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Hi Everyone,

I'm reaching out to the Irish Setter community, as my girl Carly, who just turned 12 y/o this past Christmas is having something of a tough time - She has lost 20 pounds over the past 9 months, going form 88 lbs. to her current 66 lbs (she has always been a big girl).  She is almost totally off her food, and has had pretty serious acid reflux since last August - She is being treated for the past 2 weeks with Pepsid AC, Prilosec and a med for potential ulcers - She has 3 superlative vets monitoring her, and over the past month they have done x-rays, blood & urine tests, and most recently an ultrasound - All of these were cross-checked by her vets, and they are all clean, they can't find anything wrong - It is something of a mystery, and we are baffled because, despite her weight loss/lack of appetite (anorexic), she is still spirited, generally healthy for a 12 y/o, walking twice a day and acting like a  typical Setter.    

I'm at wit's end trying to get her to eat, I've tried wet dog & cat food, dry cat food, boiled chicken, boiled beef liver, anything just to get her to eat - she will initially take some, but only a handful and then turns away - She is getting thinner by the day, and won't be around much much longer if the trend continues - The vets mentioned it may a hidden cancer they can't detect, or simply a serious case of Acid reflux which is causing so much discomfort in her esophagus, that it's too painful to eat - they prescribed Tramadol pain reliever for that, but she doesn't do well with pain meds

Has anyone experienced this unusual situation with their current or prior Setters??  Any holistic/homeopathic suggestions??  I appreciate any and all advice as I just don't know what to do anymore, and she will have to be put down if the situation gets worse.  Thank you for any advice, it is greatly appreciated.


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I was told by another vet after having a second opinion for my girl that anabolic steroids given to a dog who has not eaten much food for longer than a month was asking for trouble as the dog will temporarily eat as though it hasn't seen food for a while (which my dog did) and the stomach can't cope which causes more problems than the dog started with. They may well be suitable to kick start the appetite of a dog recovering from some other illnesses but not for dogs with gastric/acid problems.

Thanks.......I'm chilled :)

Hi Tom

I'm no expert so won't even try to give some advice but just wanted to let you know that we are all here to support you and hope you find an answer to poor Carly's problem. Would be interested to know on whether any of the advice given works, I just have a fussy setter who goes off her food after eating it for weeks and then won't touch it for days, I have tried so many different makes, flavour's etc..

Kerry did not react well to anabolic steroids either. Likewise with a enzyme powder. The soothing nature of slippery elm has worked for Kerry. When discussing it with my vet he had used a very long time ago, but had slipped his memory. We are happy to keep it going as it has worked for my Kerry. Hope something works for her soon.

Hi Tom, just sending my best wishes to you and Carly and hope she starts eating and feeling better soon

Hi, distressing situation for both you and Carly.   Whenever my dogs were out of sorts and none of them as dramatic as Carly's, I took all food away for 24 hours after which I would offer them plain live natural yogurt, not flavoured or coloured just PLAIN LIVE.   As suggested by other setter lovers, smear it onto her paws, pour some into a saucer, and let her lap it up.  By removing any offering of food for a period of times gives you both time to de-stress about food.   Offer her the yogurt whilst she is relaxed, say on the couch or wherever she happily sleeps or relaxes.   This will give her the idea that it is pleasurable and she may regain her interest.  Things like boiled fish (check for bones obviously), chicken, well cooked scrambled egg are all bland but nutrional.  I would avoid anything with a strong smell initially because that may start any cramps or excess saliva production which she may find unpleasant.

Let her have free access to water but the water from the boiled chicken/fish could be cooled and offered to her as a start and as a substitute for the water.  She will let you know if she is interested and if not then put her water down.

The vets are trying their best and hopefully they will be successful.  Just a thought, they have checked for splinters in her mouth/throat, any bad teeth, and the roof of her mouth????   My dalmation suddenly developed a huge lump under her chin, it was aspirated and was clear and puzzled everyone.  The vet decided to knock her out and the problem was a rotten tooth, Tots had shown no symptons like ear scratching or head shaking, rubbing her head, nothing but the vet said it must have been painful.  The swelling seemed to be an excess of saliva that had accumulated under her chin.

Our dogs are so vulnerable at times like these aren't they, good luck.

Thanks to all who offered their support and feedback!!!

By way of update, I tried the Slippery Elm as recommended by Rhonda (Thanks!) and, without being premature, it is nothing less than miraculous!!  As advised by a reputable Holistic Vet on her website, I made a concoction of 1 Tbsp. Slippery Elm, mixed with 11 oz. of water - simmer like tea 20 minutes on stove, let cool and it turns into a gruel like substance - then administer 1/3 cup 4 times a day down Carly's throat, which she handles gracefully - I started this Friday night at 7 p.m. - By 9 p.m. that night she was eating!!, the incessant acid reflux regurgitation was all but gone, and since then it is almost entirely gone - She has eaten 3-4 smaller meals each day since then, and is eating boiled chicken, moist /dry cat food and dog food both, her favorite treat which is extra sharp cheddar cheese, and anything else I offer her - she is also hydrating well with water too, and I also am giving her Nutrical, a temporary caloric/fat supplement paste for a few days -

I'm not saying we are totally out of the woods, but she is 98% better in short time, and this Slippery Elm is absolutely amazing stuff, a true Christmas/New Year miracle!!!!!- I'm sure it was the constant acid burn straining her stomach/esophagus over the past month which is why she was way off her food! She is snoozing comfortably after her late breakfast, and morning walk!!  I am very grateful for all your support, feedback and concern - I pray this trend continues in the positive direction it is tracking!!  Thanks again to all, and thank you Rhonda for bringing Slippery Elm to my attention - It is my personal belief now that Pepsid AC, and Prilosec can't touch this stuff, and Holistic/alternative healing is powerful stuff!!  

Regards, Tom

So happy for you to read the above.....let us pray for this New Year miracle to continue! :-)

SOooooooooo pleased with your news, wonderful start to the new year for you. Still keeping everything crossed for you. HAPPY NEW YEAR. <:0)

Fantastic, let us know how she progresses.

Wonderful news Tom, when all else fails we seem to try the alternatives and more after than not they offer our fur friends relief. So very pleased for you and I imagine your setter will be more at ease too. Slippery elm sounds like a wonderful holistic approach Rhonda, I'm jotting that down to keep in case I may need it. Take care

Wonderful news Tom. I am so happy it has worked for Carly too. Big hugs to her from Kerry and I.




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