted by Mars Petcare revealed that more than half of pet owners would prefer to exercise with their pet instead of alone. So, Mars Petcare is collaborating with YMCAs in five cities to bring pet-friendly health and physical activity education and programming to communities.
The Power of Pets program will offer family-focused healthy living fairs for pets and people at the following locations:
New York City, USA's  YMCA of Prospect Park on Oct. 16;

Chicago, USA's Hastings Lake YMCA on Oct. 23;
Washington, D.C., USA's YMCA of Silver Spring on Oct. 24;
Nashville, Tennessee, USA's Brentwood YMCA on Nov. 6; and
Portland, Oregon, USA in spring of 2011.
The Mars Petcare survey also found that improving overall well-being of humans was the main motive for two in three pet owners to get pet. Another incentive for a majority of pet owners to bring an animal home was about a pet's company, as over six in 10 surveyed wanted a pet’s companionship.

Whiskers Inc. a group that helps needy pet owners spay, neuter pets celebrates 13th birthday

In August, Virginia, USA non-profit organization Whiskers Inc. celebrated its 13th birthday.
This volunteer organization has served Accomack County, Virginia, USA since Aug. 2, 1997. The organization's goal is to aid pet caregivers with the cost of spaying, neutering or feeding their family pets. Whiskers is also involved in the Client Assistance Program with Accomack Animal Control, which provides free pet sterilizations for adopted shelter animals. As of July, Whiskers says it has financially assisted 3,231 cats and 605 dogs to be spayed or neutered.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Kansas receives FDA grant to further examine animal food

The Kansas Department of Agriculture announced it received a US$1.1 million grant to study petfoods and livestock feed.
Funds from the grant, which was awarded by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), will be used to further detect mycotoxins in petfood and feed. A portion of these funds will be used to purchase advanced laboratory equipment to help with this detection.
"Analyzing grain-based animal feed and petfoods for mycotoxins is an expansion of work we already to do ensure that they are safe for the animals consuming them," said Kansas Agriculture Secretary Josh Svaty.

Guide to Virtual Petfood Forum: Innovation learn the latest advances in our industry and interact with peers from around the world—all online

What innovations are happening in petfood that could help you continue to drive your business forward? Find out by signing up for Virtual Petfood Forum: Innovation on October 21. You can learn from experts, network with industry peers and leading suppliers from around the world—all for free and without leaving your office or home.
Think of Virtual Petfood Forum as an online event where petfood nutrition, safety and regulatory, production and packaging professionals along with veterinarians, technical consultants, sales professionals, C-level executives, business owners and buyers can engage in real-time interaction via chats, group chats, e-mails, Twitter or the exchange of electronic business cards.
Plus, this event will feature five industry experts sharing their knowledge and insights. See the full line-up of speakers and topics here.

Registering for Virtual Petfood Forum: Innovation gets you access to the live presentations—including live Q&A with each speaker—plus the sponsor center and networking lounge. You can enter and leave the event throughout the day as your schedule allows—or, if you can’t participate at all on October 21, you can access an archive of the event for 90 days afterward.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

RedMoon hires talking Boston Terrier as official 'spokesdog'

RedMoon Custom Pet Food hired Rex, a talking Boston Terrier, to an exclusive multi-year services contract as the petfood company's first official "spokesdog."
The story of Rex became an Internet phenomenon earlier this year when a one and a half-minute video monologue on YouTube showed off the dog's talent for fast-paced human speech.
“This food is so good, after eating it for a month I began to experience a change. Instead of simply howling my pleasure, I found I was able to express real satisfaction—I could even spell it out: R-E-D-M-O-O-N. So I sat my human down and got him to shoot a video on his handheld so I could tell the whole world what every dog and cat owner needs to know—”this stuff is supercharged’," said Rex in the YouTube video.
RedMoon scientists note that they cannot guarantee that other canines and felines consuming the company's products will develop the power of speech.