Whole Dog Journal's Blog December 6, 2018

Updates on Dog Food Recalls, the Camp Fire Aftermath, and My Sickly Foster Pups

Posted at 10:52AM - Comments: (23)

How about a grab-bag of items this week? There is SO much going on.

First and most importantly, some recalls:

The November 2018 Pet Food Recalls

Columbia River Natural Pet Foods is recalling some frozen raw diets for dogs and cats due to contamination with†Listeria monocytogenes.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that several dry dog foods had been recalled due to overages in the amount of vitamin D they contained. Curiously, there have been a number of others. On November 27, Sunshine Mills recalled a number of products for the same reason (potentially dangerously high levels of vitamin D). The products include certain varieties of Evolve, Sportsman’s Pride, and Triumph dry dog foods. (See the link for specific date/codes and varieties).

On November 29, yet one more: Certain lots of ELM Chicken and Chickpea dry dog food have been recalled for excessive vitamin D.

See this link (to my previous post) for more information as to why excessive vitamin D is dangerous.

Volunteer Work in the Aftermath of Camp Fire

In my neck of the woods, we still have a huge ongoing mess to sort out with trying to reunite animals with their people following the devastating Camp Fire. Currently, there are three temporary emergency shelters that are caring for hundreds of dogs and cats (and other animals). It’s hard to get exact figures, but more than half of the animals have not yet been identified by any owners, for many reasons. Some people whose homes burned have had to move out of the area, or went to stay with relatives out of the area. Some people are staying in locations where they can’t have their pets. There may be people who have assumed that their pets perished in the fire, and who haven’t come to look for their pets; there may be pets in the shelters who belong to people who perished in the fire (the human death toll is at 88).

aspca camp fire volunteer work

The ASPCA arrives.

The job of caring for all these animals has fallen to volunteers. While the facilities are imperfect (understatement) and there has been an incredible amount of confusion and change in protocol on almost a daily basis, the incredible fact is that people keep coming out of the woodwork to help the animals. In the first few weeks, it was largely people who were already part of the North Valley Animal Disaster Group (NVADG, referred to locally as “nav-dag”).

As the thick smoke settles over the whole north half of the state, the volunteer force started to shift to people whose places of work were closed due to the unhealthy air quality. Of course, those people were supposed to stay indoors; that was the official recommendation of state and county public health departments. But teachers from K-12 schools that were closed showed up in great numbers, as did professors from universities and community colleges. It may be that no one realized exactly how many teachers had been showing up to walk dogs and clean cat boxes until the week after Thanksgiving, when many schools reopened – and for a few days, none of the shelters had quite enough people to help.

But the cavalry arrived in the form of volunteers and trained animal emergency responders from national animal welfare organizations. Consultants and hands-on help came from the Humane Society of the United States, Red Rover, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, American Humane Association, and the ASPCA. Employees and volunteers from other animal shelters in the north state have been arriving in twos and threes and have been sleeping in tents and cars and working 12-hour days.

I’ve worked alongside folks from the Humane Society of Silicon Valley and the San Francisco SPCA, who were here on their own dime and receiving no compensation, and barely any thanks or recognition. “It’s for the animals,” I heard again and again as I thanked people for their help.

It’s been an emotional roller coaster of frustration and sadness and exhaustion, occasionally punctuated with utter joy when someone shows up to recover their dog or cat. We even experience the joy third-hand; we can start crying tears of happiness if we hear about a reunion from another volunteer who witnessed it. The happy stories make it all worthwhile; we all just want to see these stressed animals get back into the hands of people who love them.

My Mange-Ridden Foster Puppies

Last week, I introduced you to my latest foster puppies, who I took on against all my better judgment. I have been depleted - financially, emotionally, and in terms of time, but I just knew these helpless, pathetic little pups would not get all the help they needed to recover in the shelter. They especially wouldn’t get what they needed in the middle of the fire crisis.

I’m happy to report that the remaining six puppies are recovering super nicely from their kennel cough; we have just a few more days of doxycycline to get through.

Their demodectic mange has taken the puppies through the red and irritated stage, the stinky and yeasty and infected stage, the scabby and crusty first stage of recovery, the smooth and hairless stage, and now they are just starting the hair regrowth stage. A couple of puppies are still bald; a couple more are starting to regrow hair in funny spots and patches. They finally are acting like actual puppies, playing and chewing on everything they can reach, and eating actual dog food (as opposed to the tuna and scrambled eggs and cooked hamburger and Thanksgiving turkey and anything else I could get them to eat when they were so sick).

mange puppies with bowed legs

These two pups now have splints on their legs.

We’re not completely out of the woods, though. As I mentioned last week, four of the six puppies display a hyperflexed stance, walking on their “wrists” rather than standing upright on their feet. Given the state of severe malnourishment they were in when they were brought into the shelter, it was no surprise that they had almost no muscle, and their bones, tendons, and ligaments are weak. Most shelters have seen this in many malnourished animals; the animals usually recover over time with good nutrition and appropriate exercise (not too much, not too little).

One day, though, as I was preparing their lunch, I noticed something new: one of the pups had a front leg that was bowing laterally to the outside at the wrist. He looked bowlegged in the front! When he sat, his front legs looked fine. When he stood, even though he is still a slim pup, the weight of his shoulders, neck, and head was apparently too much for those weak carpal joints, and the instability started causing first one foreleg, and then the other, to bend like Gumby.

I took this pup to the shelter to consult with the RVT. We decided to splint his front legs as a protective measure, to keep the bending and bowing from permanently damaging his joints and deforming his leg bones, until they are strong enough to carry him without bending.

A few days later, a second pup’s legs started bowing and knuckling to the outside at the wrist, so she has joined her brother in braces.

mange puppies with splinted legs

When they were 1st brought in to the shelter they had almost no hair and so it was hard to tell what breed-mix they were. We didn't know whether these were VERY young larger breed puppies or older smaller breed puppies. Looks like they are a small dog type.

I’m trying to find a veterinarian who will help us with the overall medical management of the whole litter. I would like to find someone, or a practice with several doctors, who will help advise us on the best diet and exercise plan for these vulnerable pups, as well as a plan for protecting those legs. I’ve reached out to people at the vet school at the University of California at Davis, about 70 miles away, and a few other people who might know where we can get this unfortunate little bunch some help as a group.

Some of you have sent donations to help with their medical care, and the Northwest SPCA and I are very grateful. The support will help ensure that we will be able to do everything we can to see them recover fully from the terrible start they got in life. For all they’ve been through, they are sweet and sassy little things, and when they have a little more hair, they are going to be darn cute. I know we will find them terrific homes, as soon as they are well on the path to health.

Comments (23)

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Posted by: WOLFSHOPBUSINESS@GMAIL.COM | December 15, 2018 4:15 AM    Report this comment

Hi Nancy, Nice job so far with this little of sick, neglected pups. I can appreciate how hard it is to care for a problem litter or even a single sick animal and keep up with the rest of your own life and obligations. I've been in full time grooming and boarding since the 70's. Raised lots of baby critters of all kinds. Cared for a Standard bred foal that was born right down on her front legs. We had to hold her up to nurse! Within 2 weeks she was up and eventually was fine. I agree with the need for sunlight for the vitamin D. I have used eggs shell calcium from my own geese and ducks for many years. It is much more easily digested and will not raise blood calcium. You would have to add magnesium citrate for a complete supplement. I'd be happy to send you a supply, my birds are free range and very healthy and well fed. I'd also like to know where to send a check, mine would be for you to go out for a quiet dinner and a nice bottle of wine, I'm sure you could use it and you certainly deserve it, :) Jean

Posted by: JeanP | December 10, 2018 6:06 AM    Report this comment

Hi there, I volunteer for a rescue organization in Guatemala. We get a lot of puppies in the kind of condition you are describing. Regarding their legs, rickets, from vitamin D deficiency, is often the problem. And unfortunately, as youíre describing, it often gets worse when they start getting good food and growing and putting on more weight then their weak bones can support. Ask the vet to see what she says, but besides continuing to give them really nutrient rich food, make sure they get some time in the sun - roll them belly up if you can. Iíve also found adding ground up eggshells to their food seems to speed recovery, but that might just be a coincidence.

Posted by: Keri Peyton | December 9, 2018 2:21 PM    Report this comment

For weak pasterns in both of my breeds, several breeders I know (Afghan Hounds and Boston Terriers) and I have taken them off puppy food and used good adult formula AND given Sure Grow 100 (Calcium/Phosphorus/vitamin A&D in proper proportions) - this is very safe and dosages are nutritionally sound. Of course it takes a week or two to resolve completely. I continue that until they're done growing. (breeding experience over the last 40 years).

Posted by: FRB | December 9, 2018 10:52 AM    Report this comment

Fermented kefir (sorry about the incorrect spell)

Posted by: Mary Beth | December 8, 2018 12:32 AM    Report this comment

Youíre very blessed for caring for these little puppies. Have you thought about adding Kefir to their diet? Answers makes a fermented Kefer that may be very beneficial. Thank you for all that you are doing!

Posted by: Mary Beth | December 8, 2018 12:26 AM    Report this comment

I have a dog, who as a puppy also displayed weak ankles, not to the extent of needing braces, but noticeable. Our vet had us start giving her whole milk yogurt, a tablespoon 2 X day, for possible calcium deficiency. She is 6 now, and never had a problem with this since.

You probably know this, but just in case, thought I'd pass it on. best of luck, and God bless you for all you do.

Posted by: vicp | December 7, 2018 8:35 AM    Report this comment

It's a comfort knowing there are people like you, Nancy Keens. There is no greater blessing than the unconditional love and companionship a dog. May your kindness and thoughtfulness find a way back to you. My check is in the mail, and I intend to share this article with my friends. Thank you for what you are doing and who you are.

Posted by: KimmersDogs | December 7, 2018 6:42 AM    Report this comment

Thank you for posting a follow-up photo in which these guys look like PUPPIES rather than Holocaust survivors. You are giving them an amazing chance at normal lives, which they most certainly would not have received without your incredible intervention.

Posted by: Kris B-W | December 6, 2018 11:28 PM    Report this comment

Thank you guys, again. Donations sent to the Northwest SPCA and designated for these puppies (NK's pups, mange pups, WDJ pups, whatever) will be set aside for them. The shelter has already reimbursed me for the litter's first vet visit and today they paid for a visit for the biggest male pup, who somehow scratched his eye and now has a corneal ulcer :( We have meds and plasma on board for treating this and knock wood he will be ok.

As far as their nutritional management, I do want someone to see them. I'm trying to find the right practitioner at either UC Davis or perhaps even the clinic in nearby Chico that has both emergency/24-7 services and specialists. The doctor who saw the pup today for his eye had a suggestion of which doctor on staff would likely be most helpful, and I will make an appointment with that doctor ASAP.

I was able to transport one cat from the Camp Fire shelter to the same clinic, along with my pup; the cat needed some bloodwork. And then I brought three more cats who have completed their post-fire treatments back from the clinic to the emergency shelter. There is always something to do.

Lunalf: I will email you!

Posted by: WDJ Editor Nancy Kerns | December 6, 2018 9:35 PM    Report this comment

Thank you for all you are doing for these puppies and all the others you've rescued! As others have asked, is there a way to make a donation to help you personally. I've already donated to NVADG.

Posted by: CBB47 | December 6, 2018 8:26 PM    Report this comment

I wholeheartedly agree that the dogs most likely have rickets. They will need cod liver oil to get the vitamin D they need and they will need vitamin C also and the other minerals would help in a liquid form. It is true that many times people that have iguanas start seeing bowing of the limps because they are lacking sunlight. Once they were given cream cheese and had the correct light they began to get better. Doctor Michael Holick talks about all of this in his vitamin D You Tubes.
You are doing an amazing job.

Posted by: Deb1254 | December 6, 2018 6:37 PM    Report this comment

I wouldn't worry too much about the puppies with bent-looking legs. I love dogs too, and we've always had them, as well as cats. Some puppies do have bent-looking legs when they are young, but they eventually become straight. I heard that it's due to the mother dog's huge group of puppies before they're born. They are often bent inside of the female's womb. They eventually straighten up as they grow. I've noticed that on some puppies that we've had, however, they always straightened out perfectly, by the time they're one or one and a half months old or so.

Posted by: gingerswim@aol.com | December 6, 2018 6:27 PM    Report this comment

It could very well be that these babies have Rickets, which is a nutritional vitamin deficiency. A lot of vets overlook this. What you have described with the bowing of the legs is typical of rickets symptoms. Easily treated by vitamin supplements within days not weeks..

Posted by: ASAS | December 6, 2018 4:15 PM    Report this comment

I think they're pretty darned cute as they are right now. Determined little souls!

Posted by: YIKMDLF | December 6, 2018 2:29 PM    Report this comment

I think you should consult with Linda Case re: nutrition for the sweet puppies. I believe she's a regular contributor to the WDJ. Her book - "Dog Food Logic" is simply the best, as well as her veterinary textbook (co-author) on canine and feline nutrition.

I will send a donation to help with the care of the puppies, if you will post a link to the best place to send it to.

Posted by: SEN | December 6, 2018 2:11 PM    Report this comment

What a wonderful job you are doing caring for these puppies. You have done far more than most people would do to make them healthy.


To the best of my knowledge, Jean Dodds is the expert on thyroid. However, I doubt she is an expert on nutrition and other matters that need to be dealt with.

Posted by: Holly 1 | December 6, 2018 1:32 PM    Report this comment

Thank you for all you do. You are a blessing. How can I make a donation for the sick puppies that will go to you?

Posted by: patience88 | December 6, 2018 1:19 PM    Report this comment

I would still like to donate to you, personally, for the care of the puppies, Nancy. What would be the best way? Thanks for all you do!

Posted by: Robin Chaffey | December 6, 2018 12:58 PM    Report this comment

Hi Nancy,
Wow, you are a SAINT! I am driving up to Chico/Oroville on Saturday, Dec. 15th with a minivan full of donations for various families, etc. Is there anything I can donate to help you? What do you need? Also, my boss's foundation is sending a check to NavDog, as I think this is the best local charity to donate for the animals. My email address is LJordanKP at aol.com . Please reach out to me if I can help in any way while I am up there. I am driving up from Pleasanton. Linda

Posted by: Lunalf | December 6, 2018 12:56 PM    Report this comment

Try contacting Jean Doddís for nutrition advice. She may be too far away to examine the pups but should be able to advise via phone or email. Worth a try!
Good luck and thanks for taking on their care.

Posted by: goldogs | December 6, 2018 12:32 PM    Report this comment

With all that is going on there, you are in the dog sainthood to take this on and be so dedicated to these cute puppies. Thank you so much.

Posted by: gailandan | December 6, 2018 12:32 PM    Report this comment

So so kind of you to care for these puppies as they heal.
Thank you!!!

Posted by: Tracie | December 6, 2018 11:57 AM    Report this comment

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