Say No to GMO


By Susan Thixton

What is a GMO?

A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Because this involves the transfer of genes, GMOs are also known as “transgenic” organisms.

This process may be called either Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetic Modification (GM); they are one and the same.

We do have a right to know if our pet food contains genetically modified ingredients.

More Reasons to say No to GMO

From improved irritable bowel or migraine symptoms in humans to overall health improvement in animals, some new information on avoiding GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) is startling and a good lesson learned.

Author and Non-GMO Advocate Jeffrey Smith has shared some very startling information from the past year.  Two non-GMO Chicago area doctors that prescribe non-GMO diets to their patients reported that “chronic symptoms that quickly improved or disappeared after changing their diets – skin conditions, irritable bowel, migraines, weight problems, fatigue, and much more.”  Veterinarians and farmers who had taken livestock (pigs and cows) off GMO feed reported “death rates dropped, still born rates were down, litter size was up, and overall health improved.”  One Veterinarian told Jeffrey Smith “that the jump in dog and cat allergies correlated exactly with the introduction of GMO pet food.  Whenever he switched his allergic animals to an organic (non-GMO) brand, their symptoms such as itching would usually disappear.”  Further “Both vets and farmers saw differences inside GMO-fed animals during autopsies or butchering, including liver damage, stomach ulcers, discoloration, and an awful stench.”

It seems very clear, avoid GMO foods. 

For Pet Owners, the following is a list of common pet food ingredients which could be (probably are) Genetically Modified and are recommended to be avoided in your pet’s food and treats…

  • Corn
  • Ground Corn
  • Ground Yellow Corn
  • Whole Corn
  • Whole Grain Ground Corn
  • Corn Gluten
  • Corn Gluten Meal
  • Corn Starch-Modified
  • Dried Fermented Corn Extractives
  • Corn Germ Meal
  • Soy
  • Soybean Hulls
  • Soybean Meal
  • Soybean Oil
  • Soy Flour
  • Soy Protein Concentrate
  • Canola Oil

Perfectly questioned in a article“Aren’t critics of genetically engineered food anti-science? Isn’t the debate over GMOs (genetically modified organisms) a spat between emotional but ignorant activists on one hand and rational GM-supporting scientists on the other?”  A new peer-reviewed report (from genetic engineers) looked over the evidence and determined “there are good scientific reasons to be wary of GM foods and crops.” 

Two of the authors of this GMO report is what makes the information so significant; they come from the genetic engineering field.  Dr. Michael Antoniou of King’s College London School of Medicine in the UK, uses genetic engineering for medical applications, Dr. John Fagan is a former genetic engineer.  The third author is a research director of Earth Open Source.

Highlights of “GMO Myths and Truths, An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops”… Genetic engineering as used in crop development is not precise or predictable and has not been shown to be safe. The technique can result in the unexpected production of toxins or allergens in food that are unlikely to be spotted in current regulatory checks. GMO crops, including some that are already in our food and animal feed supply, have shown clear signs of toxicity in animal feeding trials – notably disturbances in liver and kidney function and immune responses.

Certain EU-commissioned animal feeding trials with GMO foods and crops are often claimed by GMO proponents to show they are safe. In fact, examination of these studies shows significant differences between the GMO-fed and control animals that give cause for concern.

No long-term toxicological testing of GMOs on animals or testing on humans is required by any regulatory agency in the world.

Roundup, the herbicide that over 50% of all GMO crops are engineered to tolerate, is not safe or benign as has been claimed but has been found to cause malformations (birth defects), reproductive problems, DNA damage, and cancer in test animals.

Until we are provided with this information on the label, please call your pet food manufacturer and ask if the food is GMO free.  If they respond yes, ask them what they require of ingredient suppliers to remain GMO free, and what efforts they go through to guarantee the pet food contains no GMO.

Pet food labels AND human food labels should clearly state if any GMO ingredient is included in the food.  Members of AAFCO (State Department of Agriculture representatives) would probably be the best place to start.  Call or write your local MLA  and tell them you want pet food labels to disclose GMO information.  Provide them the link to the GMO Myths and Truths report as scientific reasoning to do so.

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author, Buyer Beware
Co-Author Dinner PAWsible

What’s in Your Pet’s Food?

Is your dog or cat eating risk ingredients?  Chinese imports?  Petsumer Report tells the ‘rest of the story’ on over 2500 cat foods, dog foods,  and pet treats.  30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee.

Creating a Well-Mannered, Happy Dog

 Creating a Well-Mannered, Happy Dog


Lisa Kerley BSc, KPA-CTP

Dog Days Daycare

Microsoft Word - pup rottie soft[1].docx

So your new four-footed family member has been home for a few weeks. The initial excitement is over and the reality of how much you need to teach him may be setting in. How are you possibly going to fit it in to your already busy schedule? People often focus on just one thing, such as housetraining or obedience, to make things more manageable. And what about all that conflicting advice on TV, the Internet and from well-meaning people? Even if you do have a game plan, it’s easy to get waylaid trying to sort through the overwhelming variety of information.

What can you do?

There are a few things to consider that can have a huge impact on creating a well-mannered, happy dog – and they don’t take a lot of time.

Whether you are actively training or not, your dog is always learning. Even outside your specific training sessions, he is learning there are consequences to his actions and developing associations with things in the environment. This is happening all the time. And you have the CHOICE to make your dog’s interactions with the world (and with you), positive and productive ones, or not.

But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to be working on something every moment. Most of us are goal-oriented, and as there seems to be so little time to get things done, we can get caught up in getting results. Often in our haste we lose track of what’s actually happening with the little one at the other end of the leash. This can impact vital aspects of a dog’s learning.

Take, as an example, having your dog meet people. Depending on how you do it, it can have a number of different outcomes. If your only concern is getting your dog to sit, you may not be paying attention to what he’s taking away from the experience. Is the equipment you are using creating discomfort or concern? How about your handling or your demeanor? Is your dog at all concerned or unsure during the interaction?

By being aware of the quality of the experience, you can help create positive associations and build confidence in your dog. This will help to create a connection as well as build trust in you. In the situation above, we want the dog to walk away feeling great about meeting new people and feeling that you kept him safe and comfortable. And you can still help him learn to sit as part of the process!

Sadly, because of the way the situations are handled, this is often not the case. It is just as easy to create negative associations, damage the dog’s trust in us and slow down their learning. HOW things happen is just as, and often, more important than WHAT is happening.

Keeping it Positive

Keeping all your dog’s experiences positive may seem a daunting task, but really it’s not. You just need to keep a few points in mind:

Is the interaction helping to create a stronger bond?

The quality of your interaction and the type of feedback you provide your dog will impact the relationship you have. What you do and how you respond to him will either be building trust and connection and thereby strengthening the relationship, or not. This is especially important when your dog is concerned about something. How your dog responds to you in the future, including whether he looks to you for direction or chooses to give you attention is impacted by the relationship you are fostering.

Is the experience helping to build confidence?

How you set up interactions and experiences can build your dog’s confidence or damage it. Just as all socialization is not good, quality plays a part in this as well. You can set your dog up for success by focusing on what you like and make the right choice easier for him. Doing well feels just as good to your dog as it does for you!

When coming across new things, allow the dog to proceed as he feels comfortable, rather than making him interact. Give him space so he can find a comfortable distance when checking things out.

Is your dog learning something useful from the experience?

It’s easy to only react to situations and have your dog go through them with no benefit from the experience. By giving an unskilled dog too many options or conversely, micro-managing him all the time, he will not be learning the skills and lessons you are hoping for. As mentioned above, set your dog up for success!

With a bit of care and attention you can prevent your dog from leaving with a bad feeling that can affect future interactions. Rather than just taking it for granted that things are OK for your dog, it’s worth it to actively create positive associations by pairing daily experiences with things he enjoys – a treat, a kind word or an enjoyable activity.

Microsoft Word - pup gary in harness[4].docxEquipment and Methods

Another important consideration is the equipment you choose and how you use it. Just as you can damage trust and confidence, you can also create negative associations to seemingly unrelated stuff in the time it takes for a single collar jerk or spray from a correction can. Even something as benign as a gentle push on the bum can be unpleasant for some dogs. Although this may seem a bit extreme, consider how you feel when someone stands too close, for example. It’s not really that big a deal, but it can be unpleasant and leave you looking for an escape route the next time that person appears. By simply removing these  aversives, you will greatly improve the quality of your dog’s experiences.

Body Language

All the considerations above can be enhanced by learning to watch and assess your dog’s emotional state and watching for signs of stress or discomfort. Understanding body language and what it means is an invaluable skill. Like us, every dog is different in the way they experience and feel about things. Watching body language will allow you to judge, moment to moment, how your dog is feeling and in turn, whether things are good, or need to be adjusted in some way.

These concepts apply to everything you do with your dog – when you’re just hanging out; playing; on a walk; encountering something for the first time. You are continually being presented with opportunities to strengthen your relationship, and build your dog’s confidence and skills. So keep these points in mind the next time you are together, no matter what you are doing. This attention and awareness will be invaluable in helping him have a happy, comfortable life.

Microsoft Word - scared pup looking on[1].docxIf you have a young puppy, there are some things in his learning that cannot be omitted or put off, such as providing a well-thought out, positive socializing program. This part of your young pup’s learning is time-sensitive, and should not be delayed.
If you do notice something that you don’t know how to deal with, don’t delay in getting some good help, hoping it will get better with time. Seek the assistance of an experienced, force-free professional.

For more detailed information, please visit:





















Genetically Modified (GM) Ingredients in Pet Foods

Genetically Modified (GM) Ingredients in Pet Foods



By Dr. Michael W. Fox


Dogs and cats, like the proverbial canaries down the mine shafts, have become our sentinels. They alert us to health hazards in the home environments we share and in the products and by-products of the same agribusiness food industry that feeds most of us and them. In the mid 1990s I began to suspect diet may play a role in a “cluster” of health problems not seen nearly as often as when dogs and cats were being fed conventional corn and soy. Since that time I have formed the professional opinion that there is sufficient proof from evidence based medicine that dietary ingredients derived from GM crops are not safe for companion animals, and by extension, for human consumers either.

Widespread use of GMO crops

In the mid 90s, more and more genetically engineered corn and soy were being used in pet foods and fed to farmed animals. As a nationally syndicated veterinary newspaper columnist, I began to receive an increase in letters from cat and dog owners whose animals were suffering from this cluster of health problems. In the 40 years that I’ve been writing that column, I’ve benefited from a wide-angled and historical perspective that I would never have realized running a conventional veterinary clinic. The thousands of letters that I receive from across the U.S. keep me informed about new and emerging health problems and veterinarians’ responses to the same.

During this timeframe in the 90s, people often wrote to report of failed treatments and harmful side effects to prescribed remedies e.g. steroids, as well as problems with various manufactured prescription diets after their attending veterinarians diagnosed their animals with allergies, asthma, atopic dermatitis and other skin problems, irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, recurrent diarrhea, vomiting, indigestion, along with abnormalities in liver, pancreatic and immune system functions.

A similar picture was developing in human health. It is surely no coincidence that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported, in Oct. 2008, an 18% increase in allergies in children under the age of 18 years, between 1997-2007. This ties in with the time-frame of when GM ingredients were first introduced into the food chain and then subsequently in greater amounts. Some 3 million children now suffer from food and/or digestive allergies or intolerance. Their symptoms including vomiting, skin rashes, and breathing problems. They take longer to outgrow milk and egg allergies, and show a doubling of adverse reactions to peanuts.

Research Evidence of Harms

In the creation of GM crops like corn and soy bean, novel proteins are created that can cause allergies and assault the immune system. This in turn creates illness, especially in the offspring of mothers fed such foods, and to their young fed diets containing GM ingredients. The genetic modification of such food crops can also lower their nutrient content, elevate potential toxins, and also create novel RNA variations. The latter are not destroyed by digestion, and so called micro RNA has been found in mammalian tissues where they can exert influences on gene expression and therefore affect health across generations, (Zhang et al, 2011). These kinds of problems are in part due to the inherent genetic instability of GM plants that can result in spontaneous and unpredictable mutations, (Wilson et al 2006).

In their detailed review of animal safety studies of GM foods, Dona & Arvanitoyannis (2009) conclude that “The results of most of the rather few studies conducted with GM foods indicate that they may cause hepatic, pancreatic, renal, and reproductive effects and may alter hematological, biochemical, and immunologic parameters the significance of which remains unknown.” Altered DNA from GM foods can be incorporated by gut bacteria and may alter their behavior and ecology in the digestive tract. Likewise the bacterial incorporation of genetic material from antibiotic resistance genes used to identify some varieties of GM food crops could have serious health implications, (see Smith 2007 and Traavik & Heinemann, 2007).

Three varieties of Monsanto’s GM corn, approved for consumption by US, European and several other national food safety authorities, caused liver, kidney and other internal organ damage when fed to rats, ( Vendomois et al 2009). A subsequent 2-year feeding trial by Seralini et al (2012) reported that rats fed on a diet containing NK603 Roundup tolerant GM corn or given water containing Roundup, at levels permitted in drinking water and GM crops in the US, developed cancers faster and died earlier than rats fed on a standard diet. Females developed significant and numerous mammary tumors, pituitary and kidney problems. Males died mostly from severe liver and kidney chronic deficiencies.

The insecticide Bt (from the inserted genes of Bacillus thuringiensis) produced by several varieties of GM corn may create allergies and illness. Bt-toxin from genetically engineered corn sources has been found in the blood of pregnant women and their babies, as well as in non-pregnant women. Bt-toxins, which have been shown to damage human kidney cells, may cause leaky gut syndrome in newborns, the passage of undigested foods and toxins into the blood from the intestines leading to food allergies and autoimmune diseases. Also, since the blood-brain barrier is not developed in newborns, toxins may enter the brain and cause serious cognitive problems. Some health care practitioners and scientists are convinced that this is the apparent mechanism for autism.

Where does that leave us?

Genetically engineered foods, derived from GM crops, have never been proven safe for human consumption but have been on the market for the last two decades. You can find a list of hidden GMO ingredients, as well as tips for avoiding GMOs, visit 

There are GM corn and soy-free, and organically certified pet foods now available on the market, and websites providing recipes for home-prepared diets for companion animals (, and which many informed cat and dog care givers are now providing for their animals. This enlightened consumer action is an integral part of the long overdue revolution in agriculture to promote more ecologically sound, sustainable and humane farming practices, a healthier environment, and more healthful, wholesome and affordable food for all.

Pet food manufacturers that have USDA Certified Organic ingredients, and especially those that use no corn, soy, canola, cotton by-products (oil & cake) or sugar beet, which could be genetically engineered, or imported rice (which can be contaminated with GM rice) could legitimately claim “No GMO Ingredients” on their packaging. I feel very strongly that this is a pivotal issue in the health/ food revolution, where there is no place for GM food ingredients in what we consume and feed to companions, and also to farmed – food animals. I have communicated these concerns to several responsible pet food manufacturers who are not unaware of what Hippocrates advised, to let our food be our medicine and our medicine our food.

Storm the Weather Dog

Growing up with Dogs


By Anthony Farnell

 Storm weather coat_WP

Let me take you back, way back to my first dog memories. I remember a summer day when I was six years old and my parents had just arrived home with a brand new Golden Retriever puppy. My sister was four, my brother two, and we were all ecstatic to meet the newest member of the family. Kinkade was his name and he was probably the nicest dog in the world. He always wanted to please and be by your side. We learnt through our parents how to take care of a dog. The walks, the feeding and training was divided between all of us but I must admit most of the responsibility still rested with our parents. When Kinkade eventually passed away, we all had the dog bug and my family was quick to replace him with another Golden Retriever.

Storm_WPKirk was very similar to Kindade except I was older now and loved to take care of this dog. He accompanied me on my many walks around our cottage in Vermont. We’d swim together, I’d throw him sticks and rocks, and we became great friends. He was still the family dog but I remember him liking me best until I eventually went away to University. Over the next decade, school, career and living life were my main priorities but I often missed the companionship that went along with having a dog. Luckily, I eventually found a fantastic partner in life who liked four legged creatures as much as I did. After living with my soon to be wife for a year, I arrived home one afternoon with the biggest of surprises.

I snuck out earlier that day to the countryside outside Guelph to meet a breeder who specialized in golden doodles. The litter included six unbelievably cute puppies and from the first moment I laid eyes on them, I knew I was going home with a dog. I was told that two had been reserved but I was free to play and interact with the remaining eight-week olds. Lucky for me, my decision became easy when one goofy doodle stumbled over and looked me right in the eye. He wanted to play and I knew right then that this would be our new dog. It was the most adorable copper coloured miniature golden doodle puppy and I knew my fiancée (now wife) wouldn’t be able to resist him.

A Storm is Brewing!

Storm weather coat 2_WPBeing a TV meteorologist, I’d heard of others in the field, specifically south of the border bringing their dogs into work and even taking them along when they did weather talks for students. This sounded like a great fit for my young pup so I decided to bring him into work one afternoon to test it out. He was an immediate hit in the Global newsroom as he raced around saying hello to everyone. Considering I was planning on having him hang around the weather centre on occasion, I thought he would need a cool weather related name. It was a tough sell with my fiancée but she reluctantly agreed. That next day we set up an online pole on the Global News website and within a few hours hundreds of people responded. With overwhelming viewer support, Storm got his name live on television that evening.

Storm Goes Viral

Storm’s fame was already growing from his appearance on TV but what happened next, nobody could have anticipated. A few weeks after my dog’s TV debut, he apparently couldn’t get enough of the limelight. I was preparing my weather maps as I do before every weather segment, when I realized that my four month of golden doodle was no longer hiding under my desk. I looked around but couldn’t find him anywhere. This is when I turned to the television set and saw his fluffy little head pop up from under the news desk, look at our News anchor Leslie Roberts and then quickly disappear back below. This two second cameo went viral with the clip being broadcast around the world. Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, CNN, Jimmy Kimmel and Conan were just a few of the shows that commented on Storm the Weather Dog. He also became a YouTube sensation and I was asked by bloggers and reports as far away as Russia, Australia and Japan to give them more information on my wonder dog.

In the Spotlight

Storm in Park_WPA couple years have passed since the viral video pop up but Storm’s fame has only grown locally in the GTA. My wife and I can’t take Storm the Weather Dog to the park without someone asking if that’s the dog from TV. Sometimes, I have to remind these people that I’m also on TV and that I give accurate weather forecasts with a smile every evening but I may as well be talking gibberish. They are clearly focused on the 25lbs ball of fur at my feet. To fill the public’s obsession with Storm, I’ve created a Facebook page and Twitter account for my pooch where you can find pictures of his numerous school visits and daily adventures. He’s built quite the following over the past couple years and continues to get friend requests from fans around the world. Questions range from “where did you get him from?” to “does he shed?” and “when can I meet him in person?” Viewers are also very quick to complain when they don’t see Storm regularly on their television set. He has really become a part of the news team and a part of every family that watches at home. In fact, I’ve received dozens of pictures and videos of other dogs watching and barking at the TV whenever Storm makes one of his appearances on the newscast.

Like most celebrities, Storm has groupies and the occasional obsessed fan. One of the weirdest stories involves someone waiting an hour for us at a live location. When I finally showed up with my dog and she got to meet storm for the first time, she started crying and shaking from joy and excitement. She then gave me a laminated 50 page book she’d been working on. It included a story and almost all of Storm’s facebook page pictures along with others that I have no idea where they came from. I didn’t know how to react but ended up thanking her for the thoughtful gift. I’m still amazed at the impact Storm has on some people.

Why a Miniature Golden Doodle?

I grew up with golden retrievers and loved them for their easy going attitude, loyalty and smarts but they were also big shedders and larger sized dogs which would not suit our small condo. After a couple months of research I decided the golden doodle breed was a great fit. It allowed me to get the qualities I loved from golden retrievers along with the smaller size and hypoallergenic fur from the miniature poodle. In the three years since I first picked Storm up from the breeder, my wife and I have learnt so much about ourselves in caring for this living, breathing animal. The dog has picked us up when we’ve been fighting or in a funk, has forced us to get outside and enjoy nature in the winter, has made us more responsible and hopefully readied us for whatever lies ahead. Storm, the Weather Dog may be one of the biggest dog celebrities in town but I try not to let it get to his head. To me, he will always be that same cute, adventuresome, puppy that picked me at the breeder.