Exclusively Setters

Home for Irish Setter Lovers Around the World

Hello all,

I'm hoping someone with some more knowledge of this breed can help me figure out what's going on with our pup, Sawyer. He's about 2 1/2 and has had digestion problems since we first got him. In the past year it has gotten much worse. He started to develop what looked like staph infections. We brought him to our vet at the time and it seemed they did everything to send the price up. The gave him anti-fungal shampoos, antibiotics, probiotics, antacids, yadayadayada. It didn't work. His hair was starting to fall out. We had a friend with a vet practice and decided to have him check out a new doctor. They thought it was allergies and started him on a hypoallergenic diet-- Hills Z/D. They also did a skin scraping and found staph so they put him on antibiotics. We all have staph on us all the time, so this seemed like a bit of a scam to me. The hypoallergenic food smelled really rich and had very large kibbles. It gave him bloat and GDV, luckily I caught it right away, brought him in to the vet, and he had surgery. Surgery is about $4,000. After that I decided to diagnose him myself. I dropped the antibiotics, bought a grain-free and chicken-free food, a homeopathic cream for spot treatment of bumps and lesions, within a week he looked significantly better. His hair grew back, he itched less, then he got worse again. He started throwing up, then started throwing up blood, then immediately afterwards was having the same effect on the back end. This was not pink, it was dark and thick. Obviously we brought him back to the vet again. They put him on a medley of pills including antibiotics, anti-nausea, antidiarrheal, probiotics, and antacids. They also gave him bland wet food that had grain in it. The blood stopped but the skin issues flared up again. I transitioned him back to his normal food. More blood--not as bad. Back to the wet food. No more signs of bleeding. After I ran out of cans I bought him a novel protein-- Kangaroo and red lentil. He liked it at first, then threw up after eating, then shied away from it in caution, then started eating it again. He's not crazy about it but is digesting it well. Though, he has thrown it up twice. He's still itching, but not as much. What to do... any comments or input would be a huge help. This dog is my shadow. He's high anxiety and can be a little terror if he doesn't get enough exercise, but he's the sweetest dog. I just can't afford these vet bills that seem to be just money pits with no results.

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Ah Kombucha.  Strangely enough I have just ordered some from the evolution organics site. I will let you know what I think. I was making water kefir last summer and it was soooo refreshing. At that time my friend started brewing her own kombucha and is absolutely made about it.  When she is finished with the scobies (scoobies?) whatever they are called she gives them to her dogs who gobble them up.  I am going to try the bottle from evolution organics and if I like it I will ask Mia to send me over some scobies (or whatever they are) so that I can make my own. If that's the case then I will give them to my dogs to finish up too.

I read today on a fb forum that another one has gone over the bridge, sounded like the same problem  :-( evidently my friend knows that dog well and she is just texting me about him at the moment :-( So sad, but I am sure that a lot of Irish have this problem. Starts off as puppies with digestive issues, and then becomes hypothyroidism, auto-immune diseases, and many other issues as the body starts to break down :-(

Hi  Fran! I was trying to find out your suggested enzymes, but it looks to me that they are not sold anymore in the uk.. are you still buyng them? if so, from where?

thanks and all the best! Silvia

Your right Fran....for the sake of our endearing breed, research needs to be done!! May the Shamrocks fall softly on this Irish soul that's crossed the bridge...they are in my thoughts x

Here we go again :-( 

I don't care who this upsets because I have been there, got the tee-shirts, and if any one should have an honoury doctorate in this subject for the amount of time, effort and research I have put into this I should be at the top of the list. One thing for sure, unless I get a red dog out of the Irish Red and White Setter outcross programme (as at this stage of the programme some of the puppies in the litters come out red) I will not have another red!!! The health problems in this breed are getting as bad - if not as bad as with GSD's, another breed I once owned and loved.  As I say, I don't care one tiny iota who this upsets because some people on this list truly need  to get their blinkers and blindfolds off because your ego's mean more than the welfare of the breed.  But as I say your ego's mean absolutely nothing to me!

I am now about to embark on a course of integrative nutrition. The course is about humans, but equally applies to the metabolism of dogs too. If you get the right nourishment into the dog, the body WILL heal itself.  Simple? No. Not with Setters and not always with humans (again write from personal experience).  Firstly assuming your dog is able to metabolise good nutrition. Species appropriate nutrition is absolutely ESSENTIAL on getting things right, and  this consists of a good quality raw meat and bone diet (for dry zealots, read the article I posted some months ago about the dangers of feeding dry - oh why do I bother, because you suffer cognitive dissonance anyway - you are like smokers who try and justify things by saying things like Auntie Maud smoked 60 a day and lived to be 150!!!!). If you feed dehydrated food - you get a dehydrated dog. I cannot be any other way. Soaking dry food does NOT rehydrate things back  to the natural water content.  Also the quality of the proteins are damaged.  Dry foods destroy digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes are essential to absorb nutrition.  Your dog will use it's own pancreatic enzymes, therefore less absorption and put great pressure on it's pancreas (hence the reason we read about so many dogs suffering pancreatitis).  Vets are trained in nutrition - by whom ?  Hills, Iams and the other corporate rubbish,  they  do NOT receive independent nutritional training.  Clever marketing!!! The last people I would go to for nutritional advice are vets and doctors, unless like myself they have done proper research on nutrition and metabolism.

Let's assume your Setter is one of those who has the additional problem - malabsorption.  This means that all the nutrients from a good quality raw food will still not produce the results you want because they are flushed out, or mis-stored by the dogs digestive system, with very little reaching the cells. Without going right into  the biochemistry, your dog ends up failing still.  With my malabsorbing Setters I have had to add enzymes into their food. There was a good one which Mercola Healthy Pets were selling, but because demand has well outstripped the supply, they are having problems, and the website has listed it as being out of stock for some months.  I have had to source other enzymes, and then play around with the amounts to help my dogs to remain on track.  I am currently using Panzym.  The pancreatic issue with Setters appears to show up in blood results as LOW 'norma'l, which means that vets often dismiss it as being normal, when in fact it isn't. What I am finding with my two red dogs is that they need a small amount of the enzymes, to assist with digestion.  With that in place, they are in vibrant health.  Even my old girl who almost died at the age of 8. She is an absolute fighter - but only when I provide the things her body needs to give her that power.

The other sticking point.  Once they have had antibiotics,  they kill off ALL bacteria - including the healthy stuff which is absolutely essential for good digestion AND a healthy immune system. A high regular dose of a good quality probiotic is absolutely essential. This also applies to humans who have been treated with antibiotics. This is science from  the cutting edge now, the research which is coming out about this is developing by the day now.  One thing I know from changing my own health issues is that without healthy gut bacteria, all the enzymes, and other things you add - still won't work. I have gone a step further - like a growing number of pet parents I am reading comments from on raw forums - I am adding Kefir into my dogs diets. I make it myself.  I also drink it myself, and the results after 2 years of  my drinking it have been startling!!!!  Flu vaccinations? forget them. I shook a flu attack off in 5 days with very minor symptoms whilst everyone else around me was dying, coughing, throwing up, etc.

Once the body is working  properly, and doing what it has evolved to do, then it starts to repair and strengthen itself. I also know that there is some powerful probiotic work going on with some cancer patients volunteers at the moment - and the early results again have been startling. I will say no more about this because it is early day stuff and already the drug companies are preparing themselves to start shouting that this is all quackery (because they cannot patent the product AND will be cheaper to produce - hence less profit for them).

So what are we looking at?

Good quality species appropriate raw food..

A healthy gut.  Probiotic (powders will help, but do not provide the amount and type of bacteria which cultured foods/drinks do).

A small amount of digestive enzymes to help absorb those nutrients once they are inside.   In fact, some raw food companies are selling probiotic and enzymes because even the raw foods (through mass production) are loosing enzymes. 

In the UK


On the other side of the pond, the Mercola Healthy Pets Digestive enzymes are good but not available. There are other products. You will have to trawl around for similar. The important ingredients are the enzymes and probiotics.

Hi fran
Just a question : which brand of enzymes do you recommend now days that mercola is not available ? Thanks a lot silvia
Brilliant Fran, just brilliant!! I use australian company Natural Animal Solutions Digestavite Plus...my Flame still is kicking goals after I changed him to raw when he suffered GDV....as I've said before, wish I'd known what I knew years ago. Thank you. :))

Good on you Fran for continuing to share your experiences and knowledge to try to help others. ES appears to have changed now. It has been some time since ES members have been attacked for sharing their point of view.

I have been researching health and nutrition since 1971, initially because I was a carer of human family members with serious and life threatening health problems. I have been caring for a dog since prior to 1971 so understandably I applied the knowledge I gained to improve the health of my dogs. I take responsibility for my own health. My animal children depend on me so I have always believed that it is also my responsibility to carry out research or whatever is necessary to prevent them from becoming ill. Unfortunately purebred dogs are prone to some terrible diseases and no amount of preventative health maintenance can stop these diseases from occurring.

What is of primary importance is obtaining the correct diagnosis. Without this, one can spend tens of thousands of dollars on nutrition, drugs and natural treatment, like myself, and your dog, e.g. my English Setter, Hobson continues to deteriorate and inevitably ends up with chronic disease issues.

Hobson has had two ongoing health issues, neither of which were accurately diagnosed by any vet, “holistic” or non-“holistic” since 2009. I will discuss Hobson's “skin” problems. The cause has finally been determined as Demodectic Mange. Never once was this mentioned to me by any of the vets (6). On Hobson’s clinical history report that was provided to me in 2014, it was written by one of these vets that a mite test was done. If this was to determine if Hobson did have Demodex mites, the test was not done properly!

Prior to Hobson’s admission to the University hospital, the previous vet diagnosed Hobson with “Malassezia” and said he had an over-abundance of “bad” yeast in his digestive system which was coming through his skin. This diagnosis was not correct. The treatment he prescribed for Hobson was understandably also not correct. Hobson did not require the “host” of natural supplements he prescribed which included enzymes and probiotics. Hobson needed to have the Demodex mites eradicated from his body and he also needed antibiotics to treat a long-term undiagnosed bacterial infection, which later developed into Septasemia!

I caution dog owners in the use of powdered probiotics. These can cause a great deal of harm, as happened with Hobson. Just because something is natural does not mean it will not cause harm. I have developed a very good relationship with the Director of an Australian company who sold me this probiotic recommended by a “holistic” vet. It was not his fault because Hobson had never been diagnosed correctly.

Hobson required high level doses of antibiotics from 14 May 2014 until end October 2014. I chose not to give Hobson any type of probiotic powder. Instead I fed Organic Green Tripe to Hobson which is a natural food form of probiotic. Hobson’s digestive system coped very well after the antibiotics were ceased.

Hobson has been doing very well, except for his neck,spinal/pelvic/hind leg issues, until this month. I thought it might have been the hot, humid weather but unfortunately the Demodex mites have returned. Interestingly they have targeted his spine, which is one of his most vulernable areas. Hobson needs to be given the off-label Sheep drench, Ivomectin again. This in itself can compromise Hobson’s immune system, but there is no other option now, and I continue to be hopeful that one day we can beat this terrible disease caused by Demodex mites. Unfortunately in Australia the “holistic” vets are worse than the other ones. Their diagnostic skills are atrocious.

Every dog is unique and has his or her own “history” which needs to be understood. Getting the right diagnosis in the first place is critical.

By the way, Hobson has also suffered GDV because of the shocking side effects of the drug, Prednisone which were ignored by the treating vet who also insisted Hobson’s diet be changed from a natural diet to Hills Vet Science z/d dried food. I never imagined until this time that a vet could be so misinformed and incompetent. This vet was English and knew the English Setter breed. He must also have known that the English Setter breed is vulnerable to GDV. Needless to say, the Veterinary Surgeons Board of Queensland refused to even consider the complaint I lodged against this vet.

More and more, because of the decline in moral values throughout the world, dog owners need to keep asking questions and keep doing their research. Vets have shown themselves to be untrustworthy and the time has come for them to prove that they possess the competency and the knowledge  to be able to properly treat our precious dogs (and horses and wild birds).

Fortunately after many, many years I have finally found a very good vet for my English Setters and also the other week, a very good vet for my horses. Both are young and female. Go the Girls! 





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