Letters December 2011 Issue

Addison’s Disease; Adding “Real” Foods; Canned Plants

Thank you so much for the recent article published about Addison’s disease in dogs (“The Great Pretender,” October 2011). The day I read it my dog Hayleigh was showing almost every symptom, some she’s had on and off for years. The final clue was the frequent urination, which had started the day before.

Because I read the article prior to taking her to the vet I knew to ask for the ACTH test in addition to the urine sample, which came back positive for primary Addison’s. It would have otherwise taken weeks for us to figure out she didn’t have a simple UTI and she would have been feeling so sick and possibly suffered through an Addisonian crisis while we tried to fix the wrong thing.

I am a better-informed pet owner and I can’t thank you enough for teaching me about this hard-to-diagnose condition. Hayleigh has started her new medications and the results have been great.
-Sarah McCorkle, via email

We love hearing this. Thanks for writing.

Thanks for the article about adding “real” foods to a dog’s commercial diet (“Diet Upgrade,” May 2011.) My dog had struvite bladder stones due to a bad bladder infection, and rather than feeding those prescription foods which are awful (she wouldn’t even eat them), I started out with all home cooked foods.

Now I am feeding a small amount of grain-free kibble with the homemade foods: cooked meats (chicken, lean ground beef, or ground turkey), sweet potatoes, pumpkin, or regular potato, and high quality canned dog food, chicken broth and water. I added the kibble because the stools were so mushy. In the beginning I started out with rice and found that was causing problems with near diarrhea. The sweet potato or canned pumpkin took care of it. I also add digestive enzymes and fish oil from Only Natural Pet. All my other dogs get canned food and warm water mixed in with their kibble. I also add some vegetables sometimes.
-Mary Fuller, via email

We’re glad that you have made the connection between your dog’s diet and her health! It’s gratifying to feed real food ingredients and observe the improvements in the dog’s condition. It’s even helpful when you discover things that your dog is intolerant of; when you feed a commercial food with dozens of ingredients, it’s hard to know part of the food (ingredient? manufacturing? storage?) is causing the problem.

However, when the “additives” to a commercial food exceed about 25 percent of the dog’s total diet over a long period of time, it’s very possible to unwittingly deprive the dog of some minor but essential nutrient that she’d otherwise get enough of from the commercial food. (Problems rarely result from feeding an incomplete or unbalanced diet for a few weeks or even months, but years of this type of feeding can result in deficiencies that lead to illness.) The most common – and most potentially harmful – diet formulation error that people make when they start tinkering with their dogs’ diets is failing to provide adequate calcium.

Now that you’ve gained the courage to depart a bit from the conventional commercial dog food path, we strongly recommend arming yourself with information about making your dog’s diet complete. Mary Straus, the author of the “Diet Upgrade” article that you referenced, reviewed a number of great books about home-prepared diets; any of the books recommended in “Read All About it,” in the March 2011 issue, would be a great place to start.

The following is a comment from a reader of the “web only” feature posted on the WDJ website, “An Inside Look at How Canned Food Is Made.”

Glad to see a truly honest company (Lotus Pet Foods), but as you mentioned, (Lotus) “does not yet produce pet food for other domestic pet food companies” – similar to those companies (Wellness, California Natural, Innova, etc., etc.) that are packaged by Diamond Pets yet you continue to recommend.

Whoa up a sec. First, neither Wellness nor California Natural nor Innova are manufactured at any Diamond Pet Foods site. The actual sites where they are manufactured are listed in our wet food review (“You Can. You Should!" November 2011). In fact, none of the foods that are on our “approved” wet food list are manufactured by Diamond – because Diamond doesn’t have any wet food manufacturing facilities. Diamond’s wet foods, like the vast majority of the foods on our “approved” list, are manufactured by a “co-packer” (independent manufacturing facility).

In past years, Diamond Pet Foods has had some of its dry pet foods recalled – pet foods that were manufactured at its own dry pet food manufacturing facilities. Diamond also manufactures some dry pet food products for other companies at these facilities. But no educated consumer should blithely conclude that any food, wet or dry, that has any connection with Diamond is not to be trusted. That’s nuts. It’s also why pet food manufacturers have been reluctant (or have refused) to disclose their manufacturers – so they don’t get brushed with the same tar that gets casually splashed around online.

As a long time lover of your magazine, I’m hoping you could answer a question for me about the latest canned food review. I base my dog food selections on your magazine alone and I am disheartened to find that my favorite food, Halo’s Spot’s Stew, did not make the list. Why?
-Carlisle Stockton, via email

We’ve discussed the case of Spot’s Stew in the past. The food meets all of our selection criteria save one: Halo doesn’t disclose its manufacturing sites. Given the industry’s experience with consumers like the previous letter writer, I understand why some companies (Newman’s Own is another) make this choice – but I also know how important this information can be to consumers who want to know as much as they can about a product they feed to their beloved companions.

Comments (19)

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Posted by: Perez199772 | December 3, 2016 3:08 PM    Report this comment

Supa cool

Posted by: pal potato | August 26, 2016 7:54 PM    Report this comment

Stanley, who is an 11 year old pit bull, also was recently diagnosed with hypothyroidsim. The diagnosis came about when the vet had removed a tumor on Stanley's side approximately six months prior. According to normal "hair growth " standards, Stanley did not meet those requirements, hence further testing. He then was put on a Twice a day routine of Thyro-Tab. This medication was Only given for about two weeks and abruptly taken off. The Thyro-Tab extremely hindered any of his continence. A fully house trained dog was having several accidents a day. This medicine took about two weeks to leave his system. He has yet to have further testing and tweaking of medications. Slowly his body is deteriorating and his attitude is undesirable, we are a work in progress. Any suggestions and/or ideas on diet, exercise, etc. Would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by: pjpiercee | February 6, 2016 12:33 PM    Report this comment

Stanley, who is an 11 year old pit bull, also was recently diagnosed with hypothyroidsim. The diagnosis came about when the vet had removed a tumor on Stanley's side approximately six months prior. According to normal "hair growth " standards, Stanley did not meet those requirements, hence further testing. He then was put on a Twice a day routine of Thyro-Tab. This medication was Only given for about two weeks and abruptly taken off. The Thyro-Tab extremely hindered any of his continence. A fully house trained dog was having several accidents a day. This medicine took about two weeks to leave his system. He has yet to have further testing and tweaking of medications. Slowly his body is deteriorating and his attitude is undesirable, we are a work in progress. Any suggestions and/or ideas on diet, exercise, etc. Would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by: pjpiercee | February 6, 2016 12:28 PM    Report this comment

Stanley, who is an 11 year old pit bull, also was recently diagnosed with hypothyroidsim. The diagnosis came about when the vet had removed a tumor on Stanley's side approximately six months prior. According to normal "hair growth " standards, Stanley did not meet those requirements, hence further testing. He then was put on a Twice a day routine of Thyro-Tab. This medication was Only given for about two weeks and abruptly taken off. The Thyro-Tab extremely hindered any of his continence. A fully house trained dog was having several accidents a day. This medicine took about two weeks to leave his system. He has yet to have further testing and tweaking of medications. Slowly his body is deteriorating and his attitude is undesirable, we are a work in progress. Any suggestions and/or ideas on diet, exercise, etc. Would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by: pjpiercee | February 6, 2016 12:27 PM    Report this comment

The dog puller collar is a great toy! It is sleek and lightweight. Trainer invented, it combines three great dog activities in one: pulling, fetching, and catching. A great workout for your healthy pup! Get it at swishone dot com

Posted by: swishone | December 16, 2015 11:20 AM    Report this comment

Hi, I am new to your web site.I do receive the Journal. I had a question that might be of interest to anyone feeding rawhide. I recently purchased a product called, Grillers made in the USA. They are Natural source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin. They are made by Dizzy Dogg's Hearty Bites Mfd. by: D.D. Industries Chicago Il. 60632.....www.Dizzydogg.com. Supposedly:"ALL NATURAL REAL GRILLED COLLAGE
collegen CHEWS" DO you have any info on this productThanks J steph ?

Posted by: jsteph1938 | August 22, 2015 7:02 PM    Report this comment

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Posted by: Cmcmmdmdkdkdkdk | May 23, 2015 7:03 PM    Report this comment

I hope this is not considered offensive, I share it only as a caution. I have had many rescue's in my life of 72 years and just no health issues. Vets for vaccinations and included mini checkup only. One, a miniature poodle with an overbite that she outgrew, was with me for 21years. So, It took almost a year before we became aware that our guy Sonny Boy- 85 pound standard poodle, ten in April...was in trouble... Beginning last spring, 2 collapses while hiking, an incident this Christmas when my husband found him under the Christmas tree, unresponsive and without a pulse. From perfect gentleman who ate slowly and savored his food to ravenous, stealing and eating even dry rice and oats... so hungry all the time. Out to pee, every couple hours, 6 and more times a night. We had consultations with three vets in our area. All well regarded clinic's but no answers or real concern. The second one gave us a prescription for pain. Our Sonny was blind within a week and in researching side affects of this drug and our situation, Addisons became obvious- the blindness a side affect of the drug. We immediately exchanged it for two baby aspirins each day and it is working well without the daze and disconnect. Added Adrenal balancing drops twice a day, krill oil and joint supplements he was already taking... he is doing so well. Makes it even harder that he needs to walk on leash in a rural area that allows freedom, I cry for the loss of his great joy... racing across the landscape... but at the same time so grateful he is still with us. I always investigate before I give myself or family prescriptions and usually find substitutes... sooo wish I had done my homework before causing my best friend to be blind. I am not blaming the clinic's- Addisons seems to be difficult to diagnose, treat and no cure.
I would just advise others to proceed with caution. Everything we use for him is available on Amazon. He takes the krill oil and joint supplements on his own, sits at the pill shelf and waits for me if I am distracted :o), we put the others in not healthy- but much enjoyed peanut butter pill pockets. We do not leave him alone, if I was still working we would need to have him put down for safety reasons... so again feeling blessed.

Posted by: amyo6 | March 11, 2015 5:29 PM    Report this comment

I am soo grateful to have found your journal. My boxer (Dallas) was diagnosed with Addisons when he was 2.5 years old. He had an Addisonian crisis and almost lost him. Our veterinarian diagnosed him immediately, another blessing. So Dallas is on monthly shots of Percorten and takes daily doses of steroids. Subsequently he suffers from bladder infections and allergies. He is a happy and otherwise healthy dog but it hurts to know he is so sick. I started him on fish oil for allergies and thanks to your article on vitamin C, I stated Dallas on 1,000 mgs a day...should I be giving him higher doses? Dallas is 100% boxer, a rescues, he is 3 years old and weighs 75 pounds. Needless to say, he is our precious baby...we love him dearly and are blessed to have him. We feed him Rachel Ray's Just 6....What else do you recommend for him?

Posted by: Maria Love | September 7, 2014 11:53 AM    Report this comment

Hi...I'm a new reader with a 9 yr old male red Heeler that was diagnosed with Addisons disease 2 months ago. I have his blood work checked and he seems to be doing ok. Yesterday I noticed he has bloody loose stools, and today, the same. I feed him Hills prescription diet "W/d" and probiotics daily, which is prescribed by his vet. In addition, he gets raw green beans, carrots, pumpkin and yogurt. Hes always been fed vegetables and yogurt, which he loves, and are good for him. Im just wondering if there are any other Addison dogs that get W/d food, and how you feel its helping. Thank you...

Posted by: Unrulyredd | July 6, 2014 6:57 PM    Report this comment

Kat and Kemosabe, hi. This is Gracies mama. I am a new reader and love what everyone has to say on this site. I can't presume to know what you should do but I wonder if you have tried benadryl or some sort of a sleep medication from the vet and get him inside while asleep? I'm sure you probably have. I am curious, what does Kemosabe do when he wakes up and finds himself inside? Does he sleep with something from you, like a T-shirt? I also wanted to share with you that Gracie is also an Addisonian. She was originally prescribed fludrocortisone and prednisone. The prednisone made her so ugly! She would literally rip food out of your hand given the opportunity. It just seemed to make her angry and very agitated. I immediately weaned her off that and she was still taking six fludrocortisone. It was expensive costing me about $180 a month. I wondered how I was going to keep that up. Fortunately, I've been able to. But Gracie started excessively urinating (even leaking a bit) and seemed to be more nervous. I reduced her medication to three fludrocort a day and she is doing great. As a matter of fact, Gracie recently started leaking again and I now give her two and a half one day and three the next. It's a fine line but I watch her carefully and seem to know when she needs a change. She has bad hips but we walk every day and lately seems to have a dance in her step. She is sassy and playful again. I also wanted you to know that I found a coupon online for the fludrocortisone at CVS and I now pay $39 and some change for 120 pills. It is an amazing discount and a HUGE difference from the almost $200 a month before. I wish you and Kemosabe the best and at the risk of repeating myself suggest giving him something that comforts him (if you can get him in the house that is). When I have to leave Gracie I give her a shirt, a blanket I've used, socks anything with my scent. That seems to help immensely and we are both less stressed. Good luck to you!

Posted by: Graciesmama | May 27, 2014 7:38 AM    Report this comment

I am a new member and am excited by the things I've read concerning Addison's Disease and diet. However, I have another issue that I need help with. My Gracie is wolf, pit and chow (I know. Sounds vicious but she is a sweetheart just not super social), and seems to have very sensitive skin since the onset of her Addison's Disease about five years ago. She doesn't like to be rubbed, petted, or scratched for any length of time. I would love to massage her to help keep stress levels at a minimum but it seems impossible. Do any of you have any wonderful suggestions? I loved the info on the aromatherapy for dogs and am looking forward to trying that. Not so sure about the melatonin since it appears to effect corticosteroid levels but wish so badly that I could do this as well since she suffers from separation anxiety too. Can't wait to hear what you have to say. We are so happy to have found you! Happy paws to everyone! Gracies mama

Posted by: Graciesmama | May 27, 2014 5:10 AM    Report this comment

My german shorthair has Addison's and is having a terrific life. Very active. He gets Acana Grasslands and Solid Gold Bison mixed with a helping of raw veges (buy in frozen food section at grocery): broccoli and mixed veges of corn, peas, carrots that are thawed then mixed and blendered so his system can absorb. (Make in a large batch of veges and put in plastic containers in freezer. Thaw as needed.) Supplement with small amounts of cottage cheese, liver, hearts and gizzards, tuna in water, oatmeal, quinoa (not all together but my whole gang loves their meals and licks their bowls clean). Sometimes a few small bites of bananas or apples (with peanut butter). Water bowls always full. I have a very healthy gang and the vet thinks that this is all terrific.

Posted by: Susan Dell | April 8, 2014 4:28 PM    Report this comment

Ear cleaning is a must! For years i have used the same 50/50 mix of hydrogen peroxide and alcohol that I use in my ears. . . it bubbles up and "eats" the wax and dirt. My vet has recommended I use vinegar instead of alcohol for the mix, but have not tried to date. Suffice to say, I have a mixed group of companions (small to med in size, long hair to short, hounds to that little fluffy one, they all get dosed about every 3 months and we have NO ear problems. They will shake their heads but the cabinets, walls and fabrics are not damaged.

Posted by: Susan Dell | April 8, 2014 4:08 PM    Report this comment

What a great site this is. Kemosabe, my border collie/Akita mix and ruler of my heart is going to be 15 this Summer. He is an Addisonian dog. I almost lost him about 7 years ago and at that time found out he was Addisonian. He has been on a shot of Percorten ($185 a month) for about 7 years. I have managed so far to keep up with his needs thanks to Care Credit. Anyway, we have moved several times in the last couple of years and he will not currently come in to the mobile home where he and I are living. He is afraid of the floors, I guess. Since he would not come in to sleep, he made the porch his headquarters. Then he started barking at night waking me up at least three times a night. Well, it was okay when I was not working but now that I am I have tried everything I know to make him more comfortable (many sleep aids, Citronella collar, etc.) No success. Then I tried fostering him out to a friend who has a Zen garden and a fenced in yard. After about a week of that working somewhat, he tried pounding on the fence and barking, probably to come home?! So now he is sleeping in my car at night where he feels safe. I am at my wits end. The latest thing is to get him Prozac and see if that makes his life any more comfortable. Oh, one more thing. I have always steamed his chicken and mixed it with crunchies or had crunhies on the side. For a few years now I have added sweet potatoes (sometimes gives him the runs) and pumpkin (works perfectly). He is also taking some Prednisone and Thyroxine. He had a fatty tumor that hung down from his groin for a few years and finally I had it removed. I was afraid that the anesthesia would kill him, but I finally could not take it anymore. He came out of that surgery with flying colors. But now his back legs are arthritic. I am at my wits end. I do not know what to do for my dog anymore? Please, if anyone out there has a solution or a suggestion, please do write me back. I love my dog and just want him to have a happy life at this point. Maybe I should send him to play twice a week? NEED HELP IN PETALUMA!!!

Posted by: KatandKemosabe | April 1, 2014 3:42 PM    Report this comment

Thank you for information on Addison's. Not many Vets know how to treat this. My Jack Russell has it and he almost died before they knew what it was.

Posted by: crazylazydogs | March 22, 2014 6:07 PM    Report this comment

Comment for Mary Fuller email
Hi Mary, glad to hear your beloved pet is on the mend. it seems you are on the right path of naturally feeding your dog but I have these suggestions for you. Do not cook the meat or other items you are giving your dog. You lose many of the essential vitamins and enzymes present in raw foods which dogs bodies are fully equip to handle and thrive on. I would be cautious of chicken broths not made by yourself due to the extremely high sodium ( even in the low sodium ones are excessive) and remember no onions in the broth. We have from time to time used brown rice ( healthier, not processed and better nutrition). Sweet potatoes is great other potatoes are a little high on the glycemic scale. Canned food you are still looking at cooked or processed consider adding tripe if you can get it, the occasional whole raw egg (shell and all) definitely raw beef marrow bones for clean teeth and healthy mouth and bone meal the dog will get from working the bone. One element I am not seeing in your mix is organ meat which is essential and I like to have a mix of above ground vegetables and below ground vegetable together when given for a better gut balance ) must be pulped not quite juiced because dogs stomach's don't process whole or large vegetable pieces very well. Watch out for gassy veggies (depending on breed) and for more harmonious air quality in your home if you get my drift! So this was a lot but hope it helps.

Posted by: KIRA BMD | March 11, 2014 1:26 PM    Report this comment

I'm a new reader preparing for a new dog. I'm overjoyed to find your very informative website and know that I will be well informed when the time is right to adopt. The first articles I read were about feeding and that brings me to my first question: I'm satisfied that I can find great dog answers here but don't know where to find a good "whole cat site" for cat feeding advice. Can you point me to one?

Posted by: Mary F | April 29, 2012 1:49 PM    Report this comment

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