Pet food porn

With an appeal to the simplistic, Barbara Laino says, “We know processed foods are wrong for us. It has to be wrong for them. If you can feed yourself healthily and your children, then you can feed your pets healthily, too. It really isn’t that hard.”

Laino is talking about the standard recipe she uses to feed her Alaskan malamute, another dog and three cats in her house for around 10 days: grind 40 pounds of pasture-raised chicken necks with another 20 pounds of chicken giblets. To this, she adds five pounds of carrots, a whole cabbage and several other fruits, all from the organic fields of Midsummer Farm, Ms. Laino’s farm in Warwick, N.Y. Finally, she blends the mix with herbs and supplements.

She tells the New York Times in a piece of pet food porn that she wants for her pets what she wants for herself: a healthy diet of unprocessed organic foods. And now she teaches others.

Cesar Millan, host of the television show “The Dog Whisperer,” says, “The dog has always been a mirror of the human style of life. Organic has become a new fashion, a new style of living.”

Cesar got the lifestyle bit right, because that is all it is; as for microbiological safety, the cross-contamination risks alone in the food prep sound daunting.

Nancy K. Cook, the vice president at the Pet Food Institute, a trade association for commercial pet food makers, cautions pet owners that it is hard to create a balanced diet at home, since dogs and cats have specific nutritional requirements.

Joseph J. Wakshlag, a clinical nutritionist at the Baker Institute for Animal Health at Cornell University, said that if pets are not fed the correct balance of proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins, they can experience several health disorders, including anemia, broken bones and loss of teeth from lack of calcium.

Korinn Saker, a clinical nutritionist at the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University, who treats animals at the school’s teaching hospital, said she was not against people cooking for their pets, but that if it was not done correctly, the consequences could be harmful.

She has seen several dogs with adverse effects from unbalanced homemade pet food diets, including a German shepherd puppy “who was walking on its elbows because it had no strength in its bones,” she said. The dog, it turned out, was not getting enough calcium.

Dr. Saker, asked to analyze the recipe from Ms. Laino’s workshop, found that it was lacking in a number of nutrients recommended by the Association of American Feed Control Officials.

Ms. Laino said she rejects the standards recommended by the feed association, and suggested that her recipe might be richer in certain nutrients because the ingredients are organic.

Hucksterism is alive and well for Barbara Laino and the N.Y. Times.

If I was a woman, P&G would be interested in me

Procter & Gamble is gunning for me.

With two dogs, two cats, hardwood floors, a 1-year-old and a wife who watches the Dog Whisperer on TV, I’m the target demographic for P&G’s new campaign to replace mops and brooms with Swiffer products, featuring celebrity spokesthingy Cesar Millan.

The New York Times reports that Swiffer, the 11-year-old Procter & Gamble brand, is hiring Mr. Millan to help with a different sort of behavior modification: getting consumers to forgo traditional floor cleaning devices and buy Swiffer products.

“Mops and brooms are really what we’re going after,” said Marchoe Northern, a Swiffer brand manager, adding that women were the target consumers. “It’s really about habit adaption at first — getting the Swiffer in her house — and then habit formation.”

P&G: I’m not a woman. I’m your target. Stop being so sexist.

Setting Boundaries: Pets and your newborn baby

My ex mother-in-law once told me that if I had a baby I would have to get rid of my cats. I replied, “No cats, no baby.” My step-brother’s cats mysteriously disappeared once his firstborn was old enough to crawl. Doug and I have two cats and two dogs and no intention of giving them up or sending them outdoors once the baby arrives. Sure, there’s dog hair all over the floors and it’s going to be a hassle learning to manage new and old responsibilities – and much more difficult to keep pet hair out of the baby’s mouth once she’s mobile. But we committed to the pets long ago and have been working on teaching them their order in the home.

The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan, recommends that the dogs not even be allowed near the baby’s belongings at first to teach them that Baby is Alpha. Let them sniff at a distance until they know their place. When the dogs go for a walk, it should be behind the stroller, and they shouldn’t get unsupervised visitation, if they are allowed at all, in the baby’s room. It’s all about setting boundaries.

The Worms and Germs Blog by Doug’s ex-hockey buddy Scott Weese (he’s still a buddy but no hockey for Doug in Manhattan) recommends in “Old pet, new baby…new problems?” that we visit our veterinarian and the humane society to get advice on introducing the dogs and cats to the baby. Scott provides relevant downloadable pamphlets from the Calgary Humane Society in his blog post.
We want all four pets and the three of us to survive the transition without nips, scratches, or territory marking. We get enough of that from our friends and colleagues.