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Advice on Bloat, as given in the Irish Setter Breeders Club Newsletter, Winter 2009

The Summer Newsletter 2009 and the Winter Newsletter 2009 of the ISBC (UK) both contain important information on health issues. Anyone interested may be able to order a copy via the secretary (see website).

The advice given on page 5 Vol 1 Issue 27 by the breed clubs' KC Health Liaison Representative Prof Ed Hall to vets and breeders is quoted as follows:

"1. A gastroplexy should always be performed when torsion is corrected.

2. Inflammatory bowel disease is not common in young dogs and to use steroids and other drugs with significant side-effects is inappropriate at such a time.

3. Bloat is probably inherited and whilst it may take a long time to determine the genetic problems, it makes sense not to repeat a breeding that has produced puppies with bloat.

Points 1 and 2 are things I will continue to try and educate my colleagues about, although owner pressure can have an effect too.

Point 3 is for breeders and breed societies to consider."

Further in the article (written by Lynne Dale):
Health Record:
The ISBC is keeping a record of helath problems in the breed. It is our intention over the next few years to see if we can get a good knowledge of the problems both past and present we have encountered. This information will eventually be handed to the KV Health Rep. in the hope it will be useful for future research.

Finally a request for information from people with dogs experiencing problems is given, saying that there are two sections for the storing of information: Open and Closed, the closed section being for those wanting confidentiality.

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Even my old setters (of up to more than 15 years of age) have managed quite well, eating out of a foodbowl standing directly on the floor...
I feed on the floor, after their tea the dogs go straight to bed - no hooning around! Also only feed processed food like ProPlan at about 1/4 PART of the meal - the rest is meat, dog sausage & a marvellous mixture made up by a musterer's wife here in NZ called "Mighty Mix". The dogs also get rabbits they either catch themselves, or the ones caught by my cat Sherpa who then donates it to "first come, first served". I do feel that processed food could be a problem in a lot of GDV cases - it isn't a natural food for a dog, no matter how well it reads on the bag.
Not to discount the genetic predisposition of bloat, but as we know there are also environmental factors which can cause bloat in lines that may not have any genetic predisposition, I would like to put this to members for discussion:

The food/diet factors also plays a role in the incidence of GDV, according to the research. I have asked this question on the other forum running at the moment as to the depth of chest in our breed... Pictures from the 1930's of old Wendover stock definitely shows a good depth of chest. Was bloat a problem back then? Does anyone know? Did the problems only rise in modern day lines and come from high COI or has it come partly from the introduction of "dry food" "kibble" etc. One of the high risk factors is dry food which is preserved with citric acid particularly when wetted down (does it increase the gassing in the stomach?)

How many of us know what the dry food we feed our dogs is preserved with?

Can we correlate the increased incidences of bloat (not genetically linked) to the changes in diet over the years as I know some dog owners feed solely a "dry" food diet with little else.

Food for Thought!!
In the 70's and 80's I fed raw tripe and mixer biscuits, and my girls bloated several times in their respective lives, and I now feed dry food and Jas has bloated, there seems to be a correlation between soaking the food..according to the research attachment.
I wonder if there are two 'kinds' of bloat, the 'hereditary' type and a 'predisposed via body structure and stress levels' Jas (touch wood) hasn't bloated since I left her in kennels to go to a friends for a week, (that hasn't happened again, nor has the bloat) but the others would bloat at any time of the day or night, before during or after food/exercise, although I wouldn't exercise for at least two hours before or after feeding.
I could get up in the morning, the dogs were fine, let them out into the garden for morning pees etc, a few minuets later let them back in for their breakfast (I always have fed twice a day) and one wouldn't come back in....she had bloated in that short space of time, mostly they drank a large amount of water preceding the bloat . When they walked past you could hear the water sloshing about in there stomach..
Listening to water sloshing around the stomach has been quite common for us! It was actually one of the first signs we latched on that indicated an arriving problem.
A few points brought about by bitter experience.
Stress and or excitement will majorly increase the possibility of a bloat attack especially when occuring before or after a meal.
Feeding kibble soaked or otherwise hasn't seemed to have helped. Looking back there have been two periods of less frequent bloat attacks both being when canned food has been used. But using a kibble does have one important advantage and that one feeds less volume for the same level of nutrition. My opinion is if the animal has leaning towards bloat then avoid feeding kibble but if bloat isn't an issue then it's fine to use.
Always control water intake. Yes frequent and on demand apart from immediately before and after eating. And not in large quantities. Obviously leaving it down for access 24/7 is best for a healthy dog so it is a little difficult when having more than the one.
Feed several meals a days (we are still on four a day) spread out with decent time intervals between each. Normally with the other dog and previous pets we have fed twice a day (morning and evening). Plus we presently still feed more or less by hand to prevent snatching and the possible swallowing of air.
I also agree with the "no exercise" before and after feeding for the 2 hours and I include energetic games with other dogs in that.
As for feeding either on the floor or at chest height there seem to be so many different views on the subject I'm totally confused. I have to say it hasn't seemed to make any difference either way but because of hand feeding isn't presently an issue.
Cheryl, I agree that there are probably different types of bloat: the genetic type seen in dogs aged 1-8 years and the 'old age' type seen in dogs of 10 + where a more general laxity can be cause for the stomach to twist.

As Dee has written, I do not think bloat is a thing only experienced in present day 'kibble' generations. I have known of dogs to bloat fed on all kinds of diets.
My own experience was our first Irish from 'old' lines who died of GDV in 1979 aged 4 years. You can look at the pedigree here. She was not fed on kibble.
The next experience I had was in a litter bred in 1984 see pedigree here. One pup had MO, one adult suffered GDV (but was saved). This line was not continued.

If you breed a litter with a low COI, from a sire and dam from unrelated family lines but both with a familial predisposition to bloat, then I doubt that you would reach your goal. Lowering the COI must go together with awareness of the health risks on either side.
We get back to COI again..(and so we should). When will people realise that breeding from the 'popular sire' eventually reduces the genetic gene pool, we are in this kind of situation now, because of a couple of 'popular sires' form the 90's we are at an impasse in the breed here in the UK....where do we go for a sire that isn't related to our bitch???
My problem with bloat, was started in the 70's, with a then 'popular sire' he then died of bloat, a few years after, so did the dam. But because vets didn't really understand bloat, I was told it was OK to breed from the offspring of these two animals, (and I did ask if it was OK). I had the same reaction with the puppies of the next generation, a lot of bloat, although the second sire didn't die of bloat, looking back at pedigrees now, with the knowledge I have gained over the years since, I see that it was a big mistake using this lovely dog with the lines that I had in my pedigree, and he wasn't a popular sire at the time that I used him...this is what we should all do, is learn from our mistakes..this line like yours Susan is now defunct, and it has taken me since then to get the litter that was born this year, and lets keep fingers crossed for them to be healthy. We can only do our best, but this is what we should be doing...our best.... not breeding from animals that have been ill, and that we know have produced puppies with problems. I have said before if you have knowingly used animals that have hereditary problems..shame on you...Although bloat hasn't been proved to be hereditary, most of us feel that it is though, although not scientists, we have a 'gut' feeling.
As for animals that have bloated, (again I have said it before) there are many things that can contribute to bloat. Stress is, I think, at the top of the list. Along with a hereditary factor, If you can look back 4-5 generations and find a few animals that have bloated then sorry this is not a line to use.
Thank-you all for your valuable input as you have all been through experiences with GDV, I have really appreciated your honesty, openness, advice and knowledge. I hope this assists us all as I know how much I have appreciated being able to tap into your experiences on this topic.

I have made contact with Lynne Dale from ISBC and also Dr Cathryn Mellersh from the Animal Health Trust. I don't expect any responses till the New Year, but I will post their advices on this forum when I get them.
There are more and more "dry" kibble foods which are substituting rice or potatoes for cerials such as wheat, oats and barley and salmon and fish for beef/chicken/lamb derivatives. Has anybody had experience of these foods over a period of time and found them benificial. I feed like Pat using ProPlan as an additive meal with meat or tripe. ProPlan manufacture a Salmon based meal for sensitive stomachs which my dogs love. Meals preserved with natural tocopherols (vit E) should be better than chemical additives or citric acid.
I, like Sharon, had dogs pre-kibble days, though non that had bloated (luckily). We fed wholemeal biscuit, which crumble rather than swelled,and meat or whole paunches that we spent hours washing, cutting, bagging and freezing. Also offal, which was cooked. I do think that dogs still bloated but it wasn't discussed as openly as it is now. I have never fed any of my dogs in an elevated position. I was always told that they gulped in too much air.
Could there be a common factor in the following diseases that have been known to affect Irish Setters: Bloat (GDV), Megaoesophagus (MO) and Ruptured Aorta?

In humans there is an illness called Ehlers-Danlos-Sydnrome, a connective tissue disorder affecting skin, tendons, ligaments. It has to do with a collagen disorder. Also the Marfan Syndrome affects tissue.
I googled the web for information and I found the following:

Two well known illnesses that can be associated with 'connective tissue disorders' in humans are Ehler Danlos with problems of joint, heart valves, organ walls, arterial walls, and Marfan Syndrome. Also mentioned is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus SLE.
I do not mean to say setters are affected by exactly these syndromes, I mention them as examples to show that 'connective tissue disorders' can have many faces and some are known and described in humans as illnesses with a genetic origin.

I feel it is worth keeping a broad view over the health problems in our breed and to ask ourselves if we are really just talking of 'individual problems' experienced by very unfortunate dogs and their owners or if this may be part of a larger picture. And thinking of the larger picture… Eyes showing haw, an increased tendency to throatiness, pendulous flews, flabby loose skin… These outward signs are not always limited to the visible, they may well find a continuation on the inside – possibly leading to above mentioned problems…

I voiced my suspicion on genetic forum that I am member of and had a reply by Martine Huslig who is a genetic councelor (human) and is a breeder of Briards. Her reply was as follows:

As a genetic counselor---when you speak of Marfan and Ehlers Danlos---you are definitely speaking my language. Do you see Megaoesophagus and ruptured aortas in Irish Setters? We don't that I am aware of but then I don't have the lines with bloat and not certain if I would be aware of these other issues---but suspect that I would have heard something. In speaking with vets---they will often say "how would GDV be genetic?" and certainly the anaolgy of Marfan always comes to mind. It was a well known genetic disorder based on the family histories.
Marfan and Ehlers Danlos are clearly genetic syndromes with their being multiple "types" of Ehlers Danlos. I believe the genes for some but not all of the forms of Ehlers Danlos have been isolated. SLE is an autoimmune condition which may have a genetic background.

Marfan is a genetic disorder with a typical familiar predisposition. When studies were done and the gene was isolated---it was found that the error in the gene affects a protein called elastin. Elastin is a component of body structures that stretch like ligaments, blood vessel walls etc. and put simply, those with Marfan have Elastin that is too stretchy. Hence they are EXTREMELY limber (hypermobil) etc. Since the aorta makes a U turn and receives a repeated pounding of blood heading for the lower extremities of the body---that weaker/streacher elastin of that blood vessel wall streaches over time --ultimately expanding so far that the aorta rips---a dissecting aortic aneurysm.

I like the Marfan anology because one it shows how once the gene is isolated you can understand what is causing the issues by understanding what the gene makes and how it functions. With Cystic Fibrosis--when the gene was isolated researchers learned that the gene was responsible for make a cellular salt ion channel. This understanding can lead to better treatments and hopefully one day a cure. Also given the defect in Marfan syndrome---it does seem plausible that internal structures that are too stretchy could play a role in GDV. Research has also speculated that the issue had to do with stomach emptying... Again as a genetic person---since there seem to be clear pedigrees that SHOULD make isolating a gene relatively straight forward---it makes sense to me to try to isolate the gene and then understand what it does in order to create better treatment/prevention...

Your point about genetic syndromes having many faces that may seem "different" is spot on and this seems to be something that people in dogs that I have dealt have a tough time conceptualizing. Two people with the same dominant genetic syndrome and one has polydactyly while the other has polydactyly plus abnormal kidneys... People in dogs seems to say--oh that must be polygenetic when a halmark of dominant genes is variability in expression (of course other genes could represent the reason for that variability---in humans we still call it a dominant genetic syndrome...)”

Here is a link to a Briard site by Martine Huslig referring to Bloat.
I found that the offspring of my bloat bitches, that didn't have bloat themselves, some had Epilepsy (though one turned out to be Encephalitis). I have always thought that the two problems go hand in hand, but there isn't any scientific evidence to connect the two.
Tammy, bless her, had a multitude of problems, one of which was, that she was allergic to, Chicken, Lamb and Gluten, this as you can imagine made feeding her very difficult, she ended up on a prescription diet of Salmon and Potato, horrendously expensive. I have to say that she did end up tolerating Chicken and Rice towards the end of her life, (she didn't die of any of the things that I have said here, she ended up with a rare blood disorder, and her poor hart was literally pumping water, no red or white cells, to speak of, being made, she had a platelet count of under 11) but that is another story...
The problem in this day and age is that we are told that we should be feeding a 'balanced' diet, it was back in the 'old days' when some of us started in dogs, 70/80's in my case, we got by with SA37 sprinkled on the food, and other like additives, we seemed to have healthy dogs, tripe was easy to get from the abattoir (BSE put the mockers on that) and we fed things like 'Terrier Meal' (biscuits that were just mixers) and sometimes Wilsons Meal if you were flush, (at the time it was expensive).. but as I said our dogs were basically healthy (apart from the bloat) but we fell guilty if we don't do the best for the dogs, ie kibble and yes it is easier to feed, and a small amount can give the dog all he or she needs in the way of vitamins and minerals, calculated for the weight of your dog. I just hope that the old adage of 'you get out what you put in' is correct, or I am spending far too much money on dog food....
Hi Dee,
I have not changed what I feed my dogs since I started having them in 1982.....so it is still raw tripe or beef ( sometimes with raw veg added) and basic terrier meal( Laughing dog which is baked wheat and does not increase in size when soaked). I only add to that ready dry kibble when they need to put on weight!




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