I love meeting with veterinarians who “get it,” and who “get us,” the pet parents who do right by their dogs and seek the honest truth in achieving the best care possible for our canine companions. I also love hearing from respected vets about chicken jerky and dog friendly travel, as both are topics important to us and Fidose readers.
While in New York last month to cover the Westminster Kennel Club Agility show and New York Pet Fashion Show, I had the privilege to sit down one on one with Dr. Liz Hanson, a veterinary from California. Dr. Hanson has contributed to insightful articles with the Associated Press and has been featured on Real Money” on ABC Television’s “World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer.”
Dr. Hanson has some very strong opinions when it comes to safe products for pets, so meeting with her to discuss two topics near and dear to our hearts was a pleasure. I sat down for a face-to-face interview with Dr. Hanson to discuss safe treats for dogs and safety when traveling with dogs. Here’s the scoop on our chat.
I lost my lost Cocker Spaniel to complications from IBD (irritable bowel disease). Looking back to 2008, I firmly believe in my dog mom heart that store bought chicken jerky contributed to and/or caused her issues. No matter what we did, nothing was helping her: And trust me, we tried everything and sought help from a university and then some.
“As a consumer, you have to be your pet’s best advocate,” Dr. Hanson shared. “Look at the package and check out the ingredients. The product should be both made in and sourced in the United States. It absolutely must say sourced in the USA.”
How many of you actually knew that “made in the USA” does not guarantee the product was sourced in the United States? Further, Dr. Hanson says that if you do not recognize the ingredients as those considered “wholesome,” then do not buy it. Meat meal is not considered to be a wholesome ingredient.
“When reading the ingredient list, know that the very first ingredients are the ones of which the treat is mostly made,” Hanson reported. “I see dogs coming into my practice who are vomiting, have diarrhea, and increased urination along with increased thirst. These are all troubling signs for a pet, and pet parents should seek help immediately.”
Personally, we plan to invest in a treat dehydrator. After reading about them and doing a boatload of research, our tipping point came when we read posts over on Kol’s Notes blog. She inspired us to get more involved in making our own jerky and feeling safe in doing so.
Ingredients to Avoid in Dog Treats
- Artificial preservatives (ie BHA, BHT, calcium propioinate, ethoxyquin, sodium nitrate)
- Artificial colors
- Chemical humectants (i.e. propylene glycol). This is often used to keep treats moist and chewy.
Remember, In general, treats should not make up more than 10-15% of a pet’s total diet.
As a dog mom who has traveled the country with her dogs for over 20 years, pet safety when traveling is a hot and important topic for us.
“The third most common reason for car accidents in this country is a dog getting in the way,” Dr. Hanson shared. “It is important for dogs to be in a crate when traveling and the crate should then be restrained.”
In addition to keeping a dog safe when traveling, preparing appropriately for a trip is essential as well. Have clean bowls and access to fresh water when traveling, as dogs can dehydrate.
When going long distances, as our road warrior pal, Kim Kiernan did last year from California to Connecticut with her dog, it is advised to have a buddy with you. In the event the bathroom facilities are needed, someone will always be present to walk and watch the dog.
What if your dog hates car travel? According to Dr. Hanson, the best thing to do is to recondition and retrain your dog. Personally, I treat the car like we are on a trip to doggie Disneyland. Take small trips around the block, perhaps even to the end of your street. Reward your dog with praise and treats as if they just won first prize in a cutest dog contest.
In the event you must travel with a dog who simply despises car travel, consider sedating him or her, according to Dr. Hanson. The doctor specifically mentioned Bonine to help dogs cope with motion sickness when traveling. Although this is an over-the-counter medication, please check with your veterinarian before administering any sort of medication to your dog. Remember, too, meds like Dramamine, Benadryl, and Bonine cause drowsiness, so don’t expect your dog to be as rip roaring to go upon arrival. Give him plenty of time to rest post car ride.
About Dr. Hanson:
Dr. Hanson has two miniature long-haired Dachshunds, “Peanut” and “Butter”, two leopard geckos, African cichlids, and a cat named “Martini.” When Dr. Hanson is not practicing Veterinary Medicine she and her husband enjoy watching their four sons compete in swimming and golf. She also loves to cook, read, and most of all, travel.
Do you have concerns about chicken jerky? Do you travel with your dog? Bark at us in the comments below.