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.