Chronic Heavy Metal Poisoning - Silent Killer in Pets

by Gloria Dodd, D.V.M.
Holistic Veterinarian

In 1984 it came to my attention that a very serious health hazard exists in the form of heavy metal contamination of the food and water chain. The heavy metals involved are Aluminum, Nickel, Copper, Iron, Cadmium, Arsenic, Mercury, Selenium and Lead. I sent 20 documented ill animal cases with hair analysis and analysis of the food and water they consumed to government authorities, media and prominent medical and veterinary doctors I knew, both in orthodox and holistic practices. With the cover letter I included all the blood tests, and clinical medical records of these cases. From the media the response was "the subject was not topical" from my US congressmen and from the FDA: "we are looking into the matter". I contacted the FDA yearly for 4 years then I gave up asking for an investigation. I concentrated my efforts with the pet owner and our association of holistic veterinarians.

I ran routine hair analysis on every sick dog and cat that was presented to me along with the routine laboratory diagnostic tests of blood tests, urinalysis, physical exams, etc.: I tested a few horses as well. The initial heavy metal testing was terminated in 1989, but resumed in 2000-2001 and I have found contamination is much worse today. To my knowledge there has been very little research on pathologies caused by combinations of toxic metals, with chemicals like pesticides, herbicides and fungicides for that matter. This happens in the real world outside of pure science. There remain little government guidelines for Agribusiness and Industry to protect public health.

I began including hair analysis for heavy metals when I encountered my first case of chronic heavy metal poisoning, in my own cat, "Sambo", a 19-year-old neutered male cat. I had kept him in excellent health with homeopathy and acupuncture for years, until Aug. 13, 1984, I woke up to the fact that old "Sambo" wasn't looking so good - his glossy black coat had turned to a dull, dry, gray; his skin was dry and scurfy; he was sleeping more than usual and his third eyelids were showing. Although he was eating well, his vital signs were normal and was responsive to his environment, nevertheless I knew something was wrong. In short Sambo was showing all the signs of a creeping chronic degenerative process of pathology. A blood test taken 8/14/84 revealed low level pathology of the bone marrow, liver, pancreas and kidney. His hair analysis showed very high aluminum levels (45 ppm as compared to human tolerable hair analysis levels of .05 ppm). There were also elevated levels of mercury, lead and cadmium.

The director of the Analytical Research Labs (ARL) in Phoenix, Arizona, Dr.Eck, called me by telephone and inquired if this cat was still alive, for he had never seen such high levels of aluminum in man or animal. I said, yes, and that he was under my care and being treated with nosodes (homeopathic remedies made from specific causative agents of pathology, in this case, aluminum, mercury, cadmium and lead). The enclosures of the actual hair analysis tests before and after treatment show a dramatic lowered levels of the metals in succeeding monthly hair analysis run on the newly grown hair from the shaved areas from previous testing. Sambo had been fed a "wholistic " commercial cat food formulated by a veterinarian, using Vit E as a preservative: Cornucopia Stars dry food, and a combination of varied Cornucopia canned foods: Beef liver, and poultry. The ratio of dry food to canned food was on a 50-50- basis. He was supplemented with a multiple vitamin-mineral tablet daily.

With homeopathic nosodal treatment Sambo began recovering, over the next three months. Serial monthly hair analysis revealed a dramatic lowering of the heavy metals, and clinically the cat and his blood tests improved. Then 5 months later the symptoms returned. In January 1985 I began suspecting the Cornucopia food was the source of the heavy metals. Samples of both the canned and dry foods fed, were submitted to three different laboratories for testing. Two labs tested with flame photometer, the other, (ARL) with atomic absorption. Atomic absorption method is more accurate in measuring quantitatively. I have spent over $1500 of my own money to investigate this problem and found very high levels of aluminum as well as other metals in the food.

I brought this problem to the attention of the manufacturer, and he said he knew he had aluminum contamination in his pet food when it was producing "Alzheimer"-like symptoms in his 4-year-old test dogs. He said he was rectifying the problem. (Why didn't he pull his pet food off the market when he knew he had a problem?)

I submitted other pet foods: Cornucopia Stress dog canned and kibble (tested 855 parts per million (ppm) aluminum along with, 17 other commercial dog and cat food (Health Valley Natures, Hill's Prescription Science Diets, Safeway's Thrifty, Purina, Nature's Choice, Iam's, Avo Derm, Wysong, ANF, Natural Life, Natural Pet Products, Premium Natural Style, Nature's Choice, Alpo, Blue Mountain Home Style Stew, Kal Kan, and Carnation's Bright Eyes.). These contained various levels of aluminum, mercury, cadmium and lead. It was the levels of aluminum I was interested in, because it was in all the foods tested, and at a much higher level than the other heavy metals. Aluminum is a mineral but acts like a metal, chemically and physiologically.

The pet foods tested by atomic absorption methods showed aluminum levels ranging from the lowest of 17 ppm (in canned wet foods) to 855 ppm in the kibbled product. Kibble production by dehydration would, as expected, increase the content of the metals over canned. I was shocked at the high levels in well-respected products made by conscientious manufacturers. I believe they just don't know about the widespread contamination problem so have never tested for it. I submitted human consumption food for testing, that is fed to sick animals in my hospital when they refuse regular pet food, such as Gerber's strained baby meats, chicken, beef and lamb, Star Kist Tuna and Swanson's Mixin" Chicken in Broth. All contain aluminum, (also lead and mercury), Gerber's Turkey less than 1 part per million aluminum, and Gerber's Lamb, 1.8 ppm. Tuna and Chicken seem to be the worst, at 7.2 ppm in Star-Kist Fancy Albacore Solid White and Gerber's Strained Chicken at 3.0 ppm and 5.8 ppm in Swanson's.

What really astounded me was the health food herbal yeast and kelp products being sold for people and supplemented by some of my pet owners to their animals. These showed high levels of aluminum: Barley Green powder 25 ppm, Raspberry Leaf 390, Nettle 585, powdered alfalfa 120, Herbal Protein Powder 1380! Kelp 495. I telephoned many of the storeowners carrying these foods, and some of the manufacturers. There seemed to be a universal disinterest in even investigating such a health hazard. More disturbing is the few investigational studies to determine what levels of these metals are tolerable in man and different animals before pathologies are seen. The only references I could find was 300 ppm mercury in a swordfish killed a human victim in the San Francisco Bay area. This was discovered when a doctor ordered a toxicology scan. I learned this from the toxicology department of the California State Public Health Dept. Acute lead poisoning occurs at levels of 5 ppm lead in the liver and 10ppm in the kidney of a dog causing death. (Ettinger: Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine.) Then I found our own government had published a book on heavy metal toxicity in domestic livestock: Mineral Tolerance of Domestic Animals, National Academy Of Sciences, 1980.

How do metals produce toxicity? All metals are toxic to cells. They compete with the nutritional minerals in the body thus rendering them unavailable to the necessary processes to maintain health. For example, let's take just one small example: you will see on a sample hair analysis that Aluminum displaces calcium and makes it unavailable for building bone, teeth and health of the muscle function (including the heart muscles) thereby weakening these structures. Low calcium levels lead to osteoporosis, dental caries, periodontal disease, muscle cramping, colic and heart disease. Other mineral disturbances are a lowering of zinc, phosphorous, manganese, iron and magnesium. Aluminum has a double whammy as it increases the zinc and copper in the body to secondary toxic levels.

Pathologies produced by chronic Aluminum poisoning

This is the most important because it is the most prevalent found in all animal hair analysis I have tested. Aluminum has a predilection for the brain and nervous tissues therefore it touches every organ in the body via its nerve connections. This means it contributes to arthritis, kidney failure, Congestive Heart Disease, liver diseases, hypoglycemia as well as Diabetes Mellitus, Leaky Gut syndrome with resultant multiple allergies and skin diseases, endocrine dysfunctions (sterility, hypo and hyper thyroidism, deficiencies in pancreatic enzymes with the inability to digest food properly, Cushing's Syndrome, ovarian cysts), bone marrow depression with anemia, poor clotting ability, and weakened defenses against infection. These animals are more prone to succumbing to bacterial, viral and fungal diseases.

A few illustrative cases:

I had a dog brought to me in a hypoglycemic coma. The referring vet had found a large mass on the pancreas with ultrasound. Suspecting a tumor, he had wanted to do a laparotomy. Fortunately the owner wanted a second opinion. EAV revealed a cyst, not a tumor of the pancreas that was producing extra insulin. The cause??? Aluminum deposits in the pancreas of the Beta acinar cells that specifically produce insulin. I gave the dog an intravenous injection of the necessary nosode of aluminum homeopathy, he came out of his coma, and in 1 week the cyst was gone. His blood glucose became balanced after the aluminum was discharged from the body.

My own married daughter called me in extreme pain, her OBGYN had palpated an enlarged left ovary the size of an orange, and wanted to do emergency removal of the ovary. EAV of my daughter revealed a cyst caused by aluminum. I gave her the oral tablet nosode Aluminum 60C, 3 times daily for 1 week, after which both ultrasound and palpation were negative for any abnormality in the ovary.

Case #1: "Sambo" after the initial hair analysis showed aluminum, lead and arsenic, I started the nosodal homeopathic chelation of these heavy metals. I monitored him over a period of 5 months (8/13/84 to 1/2/85) with blood tests, hair analysis and clinical response until all became normal. His coat resumed its black, glossy look, and he began playing again. I had changed his food to detoxified - (please see Newsletter #7 How To Detoxify The Food) fresh meat, vegetables and grains with vitamin-mineral supplementation.

His case led me to start testing all my sick animal patients for heavy metal poisoning.

Case #2: "Chad" Mobley, a 13 year old, male Golden Retriever. He was submitted to me for treatment of bilateral hind leg paralysis, very offensive skin condition showing large areas of baldness, greasy, stinking odor coming from the skin itself (Seborrhea), a "measles" look to the abdomen skin, with oozing serum from several lesions; a "lick granuloma" (area of the skin where dog constantly chews until it is open and bleeding in the center, but the areas around it tries to heal by building up a large, thickened mass of scarring tissue) on his right forepaw. He was being fed ANF (this pet food we were later able to prove has a double whammy: containing aluminum and a preservative ethoxyquin which has shown to be carcinogenic), Purina Hi Protein and Iams. Chad's blood test showed low-grade anemia, hypothyroidisin, and liver pathology. The hair analysis showed increased levels above acceptable for humans of: aluminum, cadmium, lead and mercury; with a gross disruption of his nutritional minerals, a loss of sodium, potassium, lowered calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc and chromium. There was an increase of copper retention resulting in an additional low-grade copper toxicity. The analysis of the foods showed:

ANF 30- 186 ppm aluminum (Dr. Eck at ARL, and I have found in animals that consume foods containing over 30 ppm aluminum, will gradually start showing pathology. The speed and intensity of pathology developed is proportional to the amount of aluminum consumed and the length of time consuming it.

Purina Hi Protein- 50.2 ppm aluminum

Iams- 91 ppm aluminum.

Chad was treated for a period of one year with natural detoxified food, hypoallergenic diet (Chad was allergic to beef, milk products and brewers yeast), desensitization to pollens, fleas and food groups, acupuncture and chiropractic as well as chelation of the heavy metals with homeopathy; Chad made a full recovery. He was not only walking but also running, his coat came back with a luster, and turned a deep reddish gold, his lick granuloma disappeared and his blood tests and thyroid normalized.

Case #3: "Hummer" Weinstein, 6 yr old spayed female collie cross.

Diagnosis Auto Immune Syndrome (AIDS in a dog, is not due to the same virus as man's but the pathology is the same, and the prognosis is fatal.)

"Hummer" came to me from the east coast when her owner moved to California. All blood tests were positive for AIDS. She had been treated with steroids (a mistake doctors make for man and animals, steroids depress an already failing immune system) and antibiotics. She was being fed a variety of commercial canned and dry food: Alpo, COOP dog food in cans, Mealtime kibble and Tender Chunks.

Alpo tested 17.9 ppm aluminum

Kal Kan puts out Mealtime and chunks- I did not test these specifically but their meat stew and seaside supper I tested and are 187 ppm and 8.1 ppm aluminum respectively

Hair analysis showed 13 ppm aluminum, with mercury and lead above acceptable levels. Nutritional minerals of the body were all disrupted: there were lowering of calcium, magnesium, manganese, and chromium with loss of sodium and potassium (Na and K) from the body, and toxic elevations of copper and iron.

The dog was anemic, no platelets were being formed by the bone marrow, and she had liver and kidney pathology, was vomiting, dehydrated and wouldn't eat. I took her off of all drug therapy, put her on supportive homeopathy remedies, along with natural, detoxified diet, did ozone intravenous therapy (German technique of bombarding the patient's blood with ozone then transfusing the blood back into the patient- - this produces a rich supply of oxygen to all the organs of the body, and stimulates the immune system,) along with a variety of other energy stimulating techniques:

acupuncture, Pulsating Electromagnetic field therapy, EAV, color therapy, etc.

The heavy metals were chelated out of "Hummer" with the specific homeopathic metal remedies.

"Hummer" made a progressive recovery over several months intensive treatment and was Aid's negative for 5 years. Unfortunately, Miss Weinstein started to feed Cornucopia despite my blanket warnings sent in letterform to all my clients, and Hummer died of a hemolytic (hemorrhaging) crises 2 years later.

This is a landmark case because to my knowledge no other case of Canine Aids has ever been treated successfully. It may hold some promise for human aids victims for the pathological consequences in the body are the same. I realize there is a specific human virus involved, but something besides the virus has to weaken the body's immune system first for the virus to find fertile grounds to grow in-maybe chemical and heavy metal intoxication of the food, water and environment plays a larger part than the virus theory. I know from animal medicine it does. I would like to see intensive studies done in hair and tissue analysis of chemicals, and heavy metals.

Other Heavy Metals and their pathologies

Mercury in toxic amounts (I'm talking more than .05 ppm in a man weighing approximately 180 pounds) prevents the body's cells from transporting glucose, thus reducing energy available to the body. It causes convulsions, anorexia, tremors, swollen gums and behavior problems in animals. Mercury is rapidly absorbed from coal fumes, contaminated seafood, pain, canvas and contaminated waters. This problem is seriously troubling ecologists and biologists in the ocean's fish and food chain. Mercury has been covered somewhat in the local news media. We are warned not to eat the fish from the bays and deltas around San Francisco and East Bay, due to the high mercury content from industrial pollution.

Local fishermen complain of the visible mercury "burns" on the skin of the fish caught in our East Bay waters. It is estimated that over 60,000 fetuses will develop methyl mercury toxicity in utero this year from mothers eating swordfish, shark, and tuna fish (reference: a recent TV 20-20 program.) The MD's tell them nothing, the FDA is impotent and our government fails to confront the problem.

Lead is picked up by animals drinking from ceramic bowls, or from the water itself. Dogs that guard gas stations or come in contact with peeling paint or just live in the city all build up lead intoxication. Lead contaminates canned food from lead seams of the can. This lead intoxication causes widespread damage to the animal's nervous system, brain, heart, lungs and kidneys. Lead also displaces calcium.

Cadmium pollution is becoming more common due to its presence in drinking water, cigarette smoke, auto tires and processed meats. It produces pathologies of the lungs, liver kidneys and reproductive organs. It displaces zinc also producing poor healing and premature aging. My work in EAV has shown its predilection for the stomach with reduced hydrochloric acid being produced by the stomach thereby rendering abnormal digestion of proteins that can lead to "Leaky Gut" Syndrome and allergies.

Arsenic poisonings are of two types: organic and inorganic. Inorganic arsenic is found in rodenticides, weed killers, ant baits and insecticides, dips for ticks and sometimes used to rid tapeworms in sheep. People and animals consume pesticides and weed killers sprayed on foodstuffs.

Organic forms are actually fed to pigs and poultry to improve production and in the case of swine to treat diarrhea. People and animals consume this meat!

An acute large dose of arsenic causes gastrointestinal damage with profuse watery diarrhea, bleeding and death. Chronic, smaller doses of arsenic causes a non- specific wasting disease- remember "Arsenic and Old Lace"? It is the quintessential choice of poisoners because it mimics so many chronic diseases that cannot be diagnosed except with hair analysis. These are documented facts.

Now under President Bush, our new government standards will increase the allowable arsenic content of drinking water!!! It boggles the mind. Payback time for mining and industry businesses. Meanwhile the public's health and animal health go down the toilet. Just watch the cost of Medicare, medical insurance, and every other medical and veterinary expense skyrocket in this country.

What Have We Learned?

Heavy metals are contaminating our food, water and health supplements for animals and man. Heavy metals produce pathologies relative to quantity and period of time consumed. The major source of consumption is due to pollution of our air, water and soils by agribusiness, industry and the public.

The governmental agencies are not protecting us; we have to protect ourselves. I strongly recommend to all people and pet owners: consume and feed to your animals only detoxed (with my methods outlined in newsletter #7), organically grown produce. If you can't find organic buy and detox every fruit, grain, meat and vegetable you bring home to make your home made meals for your family and pets. I have found even organic foods in this country are polluted with heavy metals. I find rice grown in India (Basmati rice) at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains is very clean and healthy and is what I feed my family and animals.

Stop using everything that contains aluminum that can be leached by acid foods (meats, tomatoes, citrus drinks, all soda drinks, etc.) I don't use any aluminum period, in my household. EAV studies have shown to me that aluminum is toxic to all cells. It goes to the brain and nervous system, thereby touching every organ in the body including the immune system. There are research studies published by scientists in this country showing aluminum can get into the brain of animals showing damage similar to that which occurs in human beings with senile dementia. There is evidence that aluminum contributes to the development of Alzheimer's disease (AZD) by both directly poisoning the brain and causing clumping of the neuron connector structures and by injuring the blood brain barrier allowing toxic wastes to enter brain tissue. One particular kind of toxic waste is known to selectively attack the very parts of the brain that become damaged in the AZD type of senile dementia. In my veterinary practice, I have seen aluminum causing ovarian cysts, pancreatic cysts resulting in hyper insulin comas, tumors and cancer. Dowsing has shown me that aluminum lowers the nutritional energy of food and water thus depriving the body of its needed energy. Throw out your aluminum pots and pans and replace them with cast iron, stainless steel or Pyrex. Don't wrap or Bar-B-Q or bake anything in aluminum foil. Bake your own goodies using aluminum baking powder replacements or buy from companies like Ener-G Foods. * Foods can be wrapped with, guess what, wax paper, or put in plastic containers. Other sources of Aluminum intoxication:

  • Beverages from aluminum cans- soda pop and beer being acid, leaches the aluminum from the cans into the solution that is consumed by people. One wonders if the increased violence in our youth may have some basis in aluminum toxicity of the brain and nervous system.

  • Use of anti-perspirants

  • Drinking water (many municipal water add aluminum in flocculation process)

  • baking powder

  • drying agents in salt and other dry products

  • processed cheese

  • bleached flour

  • fluoridation of water increases leaching of aluminum from aluminum cookware

    But the far greater pollution of aluminum comes from Acid Rain falling on clay soils. Acid Rain is made by water (rain) combining with air emissions from combustion of fossil fuels. Trucks, automobiles, and industry burn fossil fuels. These produce nitrates, sulfates, carbonates and chlorates. The hydrogen molecule in rain chemically combines with these to form nitric acid, sulfuric acid, carbolic acid and hydrochloric acid respectively. Aluminum is the third most abundant element in the earth's crust. It is found in clay, (bentonite and kaolin), and serpentine rock. They are composed of bound aluminum molecules. When acid rain falls on these type soils, it chemically releases the aluminum to be a free agent. If crops are grown in these locations (and almost every major agricultural areas in this country are downwind to industry air pollutants; and autos and trucks are everywhere), the roots of the crops take up the aluminum and incorporate it into the plant tissues. It is these vegetables, fruits, and grains we eat. Food- producing livestock eat the hay and grains grown here and also take in the aluminum in their tissues. Both man and animal eat the crops and the livestock. Aluminum concentrates as it goes up the food chain. Man and carnivores sit on top of the food chain. The free aluminum leaches through the soils and gets into the underground waters, polluting our drinking water, and the water that irrigates the livestock and crops. It's a vicious cycle that must be broken. We must stop using fossil fuels, and electricity generated by burning fossil fuels. We must look to alternative energy sources like wind, solar and hydroelectric power. We must make our government leaders stop squeezing every drop of fossil fuels out of this planet. We will be seeing a backlash of increased degenerative diseases in man and animals developing if we don't. There are many companies that are developing alternative energy, one I use is Green Mountain Energy* but there are others that may be registered with your state's Energy Commission. We can reduce auto emissions by fostering the development of electric cars, using our autos less by walking more, using bicycles (healthier for us) and combining several errand trips into one, and shopping in our homes via the internet.


    Mineral Tolerance of Domestic Animals, National Academy Of Sciences, 1980

    Trace Elements, Hair Analysis and Nutrition, Passwater and Cranton, 1983, Keats Publishing Co. New Canaan, Ct.

    Lancet (1:1028, 1987)

    Lancet (2:849, 1988)

    Special Report On Aluminum March 1989 Published by Alexander Grant, M.D. and Assoc. Inc., P.O. Box 1786, Indianapolis, IN 46206

    Toxic Metal In Human Health And Disease 1989, Dr. Paul Eck and Dr. Larry Wilson, Eck Institute of Applied Nutrition and Bioenergetics, Ltd., 8650 N. 22nd Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85021

    Green Mountain Energy Resources: 1-800-286-5856, Fax: (319) 399-2424

    Ener- G Foods: 1-800-331-5222

    Gloria Dodd, D.V.M. , graduate of the University of California School of Veterinary Medicine at Davis in 1960; private practitioner; pioneer in holistic veterinary medicine (the use of natural alternative therapies of acupuncture, chiropractic, natural nutrition, homeopathy, and magnetic field therapy); studied with medical naturopaths in Germany, South America and the U. S.; cofounder of the California Holistic Veterinary Medical Association 1981, member of CVMA since 1960, appointed Co-Chairperson for the Committee of Alternative Medicine on the Board of Governors CVMA ; international lecturer, teacher, and published in Prevention Magazine, California Veterinarian, American Journal of Acupuncture, Ultra Molecular Medicine and other journals. Nominated for OUTSTANDING WOMAN VETERINARIAN OF 1986 by the Association for Women Veterinarians. Visit her website at

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