The following article is reprinted from   with permission from author Susan Thixton.

Thank you Susan.


Pentobarbitol in Dog Food Never Resolved

By Susan Thixton

-July 22, 2010


How is this happening? How do we stop it from ever happening again?? Who will help?


Cocolicious canned dog food recalled their canned dog food after tests revealed that it contained Pentobarbitol, the drug used to euthanize dogs and cats.

Other recent recalls involved  Evanger’s and Against the Grain dog foods; which also contained Pentobarbitol.

Something has to be done about this. SOMEONE with a voice larger than mine, PLEASE STEP FORWARD and help put an end to what could possibly be the most horrific chain of events in the pet food industry.

There is a lot of information about this on the internet. There are a lot of theories about how this could happen. I have my own opinion about it but you need to find out as much as you can and tell everyone you know.

Anyone with media power, please help.


“Men are from Mars, women are from Venus” according to Dr. John Gray, author of a fabulous best seller about the behavior of men and women, and their inability to fully understand each other. Dogs, on the other hand, are probably from Earth, because no matter what they do, someone has an explanation for it, whether we like the explanation or not; and the dog will never validate or deny it. The good news is that even if we don’t understand why the dog is doing what it’s doing, we can usually modify the behavior to a more positive and acceptable one.

One of the most frustrating behavioral problems, families with dogs have to face is chewing. In it’s extreme form, “Pica”, defined as a medical disorder, is an appetite for largely non-nutritive substances (e.g., coal, soil,feces, chalk, paper, soap, ash, etc. The shocking part is that this definition pertains to humans. With that in mind imagine what a dog will consume. Because Pica is a medical disorder, it is something that should be either diagnosed or ruled out by your veterinarian. Once it’s determined that your dog’s non-discretionary chewing is not driven by the need for nutritional fulfillment, and is totally a release from boredom and loneliness, you can modify his behavior through exercise, playtime, alternative chewables and toys and increased time together.

Coprophagia is even more frustrating and upsetting to me than a dog eating my favorite pair of Jimmy Choo shoes. (Pun intended) The nicest way to define coprophagia is to say that it is the consumption of poop. There are many reasons for this obsession with ones own waste, including and not limited to medical problems, nutritional needs, poorly digestible diet, boredom, curiosity, attempt to clean up a soiled area to avoid punishment, a learned behavior from the dog’s mother or something as simple as hunger. My experience with dogs that show signs of coprophagia is that most of them had been confined to small kennels for extended periods of time, usually in pet shops or over crowded breeders, where they are forced to eat, drink, sleep, play, defecate and urinate in the same small enclosure. Some dogs will also eat cat poop out of the litter box. I know it’s one of those “easier said than done” situations but preventing your dog’s access to litter boxes and immediately cleaning up after your dog does his business, is a good start in the right direction. Dogs that exhibit any desire to eat their stool, should be leash walked. As well, there are taste deterrents that can be inserted into stool to help correct the unwanted behavior. Talk to your veterinarian first, to make sure your dog is tested for any medical issues that may be the cause, and discuss alternative diets.

Allelomimetic Behavior is a psychological means by which all animals learn and are taught. It is defined as a  behavior in social animals in which each animal does the same thing as those nearby. Animals that pack, are more trainable than animals that do not. Animals like elephants, horses, and dogs, are prone to copying the actions found within the group hierarchy. It is believed that socialization plays an even bigger part in the development and training of a dog than the dog’s intelligence level. If you ever experienced adopting a second dog into your home, you probably noticed of how much easier it was to train the new dog, eventually realizing that he learned the ropes from the first dog. But allelomimetic behavior is not limited to the confines of the same species. When a dog becomes part of our family, we become the dog’s pack and in essence he will learn from and copy not only our actions but our emotions and attitudes!


The definition of instinct is: to behave in a way characteristic of a species; natural, unlearned, predictable response to stimuli. Instinctual actions are in contrast to actions based on learning.

So whose instincts am I talking about here, ours or our pets?

The dog is just being a dog. He comes hardwired but we download new programs to help him assimilate into a human society. Our instincts on the other hand are controlled by our greater ability to reason, as well as our intelligence, conscience, experience, insight, emotions and need for accountability. Yet we will make an informed decision to ignore our gut feelings; our instincts, in situations of imminent danger. It has been documented that a woman will decide to ignore her gut feelings and enter an elevator with a stranger even if she’s fearful of bodily harm from that person.

More often than I care to think about, I receive calls from people whose households are terrorized by their dogs. These people are truly afraid of the dog they live with. The more times I say it out loud the more I can’t believe it. The dog may be following its instinct to control the pack, by mouthing, biting, barking, jumping, and scratching. The person is ignoring their instinct to be afraid and makes an informed decision to accept the dog’s behavior and live with the fear and sometimes, the ultimate reality of being bitten, scratched and tormented by the dog.

Now I ask you, as I have asked myself many times, why would anyone choose to live with a dog, or cat or any other animal, that they are afraid of?

How many of us seek the thrills of a scary movie or an amusement park ride, even though our hearts may beat a little faster? We may sweat and close our eyes or even scream but we know that there’s a safety valve waiting in the wings because when the lights go on and the ride slows to a stop, we will be okay. But believe me when I tell you that there is no safety valve on your dog. If he is biting relentlessly or shows persistent hostility as a puppy, he will not outgrow it. The cute stage will diminish rapidly when you or a family member becomes the target of his uncontrollable instinct to bite.

You must learn to pay more attention to your own instincts; as the signs are very obvious. Don’t ignore them. If you think your dog’s behavior is more than just the normal puppy prankster stage, the teething stage or the adjustment to a new home stage, talk to your veterinarian, the breeder the dog came from, or a professional trainer and don’t dismiss the too rambunctious nipping stage with the belief it is only a stage and he will grow out of it. Furthermore, by ignoring this negative, unwanted and potentially harmful behavior, you are “validating” it.

Caution: don’t rely on “happily ever after” TV families depicted as perfect dog/kid relationships. Not every kid completes a dog and not every dog completes a kid. They are two very distinct personalities and it’s not improbable to assume that these personalities at times can clash. Many breeds that have been falsely acclaimed as the “perfect dog for children” have been unfortunately dethroned due to random and unprovoked bouts of aggression, especially directed at the children of the household. Surprisingly enough, Cocker Spaniels and Beagles have made the list. The rise in popularity carries with it a rise in “not characteristic to the breed” behavioral issues and has tarnished the “Golden” reputation of the beloved Retriever and his close best friend, the Lab. Is this due to over breeding and in-breeding? My guess would be, it probably has a lot to do with it, but the circumstances, which the puppies live in during their first 2 months of life, probably play a big part in their development as well. Over crowding and lack of individual human attention, as well as taking puppies away from their mothers before they are ready to face the world, or before they have learned from their litter mates as well as their mother to know their role in a pack society, can cause emotional problems and the inability to adjust to new environments.

A new puppy should be a joyful addition to your family. If you know in your heart that this is not the right situation for your family and you are concerned about leaving your children in the same room with the dog, trust your instincts.


The moment a puppy, older or rescued dog comes into our homes and into our hearts, we must take full responsibility for his or her health and well being, socialization skills by giving it an abundance of love, understanding and guidance. Your dog’s life is dependent upon you and- at the risk of sounding heavy – sometimes it’s matter of life or death. 

For some of us, caring for a puppy or older dog comes naturally and some of us will learn as we go; but it should never be at your dog’s expense. You never want your dog to pay the penalty of trial and error, as some errors cannot be undone.

Dogs are not people too, and they cannot safely consume every type of food that we take for granted. Here’s a few you may not be aware of: alcohol, avocados, candy, chocolate (baker’s and dark being the worst), coffee, tea, onions, garlic, grapes, macadamia nuts, raisins, salt, green potatoes and potato skin, apple seeds, fruit pits, dietary products including sugar-free gum, caffeine and tobacco. Peanut butter is a favorite treat for dogs but some manufacturers like GNC use Xylotol in manufacturing, which is extremely toxic to canines.

An accident waiting to happen may not be obvious and can be hiding out in plain sight, like plants that you would never suspect are poisonous. Less obvious hidden dangers may be lurking behind closed cabinet doors and come in the form of: prescription drugs, household chemicals and insecticides. Last but not least, the least obvious offenders that appear relatively benign may actually prove to be just as toxic to your dog. These items, manufactured and marketed for human consumption, may be found in family households and supermarkets. And even though you could never imagine a dog would chow down on clothes detergent, you never know.

Because love, a meal and a warm blanket are not enough, keep the following information handy in your kitchen or taped inside a cabinet door for quick reference. This is by no means a complete list of all the hazards that need to be eliminated, but rather an informative beginning to a subject that might have us thinking to ourselves, “Hmmm. I didn’t know that!”

Prescription and over-the-counter drugs are highest on the list for cases of poisoning. Painkillers, cold medicines, antidepressants, vitamins and diet pills can be lethal to dogs and cats, even in small doses. Even dog friendly pharmaceuticals must be dosed correctly by your veterinarian. Please check with your vet first before giving your dog or cat any medications.

Household cleaners and chemicals are highly toxic. Detergents, stain removers, soaps, disinfectants, antiseptics, bleach, antibacterial agents, toilet/drain/oven cleaners, mold and mildew removers, counter, floor, and window cleaners, as well as personal bathing, shampooing and hygiene products and even toothpaste may be exceedingly harmful to our pets. Any chemical used for care of a car, lawn, swimming pool, septic tank or cesspool should be considered highly toxic and handled and stored appropriately. Keeping chemical products in bins inside cabinets can help reduce easy access if a cabinet is unintentionally left open.

Pest control and insect repellents are not only toxic when consumed directly by your dog but the consumption of a poisoned animal can result in secondary poisoning. Fly bait, mothballs, ant traps may look like chew toys to your dog. Flea and tick powder, mosquito repellents used by humans and pets can be highly toxic. Oral tick and flea control as well as heart-worm medications should be stored safely – especially since they’re made to be palatable to your pet.

Indoor and outdoor plants, whether common year round household variety or seasonal holiday specialty plants, pose a danger if ingested. It is imperative that you know the species and recognize the symptoms of poison in case your dog or cat decides to dine on any them. Some of the names you may recognize are: Lilies, Azaleas, Rhododendron, Schefflera, Kalanchoe, Sago Palm, Ferns, Ivy, Hyacinth, Narcissus, Daffodil, Oleander, Dieffenbachia, Jasmine, Mistletoe, Poinsettias, and Easter lilies.

Small enough to swallow doesn’t mean it’s harmless. Beware of pennies from the 1980s to present day, which contain zinc. Zinc toxicity can result from the ingestion of one single penny. Independent of the date, be scrupulous about keeping all coins out of your dogs reach.

It’s hard to remember all the details outlined in this column. So, the quick and easy way to puppy proof your home, for the love and longevity of a happy pet, is as follows:

1) Make a list of “undesirable” products.

2) Make these products inaccessible to your dog.

3) Keep your vet’s phone number posted – better still, put it in your cell phone “contacts”.

4) Ask your vet for his 24-hour emergency referral phone number and address, and know how to get there. If you have a GPS, store the information

5) Keep your local Poison Control office number posted or call the ANIMAL POISON CONTROL CENTER 888-4ANI-HELP (888-426-4435). A fee may be charged to your credit card.

Love your pet within a sphere of safety and well-being.


Just as the relationship between parent and child has changed over the years, from disciplinarian to a more relaxed friendship, so has the relationship between human and canine. With this change has come a born-again kind of love for dogs and the quality of their lives has become as important as any other family member. This is good thing; a very good thing. However, the dog, just like the child, must be taught to have social grace and to fit into our household routine and society as a whole because of the outside activities and excursions that our furry family members are included in. There have to be rules and regulations, schedule and boundaries and basically things that are OK and not OK for your dog to do.

Here are some tips straight from the trainer’s mouth! One commonality I see in every household is “avoidance.” In other words, if you avoid the situation you won’t have to deal with it. So, instead of teaching your dog not to beg at the table during meals, you put him in his crate or another room where he is out of sight, out of mind. Another example would be guests coming into your home, your dog barks and jumps on them and is generally disruptive. What do you do? Again, he goes in his crate or another room to avoid the hassle and embarrassment.

What would I do? Glad you asked. I would have a “dress rehearsal.” Don’t wait for Thanksgiving to teach Harley not to beg at the table. Don’t teach him how to greet people when your boss is at the door. These may be exaggerations but I know you get the point. Even during Wednesday night dinner everyone is tired from school and work and they’re hungry and not in the mood to deal with Harley’s antics. Never work with your dog when you’re agitated. He will pick up on it immediately and become agitated as well. The lesson will be worthless.

Try to reenact the situations you want to correct. Put a collar and leash on Harley and bring him to a mat or dog bed somewhere in the kitchen, have him sit, lie down, and stay, and give him one of his chew toys. Then sit down at the table with a cookie…yours, not his. If he gets up to come to you, firmly tell him “NO,” and nicely tell him to “go to place,” take him there and redo the down/stay. Start with a few minutes and increase the length of time he stays, as you practice. Within a few weeks, he should understand going to his mat on command and staying there. “Go to place” is a great alternative to “go to your kennel.” Use this exercise during other household activities like cooking or washing the floor.

OK, now for the front door scenario. Again, set up a dress rehearsal. Ask a neighbor or friend to stop by and ring the door bell and knock on the door. Tell your guest to “wait a minute.” With Harley on collar and leash, door unlocked, have Harley sit/stay at least 15 feet away from the front door. Tell your guest to come in and stand just inside the door. When Harley proceeds to bark or jump, tell him “NO” and take him away from the door and into another room. Have him sit/stay there and let him calm down. Bring him toward your guest again but not all the way. The goal is to have Harley sit/stay calmly a few feet away from the guest. Then if desired, the guest can pet your dog UNDER his chin; not over his head, and continue into the house

Always remember to praise your dog for a good job. Affection goes further than biscuits and is always available.

It just takes patience and practice in order to condition your dog to respond in a desired way. Only 10 to 15 minutes each time is best; for both of you. What you are doing is teaching him to sit on the sideline. Not all family members participate in all family activities. The family dog should abide by the same rule.


“Couldn’t be fresher if you cooked it yourself.”  Ever hear that phrase used to describe what you feed your dog?  Well, I DO cook it myself and a lot of people, have a lot of questions. The most frequently asked questions are:

1. What do you cook?

2.How do you cook it?

3. Will the dogs eat until they are sick?

4. Do they have diarrhea from it?

5. Do they fight over it?

6. Does it make them beg at the table?

7. Isn’t it expensive?

8. Can dogs really eat that?

PLEASE BE AWARE that there are foods, like raisins, grapes, onions, for example,  that can and will make your dog ill.  Particular foods are toxic to dogs and should never be fed to them. As with any food or dog food, change of diet takes time to adjust to and should be done slowly. I will follow up with a list of foods that are harmful.

So, just to give you a brief look without getting too specific;

WHAT:  chicken, beef, fish, vegetables, fruit, cheese, eggs, sometimes oatmeal, sometimes brown rice.

( I do not feed them corn- the yellow you see in the photo is egg)

( The red in the above photo is fresh pepper) ( I do not give them green pepper)

HOW: boiled, oven roasted/baked, steamed

No, the dogs do not eat until they are sick. They are given a measured portion and they eat it slowly and enjoy it.

Any change of diet must be done slowly to avoid causing diarrhea. My dogs, who have been on REAL food for a very long time, go to the “bathroom” less often than they did when they ate DOG food.  Water consumption is much less than that of dogs eating dry food.

They do not fight over the food and they do not beg at the table. They are not fed from the table to start with and that would be encouraging, validating and condoning negative behavior. In addition, they are very satisfied after they have their own meal.

Expensive?  I have weighed, measured and calculated this preparation of food for my canine family for a long time. It amounts to slightly less than a high priced dog food that I would choose if I was buying one.

Consider their health and it’s a bargain as far as I’m concerned.

By the way, I can and do eat the same food I feed to my canine family.

Look for more posts….


Doggie Daycare. Just say the words and my head conjures up images of Eddie Murphy running after some kid in a superhero cape, wreaking havoc in Eddie’s house like Hurricane Hanna. But unlike most of Eddie’s movies, there’s a lesson to be learned here, and that is, that Doggie Daycare is the answer to “Dear Jenna…I work all day and my dog is alone from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. I can’t leave him loose in the house because he’s so destructive. Do you think it’s okay to keep him in a kennel all those hours? The answer is NO, it’s not okay, so if you don’t use a Doggie Daycare, at least find a responsible dog walker.

If your dog ever had any formal training, you might recall that he or she was really tired after an hour, even though the exercises were mentally and not physically challenging. Dogs need stimulation. They do get bored and they do get lonely. Doggie daycare offers all the things to your dog that kindergarten would offer to a toddler. Safety and well being plus fun and learning are the perfect combination.

Ask for a tour of the facility. Find out if they hired some teenagers for playtime and walking or if the staff is experienced in handling dogs. How long are they in business and are they licensed? How safe is the facility? Is it clean? Are medical records required and must the dogs be up to date on vaccines? You don’t want your dog coming home with kennel cough. Are the dogs separated into groups depending on temperament and size? Is there a menu of ala carte activities? Can they handle emergency situations? Are there indoor as well as outdoor provisions? Can you bring your dog for an hour and observe?

Think about going swimming at your favorite vacation hotel. How fun is that? Well, your dog will think so too, especially if your cherished canine is a lab or golden. Pet Hotels are sprouting up like 7/11s, so visit a few before you decide what to do. The questions are basically the same and I know you know what to look for. I was amazed at some of the facilities I’ve seen lately.

The hotel I was most impressed with included things that even I would not have imagined possible. I will share some of the wonderful features she has incorporated in her magnificent pet hotel, but by all means, not all of these things are necessary for everyone’s dogs to be comfortable, happy, safe and well cared for. Imagine this – each private room has a child’s bed and mattress for your dog to sleep on, a T.V., and computerized nanny-cam so you can go onto the Internet from any computer or cell phone while on vacation, and watch your dog live! I love that. The outdoor play area is covered with Astro-turf type ground cover with a built-in filtration system so the dogs never get dirty. Of course if they do, there is a grooming salon on premises. There is also an indoor pool that was more than inviting, a massage and therapy room, indoor playrooms, training rooms, and rooms I can’t even remember.

The bottom line is, no matter what the “extras” are, your dog is better off in a safe and happy environment, whether it’s for a few hours or a few days, and it’s your job to check it out before you check him in!


Are expecting a new baby and do you have a dog? If you are, I know you must have given thought to how to handle the dog when that joyous event takes place. Here’s some help to alleviate or head off some of the issues that might arise.

1. Gradually reduce the time spent with your dog before the baby comes so that he will not feel neglected or rejected. If you know that your dog will need to be separated from you when you are attending to the baby in a particular room, start using that room for reading or relaxing, and do not allow your dog to be with you at that time.

2. Discourage your dog from jumping on furniture used for the baby before the baby comes.

3. Get your dogs accustomed to the smells of a new baby by applying baby lotions and powders to your arms prior to the baby coming home.

4. Slowly introduce baby related noises into the household to help keep your dog calm and relaxed when it’s the real thing.

5. If your dog is your number one fan, try to have another household member take over some of the “dog” responsibilities and playtime bonding, a few months in advance of the baby’s arrival.

6. Hire a responsible, overly-friendly, dog-loving dog walker before the baby comes.

7. Use the babies name when talking to the dog so he is familiar with it.

8. Even though I believe your dog will definitely know the difference between a real live human baby and a doll, try putting the baby lotion and powder on a blanketed or diapered doll. It will help to get your dog used to some of the routines of holding the baby in a blanket or walking your dog next to a baby stroller or carriage. You can put the baby scented doll in a car seat or feeding seat and teach your dog to “sit quietly next to it but without “TOUCHING”.

When the new baby arrives, gradually increase together time with your dog.


Who can upstage the combination of kids and dogs? They just go together. Remember Timmy and Lassie, Spanky and Petey, the list goes on. But unfortunately, there aren’t too many Lassies, and fortunately, there was only one Spanky.

Statistics show that most serious injuries caused by dog bites involve medium to large breed dogs and children under the age of 5. The reality here is the dog is usually the family’s pet, or a dog that the child knows well and has had contact with before.

Generally speaking, both the child and the dog need to be taught the dos and don’ts of proper behavior, as well as learning to respect each other for what they are. By this, I mean a child will play with a dog as though it is another child and the dog will play with a child as though it is another dog. But let’s start with the scenario of a child meeting a non-family-pet.

1. A child should know to ALWAYS ask permission to pet a dog no matter how friendly the dog looks or acts.

2. A dog must be approached slowly. The child should extend their hand in front of the dog’s face so the dog can smell the child.

3. Never pet the dog by reaching over its head. That is a huge mistake and one that I see all the time. It will often make the dog lift its head up and back and open its mouth. Sometimes “going over the top,” as it is called, will be interpreted as a threatening gesture. Pet the dog under his chin.

4. Caution is advised when approaching a sick, injured, nursing or elderly dog.

5. Children should never run towards a dog or throw their arm around it.

6. Never tease a dog or throw things at it, it causes the dog to become agitated.

7. As a rule do not let your child take a toy or food away from a dog or bother it when it’s sleeping.

8. Children must know without exception to never reach their hand out to touch a dog that is kenneled, in a car, in the back of a truck or behind a fence.

Ever wonder why your new puppy or dog is nipping your child and not you? Observe the interaction between the two and take note of how they play with each other. Does your child play tug-of-war with your dog? Did your child see you do that? Tell the truth! Well that is something dogs do with each other.

Does your child love to have your dog chase them? Again, something dogs do with each other. See the pattern. If the puppy thinks your child is another puppy, she/he will nip, jump on, scratch and bark at your child. Of course the puppy must be taught to have “social grace,” but additionally your child must learn to handle the puppy/dog properly, by never teasing, hitting, pulling its tail or ears, startling, cornering, chasing, or inappropriately taking food or toys away. NEVER let your child reach under the kitchen or dining room table to grab your dog. No one should ever do that. Here’s a quick tip; if your child is sitting on the floor and the puppy is out of control, teach your child to stand up and turn away from the dog.

One more thing, dogs will always pick on the weakest of the pack, in this case…the pack being your family. Never mistreat your dog; he may in turn harm you child.