Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Cookie's Fur Analysis

There were more than one reasons I wanted to run fur analysis for Cookie. 


I wanted to make sure her diet provides everything she needs, particularly in terms of minerals. Cookie is on a raw diet so I am not worried about proteins or vitamins. It is the minerals that can be a challenge.

I also wanted to get a good picture about her exposure to toxic elements, whether from her food or from the environment. And because of her mysterious coat color changes, I wanted to see what answers might lie in her fur.


Why fur analysis?


Blood content is highly regulated while fur is pretty much a dump site for stuff. It takes a severe problem for it to show in the blood while the body doesn't care that much what goes into the fur and puts things in there as they come. As well as any blood draw offers an insight into a very narrow point in time, while the fur content is an accumulation of things over period of months. A fur analysis is an indicator of long-term effects of diet and toxic exposure.

We did run fur analysis for Jasmine in the past and it provided useful insights.

Cookie's results look vastly different from Jasmine's.


Even though Jasmine's results weren't as dramatic as some of the example results I have seen as part of my integrative dog nutrition course. On the other hand, some of that looks pretty wild and very little interpretation was offered by the place where we ordered this one from. We chose it because it is a Canadian veterinarian using a Canadian lab but, apparently, he does not include any comments, explanations or recommendations beyond of what the lab automatically spits out. So that was rather disappointing and we won't be using them again.



The craziest-looking values are for iron and manganese, along with a couple other minerals. After some research, deliberation, and digging, the only reasonable conclusion is that the sample was contaminated by the clippers during collection. We did not want to use scissors in order to prevent potential injury to Cookie. The clippers, even though steel, are not high-grade steel and it's logical that's where some of these numbers come from as well as no signs of high systemic levels of iron are present in Cookie.

So we're not going to worry about these values for the time being.


The findings regarding toxic elements look satisfactory, except aluminum. Aluminum seems to be a thing that cannot be avoided; I wonder if it comes from Cookie's Rabies booster she was due last year. Or perhaps some of that is again from topical contamination as some grooming tools can also be a source of aluminum contamination of the sample. The things that normally would be affected by high levels of aluminum doesn't seem to be. We'll see what it looks like next time.


The elements that are high in this additional chart could again come from external contamination rather than systemic accumulation.

Nickel is commonly found in civilized environments.

The lithium is of interest, particularly since it can mess with thyroid function. We will dig further to see where it might be coming from. Some water supplies can be contaminated. Cookie gets bottled water for drinking but I guess that doesn't mean it couldn't be contaminated. Same goes to barium; no idea where it could be from but we need to try and figure that out.


The only ratio out of whack above is the one concerning iron; which we do believe does come from topical contamination rather than what is actually in the body.

Cookie doesn't seem to be suffering from any nutritional deficiencies.


There are some things present that should not be so we have some homework to do to determine where exactly they come from. We will re-test in the future but we'll definitely use a different place. With this one, it took forever to get the results and then they didn't provide any individual comments above of what the lab automatically spits out. Meanwhile, they requested a detailed information with the sample submission ... gotta wonder why as it doesn't seem they did anything with any of the information.


Related articles:
From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
And So It Begins Again(?) Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie 
I Didn't Know I Could Fly: Why Cookie Wears A Harness Instead Of A Collar
C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Chews For Dogs CAN Be A Choking Hazzard 
Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie: The Knee Or The Foot?
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Too Young For Pot: Cookie's Snack With A Side Of Hydrogen Peroxide  
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Putting The Easy Back Into Walking
Cookie's Ears Are Still Not Happy 
The Threat Of The Bulge Is Always Lurking 
Today Is Cookie's Three-Months Adoptoversary  
Cookie Meets The Electric Horse Fence And Her First Chiropractic Adjustment  
Why Examine Your Dog's Vomit? 
Why Is That Leg Still Not Happy? Cookie's Leg Keeps Getting Sore 
Cookie Too Is Insured With Trupanion
Does Being Insured Mean Being Covered? Our First Claim With Trupanion
Is Cookie's Leg Finally Getting Better?
Is Cookie Going To Be Another Medical Challenge Or Are We Looking Too Closely? 
The Project That Is Cookie: Pancreatitis Up Close And Personal  
Pancreatitis: Cookie’s Blood Work   
Another Belly Upset: Pancreatitis Again Or Not?  
Happy Birthday, Cookie 
Incontinence? Cookie's Mysterious Leaks 
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Don't Just Stand There, Do Something? Cookie's Mysterious Bumps 
Cookie's Mysterious Bumps Update
One Vomit, No Vomit 
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
Cookie's Leaks Are Back: Garden Variety Incontinence Or Not?
Cookie's Leaks Update 
Don't Panic, Don't Panic: Know What Your Job Is 
The Continuing Saga Of Cookie's Leeks: Trying Chiropractic Approach 
Cookie's Minor Eye Irritation
Regular Wellness Exam: Cookie's ALT Was Elevated 
Cookie's Plantar Paw Pad Injury 
How Far To Take It When The Dog Isn't Sick?
Cookie Has Tapeworm Infection 
Cookie's Elevated ALT: The Ultrasound and Cytology  
Cookie's ALT Update
The Importance of Observation: Cookie's Chiropractic Adjustment
Sometimes You Don't Even Know What You're Looking at: Cookie's Scary "We Have No Idea What that Was" 
Living with an Incontinent Dog 
Summer Dangers: Cookie Gets Stung by a Bald-faced Hornet 
To Breathe or Not To Breathe: Cookie's Hind Legs Transiently Fail to Work (Again)
Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Process 
Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Diagnosis 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Trazodone  
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Other Medications 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Laser, Hydrotherapy, and Chiropractic 
Cookie's Recovery from Iliopsoas Injury: ToeGrips 
It Never Rains ... Cookie's New Injury 
Mixed Emotions: When What You Should Do Might Not Be What You Should Do for Your Dog 
Cookie's New Injury Update 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury: The Symptoms 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury: Battling the Zoomies 
Cookie's Muscle Injuries: What Else Is Going On?
Theory and Actual Decisions for an Actual Dog Aren't the Same Thing: Cookie's Knee Injury
Does Your Vet Listen to You? Cookie's Post-Sedation Complications
Would I Ever Treat a Symptom Directly? 
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment for Cookie's Bad Knee(s)
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) for Cookie's Bad Cruciate Update 
Injury or Surgery Recovery: Mishaps versus Setbacks 
See Something, Do Something: Cookie's Lumpectomy 
Cookie's Lumpectomy Update 
Using Pressure Pads to Evaluate Lameness in Dogs: My Observations
Cookie's Musculoskeletal Challenges: What Supplements Am I Using?
Cookie's Musculoskeletal Challenges: Restricted Activity and Weight Management
Cookie's PRP Treatment for Partial Cruciate Tear: Update
Has Your Dog's Physical Therapist Taken Dog Training Classes? 
Cookie's PRP Treatment for Partial Cruciate Tear Update and Considering the Future
Cookie's PRP Treatment for Partial Cruciate (CCL/ACL) Tear and Leg Circumference
Cookie's Wellness Exam
Ticked Off at the Tick Situation: What Do You Use for Tick Prevention?
Ticked Off at the Tick Situation: The Verdict Is In (for Now)
Cookie's Annual Heartworm and Tick-Borne Diseases Test
One Yelp, No Yelp. But Two?
One Yelp, No Yelp - Update
Cookie's Rabies Booster
Is Your Dog Struggling with Weight in spite of Diet and Exercise? Cookie Is Hypothyroid (Part I)
What Does the Thyroid Do? Cookie is Hypothyroid (Part II)
Thyroid Replacement Therapy: Cookie is Hypothyroid (Part III)
Platelet-Rich Plasma Treatment (PRP) for Partial Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) Tears: Would I Do It Again?
Thyroid Replacement Therapy Re-Check: Cookie Is Hypothyroid (Part IV)
Ticked Off at the Tick Situation: Tick Tag Results Evaluation



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What were the first signs you noticed? How did your dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you.




An award-winning guide to better understanding what your dog is telling you about their health, Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, is available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.

28 comments

  1. "A fur analysis is an indicator of long-term effects of diet and toxic exposure." I never knew this before. Very fascinating and helpful as a pet parent to assess your pet's health and get information to help make better diet choices.

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    1. It is interesting; I first learned about it during my integrative dog nutrition course. Makes sense, really. And hundred percent non-invasive way of getting interesting and useful information.

      Delete
  2. I didn’t even know you could have fur analysis done on a pet. There is a wealth of health information in these reports. Is there a reasonable price tag on getting an analysis done?

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    1. This one cost $102 CAD (or so). One of my FB friends does it for $75 USD, I think. I wanted to give this one a try since it's Canadian.

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  3. I was not aware fur testing was a "thing". This is interesting and can offer so much great information for pet owners. Thanks for sharing this.

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    1. It's really not a thing because very few people even know about it. It is a useful tool, though, non-invasive and you can learn some important things about your dog's nutritional status and exposure to toxins.

      Delete
  4. I haven't heard of fur analysis before. I guess with Cookie's short fur, scissors are more of a risk. Mr. N gets scissored fairly often. It's interesting to see the results.

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    1. I haven't heard of it until when I was taking the integrative dog nutrition course.

      Yes, scissors more risky with short fur ... HOWEVER, it is also important to trim as close to the body as possible. The further away from the body, the further away in the timeline. If you cut too far from the skin, you might be looking to far into the past for the information to be useful.

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  5. This is fascinating and you set me on a research hunt. I wondered if the same kind of analysis could be done for felines. I know that crimes have been solved with cat DNA so thought there must be a health test as well. So far, no info but I'm going to talk to our vet when I take the Tribe of Five in for their wellness exams.

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    Replies
    1. It's done for people too so I'm sure it can be done for cats as well.

      Delete
  6. Fur analysis made so much sense once I read your post. It’s such a shame that the lab seemed so detail-oriented in collecting information from you and then fell down on the job in reporting detailed explanations for the results. When you re-test, I hope you post about that experience. I hope it’s a much better one!

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    Replies
    1. The lab did their job just fine, I think; the vet who this was done through fell short, I believe.

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  7. I think that testing for any deficiency is important and this is a really great post about it. I always sit with my vet especially on her annual check ups to see if there is anything missing or all good especially as Layla is getting older

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    1. Yes, it's important. The problem with using blood to screen for nutritional problems doesn't work as the body works really hard on keeping the blood levels where they supposed to be.

      Delete
  8. I'm a vet tech and I've never heard of hair analysis. It's pretty awesome! Thanks for educating me on the potential benefits of another diagnostic test.

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    1. There have been some studies on using hair analysis to determine thyroid and adrenal function too. I first learned about it when I was taking an Integrative Dog Nutrition course.

      Delete
  9. Is this the same as DNA testing or is it different. I know DNA testing throws up potential issues. This is such an impressively detailed report and will inform a owner about so much. Worth it I think!

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    1. No, it's not the same. DNA tests for potential issues based on genetic code. This fur analysis tests for presence and levels of nutritional minerals, other minerals and heavy metals.

      Delete
  10. What an interesting test-an I am sure a relief that levels seem OK. I am doing a lot of research on supplements right now so interested to see what dogs may most commonly need. I wonder if human hair analysis is effective? My daughter has to check zinc levels and others regularly.

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    1. Hair analysis was done on humans first. So it works the same.

      What supplements a dog needs is mostly an individual matter. However, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics and a joint supplement are things every dog can benefit from.

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  11. How interesting, but I admit, I'd much rather have an written analysis to go along with the results!

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    1. I was certainly expecting one. I understand the values which Jasmine had tested, because I learned about those in my integrative dog nutrition course. But I'm struggling figuring out the rest.

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  12. It is a shame that they didn't give you a detailed analysis. I always wonder if tests like this are thoroughly tested for accuracy. It seems reasonable that the clippers could impact her results.

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    1. Yes, it certainly is. I wish they made that clear before I ordered it. Well, I'll be wiser next time.

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  13. While I think this is very interesting, I wouldn’t have any idea what to do with the information. It’s particulalry disappointing that they didn’t provide you with an explanation or commentary about your results. My dogs are raw fed as well, and other raw feeders recommend doing blood work to make sure everything is as it should be. I suppose doing a fur analysis might be good too if there were cause for concern. At this point both dogs are doing great so I’ve not invested in either of these. Perhaps I should.

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    1. I can figure out most of the things but yes, it is disappointing that the vet who offers the analysis doesn't even look at it and simply forwards what the lab writes up.

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  14. I didn't realize the fur has so much data stored in it, that is so interesting. It's too bad they didn't provide any analysis for you and just dumped the data in your lap. It sounds like a lot of things could impact fur findings; the clippers and stuff they roll in or ingest outdoors. I would rely more on bloodwork for my dogs.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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    1. There is a huge amount of data in fur. They were even running studies whether it could be used to determine thyroid and adrenal function. Particularly with adrenal function it would be useful as the specific test is kind of nasty.

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