Elevated Liver Enzymes - It was DIET related

This is a dedicated place for all of your questions and answers about Raw Diets. There are also some really cool groups like "Raw Fed" on the topic you can join. This forum is for people who already know they like the raw diet or sincerely want to learn more. Please remember that you are receiving advice from peers and not professionals. If you have specific health-related questions about your dog's diet, please contact your vet!

(Page 1 of 4: Viewing entries 1 to 10)  
Page Links: 1  2  3  4  

is it time to- eat?!
Barked: Fri Jun 13, '08 7:46am PST 
(cross-post from Dog Health)
Hi, all.

I posted a few weeks back, after harry had some abnormal blood test results. To briefly recap, in a normal screening, his ALT came back elevated. The vet thought it could be a false elevation. Ran it a second time a week later. It was still elevated. He then ordered a fasting/post-fasting bile acid test - both these values came back elevated. All of these are related to the liver.

Harry had been eating a pre-made raw diet - Nature's Variety -for a little over a year.

In order to start figuring out what was wrong, the first thing our vet wanted to do was change his diet and see if that fixed the problem. (His thought was that raw is obviously very, very high in protein and maybe that was giving Harry an issue)

For the past 12 days, Harry has been eating WD and pumpkin. He was scheduled for a fasting ALT this morning and an ultrasound of his liver.

Had his blood test first - they ran it right away. And it came back normal! Totally, totally within normal ranges.


So he didn't even have an ultrasound.

I am thrilled that it was nothing more serious than his diet. I still believe raw is a wonderful option for many/most dogs, but Harry obviously couldn't handle it. Figured I would share the experience in case anyone else ever finds themselves in a similar situation.

Edited by author Fri Jun 13, '08 7:54am PST

Tessa- Sue~*In- loving- memory*~

Gone. But the- ledgend lives on
Barked: Fri Jun 13, '08 7:56am PST 
Raw food is lower in protein then most dog foods. It is made of up about 70% water. It isn't uncommon for raw fed dogs blood values to be higher then kibble fed, the problem is that over the years vets have based "normal" levels on the levels of kibble fed dogs.

While the raw food made his values go up that doesn't automatically mean it's bad.

Silent Observer
Barked: Fri Jun 13, '08 8:03am PST 
I'm cross-posting this response.

My mother has a toy poodle (Millie) that has had a touchy stomach for most of her life. At one point I tried to convince her to switch Millie to a more size- and age-appropriate diet; up until that point she had been eating the Hills Science for sensitive dogs (is that WD? I've forgotten now) that our older, 50-lb mix was eating. The kibble bits were huge...

...anyway, Mom tried to switch both dogs over to Sensible Choice Natural (part of the Royal Canin line). They both took to it alright and were on it for about 3 or 4 months, but when Mom took Millie in for a checkup the doc wound up taking blood and discovered the same elevated enzymes in her. He, too, implicated the new food - so both dogs went back to the Hills Science. At next checkup, Millie's enzymes were better.

The only logical conclusion I could come to at the time was that both dogs had sensitive tummies and had eaten the HS for most of their lives, and perhaps the switch to a kibble with a higher-quality protein source was a bit more of an adjustment for them than for a wholly healthy dog.

Penny is at The Bridge now, and Millie is still tearing it up at home in her senior years - and eating Hills Science.


is it time to- eat?!
Barked: Fri Jun 13, '08 8:17am PST 
Thanks, Tessa. I wish I had known your thoughts over the past few weeks b/c maybe I would have been less worried.

For now, as I just posted in Dog Health, the vet said we do not need to stay on the WD. He even said we can go back to trying a high protein diet, but just stay away from the raw at this point. Part of the reason I had switched Harry to raw is he has a bit of a weight problem.

So, thinking of looking into Orijen or Evo...keeping the quantity of food to a small, very calculated amount every day. And then filling him with low-cal veggie/fruit bulk.

So...we'll see. Maybe some day we'll try raw again.

Barked: Fri Jun 13, '08 10:23am PST 
Is it possible that what you have is another underlying condition that the kibble is covering up and the raw diet has brought to the surface?

is it time to- eat?!
Barked: Fri Jun 13, '08 10:37am PST 
Hi, Daemion.

Anything is possible, but right now...I don't think that is what is happening here. During routine blood screening in '06 and '07, harry had the exact same ALT levels - and it was totally in normal range. He has never exhibited any signs of being ill or there being a condition to manage.

Even with these last rounds of elevated tests - he showed no signs of being sick. We would have never known his liver function was "off," if it hadn't been for yearly lab work.

So, it could be, to Tessa's point, that the elevation isn't necessarily "high" or bad.

But, I would be interested to know if many other dogs who are fed raw, have higher liver enzyme levels that they just assume are safe and fine?
Kodi Pie - CGC ESA

Why sit when you- could lie down?
Barked: Fri Jun 13, '08 10:59am PST 
Kodi got his bloodwork done on friday... He has been raw for about 4 months and on a high quality kibble before that... I'll have to check his results and let you know.

Barked: Fri Jun 13, '08 11:16am PST 
Gio gets his bloodwork done every 4 months due to other medical issues. He has been raw fed for nearly a year and a half now and there have never been any issues with his liver enzymes (or any aspects of his bloodwork at all, for that matter).

If I were in your situation, where I was noticing elevated liver enzymes and my vet said that it was due to raw providing too much protein, I would seriously consider getting a second opinion.

As others have stated, raw is not high in protein (usually around the 22-25% range) and is actually often lower in protein than some of the premium commercial foods.

I would worry about an underlaying condition that a carb-rich diet may be temporarily masking.

Proud to be a- kitchen wolf!!!
Barked: Fri Jun 13, '08 11:19am PST 
The advice you're getting is one thing, the suggestions for how to act on that advice is totally contrary!

A raw diet is not a high-protein diet. Contrary to popular belief meat is not 100% protein, and remember that a raw diet is also not 100% muscle meat. Like Tessa explained, the moisture content of fresh-frozen meat means that the as-fed protein level of meat is in the neighborhood of 15%. That's the same or maybe just a twitch higher than most high-quality canned foods. The quality of the protein is very high, which is actually (in my opinion and that of some vets out there) the most important factor -- especially when it comes to liver and kidney function.

Hill's w/d formula food is indeed low in protein, which is what your vet said he wanted. They achieve this with a parade of fiber, substances that offer the most minimal amount of nutrients, synthetics, and chemicals. Ick. Here's the ingredient list if you're interested:

Ground Whole Grain Corn, Powdered Cellulose 17.1% (source of fiber), Chicken by-product Meal, Chicken Liver Flavor, Soybean Mill Run, Corn Gluten Meal, Soybean Oil, Dried Beet Pulp, Soybean Meal, Iron Oxide, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Sulfate, L-Lysine, Vitamin E Supplement, Choline Chloride, vitamins (L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), preserved with BHT, BHA and Ethoxyquin, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, L-Carnitine, L-Tryptophan, Beta-Carotene.

I don't doubt that this food lead to numbers on tests that your vet wanted to see, HOWEVER, you have to consider whether or not this is a solution for future health, or a way to achieve a certain result NOW.

It seems that you're not so sure that Hills w/d is a food you want to feed long term. Orijen is a fantastic food and may in the eyes of some even be a good food to feed even in light of Harry's funky liver numbers, BUT it is about as high of a concentration of protein you're going to be able to get into him!!! MUCH higher than a raw diet! As-fed, Orijen is in the neighborhood of 50% protein.

So are you and your vet satisfied that the high ALT numbers have been "fixed" with this diet change and not pursuing it further? LOTS of things can cause a high ALT reading, some of them serious. If it was the diet and you've changed that, great, but I'd consider the possibility that the food change simply served to mask symptoms of a deeper problem. Especially given that the diet change was suggested based on faulty logic (the protein thing), I don't know that I'd be so quick to close the case. How high was the reading?

I hope that nothing is serious and no matter what you decide that Harry gets back to feeling his best!


The best things- come in little- packages
Barked: Fri Jun 13, '08 11:40am PST 
I'm so glad your results came back with a positive result!!! happy dance

The thing I would worry about with Orijen and Evo is that they actually have MORE protein than raw, and less moisture, of course.

Okay, I have limited knowledge on dog health (no formal training), but I'll just tell you the approach I would take with my dog...

The vet put you on w/d and the enzymes are back to "normal." I could be completely wrong about this, but in my experience, liver problems are often a conflict with FAT in the diet, not protein. However, its always possible that I'm wrong because like I said, I'm no expert.

Okay, so what I would do is look at the guaranteed analysis of the w/d and try to find a food with a similar compilation. This is the dry w/d formula (sorry if you are on a different formula - let me know):

Protein 15.0 min
Fat 6.0 min
Carbohydrate (NFE) 46.6
Crude Fiber 20.0 max

This is the analysis for Nature's Variety Raw Medallions Chicken formula:

Crude Protein (min) 13.0%
Crude Fat (min) 6.0% (this goes up to 8% depending on the formula)
Crude Fiber (max) 2.0%
Moisture (max) 68.0%

So comparing these, the raw actually has LESS protein, the same amount of fat, and much less fiber.

Now, if you want to try EVO, lets compare that. This is for the REDUCED FAT version (not sure which formula you want to try):

Crude Protein (min) 52 %
Crude Fat (min) 15 %
Crude Fat (max) 15.5 %
Crude Fiber (max) 2.5 %
Moisture (max) 10 %

So, as you can see, the EVO has MUCH MUCH more protein, more than twice as much fat, and a lot less fiber than the w/d, but about the same as the medallions.

So when your vet is saying that you are getting too much protein, he's just absolutely wrong.

I just don't want you to try a higher protein/fat diet thinking that it will cure everything because its not raw. And I would definitely hate to see Harry have problems because of it.

I would also be interested to see how elevated they are and how your numbers compare to other raw fed dogs. I get annual blood tests for Brody and when we did it last year, the vet said everything looked fine. We had 2 elevated numbers, but he said that it wasn't a concern because the 2 numbers work together, and together they are fine. I keep his numbers in a file, but I've misplaced the file. I'll post if I can find them.

If I were you, I would probably take the packages of NV and SD in to your vet and show him that the protein levels are in fact NOT higher in raw. The big difference is with the fiber.

I just don't want Harry to be misdiagnosed. You know what I mean?

Did you notice any problems with Harry or was this a routine exam?

I'll crosspost on health.
  (Page 1 of 4: Viewing entries 1 to 10)  
Page Links: 1  2  3  4