Archive for May, 2009

31st May 2009

Animals Avoid Foods Containing Allergens

Mice that are allergic to ovalbumin (the main protein in egg white) avoid drinking solutions containing this antigen. A recent study confirmed this finding in laboratory rats. While non-immunized rats preferred sweetened drinking water that contained ovalbumin, immunized rats avoided it.

Edema formation and IgE-mediated mast cell degranulation (and consequent 5-HT(3) signaling) were found to be responsible for avoidance of the source of the allergen in allergic rats. The authors also showed that dexamethasone can block this taste aversion.

These findings suggest that animals are able to avoid foods that contain substances to which they are allergic. However, this instinctive gift is not useful if animals are given foods that don’t allow this natural avoidance behavior. At Onesta Organics, we believe that the best way to avoid food allergens is to exclude any potential allergen as an ingredient from prepared pet foods in the first place, and additionally to provide pets with food choices that allow them to select or reject particular foods.

Zarzana et al. Neuroimmunomodulation 2009;16(1):19-27

Posted by Posted by Heidi Junger, PhD under Filed under Organic Pet Food Standards Comments Comments Off

27th May 2009

Peanuts in Your Pet’s Foods or Treats? Beware of Food Allergies!

In humans, peanut allergy is the most common food-related cause of lethal anaphylaxis. Unlike many other food allergies, it often persists into adulthood. As well, peanuts are often used in dog treats. Well, you may say, peanuts can be allergens for humans, but can animals be allergic to them too? Yes, they can; read on…

When pre-sensitized mice were injected with peanut extract, it was found that this caused dose-dependent shock by induction of complement C3a. The resulting shock was found to be independent of LPS (bacterial) contamination. C3a stimulates macrophages, basophils, and mast cells to produce platelet-activating factor and histamine (1). Another study found that peanut extract caused gene expression changes in the mesenteric lymph nodes of Brown Norway rats (2).

Many pet treats contain peanut butter because animals simply love the taste! However, be aware of this food’s allergenic potential. Mice aren’t the only animals that can be allergic to peanuts. At least one study (3) has shown that dogs can also be allergic to peanuts and other common human allergens. The allergenic response in dogs follows this hierarchy: peanut > tree nuts > wheat > soy > barley.

The probiotic Lactobacillus casei Shirota could not down-regulate the allergic response to peanuts in Brown Norway rats (4).

At Onesta Organics, we promise to resist the temptation to use peanuts, which are tasty, but potentially harmful, simply to increase palatibility of our pet food products.

1. Khodoun et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2009;123(2):352-3
2. deJonge et al. J Immunotoxicol 2008:5(4):385-94
3. Teuber et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2002;110(6):921-7
4. deJonge et al. Toxicology 2008;249(2-3):140-5

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27th May 2009

Allergenicity of Cows and Goat Milk – Guinea Pig Study

Researchers compared the allergenic properties of cows and goat milk in laboratory guinea pigs (1). Anaphylaxis and antibody production tests showed that goat milk is hypoallergenic when compared with cows milk. The data also suggests that both casein and lactoserum proteins are responsible for the observed milk-related allergies.

AlphaS1-casein and several peptides derived from alphaS1-casein have been shown to be the major allergens in cows milk (2).

It remains to be determined if raw milk has similar effects. Notably, raw milk seems to be tolerated by people with lactose intolerance.

1. Cellabos et al. J. Dairy Sci. 2009;92(3):837-46. <small>

2. Schulmeister et al. J. Immunol. 2009:182(11):7019-29

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26th May 2009

Genetically Engineered Corn Impairs Fertility in Mice

A recent study indicates that a diet containing genetically modified or engineered (GM, GE) foods can impair reproduction in laboratory mice. Although it is has not yet been determined if this also applies to other species, the results of this study certainly suggest that it is safer to feed your pets foods that don”t contain GE ingredients. The safest way to do this is to choose certified organic pet foods, in which the use of GE ingredients are prohibited and their exclusion is verified by an unbiased third party.

Dr. Jürgen Zentek, Professor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Vienna, performed a feeding study with genetically engineered corn (GVO-Mais NK603 X Mon810) using laboratory mice. The experimental group of mice was fed a diet containing 33% GE corn, while the control group received a diet containing 33% non-GE corn.

There was no significant difference in food intake, body weight, or longevity in the adult mice. However, both the number of litters and the litter sizes decreased significantly in the GE-fed group.

This study was funded by the Austrian Department of Health and can be read in detail (in German) at

Posted by Posted by Heidi Junger, PhD under Filed under Organic and Green Pet Foods Comments Comments Off

25th May 2009

Dangers of Non-Organic Products – Insecticides – Malathion Toxicity

Widespread use of insecticides is causing several risks to public health. Malathion is an organophosphate insecticide which binds irreversibly to cholinesterase. This pesticide is widely used in agriculture, residential landscaping, public recreation areas, and in public health pest control programs such as mosquito and fruit fly eradication. In the US, it is the most commonly used organophosphate insecticide and is also found in wetlands.

Organophosphates (i.e., organophosphorous pesticides) are not allowed in organic agriculture.

Although Malathion is considered an insecticide of relatively low toxicity to humans, it affects many species other than the insects that it is intended to kill. Even humans may experience deleterious effects from exposure to Malathion. Documented effects in various animal species include developmental disruptions in amphibians, reproductive problems, hyperglycemia and cancers in rats, and toxicity in human blood cells. Read more about this and educate yourself!


  • induces oxidative stress and toxicity in human erythrocytes Durak et al. Environ Toxicol 2009;243:235-42
  • induces DNA damage in the peripheral blood and hippocumpus of laboratory rats Reus et al J Agric Food Chem 2008;5616:7560-5
  • induces testicular toxicity in rats Uzun et al. Food Chem Toxicol 2009, suppresses testosterone levels, reduces testicular weight, decreases sperm density, and increases protein and cholesterol content in in the testes Chouldhary et al. J Environ Biol. 2008;292:259-62
  • is cytotoxic to hepatocytes (liver cells), lung epithelium, adrenal medulla and disrupts the germ line of rats Saadi et al. Commun Agric Appl Biol Sci 2008, 734:875-81
  • induces lipid peroxidation and liver damage in laboratory rats Rezq et al C R Biol 2008;3319:655-62
  • disrupts metabolic pathways in the laboratory rat where increased plasma trigycerides and LDL levels induce hyperglycemia Lasram et al J Hazard Mater 2009;1632-3:1052-5
  • exacerbates schistosomiasis (a parasitic disease caused by several species of fluke of the genus Schistosoma) in infected lab mice Elsheikja et al. Acta Trop 2008;1081:11-9
  • in the presence of elevated estrogen concentrations, it induces lung cancer in rats Echiburu-Chau & Calaf Int J Ocol 2008;333:603-11
  • causes acute toxicity to freshwater fish where sublethal concentrations cause hyperexcatability, loss of equilibrium, respiratory dysfunction and distress, and impairment of the oxidative metabolism Patil & David J Basic Clin Pharmacol 2008;192:167-75
  • disrupts the normal development of frogs, leaving them more susceptible to parasite invasion Budischak et al Environ Toxicol Chem 2008;2712:2496-500
  • is toxic to larvae and embryo of the axolotl amphibia Robles-Mendoza et al. Chemosphere 2009; 745:703-10
  • at low concentrations, it causes a decline of zooplankton, which negatively impacted frog populations via a trophic cascade Relyea & Diecks Ecol Appl. 2008;187:1728-42
  • These are just a few of the published manuscripts on the negative effects of this commonly used insecticide.

    We at Onesta Organics support only those agricultural methods which exclude toxins that can harm the environment and your pet. We therefore choose certified organic ingredients whenever they”re available (they are usually available; exceptions include citric acid, calcium carbonate, and all species of fish). This way, we know that we aren”t contributing to the further destruction of our environment and depletion of our planet’s resources. We can also be certain that we don”t produce pet foods that have agricultural chemical residues which can harm your pet’s health.

    Posted by Posted by Heidi Junger, PhD under Filed under Organic Pet Food Standards Comments Comments Off

    25th May 2009

    Onesta Organics Products are Made with Care

    We use only certified organic ingredients. Of those ingredients that aren”t organic–which include citric acid (which is certifiably natural non-GMO) and calcium carbonate–we use only minute quantities in some of our products. By using organic ingredients, we know our products are safer and healthier (i.e., more nutrients and no toxic residues) for your pet than conventional pet food products.

    We use only human-grade ingredients, which are of higher quality than ‘feed-grade’ ingredients.

    We rinse and sanitize our grains and seeds before we use them, making them safer for your pet. In most instances, we sprout our grains and seeds, which makes them especially healthy for your pet.

    We use mostly fresh ingredients instead of powders, which are often imported from abroad (mostly from China). We wash and sanitize all produce and grind, pulp or mince these ingredients prior to use, which makes their constitutive nutrients easier to digest, especially for carnivorous species.

    We source ingredients that are grown in the U.S.–preferably in California where our manufacturing facility is located. When certain ingredients aren”t available in the U.S., we try to find growers located in North America; if this isn”t possible, we use ingredients that are fair-trade and/”or sustainable.

    We store our ingredients below room temperature, which keeps them fresh longer and preserves nutrients.

    We use only filtered drinking water to assure that no toxic chemicals are introduced into your pet’s food during manufacturing.

    We handcraft our products, which assures continuous visual inspection and quality assurance throughout the entire manufacturing process.

    We only produce in lots that we can sell within a few weeks. Until our products are shipped, we store them under strictly controlled refrigeration. This assures that you receive fresh product for your pet; by fresh, we mean that all nutrients contained in the product are potent and bioactive.

    We use only non-toxic detergents and sanitizers in our manufacturing facility to further assure absolute product safety and goodness.

    We thank Drusilla Kehl for her wonderful artwork “Psycho and Bella.” Check out this talented New York artist”s website

    Posted by Posted by Heidi Junger, PhD under Filed under Onesta Organics Pet Foods Comments Comments Off

    25th May 2009

    Dangers of Non-Organic Products – Herbicides – Roundup Toxicity

    If you are not fully convinced that organic farming and organic products (yours and your pet’s food included) are safer and healthier than non-organic conventional alternatives, read on:

    Roundup is the brand name of a systemic, broad-spectrum herbicide produced by Monsanto; it is the number one selling herbicide worldwide. Roundup contains the active ingredient glyphosate, which is the most used herbicide in the USA. Roundup is available in several formulations including Roundup WeatherMAX, Roundup Weed and Grass Killer Super Concentrate, Roundup Weed and Grass Killer Ready-To-Use Plus.

    Glyphosate is considered to be of low toxicity to humans because its effects are (theoretically) specific to plants. However, fatal reactions to glyphosate have been reported after the ingestion of large amounts. Pulmonary edema, shock, and arrhythmia were the reported causes of mortality in a case study (1). At levels far below agricultural recommendations which correspond to low levels of residues in food or feed, Roundup formulations induced cell damage and death in human cell lines (neonate umbilical cord vein cells, embryonic kidney cells, placental cells) (2).

    Roundup also affects the survival and performance, of beneficial plants, microorganisms in soil and water, as well as representatives of almost all invertebrates and vertebrates investigated so far. Here is a collection of just a few of the studies published on this topic to date in the year 2009.

    Roundup or its active ingredient induces mild oxidative stress in goldfish tissues (brain, liver, kidneys) (3). It causes death of larval (4) and juvenile amphibians (toads) (5). Glyphosate herbicides decrease growth of phyoplankton/algae (5). Roundup lowers the regenerative properties of flatworms (6). It is genotoxic for broad-snouted caiman where its presence in the egg induces DNA damage of the red blood cells (7).

    I hope I’ve given you enough information to stimulate your interest in this and other herbicides that might end up in your food, your pet’s food, and all parts of your pet’s body, including feet, fur, and mouth. Since both you and your pet routinely carry toxins into your house on your feet, try to avoid public areas where toxins are used to maintain lawns. Since it’s often impossible to know where these chemicals are being used, it’s probably best to leave your shoes outside your living area and to wash your pet’s paws after a walk in the park, or even just a run in your backyard.

    And of course, choose organic pet toys (for example, those found made by Purrfectplay available at and USDA certified organic pet foods whenever you can.
    Remember: only certified organic pet food claims are regulated and enforced by the US government.

    1. Chang & Chang. Refractory cardiopulmonary failure after glyphosate surfactant intoxication: a case report. J Occup Med Toxicol. 2009 4:2.
    2. Benachour & Seralini. Glyphosate formulations induce apoptosis and necrosis in human umbilical, embryonic, and placental cells. Chem Res Toxicol. 2009 22(1):97-105.
    3. Lushchak et al. Low toxic herbicide Roundup induces mild oxidative stress in goldfish tissues. Chemosphere 2009.
    4. Relyea & Jones. The Toxicity of Roundup Original MAX(R) to Thirteen Species of Larval Amphibians. Environ Toxicol Chem. 2009 30:1.
    5. Dinehart et al. Toxicity of a glufosinate- and several glyphosate-based herbicides to juvenile amphibians from the Southern High Plains, USA. Sci Total Environ. 2009 ;407(3):1065-71.
    6. Vendrell et al. Effect of glyphosate on growth of four freshwater species of phytoplankton: a microplate bioassay. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol. 2009 82(5):538-42.
    7. Liu et al. Impact of glyphosate and acetochlor on Dugesia japonica ingestion and regeneration. Ying Yong Sheng Tai Xue Bao. 2008 19(11):2509-14.
    8. Poletta et al. Genotoxicity of the herbicide formulation Roundup (glyphosate) in broad-snouted caiman (Caiman latirostris) evidenced by the Comet assay and the Micronucleus test. Mutat Res. 2009 672(2):95-102.

    Posted by Posted by Heidi Junger, PhD under Filed under Organic and Green Pet Foods Comments 1 Comment »

    25th May 2009

    Pet Poisoning – Nicotine Poisoning

    A veterinary pet insurance company reports that pet poisoning in the UK has been continuously rising over the past few years. It is conceivable that this is also true in other countries.

    Proper storage of medications and drugs, including ash trays can prevent many incidents of pet poisoning in your home. The toxic level of nicotine for dogs is reported to be 5mg/lb body weight. For dogs, a dose of 10mg of nicotine is potentially lethal.

    One cigarette contains 15 to 25 mg of nicotine, a cigar 15-40mg, a cigarette patch between 8-114mg. A cigarette butt contains 4-8 mg of nicotine, depending on its length and content in the original cigarette. Since smoking concentrates nicotine, cigarette butts contain relatively higher amounts of nicotine. Chewing tobacco contains between 6 and 8 mg of nicotine.

    Other common nicotine-containing products are nicotine chewing gum (with 2-4mg nicotine per piece), nasal sprays (0.5mg per spray, 80-100mg per bottle), and nicotine inhalers (4mg per puff, 10mg per cartridge).

    Signs of nicotine toxicity are dose dependent and include tremors, weakness, depression, stumbling, lethargy, hyperactivity, fast or difficulty breathing, drooling, dilated pupils, diarrhea, seizures, collapse, decreased or increased heart rate, and vomiting. These signs begin usually within one hour after ingestion, when many dogs vomit naturally. Untreated, nicotine toxicity can cause paralysis of the breathing muscles and consequently death.

    Some animals do not show symptoms for hours after exposure to toxins. Therefore, it is best to bring your pet to a veterinarian if you saw or suspect that your pet ingested nicotine or was exposed to any other drug, even if you do not yet notice any symptoms. Always collect and bring along to your veterinarian all packaging or containers involved, as well as any material your pet may have chewed on or vomited. This additional information can be essential for the most effective treatment.

    Treatments include induction of vomiting, bathing (if exposure was dermal), pumping the stomach, delivery of activated charcoal, IV fluids, breathing support with ventilation, oxygen, and seizure control measures.

    Prevention includes proper storage of all drugs in your home, car, and garden, as well as proper supervision in public areas such as in parks, beaches, streets.

    For a fee, ASPCA offers a consultation for immediate assistance at 888-426-4435 and also sells an emergency first-aid kit for your pet (

    Posted by Posted by Heidi Junger, PhD under Filed under Home Remedies & News Bits Comments Comments Off

    24th May 2009

    Did Your Dog Meet a Skunk?

    William Hageman ( wrote a useful article about what you can do if your dog got skunked. He shares a homemade rinse that is recommended by Francine Barnes, the owner of Carriage Hill Kennels in Glenview, IL.

    Combine 1 quart fresh hydrogen peroxide (the usual 3% solution from a drugstore) with 1/4 cup of baking soda and 2 tablespoons of liquid soap (preferably a non-toxic, biodegradable product). Mix well. The solution will bubble and must be used as long as it is still active.

    Apply the solution outdoors using protective gloves and without previously wetting your dog. Be careful not to get any of the solution into the dog”s eyes. Let the solution on for 10 minutes.

    Rinse and repeat.

    If the smell persists, make another batch of this solution and go another round.

    Posted by Posted by Heidi Junger, PhD under Filed under Home Remedies & News Bits Comments Comments Off

    22nd May 2009

    Nutro Products – Recall, May 2009

    hooch-flagNutro Products announced a voluntary recall of select varieties of NUTRO NATURAL CHOICE, COMPLETE CARE Dry Cat Foods and NUTRO MAX Cat Dry Foods with ”Best if used by dates” between May 12, 2010 and August 22, 2010. These cat foods are being voluntarily recalled in the US and other countries (Canada, Mexico, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Israel).

    The recall is due to incorrect levels of zinc and potassium in these products that resulted from a production error by the premix supplier. More information is available at the manufacturer”s website (

    Please see our blog on Pet Food Supplementation. This current recall just adds to our concerns about pet food supplementation with isolated vitamin-mineral premixes.

    We thank Hooch and his mom Tracy for letting us use this adorable photo!

    Posted by Posted by Heidi Junger, PhD under Filed under Pet Food Recalls Comments Comments Off