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.


Case Study – Multidisciplinary Approach to Healing – Maggie’s Story

Case Study – Multidisciplinary Approach to Healing – Maggie’s Story

Maggie2CASE STUDY – Multidisciplinary Approach to Healing – Maggie’s Story

By Wendy Volhard

This 8-year-old Westie rescue suffered from numerous health problems, including listlessness, recurring cysts, and itchy, greasy skin. These conditions were a result of inadequate nutrition, over vaccination, over medication, and having been bred too young and too often. In this report, Wendy Volhard describes her step by step approach to helping this dog regain her health.

Maggie, an 8-year-old Westie, belonged to an obedience student of mine.  She always accompanied a younger Westie, Brody, who was training in the beginner’s class.  I couldn’t help noticing Maggie – head down, tail down and shuffling along as she made her way to her crate to wait for Brody to finish class.

One day I asked her owner Rita what was wrong with Maggie and if she needed help.  The flood gates opened!  It appeared that every 10 days or so, Maggie developed an elevated temperature along with a nasty cyst on her right front paw which was so painful she couldn’t walk until it burst.  The poor girl had only a few days between episodes when her foot was not painful.  Rita had been to numerous vets and tried almost everything — continuous antibiotics, prednisone, and various creams and jellies.  Surgery was suggested next.  Nothing worked and Rita was desperate.

My first and most important suggestion was a diet change from kibble to a natural whole diet.  While this was scary for Rita, she was willing to try anything to give Maggie some relief.


  •   Maggie was overweight
  •   She was lethargic, moving only a few steps at a time
  •   She had horrible greasy skin on her back, with extreme itching (suspected epidermal dysplasia)
  •   She held her head down. She could not look up into our eyes
  •   A cyst appeared every 10 days on her right front foot
  •   Maggie was miserable

This photo shows a cyst on Maggie’s foot

Maggies cyst


  •   Adopted at 5 years from rescue organization
  •   Used as a breeding female in a puppy mill prior to rescue
  •   While with rescue, vaccinated with the 5 in 1 vaccine plus Bordetella and rabies, all on the same day.  She also had been put under anesthesia for a dental cleaning
  •   Vaccinated yearly since being rescued
  •   Lived on steroids and antibiotics
  •   Fed a kibble diet

Initial Assessment:

  •        Over weight
  •        Inadequate nutrition
  •        Over vaccinated
  •        Over medicated
  •        Bred too early and too often

Where to start?

I suggested complete blood work (on a 12 hour fast).  This included CBC, chemistry screen, urinalysis, complete thyroid panel, and panel for tick-borne diseases.  Maggie was also checked for parasites.  Results showed that Maggie was negative for parasites.  Her cholesterol was high, sodium/potassium ratios not good, and all other values were on the high side of normal.  Her thyroid was extremely low.

Using kinesiology we did a diagnostic protocol (which goes through all the systems of the body) to determine Maggie’s ‘weak’ areas.  This showed she had a structural imbalance and that her lymph system was stressed.  We used the following treatment program for Maggie who weighed 17lbs.

  • Homeopathic detox for her lymph system administered upon awakening  for 5 consecutive days.
  • Diet
    • A detoxifying diet was fed twice a day for 2 weeks only. This was a mixture of cooked chicken, a small amount of sweet brown rice, lightly cooked vegetables together with vitamins and minerals. I advised Rita to make up her food in bulk without the vitamins, put it into ice cube trays and freeze.  Food was defrosted twice daily and supplements added before feeding.  This worked well for such a small dog.
    • At the end of the 2 week detoxifying diet, Maggie was transferred to Volhard NDF2 ( )
  • Chiropractic consultation:  During the initial 2 weeks, our chiropractic veterinarian worked with Maggie.  She found that her neck needed adjustment and that she had a sore shoulder.  The veterinarian chiropractor also gave Maggie an acupuncture treatment for her greasy skin.  During her examination, she noted that some of Maggie’s teeth lacked enamel.  Her thought was that this condition resulted from being bred too young, when Maggie herself was not mature.
  • After consultation with our chiropractic veterinarian, a small dose of thyroid medication was given.
  • Blueberries and raspberries were fed for between meal snacks
  • Before bedtime one dose of homeopathic Thuja was administered to counteract vaccine damage. This was continued for 10 nights.


After about 2 weeks, Maggie could walk without her head down and she was making eye contact on a regular basis.  Rita was shown how to massage her neck daily.  However, 20 days into her new program, her foot swelled again and she began to limp.  Maggie was given the homeopathic Silicea 30c, to help push out any toxins in her body.  The cyst immediately came to a head and burst and she could once again walk without pain.

While Maggie was improving, Rita began to express concern about the cost.  Up until now she had spent $2,716.29 at the regular veterinarian. The current treatment protocol (food, chiropractic adjustment, acupuncture and blood work) cost an additional $500.  However, Rita became convinced we were on the right track when, after only 6 weeks on her new regime, repeat blood work demonstrated substantial improvement.

This second set of blood work (again done on a 12 hour fast), showed that all of Maggie’s values were now within normal range.  Laboratory values for liver and kidney function, as well as cholesterol levels were lower than before and her thyroid function tests were normal.  Six months later more blood was drawn.  All of Maggie’s laboratory results were perfect and she had not had a cyst for over 4 months.

One year later, we did blood work yet again.  Thyroid was still normal and she had had no cysts for 10 months.  Hair had grown over the affected area of her back, but the skin remained somewhat greasy; this was managed with massage.  Maggie continues to get chiropractic check-ups every couple of months, and she is lively and happy.

A Note About Blood Work

It is essential when working on cases like this, to have blood drawn on a 12 hour fast and to use the same laboratory each time blood is drawn.  Rita had wanted to try a new veterinarian closer to her home, and had blood drawn there a year after Maggie started her new regime.  A different Laboratory was used, it was not done on a fast (once food is in the system, values can change), and the normal readings were not the same as the original Lab used.  For comparative purposes, these results were useless.  So, Rita took Maggie back to her original veterinarian for blood draws, which should be done annually.

(Case study provided by Wendy Volhard, and )

Download PDF version HERE


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