March 2005 Letters


Good Timing
This is just a heartfelt, appreciative, giant, THANK YOU for an article in the January 2005 issue, “What Promotes Bloat?”

We have lived with Dobermans for more than 30 years. Most have been lucky enough to become champions (owner-handled) in the conformation or obedience ring. We thought we had experienced every sort of emergency in our many years with these wonderful spirits.

The January issue arrived, and for some reason, I quickly perused the article on bloat. As the fates would have it, not two days later, on a Saturday night during the holidays (of course) our youngest bitch (six years), Zen, was starting to exhibit a lot of restlessness. I completed several minor tasks that evening, keeping her in sight. A half hour had passed, and as I walked down the hall toward her, the “symptoms” box from the article flashed in my mind. I felt her abdomen and sides, reached for my purse and car keys, and informed my husband that we were all going to the emergency vet.

By 9 pm, Zen was in surgery for – you guessed it – torsion plus bloat. The surgeon “tacked” her stomach so that it wouldn’t happen again. I can tell you for a fact that we would not have acted as quickly as we did had I not read that article in WDJ. Zen was home in 48 hours, her staples were removed 10 days later, and she is back to being her mischievous self again.

Judith Segale
via e-mail

Timing is everything, isn’t it? We’re happy to have had such luck in publishing the article at the ideal time for your family.


Dry Food Review
I just read the review of dry dog foods (“Why We Like Whole Foods,” February 2005). Only the newest additions to your “approved” list were described in detail. The past selections to your “approved list” were listed but not described. Also, the top favorites were not ranked. Which foods are considered the best? In the past, I thought you listed the top five.

Teesh Rayner
via e-mail

We first reviewed dry foods in our second issue, published in April 1998. Every year since then, we’ve published our annual dry food review in the February issue. In 1999, we first used the phrase “Top 10 Dry Dog Foods.” We didn’t rank those “top 10” foods; we presented them as equals in alphabetical order. We repeated the format in 2000.

By 2001, the “premium” dog food revolution was well underway; this segment of the pet food market had markedly expanded and the number of foods we knew that met our selection criteria had increased way past 10. That was the year we stopped using the phrase “top 10.” We did this for the same reason we have never rank-ordered our selections, and the reason we’ll never say which food is “best.”

Our goal is to steer you into the right part of the pet supply store – to help you identify the hallmarks of the high-quality foods from among which you should select the “best” for your dog.

There is NO “best” for ALL dogs. We’re just trying to get you in the right ballpark, where you can test the various top-quality options on your dog. We might have a long-standing affection for a certain beef and barley food, based on its apparent quality and its positive effect on our own dogs. But there’s no way that food would be “best” for a dog who is allergic to beef!

Regarding detailed descriptions of all the foods on our new and past “approved” lists: There are almost 50 foods on our “approved” list, and we’ve described some of them several times. We hate to take up space repeating the same information to our long-term subscribers, but we appreciate the dilemma this poses for newer readers. In the future, we’ll try to find a way to include descriptions of all past selections.


There were several errors in “Matters of the Heart” (February 2005):

• The descriptions of the mitral and tricuspid valves were switched. The mitral valve separates the left atrium from the left ventricle; the tricuspid valve separates the right atrium from the right ventricle. Thanks to Berklee Robins, MD, for noting this error.

• The descriptions of certain Omega fatty acids were also switched. Linoleic and gamma-linolenic acid are Omega-6s. These are found in raw nuts, seeds, legumes, borage, grapeseed, primrose, and sesame. Alpha-linolenic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are Omega-3s. Soybeans contain both Omega-3 and Omega-6 EFAs. Thanks to Certified Tellington TTouch Practitioner Claudeen E. Mc Auliffe, MS, for alerting us to these errors.

• Finally, an editing error led at least one reader to worry that the amino acids taurine and carnitine can cause heart conditions in dogs. It is actually a lack of taurine that can cause dilated cardiomyopathy in cats; similar problems have not been reported in dogs. A carnitine deficiency has been implicated in heart disease in humans, and there is evidence that it may also be involved in occasional canine heart problems. We regret the errors.