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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Hey, it's 2008!

Wow, can you believe that 2007 is over? Up until the past few snowstorms, I was in denial that it was winter. My brain was still thinking about those last few plants that never made it into the ground (the dead ones that are still in nursery pots and now under 4 inches of snow!)

I haven't blogged in a while, so there are some new updates to the site and to life in general. I finally updated my blogs/links list with some blogs that I read. There is some good news - Yogi is in remission! - and also some new friends (check out Sophie). I also added a poll asking if you guys check the ingredients label on your pet treats (more on that later in this post).

Our household had a good Christmas and a quiet end to 2007. Waldo was spoiled rotten with toys and treats from family and friends. He even got a nice little snowman squeaky toy from the daycare folks at Gibson Kennels.

From the moment Mr. Snowman made it out of the bag, Waldo took to dragging him around the house by his face. His face! Do I have a budding serial killer on my hands?!?!

Waldo also got his fair share of bully sticks; here he is chewing on one with the sweetest expression on his face.

As I have written about before, we've tried our best to clean up his diet, including switching him to a raw diet supplemented with high-quality kibble. Christmas is a time for indulgence, and I probably let him have more treats than he needed.

After Christmas is also the time when we all start to notice our expanding waistlines again, so I thought it was particularly funny when someone gave Waldo a bag of "Guilt-Free Treats" (tm). The marketer in me appreciated the marketing angle. I also appreciated the effort of them trademarking the generic phrase.

In case you can't read it, the front of the bag says "1/3 less fat" and "spoil 'em more often". When we got home, I left it by the table next to his kennel. (Each time we tell him to "get in your pen", we give him a treat.) This morning, I happen to turn over the bag and read the ingredients. The third ingredient was high fructose corn syrup! What??/

We've tried to rid our own diet of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) by actively reading the labels when we are at the market. (If you want more info on HFCS, here are a few good clips- one from the Mayo Clinic and another from San Francisco's major newspaper.) I'm still trying to make reading labels a regular habit; this weekend, I saw that Campbell's soup was on sale and threw a few cans in our cart without thinking twice. Rich picked them up and read the labels - each had either MSG or high fructose corn syrup in them. Yuck! No more creamy tomato soup for me......

Anyway, I hadn't thought about HFCS as an ingredient in pet food. I know it's used as a sweetener in sodas and cookies but I hadn't realized that it's in our pet foods too. I checked the pet treat cabinet and was surprised to find several forms of corn syrup (either high fructose corn syrup, regular corn syrup or corn syrup solids) listed as an ingredient in all of the bagged treats.

There are proponents of HFCS that will argue that it is not linked to obesity and that it is a cost-effective alternative to sugar. However, I can't think of any reason that HFCS should be in dog or cat treats! Dogs are carnivores whose digestive systems are meant to process meat; not HFCS.

So, I will ask the blogosphere: do you check your pet treat labels? Please take the poll (upper left of the blog page). If you need more space to weigh in on HFCS, please leave a comment.

Thanks and happy 2008 to all!


Graham, Prince & Tilly said...

I do like to check ingredients lists for both me and Tilly, and Prince previously. Funnily, I don't think I've ever seen HFCS listed here in the UK. It may not be used, our labeling laws may not require it to be listed, or there may be some other reason. Most dog treats here seem to be 'savoury' and of the meaty variety, so perhaps sweetners aren't often added. I seem to recall that more treats in the US are 'sweet', like peanut butter and things like that.

Having said all that, we have more than our fair share of nasties snuck into our pet treats too, and I think cutting them out has to be a good thing.

It's great to hear that you all had a good holiday, and that Waldo has been enjoying disrespecting his new pal!

Melisa said...

Happy New Year!

I don't check labels. I guess I should; after all, I do it for us humans...why not Roxie?

I loved your Waldo photos, especially the one with the stick. He is so cute!

Speaking of cute, check out my Suburban Scrawl blog for a photo of Roxie that you will just melt over. :)

Suburban Scrawl
Remembering Ruby

HandH said...

I check them now, ever since Herbie got ill, but I was more looking out for weird preservatives, not sugar! Fortunately, there are one or two pet bakeries that make dog treats with no additives or sugar (but they're expensive). I've bought a book on making your own, and I keep promising the dogs I'll cook some treats up.

Lesley Rigby said...

Happy New Year!

Linda, I have laughed so much at Waldo dragging the snowman around by his face. Its a good job these toys don't have feelings...........