Category Archives: Pet Product Warnings

Antifreeze Poisoning in Pets

One would hope that all pet owners are aware of this household danger, but just in case there are a few people out there who aren’t, or if you suspect your pet has gotten into some antifreeze and want to know what the symptoms are, we are publishing them here.

First of all, if you even suspect your pet may have antifreeze poisoning, do not delay getting them to the vet. Time is of the essence if your pet is going to recover at all.  It only takes 5 teaspoons to kill a 10 pound dog. And just because it is soaked up by the dirt on the ground does not mean your pet won’t lick it up or eat the dirt to get at it. Antifreeze has a sweet taste, and so it is very appealing to pets and even small children.

antifreeze poisoning in petsThe initial symptoms of antifreeze poisoning are:

  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Lack of coordination
  • Weakness, nausea, tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid breathing and heart rate
  • Convulsions
  • Crystals in the urine
  • Diarrhea
  • Paralysis

These are just the first symptoms that can occur within 30 minutes of ingesting antifreeze, however, once the liver metabolizes the poison after about 12 hours, the symptoms will disappear. Once the ethylene glycol, the active ingredient in antifreeze, is changed into crystalline acid by the animal’s liver, it attacks the kidneys. Then symptoms may not be noticeable for days until irreparable damage has been done. Vomiting may still occur, as well as loss of appetite, dehydration, inability to urinate, salivation, seizures, mouth ulcers, coma and eventually death.

It is crucial that you pet is treated before the liver breaks down the antifreeze. If you know you pet has ingested antifreeze or you suspect it, veterinarians suggest inducing vomiting, which can be done by feeding your pet a teaspoon to a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide depending on the pets size,  and feeding the animal activated charcoal tablets immediately and then take them to the nearest veterinarian. Activated charcoal and hydrogen peroxide are ingredients every household with pets should keep in stock for just such an emergency.

There is now a drug that can be administered immediately after ingestion that has a pretty good success rate, but it has to be administered immediately and before the liver has broken down the chemicals. If a pet receives treatment within the crucial first 12 hours, complete recovery is possible, however, veterinarians say most pets do not survive antifreeze poisoning simply because their owners do not recognize the symptoms early enough.

Precautions to Prevent Antifreeze Poisoning in Pets.

  1. Always clean up any antifreeze spills. If the dirt has absorbed it, shovel it up and put it in a garbage bag to be thrown away.
  2. Always make sure any empty antifreeze containers are out of the reach of pets and children.
  3. There are some “Pet Safe” antifreeze products on the market now.




by LJ Hodek-Creapeau, Circkles Editor

As difficult as it is to read this, it is necessary to publish it. If your are a horse owner or just a horse lover, you have no doubt heard of the Premarin (PMU) mares and farms. Premarin (an acronym for PREgnant MARe uRINe) is a drug manufactured by big drug companies like Wyeth-Ayerst Global Pharmaceuticals and marketed by BigPharm like Pfiser. Premarin is prescribed for women to counteract the unpleasant side effects of menopause. If most women knew what Premarin really was and how it is made, they would probably look for alternatives if they had a heart at all. PMU is one of the most inhumane practices there is, and the worst part of it is that it’s not necessary.

Inside a PMU barn, as many as 50 pregnant mares stand tied in narrow stalls. There are draft horses, quarter horses, a few thoroughbreds tethered by short ropes so they are unable to turn around or lie down. Their movement is limited so they do not dislodge the urine collecting apparatus.

Rubber tubing runs from a pulley suspended from the ceiling to a hard plastic funnel-like device positioned under her tail and between her rear legs. A larger tube attached to the funnel passes between her front legs to a collection jug at the front of the stall. The contraption prevents her from moving more than a step or two in any direction. The skin under the rubber tubing along her hindquarters often becomes raw from the friction of her restless movements. She is thirsty, but the automatic watering device in her stall is dry because her water intake is limited. The more concentrated her urine the better price the farmer will get for it.

A few stalls down, a large roan draft horse shifts her 2,400 pound weight from side to side, searching for a comfortable position. Now in her eighth month of pregnancy, she wants to lie down but the narrow stall prevents her from doing so. If you have ever been pregnant, you know how much you want to get off of your feet in your last trimester, but these poor animals are not offered any relief during their pregnancy whatsoever.

The mares are put “on line” in the barns in October where they will remain until mid-March. They are often subjected to water restriction in order to produce a more estrogen-concentrated urine. Most of the foals born to these mares are considered simply by-products, and are shipped to Canadian slaughter plants that supply the demand for horse meat in Europe and Japan.

premarin farmsThe PMU industry has made an effort in recent years to deflect negative publicity about the foals-to-slaughter issue by claiming that producers are upgrading their mares in order to produce better quality foals, who are then sold or “adopted” to good owners. This appears to be true to some extent, but with more than 40,000 foals reaching the market at the same time every year there are still thousands of these “byproducts” of the PMU industry meeting violent deaths on slaughterhouse kill floors.

The PMU industry has been around for decades, but only came to the attention of the public in recent years when the living conditions of mares and mistreatment of foals was exposed. For the past several years there have been rumors of the expansion of farms from Canada and North Dakota further into the U.S. This has been difficult to confirm; information on specific locations of collection barns is kept secret by the industry.

In November 2000, Friends of Animals undertook an investigation into the current state of the PMU industry. Our questions: What, if anything, has changed over the past several years in terms of treatment of the mares? Is the PMU farming industry, previously confined to operations under contract to Wyeth-Ayerst in Canada and North Dakota, starting to expand further into the U.S.? Are tens of thousands of foals still ending up being butchered for the foreign horsemeat trade?

Our conclusion is that, sadly, little if anything about the industry has changed since the negative publicity of the previous decade. Most alarming is the confirmation that the number of PMU collection farms in the United States has doubled during that time. PMU farmers and other sources consulted during the investigation confirmed that there are now collection barns in operation a number of midwestern states, including Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Indiana, and South Dakota. This expansion is due to the establishment of a new U.S. PMU processing plant, Natural Biologics LLC.

Headquartered in Albert Lea, Minnesota, Natural Biologics is owned by David and Steve Saveraid. According to press reports, the brothers’ aim is to obtain FDA approval of a generic version of Premarin. As of the date of this report, that approval is pending. The processing plant, however, is already in operation. Surveillance photos taken of the facility during the FoA investigation show a warehouse-type building in an industrial section of town. According to a Dun & Bradstreet report, the company has 36 employees and $3,600,000.00 in annual sales. Natural Biologics has now contracted with 38 farmers in seven states to produce the raw material needed for its product.

After months of research an FoA investigator was able to identify and obtain access to a PMU collection barn under contract to Natural Biologics. Inside the barn the investigator observed rows of mares tethered in narrow tie stalls. The stalls were clearly too small for the comfort of the animals, especially in the case of the large draft breeds. The farmer acknowledged that these larger mares could not lie down in the small enclosures without getting stuck.

The investigator noted that many of the horses showed signs of frustration, constantly pawing the ground or kicking or chewing the wooden partitions of the stalls. The investigator also observed what appeared to be sores from irritation caused by the urine collection apparatus. When the investigator made a final visit to the farm, the mares had been “on line” for almost six months.

The farmer described them as “miserable” at that point, due to the confinement and their advanced stage of pregnancy. The odor in the barn was very strong—not the pleasant horsy smell of a clean stable but the unmistakable stench of animals kept in close confinement for long periods of time.

The owners of this farm are very concerned about confidentiality and only agreed to talk to the investigator on the condition of anonymity. They stated that inspections by the company are cursory at best, and frequently consist of the “inspector” driving up to the barn and asking a few questions without even getting out of his truck. The PMU farmers interviewed also acknowledged that the company advises producers to limit their horses’ water intake. This practice has resulted in health problems among horses used in the industry—they related the tragic case of five mares on a PMU farm in a neighboring state who died as a result of complications caused by severe water deprivation.

In March, the FoA investigator traveled to a Canadian horse feedlot and slaughter plant -the final destination of thousands of PMU foals every year. The investigator observed hundreds of horses in the unsheltered feedlot awaiting their deaths on the kill floor only yards away. There were many young horses, undoubtedly unwanted PMU foals from last year’s season. Animals too weak to survive the stresses of travel, harsh weather conditions or illness are left to die; in one holding pen a small dark horse lay dead, left there among the living for days.

In spring, the mares are out of the PMU barns and the foaling season begins. The mares are impregnated again almost immediately after giving birth. In late summer and early fall, many of the foals are sold at auction and loaded onto trucks bound for slaughter plants. In October, the mares go back on the line and the cycle starts again.

Natural Substitutes for Premarin that women can take to control hormones

If women would educate themselves on their alternatives to Premarin, thousands of innocent victims (horses) could be saved.

If you are considering hormone-replacement therapy, ask your physician for a synthetic or plant-based alternative to PMU-based drugs. Alternatives include Cenestin, Estrace, Estraderm, FemPatch, Ogen, Ortho-EST, Vivelle, Estratab, Estring, Alora, Climara, Menest, Estinyl, Ortho-Prefest and Tace. An option many women are discussing with health practitioners is that of forgoing estrogen replacement therapy in favor of natural remedies and dietary and lifestyle changes.

A very good natural bio-identical progesterone cream that helps many menopausal women is called Serenity, made by a U.S company. It is the most effective for women who suffer from too much estrogen and not enough progesterone. Do your research and ask others what they have used for natural hormone replacement. Emerita is another very good brand.

What happens to the foals?

Premarin is created by collecting the urine of pregnant mares. The mares are kept in small standing stalls in order to limit their movement, so not to displace the urinary bladder bags used to collect every drop of urine. The mares are kept in this manner for a lengthy portion of their pregnancy, normally about six months. Once the mares are full term and ready to deliver, they are turned out to have their foals. The mares are able to nurse their foals until weaning age, about 4 months, at which time they are separated and the mare is bred back to repeat the whole process again. This cycle of breeding has created an overabundance of unwanted foals, most of which are sold to the slaughter industry. “PMU” farms exist all across the USA, and are also prevalent in Canada.

Horses still go to slaughter in Canada and China

Many “PMU” babies are well bred, and some are even registered purebreds. “PMU” foals can be adopted online through rescue groups, but most of the foals bred in Canada are sold directly to meat processing plants. In Canada, a “PMU” filly has a less than one in ten chance of escaping slaughter. A colt is almost certainly doomed, with a less than one in fifty chance at life. The mares suffer a much more grim outlook, as they are not sold until they are no longer able to become pregnant, and at that point many are too old and have social issues.

What you can do

Learn about natural hormone replacement therapy; just be forewarned that many doctors will try to talk you out of it because you can buy it online or in health stores and they don’t get their commission then.
If you are in the market, or have the means to adopt a PMU foal, you are saving a life. Check out the many adoption sites online that specifically rescue and adopt PMU horses.


Toxic Dog Treats Still Coming from China

Linked to Over 1000 Dog Deaths and Over 4800 Complaints. Circkles ran a story on this about 2 years ago reporting that hundreds of pet owners had come forward saying various brands of chicken jerky treats were responsible for their dogs developing chronic illnesses and dying shortly after eating the treats. The FDA had first released this warning in 2007, and then again a couple years ago, and keeps releasing the warnings but apparently doing nothing about the problem due to what they say is, “lack of clear evidence that the deaths are directly related to the treats.” Really? How many more complaints and unnecessary pet deaths do you need to at least investigate it?

In 2013, a class action lawsuit charging that Nestle Purina’s Yam Good chicken treats killed the plaintiffs’ dogs has suffered a setback. A federal judge in Illinois ruled that the consumer protection laws of the plaintiffs’ home states take precedence.

U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman also dismissed most of the allegations against Walmart, Costco, Target, BJs, CVS, Walgreens, Pet Supplies and other retailers who sold the treats, Courthouse News Service reported.

The jerky treats are made in China by Waggin’ Train, a Nestle Purina company. Chinese chicken has been blamed for numerous cases of death and illness in dogs. Until recently, Chinese chicken could not be imported into the U.S. for human consumption but the USDA recently announced that four Chinese chicken plants would be allowed to import their products and would not have to label them as originating in China.

Yam Good

“Between March 13, 2012 and March 15, 2012, Mr. Adkins gave one of the treats to Cleopatra daily, which he chopped into two to three pieces,” the lawsuit states. “Mr. Adkins made no other changes in her diet.”

“Immediately thereafter, Cleopatra became sick and, on March 26, 2012, died of kidney failure.”

“Mr. Adkins owns another nine year old Pomeranian, named Pharaoh,” the complaint continues. “Mr. Adkins did not feed any of the ‘Yam Good’ treats to him. Pharaoh did not become ill.”

Other class members made similar claims, but Judge Gettleman said their cases should be heard in the states where they reside.

“In the instant case, 19 out of 21 plaintiffs allege that they reside in states other than Illinois and that they purchased the chicken jerky treats and fed them to their pets in their home states. With the exception of the two plaintiffs who reside in Illinois, the complaint alleges no other facts tying any of defendants’ alleged misconduct or the plaintiffs’ alleged injuries to Illinois,” the judge said.

Bad Pet Food Still Coming From China.


In 2007, there was a huge nation-wide pet food recall on several brands of cat and dog food coming from China. Further investigation determined what is now called, “Protein Adulteration” as the reason for many pet deaths from products that used corn, wheat or rice gluten in the ingredients coming from China. Protein adulteration is the adulteration and contamination of food and feed ingredients with inexpensive melamine and other compounds such as cyanuric acid, ammeline and ammelide. These adulterants can be used to inflate the apparent protein content of products, so that inexpensive ingredients can pass for more expensive, concentrated proteins. Melamine by itself has not been thought to be very toxic to animals or humans except possibly in very high concentrations, but the combination of melamine and cyanuric acid has been implicated in kidney failure. Reports that cyanuric acid may be a widely-used adulterant in China have heightened concerns about human health as well ever since the FDA findings of the tainted pet food being used to produce farm animal feed and fish feed. The FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture discovered that some animals that ate the tainted feed had been processed into human food. Government scientists have determined that there is very low risk to human health from consuming food from animals that ate tainted feed. All tainted pet food, animal and fish feed, and vegetable proteins continue to be recalled and destroyed.
As a result of the FDA and USDA’s comprehensive investigation, on February 6, 2008, the FDA announced that two Chinese nationals and the businesses they operate, along with a U.S. company and its president and chief executive officer, were indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a scheme to import products purported to be wheat gluten into the United States that were contaminated with melamine.

However, it didn’t end there; in fact, it hasn’t ended yet with China’s blatant disregard for pet health and apparent poisoning of pets. The latest reports of sick and dying pets involve chicken jerky treats by brands such as Waggin’ Train or Canyon Creek Ranch jerky treats or tenders, both produced by Nestle Purina PetCare, as well as Milo’s Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats, produced by Del Monte both of who use ingredients coming from China., has an online petition asking top retailers such as Safeway, Wal-Mart, Walgreens and Costco to stop selling Waggin’ Train brand white chicken jerky treats. One San Francisco pet owner, Dana Moskowitz said she witnessed her dog, Bella, almost die of kidney failure after she fed her Waggin’ Train jerky she bought at a Safeway store. The petition, started by Rita Desollar, an Illinois woman who said her dog died a week after eating two pieces of Waggin’ Train chicken jerky, has more than 60,000 people who have signed it at the time of this article, yet nothing is being regarding jgggkkkgga recall.
Keith Shopp, a spokesman for Nestle Purina PetCare Co., said the company has no plans to voluntarily remove its chicken jerky treats from store shelves, and most of the big retailers, when contacted, said they have no plans to pull the chicken jerky treats in question off their shelves either. This is partly because The FDA, which began its investigation into Chinese chicken jerky treats in 2007, has been unable to conclude that the treats were responsible, but has issued a warning to pet owners “to stop feeding the jerky pet treat product” if their pets show signs of poor health.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that since early 2011, consumers have reported 2,200 cases of pets that became ill and 361 reports of pets that died after eating the popular chicken jerky treats.

How long does it have to take and how many pets have to die before stores will pull these products off their shelves? When asked why, a few large retailers actually admitted that they won’t do it simply because it involves a lot of brands and they don’t want their shelves to look empty. Shame on them for thinking that the appearance of their stocked shelves is more important than a pet’s life. If any store owners are reading this here’s my advice: if you want to impress your customers and have return business, pull these products off your shelves now regardless of how it “looks.” Put up signs on your shelves explaining why they look empty and your customers will actually respect you more for it. From a marketing and PR standpoint, this will do you more good in the long run than not pulling harmful products. Seriously, I sometimes really wonder about the PR ability of some store owners and their marketing teams.

Alternative: The best way to give your dog safe, more nutritious treats is to give them what raw food diet users give their dogs: (raw chicken or turkey necks, chicken drumsticks. or raw beef bones etc., ) The bones MUST BE RAW and not cooked. Cooked bones become brittle and splinter which could puncture an animal’s stomach. Raw bones have been fed to dogs for years by raw food diet advocates with very little incident. After all, this is what dogs would eat in the wild. Often you can get raw treats directly from your butcher that are much less expensive than purchasing them from a grocery store.
For cats, a viable raw treat is tuna in water in a glass jar which can be resealed and kept in the frig for at least a week. Or raw, peeled shrimp, which can be bought by the bag and kept in the freezer for months. Thaw out just enough shrimp to get you through a week and keep them in the frig so they are handy. Keep the rest frozen until needed. A bag of shrimp can last a very long time and not be grossly expensive if you only give one shrimp as an occasional treat. It beats the heck out of the alternative, which is a dead pet or thousands of dollars in vet bills.

Photos from top: Waggin Treats, one of the brands involved, 2.) map of China. 3.) Arusha Brand is a company in Canada promoting raw treats and foods for dogs.