Why are our animals developing diseases at such young ages?

Categories of minerals

Minerals are of two categories – (1) those that are beneficial or essential to health, and (2) those that may be harmful or “toxic” if their levels are too high. Pettest reports the measured levels of both categories of minerals in your pet’s hair. The hair specimen that you sent in for analysis was first washed to remove dirt and oils that might contain minerals from external sources. Then it was dissolved in mineral-free acid and analysed by a procedure called mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS). This is an accurate way to assess the minerals that are inside your pet’s tissues and blood, although the actual hair mineral concentrations will be different from those of blood, urine, or other tissue.

For each mineral, there is a “reference range,” which is the usual range that corresponds to good health. For toxics, healthy levels are less than the reference range limit. Lead, for example, should be less than two micrograms per gram of hair (2 mg/g). And for toxics, the lower, the better. There is no such thing as a deficiency of a toxic. If the measured result of a destructive element is very low or below the detection limit of the ICP-MS, then, not to worry, it’s excellent.

For nutritional minerals, the reference range has a low limit (35 mg/g for magnesium in dogs, for example), and a high threshold (110 mg/g for magnesium in dogs). The healthy zone is in between these two limits (35 to 110). Below the lower limit means deficient. Deficiencies often correspond to less than optimal metabolism or decreased functional processes in body tissues. Doctors would say such deficiencies may cause “physiological” problems, but not necessarily pathological or disease problems. However, the persistence of a gap may eventually lead to pathology or disease. For example, a zinc result below the reference range may coincide with poor appetite, poor-quality coat or hair loss, poor vision, especially at night, and slow wound healing. Persistence of any of these conditions could worsen the level of “disease.”

Excesses of nutritional minerals results above the reference range, could also lead to problems but generally are less common than deficiencies. For a few dietary minerals, high hair levels typically reflect metabolism gone wrong in body tissues, and, while high in hair, they may be deficient in other tissues. These minerals are calcium, strontium, magnesium, and zinc. If calcium is being lost from bone, as in osteoporosis, hair calcium and strontium can be elevated. So, elevations of these minerals, if they persist (two or more Pettest analyses), may indicate a visit to your pet’s veterinarian.

If this is a retest on your pet and the pet had a high result of a potentially toxic mineral, then you need to know that the level may go up before it goes down. Why? Because hair is an excretory tissue; it grows out of the body. The chemical makeup of hair allows it to bind the most toxic minerals very efficiently. So, once the toxic begins to circulate in your pet’s blood, it can be collected in hair while it is also being excreted in urine or faeces. If the detoxification regimen is working, the toxic will typically increase in the nose at first. Still, later it should decrease to normal levels provided that your pet has been removed from the source of the toxic.

It is important to realise that toxic mineral elevations can occur for two reasons. First, your pet may have gotten into a substance where the toxic levels are far above the usual environmental levels. Second, your pet may have decreased ability to detoxify and may accumulate toxics even though it did not encounter a notably toxic substance. The most important remedy for the first case is the avoidance of the substances by your pet. And the most important remedy in the second case is to bolster your pet’s nutritional status so that it can detoxify more efficiently.

No Abnormal Results

Congratulations. All measured mineral results for your pet are within the reference ranges. If your pet is having health problems, it is unlikely to be related to mineral levels. A visit to your pet’s veterinarian is advisable if health issues persist.

One or More Abnormal Results When Dogs Have Tylenol

Aluminium – high

Aluminium is a very common mineral in soils, and it finds its way into most plants and vegetables. Baked goods (dog biscuits) may also contain aluminium that was added during the baking process. Normally, this mineral is very poorly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. Phosphorus is a protective mineral that makes aluminium not absorbable by your pet (or by you). Also, adequate levels of iron and calcium are said to help keep aluminium out of animal tissues. Phosphorus in the diet is the first line of defence, and high aluminium may mean that your pet’s phosphorus intake is inadequate, regardless of its hair phosphorus level. Also, check the hair levels of iron and calcium for adequacy, but again, these levels are not foolproof for adequacy when aluminium is high. Aluminium also is included in many vaccination fluids (shots), and that aluminium goes directly into body tissues, bypassing protective gut processes. Once inside cells, aluminium can interfere with energy metabolism, and animals have very little capability to get rid of the element once it’s inside cells. Over years, as cells die and are replaced, aluminium accumulates in the long-lived cells such as neurons (nerves). Some forms of mental deterioration or dementia are thought to involve aluminium in the brain.

To deal with excessive aluminium, first, ensure that phosphorus intake is adequate and that your pet’s food is not overly rich in aluminium – read labels, visit the manufacturer’s website, phone and ask. Biscuits are likely aluminium sources.

When aluminium intake is as low as possible, the amino acid glycine and/or citric acid or citrate salts may allow excretion of aluminium to occur. But also be sure that dietary phosphorus, calcium, and iron are adequate. Glycine is available in health food stores, and crystalline citric acid is available in supermarkets. Daily amounts that may be beneficial for aluminium excess are 15 to 30 milligrams per pound of body weight. Glycine is better tolerated in most cases, and it does not have the taste problem that citric acid might have. Retest your pet’s hair in two or three months, or when advised by your veterinarian, to see if changes have occurred. Most often, elevated aluminium is from exposure to the hair by a shampoo or hair treatment.

Antimony – high

You may have never heard of this mineral, which is a chemical cousin to arsenic. Yet, antimony has found its way into our homes as a flame retardant in textiles – rugs, carpets, mattresses, and mattress pads, and maybe it’s in the cushion or “bed” that your pet likes to sleep on. Two agents can release flame retardant antimony from textiles: moulds, especially mildew, and ammonia, which might form in stale urine. Some paints, ammunition, soldiers, lead-acid batteries, and tobacco may also contain antimony. This mineral can decrease your pet’s energy metabolism and impair its ability to detoxify other toxic minerals as well. Nutrients that protect your pet from the effects of antimony are vitamin E (tocopherol), selenium (sodium selenite), and sulfur, usually in pet chow as sulfates and in the amino acid methionine which is part of the protein content. (Most often when there is high antimony, it is a result of poor detoxification not from high exposure.) It’s a good idea to wash textiles and cushions (if washable) when they are new and before your pet comes in contact with them. Shampooing carpets may also help. Usually, healthy animals with good nutrition can rid themselves of excessive antimony, provided you first find and eliminate the source. Supplemental methionine as L-methionine (preferred over D, L-methionine for this purpose) may help your pet detoxify antimony; appropriate daily doses are 5 to 15 milligrams per pound of body weight. If your pet is a cat, expect it to drink more water and urinate soon after ingesting methionine.

Arsenic – high

Arsenic is a toxic mineral that may occur in contaminated seafood, rodent poisons (and poisoned rodents), sprays (pesticides and herbicides, which may contaminate water puddles or creeks), wood preservatives, paints, pigments and dyes, fireworks and electronics (semiconductors, photocells). Arsenic can impair your pet’s energy metabolism and can lessen its ability to cope with other toxics. If your pet likes seafood or if a fish meal is a major component of your pet’s chow, you might check with the supplier about arsenic content. Nutrients that protect your pet from the effects of arsenic are vitamin E (tocopherol), selenium (sodium selenite), and sulfur, often in pet chow as sulfates and in the amino acid methionine which is part of the protein content. Usually, healthy animals with good nutrition can rid themselves of excessive arsenic, provided that you can first find and eliminate the source. Elevated arsenic is from poor detoxification, not from ingestion.

Nutritional supplements that help to remove arsenic are the amino acid methionine together with magnesium, “SAM” (S-adenosylmethionine), and glutathione. (Use of N-acetylcysteine is not advised for this purpose). Supplemental methionine as L-methionine (preferred over D, L-methionine for this purpose) may help your pet detoxify arsenic, and appropriate daily doses are 5 to 15 milligrams per pound of body weight. If your pet is a cat, expect it to drink more water and urinate soon after ingesting methionine.

Bismuth – high

Bismuth is only mildly toxic, and significant excess is usually necessary to provoke symptoms. This mineral is used in fireproofing materials, solders, and low-melting-temperature metal alloys, fuses, paints, pigments and cosmetics (pearlescent textures), and electronic components. Bismuth is also used for medical purposes as an astringent, as an antacid, and in antiseptics. If your pet has elevated bismuth in its coat, check to see what it is chewing on (inside and outside); don’t allow it to drink from outside groundwater sources, and keep it away from rubbish piles, junkyards and trashed electronic equipment. Animals use the amino acid methionine to help remove bismuth from body tissues. Toxic effects of bismuth excess begin with discolouration of tissues in the mouth (blue-black colouration), foul breath, and poor appetite. More severe effects include weight loss, oral ulcerations, dermatitis, and renal (kidney) problems. Supplemental methionine as L-methionine (preferred over D, L-methionine for this purpose) may help your pet detoxify bismuth, and appropriate daily doses are 5 to 15 milligrams per pound of body weight. If your pet is a cat, expect it to drink more water and urinate soon after ingesting methionine.

Cadmium – high

Cadmium is a toxic mineral found in industrial and municipal wastes, processed sewage (“new earth”), gunpowder, and in plants and vegetables grown in or near such waste materials. It is also in electronic components and batteries (nickel-cadmium or “Ni-Cd”), contaminated seafood, paints, pigments, glazes, inks, rubber including automotive tires, low-melting-temperature metal alloys, and an old copier drums (now outlawed). Cadmium also is present in refining processes for lead and zinc. Cadmium disturbs kidney function, and liver metabolism, and may deposit in the pancreas, heart, bones, and lungs. It is a cumulative poison, often with a very long latent period (years) before causing organ dysfunction.

Animals use sulfur-containing molecules and proteins to capture and remove cadmium, and the amino acid methionine is very important to this process. Zinc is protective when cadmium is excessive, and your veterinarian may be able to provide an appropriate zinc supplement. Most important, however, is separating your pet from the cadmium source. Do not allow it to visit rubbish or trash piles; junkyards are areas associated with the processing of industrial or municipal wastes.

Lead – high

Widely recognised as toxic to humans, lead can also poison your pet. If lead is elevated in its coat, then it is visiting lead sources or ingesting lead. Old lead-containing paint is the most notorious source. Still, lead is also in: storage batteries, wheel-balancing weights (junked autos), ammunition (firing ranges, hunting areas), plants growing near highways (from previously-used leaded gas), manufacture of plastics, mining and smelting operations, main water joints and old plumbing. Some old water mains still in use in cities contain leaded joints, which can put low-to-moderate amounts of lead into city drinking water. Your pet may accumulate lead if it is deficient in calcium, zinc, or iron, or if it drinks lead-contaminated water on an empty stomach. The most important remedy is to identify the lead sources and keep your pet away from it. Then be sure that your pet is getting adequate nutritional calcium, iron, zinc, methionine, and vitamin E. Trace, but essential levels of selenium in the diet also are somewhat protective against the toxic effects of lead

Mercury – high

Mercury is a very poisonous element that interferes with enzymes, cellular metabolism, and the ability to get rid of other toxics. With excessive mercury, your pet’s appetite may decrease, its hearing and sight may be lessened; it may be easily fatigued, and neuromuscular problems could develop. Perhaps the most common source of ingested mercury is contaminated seafood. If your pet likes seafood or has fishmeal in its cow, then you may want to investigate further to ensure that the mercury is not coming from its food. Mercury is found in fluorescent light tubes, fungicides (mercury chloride, acetate, phenylmercury), laboratory instruments, some thermometers, explosives (detonators), materials containing polyurethane foam, industrial sites, precious metal refining, and in some electrochemical equipment. Areas formerly mined for gold may contain mercury deposits, and creeks, streams, and groundwaters that traverse these deposits often contain mercury as well. Keep your pet away from rubbish piles, junkyards, and trash that might contain mercury, and don’t let it chew on waste or trash. Nutrients that are protective against the toxic effects of mercury include the amino acid methionine, trace but essential amounts of selenium and vitamin E (tocopherol), and for cats, be sure its chow contains taurine. Also, check this Pettest report for deficient manganese, copper, or zinc; adequate levels of these are needed to help your pet cope with toxic stressors like mercury. Supplemental methionine as L-methionine (preferred over D, L-methionine for this purpose) may help your pet detoxify mercury; appropriate daily doses are 5 to 15 milligrams per pound of body weight. If your pet is a cat, expect it to drink more water and urinate soon after ingesting methionine.

Uranium – high

Natural uranium is a mixture of several different isotopes. The Pettest laboratory measures the most abundant one, U-238, which is about 99% of the natural mineral. We are not able to distinguish between power plant uranium (enriched in U-235) and depleted uranium (essentially all U-238), which is used in military projectiles. Power plant effluents are carefully controlled to prevent uranium release, and that is a very unlikely source, and unless the pet strays onto military reservations, depleted uranium is also an unlikely source. A common source is a groundwater that has traversed rock strata that contain natural uranium. Uranium excess first causes fatigue, while continued exposure or severe contamination may lead to kidney damage with proteinuria and urinary loss of essential nutrients. You may wish to check your water supply for uranium content, have your hair tested for uranium, and try to prevent your pet from drinking from outside water sources. Good quality bottled water may be the answer. Adequate calcium, phosphorus, and essential trace elements may reduce uranium uptake and retention.

Nickel – high

Nickel is a mineral that often contaminates hair externally. The nickel result may be a false high if titanium also is high. If titanium is normal or low, then an internal accumulation of nickel has probably occurred. Nickel may be found in processed sewage (“new earth”), industrial waste, around electroplating facilities, water that coins have been thrown into (especially brackish, salty or acid waters), batteries (nickel-cadmium or “Ni-Cd”), and in paints, pigments, dyes, and glazes. Trashed electronic components can also be a source, as can jewellery (non-precious) and catalytic exhaust converters on (junked) vehicles. Nickel sensitises the immune system to react inappropriately with allergic-like responses to many substances, including nickel itself. Dermatitis (paws, face), mouth ulcerations, and pulmonary oedema can result from nickel contamination. About the only remedies are removal of your pet from all nickel sources and the use of anti-inflammatory medications. If your pet has high nickel in its hair and seems to have significant allergies, a visit to a veterinarian is suggested.

Tin – high

Tin may or may not be toxic, depending on its chemical form. Tin as stannous fluoride is in toothpaste (stannous, stannic, or Sn are chemical names for tin). Tin is in metal alloys such as solders, bronzes, brass, and pewter. It’s used in dyes, pigments, and glazes, flame retardants for textiles, marine paints, plastics manufacture, metal plating, catalysts (chemical industry), and sprays (fungicides, insecticides, herbicides). The most toxic form of tin is “organic tin,” the form used in sprays. “Tin cans” have become a non-issue in recent decades because metal cans are now polymer-coated, which prevents the release of the metal into the can’s contents. Ingested tin causes upset of the gastrointestinal tract, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Twitching of the animal’s limbs and dizziness may occur with chronic ingestion of tin. Ingestion of sprays containing organic tin can be fatal to a pet; keep it away from such substances. Nutrients that are protective against tin are adequate levels of calcium, iron, zinc, and the amino acids methionine, glycine, and taurine. Organic tin is primarily excreted in the faeces via bile, and urine tests can miss these toxic forms.

Barium – high

Barium can be a toxic mineral if it is ingested in the wrong chemical form. Nontoxic barium does not dissolve in water, and insoluble forms are used for medical scans like x-rays, to make the gastrointestinal tract visible on the scan. Barium forms that are soluble can be toxic – sulfides, chlorides, nitrates, and carbonates. In these chemical forms, barium can interfere with potassium in animal tissues. Nausea, diarrhoea, colic, paresthesia, and loss of muscle control are symptoms of barium toxicity. Toxic forms of barium may be in processed sewage (“new earth”), industrial wastes, and rat poisons (barium carbonate). Barium may compete with calcium for dietary uptake and retention. Normal, healthy calcium intake can decrease uptake of barium, while calcium deficiency may enhance uptake of barium.

Calcium – low

Low hair calcium usually corresponds to a dietary deficiency of this mineral or to deficiency of the nutritional factors that assist its uptake and retention. Assisting calcium is vitamin D, phosphorus, magnesium, and protein. Also, some trace elements assist the placement of calcium in the bone matrix – strontium, copper, and zinc. Strontium is stable, natural strontium, a chemical cousin of calcium that is found with it in mineral deposits, bone meals, and other natural calcium materials. Check both the Pettest result levels and the pet chow package label for these assisting nutrients. The chow label should include calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, and perhaps copper and zinc. Copper, zinc, strontium, magnesium, and phosphorus are in the Pettest report. Consult your veterinarian if you have questions.

Occasionally, calcium is lost in urine due to disease or metabolism disorders in animals. If low calcium persists on a repeat Pettest after you have tried to correct dietary factors, then your veterinarian may be able to test its urine for excessive loss of calcium.

Calcium – high

High hair calcium often reflects a chronic (or previous) metabolic disorder or disease that features disturbed metabolism of calcium. High hair calcium from internal processes can be consistent with: bone (osteo) diseases, which involve loss of calcium from bone. Typically, then, the hair calcium/magnesium ratio (Ca/Mg) is notably elevated. Endocrine (hormonal) imbalances such as those affecting thyroid or parathyroid function may be reflected by high hair calcium, as may imbalances in phosphorus or magnesium. Too much vitamin D, “hypervitaminosis D,” can cause elevated blood levels of calcium, “hypercalcemia,” and hair calcium may then also be high. Rarely, too much vitamin A is implicated in hypercalcemia as well. An unusual cause of hypercalcemia and high calcium in hair is malignancy. If high hair calcium persists on a repeat Pettest, consult your veterinarian.

Magnesium – low

Magnesium is essential for energy metabolism, and it assists the functions of other major essential minerals – potassium, sodium calcium, and phosphorus. Often, magnesium information is omitted from chow package labels, perhaps because it is a variable part of the protein and other ingredients in the chow. Low hair magnesium on the Pettest is good evidence that it is deficient in your pet; check the other major elements to see if they are also low. If one or more is, ask your veterinarian about your pet’s digestive and gastrointestinal functions. Magnesium can be lost when there is diarrhoea or intestinal malabsorption. Some abnormal conditions also feature urinary loss of this mineral – toxicities, taurine deficiency (cats especially), calcium imbalances, vitamin imbalances, and administration of some medications cause urinary loss of magnesium.

Magnesium – high

High magnesium in hair may coincide with imbalances in other major nutritional minerals – potassium, sodium, calcium, and zinc. In that case, high hair magnesium may reflect physical or emotional stress in your pet. In such circumstances, cellular magnesium can below. A stress pattern for hair minerals involves more than magnesium, and high magnesium, calcium, strontium, and zinc, together with low sodium and low potassium, constitutes such a pattern. With such a pattern, at least magnesium and zinc could be supplemented nutritionally, but a better course of action would be to identify and remove the stress.

Magnesium can be genuinely excessive in blood, cells, and hair when kidney function is poor or when there is an endocrine (hormone) imbalance. If elevated magnesium persists on a second Pettest performed a month or so after the first test, it would be a good idea to have your pet examined by a veterinarian.

Copper – low

Copper is needed for healthy bones, an efficient metabolism, and antioxidant protection of tissues. Usually, perhaps 98 % of the time, low hair copper indicates a general deficiency of this mineral. Zinc overload (uncommon) can be a cause of copper depletion. Occasionally, low copper in hair coincides with problems in transport, and while it is low in hair, it may be high elsewhere (intestinal mucosa, liver). Nutrients that are required for copper transport are amino acids (histidine, glutamine, threonine) blood proteins, and sulfur. Dietary sulfur sources include sulfates and methionine. Check the label on your pet chow package to see if it lists copper. If low hair copper persists in a repeat Pettest done one or two months after being certain that copper is in your pet’s diet, then there may be something wrong with copper transport. (Urinary wasting of copper is rare in animals; over 95% of copper is excreted in faeces via the bile.)

Copper – high

High copper in hair may reflect physiological or pathological problems, or it may only be external contamination. If your pet swims in a swimming pool, then the copper-containing algicides in pool water are the source of the copper. If your pet rests or sleeps on treated wood (deck wood, picnic benches, etc.), then wood preservatives could be the source. If arsenic also is high, then copper arsenate preservative should be suspected. Some pesticides and fungicide sprays also contain copper, and that contamination could be both external and internal. Internal copper excess may occur if zinc or molybdenum is deficient (check these on this Pettest report). Liver diseases can feature excessive copper. Over 95% of unneeded copper is excreted in faeces via the bile. Biliary obstruction or biliary insufficiency condition would be expected to cause internal copper excess.

Zinc – low

Zinc is essential for digestion of food, growth, antioxidant defence, sensory processes including taste, smell, scent following, and vision, and it is needed by the immune and reproductive systems. Adequate zinc also helps to protect animals from accumulating lead and cadmium, which can be toxic. So, zinc can have wide-ranging consequences when it is deficient, and you need to be sure that it is included, at adequate levels, in your pet’s food. Sometimes, too much phosphate or too much calcium and phosphorus can decrease zinc absorption from the gastrointestinal tract. Iron overload can also decrease the uptake of zinc. Perhaps changing brands of pet chow will help. If adequate dietary zinc has been provided, then consult your veterinarian about maldigestion or malabsorption and your pet.

Zinc – high

Almost always, high zinc in hair reflects maldistribution of zinc with high levels in peripheral tissues, or high excretion rates while organ levels may below. High zinc with high magnesium and calcium, but low sodium and potassium, indicates stress and probable need for zinc (and need for magnesium and calcium), and most importantly, removal of the source of stress. If the elevation of zinc in hair is due to maldistribution, rather than excess, there might be poor night vision, reduced ability to smell and follow scents, slowed healing of wounds, stunted growth for kittens or puppies, and poor immune function.

Very rarely, pets develop genuine zinc overload. Excessive zinc may result from your pet drinking out of galvanised containers. Metal pails and other galvanised containers are zinc-coated, and routine drinking from such vessels is documented to cause zinc toxicity in animals. Routine ingestion of zinc-contaminated seafood can also cause zinc overload. Zinc overload may be without toxic effects until quite high excesses occur, and copper is displaced from body tissues. Part of the toxicity of zinc is due to copper depletion. Zinc toxicity features diarrhoea, vomiting, enteritis, tremor, and dyspnea.

Manganese – low

Manganese is an essential mineral that assists energy metabolism, antioxidant protection, and formation of connective tissue. Symptoms of manganese insufficiency may be slowed growth of hair and claws, slowed skeletal growth for kittens and puppies, reduced energy levels, and increased inflammatory responses such as allergic conjunctivitis. Wounds may be slow to heal with deficient manganese, although usually not a listed ingredient in pet chow, manganese is present at adequate levels in most vegetable protein and lesser levels in animal protein. Foods that are rich in manganese are nuts and seeds, soy meal, and cereal grains. Soy and wheat flour are often in chow blends, but their manganese content depends on the soil quality that they were grown in. Failure to absorb manganese from foods suggests gastrointestinal problems.

Manganese – high

Accumulation of increased levels of manganese may result from drinking water that contains excessive amounts of the mineral. Private well water is a possible source; municipal drinking water is monitored for manganese content. Industrial wastes, processed sewage (“new earth”), and mining and ore milling operations are other sources. Batteries (dry cells), welding rods, metal-plating operations, paints, pigments, and glazes also may contain this mineral. In some geographical areas, organic manganese has been used as a gasoline performance additive, and engine exhaust deposits in soil or assimilated levels in plants could be hazardous sources. Mild manganese elevations in animals may not be significant or symptomatic. Excessive amounts do have toxic effects that include irritability and excitability, behaviour change – often toward aggressiveness, insomnia, and tremor. Experimental animal studies show that 20 to 100x the normal dietary intake is needed to provoke such symptoms. 95% of manganese is excreted in faeces via bile, with most of a single point-in-time dose being excreted in four or five days. Check for the use of a shampoo containing manganese.

Chromium – low

Chromium is thought to be beneficial as a mineral that assists insulin activity, helps glucose metabolism, and contributes to the balance of cholesterol in the blood. Chromium is needed only in very small amounts and in a particular form, Cr+3 (plus three oxidation states). Fully oxidized chromium, Cr+6, is toxic to animals and man and is not beneficial at any level. Pet obesity, lack of endurance, and fatigue behavior would be symptoms of chromium insufficiency. Food sources of chromium include nuts and seeds, organically-grown whole grains (not grown in depleted soils), liver and kidney meats, and brewers’ yeast.

Chromium – high

Chromium is assimilated in two forms, the beneficial Cr+3 form (plus three oxidation state) and the toxic Cr+6 form (plus six oxidation state). The Pettest laboratory cannot distinguish between Cr+3 and Cr+6, and elevated chromium is of concern if it is significantly elevated. Mildly elevated hair chromium usually is of no consequence except that it may occur during pregnancy (reason unknown). Significantly elevated chromium (more than 5x the reference range) may correspond to rhinitis and nosebleeds if due to inhaled chromium. Contact dermatitis on paws or face can occur if chromium was contacted in a chemical form that sensitizes immune response, and gastritis, with intestinal distress, can occur if excessive chromium has been eaten. Chromium +6 is mutagenic and carcinogenic because it chemically attacks and alters DNA. It is best that your pet gets its chromium as a natural trace mineral in wholesome foods. Environmental chromium exposures may be very harmful. Sources of chromium to be avoided include processed sewage (“new earth”), metal fabricating areas, electroplating, metal corrosion inhibitors, paints and pigments, leather tanning operations, foundry sands, and wastes, and photographic chemicals.

Lithium – low

In humans, low or trace levels of this mineral seem to influence behavior (favorably). Its influence on animals is uncertain. Normal physiological levels may be beneficial for moderating uptake of sodium, iodine, and magnesium, and for moderating adrenal hormone activity. Trace lithium usually comes from food and water, but soils, food, and water vary considerably in lithium content with geographical location. Changing the brand of your pet’s chow and/or its drinking water may provide adequate lithium.

Lithium – high

Moderately elevated lithium may have no significance to your pet’s health. Lithium varies geographically with water supply, food grown in local soils, and fish, fowl, and animal meat from local sources. Excess lithium can be assimilated from contaminated environmental and industrial sources – batteries, lubricants, metallurgical operations, especially cutting and welding aluminum alloys, photography reagents, and fabrication of aerospace components. So, keep your pet away from such sources. Symptoms consistent with lithium toxicity, which is which may occur with very high lithium levels (probably 5x the hair reference range or more), might be – lack of appetite and signs of gastrointestinal distress, very increased thirst and urination, increased salivation, lethargy and perhaps tremor. Excess lithium may also disturb thyroid function. Once the lithium source and your pet are separated, the blood lithium level should normalize within a week.<

Selenium – low

Selenium is essential for your pet to have adequate antioxidant and detoxifying capability; it is particularly protective against mercury. Low selenium could be a reason for toxic accumulations or for excessive inflammation. And, there are good correlations between low selenium and development of cancer in animals (and in humans). Also, thyroid hormone metabolism is assisted by this mineral. Some pet chow packages list this mineral as an added ingredient, often sodium selenite. If the chow you are using does not list selenium as an ingredient, switch to one that does. And, do not try to supplement selenium as a single nutrient without the assistance of your veterinarian. This

Selenium – high

Selenium is essential for your pet to have the adequate detoxifying capability. Selenium can be high in hair when mercury is high. This is not a selenium overload. Rather, it is evidence of a protective mechanism that selenium has for combining with mercury. If mercury is normal, then selenium overload is a concern. Too much selenium can have toxic effects. Excessive selenium in animals is called selenosis, and it features: profuse salivation and drooling, fatigue, loss of hair (often chest and tail hair), disorientation, vision problems, and irregular gait (called “blind staggers” for cows and horses), arthritis and kidney failure. Selenosis can be fatal in acute cases. Selenium content of soils is extremely variable with geographical locales, and it reaches toxic levels in plants in parts of the northern central plains (Dakotas, Montana, northern Nebraska). Mistakenly excessive doses of selenium in nutritional supplements have caused problems, and there are other sources as well – electrical components (semiconductors, photocells, solar panels/batteries), paints and enamels, photography toners (sepia), some gun-blueing solutions, and some lubricants contain high amounts of selenium. Removal of your pet from the selenium source is the first task in rectifying selenium overload. Urinary excretion of most of the excessive selenium usually is rapid (days) in a healthy animal. A lesser portion of the selenium overload may take months to be excreted, but symptoms should be greatly reduced during this period. The most helpful natural nutrient in selenium overload is methionine (5 to 15 mg/lb of pet body weight per day).

Boron – low

Boron is not an essential mineral at trace levels, but it may be beneficial in animals for healthy joints and bones, especially under stressful conditions. Low boron may have no health implications if other mineral levels are normal. Boron is widely distributed in natural foods and drinking water.

Boron – high

Most of the time, hair chemistry causes boron content to increase when certain toxins are present, such as lead or cadmium. In this case, the boron itself is not the problem; it is only a confirming signal that toxins are present and elevated in the hair.

Rarely, boron overload might occur if your pet has become contaminated with this mineral. Boric acid, for example, is a household chemical used externally as an antiseptic and astringent, but internally it is a poison. Boron is in soaps, cleansers, agricultural sprays, fiberglass, electronic parts (semiconductors), paints, pigments, glazes, dyes, and photographic chemicals. The mineral is naturally present (with aluminum) in vegetable foods, and is efficiently absorbed into the bloodstream. Without doing harm, most natural (food-source) boron is transferred to tissues, then back to blood, then to urine. A very small amount of boron is deposited in bone and muscle tissue. “Borax” (sodium salt of boric acid), if ingested, may deposit in genital tissues, where it causes testicular problems in male animals. Amino acids (dietary protein), zinc, and vitamin B6 are protective in boron excess.

Cobalt – low

In animals, circulating cobalt is in two pools – protein or globulin bound, and cobalamin or vitamin B12. Except for cobalamin, the function of circulating cobalt is unknown. Animals use cobalamin to process amino and organic acids into forms needed for energy, blood cells, neuronal tissue, and general good health. Low hair cobalt may mean deficient dietary uptake of vitamin B12. Check the label on your pet food package for B12 content. If not listed, switch to a brand that contains and labels B12 as an ingredient. For dogs and cats that eat natural animal protein, vitamin B12 adequacy should not be a problem (B12 is insufficient in most plant foods but is sufficient in meat, fish, or fowl.) If low cobalt persists after you have changed brands of pet food, you may wish to consult a veterinarian about vitamin B12 adequacy for your pet. Do this, especially if it has symptoms of lethargy, poor physical endurance, and shows a lack of interest in normal activities. A blood analysis that shows abnormalities with red blood cells can be indicative of vitamin B12 need.

Cobalt – high

In animals, circulating cobalt is in two pools – protein or globulin bound, and cobalamin or vitamin B12. Elevated hair cobalamin suggests increased assimilation of cobalt, almost always in the protein/globulin form. (The only exception would be after a series of vitamin B12 shots.) Non-B12 cobalt may come from a high intake of seafood, or from visits that your pet makes to cobalt-contaminated areas or objects. Cobalt is used or occurs in hard metal and tool fabricating, magnets, metal shaping (grinding wheels), welding, porcelain coating, fertilisers, brewing, and beer, in pigments, glazes, and paints (latex and alkyd types), and silicone resins. Excess cobalt is only mildly toxic, and moderate elevations in pet hair may have no health consequences. Symptoms of chronic cobalt toxicity are loss of appetite, fatigue, iodine deficiency and hypothyroidism, diarrhoea, and neurological problems.

Molybdenum – low

In recent years, molybdenum has been recognised as an essential nutrient for animals and humans. It is needed for detoxifying and for processing sulfur in body tissues. Only trace amounts of this mineral are needed, and animals obtain it in their diet from meats, grains, and legumes. Molybdenum is typically not a listed ingredient on pet food packages because it is naturally present in the meat, fish meal, soy, or grain ingredients. Low hair molybdenum in your pet suggests malnutrition or digestive dysfunction. In rare instances, copper overload causes urinary and biliary loss of molybdenum; check to be sure that hair copper is not excessive.

Molybdenum – high

In recent years, molybdenum has been recognised as an essential mineral in animals and humans. It is needed for detoxifying and for processing sulfur in body tissues. Increased assimilation of molybdenum can occur in your pet if it is copper-deficient; check the copper result on this Pettest. If copper is normal, check to see if titanium and iron are elevated. If so, the high molybdenum probably is external contamination, not an internal condition. Perhaps your pet is exposed to some concentrated source of molybdenum. This mineral is in pigments and paints. Molybdenum sulfide is a lubricant, and molybdenum may be present in metallurgical activities, toolmaking, and metal cutting and shaping (grinding). In ceramics, it is in glazes. Molybdenum may be in groundwaters that traverse mining and ore-milling areas (especially copper mining). Excess molybdenum is only mildly toxic, and moderate elevations in pet hair may have no health consequences. Symptoms of chronic internal molybdenum toxicity are loss of appetite, weakness, and fatigue (anaemia of copper deficiency), bone and joint disorders, and liver and kidney dysfunctions. Methionine and sulfates are nutrients that are protective in molybdenum overload.

Strontium – low

The Pettest laboratory measures the level of natural stable strontium (not the radioactive element that comes from nuclear processes). Natural strontium is found, in trace amounts, with natural calcium. Animal studies show that low levels of this mineral assist the metabolism and retention of calcium in body tissues. Strontium is not ordinarily listed as a pet food ingredient, but small amounts will be in natural carbonates and bone meals. Low strontium may make your pet more susceptible to osteoporosis and weakened bone structure. Natural bone meals, “Ossopan,” natural calcium hydroxyapatite, natural carbonates, and coral are strontium sources.

Strontium – high

The Pettest laboratory measures the level of natural, stable strontium (not the radioactive element that comes from nuclear processes). Natural strontium is found, in trace amounts, with natural calcium. Animal studies show that low levels of this mineral assist the metabolism and retention of calcium in body tissues. Strontium also occurs in groundwater and well water with considerable variability in amount, depending on geographical locale. Mild to moderate elevations of this mineral in your pet’s hair may have no health implications. However, check the hair calcium level to be sure it is not low; calcium deficiency predisposes to strontium excess. If both calcium and strontium are elevated, then refer to the commentary on calcium. Elevated strontium confirms the elevation of calcium that may be seen with stress, loss of bone calcium, or disease that features the maldistribution of calcium. Significant elevation of just strontium (more than 3x the reference range) with normal or low calcium, is rare but may indicate strontium contamination. Strontium (without significant calcium) may be in synthetic or manufactured materials: fireworks, pigments, paints and glazes, batteries, petroleum drilling “muds” (barium might then also be high in hair), anticorrosive fluids (chromium might then be high also), and depilatory (hair removal) cosmetic fluids or creams.

Sulfur – low Animal hair is about 5% sulfur because the amino acid makeup of hair protein includes lots of cysteines, a sulfur-containing amino acid. Sulfur and cysteine are also used in your pet’s body for antioxidants and detoxication. If sulfur is low, your pet might be susceptible to allergies and inflammation, toxicities, and it may have a poor quality coat. While some cysteine comes from dietary protein, methionine is the major source. Methionine is the nutritionally essential amino acid that leads to cysteine, glutathione, and other necessary forms of sulfur in your pet. Read the label of your pet chow package; methionine should be listed as an ingredient. If it’s in your pet’s chow, then the next possibility is poor digestion of protein. This is only likely if there are other signs of malnutrition. A visit to your pet’s veterinarian is suggested if low methionine persists on a second Pettest analysis or if there are signs of malnutrition, hair loss, or inflammation. Sulfur – high Animals ingest sulfur in amino acid form, mostly as methionine and cysteine, as mineral and organic sulfates in food, and as dissolved sulfates in drinking water. Also, animals in agricultural areas may ingest therapeutic sulfur compounds intended to cure skin ailments of livestock, sulfur spray residues, and residues of sulfur-containing fertilisers. Some silage preservatives also contain significant amounts of sulfur which mice (and then your cat) may ingest. Very slight elevations of hair sulfur (up to about a 3% excess or 103% of the upper limit of the reference range) may have no health consequences. Elevations beyond this could be deleterious, especially if symptoms of sulfur excess are present: loss of appetite, gastrointestinal distress, foul breath (rotten egg odour), and poor muscle control. Check to be sure that your pet is not ingesting excessive methionine, sulfates, or foods that may be excessive in sulfate. Visit your veterinarian immediately if symptoms of sulfur excess are present. Vanadium – low Vanadium is not an essential mineral. It is measured by Pettest because trace amounts are reported to have beneficial effects on blood sugar and cholesterol levels when insulin function is weak. This mineral is poorly absorbed from natural foods (which probably keeps it from interfering with insulin). It can be low if your pet eats only highly processed foods or if it has poor digestion. Natural vanadium is present, at trace levels, in animal meats, especially organ meats, and in seafood. Vanadium – high Vanadium is not an essential mineral. Trace amounts are reported to have beneficial effects on blood sugar and cholesterol levels when insulin function is weak. But, excessive vanadium can interfere with insulin, and it can be an oxidant that causes irritation and inflammation. Symptoms of vanadium excess in animals include diarrhoea, weight loss, and disturbed glucose metabolism (variable hypo- and hyperglycemia). These symptoms, however, were provoked in animals only after ingestion of vastly larger vanadium doses than could be obtained from normal dietary sources. Industrial and commercial uses of vanadium include tool and steel alloy manufacture, catalysts in the rubber and petrochemical industry, and printing and dyeing textiles. Ash from oil-fired power plants may be high in vanadium. Quick-drying inks and photographic materials may also contain this mineral. Other Minerals In hair, the levels of four (sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron) do not follow trends that may be occurring in blood or body cells. (Indications of deficiency or excess of those four nutritionally essential elements are best gotten from blood or serum tests.) Rubidium, not an essential mineral, behaves like potassium and can substitute for or displace potassium when it is excessive. Titanium is present in many foods at low levels, but it is very poorly absorbed, meaning only trace levels of it are internal to animals. Findings of high titanium in pet hair almost always means that the hair has some external metal contamination. “Other Minerals,” then, are those that are used to judge whether the patterns of toxic or nutritional elements are genuine and internal to your pet. If the only abnormal result on your Pettest report is that of an “Other Mineral,” then a disease condition is unlikely. You may, if you wish, have your veterinarian measure the blood level of the out-of-range other minerals (s), but again, the hair level is not necessarily indicative of need or excess for these minerals. In a test where mineral levels are skewed by external contamination, usually with false high toxics, titanium will be elevated, and iron also may be elevated. When aluminium is genuinely high inside your pet, iron should also be high, but titanium will be normal or low. Phosphorus, in this case, would probably below. When lead and/or cadmium are genuinely high, elevated potassium (especially) and sodium (usually) should be seen. Titanium should not be high. An arthritis pattern that might be seen in older animals may be low calcium, very low magnesium, but elevated phosphorus.

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