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Lisa Nicolello

Nutrition: Is it a Factor in Bloat and Torsion?

(Third of three parts)
by Linda Arndt

Part of the Solution: Probiotics/Digestive Enzyme

Probiotic (pro-life) are microorganisms and probiotics are the opposite of antibiotics (anti-life). Over time man and microbes have reached an intricate state of coexistence on this planet and on and in our bodies. In fact, all warm-blooded animals are profoundly dependent on the microbial world. Despite the inclination to regard microorganisms as the enemy, the essential truth is the majority of these "life forms" favor co-habitation and cooperation, not conflict. While some microorganisms (bacteria) are bad or "pathogenic bacteria", other microorganisms are considered good bacteria and play a very beneficial role in maintaining health, particularly in the digestive tract and by boosting the immune system. These good bacteria also inhibit bad bacteria growth and decreasing the amount of time necessary for recovery from disease. These good bacteria are called probiotics.

These are some examples of common probiotics found to enhance health and nutrition.

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus lactis
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Streptococcus faecium

I believe we will soon see a decrease in the excessive use of antibiotics which tend to be non-selective and kill both bad and good bacteria. Those of you who have had fever blisters, cold sores, diarrhea, or yeast infections after antibiotic therapy no doubt experienced this problem. Using probiotics simultaneously with antibiotics and continuing to use them for at least a week to ten days after you have run your course of antibiotics will help to re-establish the system with beneficial bacteria and can help prevent or lessen the time in which you have these negative effects from antibiotics. This is true in animals and a little extra added to the diet daily, over and above your normal dosage of the Daily Greens Plus, is very helpful in reestablishing the system.

One current example of this particular use of probiotics (good bacteria) in fighting pathogenic (bad) bacteria was that of the E. coli scare from the "Jack-in-The-Box" food poisoning incident in California. Some of the individuals were given a very high powered "probiotic" in order to fight off the potential effects of the deadly bad bacteria found present in the contaminated meat.

(Probiotics) are often referred to by several names:

  • good bacteria
  • friendly bacteria
  • yogurt type cultures
  • good intestinal flora

Probiotics (good bacteria) should be ever present and in good balance within our system and in the digestive tract (humans and animals). But when an organic system responds in a negative way to stress, this can alter the pH balance of the body which can have a powerful negative effect by killing off good bacteria in the digestive tract which frequently leads to diarrhea. This negative change in a system can also set up an environment that promotes the growth of bad (pathogenic) bacteria.

Poor quality diet is another factor in the wearing down of a system. If an animal's digestive system has to work over-time processing foods it is very hard on the system plus the continuous feeding of poor quality, processed foods only adds to an overall breakdown in health and well-being.

The canine intestines are short and meant to process primarily meat. A cereal-based diet is more difficult to digest, takes longer to go through a system and tends to ferment quickly. This sets the stage for a condition which helps promote the growth of bad bacteria and may increase the risk of bloating. Hydrochloric acid is necessary for proper canine digestion but I have observed that dogs do not drool over cereal based foods like they do over meat-based or raw meat diets. I suspect this limited amount of hydrochloric acid being produced by the animal when fed cereal-based foods may also contribute to this build up of gases in bloat.

Maintaining a slightly acid system in these animals is very important to digestion as well as a quality diet. In addition, you can use a squirt of apple cider vinegar in the daily water which helps maintain this balance.

I choose to use the Daily Greens Plus, which in my opinion, has numerous benefits in helping to minimize our chances of bloat. This probiotic/digestive enzyme plus vitamin C and vegetation in the form of cereal grasses are important to my animals because it:

  • maintains good bacteria growth
  • replaces good bacteria that is lost
  • helps maintain the proper pH balance
  • keeps pathogenic bacteria in check
  • increases utilization of food/nutrients
  • helps to boost the immune system

I keep on hand a variety of forms of probiotics. It comes in a paste which I use for new puppies or during emergencies. Because it is not necessary to keep the paste refrigerated, it can be carried in a grooming bag or purse for traveling and dog shows. I use probiotics daily in the form of the Daily Greens Plus and I also keep plain probiotics on hand in the form of "Probiotic Power Pack" or "Fasttrack" which can be mixed in water and put down a tube if an animal has bloated. You can use 1/3 cup mixed in a cup or more of tepid temperature water or any liquid you can get your hands on and dump it down the tube. If there is considerable foam present dump a cup or more of grapefruit juice down the tube to break up the foam -- plus it makes the system acid again and then follow up with the probiotic mixture. This buys you time until you can get to the vet. This past summer my partners, the Bennetts, saved the life of one of the top producing collies who was exhibiting at our local summer show. By tubing and using the grapefruit juice and probiotics, they were able to buy enough time to get the dog into surgery thus saving the life of this valuable and loved animal. We carry a bloat kit with us at all times plus grapefruit juice, paste probiotics in a tube and powder probiotics in a dark container.

Beet Pulp - Does it Have a Role in Bloat?

It is my opinion this controversy was centered around politics or economic decisions in the industry and not really on important dietary consideration. Therefore, I will not devote any more time to this topic because I do not believe Beet Pulp is that big of an issue. If you want more information on this question it was discussed at length in the Wysong Review June 1988. For information 1-800-748-0188.

I do have a four page paper available regarding saponins. If interested send me a SASE.

Part of the Solution: Antioxidants

I want to talk about the importance of antioxidants in the after care of torsion surgery. I cannot address the topic of surgery without discussing specific antioxidant enzymes and the remarkable results we have seen using these enzymes.

First some background on oxygen free radicals and their counterparts antioxidants. What do oxygen "free radicals" and car exhaust have in common? They are both toxic by-products produced by the production of energy. Energy is necessary to make both the car and the human/animal body function.

The fuels may be different, one is oxygen the other is gasoline, but the end result is the same. Both produce energy and both have a toxic waste by-product from that energy production. "Oxygen free radicals" (toxic by-products) are the bad guys and antioxidants are the good guys because they move around the cells of the body and gobble up the free radicals. Think of these toxins as "body rust" and antioxidants are the rust inhibitors. Free radicals are what make us age and eventually die. So antioxidant enzyme supplementation can help by:

  • aiding in the prevention of aging and diseases such as cancer and other debilitating illnesses
  • reduces the negative effects of cancer therapies
  • reduces the negative effects of anesthetics after surgery
  • speeds repair of tissues and bone due to surgery/trauma
  • boosts the immune system
  • retards periodontal disease and the prevention of heart disease
  • works on soft tissues and is great for reducing allergy problems
    *Note: I no longer have hay fever because of this enzyme.
  • flushing toxins from the system, chemicals, pesticides, etc.
  • aids in reproductive problems, regulating cycles and problems with infertility and sterility (humans and animals)

The dietary consideration for the after surgery animal is the same as I have addressed previously in this article, particularly the use of Daily Greens Plus and MSM-Nutritional Sulfur. They are a must. But I want to discuss an enzyme called Bioguard Plus which is a remarkable antioxidant of particular interest to me regarding bloat and torsion because of its ability to:

  • minimize the side effects and after effects of anesthetics
  • speed healing of soft tissue
  • reduce the inflammation and soreness of soft tissue
  • prevent "reperfusion injury" after bloat and torsion surgery

"Reperfusion injury" is a condition whereby toxins, free radicals or oxygen by-products are released into the system of the animal after surgery trauma and anesthetics which often causes death. According to a study done at Purdue University, the majority of dogs lost after torsion surgery die from perfusion injury due to this release of toxins in the body causing heart arrhythmia. Antioxidants enzymes, such as the Bioguard Plus, is one way to help support the system in hopes of preventing "reperfusion injury". Even though torsion is an emergency surgery start the animal on this product as soon as possible right after surgery. This is not a drug but a food concentrate and will not conflict with any medication the animal is on at the time. During an emergency surgery of any kind the sooner you can start the animal on it the better. Also, for elective surgery such as ear cropping and potential vaccine reactions, we start puppies from weaning and leave them on the Bioguard Plus until all inoculations are given to minimize our chances of vaccine reactions.

The dosage is 1 teaspoon daily of granular or 4-6 tablets a day per adult. Split dosage A.M. and P.M. feedings. (One tablet per 20# of body weight for puppies.) To order call 1-800-937-1104.


It is my opinion, the disease of bloat and torsion manifests itself under stressful conditions. Sometimes the stress is external and obvious. Other times it may be triggered by one event, but is my feeling the disease is multifactored in response to a chronic deterioration of the total system affected by environmental, physiological, dietary and psychological factors. These factors, singly or in combination, causes excessive wear on the animal's system, changes the pH balance from acid to alkaline, encourages pathogenic bacteria growth (bloat), and alters the body's electrical and chemical balance (torsion).

I do not claim to have the answers for these diseases, but I do not believe one has to be a rocket scientist to realize we must stop looking for one cause and be more sensitive to the whole animal, how it interacts within its environment and what nourishment we are putting into these living systems. We must replace our physical bodies with whatever material we choose to ingest in the form of food.

If we choose junk foods and toxins then our bodies become junk and toxins and we soon fall prey to disease, debilitation and death. We truly are what we eat and the dogs are what we choose to feed them since they no longer have a choice in the selection of their own diets.

I honestly believe we can minimize our chances and even prevent most diseases, including bloat and torsion, as well as manage those who have already gone through the surgery and live without fear of reoccurrence. It is my sincere hope that you have as much luck with this program as we have had over the years. But understand, it is NO GUARANTEE, but for myself and other breeders it is a definite step in the right direction. The year 1994 was a year of great loss at Blackwatch--the bad news is, I lost 6 of my Danes. The good news is they were all 11-13 years of age and lived an extended life right up to the end and I am fully convinced their longevity and quality of life was due to this holistic approach of feeding these animals

This is my basic feed program:

Basic Blackwatch Feeding Program
Adults and Puppies
Dry Food - A high quality, moderate protein, (21%-24%)
(No puppy foods or performance foods), meat-based food with more than one source of protein in the food. Naturally preserved.
Meat - 2-3 tablespoons and tepid temperature water (½ - 1 ½ cups). Enough for a gravy.
Daily Greens
Plus - This provides the following:
  • probiotic - friendly yogurt-type bacteria
  • digestive enzymes
  • non-acid Vitamin C (fruits) 1400mg per scoop
  • barley/wheat grasses (vegetables)
Source - micronutrients (See container for amount)
MSM - Nutritional sulfur - 1/8 - ½ teaspoon daily according to weight
Fresh Raw Foods - fruits, nuts, veggies, raw meat 2-4 times per week 1 teaspoon-1/4 cup depending on what each animal will tolerate

For those interested, I will provide a list of the better dog foods on the market as well as specifically what I feed. I also have information on some balanced completely raw meat diets called "Natural Selection" and "Meat Eater II" that are now available. Just send me a SASE and request a list of feeds.

Linda Arndt
Blackwatch Great Danes
9000 E. Susan Lane
Albany, Indiana 47320

(Linda Arndt has been involved in breeding Great Danes for 21 years, having produced champions in both conformation and obedience. She is the author of "Watchword," a column published in the Great Dane Reporter as well as articles in The Great Dane Quarterly and other breed magazines, here and overseas. The primary focus of the column is canine nutrition and diseases plaguing the large and giant breeds.

Linda’s breeding philosophy: "My primary concern as a professional breeder is the improvement and preservation of the breed through a "designed," limited breeding program with emphasis on temperament, intelligence, longevity and classical beauty."

Also to her credit, Linda is an accomplished Artist and Professor of Fine Arts at Ball State University, where she teaches Structure/Design and chairs a major crafts program. Her porcelain works have been shown in national and international exhibitions, museums, galleries and public and private collections as well as represented in textbooks, documentary films and national television. Linda Arndt is also listed in "Who’s Who of American Women" and "Who’s Who of American Artists."

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