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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sorry this may be a long post.

Here is the history. I have a 3 and ½ year old GSD bitch. About a month ago I noticed a weird spot on her right eye, looks kind of like a cloudy spot in the center of the eye, it isn’t too big. I ended up going to a veterinary ophthalmologist and it turns out it is corneal dystrophy. It is a mineral deposit on the eye. The dog can still see and everything. This is a Schutzhund 1 dog in fantastic shape by the way.

The vet I went to said it is not bad enough to require surgery and it can be hereditary (no history of this with the dog’s parents), diet induced and sometimes trauma induced, and from thyroid conditions (had blood work done to rule that one out). She said they typically go away with a diet change and advised changing to a lower fat, higher fiber diet. The vet acknowledged that the dog was in really good physical shape and said she normally recommends a senior or fat-dog dog food but due to this being a competition dog in good shape, she did not recommend that. I asked what I should feed the dog and she said to just check the dog foods and try to find something as much lower in fat and higher in fiber as I could.

This dog is currently eating the Chicken Soup for the Dog lovers Soul dog food. My other 2 dogs are on raw and I would love to have this dog on raw, but it does not agree with her for sure. I tried a gradual switch when I got her (a little over a year ago) and it gave her horrible diarrhea. I tried an immediate switch with the same result. I tried a gradual switch a few months ago and it was the same. So raw is kind of out of the question. She can handle cooked chicken and stuff like that just fine (that is what we use when tracking).

So basically my question is does anyone know a healthy way to increase fiber and decrease fat levels for an otherwise healthy dog? I am thinking maybe the Honest Kitchen Verve (which is the formula with grain) as it has 7.5% fat as a minimum and then possibly adding boiled chicken breast or low fat cooked ground beef. I am still researching this, I just thought maybe others had dealt with it.

So if you guys have any ideas, I would love to hear (read) them.
 

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If you can wait a day or so, I would like to back up and find out how authoritative (and how widely accepted) the advice about high fiber and low fat is, because I was under the impression that this was a genetic thing. But it's been a long time since I read about it.

In many instances of recommendations about lower fat for health challenges in dogs, the problem is really the cooked fat in commercial foods. Many use leftover restaurant frying fat! Even the ones who don't go that far are not using raw fats and oils (obviously :lol: ), and cooked fat is a completely different thing, chemically, from raw fat.

So I'll research the theory of that type of diet change for progressive degeneration of the cornea.

Can you tell us which type it is? Dominant Granular Dystrophies, Recessive Macular Dystrophy and Dominant Lattice-like Dystrophy are the three big categories.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Connie Sutherland said:
Can you tell us which type it is? Dominant Granular Dystrophies, Recessive Macular Dystrophy and Dominant Lattice-like Dystrophy are the three big categories.
I am not sure which type it is, just that it is mineral deposits in the center of the right eye. It is barely visible. When I noticed it I was not even sure if I was seeing anything or just a reflection. I had to really look to see it a second time.
Here is a link to information from the specialists website
http://www.eyecareforanimals.com/dystrophy.php
I only know her parents do not have any eye issues, I emailed the breeder ( who is in Germany) and he does not know of any eye issues in the lines.
They said one of the causes can be trauma also, which would not surprise me with this dog either. If her ball goes somewhere, she is going after it!
 

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Michele Moore said:
Connie Sutherland said:
Can you tell us which type it is? Dominant Granular Dystrophies, Recessive Macular Dystrophy and Dominant Lattice-like Dystrophy are the three big categories.
I am not sure which type it is, just that it is mineral deposits in the center of the right eye. It is barely visible. When I noticed it I was not even sure if I was seeing anything or just a reflection. I had to really look to see it a second time.
Here is a link to information from the specialists website
http://www.eyecareforanimals.com/dystrophy.php
I only know her parents do not have any eye issues, I emailed the breeder ( who is in Germany) and he does not know of any eye issues in the lines.
They said one of the causes can be trauma also, which would not surprise me with this dog either. If her ball goes somewhere, she is going after it!
Background:
Dominant, single gene diseases result from one of a pair of matched autosomal genes having a disease and the other being normal. With each pregnancy there is a 1 in 2 chance of the disease appearing in the offspring. Recessive single gene disease requires both parents to carry the condition and this results in a 1 in 4 inheritance risk in each pregnancy. He could have either dominant form without the disease being apparent in the parents, I believe.

Corneal dystrophy has a genetic component, period, from everything I have read.

Your dog:
Dominant granular dystrophy can be worsened by cholesterol abundance. The advice would be decreased ANIMAL fat, I believe, not just decreased fat. There is no cholesterol in vegetable oils. Perhaps that recommendation was made based on the fact that most of the fat IN KIBBLE is cholesterol-containing animal fat.

Here is what I would want to know:

Is the more appropriate recommendation to lower cholesterol, as opposed to fat in general (keeping in mind that only animal fat has cholesterol)? Does your dog have high serum cholesterol? If this has not been tested with a lipid panel, shouldn't it be?

Is the fiber recommendation meant to lower the serum cholesterol?

If you ask these things, I will be researching a cholesterol-lowering diet. Does this sound better (more specific)?

It does to me, after spending 4 hours reading about corneal dystrophy last night. :D I'm glad I had this prod to learn about it, but sorry that your dog has it.

I think the vet will be pleased that you are willing to learn more and want more detail.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Oh no, Connie! I didn't mean to get you into 4 hours of reading :eek:

I have been reading up on it, and I guess the problem when I was at the vets office is I didn't know enough about eye issues to ask. In fact, the research is giving me a headache. I had to get out my dictionary for some of the stuff I was reading :eek: I will certainly be calling with my new list of questions on Monday to see what I can find out.

My biggest concern is I would like to keep this from getting worse if at all possible, without being detrimental to the dog in other ways (ie: the dog not getting enough nutrients as needed for her activity level). We have some trials coming up soon that we will be competing in and I want her to stay in good shape also.
 

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Lynn Cheffins said:
Yes, according to everything I read last night, that explanation is much better than the one Michele was given. Tufts et al all say that corneal dystrophy is genetic. Period. Corneal ulcers, etc., while similar, are not the same thing, and the suggestion about trauma fits corneal ulcers or corneal degeneration, but not real corneal dystrophy. That's why it appears that there might be some terminology mixup in what Michele was told.

This makes me even more inclined to urge Michele to get a more detailed diagnosis. Perhaps it was just "dumbed down" to save time and to be comprehensible to the average owner who doesn't want to get into a lot of research, etc.


P.S. Michele, I always want to do the research when there is a link between an ailment or health challenge and nutrition (and there usually is, I am finding!). As I work on the canine nutrition and allergy certification I want, I find ever-widening ripples of effects from what we feed our dogs. I want to be asked these questions. Nutrition research is not something most vets have done much course work in or kept up with as C.E. It's an area that needs another layer of info sources, IMO, to enhance or supplement (*not* replace or supercede, of course) the vet info.
 

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Michele Moore said:
.......My biggest concern is I would like to keep this from getting worse if at all possible, without being detrimental to the dog in other ways (ie: the dog not getting enough nutrients as needed for her activity level). We have some trials coming up soon that we will be competing in and I want her to stay in good shape also.
I agree 110%.

For example, I would hate to put a dog on a low-fat diet if what she really needed was a low saturated-fat-and-cholesterol diet, and they are not the same thing. In addition, as we've discussed here a couple of times, dogs in general do best on a 30%-fat (or more) diet.

So I'll be very interested to read what you find out Monday. I'll bet you can fine-tune her diet *much* better than just "lower fat and higher fiber."

And again, I'll bet too that the vet will be pleased about your interest and your willingness to individualize her treatment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Lynn Cheffins said:
Hey, thanks for that link Lynn. I was kind of starting to think they were just using "corneal dystrophy" as kind of a generic term because so far all the research I have done suggests it presents in both eyes, and this is just in one eye right now. I guess that was where some of my confusion was to.
 

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Michele Moore said:
.. I was kind of starting to think they were just using "corneal dystrophy" as kind of a generic term.....
So do I, Michele. I think the proper term would be corneal degeneration, maybe mild corneal degeneration. That site Lynn provided is much more in agreement with all the vet med school sites than the one you were given.

Hey! It's like dog training! It's so much easier to communicate if we all use the same terminology! :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Connie Sutherland said:
So do I, Michele. I think the proper term would be corneal degeneration, maybe mild corneal degeneration. That site Lynn provided is much more in agreement with all the vet med school sites than the one you were given.

Hey! It's like dog training! It's so much easier to communicate if we all use the same terminology! :lol:
No kidding, I think you are right about them just being used to dumbing down stuff for people. This actually has been one of the better vet experiences I have had and I didn't get the idea they were unknowledgable (except about what to recommend nutrition-wise). They acted like I was dog owner of the year though and I think the problem was more my ignorance of eye issues and what to ask.

My friend is a vet tech and told me part of the issue is a lot of their clients wait until the eye is pretty messed up and beyond repair before they go there and then want to do the least and spend the least :( I mean, she told me some really sad stories. I guess that is probably why they just make generic hand outs to make sure people actually read them.

I am going to write down all of these questions and the answers and post them so hopefully it can help others later. I'm also going to write down whatever diet modifications I do as well and bring that to my follow up appointment and show them, maybe it will help with their recommendations in the future.
 

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I found much more detailed stuff today. Yes, a lipid panel is recommended for determining serum cholesterol levels, and it's sat fat and cholesterol that would be monitored. Because many people don't know or want to know the differences among fats, a blanket "lower fat" suggestion is sometimes made. You can do much better -- not lowering the dog's beneficial fats (like Omega 3 EFAs).

I still haven't found anything definitive about increasing fiber, so that answer is something I hope you'll post. In human terms, there are cholesterol-sweeping forms of fiber, very specific, such as oat and legume fiber. Maybe it works the same way in dogs.

I'm glad you're sharing this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Ok, I have some questions answered after 2 days of phone tag. Yesterday I was in the shower when the actual vet called back, today they had the vet tech call back and I think I just confused her, she was trying to have the vet call back and the vet was tied up but gave her some of the answers to my questions and she called back a second time and answered.

As far as what type of Corneal Dystrophy it is: the answer it is more like corneal degeneration. I have a follow up appointment in 3 months and they will find out if it has progressed or changed. The vet tech that called me back was not familiar with the 3 types but then when she called back a 2nd time, said corneal degeneration is more appropriate. It is mineral deposits on the right eye.

Has/should the dog be tested with a lipid panel? Answer: yes, and that was part of the blood test they did. They ran a panel for cholesterol, calcium and triglycerides, all of which were normal.

Is it more appropriate to lower cholesterol as opposed to just fat? Answer: Yes, the lower cholesterol diet is more appropriate. They did not have the blood work back when I originally went in and now that they know her cholesterol is not elevated they still say try to keep the diet low in cholesterol to avoid exacerbating the problem.

The high fiber recommendation was part of the original one they gave. This was also with the goal of reducing types of cholesterol (as far as I could understand). Again, her cholesterol levels came back normal.

They said this was either hereditary or a trauma issue.

So my understanding is that the dog's diet is not bad right now. I would still like to feed her better if possible. I am williing to try raw again, but I am doubtful about it, as she has not reacted well to it in the past. I still have the goal of feeding her the best I can for this issue, without being detrimental in other ways.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Connie Sutherland said:
I still haven't found anything definitive about increasing fiber, so that answer is something I hope you'll post. In human terms, there are cholesterol-sweeping forms of fiber, very specific, such as oat and legume fiber. Maybe it works the same way in dogs.
They did not really asnwer the fiber question to my full satisfaction. It was another answer of "to keep from exacerbating the problem." It was more like one of those "couldn't hurt" type of answers.
 

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Can you remind me of what the bad reactions to raw were? Was it diarrhea?

Those answers make sense!

I'm so glad they agree that "low fat" should have been "low cholesterol" (and low sat fat, since dogs, like humans, can trigger cholesterol production from saturated fat ingested). There are so many excellent reasons for maintaining a good level of the beneficial fats, especially if the cholesterol is awry.

The person you spoke to was probably repeating a vet manual recommendation without really understanding it. The new Merck says that yes, dogs' cholesterol can be lowered too with increases in soluble fiber (like the fiber in oats and legumes), which can attach to cholesterol and sweep it from the blood stream. (The other kind of fiber, like in bran, can enhance colon and bowel health in humans; just saying "increase fiber" would encompass a lot of fiber that has nothing to do with cholesterol.)

Now that you have those answers, and they are much more specific, I can sort through food sites and find good lower-cholesterol, higher-soluble-fiber foods, if you want me to. I have a couple in mind already, but I have to check the soluble fiber and then re-read that Merck thing to find the ideal amounts. OK?

I can probably do that tonight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yes, her reaction to raw was diarrhea. I tried to switch her over gradually and I tried an immediate switch, just to see. I use a probiotic from B-Naturals and she still had issues.

They reiterated she is in fantastic shape and said a lot of the typical clients are fat-footstool looking dogs (ok, they didn't say fat-footstool, but I translated :twisted: ), so typically a lower fat diet isn't bad. They said as far as what diet to recommend, to see my primary vet and ask for nutrition recommendations. I'm not even going there. I have no doubt he would recommend Science Diet. I like my regular vet and he is tolerant of what I feed my dogs, but I have learned he is not the person to go to for diet recommendations.
 

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Michele Moore said:
Yes, her reaction to raw was diarrhea. I tried to switch her over gradually and I tried an immediate switch, just to see. I use a probiotic from B-Naturals and she still had issues.

They reiterated she is in fantastic shape and said a lot of the typical clients are fat-footstool looking dogs (ok, they didn't say fat-footstool, but I translated :twisted: ), so typically a lower fat diet isn't bad. They said as far as what diet to recommend, to see my primary vet and ask for nutrition recommendations. I'm not even going there. I have no doubt he would recommend Science Diet. I like my regular vet and he is tolerant of what I feed my dogs, but I have learned he is not the person to go to for diet recommendations.
Yeah, I know what you mean!

I understand why vets who see footstool dogs ( :lol: ) start to conclude that a lower-fat diet is good, and in many under-exercised over-eating dogs, I imagine it's the only thing that might work. (Fat, of course, has twice the calories of protein.)

But dogs who are not over-fed and under-exercised are best off with the diet they have evolved eating, IMO, and that is not what a vet would call low-fat. (Of course, vets are talking about the terrible cooked fat, often leftover restaurant frying fat, used by some commercial food companies. :eek: )

OTOH, switching from kibble to raw is a surprise to the digestion. I now make the switch very slowly when I adopt a kibble dog. What I do is start with ground turkey breast -- not rich, not likely to trigger digestive upset. The older guy who came last month had been on food that had almost no meat in it (grain first on the list), so I made his switch pretty slow. In fact, with him I started with overcooked rice mixed in the ground chicken breast, slowly deleted the rice, and then slowly switched the ground white meat to ground whole chcken and bones. Within about three weeks he was on the normal raw diet the other dogs have.

I had to keep them away from each other's bowls, but I do that anyway.

Is that something you could try? The ground turkey for the first phase is readily available everywhere.
 

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Michele, When I adopted an older dog that had been eating Science Diet the same thing happened to her. Took about 6wks to get her switched. She was my biggest challenge and I almost gave up but, we made it.

One other thing, one of my dogs was 9yrs old when I started feeding raw. His eyes had that foggy blue glaze look. Vet said he was just getting older and losing his sight due to cataracts . Within 2 months of switching him to raw his eyes totally cleared up. He is now 14 and has the blackest little eyes you've ever seen. My vet couldn't believe it!

Best of luck,
Debbie
 

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Debbie High said:
Michele, When I adopted an older dog that had been eating Science Diet the same thing happened to her. Took about 6wks to get her switched. She was my biggest challenge and I almost gave up but, we made it.

One other thing, one of my dogs was 9yrs old when I started feeding raw. His eyes had that foggy blue glaze look. Vet said he was just getting older and losing his sight due to cataracts . Within 2 months of switching him to raw his eyes totally cleared up. He is now 14 and has the blackest little eyes you've ever seen. My vet couldn't believe it!

Best of luck,
Debbie
Good encouragement! O:)

Six weeks --- I guess not a shock when you were dealing with an SD dog. Good job!
 

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P.S. I'm researching the soluble fiber thing. The cholesterol intake will be under control if the skin and fat are removed from the raw poultry diet, and fresh raw oils are substituted for the animal fat.
 
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