bloat in dogs

Those of us who feed our dogs a raw food diet can rattle off the benefits without much thought.

But we sometimes forget where we came from …

Major’s story is a vivid reminder of why we do what we do.

And if you’re thinking of feeding a raw diet but haven’t quite gotten there yet, then Major’s story might give you motivation and hope.

Maybe you want to feed raw, but don’t know where to start? Click here for help!

Major is a six year old yellow lab who has a history of digestive issues and bloat. After nearly four years of traditional veterinary care for his digestive issues, he was finally switched to raw in Spring 2013.

Previous to this, Major’s story often reads like a Dogs Naturally DO NOT DO list.

Major’s Health Troubles Began at Four Months of Age

Like most puppies, Major came home when he was eight weeks old. And like most puppies, his diet was Purina Puppy Chow.

Immediately after being neutered at the age of four months, Major developed chronic diarrhea and bloating.

Here are 3 reasons to reconsider early spay/neuter. Click here!

What’s Bloat? Bloat occurs when a dog’s stomach fills with fluid, air or food, enlarging the stomach and putting pressure on surrounding organs and decreasing the blood supply to organs. The term “bloat” is most commonly used to describe a condition called gastric torsion or twisted stomach. The cause of bloating is unclear and often debated.

The diarrhea Major suffered can be caused by many things, including parasites, rapid food changes, protein intolerances, poisonous substances, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and more.

Commercial Pet Food Didn’t Work

Like most people, Major’s owner Tina began researching bloat and diarrhea and found these conditions could be associated with the grains in his Puppy Chow. So she changed his food and went through many different foods, including …

  • California Naturals

  • Blue Buffalo Wilderness

  • Precise Holistic

  • Nature’s Variety Instinct

There was some improvement, but Major still suffered bouts of diarrhea and couldn’t maintain a healthy weight.

Then at six months old, Major had a full torsion.

This is a medical emergency and Major underwent something called gastropexy, a procedure where the stomach is surgically attached to the abdominal wall. The vet then put Major on Science Diet for several weeks after the surgery.

But the diarrhea and bloating continued …

Traditional Veterinary Medicine Didn’t Work

Two weeks after his gastropexy, Major was taken to the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine for further testing.

The tests there revealed Major had…

  • No worms
  • No infections
  • No bacteria
  • And perfect bloodwork

“He is the picture of health,” his owner was informed. Yet Major continued to suffer from diarrhea and bloating daily.

So the doctors at the college recommended a biopsy of his intestines and sent it to California for study. They wanted to verify the existence of receptors in his cells that help with digestion.  The veterinarians were clear that this wouldn’t lead to an end to the diarrhea and bloating, as there isn’t really a cure for the lack of receptors. So Major’s owner declined the invasive surgery.

Major was then started on two antibiotics … but the veterinarian failed to recommend a probiotic during and after this treatment. Antibiotics indiscriminately kill not only harmful bacteria but the friendly bacteria that are beneficial to a properly working digestive and immune system.  Major was already struggling with an unhealthy gut, so a probiotic might have reduced the amount of collateral damage from the antibiotic.

You might want to read this before giving your dog antibiotics

And the diarrhea and bloating continued …

Holistic Veterinary Medicine Didn’t Work

After seeing no measurable improvement, Major was finally taken to a holistic veterinarian … but she wasn’t experienced in canine nutrition or raw feeding.  Despite the lack of experience, the veterinarian agreed the food Major was eating was part of his problem.

So over the next two years, Major was introduced to…

  • Adjustments
  • Cold laser therapy
  • Herbal tinctures
  • Digestives enzymes

None of it helped.

So Major’s owner gave up on veterinarians and started educating herself on dog health and nutrition.

Then one day, an episode of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (or HGE), a rapid onset of bloody diarrhea, brought Major back to the University of Florida where he met a veterinarian nutritionist who thought Major might be suffering from IBS.

Tina declined the biopsy to confirm the diagnosis, because Major’s digestive tract was “in turmoil and so inflamed” and she didn’t want to risk additional harm. But she did follow the advice to add more wet food to Major’s diet.

Major was then switched from kibble to a wet diet and Tina saw some slight improvement.

That’s where she began investigating a raw food diet for her dog.

Transitioning to Raw Feeding Worked

After four years of battling the diarrhea, Tina changed Major’s diet to raw foods.

The switch had an immediate impact on his health … Major’s diarrhea nearly stopped.

Instead of his diarrhea being a daily occurrence, Major’s episodes were reduced to once a week.

In Spring 2014, Tina began adding a tablespoon of a carrot digestive supplement, daily to Major’s meals. The diarrhea decreased again, from once a week to once every other week.  She increased the amount of carrots to 1.5 tablespoons daily and Major’s diarrhea now happened only once every six weeks.

Tina also addressed Major’s bloating, which seemed to be triggered by anxiety. Reducing the stress in Major’s life reduced the occurrence of his bloating.

Today, Major hasn’t required any prescription medications in nearly two years.  He’s maintaining a healthy weight of 75 pounds and his traditional vet even complimented Tina on her decision to transition him to his raw diet.

What We Can Learn from Major’s Story

Major’s story isn’t unique. Many dogs have enjoyed similar successes when they were switched from processed foods to a raw diet.

You can enjoy the same healthy changes in your dog if you think like Tina and follow these three simple rules:

Educate Yourself  – it’s not always the best idea to follow the veterinarian’s lead on your dog’s health.  Although a vet’s education and experience should be respected, it’s also important that you educate yourself to have a better understanding of the treatments being prescribed and start playing a more active role in making decisions about your dog’s care.

Feed Quality Food – your dog’s digestive system is directly tied to his immune system; improving his digestive health can lead to fewer allergies, better skin and coat health, a healthier weight and more.

Trust your Gut – You’re an expert on your dog. Take that expertise with you when talking to your veterinarian and be your dog’s advocate. Speak up if you’re uncomfortable with a treatment plan.

Follow these rules and your veterinarian can be your partner, instead of an adversary, in helping you raise a healthy dog!