Stomach Bloat – Gastric Dilation Volvulus in Dogs – Holistic Approach by Dr. Dobias

Stomach Bloat – Gastric Dilation Volvulus in Dogs – Holistic Approach by Dr. Dobias

Bloat is life-threatening – I know first-hand because my first dog, a Great Dane we called Emily Sue, had bloat.  Bloat has a mortality rate of about 50%.

The first stage of bloat is characterized by gastric dilatation, in which the stomach becomes filled with fluid or gas and dilates or distends. The second stage is called gastric volvulus or torsion in which the enlarged stomach rotates or twists. This rotation blocks the entrance and exit from the stomach and prevents the release of its contents. The trapped contents of the stomach ferment and cause further distention. In this informative blog post from Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM, he discusses stomach bloat, its causes, and strategies for prevention. Please visit Dr. Dobias’ website to learn more about him at You can also follow him on facebook here

Recently I conducted a survey on the incidence of GDV in dogs. What I have learned is that dogs that are fed processed food are about five times as likely to suffer from a bloat than dogs that are fed raw or cooked food.

Most veterinary textbooks state that gastric dilation volvulus is a serious life threatening condition which is caused by general breed predilection, fermentation and gas formation in the stomach and is often caused by stomach twist or torsion due to increased activity and exercise after eating.

This is all true, however, when I started to observe the patterns and energy flow changes in the body of affected dogs, I discovered a few very interesting findings that can be used in GDV prevention and I would like to share them with you.

Avoid processed and especially grain-based pet food

The digestive tract of a canine evolved to digest the carcass of prey. Dogs have teeth that are used for ripping, shearing, crushing and crunching meat and bones. Dogs do not have grinding molars which are the hallmark of herbivores. Their digestive tract is ideal for digesting protein and also resisting bacteria due to the very, acidic pH of their stomach.

When processed dog food is fed, it turns into porridge. The stomach doesn’t really kneed too much and over time, the stomach muscles become very weak in the same way as if you didn’t exercise.

A weak stomach is much more prone to dilation in cases of fermentation and gas buildup happens much more often with purely digested carbohydrate foods. A strong stomach on the other hand would be able to expel fermentation gas much better because of its strong musculature which is also useful in twist prevention.

Feed the right bones

Feeding your dog poultry, lamb or other small to medium size RAW ONLY bones makes the stomach wall and muscles stronger which also prevents it from distention. Any gas buildup is much easier expelled or moved downwards into the intestines. Feeding bones is, from my point of view, one of the most important steps in preventing GDV. Just remember that they have to be raw. To read more about which bones to feed and which bones to leave out read the blog here

Fruit is a possible predisposing factor

Some people are surprised when they learn that fruit should never be fed together with the protein meal. The main reason is that fruit and protein digests very differently. Fruit digestion time in the stomach is relatively short and it will ferment and produce gas if it stays in the stomach longer. Some people even joke that the fermentation process causes alcohol production which can make your dog drunk. I have never seen this.

If you feed a protein meal together with fruit, the digestion time of protein is longer and fruit fermentation is more likely to happen. That is why I recommend feeding fruit at least one hour or longer before a meal and at least four hours after eating.


The general consensus is that dogs should not exercise after eating. This applies to either raw or processed food. When the stomach is full, it is more likely to flip and twist when there is a sudden movement, jump or turn. You should never exercise the dog vigorously within 3 to 4 hours after feeding.

Providing the right nutrients

This is another important part of treating any condition. Vitamins and especially mineral deficits may have a negative effect on muscle function and digestion which can lead to GDV. Here are the canine essentials that every dog should get. If you dog has a tendency to stomach upsets, you need to switch to better, ideally raw or cooked food and take your dog through a cleanse.  You can also use Stomach Support Glandular supplement that has a positive effect on stomach function

Promoting the spinal energy flow

I have saved this topic for the end of the blog and it is my own take on GDV prevention. If you have read my other blogs, you may remember those where I talk about the energy flow along the spine. Some call it prana, Chi or energy meridians.

I imagine this netrwork as the body’s “watering system” where the spine provides the main “water” supply and the branches lead to various “garden beds”, the body’s organs.

You know that if you constrict a hose in your gardens watering system the carrots or lettuce will not thrive as well because of lack of water. Your dogs body is not much different in the way that if one of the branches of the spinal energy channel gets impinged or blocked, it will affect the organ that relates to that segment. These impingements or blocks can be recognized by a spinal exam or a hand scan where I notice changes in the energy flow.

After years of observation, I started to see, which spinal segments relate to each other and the patterns present in a variety of different conditions and used the Chinese traditional medicine principles in creating a simpler, yet pretty accurate body map.

While creating this map, I have found a very close connection between the stomach and spinal point at the thoracic lumbar junction; the transition between the last thoracic and the first lumbar vertebrae.

I have noticed that dogs that have a tendency to stomach problems are in general more prone to congestion, inflammation and sensitivity exactly at the T-L junction (thoracic-lumbar junction) – see the picture above at the beginning of this article.

When I asked several emergency vets, they didn’t seem to be aware of this connection between this spinal segment and GDV. Then I asked if they saw any signs of vertebral degeneration, arthritis or spondylosis in this region when they took Xrays of bloated dogs. Indeed they confirmed that those changes are frequently present in dogs that get bloated. I saw this as another sign of energy flow reduction.

That is why I urge you to pay attention to your dog’s spine. A regular monthly back care and assessment of any dog is one of the most important parts of disease and also GDV prevention.
I find many modalities helpful – physiotherapy, chiropractic , massage or intramuscular needle stimulation treatment ( IMS) and acupuncture are good examples.

What exercise is right?

I am not a huge fan of frequent ball throwing, sprinting, jumping up because. I’ve seen many dogs getting injured and their spine go out of alignment. My goal is to increase your awareness of this issue and I definitely will be writing more about it in future blogs.

What to do if you suspect a bloat

First I would like to say that simple panting is not a sign of a bloat. Panting is commonly the “canine way of sweating” and is considered normal in most cases when your dog looks otherwise comfortable.

However if you see signs of severe distress, your dog’s gums are pale, he or she is salivating excessively and the stomach is distended, rush your dog to the nearest vet or emergency clinic immediately. If you have a 24 hour facility nearby, do not wait for a call back of your regular vet, just go if you can’t get hold of her or him right away. THIS IS A TRUE EMERGENCY!!!

Most likely, a light sedation (of safe) and a stomach tube will be the first step or a possible gas pressure release by using a large needle in the stomach region of the abdomen.  X-rays will follow and in some cases, an emergency surgery is the only option..

As a first aid measure on the way to the hospital, I recommend giving a homeopathic remedy – call Nux Vomica 200 C or Carbo Vegetalis 200 C.

Preventive surgery – Gastropexy

Gastropexy is a commonly recommended preventive procedure where the stomach wall is attached to the inside of the rib cage to prevent the stomach from flipping. While this prevents gastric torsion, I am not that comfortable about attaching the stomach and restricting its natural movement and function. Any surgical intervention affects the body’s energy channels and the unnatural stapling of the stomach to the rib cage decreases its mobility.  The best prevention of bloat is to follow  the precautions of this article. In more than 15 years, I have seen only 2 bloat cases in my practice, which is way bellow average in dogs on processed foods.


On the basis of my practical experience as well as the survey that I conducted recently, I believe that the best way of preventing GDV is to feed natural, non-processed food including raw bones, provide the right nutrients, feed fruit separately from the protein meals and ensure that the spinal energy flow is good.

With gratitude,

Reblogged with permission from Dr. Dobias.


What is Energy Medicine?

What is Energy Medicine?
James shown doing Reiki on Rusty as part of his CIM treatment for an adrenal tumor

James shown doing Reiki on Rusty as part of his CIM treatment for an adrenal tumor

Increasingly, people are recognizing the power of Complementary and Integrative Medicine (CIM) in maintaining their own health and wellness as well as that of their pets. Energy medicine, a form of CIM, is emerging as the medicine of the future. As stated below, ‘conventional medicine has long used machines such as x-rays, lasers, EKGs and EEGs-that record various forms of energy to diagnose or treat disease.’ The concepts upon which these familiar techniques are based can help in understanding energy medicine techniques, such as Reiki, polarity therapy, craniosacral therapy, reflexology, and therapeutic touch as well. I routinely use these energy medicine techniques to maintain health and wellness for my dogs. In fact, it is not uncommon for Frankie or Susie to jump up on the couch next to me and ‘ask’ me to do energy work on them — more on that later!

In the following post, Dr. Mary Jo Ruggieri describes in some detail how polarity therapy, a form of energy medicine, works.


We are about to begin a new revolution! An innovative science is emerging, a science that holds the secrets of past systems of healing and future cures for humankind.

Lifeforce, chakras, auras, prana and chi are words often expressed when discussing the human energy field. Chinese acupuncturists believe that channels of energy run through the body; when these channels are blocked or out of balance, pain and disease can result.

Practitioners of polarity therapy use their hands to balance the human energy field, believing that, when in balance, the body will begin to automatically heal.

Research has shown that in disease, the natural flow of energy is obstructed, disordered and often depleted. Think about how you feel when you’re sick — no energy. As long as energy is flowing freely, we maintain optimal health.

James Oschman, in his book Energy Medicine, says in a few decades scientists have gone from a conviction that there is no such thing as an energy field around the human body to an absolute certainty that it exists. Moreover, he states, science is explaining the roles of energy fields in health and disease.

Life in many cultures is based on the principles of energy, and many of these cultures use energy medicine for healing. Chinese and Indian traditions use the principles of energy as the foundation for their entire healthcare system.

Practitioners of polarity therapy use their hands to balance the human energy field, believing that, when in balance, the body will begin to automatically heal.

Practitioners of polarity therapy use their hands to balance the human energy field, believing that, when in balance, the body will begin to automatically heal.

Dr. Andrew Weil, in his bestseller Spontaneous Healing, believes that “Health, according to the energy model, is the harmonious flow of life energy, while imbalances in this flow (due to unhealthy habits) result in illness.” He points out that conventional medicine has long used machines-such as x-rays, lasers, EKGs and EEGs-that record various forms of energy to diagnose or treat disease.

How does all of this energy really work? Simple. What happens when you blow a fuse in your house? The breakers go out, movement completely shuts down in the entire house and you’re without lights, refrigeration and, of course, TV.

Energy that comes into your house comes from a source, the power plant. This plant pumps high-voltage electricity through a series of lines and transformers to slow it down so we can eventually use it.

The human body is also an electrical plant that runs on high-voltage energy. The spine, representing the utility pole, sends energy via all the nerves (or wires) to every part of the body so movement can occur. If there’s a short in the circuits or an injury to the system, the circuit breakers go out. Knowing how to turn these circuit breakers back on is energy medicine.

Everything has energy, as Einstein pointed out; matter is energy and energy becomes form and matter.

How does all of this energy really work? Simple. What happens when you blow a fuse in your house? The breakers go out, movement completely shuts down in the entire house and you're without lights, refrigeration and, of course, TV.

How does all of this energy really work? Simple. What happens when you blow a fuse in your house? The breakers go out, movement completely shuts down in the entire house and you’re without lights, refrigeration and, of course, TV.

Therapies such as polarity therapy concentrate on keeping the positive pathways of energy open. Pain is a blockage of energy and eventually leads to disease and structural dysfunction.

Polarity therapy is becoming a household word. It’s a synthesis of many ancient theories and techniques derived from Indian Ayurvedic medicine and Chinese healing traditions such as acupressure and acupuncture.

Dr. Randolph Stone, the founder of polarity therapy, created a very detailed science that uses various reflex points, holds for stress reduction and specific energetic manipulations aimed at releasing tension in the body. A polarity practitioner will use various types of touch-working with the hands on or off the body-which can be combined with gentle rocking to release physical tension patterns.

Polarity also involves yoga exercise as well as Ayurvedic “live food” principles. It truly is a holistic approach to healthcare. A common belief in all aspects of polarity therapy is that life energy is the link between the mind and the body.

A polarity session can often get to the heart of the problem, tracing the energy blocks to the physical centers of pain. Once the source of the pain is identified, along with the help of the polarity practitioner, the client will be able to remove the blocks.

Deeper acupressure points help relieve energetic congestion held deep in the body.

Deeper acupressure points help relieve energetic congestion held deep in the body.

Remember, to maintain quality health, the life energy must flow freely through the entire body. All Life is Energy!

ENERGY IS PERPETUAL, it cannot be destroyed and cannot be created All you can do is manifest it. Did you know that…

  • Every cell in your body has electric charges and electric currents.
  • A cell is a mini battery which pumps out 70-90 millivolts (when in balance).
  • Muscle movement is powered by chemical energy.
  • Digestion is a slow form of burning that produces energy.
  • One cell goes through 100,000 chemical reactions per second! (per second)
  • So…….All Life is Energy!

Mary Jo Ruggieri PhD, RPP
Institute of Holistic Health Careers
Director, Columbus Center for Integrative Health and Wellness


Touch is Healing

Touch is Healing

Image of several friendsv hands on sand in the form of circleTouch is healing

Can one hour a week of polarity therapy, massage, acupressure, therapeutic touch and/or foot reflexology lower your blood pressure, relieve depression, decrease your risk of cancer, increase energy and help you sleep better?

The answer is yes to all of the above.

Today, bodywork plays an important role in medicine, healthcare, sports, physical fitness and psychotherapy. Therapeutic touch, founded by Dolores Krieger, strongly believes that the body’s energy field becomes unbalanced during injuries and illnesses. Therefore, therapeutic touch balances and restores a person’s vital energy.

Ongoing research into touch and touch therapies has become progressive and well-established. The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami’s School of Medicine is actively involved in research that focuses on areas such as touch for newborns, reducing pain through bodywork and lymphatic healthcare through massage.

Even the United States Army funded a study that demonstrated that therapeutic touch eases pain and stress in burn patients. Read More HERE

Thanks to Dr. Mary Jo Ruggieri and the Institute of Holistic Health Careers for this post!


The Newborn Puppy Who Wouldn’t Breathe

The Newborn Puppy Who Wouldn’t Breathe
Newborn puppy photosm

Ava and littermates

Welsh terrier Ava successfully delivered 3 puppies -one boy and two girls. Each puppy immediately began breathing upon removal from the birth sack. Things didn’t go as smoothly with puppy number 4. Despite using all the usual techniques to stimulate him, puppy number 4 would not breathe. We then used a fingernail to vigorously stimulate the acupuncture point known as GV 26. Stimulation was accomplished with a firm, deep, pecking motion. The puppy, later named Justin, gasped immediately and took his first breath. He continued to breathe normally and grew into a healthy, happy adult.

Governor Vessel 26 (GV 26) is also called Jen Chung, Ren Zhong (meaning Man’s Middle), or Shui Gou. In man, GV 26 is located on the center line one-third the distance between the nose and upper lip. In the dog and cat, it is located at the point where the skin of the nose meets the vertical groove above the upper lip. Stimulation of this point may also be useful in resuscitating adult dogs with cardiorespiratory collapse. (Case study provided by Mary Duafala