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Barkley was absolutely terrible. He would go off his food for days at a time, then when his appetite returned he would only pick his way through very specific things, and if those things weren't offered, he would just walk away from his bowl with a real look of disgust.

After a couple of bouts of sickness, and vet checks where I expressed my concern that he was starting to show the same symptoms as Tallulah, they found nothing at all wrong - they said. I was told that his blood results were all perfectly normal and no, you are over reacting because of Tallulah!

I know, I know, I should have demanded to see the results.   In the meantime, Barkley had turned into Mr. Pencil man as he was so thin.  However, eventually one of the emergency vets discovered (here we go again) a mild pancreatic abnormality.  His blood results were indeed flagging issues, despite the lazy medicine of the others who just overlooked the slight dip in certain markers.

Anyway the upshot of all this is that I bunged him on the same digestive enzymes as Tallulah. Now for months Barkley has wolfed down just about everything put in front on him (apart from tripe) and has licked the bowl clean, AND come to me looking for more. When I have given him more he was so stuffed that he started complaining of tummy ache, so I think I know now just how much he needs (despite all the looks of "I'm still starving mum). 

Now he wolfs down his food, he looks stunning. Lovely weight and whats more, no more trips to the vet with bouts of sickness or any other symptoms.  His last visit to the vets was September last year which was related to bee stings! 

He has now lost the title.... Mr. Picky. If your dog is fed a very good species appropriate diet, and is being very picky, has regular gastric upsets which the vet can find no cause for, give those enzymes a try.  Likewise you may be amazed by the results, and save some of your money disappearing into your vets account.

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It is interesting with our dogs. I brought some digestive enzymes after they were mentioned on ES a while ago. Tried Kerry on these and had a terrible reaction to them. A while ago the vet gave me a sample to try on Kerry and again the same reaction. It was the same product when I read the label. I have now crossed these off my boys list of possibles. It is great that Barkley had such a good response to them. If you were closer Fran I could drop off a very expensive little bucket of digestive enzymes. I would love to swap it for a container of Protexion. This is a probitotic that is helpful for Kerry. Murphy continues to have a no fuss, eat anything he can get attitude. Our boys are so different even though they are litter brothers. Need all the ES hints to keep one step ahead of these Selective Setters.

Oh dear.  Some dogs seem unable to take the porcine and do better on bovine or even vegetable digestive enzymes.  Enzymes should be available in all foods,but because of cooking processes, or even poor quality meat sources they are not as available to our dogs as they should be. I read that its more important for dogs to have the enzymes than humans because of the difference in our digestive system. Our digestion commencing in the mouth, with dogs it commences in the stomach.   It sounds like Kerry has an issue with the source of the enzymes. Maybe a true food allergy?

I wish you lived closer too Rhonda. I would really do with your little bucket. I suppose it would cost a fortune to ship if I were to pay the shipping costs?

Fran....maybe you should try feeding a high quality dry dog food......I never have problems with digestion or anything else with my dogs....no need to add enzymes......fit as fleas they are :)

Actually Torie, there is a great deal of evidence that dry foods require digestive enzymes as the natural enzyme content has been totally destroyed during the cooking process, which is dry extrusion. This means that the food has been cooked as torturously high temperatures and even the structure of the dna and amino acids will have been altered.  In other words, its canine junk food! Sorry, but that's the way it is.  Its rather like saying I know an obese 104 year old who has stuffed McDonalds all her life, smoked 40 a day and is still going strong.

This evidence that dry foods require digestive been around for years. I first came across it via Volhard and Brown (1995) and I would suggest that there is another reference for this in their book, which predates this.

All dry foods are species inappropriate and are more likely to cause problems over the course of time if there is a fault existing in the dog in the first place. My first setter who developed a malabsorption issue (same lines) was actually fed on what is considered (even by the pet trade) to be the best dry food available (James Wellbeloved). He became so ill on this that he became anorexic and had to be hospitalized on a drop.  and it was changing from this, to a natural which actually helped him to pick up into an almost normal existence. Had he been given the enzymes, I am sure he would have been totally reversed, but I didn't know about them in those days. Even the vet who treated him, and who also initially screwed up with Tallulah, has totally changed her opinion.  She is now totally convinced that there is a problem in some Irish Setters, which stems from malabsorption, and she now recommends all the supplements Tallulah and Barkley are now both having to dogs who have the same metabolic disorders.   This was indeed one of the reasons I have switched from Reds to the Red and White Setter.   DaisyMae (red and white) is one extremely healthy girl, who rarely ever sees the vet. Her condition is far better than any dog who is fed dry food, and the most recent vet who saw her (not in a professional capacity) said "What a stunning looking dog, what wonderful condition she is in, just look at her coat. I won't even ask what you feed her, because its so obvious its not what we recommend" Now what does that say?

In fact..... since Barkley (red) has been on the enzymes, the only vet he has seen is the same one who comes to my training classes with her dog and sometimes comes walkies with us.  His coat too is fantastic, dripping natural gloss, and he now is incredibly fit.   I know that if he had not had those enzymes, and was fed a dry food, he would have gone down much faster (as Nalle did with James Wellbeloved) and he probably would have been at the very least hypothyroid by now.  How do I know this?  because there was obviously a genetic weakness in the pancreas, and his digestive system would have to have worked MUCH harder to digest a dehydrated food.  I believe it takes 12 hours for dry food to finish digesting in a dog, compared to 4 hours with natural raw and hydrated foods?  Does this mean I am pro ALL raw feeding? absolutely not.  If its not done properly then it can be equally as dangerous and damming.

Also the nutritionist at Queens vet school Cambridge checked out the food I give my guys and even she said I couldn't do better ...... except even she didn't pick up on the enzyme issue.  That came down to the Polish vet at the emergency center and also Dr. Karen Becker........ I only wish I had taken notice of Volhard and Brown years ago !

Not all dry dog food is cooked at high temperatures now Fran, some are cold pressed. You advocate the raw meat diet and yet it seems to me that your dogs are doing no better on it than, infact less better, than my dogs fed on dry food plus leftover meat and veg.  I don't give my dogs any supplements whatsoever and the last time I visited the vets was 3 years ago for my pup to be vaccinated. My last girl who died was only 6 weeks short of her 15th birthday and only visited the vet once in her lifetime.  My past setters (10 of them) never helped to make the vet rich either.

People should look at what else they pump into their dogs such as the over use of vaccines as well as flea and worm treatments.  It's no good feeding a decent diet and then poisoning your dog with chemicals.

I'm not a follower of a certain website or anyone who preaches on it..... Apparently big bucks are made through this hype.

You are lucky Torie that you haven't got a dog who has acquired a condition. As I said, my dogs in the past, from the same lines, did no better at all on dried food, in fact they fared worse.  I even lost one from bloat, and if you had been there at the time his stomach was opened up it would have been a real eye opener as to what dried food can do. His stomach was totally blocked and the stench of fermentation was overwhelming.  Unfortunately, when I got these reds, I was nowhere near as savvy about certain things coming down the lines. I would never get another red from the lines I have had previously.  What I can say is that Tallulah's dam died from bloat, and her sire was diagnosed hypothyroid and neither of them were fed what my current dogs are as they didn't belong to me.

Another thing I will also make clear is that DaisyMae has no additives in her food. I put a tiny amount of enzymes in with her food, but there is nothing in her physiology which suggests she actually needs them. Barkley only has the enzymes, Tallulah has a lot of additives, as her body needs them and they have actually saved her life.  Like her dam she would have had a premature death.  One thing I will NOT accept is being blamed by anyone for creating my dogs health problems when I have gone to the ends of the earth to plug the holes and stop them from taking over.  I had enough of all that crap from the vets years ago and was then told that it was because I fed James Wellbeloved and not Hills Science Diet !!!! I think the breed club really need to get a handle on this malabsorption thing coming down certain lines and make it as clear as hip issues PRA CLAD. As the malsorption issues could also be the reason why we have a lot of bloaters !!!! Hence one of my dogs dying from this, and also Tallulah's mother,.

Hi Torie. I must say my dogs are raw fed and are 100% fit and healthy. They never have chemicals for flea and tick prevention, in fact they never have any chemicals if they can be avoided. We use natural methods.

When you say "High quality dog food", I must point out it is only high quality due to advertising. All commercial dog foods are only a substitute for real dog food. All dogs and owners are different and what is good for one may not be good for another, so I do understand that some people are not willing to try raw feeding.

I fail to understand why so many people still feed commercial foods when they have been recalled so many times. I treat each recall as a warning to avoid that product. Many of the ingredients in branded dog food would turn your stomach, but obviously not all of them are that bad.

I have found that many of the people against raw feeding know nothing about it and are not interested in learning about it. I tell these people that ignorance is bliss.

The whole dog food industry is geared to make money and they do that very well indeed.

I understand that everyone has a choice when it comes to feeding their dogs, but feel it is a shame that most make the wrong choice. Commercial dog food is not the best thing to feed to our dogs.


I also think that if peoples dogs are experiencing a genetic predisposition to malabsorbing and are failing badly, regardless of what they are being fed, then anything which has spared them from suffering or to help reverse the effects of these conditions can only be good for those particular dogs and should be worth looking into if you are like myself and want to help my dogs reach optimum health.  All I am doing is offering those who may be in a similar situation the chance to give the things which have worked for my dogs a try. If it works for them great. If not, then its back to the drawing board for them. Simple. If other people cannot handle that, because they are NOT in this position then its tough titties in all honesty.

Lesson learned for me is that any Setter I have in future will not be from the lines where clearly there is a problem. As I have said throughout, some of those old dogs were fed so called good quality dried foods and STILL had the problem, ie Purina, Eukanuba, Hills ID, and James Wellbeloved.  Tallulah was fed Nature Diet, and she still developed the condition.  Barkley started developing the same issue on raw food, but this has been nipped right in the bud by the enzymes. 

Sooooooo if anyone cannot handle this fact its tough tits. To me, dogs and their needs come first.

Oh and whilst I am at it, for those who don't believe there is something genetic going on, the last I heard Tallulah's brother (who will be Barkley's first cousin) was extremely poorly with an auto-immune condition, fed commercial (so called good quality dry food prescribed by his vet). I am not sure he is still alive as I have not heard from his mum for about a year.  Tallulah's 1/2 sister (who goes back into same line as Barkley) was extremely poorly, his mum contacted me and she too ended up going to Queens in Cambridge, diagnosed with same condition. Was fed commercial diet, now raw fed and like Tallulah and Barkley doing very well. So come on, how the hell can I be responsible for causing my dogs health issues because they are raw fed.  Wake up Setter people, there is a problem and if your dog has these issues, don't rely upon standard veterinary treatment, because unless they are like Caroline, my dogs vet, who has obviously encountered these issues and has seen it in other reds  (indeed I know one she is currently treating locally), they aren't going to know what is going on or how to treat it and like myself you will end up going round in circles and possibly watching your dogs slow demise. 

Oh yesssssss and another thing...... Tallulah's 1/2 sister.  I was down to purchase this girl myself, but the breeder decided I ought to have one of her boys instead, and sold the girl to someone else.  Supposing I had made that purchase..... she too would have come to me with the same condition developing....... I wonder what would have been said by some then !!!! Thankfully I had just started to learn more about genetic issues then and thankfully went else where and purchased a bitch who has turned out to be beautifully healthy.   Gooooooooo figure !!!!!!

Fran...going on what you have written here, don't you think the problems lie in the bloodlines ?

I agree, most commercial dog food is utter crap but there are a few good ones out there.

Some times there is one more factor in the mix of the which food debate. More important than a perception that if you don't feed raw you don't know anything about it. A very independant Irish that just won't eat it. Does not like the smell and just walks away. The same goes for dry food as well. That is why you can take a opened bag back if the dog does not like it. I find it a little funny with the dedication to one way or the other. What ever works for your dog, in your situation is not going to always work for my dog. I have litter brothers, chalk and cheese as far as body type, attitude to food and exercise. Everyday I experience what works for one does not always work for the other. If I need to add something and Kerry accepts it, then it will be added. You can lead a stubborn Irish to a food bowl but you cannot make him eat. Assist with things that make them comfortable such as slippery elm, enzymes, yogurt etc. Then feel happy when your independant Irish eats what he likes to eat for the moment. It is a bit like liver, tell me it is good but the smell and texture of it make me dry retch, yet Phil loves it. Covering it with yogurt and giving me slippery elm is never going to make me eat liver. I am sure we all have a similar experience, so does my dog.




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