ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Health Tip: Anticipating Acupuncture
Acupuncture Eases Side Effects of Head, Neck Cancer Treatments
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Beware of Dog Bites
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
'Snowbirds' Beware the Climate Changes
Almost Half of Adults Will Develop Knee Osteoarthritis by 85
CANCER
Herb May Counter Liver Damage From Chemo
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
Green Tea May Help Prevent Oral Cancer
CAREGIVING
Recession Scrambling Health Spending in U.S.
Robots May Come to Aging Boomers' Rescue
Baby's Sleep Position May Not Affect Severity of Head Flattening
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
DIABETES
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Successful Weight Loss Shows Unique Brain Patterns
Added Sugars in Diet Threaten Heart Health
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Exposure to 9/11 Fumes Tied to Chronic Headaches
Think You Are Lead-Free? Check Your Soil
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Disease, Cognitive Decline Linked in Study
Nearly 18 Million Will Have Macular Degeneration by 2050
Glaucoma Treatment Can Prevent Blindness
FITNESS
Will the Wii Keep You Fit?
Simple Exercise Precautions To Help Keep Baby Boomers Fit
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
Even Young Kids Can Learn CPR
Eating Healthy : You Can Live Longer
Stressed and Exhausted: An Introduction to Adrenal Fatigue
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
Kids With Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Heart Trouble
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Too Many Infants Short on Vitamin D
Safety Should Be Priority for Those Involved in Kids' Sports
Decline of Underweight Children in U.S. Continue to Fall
MEN'S HEALTH
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Countdown to Hair Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
A Simple 'Thank You' Brings Rewards to All
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
SENIORS
Protein Deposits May Show Up Before Memory Problems Occur, Study Says
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
Add your Article

Safe Toys for Dogs

Your dogs chew on them, shake them, suck on them, and love tearing them to pieces (literally). Sounds like fun right? However, did you know there is really no totally SAFE dog toy? Some toys if ingested even in small amounts can cause cancer and liver damage! Vinyl and plastic dog toys contain a chemical compound that has been under investigation by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) due to possible cancer risks to humans. The chemical in question is DINP (di-isononyl phthalate), used to make hard PVC plastic soft and pliable. In 1998 Health Canada issued an advisory warning about the dangers of mouthing soft plastic toys by small children, and some countries, such as Sweden, Germany, and Italy, have already phased out DINP for use in children's toys. But, for some reason no one is talking about the effects DINP may have on our dog's health.

Scientific research has shown that DINP can be toxic to lab animals, causing liver and kidney damage and at higher levels of exposure, increased cancer incidence. These findings prompted even further review of exposures to children due to mouthing soft plastic toys. These studies focused on small children who generally only mouth toys for brief periods during a small fraction of their lifespan. Dogs, in contrast, may chew and ingest soft vinyl toys for hours at a time throughout their entire lives.

According to vinylfacts.com, "almost all soft plastic toys contain PVC," so avoid these types of toys if you're concerned about the health risks mentioned above. Natural rubber or latex soft toys provide a non-toxic and environmentally friendly alternative.

More recently, lead was found in children's toys mainly coming from China. This prompted an investigation into dog toys. Nancy Rogers a woman who owns three dogs,was alarmed when children's toys started being pulled from store shelves for testing positive with lead, Rogers says she started to wonder about the safety of her pets' toys... "Every toy we picked up had a made in China tag on it," she told CBS 2. When she couldn't find toys made in the U.S. to replace them, Rogers, a registered nurse, decided it was worth almost $200 to have all 24 of her dogs' toys tested for lead. "The highest was 335.7 parts per million," she says. That amount was found in a tennis ball toy, and while it's less than the federally acceptable levels of lead in children's toys, Rogers was still very concerned because these toys are constantly in her dogs' mouths."

After they started recalling children's toys made in China due to the levels of lead in them, ConsumerAffairs.com hired a lab to test cat and dog toys from WalMart, and other agencies and private people did the same with toys from Petsmart, Petco, the dollar stores, etc. They found that many of the dog and cat toys made in China included lead, chromium, and cadmium - some in very high dosages. No one is sure just what prolonged exposure to these can do to dogs, but the short-term symptoms are loss of appetite, diarrhea, and aggressive behavior.

A dog owner, Marilyn Anderson, found loose metal nuts in a plastic bone she had bought for her dog and would like to see legislation changed so that toys for pets are made as safe as toys for children.

She said she was horrified to think that her smooth-haired lurcher, Pepsi, could have choked on the nut.
Rawhides, Cow Hooves, and Pigs' Ears

These well-liked dog treats are purchased in large numbers, especially around holidays, by well-meaning dog owners hoping to give their pets something special. These toys are favorites for many dogs and are popular with owners because they keep their pets occupied and supposedly out of trouble during holiday activities. There are definite risks associated with these treats, however. All three types are supposedly made of digestible animal products. However, they are usually cooked at high temperatures so are in reality, digested quite slowly and, if consumed rapidly, can cause either vomiting, diarrhea or even an obstruction from pieces still sitting undigested in the GI tract. If these chew toys are swallowed whole or in large chunks, there are additional dangers.

Rawhide chews can lodge in the throat and cause choking, or a large piece may be swallowed, scraping and irritating the throat and esophagus on the way down. Once in the stomach or intestinal tract, a large piece of rawhide can also create a physical obstruction. An additional danger that is less widely known is the practice, in some countries, of using an arsenic-based preservative in the processing of rawhide toys. We recommend that, if you do purchase these products, stick to brands processed in the U.S. There has also been a recent FDA alert about the risk of Salmonella associated with dog chew products made from pork or beef-derived materials: refer to the FDA advisory or call 1-888-INFO-FDA.

Cow hooves can be dangerous as well. They can be broken off into sharp fragments which may cause a partial intestinal obstruction. Partial obstructions are often difficult to diagnose until the point at which the fragment is ready to perforate the wall of the bowel from pressure against the sharp edges. If perforation has occurred, the infection that ensues from leakage of intestinal contents can be fatal.

Pigs' ears can cause GI upset if overeaten, although obstructions are less common because the ears are not usually shaped into solid chunks. There is, however, a less widely known danger associated with pig ears: in October of 1999, the FDA advisory published by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human services stated that there was "a nationwide public health warning alerting consumers about a number of recent cases in Canada of human illnesses apparently related to contact with dog chew products made from pork or beef-derived materials (e.g., pigs ears, beef jerky treats,pigs skins, etc.)... FDA urged pet owners... to handle them carefully. Anyone who comes in contact with these treats should wash their hands with hot water and soap.

Any dog owner knows how much our dogs love to gnaw and chew on things. This is a natural dog instinct. Our house wolves however tend to chew on not so natural or nutritious items, slippers, carpet, furniture, walls, etc. So, to prevent the ultimate destruction of their homes, dog owners run out and buy "chew toys" for their dogs. (a large percentage of what they buy is rawhide).
What is Rawhide?

Rawhide is literally the outside of a cow – the skin. It provides dogs with a satisfying chewing experience and it’s cheap and easy to find. So why is so dangerous?
Hidden Dangers

Dr. John Wedeking, an Iowa veterinarian, remembers hearing about rawhide in the news.

"Reports of arsenic contamination popped up in papers once," he says, but adds that it came from another country.

Since rawhide is not regulated in any way, it could happen again. These foreign hides may also contain other detrimental things such as antibiotics, lead, or insecticides that could adversely affect the health of your dog.

Wedeking adds that dogs can easily choke on it when the original large rawhide object is chewed down to a smaller piece.

"Choking is a hazard, and rawhide can cause gastric irritation when dogs chew on it often," he says. Wedeking adds that gastric irritation can also cause vomiting and extreme discomfort in dogs.

"Tests on imported pet products made from animal hides by UK health authorities revealed many carried the salmonella bug, a common cause of gastro-intestinal infections in humans. They found that one in three batches imported from Thailand and one in eight from China contained salmonellas that had survived processing and manufacturing".
Edible Chew Toys

In the winter of 2006, Greenies, a so called dental treat/chew was found to have killed several dogs and caused obstructions in many others that had to be removed surgically. The company stated that they should not be given to dogs that "gulp" instead of chew. The facts are that dogs will "Chew" or gnaw off large chunks of toys and swallow them just as they would food. Dogs are carnivores and as such do not have molars to grind and actually chew or masticate before swallowing.

Recently, in the fall of 2008, Four Paws withdrew a "pimple ball" dog toy from shelves due to reports of injuries to dogs. Click here to read the entire story on Snopes.com
What IS Safe To Give My Dog?

Let's face it, there is no 100% safe toy for our dogs. The key is to supervise your dog's play time with toys. Play WITH the dog and the toy. Stimulate your dog's mind as well as making play a part of his/her daily exercise regime.

Many toys state they are not intended for strong or powerful chewers, other state they are not intended for chewing at all. Make sure you are getting an appropriate toy for the activity level and chewing ability of your own dog.

I don't believe that dogs should ever be left alone with toys that can be destroyed easily. If your dog is exercised properly before you ever leave him/her alone, chances are that they dog will simply sleep most of the time you are gone. A tired dog is a content and happy dog. The best toys are toys that YOU can play with to interact with your dog.

Buy Organic Toys, When Possible: For the reasons stated above, to avoid exposing our canine companions to toxins and allergins that can lead to grave illness or death, organic cotton is safe, non-toxic, made of all-natural materials originating from nature. Organically grown, the fibers are unbleached, untreated, and unprocessed. Look for organic toys that only use natural extracts from plants and minerals to dye the fibers.

Give Your Dog A (RAW) Bone: A raw beef marrow or knuckle bone is not only a wonderful for your dog's teeth, gums and jaw muscles but they are nutritious and will keep your dog happy and healthy.
IMPORTANT!

NEVER give your dogs cooked bones! Cooking changes the structure of the bone and will make it brittle and if ingested, non-digestable! Feed RAW bones only.

The original Nyla Bones® are a very popular and safe alternative. I do not recommend the edible ones or the soft Gumabone, as they are easily chewed off large pieces. .

Again, the original Nylabones® are made from pure virgin nylon, which makes them stronger and more durable than Gumabone. In fact, the Nylabone® Galileo Bone® is the World's Strongest Dog Bone! Nylabones® are: unique therapeutic devices designed to satisfy the chewing instinct of aggressive chewing dogs; safer than other dog chews; they will not splinter or break off in chunks but be worn down or be chewed off in very small fibers that are easily passed through the digestive system. While I prefer a raw beef bone for my Boston Terriers, I have used Nylabones for over 20 years have found them to be safe and enjoyed by my dogs.

-Dr. Jeannie Thomason (VND)