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Just joined this forum with a hope of finding some answers/solutions regarding the dreaded GDV in one of my setters. I have had setters for over 30 yrs and have never had a problem until now. My previous pair lived to 15yrs. I have 2  girls who are now 5yrs old (sisters) Sophie and Missy. Sophie is the larger of the two .I also have a 2yr old yorkshire terrier called Lucy. Last June Sophie started wretching, became unsettled, Lucy started barking at her and wouldn't stop.. Next thing her abdomen became bloated. Rushed her to the vets, which thankfully was about 3 mins in the car. She was operated on right away noting that she had torsion as well. The vet had decided not to do a gastropexy as he was quite confident it would not recur!.....Sophie made a speedy recovery..I changed her feeding to 3 times a day with kibble and a little tinned dog food and changed to feeding bowl from elevated to floor level. All was well until I took my girls on a trip in my motorhome (they love being in the motorhome) with my sister who also has a motorhome. This was in October. Same thing happened again, so got her to a vet within an hour. Again the stomach had torsion again and the vet also carried out a gastropexy....Again Sophie recovered amazingly well.

Then just over a week again it happened again!..( 11th Feb) .Poor Sophie has had 3 major abdominal operations in the space of 8 months. I am at my wits end !!!. I have stopped feeding her kibble and put her on Chappie with some lightly cooked fresh mince. I do know that she burps quite a lot (has always done this) and when she is settled in the evening has her paw in her mouth like a comforter...

I don't know what else I can do to prevent this happening again..



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Agree with you Trish, cooked food digests at a slower rate, wet food and kibble are cooked foods, therefore should be fed seperate to raw.  There should be a 5 hour gap if you must feed cooked, before feeding raw.  Raw passes through the system in approx 1 hour, kibble ferments gases build up,  if there is a weakness, hey presto bloat.

I feed only raw to mine.


we put our dogs on a raw diet after one of them bloated and have not had a problem, we also limit the amount they drink before and after feeding

Since putting Bess on raw she doesn't drink half the amount she used to as the moisture is contained in the food.  Got to be better than water slooshing round the stomach. 

Update on Sophie....I decided to take her to Edinburgh Dick Veterinary hospital to have a second opinion. They carried out ultrasound, x rays, barium test and an endoscopy. It was discovered that she has a motility problem in the the stomach does not empty normally. There was still some air in her stomach when they did the ultrasound scan. They use barium pellets with her morning meal and then take a series of x rays over 7 hours. The barium pellets were still in her stomach after 7 hours , in fact when I took her home on Friday she passed them at 5pm (had the barium on Thursday morning). It was decided to feed her a prescription low fat diet with Ranitidine 3 times a day....Now on week 3 of her diet and medication....I can't see anything different in her from before....she was fine after her previous 3 surgeries, so who knows if she will bloat again....

Disaster struck....I was away in for 24 hrs and was exhausted after a long drive home. I accidently left a bag of grapes that I brought in from the car on my kitchen counter...yep...unbeknown to me Sophie ate them!!! As I had fallen asleep I was unaware of this ...Panic set in ...I gave her some soda crystals and she promptly vomited up partially digested grapes. I then phone my vet and took her in. She has been on IV fluids for the past 24 + hours and seems ok.....I am so upset that I was so stupid to have left them in the kitchen...I just hope that she is ok....

Sending prayers across the pond for Sophie and you! Here's to a speedy recovery! -Kim

Shirley I'm reading what you wrote and feeling the pain and upset you are in. Try not to beat yourself up too much we have all left food out and at some point and they have stolen it too. Sophie is in the best place at the moment and is getting the best care, not too mention you have obviously gone to great lengths to help her with her bloat problem.
I'm amazed at how long the barium pellets took to pass, did they say why? Keep us ip to date on Miss Sophie....please and I'll keep you both in our thoughts. Dianne and Irish. X

The did say that her stomach was not emptying normally (slow motility) and that she still had air in her stomach. Now to my way of thinking is that is it because she lacks some digestive enzymes or is it because of lack of peristaltic motion in moving the food out of the stomach???.She has had no kibble for the past 4 weeks and she is fed a prescription low fat wet food diet with added lightly browned fresh meat. I am going to try her with added probiotics (introduce them slowly of course). The burping is associated with her licking herself, which i try to discourage by distraction which is not easy.

In relation to the ingestion of the grapes, she is doing well and is ''peeing for England'' the vet says....Her sister never steals food, but Sophie is always on the lookout for anything she can steal , she will even put her paws on the Aga cooker !!! she is such a determined dog, but so lovable....

Hi and welcome.  I know I am known as a raw food zealot by some, but my research and journey into understanding the pet food industry and the truth of what goes on, as well as my understanding of the digestive system all started with one of my first Irish Setters who bloated, and continued to bloat despite gastropexy. That was some 25 years ago and since then my research and knowledge of the digestive system has grown enormously,  I would strongly suggest a good quality raw food diet, along  with digestive enzymes as a way of helping your dog.  I know I have the support of people like Dr. Jean Dodds with this, but many things are pointing towards there being a weakness in the nervous system which in its simplist form prevents the stomach operating in the manner which it should.  Dr. Jean Dodds believes there is a connection to hypothyroidism there, however, I strongly believe there is a problem with malabsorption which can cause a major breakdown of a great many other things other than the operation of the stomach.  One of my current Setters has serious issues related to malabsorption. She hasn't bloated, but her mother did, and died as a result.

Right back in the days of my bloating dog, I read that digestive enzymes could possibly help. I searched high and low for them but couldn't obtain any. The vet wouldn't prescribe them because she didn't think (at that time) there could be a malabsorption problem.  She too has changed her opinion, and would strongly recommend them now.  I haven't got time to go into it here, because I could write an entire book on the subject, but if there is an underlying issue here, dry food will certainly not help. In fact it will make matters worse, for the simple reason that the stomach has to work a darned sight harder to digest a dry, highly processed food, which often contains species inappropriate ingredients. There is also the gut/brain connection which has been known about for a while which adds weight to the fact that what goes in to the stomach can affect the entire working of the nervous system.  Add to this recent information on anti-biotics.  I am well ahead of the game on what has been put out into the media, as I have a close relative working at the cutting edge of research on this.  It has been known for years that bloaters have some very dark and weird bacteria in their guts which may well have been increased by the use of anti-biotics in the past. Anti-biotics kill off good bacteria. I think everyone knows that, but what many people don't understand is that it replaces the good by some extremely weird stuff, which attracts other nasty bacteria to join it.   The balance between good and bad is non existent in these cases.  It is mostly bad.   Adding dry foods into these conditions is inviting problems, more or less leaving an open door for all kind of things to happen.

I had a one of  my friendly' fireside chats' with my vets last week, and one of them said "oh that's interesting, ** one of the receptionists takes probiotics every day and she is never ill". I am going a step further. I have started fermenting food and eating that.  I am also putting very small amounts into my dogs food so that I am putting a massive amount of  probiotic into their diet, a level which cannot be reached through processed probiotics.

Therefore I strongly suggest good quality raw food, combined with digestive enzymes and probiotics, and home fermented is best if you want to go that far, but if not, anything is better than nothing. However, a word of caution.  Start any probiotics off in very small amounts, because if they are of good quality, then it could create a crisis as the bad bacteria start fighting off the new stuff you are trying to put in, and they will, because the bad stuff want to survive ! If you start off in very small amounts and then increase over the coming weeks, it will help.

You say your dog burps. Burping and nasty smelling farts are a good indication that there is some weird bacteria around which are releasing gases.

I hope that you can turn this all around.  If you can find a good integrative vet (that is one who will use natural remedies as well as pharmaceuticals) they will know what I am saying is where research is taking us, and can help support you and your dog.  You will also find that homeopathic vets can help support you with this as well, so well worth seeking one out if you can.   With a bloating dog, I would strongly suggest that you do get one of these kind of vets to guide and give you support to do this. I am fortunate enough to have one with my current girl's issues and it really does make a difference to know that she is there, and right up to speed with what current research is telling us, which many conventional vets aren't. Many are stuck and don't keep up to speed unless they specialize and start thinking more outside of the box. Before anyone jumps on me for this, one of the conventional vets at the practice I was talking to last week said "we have got to start thinking more outside of the box, and we feel we are starting to do this". 

Good luck (written in memory of Kille Setter.  Much loved, and suffered greatly in his day)

Hi Shirley,

I was saddened to read your story about poor Sophie. We were Canagan’s owners and as you may have read went through similar experiences.

One of the contributors to this forum mentioned Prof Hall and he is without doubt an expert on the subject. It is also worthwhile getting in contact with one of the breed clubs and additionally reading the information on the website www.irishsetterhealth.info/content/bloat

There is differing opinion about feeding using a raised bowl and there is statistical information that suggests it isn’t a good idea .We stopped feeding kibble as, although it appeared a good idea because of being able to reduce the volume of food, it takes far longer to digest and expands in size during the initial digestive process. We used a wet food (still do) and fed 4-5 times every day ensuring the food was eaten as slowly as possible.

We gave Canagan both Windeeze and Zantac (much cheaper to buy the generic version!) which helped. Importantly we avoided “stressful” situations. We had to read the signs as his stressful times weren’t always what we thought might or should be. Plus the IS temperament is quite perceptive to stress and tension around them and that never helped if for example there was a household argument!

I personally don’t think the problem can be cured although one reads of many instances where a Gastropexy seems to sort it once and for all. One can only learn to manage the situation and it is to a degree by trial and error as we all differ in approach and our animals all differ in shape and temperament.

On the contrary Fran, I believe you hit the proverbial nail on the head. I feel it is all of the medical professions that need to think outside the box. Today's medicine has a cookie cutter response which is responded to by throwing meds at the symptoms without looking for the underlying cause. If the problem doesn't fit a given response, usually the closest thing will do or off to one of so many different specialists. It forces one to become one's own doctor of sorts. Of course this only goes so far and is impossible with an animal. Do research on any subject and you can always find a study to contradict any other study. It all leads to confusion and for one to try to be as educated as possible and hope that one is doing the best for any situation. I am speaking in vague terms but I am sure people will understand my point.

Bloat is one of my worst fears as one of my boys in the past did go through it. He acted strangely lying under a shrub when I returned from work and started swelling shortly thereafter. I was fortunate I had a vet at the time who took nearly 3-4hrs to save his life. He sadly died of cancer a year later.

I am fortunate now that I have a vet who is willing to think outside the box and actually left a well established practice because of their rigid thinking. I plan to speak in depth with her. I was hoping you could explain for me what you mean by "good quality raw food". I am not versed on this. I feed my guys a very high quality kibble and take precautions where I can but I'm sure everyone here will agree that Shirley's story is our collective worst nightmare. Thank you for your well thought out and extensive response on this.

Hi Rob. Oh that's what happened to Kille Setter.  I found him under the shrubs looking like he was hallucinating. The vet I contacted at the time wrote on his card "owner says dog is hallucinating.  What do I know? I am only a vet?" !!!!  A week later poor Kille had the full torsion.  He was probably hallucinating actually, when you consider the amount of endorphines he would have been producing at the time.

With regards to research, I am really lucky that I do have a microbiologist in the family, and also some very good vet friends who give me additional advice and support when required.  Medicine is a total minefield, not only with regards to the amount of contradictory research out there, but also with regards to agendas, some personal as well as the corporate one's of course.

A good quality raw diet must consist of fresh meat, organ meat and plenty of bone.  There are a lot of people selling raw pet food now, and the quality of it really leaves something to be desired.  One company we investigated the food was heaving with maggots and flies the size I never knew existed.  I wouldn't feed that rubbish to anything other than flies.   I think Andy Benstead has posted up some pictures on the raw food forum on this site which will give an idea of the type of thing and quality you would be looking for. There is a a lot of information on http://http://www.rawmeatybones.com/


Could you double check that link please. It won't come up.Thanks,





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