Is there a link between iron in water, laminitis cases and dog who died of liver failure?

October 26, 2011

One of the many reasons I’m revisiting iron in my water as a possible cause of my horses’ laminitis is the fact that excess iron can cause liver disease along with insulin resistance.

While I have not run any tests on my horses’ liver function, my wonderful dog, Whinny, died of liver disease out of the blue at age 8.

And despite the fact that she had no appetite her whole life (first dog I’ve ever raised like that), she was pretty pudgy in her older years, and people kept telling me to cut back on her food. To which I replied, “She never eats. What am I supposed to cut back?” In fact, even as an adult, she was still eating out of a puppy bowl, because I only needed to put out a small handful of food each day, and she never finished it. I also tried cans of wet food, and sometimes she ate them, but mostly she didn’t.

And this was not a dog who sat around and did nothing. We went jogging twice a day, with our morning jog at least an hour long.

The horses know this scenario well. Once they developed insulin resistance, they stayed fat on almost no food, and exercise didn’t help.

According to the Iron Institute:

“Excess iron in vital organs, even in mild cases of iron overload, increases the risk for liver disease (cirrhosis, cancer), heart attack or heart failure, diabetes mellitus, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome, hypothyroidism, hypogonadism, numerous symptoms and in some cases premature death.

“Too much or too little iron in the system can be fatal. Death is often due to heart or liver failure.”

Whinny didn’t die of just a little liver failure. She died of complete cirrhosis of the liver, and her ER doctors at Mizzou’s vet hospital said to me that they only saw that type of cirrhosis with complete alcoholics. They proceeded to ask me if Whinny had access to alcohol, and they said it with a straight face. I may have rolled my eyes when I answered no.

I made the link to the horses right away. I wanted an autopsy. But, at the time, I didn’t have anything specific to ask for in that autopsy. As my vet pointed out that you need to be looking for something to conduct an autopsy. You can’t test for everything. That autopsy never took place.

But, it’s not like I don’t know the symptoms: An otherwise healthy dog had terrible metabolism and died way too young. Sounds a lot like my herd of horses.

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