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Too Much Protein, is that possible

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Too Much Protein, is that possible
  • I recently had to take Pella in for some eye surgery.(she is 12 yrs old, had a lump removed, she is doing fine)

    They did blood work before the surgery and her results came back

     ALT level 125 U/L ,  ALKP level 1078 U/L, GGT level 7 U/L, TBIL level 0.2 mg/dl

    The vet mentioned possible cushing disease.

    She is on a high protein diet(no chicken grain free food), has been for last 2 yrs, could this cause these readings. She does not show signs of cushings, which I understand is hard to see.  My vet sells SD, and I really don't want to go there.  Pella is currently on Fromm 4Starr brands.

    Any thoughts.


  •  These numbers are liver values, right? The kidneys can be affected by too much protein, but I don't think that's a problem for the liver. Older dogs need more protein in their diet because they don't digest it as well. Both Purina and Royal Canin did studies that showed that senior dogs on higher protein diets ( about 28%) lived longer and had better muscle mass. As for how much protein a dog needs, there used to be a vet student that was part of this forum, and she said dogs can use up to 35% of the protein in their food and more than that is excreted through the urine. You can't control Cushing's with a diet. It's probably best to test her for Cushing's and then decide on a treatment regimen ( there are various drugs for it). My understanding, and I could be wrong, is that if a dog tests positive for Cushing's but doesn't have symptoms, then it doesn't need treatment. The treatments carry risks too. There are things you can do for the liver, such as making sure the protein in the diet comes mainly from meat sources or eggs (high biological value), and giving supplements such as SamE, milk thistle and vitamin E.

     Edited to add; I'm glad she came through the surgery well. 

  • There is widely different medical opinion on this to be honest.

    YES, the wrong protein/balance with too much protein CAN be a problem with high liver values.  MIght not cause it -- typically liver toxicity can be caused by even environmental toxins - like fertilizers, sprays (even cleaners/stuff in your house if she licks a lot). 

    I'd need to see not just the numbers of those values but the chart they're compared to -- I can't remember specifically what the range numbers are of all those values (and it can depend on where you got them from). 

    I've got two dogs that are prone to high liver values.  Billy's liver was damaged when he had IMHA and had to be on the big super-steroids for a long time.  Tink's was probably damaged a bit as a puppy (she was hugely sick when we got her -- huge systemic infections resulting from neglect and massive demodex) and man, the least little thing can wreck her values.

    If the AST and ALT are high it can be a bile duct problem. 

    Question -- is it **at all possible** that someone has given this dog chocolate ... maybe even small amounts over a long period of time??  Of course it's pretty well publicized that "chocolate is bad for dogs" but most people don't GET it that it's not just a one time thing.  I've had people who try to be *very* careful with diet but who have a family member who will routinely sneak the dog a "little" chocolate "because it doesn't bother them".

    Chocolate has a chemical in it called theobromine -- sorta similar to caffeine.  BUT in the dog's liver it is converted to a chemical very like cocaine.  They may not instantly go running laps around the living room (or ... sometimes they may), but the liver takes a HUGE hit trying to process it.   The dog may "get over" any reaction within 24 hours -- but the damage to the liver can last a LOT longer.

    I have a friend who KNOWS she has a dog with digestive problems and she buys vet prescribed food for her -- but my friend tends to 'stash' cheap chocolate and invariably the dog will get into the stash and eat a whole bag of m&ms or really cheap easter chocolate.

    My friend's theory is because there's not much chocolate IN it (she loves that really nasty cheap Palmer's chocolate that's mostly sugar and wax??) that it can't be harmful.

    IT IS.  Now typically when it comes to chocolate chip cookies or nasty cheap chocolate the dog may puke from the shortening, sugar, etc.  But the liver STILL takes an enormous hit.  Tink stole some Hershey's kisses two Christmas's ago (a small 6 oz bag that I'd gotten as a gag gift for my husband) and man that wrecked her already-iffy liver SO BAD.  She had one bad evening and appeared to be "over it" but we discovered on blood work a few weeks later that it had done some REAL nasty stuff to her liver values.

    Billy gets super trashed by things like pesticides and outdoor sprays.  I home cook for all 3 dogs simply because I've got these two dogs with liver issues.

    I never feed a high protein diet -- I know it's NOT a common belief and it's the trend now to feed higher protein to older dogs. 

    I've had MANY dogs live to be 18 - 21 and I like it like that.  I typically keep an older dogs protein MUCH lower than is the current trend.  I don't give grain much at all (occasionally if there's a need I may use barley or oatmeal but *never* rice because it can be an inflammatory).

    The first thing most regular vets will do when a dog is having liver issues is to reduce the protein.  Simply because it then becomes easier for them to digest. 

    But then you have to be careful of the balance of everything else if you're not feeding protein and not using grain.

    I'm not going to say that a high protein food will *cause* high liver values because it probably won't.  But it can stress an already iffy liver.  And you may want to turn your attention to trying to figure out what else in the dog's background may have contributed to high liver values.

    Any history of steroids of any sort?

    Any systemic pesticides (Revolution (Selamectin), ProHeart or Advantage-Multi (moxidectin), BioSpot, Comfortis, Program, ProMeris, etc.)  Those are all very hard on the liver.

    My best suggestions for you:

    Initially to get the liver values down I'd be using both milk thistle (high doses) and SAM-e.  Most human SAM-e is in enteric capsules -- I like Cell Food SAM-e because it's a liquid and yet keeps it's viability.

    From the vet you can get Marin (milk thistle highly refined into a pharmaceutical) and Denosyl (SAM-3 again highly refined into a pharmaceutical) -- or you can get Denamarin which is a combination of both.

    I prefer the naturals there simply because you can use *high* doses of both of those and resolve the problem much quicker.  You can't use higher doses of Marin and Denosyl because they have become pharmaceuticals and you can then run into problems with too much.  But if someone is unwilling to use an herb or a supplement those are fine products.

    Milk thistle's highest and best use is as a protectant for the liver -- but it DOES help detox as well.  SAM-e is the major detox. 

    Milk thistle is easy to find at most health stores -- comes in capsules or often as a loose tea.  I order it by the pound from http://www.leavesandroots.com -- there are other vendors out there, but that's a good company and they carry an ultra high quality herb.  It's FAR cheaper (I figured out that a pound of milk thistle powder from L&R is about $12.75 -- that equals about 10-12 bottles of milk thistle capsules which runs about $200 - $230) -- and it's easier for the dog to digest the loose powder than having to deal with the cellulose capsules.

    The Cell Food SAM-e is about $28 - $40 depending on where you get it.  If you go to the http://www.cellfood.com website I think they have a locator --at the very least call around to health stores in your area to find who carries it -- it's not necessarily a common brand.

    I've used Monica Segal's diets lots of times (http://www.monicasegal.com ) and a lot of folks on here use Sabine Contreras's diets.  They're probably not going to steer you to a low protein diet necessarily.

    I honestly just have a "thing" about high protein diets.  I've done it and regretted it with every single dog I've tried it with.  Because I get better, healthier longevity out of a diet with no more than 23 - 33% protein.

    Feel free to email me if I can help with anything.

    My Billy always runs Cushingoid -- meaning, his bloodwork can LOOK like Cushings but he's been tested like FIVE times now and doesn't have Cushings. 

    If I ever DID have a dog with Cushings I would *not* treat it pharmaceutically -- not on a bet.  I'd use homeopathy -- Cushings is a body balance problem (and so is Addison's -- they are mirror images of each other).  And the drugs are nasty -- essentially in Cushings to prevent the body from producing too much Cortisol they simply kill off adrenal cells so the body *can't* manufacture too much of it's own steroid.  I would treat homeopathically to avoid that.

    I don't know you so I don't know how much you may or may not know about alternative stuff -- but homeopathy is a completely separate branch of alternative medicine -- it's NOT 'naturals' or 'herbs' -- a homeopathic is a particular type of chemical compound that's dilute in nature.

    Sorry this is long -- but I've had three dogs now that have had HUGE liver issues.  And I've successfully maintained it in all 3 dogs for LONG periods of time with no ill effects.  All 3 had the issues come up from completely separate things -- Foxy got a huge massive infection in his liver (and I had 3 vets telling me to put him to sleep because he might have liver cancer).  Billy's, as I said, came as an ultimate side effect from treatment for IMHA.  The big drugs saved his life but left significant damage in the liver and kidneys.  Tinker?  Aside from crappy breeding  and the major infections as a pup and battle with demodex, we've literally gotten so we just plain don't bring chocolate into the house because the little pill will home in on it in a heartbeat *sigh*.  There seems to be no cupboard too high  -- shoot I've had her destroy a purse to get to a chocolate bar wrapper inside *sigh*

    HOpe something in this helps you!

  • Thank you ladies. Wow lots of information.

    I think I want to go with reducing the amount of protein in her diet, so I will have to look for a food with less.  I know I have always heard that it is harder as they get older to digest protein.  A new food hunt underway, ugh!

    Pella, has always eaten pretty good, and she is not given chocolate, well never on purpose. As far as chemicals, unforturnately, we live in a chemical world, and we make sure to keep our dogs away if we know of their use when we can.  The funny thing is the vet never told me what to do about the high level of protein, I guess that is another visit!  But I want to start with the food change, I just have to watch chicken and corn.

    Thanks again, this really helps, because it made me aware of possiblies.


  • Mydogs
    I think I want to go with reducing the amount of protein in her diet, so I will have to look for a food with less.  I know I have always heard that it is harder as they get older to digest protein. 


      Which is why you don't want to reduce her protein very much. last summer I worked with a nutritionist in formulating a cooked diet for Jessie, and I learned that dogs need at least one gram of protein per pound of body weight or they will lose muscle mass. You can call or e-mail dog food companies to find out how many grams of protein are in 1000 calories of their food. Knowing how many calories she can have without gaining weight, you can use that info to determine if she's getting enough protein from her dry food. If she's not, you can add some meat, fish, or eggs to her diet using nutritiondata.com;   NutritionData's Nutrition Facts Calorie Counter     to supply the needed amount of protein. It's not hard to do, and it's what I've been doing for Jessie ( I had to stop using the cooked diet several months ago).  A book written by the same nutritionist has a chapter about Cushing's and the 2 sample diets in that chapter are 32% and 37% protein and 33% and 28% fat.

  • Janice,

    Thank you again.  I just got talking to the vet, she advised we do nothing as far as cushings, because Pella shows no effects of having it. She suggested testing again in 6 months.  Her test results weren't so bad, or they would have cancelled the surgery for her eye.

    She did say to put her on a senior dog food, less fat.  But where do I find a senoir dog food that doesn't have chicken or corn in it.

  • The problem with a lot of "senior" formulas is that many are too low in protein. 

    Some moderate protein/low fat diets to consider are Fromm Whitefish: 23% protein, 11% fat---Blue Longevity Adult: 24% protein, 11% fat.

    The Natural Balance Line of limited ingredient foods are low fat (10%), but the protein is also a bit lower, usually around 20-21%---but may be worth looking at.

    Eagle pack Holistic Select has a nice duck formula with 23% protein, 13% fat, not sure how low fat you want to go.

    Pinnacle's Duck formula is also nice and, again, 23% protein, 13% fat.

    These are just a begining, hopefully others will chime in with more choices.