What do I feed my dog with PLE?


Since Milo’s diagnosis of PLE, I spend almost half of my waking hours each day on his care: cooking, feeding, giving medications and taking him outside every few hours (steriods increase his input and output!). Milo’s pre-existing food allergies and intolerances combined with PLE-imposed restrictions and requirements on protein, fat and fiber have made filling his food bowl a task worthy of Watson the super-computer. If only I knew the Jeopardy! question in response to this clue: palatable; easily digestible; high-calorie for rapid weight gain; protein-rich but not beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, or lactose; low fat, preferably MCT fat, enough fat for absorption of fat-soluble nutrients; anti-inflammatory; not gas-producing; low fiber to be gentle but sufficient fiber to prevent diarrhea; not wheat, corn or soy.

I have entered Milo’s information into a national registry for dogs with inherited auto-immune diseases and his blood sample will go the UPenn Vet School for inclusion in research studies on PLE. I’ve always had some guilt about owning a purebred dog. I believed Milo’s breeder to be responsible; I still believe she did her best not to spread this disease, which has no known (i.e., test-able) genetic marker. That PLE surfaced in Milo at age 11.5, way past his stud years if he had been one, indicates how difficult it is to completely avoid breeding PLE carriers. The shame is that the many wonderful characteristics (affection, intelligence, playfulness, non-shedding coat) of the soft-coated wheaten terrier come at a terrible cost to the individual dogs who suffer with dysfunctional immune systems. Human meddling in gene pools is a dangerous game.

I have to believe that industrialized food production and environmental toxins have a hand in this disease. That’s why I dislike the idea of feeding Milo a prescribed “veterinary diet” which in its various forms (dry, canned) includes the chemical preservative and suspected carcinogen BHA, genetically modified corn and soy, animal by-products and, last and certainly least appealing, animal digest — chemically “purified” offal and manure. If the ingredients aren’t disgusting enough, think of the myriad ills — for humans, animals and earth — arising from factory farming and industrialized agriculture. Yikes. What have we done?

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2 thoughts on “What do I feed my dog with PLE?

  1. This sounds like my life with my 7 yr old lab! did you ever find the right things to feed? he is on royal canin gastro low fat canned food, and is on pred now, but still losing weight. what do you suggest?? thank you.

    • Adrian I wish you luck. PLE Is a terrible disease. I learned so much about PLE during Milo’s illness. I appreciate the opportunity to share some of that hard-to-come-by knowledge with you.

      First, I must tell you that Milo died on October 19, 2011. He died ‘peacefully’ where he lay next to my bed. Only hours before he had been barking at me, acting his usual part in our usual bedtime ‘game.’

      Please don’t let Milo’s death discourage you too terribly. Milo was 12 when he got sick, so he didn’t have the vigor of a 7 year-old.

      I have lots of suggestions for you but it will depend on what you’ve already tried, what food allergies your dog has and what symptoms he is showing.

      In the end, Milo’s PLE, at least the explicitly gastro-intestinal part, seemed stabilized. He was really suffering from the side effects of the Pred. His spine protruded and crooked and his mobility was very limited. In July-August that year I began to see Milo’s hair lightening. By September’s end, he was no longer gold-with-red-highlights; he was nearly white and his hair had this fine, wispy, spun-cotton-candy kind of consistency. He could not get up from the floor by himself. His hind legs were very weak. These symptoms were indicators of pseudo-Cushings disease. It was ‘pseudo’ only because it was induced by medication — the pred.

      Milo’s vet took post-mortem tissue samples for study at UPenn Vet School. The vet told me that Milo’s pancreas was nearly necrotized. It was amazing that Milo had lived as long as he did without a functioning pancreas. I have felt terrible about the pain he must have suffered.

      I swear he was still having good days. Just four days before Milo died he stood next to me on top of the picnic table in the dog run at the park. Being at the dog run with many of my friends there — and it was a beautiful sunny Fall day — made me very happy. I think Milo did it for me.

      I think acupuncture helped Milo. He had his last acupuncture treatment on Friday the day before that last glorious Saturday at the dog run. Maybe it helped with the pain. I don’t know but I hope so.

      Please post again with some more info on your dog. I wish you the very best for your dog. That you’re looking on the web for answers shows how much you care about him. When you’ve got that deep bond, you’ve got to do everything you can.

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