Is it possible that the rise in hypothyroidism in certain dog breeds might be the result of diets low in saturated fats? Since 1996, dog breeders have noted that this condition has become common enough to test their breeding stock for. While some veterinarian practitioners believe that there might be a genetic predisposition towards hypothyroidism other experts claim that its cause is directly related to the commercial kibble fed to dogs.
The hypothyroidism question might be a matter of which came first — the chicken or the egg? A dog will pass on to its offspring any weaknesses in its genetic code. When generations of dogs are fed a steady diet of dried kibble their bodies are placed at risk to develop hypothyroidism. Why? Because commercially produced dog food contains primarily polyunsaturated fats. These fats are not conducive for the absorption of certain vitamins, particularly vitamin A, D, E and K.
Vitamin A is a huge player in the body’s ability to kick on its immune system. This wonder vitamin gives the body its ability to fight off cancer and it helps prevent the thyroid gland from shrinking. As the thyroid gland shrinks it begins to lose its ability to function and hypothyroidism sets in. When vitamin A is coupled with vitamin D, the result is a dynamic duo that work together to increase thyroid hormone circulation within the body. But both vitamin A and vitamin D need saturated fat for absorption through the intestine before the body can utilize it.
Although there is no conclusive evidence that a diet lacking saturated fats causes hypothyroidism, it is certainly worth avoiding this condition by providing pets with a wholesome diet that contains a variety of organic food— including quality animal protein and fat. This becomes even more important if you own a dog breed with a genetic predisposition towards this disease. Dog breeds at greater risk for hypothyroidism are: Akitas, American cocker spaniels, Beagles, Boxers, Briards, Brozois, Doberman pinschers, German shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, Irish setters. Labarador retrievers, Old English sheepdogs, Rottweilers, and Shetland sheepdogs.
Unfortunately it is often difficult to tell if your dog has hypothyroidism because its symptoms are common to many other diseases. Keep in mind that as your dog ages, he becomes more prone to this condition. That’s why it’s important to start them off with the right type of diet. Variety is key. Supplement your dog’s dried kibble with healthy servings of organically raised meat because it contains the fat your dog needs to absorb certain vitamins. Additionally, provide your pet with cod liver oil at each meal. There are many brands available made specifically for pets. My personal favorite is Nordic Naturals Pet Cod Liver Oil for Dogs & Cats.
About the Author:
Gyvel Young is a journalist, published author, her passion is animal behavior and nutrition.
Nockels CF, Ewing DL, Phetteplace H, et al. Hypothyroidism: an early sign of vitamin A deficiency in chickens. J Nutr 1984;114:1733-6
Oba K, Kimura S. Effects of vitamin A deficiency on thyroid function and serum thyroxine levels in the rat. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 1980;26:327-34
Pottenger, Francis Jr. (1983). Pottenger’s Cats: A Study in Nutrition. California. Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, Inc.
One thing is for certain, the food industry is changing — on many levels. The Monsanto Company is the leader in diversifying agriculture to the point of engineering foods that appear on your dinner plate and in your pet’s bowl. The most recent travesty involves corn. The MON863 is a genetically modified corn that contains the Bacillus thuringiensis gene. Why is Monsanto inserting the bacillus gene into a corn’s gene? Because this lovely little gene actually causes the corn to produce a pesticide!
This is nothing new. Genetically engineered grains have been distributed since 1996. We are talking about corn, soy, wheat, rice, barely, and various types oil seeds, even alfalfa. The seeds are labeled “hybrid” seeds and the rationale behind using these seeds is higher crop yield. In today’s corporate farming world, the bottom line is what counts, not your safety and certainly not the safety of your pets. The defense is that these crops are used primarily for livestock. Yet, there is no evidence that this is the case. In fact, there are no laws preventing these crops from being sold for human (or pet) consumption.
Back in 1998 corn, wheat, soy, and other grain seeds developed by Monsanto to resist the Roundup herbicide were approved by the FDA. The corn is a GA21 and contains a modified epsps gene that results in the plant’s resistance to the Roundup herbicide. However, it also results in the plant’s absorption of this herbicide. (All plants exposed to an herbicide will absorb the herbicide, resulting in death of the plant.) The argument is that most plants treated with herbicides are not slated for the dinner table, hence the reason for killing them off. In the case of the GA21 corn, it is the opposite. The plant is sprayed, it absorbs the herbicide, but it resists the herbicide and does not die. Ultimately this corn ends up in the human and animal food chain.
In the case of humans or livestock, it can be argued that there is not enough concentration of the herbicide to create problems. In fact, many studies support that these genetically modified foods are perfectly safe for consumption. This is despite many reports that reveal just the opposite. Additionally, this argument can not be made for our pets, who are much smaller than us. Furthermore, independent laboratory tests have revealed that genetically modified grains can create liver, kidney and spleen damage — at least in rats. What exactly does this mean to your pet? Damage to the kidneys can result in renal failure. Damage to the liver results in liver toxicity. And damage to the spleen is fatal. For our companion animals damage to any of these vital organs spells out a death sentence.
Despite all the modern advances in pet health care and the nutritional information available to consumers, our pets are developing some alarming diseases: Diabetes, kidney failure, and cancer. These common human ailments are on the rise in our pets. Why jeopardize your pets’ health by serving food that can place them at risk? By taking the initiative to purchase only grain-free food for your pet, you will reduce their exposure to harmful GMOs. The conclusion is that any genetically modified grain that enters your dog’s and cat’s food is counterproductive to their health.
Gyvel Young is a journalist and published author. Her passion is animal behavior and nutrition.
Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B, 6:211-225, 2003
Food and Chemical Toxicology, Volume 44, Issue 7, July 2006, Pages 1092-1099
Hundreds of Dogs Hit in Pet Food Poison Scare
This just in from Australia!
The Australian Veterinary Association is warning Australians that the source of a recent upsurge in kidney damage in small dogs is tied to contaminated pet food meat. Furthermore the meat’s origin source is suspected as China.
The AVA is encouraging all veterinarians to report cases of serious kidney damage to them immediately. Mark Lawrie the AVA national president stated yesterday that, “We have only become aware of this in the last three or four weeks, and we need to make people aware there are some clear indications there is a problem out there.”
According to Lawrie the kidney failure cases have been traced to a well-known Australian pet-food supplier. This manufacturer is using tainted meat that is imported from China. Lawrie is withholding the name of the company, citing legal reasons. Earlier this month the University of Sydney issued a national alert about this kidney-destroying pet food. But the university was ordered under legal threat, from the pet food manufacturer, to desist from any further comments. One university researcher (who refused to be named) stated that there is enough evidence against this company to recall the entire product line.
It appears that Australia’s legal system provides corporations a strangle-hold power, prohibiting the mention of a specific product in connection with anything scandalous — even if this means perpetrating the death of innocent pets. This leaves the Australian pet owner stabbing in the dark when it comes to selecting a safe pet food for their dog.
Despite being hampered by threats from the company the AVA has done its best to alert veterinarians about the problem. While at the same time, the AVA admonishes the vets to not make any comments to the media about the case. Due to all the legal haranguing the AVA has only been made aware of a few dozen cases. Yet, they suspect that the true numbers are more likely into the hundreds.
The AVA holds to the position that all pet owners need to be concerned, particularly if they have a small breed dog. Both vets and dog owners alike are advised of these warning signs:
- INCREASED thirst and urination.
- REDUCED appetite and lethargy.
- VOMITING and weakness.
Please be aware that American pet food companies also use Chinese imports to manufacture pet food. Despite China’s poor track record this practice persists, particularly when it comes to gluten and grain products (this includes rice). In 2007 contaminated ingredients from China resulted in the deaths of hundreds of pets due to kidney failure. Although imported ingredients are still used to manufacture dog and cat food consumers can not determine from the label the ingredient’s country of origin. And there is no method of knowing if imported ingredients include meat. This is a huge concern to the pet owner because pet food labels are not required to list the ingredient’s country of origin. Therefore ANY ingredient on the label can come from foreign sources, including China. After all, it is not illegal to import products from oversees sources.
So what is a pet parent to do? For one thing, avoid pet food that lists gluten as an ingredient. Gluten, besides being bad for your pet’s health, can ultimately be a source of contamination. Avoid feeding your pet manufactured food loaded with grains, since grain can also be source of contamination. Next, find manufacturers that assure the consumer that their products are not only manufactured in the U.S.A. but are produced with American ingredients.