DEAR DR. FOX: I recently read about a class-action lawsuit brought against the company that makes Blue Buffalo dog food. The company agreed to pay out specific amounts to people who had purchased its products.
I believe the suit pertained to ingredients that were not listed on the label. I used to feed my dogs Blue Buffalo, but I never saved my purchase receipts (really, who does that?), so even if I'd wanted to receive a payout, I couldn't unless the larger pet stores with their "clubs" kept records of my purchases. Even if they did, I still have no wish to participate.
You might want to mention the particulars of the suit in your column in order to bring up the fact one never really knows what is in commercial pet food. -- R.S.B., North Beach, Maryland
DEAR R.S.B.: According to the website Top Class Actions (topclassactions.com), the Blue Buffalo pet food company agreed to pay $32 million in order to settle allegations that it falsely claimed its products were free of poultry byproducts, corn, wheat, soy and artificial preservatives. According to Top Class Actions:
"Pet food competitor Nestle Purina PetCare Co. along with plaintiffs in 13 separate class action lawsuits challenged the 'True Blue Promise' label after claiming that several investigations found those ingredients within Blue Buffalo products.
"The Blue Buffalo class action lawsuit alleged that plaintiffs paid a higher price for the 'natural' pet food because they were misled by false advertisements that Blue Buffalo was a quality choice compared to other products on the market.
"According to the Blue Buffalo class action lawsuit settlement, Class Members will receive $5 for every $50 they spent on various Blue Buffalo products over a seven-year claim period.
"Blue Buffalo stands by its labeling and denies it did anything wrong, however the pet food manufacturer has agreed to the terms of the settlement in order to avoid the cost of further litigation."
This is the largest class-action suit payout in the history of the pet food industry, but is the tip of the iceberg as more reports are published about mislabeling of ingredient amounts and types. This can pose serious health problems for animals with allergies and food intolerances. For pet food companies you can trust if you are not yet preparing your own pet food from known ingredients, visit truthaboutpetfood.com.
DEAR DR. FOX: Yesterday evening, our family cat, a domestic shorthair, started vomiting. The first episode occurred overnight, and then several more followed this morning after breakfast. I removed the food we usually keep out for her and left out a small quantity of water in case she was thirsty. I attempted to feed her some hard-boiled egg whites at dinnertime, and I don't know if she managed to eat any, but she did drink water and vomited shortly thereafter -- a total of three times over an hour-and-a-half timespan. The vomit is just liquid at this point. Her behavior seems OK; she is purring, and until this evening has been very interested in food.
Getting her to the vet is extremely stressful, so before I venture there, is there anything I can do at home? She is not listless or in other distress. Furthermore, our family dog returned home from the hospital the day before this vomiting began. He had an emergency splenectomy. Is there any chance he brought something home that may be causing this?
The cat is 14 years old, remains indoors and is in good health overall. -- M.M., Ashburn, Virginia
DEAR M.M.: There are many reasons why cats will occasionally vomit, often because of a fur ball in the stomach or eating too quickly -- they recover quickly and have their appetites back within a few hours and hold food down. But if vomiting persists or the cat does not eat for 24 hours, which can result in potentially serious dehydration and acute fatty liver disease and be a sign of other problems such as kidney failure in an older cat, veterinary attention should not be delayed.
Some veterinarians do house calls, which can be much less stressful for cats. In this instance with your cat, it could be simply transient, a stress-reaction to the dog coming home and smelling different and possibly behaving differently during recovery from surgery.
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
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