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Copper Sulfate in Dog Food

Discussion in 'Nature/Habitat/Garden Corner' started by KTdid, Jan 17, 2015.

  1. KTdid

    KTdid Well-Known Member

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    From the Battle Creek Enquirer

    For long-time Battle Creek veterinarian Dr. Pete VanVranken, it began with listening to a presentation about the amount of copper in baby pigs.

    A fixture at the Dickman Road Veterinary Clinic for four decades ago, he has been a passionate and outspoken advocate for animals and their proper care.

    Now, VanVranken wants people to listen to him.

    The issue for VanVranken is personal but it also goes to the heart of who he is and what he does.

    So last February, when his 6-year-old mixed breed dog Cookie developed signs of hepatitis, he had a colleague biopsy her liver.

    "I was too emotionally attached to do it," he said.

    His colleague diagnosed liver cancer, but VanVranken had the biopsy sent to Michigan State University for confirmation and that diagnosis came back as hepatitis, a liver disease.

    But what stunned VanVranken was the amount of copper in Cookie's liver — more than 2,000 parts per million.

    "It should have been under 300," he said. "Actually, it should have been between 50 and 60."

    Eventually, the disease killed his beloved dog and reinforced his belief that copper levels in dogs were too high and, very likely, fatal.

    He contacted MSU and asked the vets how much copper they were seeing in dogs and their answer was that almost half had too much.

    That was enough for VanVranken, who recalled the talk in 1993 about copper in the diets of baby pigs and how it now appeared in all forms of dog food.

    "Somebody wrote an article back in 1993 about replacing cupric oxide," he said. "They did some tests and decided copper sulfate was a more biologically available source of diet for pigs.

    So someone decided to go across the board to all (animals with one stomach) and replace it with copper sulfate."

    Since 1996, VanVranken said the number of dogs with copper storage in their livers was rising and he was convinced it was because of the copper sulfate that had no place in a dog's diet.

    "There's no such disease as copper shortage in dogs," he said. "There's no benefit. It occurs naturally in most grains and organ meats. This was all based on a paper about baby pigs."

    That belief was further bolstered by Dr. Sharon Center of the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, who offered a similar warning. "She said, 'You guys need to watch out for this,' " he said.

    VanVranken said copper sulfate is an ingredient used in foot baths for cattle to help keep them from getting infections and to keep horses from getting leg infections. It's also used in ponds to stop algae from growing.

    So, as a relatively lone voice in the wilderness, VanVranken has been sounding the alarm. And the quest has only gotten more pronounced since his dog died of what he's convinced was too much copper in her liver.

    So VanVranken is talking to his veterinary colleagues and suggesting they keep an eye on dogs that may seem healthy but may have a potentially fatal build-up of coppersimply from eating their usual dog food.

    He also said dogs that aren't necessarily sick can get ill if they take medication that must be cleared through the liver.

    "They look normal, they act normal and then you administer medication and they crash and burn," VanVranken said.

    He now urges vets to biopsy livers, a practice he said many vets don't like to do. But if they find evidence, the results can be reversed.

    "If you can get them, you can save them," he said. "The liver is the only thing you own that will regenerate itself a little. I know for a fact it's out there."

    And he has taken his concerns to the places where he thinks it should do the most good.

    He has tried to discuss the issue with the Association of American Feed Control Officials, the nonprofit organization that sets standards for both animal feeds and pet foods in the United States, and which approved the addition of copper sulfate to pet food. The response has been less than resounding, he said.

    He is also talking with the pet food giant Hill's and said he has another conversation slated for next week.
    His hope is to convince companies to remove copper sulfate from the food or, at the very least, provide a toll free number for people to call to get information about the chemical.

    "I want to put somebody's feet to the fire," he said.

    VanVranken said he has seen no cases of elevated copper storage in dogs since his dog died but he also says cases could have been overlooked because of another diagnosis such as cancer.

    And he's convinced it's a problem that will only get worse if steps aren't taken.
    "Most of us really like our dogs so we feel bad when something happens to them," he said. "There's an old adage in our business: "You may not be seeing it, but it's seeing you.' "

    http://truthaboutpetfood.com/a-veterinarian-takes-a-stand-against-a-common-pet-food-supplement/
     
  2. higgins

    higgins New Member

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    Have you found a grain free kibble that has acceptable levels? I'm feeding Taste of The Wild now but lately they have picky about it and having GI issues so that worries me. I bought a bag of Orijen but they don't seem to like it at all.
     
  3. KTdid

    KTdid Well-Known Member

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    Taste of the Wild is high in copper sulfate ...glad you switched. Call Whole Pet Central and ask John what he would recommend. They carry samples and if your dog doesn't like a particular food, you can return it and they will credit you towards another brand.
     
  4. higgins

    higgins New Member

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    They have always done well on TOTW until recently. I was always concerned because it is a Diamond Food but they have been very healthy on it for years. I love my dogs and now I'm worried that I have harmed them.....sigh

    Is Copper Proteinate a better source?
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015
  5. KTdid

    KTdid Well-Known Member

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    It's still copper. I contacted Truth about Pet Food and they are awaiting a reply from their contact at Cornell U. Most foods contain the proteinate or sulfate but in different amounts. For now, try to stay clear of food where copper is listed near the top of the ingredients list.

    Fact Sheet http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/cuso4tech.html
     
  6. higgins

    higgins New Member

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    Copper is a required nutrient so they have to include it in some form. Either from the ingredients or as a fortification. When I look at the taste of the wild ingredient list it is far down. Where did you see that it is high in copper.
     
  7. KTdid

    KTdid Well-Known Member

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    It's a required nutrient at low levels. If the manufacturers started with a quality meat protein they would not need to add half the additives they do because dogs would get just what they need from the meat source. Some dogs have a genetic propensity to store excess amounts in the liver leading to toxicity. TOTW is a good food despite being made by Diamond Food (notorious for recalls)

    Over the last 5 years, pet feed mfgs. are replacing their inorganic minerals to chelated forms such as copper proteinate. Read more here: http://www.petfoodindustry.com/Are_chelated_minerals_worth_it_.html

    So many pet owners are of the mindset that if a pet food is made by the likes of MARS (Pedigree, Whiskas, Royal Canin, etc), or NESTLE (Purina, Beneful, Friskies, etc), then it must be inferior to the quality of, so called, natural foods. But the industry as a whole is lax and manufacturers conduct their own individual analysis to prove they're meeting standards set forth by AAFCO. The consumer needs to do their homework just as they would for human food and not rely on the FDA to monitor our food safety. Look how long they dragged their heels over the chicken jerky treat debacle.
     

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