Tag Archives: vomiting

Blastomycosis—What Every Dog Owner Needs to Know – Life with Llewellin Setters

Blastomycosis, or Blasto as it is often called, is a very serious and potentially deadly, systemic fungal disease that can affect dogs, humans, and other mammals. Blasto is caused by inhaling the spores of the fungus Blastomyces dermatitidis. B. dermatitis grows as a mold in acidic, organically rich …

Source: Blastomycosis—What Every Dog Owner Needs to Know – Life with Llewellin Setters

This Substance Is Making Dogs Sick, and It’s Probably in Your Home Right Now – American Kennel Club

This post contains a link to, and excerpts from, the article published by the AKC, Dog Health. Please be aware of the substance and danger, read the entire article by clicking here:

This Substance Is Making Dogs Sick, and It’s Probably in Your Home Right Now – American Kennel Club

Dangers Of Xylitol


A substance called xylitol is making thousands of dog sick and even causing death…something this benign, an ordinary sweetener, could be toxic to pets.

What Is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a sugar substitute most often associated with “sugar-free” chewing gum and mints, but it’s also found some brands of peanut butter, toothpastes, certain medications, and vitamins, many sugar-free products (chocolate, JELLO, yogurt, pudding), and even some household products such as baby wipes and lip balm. A comprehensive list of products is available here. VCA Hospitals reports that xylitol is 100 times more toxic to dogs than chocolate.

Why Is Xylitol So Dangerous?

According to Caroline Coile, AKC Family Dog Nutrition & Health columnist: “The dog’s pancreas confuses xylitol with real sugar and releases insulin to store it. The insulin removes real sugar from the bloodstream and the dog can become weak, and have tremors and even seizures starting within 30 minutes of eating it.” Other symptoms of hypoglycemia include poor coordination and vomiting/diarrhea.

Liver failure (and death) can also result from xylitol ingestion, and symptoms can take as much as eight hours as show up. A dog only needs to consume a very little amount of xylitol to receive a deadly dose. As much as two pieces of gum can cause a problem in a small-breed dog.


Excerpts from and links shared by Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Photograph by Susan Roy Nelson



What Every Gordon Setter Owner Needs to Know

Bloat is sneaky and it’s fast. Bloat doesn’t allow time for you to think it over or make a plan. Bloat will strike a Gordon Setter like a snake hidden in the grass with no warning. It takes a dog down so fast that if we aren’t with them when it strikes we may miss the small window of opportunity available to save them. Bloat won’t wait for us to be there, it attacks our dogs at all hours of the day or night, whether we’re home or gone to the store, sleeping, out mowing the lawn, doing housework, changing the oil or folding clothes in the laundry room. We simply can’t be with our dogs every minute of every day, but we do need to understand that for our dogs to have any chance of surviving bloat, every passing minute counts like an hour. To save your dog’s life you must know how to recognize bloat, have an emergency plan in place and enact that plan without delay at the first warning sign. Always error on the side of caution.

For a Gordon Setter to survive bloat it takes quick recognition of the condition and immediate veterinary treatment. That means we can’t hesitate, can’t wait to see, can’t delay for any reason. We need to get veterinary help as fast as possible.

If you own a Gordon Setter and are not sure how to recognize bloat this article is especially for you. Bloat refers to gastric dilatation – volvulus (GDV), stomach torsion or twisted stomach – an extremely serious condition and life threatening emergency.

Gordon Setters, according to a study by the University of Perdue, ranked as the 5th highest breed most susceptible to bloat. The 2004 GSCA Health Survey lists cancer, hip dysplasia and bloat as the top three health concerns expressed by Gordon Setter owners and breeders. According to Dr. Jean Dodds “The mortality rate for gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) approaches 50 percent.”

Recognizing the signs of bloat

  • Restlessness or pacing – unable to find a comfortable position to lay down
  • In the early stages the dog may not show a distended belly though it may feel tight
  • May be lethargic, obviously uncomfortable, walking stiff-legged and hanging head
  • Salivation – drooling – these can be signs of severe pain or distress
  • Retching – vomiting – or gagging
  • Frequent attempts to vomit
  • Enlarging abdomen – the belly feels full, swollen, rounded, may look and feel like a balloon
  • Thumping the abdomen produces a hollow sound, like a kettle drum
  • The dog may groan when you press on the belly
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • The dog may go into shock – gums become pale, weak pulse, rapid heart beat, possible collapse

If even a slight suspicion of bloat exists, immediately take the dog to a veterinary hospital. Emergency veterinary treatment is necessary for your dog to survive and every minute makes a difference. Do not delay.

Which dogs are most susceptible

  • Gordon Setters are at risk.
  • There appears to be a genetic link. Dogs who have parents or siblings who are affected may be more prone to bloat. Learn more about the research at The Genetics of Bloat – Tufts Now
  • Dogs over 7 years old are more than twice as likely to develop bloat as those 2-4 years old.
  • Male dogs are twice as likely to develop bloat as females. Neutering does not appear to have an effect on the risk.
  • Dogs fed once a day are twice as likely to bloat as those fed twice a day.
  • It appears that dogs who eat rapidly or exercise soon after a meal may also be at increased risk.
  • Dogs that tend to be more nervous, anxious, or fearful appear to be at an increased risk.
Photo by Susan Roy Nelson
Photo by Susan Roy Nelson

A few things that may help to prevent bloat:

  • Feed your Gordon Setter two or three smaller meals each day.
  • Make water available all day so your dog doesn’t want to gulp large quantities at one time, limit the amount of water your dog drinks immediately before and after eating.
  • Avoid vigorous exercise, excitement, and stress on a full stomach.
  • Diet changes should always be made gradually over a period of three to five days.
  • Feed dogs individually and in a quiet area.
  • Do not use a raised food bowl.
  • Dogs who survive bloat are much more at risk for future episodes, preventative surgery should be considered.
  • There are there are those who also advise to avoid dog foods that contain high fat (fat listed as one of the first 4 ingredients) and foods that contain citric acid. At this time, no cause-and-result relationships between these and bloat have been verified, though certainly there is no harm in avoiding them should you wish to do so.

More detailed information including treatment options and reference material for this article will be found on the sites listed below:

Bloat (Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus) in Dogs  – Doctors Foster and Smith

Dr. Jean Dodds’ Pet Health Resource Blog | Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (Bloat) in Dogs.

Gastric Volvulus (Bloat) in Dogs: A Life Threatening EmergencyWeb MD Pets

The Genetics of Bloat – Tufts Now

GSCA Health Survey 2004 Results

The Genetics of Bloat on Gordon Setter Expert

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Pyometra – Understanding the Danger and the Frequency

Last month we published an article To Spay or Neuter? Health Questions and New Procedures. In response to this article two readers offered comments regarding the danger of the development of pyometra in an intact bitch. So, to start I want to thank both, Mary A. McLoughlin DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVS and Dr. Susan Adams-Conley, DVM, President Bellingham Animal Hospital, P.C. for sharing their concerns. Their comments prompted me to do a bit more searching so I could share more information with you about pyometra, a fatal infection that every owner of an intact female should be very aware of and most importantly know how to respond if suspected.

To understand the frequency at which pyometra occurs I found a source of statistical material pulled from a Swedish pet insurance data base. I found this material especially telling as the majority of the dogs in Sweden are intact which meant there was a very large population of bitches included in the data. “Patty Olson, DVM, Ph.D.  “In Sweden, 93 percent of dogs are intact,” she says. “They don’t neuter.”

The data indicated that breed and age are a factor in the occurrence of pyometra with some breeds being more prone to the infection while others were less so. On the plus side for Gordon Setters owners, we were not among the top ten breeds most prone to pyometra, however our breed is still at risk like all other breeds, so don’t let that lull you into complacency. Using an overall crude average a bitch under 10 years old has approximately a 2% chance of developing the infection in any 12 month period of her life and the data further shows that by the age of ten somewhere between  23% – 24% of surviving bitches will have developed pyometra. Simple math – your intact bitch has about a 1 in 4 chance of developing pyometra by age 10.

For those of us who show and breed our Gordon Setters, this means that each and every year of their life we face a 2% chance of our bitch developing pyometra, or we could choose to spay her ending that risk along with her breeding potential and show career. There are no easy choices here for breeders or dog show enthusiasts. One thing is for certain though, if we own intact bitches we owe it to them to know the signs and symptoms of the infection and we need to be prepared to handle it as an emergency.

What is Pyometra?

  • Pyometra is an infection in the uterus.
  • .The cervix, gateway to the uterus, remains tightly closed except during estrus when it relaxes to allow sperm to enter the uterus which also means that bacteria that are normally found in the vagina may also enter the uterus.
  • Pyometra may occur in any intact young to middle-aged bitch but is most common in older females.
  • Pyometra usually occurs two to eight weeks after the last estrus.
  • Open pyometra means that the cervix remained open. Symptoms may include pus draining from the uterus out through the vagina. You may find pus or an abnormal discharge on the skin or hair under the tail, or possibly on bedding and furniture Fever, lethargy, anorexia, and depression may be present.
  • Closed pyometra means just that, the cervix is closed and so the pus that forms in the uterus cannot drain. It collects in the uterus ultimately causing the abdomen to distend. The bacteria release toxins that are absorbed into the bloodstream. Bitches with closed pyometra become severely ill very rapidly. They may refuse food, may be very listless and depressed and might also suffer from vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Toxins may affect the kidney’s ability to retain fluid causing increased urine production as well as increased water consumption in both open and closed-cervix pyometra.
  • The preferred treatment is to surgically remove the infected uterus and ovaries – spay.
  • A medical treatment for pyometra may be an option in some cases. Do be aware that the success rate is variable, carries considerable risk, and potential complications. Prostaglandins may be used to lower the blood level of progesterone, relax and open the cervix, and cause the uterus to contract and expel the bacteria and pus. This treatment is not always successful and as mentioned carries other risks so weigh this option very carefully with your veterinarian.
  • If the bitch with pyometra does not obtain immediate medical treatment the toxic effects of bacteria can be fatal. In a closed pyometra the uterus could rupture, spilling the infection into the abdominal cavity which may also be fatal.
Photo by Susan Roy Nelson
Photo by Susan Roy Nelson

And, after all this has been said I am still thinking that the spay procedure that saves the ovaries and removes the uterus sounds like a very promising option? Unfortunately, it appears that only three clinics in the U.S. perform this type of spay. Most importantly, talk to your veterinarians people, then make informed decisions for the Gordon Setter girls in your life.

Reference Links – click to read the full article.

Breed risk of pyometra in insured dogs in Sweden. – PubMed – NCBI.

Breed variations in the occurrence of pyometra and mammary tumours in Swedish dogs

Photos by Susan Roy Nelson
Sally Gift, Mesa AZ