Letters November 1998 Issue

Cancer Treatments, Dental Care, and Human-Grade Food

Advice from a Cancer Veteran

Following a heart-rending (and fatal) cancer experience visited upon my beloved Great Dane, Hal (our whole story is recounted at http://members.tripod.com/~RHallenbeck), I was apprehensive about reading your cancer article (October 1998). I was a little afraid you might take a position that I had tortured my pet with traditional treatments when I could’ve cured him with a handful of caraway seeds and a half-a-dozen bee’s knees. But I was reassured by your comment that if there were anything that worked all the time, we would all be using it.

I read most of the article to my husband this morning when he got home from work and we agreed that the WDJ article took a balanced, fair approach to the problem. I liked your choice of the word “conundrum;” it is that, indeed.

In the next issue, will you address the grief aspect of losing a pet to cancer? Unlike a sudden accident, cancer can keep an owner tied up in knots for long periods of time. We know when we acquire pets that we will most likely outlive them – it’s just the reality of that situation that becomes difficult! There are many places on the net that offer information and support, for instance, http://petloss.com has a lot of useful information and links. I especially like the article and resources about grief and pet loss at http://petloss.com/muns.htm. And I always advise the people who contact me, who are struggling with grief, guilt and anger, to be sure to take care of themselves physically – to eat nourishing foods and be sure to get plenty of rest.

And also, I recommend http://www.creatures.com/which includes excerpts from the book, “Will I See Fido in Heaven?” It sounds simplistic, but as a Christian, I was comforted by this. I believe that the God who created our animal companions will wrap His mighty arms around us when it is time to bid them goodbye.

-Vicky Hallenbeck
Winston-Salem, NC

Thanks so much for your recommendations. I’m certain they will help a number of people who, sadly, have found themselves in a painful situation similar to the one you were in with Hal.



Great Dental Treatment

Congratulations to the Whole Dog Journal and author Susan Eskew for an excellently written and accurately portrayed, very informative article on the topic of canine oral health (“The Truth About Teeth,” August 1998). Your ethics and accuracy in discussing an area of veterinary medicine was handled with a thoroughness that is refreshing to see in a journal written for the dog owning public. It has been a pleasure working with you on this project.

-Edward R. Eisner, DVM,
Diplomate and President
American Veterinary Dental College


Human-Grade Ingredients

I wanted to tell you how grateful I am for WDJ. As a member of a non-profit rescue in my area, I became interested in canine nutrition and holistic therapy after seeing all the health problems you mentioned in your September 1998 issue on canned dog food, plus an alarming rate of cancer, skin, kidney, liver problems and other diseases in many of our dogs.

Of particular interest in your article was the statement, “It also means meats that are human grade when referring to the best quality ingredients available in commercial dog food.” I am all too aware of the inclusion of grain and vegetable discards and “4-D” meats in dog food (not to mention rancid oils and other fats). You tell it like it is regarding the pet food industry’s practices and I agree that an ingredient unfit for human consumption is not fit for my dog.

With that in mind, I was disappointed to see that out of the top 10 canned dog foods featured, only two, California Natural and Spot’s Stew, were listed as using human-grade ingredients. The other foods were given high marks for being “forthcoming about the sources of ingredients” and “devoted to quality ingredients” but I cannot understand why some of these companies use human-grade ingredients and others don’t. After all, they are targeting consumers who want the very best for their dogs and are willing to pay a super premium price.

If these companies are devoted to the health of our dogs as they claim, they should use the highest quality ingredients, which to me means human-grade. In addition, why would I pay $1.79 a can (in my area) for food with organic beef in it if the other ingredients are not human-grade? By the way, that particular company used to advertise human-grade ingredients and when I called the company to ask why they stopped I got “no comment” as my answer. Most dog food manufacturers are tight-lipped about their ingredients – a red flag if I ever saw one and not exactly a sign of product pride.

I agree that these top 10 companies are the best of the best but if they want my business, they’d better pull their socks up and guarantee only human-grade ingredients.

By the way, I made that appointment with my friendly neighborhood butcher three years ago and feed only fresh human-grade meat, grain and vegetables to my five dogs. If you learn to shop wisely it doesn’t cost much more than dog food and saves lots of money on vet bills.

-Billie Cecero
Palm Beach Gardens, FL


New Bowls Helped A Lot

Thank you for the article on dog bowls (August 1998). Because of that article, we switched to stainless steel. We used to use plastic for water and food. We rinsed them out occasionally, but never even thought they might be causing our Lab’s stomach upset! We feed him raw hamburger with his dry food, and occasionally rice as well. Now, we wash his bowls every day, and this, as well as switching bowls, has helped his stomach a LOT!

Thanks for a wonderful journal! It’s a big influence in our lives.

-Kris Collins

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