dog bloat

New Research into Canine Bloat

New Research into Canine Bloat

The word bloat strikes fear into the heart of any large dog owner. It strikes quickly and kills within hours. By the time the owner notices the signs, they may have even less time to get to the emergency vet and save the dog’s life. And while it does strike mostly large-bodied deep-chested dogs, any dog can be affected. 

Bloat occurs when the stomach, which contains gas-producing bacteria, becomes distended with gas that can’t escape. A second phase, gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), occurs when the stomach then rotates in a clockwise direction, cutting off any escape routes for the gas through either the esophagus or duodenum as they are twisted and kinked. The twisting also impairs blood flow to the stomach.

As the gas builds up the dog becomes increasingly uncomfortable, stands with a hunched back, paces, pants and retches unsuccessfully. If you have never seen bloat, please watch these videos so you can recognize it:

 

 

Make sure all your family members and any pet sitters also know the signs of bloat and what to do. Bloat is not a “wait and see” situation. It is a “call the vet we’re coming right now!” situation. You do not wait to see it if will get better, you do not wait for your spouse to come home from work, you do not wait for your regular vet to open. You call first so they can be ready, and you go. If you catch the very first signs, you will probably have just over an hour safety net. Most people don’t catch it that early though, so you may just have far less time.

As bloat progresses, the abdomen becomes distended, the gums pale, the pulse weak and rapid. Stomach tissue begins to die from lack of blood. As the vena cava, the main vein leading from the dog’s rear back to its heart, becomes obstructed the dog goes into shock.

Initial treatment is aimed at preventing shock by immediately starting intravenous fluids and relieving the pressure in the stomach either by inserting a trochar (basically a very large bore needle) into the stomach from the dog’s side, or by passing a tube from the mouth to the stomach. The dog is then taken to surgery where the stomach is untwisted and examined for dead tissue, which must be removed. The spleen is also examined for blood clots, which signal the need for its removal.

Overall mortality from GDV is between 10 and 40 percent. The worse a dog is upon its arrival at the veterinary clinic, the worse its chance of survival. About 80 to 85 percent of promptly treated dogs survive. A depressed dog has a three times increased risk of death, whereas a comatose one has a 36 times increased risk. Increased levels of plasma lactate are associated with necrosis, and so can be associated with higher mortality rate. Dogs requiring a splenectomy or removal of stomach tissue during surgery have 32 percent higher mortality; those requiring both have a 55 percent higher mortality. As one clinician observed, however, the one overwhelming factor, with zero survival, is euthanasia. Unless the condition is advanced, or finances already overstretched, you should probably elect to try to save the dog.

Stomach tacking (gastroplexy), in which the stomach is tacked to the surrounding abdominal wall to prevent future twists, has proven to be the single most effective prevention for GDV. It is usually done during GDV surgery, but can also be done as an elective surgery to prevent GDV. If it’s performed during GDV surgery, there’s about a 10% chance of subsequent dilation without rotation, and a 2% chance of dilation with rotation. Without gastropexy, there’s a about a 75% to 80% chance of recurrence of dilation with rotation.

Researchers have searched for decades for the causes of GDV. It occurs more often in large-bodied deep-chested dogs. Great Danes are at the highest risk of GDV of any breed. Many owners suspect gulping air when eating is to blame, but analysis of gas in the stomach indicates it’s not atmospheric gas. If the gas is placed in a plastic bag it will continue to expand until the bag bursts. Other factors such as eating kibble that expands in the stomach, exercising before or after eating, or eating from a bowl on the floor were once widely suspected as causing bloat but studies have shown otherwise. Dogs described by their owners as nervous or unhappy, or which had a close relative with GDV, or dogs that had inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) tend to be at higher risk.

Current research studies are looking at the role of both genetics and IBD in susceptibility to bloat.  Many dogs with bloat have IBD, and since IBD can often be traced to an abnormal gut microbiome, researchers are examining whether an imbalanced population of gut bacteria might be the cause of IBD. In addition, they are looking at whether genes responsible regulating the gut microbiome might differ in dogs more prone to GDV. In fact, three genes have been associated with an increased chance of bloating in Great Danes. A DNA test for the risk alleles is now offered by VetGen (https://www.vetgen.com/ ).

But that’s not the whole story. Bacteria in the dog’s gut may also be associated with GDV. Bacteria is in turn affected by genetics and diet. Dogs with GDV were found to have a significantly lower intake of dietary fiber than non-GDV control dogs, leading researchers to suggest that a diet containing more complex fiber may provide some preventive measures against GDV.

These are still preliminary findings, with much more research needed. But the answer to preventing bloat is far more complex than simply raising a food bowl or restricting exercise after eating.

How do Grains Effect Zinc Absorption?

How do Grains Effect Zinc Absorption?

Zinc deficiency in dogs is more common than we think and it can cause many health issues.

While a dog can get zinc toxicity, this is rare. Far more common is deficiency. Zinc deficiency can be caused by either a dog’s food not having enough Zinc or by the dog’s body not being able to absorb the Zinc properly.

Zinc deficiency is common because the body can’t store zinc, it needs a constant supply.

Certain breeds are more prone to Zinc deficiency because they have more trouble absorbing it than the average dog. At the top of the list are northern breeds such as the Siberian Husky and the Malamute. Other breeds that are also more likely to have trouble with zinc deficiencies are:

· Giant breeds, including Great Danes and Saint Bernards

· Dobermans

· Beagles

· German Shepherds

· German Shorthaired Pointers

· Bull Terriers

· Poodles

These breeds may need more zinc than regular breeds to stay healthy, for the northern breeds especially true. The Siberian Husky Club of Great Britain recommends 25mgs of Zinc per 22kg of dog weight.

WHAT DOES ZINC DEFICIENCY DO?

Zinc is required for the production of over 300 enzymes, structural proteins and hormones within the dog’s body. It also supports the immune system, improves antibody response, regulates white blood cells and protects the liver from heavy metal and copper damage. Zinc helps keep the skin and coat healthy and aids in digestion. It also works with copper, B-vitamins, Vitamin A, calcium and phosphorus in many bodily functions. Zinc even plays a role in DNA and RNA replication!

So, when a dog has zinc deficiency (your vet may diagnose it as zinc responsive dermatosis because it manifests as a skin condition) many parts of their body can be affected. Symptoms include: hair loss and scaling and crusting of the skin, especially around the face, head and legs. Dogs may develop sores around the mouth, chin, eyes and ears. Foot pads may also be affected. These dogs are often lethargic, anorexic and prone to secondary infections due to a weakened immune system. If they are a puppy, their growth can be stunted. Breeding dogs may not be successful if one of the dogs is deficient in zinc.

It’s clear zinc is important to your dog’s health – the problem? Studies have found that only 5-40% of the zinc entering a dog’s body through food is absorbed.

BEST SOURCES FOR ZINC

The best sources for zinc in a dog’s diet are meat (including fish) and bone. So those weekly meaty bones we suggest for your dog are PERFECT to help make sure you are giving your dog enough zinc. Fish meal has 157 mg/kg and meat and bone meal have 101 mg/kg

GRAINS ARE YOUR ENEMY WHEN IT COMES TO PROPER ZINC ABSORBTION

On the other hand, grains (including wheat, corn and soy) are not only low in Zinc – wheat only has 20 mg/kg, corn 13, and soy meal 57.9 – but they also inhibit zinc absorption in the body. Plants contain “phytate” which binds to zinc and doesn’t allow it to absorb. Fiber, also found in plants, can have a similar affect. If your dog is getting canned pumpkin for digestive issues, you may need to also add a zinc supplement if your dog is going to be on the pumpkin for a long time.

Since dogs already have trouble absorbing Zinc, It is best to feed a grain-free diet, so you are not making matters worse.

Finally, excess calcium can also bind to zinc. So imagine if you are giving your giant breed puppy too much calcium. Not only will the calcium have severe side-effects, but now you are also causing a zinc deficiency in your dog as well.

Knowing about the importance of Zinc and what a deficiency looks like can help you if your dog is not feeling well. You can get zinc from the chemist or supermarket for humans. The dosage rate is 5mg per kg bodyweight per day. So, a 20kg dog can have up to 100mg of zinc per day. Feed the zinc in the evening a few hours after the meal.

Stay Loyal Original formula already has over 200mg/kg of Zinc. This is more than enough for the average dog, however some dogs with deficiencies will need more. It’s best to consult your vet if you suspect a Zinc deficiency.

dog drinking

Can Your Dog Drink Too Much Water?

Can Your Dog Drink Too Much Water?

“Water intoxication” causes a life-threatening condition called hyponatremia!

It was a fun day at the lake, with a friend’s dog repeatedly diving after his favorite ball. When it came time to leave, the dog seemed a little shaky, but with all that running and swimming, who wouldn’t be? But at home he was worse. He stumbled around, vomited a bunch of water and collapsed. Could it be bloat? It didn’t seem to be, but just in case she rushed him to the veterinarian. That saved his life.

It wasn’t bloat, but something both dogs and people can get from drinking too much water. Water intoxication” causes a life-threatening condition called hyponatremia (excessively low sodium levels). As the electrolyte levels drop, blood plasma thins and the brain and other organs start to swell. The swollen brain is restricted by the skull and serious problems develop. It’s actually a little more involved; hemoglobin levels decrease, there’s a rapid loss of sodium and chloride, the major organs to swell are the liver and brain, and certain minerals and nutrients are lost through urination.  So the major problems are basically 1) too much fluid in the body and 2) rapid loss of chloride causing an electrolyte imbalance.

An affected dog may start to stagger and vomit water. Other early signs are lack of coordination, lethargy, nausea, bloating, vomiting, dilated pupils, glazed eyes, light gum color, and excessive salivation. Advanced signs include difficulty breathing, collapsing, loss of consciousness, and seizures.

Without treatment small dogs can die within 3 to 4 hours, and large dogs within 6 to 8 hours, after passing the “too-much” level. This is an extreme emergency, yet most owners don’t recognize it. They think their dog exercised too much or they just don’t know—and they wait and see with disastrous results. Even veterinarians may not recognize the problem unless the owner tells them the dog may have ingested large amounts of water. Blood tests will identify the condition but by the time the dog arrives at the clinic there may not be time to wait for even those results. Treatment typically includes intravenous electrolytes to replace lost ones, diuretics to rid the body of excess fluid, and drugs to reduce brain swelling. Even with aggressive treatment not all dogs survive.

What about home treatments? Some people have suggested giving dogs electrolyte solutions, but they’re probably not effective. Studies have shown that saline solution (which are the most effective IV treatment) are not effective when given orally. Nor are orally administered diuretics effective. Your best bet to save your dog is to rush the dog to the closest emergency clinic.

Water intoxication accounts for several dog deaths every year—probably more than are reported. It happens most often in dogs that play in water for long stretches during warm weather. The dogs may continuously gulp down a few sips as they play and rest, inadvertently swallow water as they repeatedly retrieve, or they can even drink too much when playing water games, such as snapping at water from a lawn sprinkler or hose.

Although any dog can be affected, some seem to be at greater risk than others:

  • Small dogs, which require proportionately less water to be affected.
  • High energy dogs, which tend to be more persistent in play and continue to retrieve and grab at water longer than low energy dogs.
  • Thinner dogs, which have less body fat with which to absorb extra fluid in the body.
  • OCD (obsessive-compulsive) afflicted dogs, which can be come obsessed with drinking or with catching streams of water.
  • Kidney-compromised dogs

What if your dog drinks salt water? That has its own problems, starting with severe diarrhea. First, it has an osmotic effect, drawing fluid into your dog’s intestines and causing severe diarrhea, even to the point of dehydration. Greater levels of salt water ingestion can lead to incoordination and seizures. Remember, there’s a reason people stranded on life rafts in the middle of the ocean die from lack of water—or conversely, from giving in and drinking sea water.

So what to do, to avoid this from happening to your dog? For most of us, nothing. Don’t get scared and take away your dog’s water bowl. Under everyday circumstances your dog should have access to unlimited water. But under a few circumstances, such as a dog with protracted vomiting and diarrhea, or a dog that is gulping what appears to be copious quantities, it may be prudent to dole out the water carefully.  And during exercise periods, make your dog take a break every 15 minutes for 15 minutes. Avoid throwing items into water that don’t allow your dog to close its mouth against water, and especially hold off on underwater retrieving. If your dog is obsessed with catching water from sprinklers, turn them off before leaving your dog in the yard with them. If your dog drinks water obsessively, measure what he drinks and prevent him from ingesting excessive amounts. Most of all, recognize the signs of water intoxication—and be ready to act on them.

dog nutrition

Fueling the Canine Athlete

Fueling the Canine Athlete

News Flash #1: Dog athletes are not the same as human athletes.

News Flash #2: The differences go beyond the number of legs and amount of hair.

Here’s the big difference when it comes to nutrition for athletes: Because dog muscles have more mitochondria than human muscles they rely more on fat rather than glycogen from carbohydrates for energy. Except during the first minute of exertion, carbohydrates do comparatively little to fuel them.

The importance of carbohydrates versus fat depends on whether your dog does sprint (like racing, coursing, agility or weight-pulling); intermediate (like hunting, tracking or hiking) or endurance (like sled pulling or marathon running) activities.

In general:

  • Sprint athletes: High carbohydrate, low fat, moderate protein
  • Intermediate athletes: Moderate carbohydrate, moderate to high fat, moderate protein
  • Endurance athletes: Low carbohydrate, high fat, moderate protein

Carbohydrates: Carbs can be helpful for sprinters because dogs derive their initial energy from glucose and glycogen. This energy source is quickly used up and then the dog’s body turns to fat, but that takes longer than most sprints to become available. So yes, carbs are good for sprinters. If repeated sprint runs are anticipated, give a high carbohydrate “snack” within 30 minutes after each run to replenish glycogen levels.

Fat: Intermediate and endurance activities are fueled mostly by fat as glycogen reserves are quickly used up. High fat is essential to endurance performance. As exercise duration increases, so should fat content. Fat tastes good and can encourage stressed dogs to eat. Fat supplies more than twice the calories provided by carbohydrates or protein. That’s good for endurance dogs, which could otherwise burn their own muscles for energy once fat stores are used up. But too much fat can cause weight gain and even anemia if fed at the expense of protein for long periods. Look for fat levels between 16% and 20% depending on the type of sport you are doing with your dog.

Protein: Muscles need protein for building and repair. Protein requirement is especially high during the onset of training when muscles are being built. Protein should not be used as an energy source during exercise; it is not readily accessible for energy and its calorie content is not as high as fat. Look for protein levels above 30% to make sure your dog is getting enough amino acids to help rebuild any damaged cells.

Digestibility: Is always important. Highly digestible animal source protein and fats are the most usable for the canine athlete. Fiber can hurt performance by diluting nutrients and adding fecal bulk, adding excess inert weight, plus it can overheat dogs as well. Fiber levels between 1% and 3% are ideal for the canine athlete.

Water: Maintaining hydration is critical for prolonged endurance and thermoregulation. Exercise produces heat, and water is needed to dissipate that heat. Dogs don’t lose as much fluid as humans because they don’t sweat but they do lose fluid through panting. Some dogs are too stressed to drink when at an event, so you must encourage them, whether by adding ice, flavoring or simply removing the dog from excitement.

An interesting fact is that burning fat produces a lot of water which will help endurance athletes maintain hydration longer.

In addition:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids: Reduce inflammation after exercise.
  • Omega 6 fatty acids: Help red blood cells carry oxygen.
  • Vitamin B complex: Helps in production of energy and red cells.
  • Vitamins C and E: Counteracts possible cell membrane damage from high intake of fatty acids and increased oxygen metabolism.

Diet changes should start when training starts.  It takes four to six weeks for the dog’s body to benefit from any diet alterations, especially from increased fat. Training should begin the same time the performance diet is initiated so the body can utilize the nutrients efficiently.  Just as training the day before an event won’t help, neither will feeding a new diet just beforehand help.

Finally, the big day! It takes a dog 20 to 24 hours to completely digest a meal. During that time energy is diverted toward digestion, and undigested food and partially digested fecal matter may still be in the digestive system, compromising performance. I recommend feeding at least 24 hours before competition or even longer. Making sure your dog is empty before it competes. Don’t forget the water—and good luck!

11 Reasons Why You Need to Check the Fat Levels in Your Dog’s Food!

11 Reasons Why You Need to Check the Fat Levels in Your Dog’s Food!

Fat-free, low-fat—most of us have been engrained since childhood to equate these labels with being healthy. And we tend to project this on to our dog’s diets. But we’re not the same as dogs, and too little fat in a dog’s diet can be as bad—maybe worse—than too much.
Just from a practical point of view; your dog doesn’t have the options you do. You may need that low-fat yogurt to make up for the ice cream and cake and pork rinds and fondue you eat the rest of the day. Chances are your dog had none of those. He doesn’t need to make up for dietary extravagances unless he spent the day sharing your plate.
As for weight loss, more studies are starting to show that fat may not be the public enemy number one it’s been labeled as, but instead carbohydrates are the culprit. That doesn’t mean you can eat a can of lard and expect to lose weight, but it does mean that the bread and potato may be more problematic than the butter you put on them.
Dogs have one more advantage when it comes to eating fat: They don’t have to worry about cholesterol! They don’t suffer from coronary heart disease and seldom from strokes.
Today’s lesson: Don’t fear the fat!

 

Here’s why:

  1. Fat provides tastiness. There’s a reason low-fat foods don’t taste as good! This is especially important for older dogs who may be losing appetite and weight, or may have an impaired sense of taste or smell.
  2. Fat provides satiety; in other words, it helps us feel “full” so we are satisfied with our meal and are no longer hungry.
  3. Fat provides energy. Fat provides twice as much energy as the same amount of protein or carbohydrates. This is especially important for active and underweight dogs.
  4. Fats make up part of the dog’s cell membranes. It aids in transporting nutrients and other substances into the cell.
  5. Fats are critical for the normal development and function of body cells, tissues, muscles and nerves.
  6. Fats are vital to the production of prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that perform many important functions, including reducing inflammation.
  7. Fats are necessary for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K. Even if you have ample amounts of these vitamins, without fat they are useless.
  8. Fats are important for keeping the immune system healthy.
  9. Fats are important for cardiovascular health.
  10. Fats and oils help keep the skin healthy and coat shiny. They control the epidermal loss of water. Without them the skin becomes dry.
  11. Fats are important for reproductive health.

Dogs can make some fats from the carbohydrates in their diet, but other fats must be supplied as part of a dog’s diet for them to be healthy. For dogs, these “essential” fatty acids (EFAs) include the omega-6 fatty acid called linoleic acid. Because dogs can’t synthesize essential fatty acids in their singular form, the fatty acids must be supplied in the dog food.

Although not technically essential fatty acids, the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are included in some dog foods for their many benefits such as decreasing inflammation and improving brain and eye function.
So what’s the harm in not having enough fat in your dog’s diet?

 

  • Low fat interferes with absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K, and as such can interfere with proper growth, immunity, cell repair and blood clotting.
  • Dogs deficient in fat heal more slowly.
  • Low fat can cause dry flaky skin and itching.
  • Low fat intake has been linked to depression in humans.
  • Dogs deficient in fat may be mentally dull.
  • Too little fat can make your dog feel cold all the time.

Fats can come from both animal and vegetable sources. Fat from animal sources is preferable, but the source should be specified (chicken fat, lamb fat, and such) rather than just “animal fat” as that could come from anywhere—even rendered animals.

Omega 3 should come from marine fish oil, which has been shown in studies to be superior from omega 3 obtained from other sources.

Linoleic acid can come from animals or plants. It makes up 15 to 20% of poultry and pork fat but less than 6% of beef tallow, fish oil or butter fat. This is one fat that is actually found in greater amounts in plants, with corn oil having 55% and safflower oil 72%. But because your dog is mostly carnivores stick to dog foods that use animal fats as their fat source.

So how should I incorporate fats into my dog’s diet?

You could just feed a cheap dog food and plop a glob of lard on it, but that would be a very bad idea. For one, you can’t measure that. For another, dog foods include many types of fats for several origins.  One fat does not fit all needs. And some dogs react badly to sudden intake of animal fats, to the point it can bring on vomiting, diarrhea or worse, a bout of painful and potentially chronic pancreatitis.

There’s no set perfect level of fat in the diet. While most sedentary dogs should get at very least 8% (and for most, optimally 16-18%), of their caloric intake from fats, active dogs, especially in cold weather, should get considerably more. For example most active performance dogs and hunting dogs should get at least 18 to 20% of their calories from fat, and racing sled dogs as much as 50%!

Some dogs, however, should get less fat. Dogs prone to pancreatitis or colitis should be on a lower fat diet. Overweight dogs can be on a low-fat diet temporarily, but are better maintained eating smaller portions with adequate fat for health.

If you are interested in feeding your little friend a dog food with healthy levels of animal source fat that are designed to improve the health and happiness of your dog. Check out Stay Loyal Grain-Free Formula by clicking here.