Sunday, June 28, 2009

Food trial: Tongol

I had three cans of tongol tuna in the cupboard that I had actually bought for myself. Looking at the fat content on the label, it's listed as 0.5g in a serving of 56g which would make it a little less than 1% fat, if I'm estimating right.

Since tongol is pretty easy to get I thought it might be a good idea to do a diet trial with it. One of my fears has been that I'll find something he can eat but it won't be something that is always readily available. However, tongol is sold alongside the albacore in cans at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. It's always in stock, and it's not very expensive.

So, today I added a very small amount to Louie's regular meals. So far he's good, but it was such a tiny amount that I'd be surprised to see a reaction. We'll keep doing this for a couple of days, and slowly increase the amount as we go. I want to take this very slowly because I don't want to end up ruling out anything just because of the usual transitional difficultes that dogs have with food changes. All we can do is hope for the best!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Looks like we're back to diet trials

I haven't heard anything about the large shipment of food we were expecting, so I'm starting to resign myself to the idea of more diet trials for Louie. In a way, this is not a horrible thing, assuming we can find something that he'll tolerate, because then we won't be tied to a commercial product and vulnerable again to the whim of a manufacturer.

The vet at Royal Canin, Brett Mayabb, also suggested some commercial diets to our vet which we might be able to try. At this point, I am leaning more toward trying to find something that I can provide myself, as I'm really wary of being at the mercy of another pet food company.

I may also contact Monica Segal who runs a Yahoo group called k9kitchen, where I am an occasional lurker. I had considered working with Monica earlier, but was dissuaded by her wait time since I didn't have that much of Louie's food left. Now that I have bought some time for him with more cans of food, however, I have the time to wait.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Brief Update

I still don't have any definitive word on the food coming from back east, so will be calling on Friday to check on this.

Louie is feeling much better over the past few days and was very energetic and happy when I got home today. It's always a blessing to see him like this as it means he's getting adequate protein from his food.

I spoke with Louie's vet at UC Davis earlier this week, and she has been in touch with the vet from Royal Canin. She agreed with me that stockpiling the old food was the best course of action but also said that there were a couple of diets we could try if need be. So we have a plan, if I end up running out of his food.

That's about it for now!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Big Thank You

I want to catch up on my thank you's this weekend, and especially want to say thank you again to Karl from for sending us a sample of fish meal to use in our diet trials, as we continue to search for something we can make ourselves that Louie will be able to eat.

Since he's currently in relapse mode with the lymphangiectasia, I need to give him some time to recover, so I put the fish meal in the freezer and will thaw it out after he's been feeling better for a little while and give it a try in the nutritionist-provided recipe that we have used before. I'll keep my fingers crossed that it will work for him and that we can then put this whole issue of what he is going to eat behind us.

As for Louie, he seems to be doing a little better today. One thing I noticed a couple of days ago was that some of the cans of food that have been shipped to me seem to be very dry, and I'm also noticing that there is some fat concentrated around the sides of these dry cans. My thought is that these cans may have gotten hot during shipping which caused much of the fat to leach out toward the sides. This would have caused the fat content in these cans to become unevenly distributed. It's my guess that perhaps one or two of the meals he has recently consumed were unusually high in fat for this reason.

So, adding to the never-ending list of chores and things to worry about, we'll start emptying whole cans into separate containers and mixing them thoroughly before feedings, especially if the food seems particularly dry.

It just never ceases to amaze me how many little things we need to consider with this disease.

Meat Rendering - What is it?

This article was recently posted on one of the Yahoo groups I frequent and I think it bears repeating here. An excerpt:

There is a wide variety of materials that can comprise the mixture that is processed at the rendering plants. The rendered material will be added to dog food either as "meal" or as "animal fat". The following list includes some (not all) of the ingredients that may be rendered as pet food:

  • Tissue from slaughterhouses, including blood, feathers, heads, feet, bones, and entrails
  • Restaurant grease and butcher shop trimmings
  • Road kill animals, including pets, deer, raccoons, snakes, opossums, foxes, etc.
  • Euthanized animals from zoos, vet clinics, or animal shelters, including cats and dogs
  • Diseased animals, including those with Chronic Wasting Disease or "Mad Cow Disease"
  • Tumor-ridden, cancerous, or "wormy" tissues
  • Animal tissues containing drugs or pesticides and injection sites
  • Flea collars, ear tags, Styrofoam, and meat wrappers

Friday, June 19, 2009

Another downturn

Louie has more diarrhea today. I was concerned this might happen as his stomach started gurgling last night, which is a pretty reliable sign that things are going awry with his lymphangiectasia.

He hasn't started moping around yet, though, and as long as his energy remains good I will try not to worry too much. I would like to see him with an opportunity to put back some of the recent weight loss, but all in good time. We have learned to take this disease a day at a time.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Louie feeling better; can count semi-update

I have received the last of the food I was expecting from individuals who were able to find it; I have no idea how many cans of food now sit in my garage because many of them are still in the packing boxes that they were sent to us in. Here is what they look like (there's also a lone case sitting in another corner-- not sure why that happened).

I'm guessing there might be some 400+ cans here now, which is great, but it isn't quite enough.

We are still hopeful that the large shipment of food will come through, but there is always a chance that a mistake was made, so I'm not ready to relax just yet.

Louie himself seems to be feeling a bit better today. He's in good spirits, and we haven't had any nausea or diarrhea since the day before yesterday, so hopefully he's adjusting back to the straight canned food again!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Conversation with Royal Canin Vet

I had a call from one of the vets at Royal Canin today. I am appreciative that he took the time to call me.

He's trying to get in touch with Louie's vet and, in the meantime, is doing some research on other foods that Louie might be able to eat. We had a nice discussion during which we agreed that Louie's issues seem quite complex. As he mentioned (which corresponds with my own research) there really isn't anything else available that's quite as low in fat, so it's a difficult question and perhaps an unsolvable one.

He also mentioned that they had tried calling around to their distribution centers to see if they could find some of the old formula food for us, but had no luck. I told him I am hoping to receive a large shipment of the food but that it can't be fully confirmed at this time, and he said that was probably the best thing I could do, given the circumstances.

So, that is where we are at this time. I did point out to him that I am grateful to the company for even making the food in the first place, since without it, we probably wouldn't have even had reason to converse as I doubt we would have made it this far. I do appreciate the update from them.

Monday, June 15, 2009


This is lymphangiectasia. I came home today to find that Louie had puked up his pill in one corner of his crate, and there was frothy puke in each of the other three corners, and all over his little bed.

Any little change to his diet can trigger this disease. I gave him an anti-nausea pill and a small dinner a little while later; if he holds that down I will give him a larger amount a little later on.

Often this is enough to help him through a transitional phase with his food. I hope it will be this time. The diarrhea, for the moment, seems to have subsided, so that's a good sign.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Another rough night

Poor Louie never gets much of a break. He is having another pretty difficult evening tonight. Hope he will readjust to his food soon.

And now, some good news

I have been holding back on publicizing too much information about the source for the large shipment of food we are hoping to receive only because there is some work being done to move those cans from a distribution warehouse to another location in order to first verify the contents of all the cans before the purchase is actually made. Until our contact there has verified the contents herself and I have actually purchased those cans of food, I will not feel comfortable releasing identifying information about the source.

However, I did get a voicemail from our contact there today letting me know that they are going to provide us with a discount on each can that will, overall, save us about $225.00! This is really good news, and we are very grateful for the assistance, as shipping on all this food we are receiving is costing quite a bit. This will really help to offset some of those costs.

I'm very excited and pleased that it looks like this purchase is moving forward, and I wanted to share this good news here.

Louie's Bad Evening

Poor Louie does not respond very well to any change. I've recently felt a need to stretch his remaining food by adding rice, which, of course, cuts the nutritional value of his meals and also severely limits the amount of fat he gets. Even though he is already on a very fat restricted diet, he still needs to get some amount of fat as it is important for certain biological processes. So, over the past few weeks, his skin has gotten dry and he's been a bit lethargic due to decreased nutrition and fat.

Last night and today, feeling confident that we would have food for him to last a while, I decided to improve the quality of his meals again and I limited the rice content, giving him a richer mixture than he's had for a while. It was maybe 3/4 of the Royal Canin food to 1/4 rice.

I believe the change was too sudden for him, as we came home from an evening out today to find evidence of diarrhea (a lymphangiectasia symptom) in his crate. It happens; we cleaned him up and put his bed in the wash, and he's sleeping here next to me right now.

What is hard about this situation in general for us is that it is so hard on him. He's just a little dog, extremely sensitive to any changes to his diet. With luck, he will get used to the relative richness of the straight product again in a few days. It's possible, also, that his lymphangiectasia will flare up again in full, that his remission from the disease will cease and that we will find ourselves back where we were a year ago. This is always a possibility with this disease. Each time something like this happens, I hope and pray that he will be okay.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Shout out to our Saint Charles visitors

There seems to be a lot of traffic to this site from visitors in Saint Charles, Missouri, home of Royal Canin headquarters. I'm guessing they are interested enough for some reason to lurk about on this blog, but apparently not interested enough to offer themselves to locate stores of food to help us, or to give us some meaningful assistance by helping us formulate a workable diet for Louie (thus avoiding all the expense incurred as a result of this food drive).

I bring this up, not because I am particularly surprised or disappointed or even concerned about this company and what they do. What bothers me is that they have taken a public position, mentioning Louie by name in e-mails, which appears to imply that they are doing something to assist us. I find this particularly disturbing because so many people who do business with this company have indicated that they believe them to be a "pet-centric" company, a company with heart, a company that cares. This is the position I was being sold by them on the phone the one and only time I had an actual conversation with someone there-- a full ten days ago. It all seemed quite sincere, and yet nothing happened. No one returned my calls when I called again and, in the wake of all that spin, Louie was left to twist in the wind. No one ever really tried to help him, as far as I can tell.

It seems disingenuous to me for someone to attempt to take credit for something that did not happen. If you folks reading at Royal Canin want to help us, you have my phone number. I will be happy to report here on anything positive that is done on Louie's behalf. My e-mail address is available through this blog and at the savelouie website. You don't need to lurk. The door is open, and always has been.

Friday, June 12, 2009

203 cans

Today I picked up 58 cans of the old formula Royal Canin Digestive Low Fat (with fish) from a friend here in Sacramento, and received two cases via Fed Ex from a friend in Michigan, which brings the total number of cans I actually have sitting in my garage to 203. It is possible that more will arrive today.

I am so grateful that we have been able to get this food for him, though it took a lot of scrounging! So many people stepped up to the plate to help us.

I have been adding rice to his meals over the past couple of weeks in order to stretch the food that we have left, but today, for the first time, I felt comfortable enough to feed him without the rice. I know that he won't get the full nutrition if I keep stretching it, so I'm really glad to be able to give him a full and balanced meal once again.

The Help I have Received So Far

I get a lot of correspondence regarding responses received from the Royal Canin company to various letters and e-mails that have been sent to them by friends who are concerned about Louie.

Most recently they have been reassuring everyone who writes that they have been in touch with me. One person said that they were told that they are trying to help Louie.

I wish I knew myself what they are doing to help.

When I spoke with their nutritionist on the phone, she did express strong concern for Louie, seemed sympathetic, and after hearing the details of our situation offered to have one of Royal Canin's veterinarians speak with Louie's veterinarian. I gave her the contact information for the small animal clinic at UC Davis and told her the name of the resident who has followed Louie's case most closely in Internal Medicine there, and also the name of the faculty who conclusively diagnosed his lymphangiectasia last year.

I haven't heard anything from either of those doctors at UC Davis. I understand that many of the residents are away right now, studying for their board exams this week, so maybe this just isn't a good time to be getting in touch with a resident. I would guess that faculty are there, but faculty do take extended periods away from the clinics for various reasons, so perhaps this just isn't a good time at all. I don't know, because the nutritionist at Royal Canin did not return my call when I left a voice mail for her later that same day to ask if they had had any success. So I continue to wait and see if they can shed any light on our predicament through those channels.

The only other contact I have had with Royal Canin was when I was asked to call them by someone at one of the large chain stores which had some of the food we need. The person at the store was not sure what had been changed in the food and, my understanding at the time was that her impression from speaking with Royal Canin was that nothing had actually been changed. She wanted me to call the rep myself so that I would be certain I was buying something that I really needed.

I've done some research on the matter, but she was very nice and very helpful, and I always think it's a good idea to be reasonable and cooperative and leave no stones unturned. Maybe something had changed or they had decided to make the old food again. So I did call the gentleman at Royal Canin she suggested I call. I got him on the phone, told him my name, told him I have a little dog named Louie and that I was calling about the change in the Digestive Low Fat and that I understood that he wanted to speak with me about it. He said that he had no idea what I was talking about and was in a meeting, but that he would call me back. I never heard from him.

That's the full extent of the help I've gotten from Royal Canin so far, just to clarify for those of you who are receiving those letters (I never even got one of those). It's not that I'm not open to working with them. I am not sure what they can offer in terms of medical advice that we haven't already received, however, I really am interested to know if they can help us in some way.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Guilty Plea in Tainted Pet Food Case

From United Press International:

ChemNutra Inc. and owners Stephen and Sally Miller have signed a plea agreement admitting to 27 misdemeanor counts of distributing adulterated and/or misbranded food and one felony count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, reported Wednesday. They will formally enter their pleas June 16 in federal court in Kansas City, Mo.

Read more here:

Pet Food Suppliers to Plead Guilty

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

About Royal Canin, Louie, and me

There have been numerous comments appended to the article I posted on Monday by Dr. Patty Khuly. Many of these arguments center around the question of who should have control over therapeutic pet diets, and to what degree. Some have to do with the quality of commercial pet foods in general, and some have to do with myself, Louie, our level of understanding with regard to Louie's medical condition and our alleged campaign against the Royal Canin company.

I would like to clarify a few things here for the benefit of those who may have some misunderstanding with regard to this. Much of what I would like to say here I have already said in the comments section of the Dolittler blog, so rather than reinvent the wheel I will just repost much of that here, in the hope that something I said there may answer some of the questions that remain in peoples' minds:

There certainly seem to be no shortage of opinions on this issue. For me, the real controversy has nothing to do with the quality or usefulness of these foods (remember that we are reliant on one of these products) but the fact that there is an implicit assumption being made on the part of many of us that something which is designated a "prescription" product is subject to some sort of regulation similar to the sort of regulation that exists with regard to prescription products sold to humans.

In fact, there is nothing magical or special in any legal sense about this prescription designation when it comes to pet foods, and therefore there is no mechanism in place to protect people like me or you in the event that the manufacturer decides that they can make the product more cheaply or for any other reason decides to change what is in these products. There's absolutely no liability on their part for any damage this might cause, regardless of the money I have spent to get my pet well (ultimately by using their foods) or the money I might spend nursing him along if he can't thrive on the newly formulated diet.

This is not, of course, about money, but it seems to me that if they are marketing food as medicine there should be some consumer protection in place for those who are reliant on these therapies. I think this stands as a completely separate issue from the quality of the foods, the efficacy of the diets, or the wisdom of controlling distribution channels by limiting the sale of the foods to certain vendors (in this case, veterinarians).

In response to the suggestion that I might not be well informed about the nature of Louie's problems:

....We've been through a year and a half of diagnostics and many diet trials, and are being seen by a team of vets at one of the best veterinary schools in the country....His file at UC Davis is three inches thick. Let's just say that I've made it my mission to keep this dog alive and at this point it's pretty darned clear, through process of elimination (no pun intended) that my dog reacts poorly to foods that have chicken in them....

In response to the rather amusing suggestion that perhaps I hadn't asked Royal Canin for help:

Of course I did. All they offered was to have their veterinarian speak to my veterinarian, which never happened. I tried to call them again yesterday after being told that one of their reps wanted to speak with me, and when I called he told me he did not know what I was talking about, did not know who I was or why I was calling, and was in a meeting and would call me back, which never happened.

And with regard to the suggestion that I somehow have been unfair to the Royal Canin company, or that they perhaps would have helped us, had they only known of our plight:

if anyone actually went to the website to read the story (doesn't sound like many did) then you would see that I was quite kind to Royal Canin, expressing gratitude to them for even making the food in the first place.

There are others who submitted stories to my blog whose opinions are less generous, and I posted those opinions unedited because everyone should have the opportunity to have their voice heard. But their opinions are not my opinions. I am not in a war with Royal Canin and the whole point of the site originally was to persuade them to put this issue on their radar so that they would make an effort to help us. When it became clear that they were not going to do this, the food drive began. I do not think they have handled this very well, and it could have been a great opportunity for them to step up to the plate in a very visible way which would have made it a win-win situation for everyone. That was their choice, but the opportunity was certainly there.

More on Royal Canin, when it was suggested that there might be very good reasons for the formula change:

Royal Canin has come forward with two different explanations for the formula change. One is that they have a hard time controlling the fat content (at least, this is the explanation which is implied in the e-mail they are sending out in response to inquiries). The other explanation which I was personally given by them in a telephone conversation and which was also provided via e-mail to at least one veterinarian who contacted them was that they do not have a consistent supply of fish with which to make the product. This is a reasonable explanation, but it doesn't help Louie very much.

I don't know which of these explanations is true; perhaps they both are, or perhaps neither is. The impression I had from the phone call I received was that they were hoping they could talk me into trying the new product and we'd all live happily ever after. I believe that, in their discussions about this, it was probably suggested that to admit that one dog might have a problem would be to somehow admit that the formula change was a bad idea. In fact, I don't know that it is. It's likely that most dogs will tolerate the change just fine. However, not all dogs will, and my dog is one of them.

The nutritionist I spoke with at Royal Canin seemed a bit taken aback when I explained that it is the chicken in the product which is likely to cause a problem, and not the pork. This was after she [somewhat triumphantly] explained that pork was always in the product as part of the "meat by-products." I explained to her that, at one point, I had Louie on a nutritionist-provided recipe which included chicken and rice (rice is also in the Royal Canin product) and a supplement, and he never thrived on this diet, but continued to worsen. As I said, I don't have to walk up to the edge of disaster in this situation to know that giving him a food that contains chicken is a bad idea.

I have since attempted to use that recipe as a base while swapping out various kinds of low-fat fish to attempt to discover a kind of fish that will work for him. No luck so far. I do have a sample of commercial grade fish meal on the way and will do another diet trial with that as well. We have not given up on finding out what he can eat-- we know he can eat something. Royal Canin knows the difficulty of our situation but do not seem interested in even telling us what kind of fish to try, so I don't really think I can count on them to provide any further information, despite the fact that I continue to encourage people to ask.

And finally, in response to a question about whether or not I knew for certain that the fish in the food is the ingredient that treats his condition:

No, I don't think it is the fish source that improved his condition, per se. An extremely low fat diet is the treatment for lymphangiectasia, not a particular protein. I cannot give him fish oils; I cannot even give him vitamin E capsules because of his sensitivity to fats. However, he's also had recurring pancreatitis, he has a lot of autoimmune disease, and, in general, based on my own observations of various food trials we've done with him, he seems to be sensitive to a variety of protein sources, so we've really had a very difficult time finding anything at all that agrees with him. Either the fat content is too high, or the protein source seems to irritate him intestinally (which, in turn seems to trigger the lymphangiectasia). All I really know regarding this particular food is that it appears to have been the magical combination of things that agrees with him somehow, and I was really hoping we would not have to make any changes once we got him back on his feet and feeling well. It was a very long road to get here, which we were very lucky to stumble upon, and it is incredibly frustrating to find ourselves in this position with his food again after all we have been through with him.

I hope this clarifies my position, and the events which transpired to bring us to the point at which creating this food drive and website seemed like logical moves.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Is Louie Saved?

We believe we have found enough back stock of food in a warehouse back east to call off the food drive!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Article about Prescription Pet Food Diets

I was made aware of this link this morning:

Prescription Diets in name only: On marketing, distribution and retailing of Rx foods for pets

In this article, Patty Khuly, a veterinarian, discusses the mechanism behind so-called "prescription diets" and makes reference to our situation with Louie at the end.

I am grateful to Dr. Khuly for opening dialog about this problem. While I agree with some of the commenters, insofar as understanding that it is a prescription product that has made the difference for my dog, I also take the position that, if we are going to call these diets medical treatments, they should be regulated as such.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Unmeasurable Gratitude

Today is the first day in about a week and a half that I have felt good enough to take a little time away from this mission and relax a bit.  For the first time since this began, I have a sense that we might just be okay.  

This is due, in no small part, to the unflagging efforts of a small group of dedicated people who congregate in an online corner of the world known as Chinese Crested Crush.  We bond over our mutual love of this quirky breed, but the bond is revealed as so much more when something like this happens which brings the group together in ways that renew our faith in one another as compassionate beings.  

Today I have finally set a goal for the food drive.  Louie, at 11 1/2 years of age, will most likely survive to about 14 or 15 years of age, if all goes well.  I have set a goal of 900 cans, which should get us through three years and perhaps a little more.  

We are already more than 1/3 of the way to this goal.  I know we can get there.  What I do not know is how to express my gratitude, which is unmeasurable.  

Thank you to all who have looked.  My friends on Crush, my friends from AS3, my friends from Yahoo, friends from Facebook and my friends from what they call "real life."  Thank you all.  Let's keep it going, and reach our goal while the food is still out there.  

Friday, June 5, 2009

It's here!

The food shipments have begun to arrive.  Between buying all the food and the shipping, this is going to be a bit expensive, but my husband Rick pointed out that it's much cheaper than vet bills.  

Louie did not want to pose with his food, so this is the best we could do.  It still looks great to me!

335 cans

And counting.  All I can say is, "Wow!"  Today I want to thank Addy's Mom, Cynthia, puffornot, and butlerchick for finding us more of Louie's food.  I also found a case myself nearby today.  

Other thanks are also due:  La Riviera Veterinary Hospital, UC Davis Veterinary Teaching Hospital Small Animal Clinic for your quick help with the documentation I needed today.  And many, many thanks to those who made calls but could not find it.  Your efforts are appreciated so very much.    

The question that needs to be asked

There has been such a whirlwind of activity here as we try to find the remaining cans of the old formula food, but as busy as I am, I really can't afford to just stop at this.  The question that needs to be asked is "How could this happen to my dog?"  

This food is supposed to be a prescription product, sold only to veterinarians for resale to those whose dogs need it.  

If you were diabetic and dependent on diet for your health, you would expect that a prescription product, available only through tightly controlled channels, would not be arbitrarily changed by the manufacturer in a way that fundamentally alters its contents.  To the best of my knowledge, we have laws in this country that protect us from such harm.  

Yet, apparently, when it comes to our pets, whom many of us consider to be family members, there are no laws that protect us.  

I don't want to make this an issue about money, because it is not about money for me.  It's about Louie, my companion and friend, and how he has suffered and may suffer again.  But it did take money to pull him through this illness and bring him to his present state of good health.  Now, with one arbitrary change, we stand a chance of losing him and incurring additional veterinary costs along the way.  I find this almost unbelievable.  

These costs are costs I bear because I have made a promise to my friend to take care of him for as long as I am able.  Louie himself has no voice, so I have no choice, even though I am not a person of great means.  He is that special to me.  But these are costs I should not have to bear, if we lived in a world where the health of animals is respected more than it is in the world in which we live today.  

Far more important than the monetary cost is the cost to the quality of our lives, the stress and difficulty of knowing that my dog is in danger and there is ultimately nothing I can do to avoid having to make changes that could cost him his life.  And the difficulty that he bears, as he becomes ill again, as I try different foods that may sicken him in my quest to find something he can eat.  I do this because I have no other choice.  

It should not be this way.  

129 cans so far

Friends around the world have so far located 129 cans for us.  That represents at least 250 more days of quality life for Louie during which we can continue to search for a food that he can eat.  

Please don't stop looking.  We will take all we can find!  Thank you so much for your efforts on Louie's behalf.  

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Chewy's Story

From Julie C. in Austin, TX:

A million thanks for starting this website. I feel like I have spent a million bucks on Royal Canin prescription foods over the years and am very disappointed at their response to this issue. After trying other foods, I was going to go back to feeding one of my dogs their Potato/Rabbit allergy formula but have decided against it based on Royal Canin's response to the issue of RCDLF. At $59 per 16 pound bag, I will find an alternative.

My Chewy, an 8 year old Wire Fox Terrier, was first diagnosed with pancreatitis in March of 2005 on what we now know was his 3rd bout of this insidious disease. With a history of severe allergies and hypothyroidism, I first noticed that Chewy was extremely lethargic and was running a high fever. This bout, on Easter weekend, came on very suddenly and within half an hour, he began very heavy panting, arching his back in pain and cramping so badly that you could literally see him having contractions. After a day and a half in the hospital, he was sent home with his fiesty terrier temperament, on the prescription allergy formula he had been on prior to the attack with no mention of the terms Pancreatitis or fat. After a week, late one evening he was wracked with fever and writhing in pain again and ended up in the emergency hospital. Again, after a day and a half and back to his normal bouncy self, he was sent home with a diagnosis of Pancreatitis, a disease I knew nothing about. I was instructed to feed him boiled, skinless chicken breast and rice in several small meals a day for a few days and then to resume his normal diet. Two weeks later, he had yet another bout, again coming on suddenly and becoming an emergency within an hour of first symptoms. This time he was referred to a wonderful veterinary internal medicine specialist. He was very sick with a badly inflamed pancreas. The specialist felt that he had never fully recovered from the prior two attacks and though he perked up quickly again, she kept him in the hospital on IVs for 6 days until his ultrasound was normal. This was not easy on the hospital staff as this loveable dog bounced from wall to wall in his cage when staff would walk by with other animals, pulling out his IV several times. Still, he pulled through and came home with a new diet -- Royal Canin Digestive Low Fat. Chewy did wonderfully on this food for a year until a problem with the formula caused it to be recalled.

After a year of stability, the vet felt it was safe to return him to his allergy diet, also a Royal Canin formula after RCDLF was recalled. Chewy thrived for 2 more years, continuing to fight off allergies with the help of shots and Cyclosporine and hypothyroidism, controlled with Thyroxine. Couple all that with a few benign tumors and some serious doggie disputes requiring stitches, Chewy is a living, breathing miracle.

Fast forward to Memorial Day weekend, 2008. The nightmare returned out of nowhere. First the lethargy, then the fever and then the panting and cramping. I was able to find a vet that was open who immediately admitted Chewy. This time he did not bounce back like before. Six days later, he was transferred to the internist in critical condition. On day 10 he had a nasogastric tube inserted to begin slowly introducing nutrients into his system. He kept pulling out the tubing and with no strength and looking pathetic, I told him it was ok if he didn't want to fight anymore. On day 11, he finally started to improve and finally got a taste of real food; again prescription Royal Canin Digestive Low Fat canned food. On day 12, Chewy finally came home.

Fast forward again, another year. Things have been going great with Chewy still on his RCDLF canned mixed into RCDLF kibble. Not one to take chances with Chewy's food, I don't wait until the last minute to refill his prescription and when I opened the last can from a case, I was secure in the knowledge that I had a full case waiting in the closet. Upon opening the first can of the next case, I knew immediately that something was different. It looked different, it smelled different, it had a different consistency. Puzzled, I finally looked at the label to discover, in shock, that Royal Canin had completely changed the formula of the canned food. Where the first ingredient of the food he had been eating without problem for a year was fish, the first ingredient was now water. Second ingredient pork. Next came pork liver and so on. What happened to the fish? Royal Canin's customer service reps say they were not able to maintain a stable source of fish. Apparently pigs are more consistent and plentiful. The protein has decreased, the fat has increased. Royal Canin tells me that after all, there was always pork in the was just called "meat by-products."

I knew this would not be good and above all, I knew better than to completely change Chewy's food without introducing a new protein source slowly. Upset, I called the vet's office only to learn that Royal Canin had not notified them of the change (Royal Canin disputes this) and they had just been notified by the owner of another patient. I am told that they do continue to receive price changes that Royal Canin sends in the mail so they are reasonably sure that if a notice had been mailed, they would have received it. While the vet thinks that this new pork formula would probably be ok to try, she had purposely not changed Chewy's diet when he developed calcium oxalate crystals and bladder stones several months ago. We both know that he will not make it through another bout of Pancreatitis and that a change in diet could very well trigger one. And while there are other reduced fat fish-based prescription diets, none is as low in fat as the old formula of RCDLF, now discontinued without any regard for the patients that need it and have been faithful customers for years, Anyone who knows how much prescription foods cost will do anything they can to avoid them if at all possible. In Chewy's case, it is not possible and it could mean the difference between life and death for a dog that should live for many more years. I was lucky that I was able to find 43 cans of the old formula through vets in other cities to feed Chewy while a new diet is found.

We have been through formula changes and and the recall with Royal Canin before and Royal Canin has been very helpful and willing to work with us and do what is best for the dogs in the past. This time, apparently not so. We are being read to from the same script that other customers are being read, word for word. The same script that even my vet's often has been read. But hey, it's a tough economy for Royal Canin too . What's a few dogs lives?

Message to Royal Canin: I don't mind paying a bit more to keep my dog alive. I don't want to be gouged but I don't mind paying a bit more. I have lost track of how many "flavors" and formulas you have just for dogs with skin problems. There may be people who are able to and want to feed the pork product to their dogs. I am not one of them. The reason you couldn't add the pork product additionally while still carrying the fish formula...there are not enough fish in the sea? Please don't chase your loyal customers away. All we want is healthy dogs. Even just stable dogs. You have always been helpful and reasonable. Please consider your customers. It should not be necessary to beg.

The Food Drive - Please Call Your Vet!

A few friends have found cans of the old formula Royal Canin Digestive Low Fat, with FISH as the first ingredient.  I will buy as many cans as you can find and pay to have them shipped to me.  

Please call your veterinarian and ask them to look at the labels of any of this food they have in stock.  If fish is the first ingredient, please e-mail me at  

I have a information that verifies his prescription, if it is needed, which can be faxed or e-mailed to anyone who needs it.  

Many Thanks

It's been a busy, busy day.   Weeks like this help me to realize how much I have to be grateful for.  Several people, many of whom have never met me or Louie in person, have offered to step up to the plate in a variety of ways to try to help us.  Right now I'd like to thank: 

  • Cynthia and Karen from the Evanger's Dog and Cat Food Company for offering to send samples of food for us to try
  • Karl from for his generous offer to send a sample of fish meal for us to try in a homecooked diet.
  • Our friends Puffornot, Res Q Qt, Stolly, and Ming's Mama for helping us to locate additional cans of the food Louie needs.  
  • The rest of my friends from Chinese Crested Crush for continuing to rally behind this cause and provide useful and helpful suggestions and advice on what we might try next.  
  • The rest of my friends from the Yahoo Dog-Pancreatitis group for continuing to spread the word.
  • All of you who have sent e-mails and letters, both to Royal Canin and to me, in support of Louie.  We are not resting, and will not rest until we find a solution for all of the dogs who depend on this diet. 
  • for linking to my site!   
Louie and I really do have a lot to be thankful for today.  I'm touched, and blessed, by the kindness of strangers.  Thank you all.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Royal Canin Response

I spoke today with a representative of the Royal Canin Company.  Their position is that they are not going to make the old food available.  

They have offered to have their veterinarian contact mine, which I have agreed to.  I did talk with them, at length, about the various foods we have already tried and why I don't believe the new formula will work for him.  

My sense at the moment is that they would like to find a way to help us, so I want to give them the opportunity to do that.  I will continue to provide updates here as I am able.  Hopefully we can figure out a way to mutually create the best possible outcome for Louie.  

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Stretching Things

I cooked up some rice and will be using that to see if I can stretch the food I have left as long as possible.  He tolerates rice pretty well, and I have some good supplement left over from when I was homecooking for him, so I can add that in to boost the nutrition to some degree.  It's not the greatest thing to do for him, nutritionally, but these are rather desperate times for him when it comes to food.  

Thank you, Crush!

I have to send many, many thanks tonight to my friends from, who have actually been able to locate some cans of the old formula food for us.  Every can we are able to get represents another day that I don't have to switch him to something else, so that's very good news.   

We have also had lots of good suggestions from people from around the globe.  It would probably be worthwhile for me to sit down and make a list of the things we have already tried and ruled out, so that you all have a better idea about what we might still be able to try.  I hope I'll have time to do that over the weekend, or maybe later this week.  In the meantime, please know that we are extremely grateful for the support and the suggestions, so please keep them coming!  

Louie and Cod

Well, the cod trial is still ongoing.  He started with a little gastric upset the night after I first gave it to him, so I backed off of it entirely yesterday and gave him just a small amount with each meal today.  Not sure how it will go, but we'll take it slowly.  

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tilly's Story

I received this e-mail this evening from Rene in Missouri.  Reprinted by permission:

 "Thank you so much for your web info regarding this formulation change to the Royal Canin Low Fat foods. I have an 11 year old cocker "Tilly" currently eating this food (fish based). Tilly has been fed via esophogostomy tube since November 2008 with this food, after lots of other food trials, drug changes and lots of ups and downs.

I just wanted to let you know I have emailed a letter to Royal Canin and plan to give them a call tomorrow to discuss any other options.

I believe we are facing a serious issue with Tilly and Louie, and I expressed how this is not just a food change, but a life or death change for us. I honestly don't think Tilly could survive a change in any of her protocols right now. We are looking at a home cooked diet, which will be very hard to feed her through a tube. 

I just wanted to let you know how we appreciate your web page, and hopefully Royal Canin will listen to our plea's on behalf of Louie and Tilly.

Thanks again Laura; our best for you and Louie (who by the way is absolutely adorable!)"

I had to leave in the part about Louie being adorable, of course. 

Writing back, I told Rene that stories like this help me to feel less selfish about what I'm doing and drive home that it isn't just about me and Louie, but about pets everywhere and the people who love them.  I think that's important.  

Thanks, Rene, for letting me post Tilly's story here.  I hope that she will be okay.  

34 more

Unbelievably, a friend was able to locate 34 more cans of Louie's food for us.  It will be sent soon.  We are both blessed and grateful.  

Noid's supplement and additional contact information

If you have e-mailed me recently through the website, I apologize for not getting back to you, but the e-mail service through this web hosting company is a little bit buggy and I haven't been able to send any mail out from the site today.  I will keep trying, though, so please know that a response is on its way.

And on the subject of e-mail, I received a request today to know what kind of supplement Noid was taking that was made by the Royal Canin company.  It is the Medi-Cal mineral supplement, so if anyone would like to help Noid and request that the company make this supplement again, that is what you need to know.  His mom says "a little goes a long way.  I bet if I had a few lbs of the stuff it could last a lifetime."  

In other news, I did a little more research today and found the contact page for Mars, Inc., which is the company that owns the Royal Canin brand.  Since I have not heard anything from Royal Canin, I am hoping that perhaps contacting their parent company will help.  It can't hurt.  
So, I urge you to also send an e-mail to the Mars company through this link:

And I urge you, also, to send a real, old-fashioned letter.  I know this is the age of digital communication, but I'm told that the company might respond more urgently if they are receiving paper letters through the US mail.  

In any event, I thank everyone for doing what you have, and what you can.  I hope it makes a difference.  I have to believe that it will.