Thursday, December 31, 2009

HEALTH ALERT | Pacific Rimism

Relevant to all dog owners, especially those who own Asian breeds, particularly the spitz types (shibas, akitas, jindos, chows, etc)

A scary experience of a fellow Shiba owner led to this awareness:

Pacific Rimism in Japanese Dogs
An informal case study in the lethal misdiagnosis of Hyper-kalemia and Addison’s disease in Nihon Ken

Hi all, I wanted to write up some of what I have come to know about this recently. I believe it is essential that all Nihon Ken owners, or anybody with related Asian spitz breeds like Jindo, etc, read, understand and share this information, especially to the Veterinary community.

Following our Christmas dinner (and scraps from the relatives), my spayed 2.5 year old Shiba Inu female Beebe began to have some GI upset/gastroenteritis/colitis symptoms, mainly mucous diarrhea. This is not a new thing for her. To refresh, she was diagnosed last year with an immune deficiency and has been on interferons, allergy injections, and has required treatment for demodex, papilloma virus warts, and histiocytomas. She suffers from environmental and food allergies, and thus we made the transition to a home prepared raw diet for 6 months now to help with her GI issues. It works well, except when she eats grain and table scraps, and for the fact that she is not a healthy dog to begin with.

Her most recent bought of diarrhea went on for 2 days, but it wasn’t severe to cause me to panic. I made her NPO and then fed her a bland diet of rice and chicken which resolved the diarrhea. On top of the GI disturbance, she also seemed to just not be herself, seemed more tired, had some trembling episodes during the night, and appeared to be developing some rear limb weakness in conjunction with hesitance when rising, getting on the couch or jumping into the backseat of the auto. She occasionally regurgitates her food (prior to starting raw). These symptoms are suggestive of Addison’s, and are symptoms sometime seen with conditions like hip dysplasia, LP, hypothyroid, mega-esophagus, cauda equina, colitis, and pancreatitis. I took her in to my Vet to do bloodwork and x-rays.

Of note, the spun serum had blood stranding and a pinkish hue, even though it was allowed the standard time to clot and set prior to being spun. This suggested cellular lysis (hemolysis). When this happens, electrolytes in the cells can be released, giving falsely elevated electrolyte levels, and in certain breeds, it can appear that the electrolytes are at lethal levels as their cells are naturally more prone to this condition, and contain higher levels of K naturally which is not a detriment to the animal.

These were her aberrant labs, which Dr. told me was scary to see.

K: 8.1, reference range 4.0-5.7
Repeat K level the following day was 8.4. We performed an EKG which was normal.
As a human nurse for 5 years and an animal nurse for 15 years, I can tell you that I have never known an animal with K that elevated, and if it was a human they would be dead in an ICU. Hyper-kalemia (elevated K), can result in fatal heart arrhythmias if not treated. K can be elevated in renal failure, adrenal insufficiency, and hemolysis, secondary to leakage of cellular material in platelets and RBCs during the clotting process and is influenced by lag time in blood collection. In Addison’s (hypo-adrenocorticism), K is elevated and sodium (Na) is reduced (hyponatremia). Her Na/K ratio was also low (18, with a reference range of 27-40). Following this, the definitive diagnostic rule-out is an ACTH stimulation test. Her sodium was normal, so I was encouraged to have her undergo an ACTH stim test as the pieces didn’t fit into the larger picture. All other significant labs were normal, including glucose, and renal/liver values (which are often abnormal in Addison’s).

In addition to the abnormal labs, the blood cells themselves exhibited slight hypochromasia (most commonly related to iron deficiency anemia in dogs, vitamin deficiency, or celiac disease) and poikilocytosis (a misshapen and distorted RBC seen as a result of hemolysis, immune mediated injury, or by a congenital process).

Unlike the Vet in the instance below, my Vet had heard of Pseudo-hyperkalemia in Akita, and wondered if it wasn’t the same for my Shibas, given that Addison’s is NOT known in Shibas and the generally unknown instance of Pseudo-hyperkalemia can easily be mistaken for it. I decided to phone some breeders, this is what they had to say:

This paragraph on Pacific Rimism is listed further down in this article.
I have seen a number of Shibas over the years with elevated potassium levels and this is entirely NORMAL for Shibas, as well as a number of other Asian breeds. A vet in Seattle actually treated a 6 month old Shiba puppy for Addison’s with only the elevated potassium levels. The dog came in with a gastrointestinal problem and vomiting. What was probably just a bug, was treated totally improperly and led to this dog's demise. I am absolutely dumbfounded at the number of vets over the years that have no knowledge of Pacific Rimism. I really feel that the information should be given in written form to the new Shiba owners to give to their Vets along with the health record. I am sure that some vets would see this as insulting, but it has cost me entirely too much time and effort over the years to educate the uneducated.

-Leslie, of San Jo Shibas

“What is Pacific Rimism?
Dog breeds originating in the Pacific Rim, such as the Akita and Shiba inu, commonly have elevated potassium levels on blood tests. This can be very confusing when a patient has symptoms that suggest Addison's disease. These patients will have normal ACTH Stimulation test results if they do not have Addison's disease.”

The Vet feels it is likely this syndrome, so the next step for Beebe is an ACTH stim test just to be sure. I am obviously hoping that it is normal. I am so thankful to the knowledgeable people who pointed me in the right direction as had we undergone steroid treatment for Addison’s when it is likely not, the result could be lethal. Here is the Dogster page and journal entries for the Shiba pup who died from misdiagnosis:

Fujise, Hiroshi; Higa, Kazunari; Nakayama, Takahiro; Wada, Kayoko; Ochiai, Hideharu and Yuichi Tanabe. Incidence of Dogs Possessing Red Blood Cells with High K in Japan and East Asia. The Journal of veterinary medical science. 59( 6): 495-497. (Jun 1997)

ABSTRACT: The phenotype of high K (HK) red blood cells, which is an autosomal recessive, was found in dog groups from 10 of 13 breeds or populations in Japan. The incidence of HK was 26 to 38% in the San-in-Shiba, Shinshu-Shiba and Akita breeds, and the gene frequencies of HK ranged from 0.513 to 0.612. The highest incidence (42%) was found in the Jindo breed from Korea, and the gene frequency was 0.652. Two other groups from Korea also possessed this HK variation. However, although HK cells were not found in dogs from Taiwan, Mongolia and Sakhalin, Russian, the HK phenotype is clearly distributed now throughout Japan and Korea.

COMMENTS: Very interesting article for the researcher and layman. It gives evidence on the flow of dogs from Korea to Japan. The following quotes are what I consider crucial conclusions that every Jindo owner should be aware of::

"There are a couple of clinical problems related with high K (potassium) cells or hyperkalemia. The first is pseudohyperkalemia where cellular K may leak out from red blood cells into the serum during separation procedures confusing diagnosis. The second possibility is life-threatening hyperkalemia resulting from transfusion. In this instance, the availability of fresh blood as well as stored blood is critical
because K may move from plasma when the recipient is acidotic or the hemolysis may result from improper transfusion."

"HK cells also exhibit high sensitivity to onion extracts and aromatic sulfide and have a tendency to hemolyze."

Monday, December 28, 2009

more raw chicken videos

some more videos of the dogs eating their raw meals. Chicken halves and a slab of beef.

If you watch, notice that Tsuki's portion of chicken had the liver, kidney and fish oil capsule frozen into her half of the chicken (you can sort of see it in the second posted video here). I do this because she's so PICKY that she tends to ignore organs and fish oil capsules within her meal. Occasionally I can trick her into eating at least the organs attached to the chicken, but sometimes she maneuvers around them. Pip.

Lots of bone crunching in this one:


Tsuki is very 'particular'. Where she sits, how she sleeps, where she potties, how she walks across a room and especially what and when she eats.

It was a particular challenge to get her used to 'timed' raw feedings after being free fed kibble most of her life (my fault, exclusively).

But she does well, most of the time.

I have been trying to transition the dogs to large meals, fed once a day. Tsuki is not fond of this.

We start with something similar to this portion for each dog, where Kitsune (24lbs) gets the larger, compared to Tsuki's (18lbs) portion:

Then each gets as much time as it takes to eat it. Generally for Kitsu, this is about 5-10 minutes. Sometimes Tsuki is the same, and sometimes she just (literally) d-r-a-g-s it out...

Until she completely ignores the fact that it was, in fact, mealtime.

So, we do package up her leftovers:

And she gets them during her next meal.

The transition to once a day larger feedings has been a challenge because of Tsuki's finickiness. She doesn't eat the whole of her portion, then about 10-12 hours later, she does a yellow foamy urka-gurka vomit on an empty stomach, thus necessecitating a 2-meal-a-day system again.

I really don't mind much that she requires two smaller meals... I take the time and do the extra portioning. She just has to be difficult! :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

holiday meal | cornish hens

the shibas got cornish game hens for their 'holiday feast', and some chuck roast chunks on the side. (click the link for nutritiondata's nutrient breakdown)

raw towel

easy clean up when feeding raw - use a designated 'raw towel'

and train your dog to stay on it ;)

recipe book | the honest kitchen

Check out this sweet Recipe Book compiled and sold by The Honest Kitchen:

Our first ever recipe book is now available! Made out of Love is packed with more than 65 recipes of meals and treats that you can prepare for (and some to actually share with) your animal companions. Some recipes include Honest Kitchen products and many are simply made from ingredients that you’d find in your own kitchen.
There are recipes to cook and some to serve raw, as well as a special section on ‘medicinal meals’ for special needs pets and of course a chapter exclusively for cats. Made out of Love also includes lots of beautiful photographs of finished recipes, raw ingredients and some of our canine taste testers.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Turkey Necks

To dress or not to dress...

the fish? Most people dress it, but I think the dogs prefer it au naturale.

Dressed Smelt

I often search grocery store aisles for decent deals on both canned (in water, no added salt) and fresh fish. Not every fish should be fed (or consumed by you!) but many are safe.
I've heard way too many questionable things about farmed fish, or wild caught salmon that I tend to steer clear of many larger, 'popular' fish. However, my dogs do get a Wild Caught Salmon Oil capsule a few times a week.

There are several kinds of fishy treats for dogs, including the Herring by Snacks 21 and Grizzly NuTreats Salmon.

Our dogs get a mixture of Jack Mackerel, Sardines, Smelt (not as often), Anchovies & occasionally Trout (when in season). Most canned products have loads of extra salt, but I have been able to find a few companies that only can in water with no salt (look at the ingredients!). Jack Mackerel is harder to find without salt, so I feed that very seldom.

In the fresh variety, I have been able to find whole anchovies, some whole smelt. Mostly, the smelt and trout are 'dressed', aka 'cleaned & gutted'.
At this point, the dogs are not getting the full nutritional benefit of a whole fish (bones, organs) just the skin and flesh.
It isn't ideal, but at least its a part of a larger variety of raw meat protein sources for them in their raw diet. My goal is to find and feed whole raw fish at least once a week.

Some other items I've been able to find (whole) and feed: prawns, squid, fish heads


Yes, that is a cat treat bag. No, I do not have a cat :)

I often buy Purebites Dehydrated Beef Liver treats for the dogs when on sale. I love these treats because
1. The dogs cannot resist them, and Kitsu learned to "touch" for them.
2. They are single ingredient treats.
3. They market them for dogs AND cats. I think too often cats get the shaft on healthy treats, and these help bridge that gap.

I think the in-law's cat will enjoy his Christmas present!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

First Time Raw

I filmed Maisy's very first time eating a whole raw meal (medallions don't count!).

My best and most trusted advice is to give the dog a Raw Meaty Bone that is bigger than its head. It requires them to work at it (and not gulp) and will be a very fulfilling meal experience for them.

This held true for Maisy. She went from gulping kibble and swallowing medallions whole to carefully chewing and crunching her entire half chicken. Good girl!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ostrich Medley

A super cool fellow raw feeder sent me these. They are perfect! The dogs love um!

Aunt Jeni's Ostrich Medley. I'll let Best Bully Sticks say in their words, because every word is true:

This Ostrich Medley contains dehydrated ostrich liver, ostrich heart, ostrich lung, and ostrich trachea. It comes in a 10 ounce re-sealable container and is made in our own backyard, the USA! These treats are single protein sources, and contain no additives or preservatives. They are also great for raw feeders because most of the treats are organ meat!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Pig Ear/Cow Hoof Recall

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is issuing this health alert to warn consumers not to use Pig Ears and Beef Hooves pet treats manufactured by Pet Carousel because the products may be contaminated with Salmonella. The products were distributed nationwide in both bulk and retail packaging for sale in pet food and retail chain stores. Pet Carousel is based in Sanger, Calif.

The affected pig ear products were packaged under the brand names Doggie Delight and Pet Carousel. The affected beef hooves were packaged under the brand names Choo Hooves, Dentley’s, Doggie Delight, and Pet Carousel. All sizes and all lots of these products made by Pet Carousel are included in this alert. During September 2009, the FDA conducted routine testing of pig ears made by Pet Carousel.
The test results detected a positive reading for Salmonella. This prompted an FDA inspection of Pet Carousel’s manufacturing facilities. During the inspection, the agency collected additional pet treat samples. Further analysis found Salmonella present in beef hooves, pig ears and in the manufacturing environment.

Salmonella can affect both humans and animals. People handling dry pet food and/or pet treats can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the treats or any surfaces exposed to these products. Consumers should dispose of these products in a safe manner by securing them in a covered trash receptacle.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella may experience some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Although rare, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments including arterial infections, endocarditis (inflammation of the lining of the heart), arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their health care provider immediately.

Pets with Salmonella infections may become lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Some pets may only experience a decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected, but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed any of the affected products or is experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.

The FDA will continue to investigate this matter to determine the source of the Salmonella contamination and offer updates as appropriate.

Consumers can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food and pet treat products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in their area. You can locate the nearest consumer complaint coordinator at:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Nature's Calming Agents


Chamomile is a very helpful herb for easing anxiety. You can simply make a tea by steeping a chamomile teabag in hot water for a few minutes and adding the brew to his food.
St John's Wort is another popular herbal remedy for anxiety and stress since it relieves troublesome symptoms without sedation.


B-complex vitamins are very helpful for stress. Vitamin B12 and Folic acid are especially helpful. The amino acid phenylalanine is also used for anxiety; it helps to form a state of natural relaxation and has a positive effect on mood and behavior. In Traditional Chinese medicine, fear may stem from hereditary weakness involving the kidney or heart. Barley and Oats nourish these organs and the nervous system. Adding 1 teaspoon to ½ cup of these thoroughly cooked grains to the diet may help calm an anxious pet.

Flower Essences

Honeysuckle is useful for more straightforward cases of separation anxiety.
Gorse is useful for despair and grief, especially when an owner has passed away
Rock Rose helps to calm terror that manifests as trembling, cowering and panting as though the world might end.
Mimulus helps with fears of everyday life — strange places, the dark, and strangers or crowds for example.
Larch helps to cultivate bravery and courage along with emotional security.
Walnut helps to build up a sense of security and emotional independence.
Chestnut Bud can help as a preventive for a young dog, so that he can learn form his experiences and process new information to assist him in becoming an emotionally stable young dog.
You can add 3 drops of any or all of these flower essences to you pet's water bowl. Some people also apply flower essence to their pet?s paws or ears.


Arsenicum Album is a very useful homeopathic remedy for fear and anxiety that are caused by a deep-seated insecurity — those pets who are constant worriers.
Aconite especially good for animals who bite when they are frightened, especially when going to the veterinarian. Use 1-3 pellets (depending upon the animals size) 30 minutes before a vet visit to calm the animal.
Gelsemium is good for the animal who becomes weak, shaking with fear in the rear legs. Use 1 dose.

For more information, check out The Honest Kitchen & Bach's Flower Remedies which includes RESCUE REMEDY FOR PETS

The Honest Kitchen ROCKS

We’re sometimes asked why we are so strongly opposed to the farming of puppies, breeding on a mass scale and raising of puppies to be sold in retail outlets. We have refused to allow Honest Kitchen products to be sold in stores that sell puppies and kittens for the past seven years and remain committed to this. Some stores and distributors have taken exception to our decision and we wanted to take a moment to explain our position.
We believe that puppy mills do not constitute responsible breeders, since puppy-mill pets are not sufficiently socialized to normal every day situations, causing them to suffer various social problems and making them difficult house pets – which in turn makes them even more at risk of ending their days in a shelter. There are about 100,000 to 200,000 dogs inside puppy mills at any given time in the United States In addition, puppy mills do not offer lifetime support to puppy owners and do not agree to take back any puppy they have raised, for the duration of its entire life, as a responsible breeder does. Further, when puppies are sold in retail outlets, there is insufficient vetting of new homes to ensure that owners are sufficiently educated on how to care for their new animal, have the means to care for their new family member and properly understand the lifetime responsibility they are undertaking.
The mass scale breeding of puppies on farms, transportation across the country and re-sale in shops is the single biggest cause of massive over-population of companion animals in the United States and has caused puppies to be considered as commodities or possessions rather than members of the family. According to The Humane Society of the United States, exhaustive documentation on the problems surrounding puppy mills include the following: “over-breeding, inbreeding, minimal veterinary care, poor quality of food and shelter, lack of human socialization, overcrowded cages and the killing of unwanted animals. Many puppy-mill dogs are also born with genetic diseases, the symptoms of which, may not surface for several years into the animal’s life.
The greatest victims in the puppy mill problem are the breeding parents, because they will live their life in a cage and it generally ends fairly brutally. A number of national media outlets including American Dog Magazine, Best Friends Magazine and National Geographic’s Cesar Millan, as well as NY based radio personality and author Tracie Hotchner, are highlighting the horrors or mass scale puppy breeding and helping to inform the public, as well as showcasing success stories or businesses that are removing themselves from the trade.
If you’d like get some information on what constitutes a responsible breeder, the The Whole Dog Journal has an outstanding article. To learn more about our policies, or better still learn about where to adopt a shelter pet, please ask. We’d be delighted to help.

Can Raw Help Her?

Update: I truly believed feed Maisy this way helped. It at least eliminated her constant hunger/hungry behavior, and helped her take food from hands without biting them. She did however continue to show troubling behaviors within the home structure with our other dogs and inevitably we made the difficult decision to bring her back to the no kill shelter.

Our newest dog Maisy has some pretty severe resource guarding tendencies.

Would a raw diet help the resource guarding? Or make it worse?

I don't know yet. But I'm going to try it.
She is some sort of terrier though. The last terrier I tried to acclimate to raw nearly took my fingers off and inhaled a drumstick right out of my hand (remember, Jana?!)

I also think, with the added moisture and balanced natural bioavailibility/distribution of nutrients (especially protein) may even calm her down temperamentally over a few weeks time.

My belief is that it has to do with how she is fed. Large meals. Meals enough to fill her stomach. Challenging RMBs. An ideal RMB is the size of the dog's head or larger. I'm going to start with half a chicken.

Small meals (what humans tend to consider "normal meals") directly feed into the resource guarding. A dog who never feels full can feel it needs to do anything to secure its next meal. The dog constantly feels hungry, and that feels like starving. This is something I CAN control.

Mogens Eliasen said it best, "Few dog owners want to starve their dog or to keep it constantly hungry. Nevertheless, this is what most people end up doing when they feed their dog multiple daily meals, assuming that this is just as good for a dog as it is for a human.

"An adult dog needs an amount of food in average per day that is about 2-3% of its body weight. Considering that it takes 6-8% to fill the stomach, there is just no way the average dog will ever get to experience the satisfying fulfillment of having a full stomach…"
Why your dogs needs to fill its stomach on a regular basis

So. We'll see if raw can help save her.

Does anyone have advice to behaviorally make a feisty terrier who INHALES her food accustomed to eating RMB's from my hand?