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_ (http://www.cvm.uiuc.edu/ceps/)
2001 S. Lincoln Ave.
Urbana, Illinois 61802
Phone: 217/333-2907
By Sarah Probst
Information Specialist
_University of Illinois_ (http://www.uiuc.edu/)
_College of Veterinary Medicine_ (http://www.cvm.uiuc.edu/) "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. ""