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Information on Straight Lamb & Rice Diets!

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  • Information on Straight Lamb & Rice Diets!

    Due to the fact that I see many people who have their dogs on straight lamb and rice products (even though their dog doesn't have a reason to be) I thought I would post this.

    **Permission to cross post this article and information was granted**

    ""Straight Lamb/Rice diets were NEVER meant to be used as a long termed diet. It was designed to be used for a short period of time while the dog was dealing with allergies.

    There have been known issues from long term use of this food,
    Taurine deficiency and heart disease.
    Chronic liver disease from copper toxicosis.
    Dogs lose muscle mass - heart is the biggest muscle in the body.

    I personally have found that lamb and rice diets doesn't give danes enough
    fat and protien. The stay way to skinny on this formula.

    Email From Dr. Jean Dodd!

    Dear Renee:

    There was a time about 10-15 years ago when lamb and rice foods were used
    for dogs that were allergic or intollerant to standard other foods. But, over
    the years many dogs have now become reactive to lamb especially, as it now is
    "overused". When you couple that with the increasing incidence of chronic
    liver disease from copper toxicosis in young adult dogs of an increasing number
    of dog breeds, reducing the copper content of commercial foods becomes very
    important. Most cereal-based kibbles marketed today have 16-33 ppm copper --
    way above the 8 ppm minimum or the 11-13 ppm of the foods that are properly
    balanced in copper. The companies putting in so much copper say that they
    counteract that by adding more zinc -- what a stupid way to offset the copper
    (by adding too much of another mineral !). Lamb is a high copper containing
    food, so we want to restrict its use. See attached.


    W. Jean Dodds, DVM
    938 Stanford Street
    Santa Monica, CA 90403
    310-828-4804; Fax 310-828-8251

    Abnormal accumulation of copper in the liver leads to chronic liver failure,
    and is an heritable or familial trait recognized in an increasing number of
    dog breeds, including the West Highland White Terrier, Bedlington Terrier,
    Skye Terrier, Doberman Pinscher, Labrador Retriever, Keeshond, and American
    Cocker Spaniel. Other breeds may also be affected. Certain diseases of the
    liver, especially those that cause blockage of the bile duct or bile flow
    (cholestasis), also can result in excessive hepatic copper accumulation.

    While the level of copper and other metals stored in the body generally
    tends to be higher in newborns, levels in the dog remain fairly constant
    throughout life, and are higher than those normally seen in humans. The mean
    copper concentration in the liver of normal dogs of any breed is 200-400 ppm on a
    dry weight basis. Dogs with copper toxicosis (also known as chronic active
    hepatitis) may exhibit concentrations of copper up to 10,000 ppm, while levels
    of 2000 or greater ppm are excepted to be toxic.

    Copper toxicosis, a copper storage disease, is known as Wilson's disease in
    people. A similar disease was first recognized in the Bedlington Terrier
    breed, and there is now a specific genetic DNA screening test for this trait.
    Investigators at the University of Utrecht in Holland have recently identified
    the specific gene locus associated with copper toxicosis in the Bedlington
    Terrier. Unfortunately, with the exception of the West Highland White Terrier,
    current North American research efforts are not directed at the other
    affected breeds, such as the American Cocker Spaniel, in order to have a
    breed-specific DNA screening test. Hopefully, research in this field will
    allow development of a specific test, once a sufficient number of samples from
    affected animals are available for study. We hope to work with the Dutch group in
    order begin a project to identify the affected gene in Cocker Spaniels. To
    accomplish this goal, we need the cooperation of American Cocker Spaniel
    breeders so that a sufficient number of tissue DNA samples can be obtained for
    genetic analysis from affected dogs and/or their relatives.

    Clinical and Pathological Findings

    In affected dog breeds, whether the defect is an heritable trait involving
    the metabolism of copper itself or is a copper storage disorder --- such as
    might be involved with the Doberman pinscher --- does not affect the outcome.
    There are three progressive stages of copper toxicosis. In the first stage,
    the dog is young and not clinically ill, copper levels are beginning to
    accumulate in the liver, and values are reported to be as high as 1500 ppm.
    Regardless of the breed, this accumulation begins very early in life, and the
    rate of accumulation will vary among different breeds and also within individual
    animals. Wedge biopsy of the liver at this stage will look normal, although
    special copper stains of biopsy tissue will reveal the excess copper. Stage
    two of copper toxicosis occurs when the copper level in the liver reaches
    2000 ppm. The dog is typically not ill at this point but wedge biopsy of the
    liver will show hepatitis and is the definitive test to make a diagnosis.
    Laboratory findings at that time may include an increase in ALT and alkaline
    phosphatase enzyme levels, but these are nonspecific findings, not necessarily
    indicative of copper toxicosis. As an elevated ALT enzyme concentration
    reflects specific hepatocellular disease, it signifies a toxic or other form of
    injury to the liver cell. There are other pathological changes in blood
    profiles which can include: low platelet counts, thyroid dysfunction, increase
    bilirubin in the blood and/or urine, hypoalbuminemia, and anemia. Finally, in
    stage three disease the dog becomes clinically ill, may have a poor appetite
    (anorexia), depression, abdominal pain, vomiting, excessive drinking
    (polydipsia) and urination (polyuria), icterus or jaundice, ascites, high
    amylase and lipase concentrations, and weight loss, the latter is commonly seen and may be
    the only clinical sign. These clinical signs usually result from liver
    necrosis, which is triggered by copper concentrations above 2000 ppm.

    In the end stages of copper toxicosis, the concentration of copper in the
    liver may actually decrease, as the cells that die during the necrotic process
    are those that have accumulated copper. Because of the progressive nature of
    the disease, most affected animals are not presented for diagnosis and
    treatment until the late stages, when clinical symptoms are present, or after
    some significant body stress event such as a pregnancy. In fact, most of the
    severely affected, fatal cases in American Cocker Spaniels have occurred in
    females within a few weeks to months after a pregnancy. An intriguing
    possibility is the potential relationship between the high incidence of
    autoimmune hemolytic anemia in American Cocker Spaniels [the breed with highest risk
    worldwide] and copper toxicosis due to the free radicals produced by copper
    accumulation. Such a relationship has been suggested in the Bedlington Terrier.

    Management and Treatment

    Treatment of copper toxicosis can include dietary, medical, or a combination
    of these methods. Please see the accompanying two-page handout which
    discuss dietary modification to reduce copper accumulation. When copper
    accumulation is detected early on and the dog is asymptomatic, initiating
    treatment at that time may slow down the accumulation of copper before irreversible damage
    to the liver has occurred. In addition to the dietary changes mentioned in
    the accompanying handout, chelating agents can be used which bind or chelate
    copper, thereby enhancing its excretion in the urine or bile. The most
    commonly used chelating agent is d-penicillamine given at 10-15 mg/kg.
    However, the use of this copper-chelating drug is somewhat controversial because it
    also binds zinc, which made deplete tissue levels of zinc and have undesirable
    side effects. Also, d- penicillamine has other side effects such as
    anorexia, nausea, and vomiting. In treating some canine cases, the adverse
    effects of d-penicillamine were counteracted by using a homemade low copper-low
    protein diet with additional zinc supplementation. Other drugs that have been
    used in chronic active hepatitis are corticosteroids, such as prednisone, and
    colchicine. Of the two drugs, prednisone would be preferred as it helps the
    body excrete excess copper while fighting the inflammation and fibrosis of
    the liver. Side effects of both these drugs include inducing liver enzyme
    levels, and colchicine often produces nausea.

    Selected References

    Dodds W J. Pet food preservatives and other additives, Chapter 5. In:
    Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine. Mosby, St. Louis, 1997; pp

    Dill-Mackey E. Chronic hepatitis in dogs. Vet Clinics N. Amer, 25(2):
    387-397, 1995.

    Dodds W J, Donoghue S. Interactions of clinical nutrition with genetics,
    Chapter 8. In: The Waltham Book of Clinical Nutrition of the Dog and Cat.
    Pergamon Press Ltd., Oxford, 1994, p.105-117.

    Schilsky M L , Sternlieb I. Animal models of copper toxicosis. Adv Vet Sci
    Comp Med, 37:357-373, 1993.

    Thornburg L P. A study of canine hepatobiliary diseases, Part 4: copper and
    liver disease. Comp An Pract, 2(7): 3-6, 1988.

    Hardy R M. Chronic Hepatitis in dogs: a syndrome. Comp Cont Edu Pract Vet,
    8: 904-914, 1986.

    Thornburg L P, Polley D, Dimmitt R. The diagnosis and treatment of copper
    toxicosis in dogs, Can Pract, 11(5): 36-39, 1984.

    __________________________________________________ ____________

    Lamb and Rice Diets
    Linda Arndt ~ Canine Nutritional Consultant

    Here is a portion of an email that Linda sent me.

    The Premium Select (lamb & rice) should only be used for skin problems, and
    not long termed use, even Eagle will tell you that, and that is true of all
    Lamb/Rice (straight lamb and rice formulas) because it won't hold muscle mass
    over the long haul. Especially with showing,working and I do not suggest it
    for pregnancies or young weaning puppies. Use all lamb/rice diets for times of
    digestive upset and/or food allergies. That is the original intent of all
    those diets and when we feed them on a daily basis, we have not place to go if
    there is a real need for them.

    Food Allergies: The Truth About Lamb and Rice Mixes

    Food Allergies: The Truth About Lamb and Rice Mixes

    _Printer-Friendly Version_
    Pet Column for the week of July 6, 1998
    _Office of Public Engagement_ (
    2001 S. Lincoln Ave.
    Urbana, Illinois 61802
    Phone: 217/333-2907
    By Sarah Probst
    Information Specialist
    _University of Illinois_ (
    _College of Veterinary Medicine_ ( "Some food
    allergy cases have symptoms of gastrointestinal upset-diarrhea, vomiting or
    increased bowel movements per day--but in many cases, the only sign is
    itching," explains Dr. Kinga Gortel, veterinarian and resident at the University of Illinois
    College of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital. When your pet itches excessively, there may be a
    variety of causes.

    In humans, food allergies can be diagnosed via skin tests and blood tests,
    but unfortunately, these tests are unreliable in pets. "Veterinarians prefer to do a
    restrictive diet trial," says Dr. Gortel. "This consists of taking away your pet's normal diet-including
    treats, chewables, and flavored vitamins-and switching your pet to a diet containing proteins and
    carbohydrates completely novel to your pet." When possible, Dr. Gortel has the owners
    home-cook for their pet during the diagnosis period. "Then we know for sure that the diet
    doesn't have additives or preservatives and hasn't gone through a feedmill or processing
    plant that might contaminate food with proteins your pet has been exposed to. It doesn't take
    much to set your pet off if he is allergic to something."

    It is also important that owners make sure that their dog or cat remains
    inside to prevent hunting of wildlife or foraging for garbage. "For dogs, it is also good to
    eliminate exposure to cat food, or cat litter--some dogs find cat feces to be tasty morsels,"
    adds Dr. Gortel.

    "Veterinarians used to recommend lamb and rice a lot for restrictive food
    trials because it was a food source not found in normal mixes. Lamb and rice was recommended
    for food allergy testing for so many years that the public got the impression that it
    was good for the skin. Companies started advertising their lamb and rice mixes as
    'recommended by dermatologists.' So now if you go to a pet store, you can find a fairly wide
    selection of lamb and rice foods, most of which also contain corn, beef, chicken, and other
    These lamb and rice mixes do provide a complete diet; however, a lamb and
    rice diet is not inherently better than a normal diet. The popularity of the mixes has made
    them undesirable for restrictive diet trials unless owners know that their pet has never
    eaten a lamb and rice mix and unless there are no other protein or carbohydrate sources in the
    lamb and rice mix," clarifies Dr. Gortel.

    Now, veterinarians must turn to more exotic sources of protein such as fish,
    rabbit, or venison, and carbohydrates such as potatoes or yams. Sometimes Dr. Gortel
    will recommend a vegetarian diet. "The home-cooked meal is not usually very
    balanced, so we only feed it for about two or three months. But if pets have a food allergy,
    this is long enough for a diagnosis." The veterinarian will first have owners wean pets
    from their normal diet and start the elimination diet with an overlap of four days-feeding
    both diets at the same time. Once the home-cooked diet is fed exclusively, pets are monitored for
    improvement. If in 8 to 10 weeks your pet has not shown any improvement at all, then itching
    is probably not caused by a food allergen.

    If your pet does improve on the home-cooked diet, then veterinarians
    re-challenge your pet's system by reintroducing the original diet. When food trials are
    initiated, veterinarians may prescribe a new shampoo, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories.
    Reintroduction of the original diet will let veterinarians know if the new diet or if
    prescriptions caused improvement. Reintroduction takes 5 to 7 days. If your pet does not get
    worse during reintroduction, a food in the original diet did not cause itching. The
    itching may be from an environmental or parasitic source. Skin tests may need to be done. If
    itching does resume during reintroduction, the food trial test is continued to determine which
    food component causes allergic reaction in your pet.

    "Veterinarians then go back to the ingredient list on the original diet and
    check through the ingredients, exposing the animal to them with the home-cooked diet,"
    explains Dr. Gortel. After harmful ingredients are pinpointed, veterinarians can recommend a diet
    that does not contain those ingredients. Many commercial diets are available which fulfill
    your pet's needs.

    "When owners try to do food trials themselves, the diagnosis becomes more
    difficult," explains Dr. Gortel. When your pet is itching, switching them randomly from
    food to food exposes your pet to a number of protein sources. This makes it hard for
    veterinarians to find a new protein source to suggest for home-cooking. "Sometimes owners
    find food trials tedious or they cannot stand the fact that their pet cannot have a treat.
    They quit halfway and then the veterinarians' dilemma is how to convince clients to do the
    trial again for the pet's sake."

    Food allergies probably have manifestations in your pet which we cannot see.
    In humans, food allergies are associated with behavioral and emotional manifestations.
    "Dogs may be feeling extremely lousy in addition to being itchy. Some dogs with food
    allergies have been known to have seizures," explains Dr. Gortel.

    "Veterinarians and researchers still debate what causes food allergies. One
    theory is that exposure to intestinal parasites might predispose your pet to developing a
    food allergy. Exact mechanisms of the reaction remain undefined. If we knew exactly why
    pets get food allergies, we could avoid them; unfortunately, it is a complicated disease.
    However, once you eliminate the food causing the problem, your pet becomes much more

    If your dog experiences extreme itching with or without gastrointestinal
    problems, contact your local veterinarian. ""
    "Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole." --Roger Caras