Pet Health Articles

Article: Nutrition - Is it a Factor in Bloat and Torsion?

Toxic Gut Syndrome: The Silent Killer

By Charles C. Kruger, DVM

Dr. Charles Kruger is a well-known veterinarian and breeder of champion show dogs.  His most celebrated achievement involves his work with Helen (“Scootie”) Sherlock and Judith Hale on Toxic Gut Syndrome (TGS), which had been killing many German Shepherd Dogs, including Ch. Karagin’s Crusader ROM.  Based on their analysis of Toxic Gut Syndrome, Dr. Kruger went on to develop his now-famous formula - Dr. Kruger’s Ultimate Supplement – that helps prevent the infection from taking hold in the first place, and offers many other health benefits as well.  Dr. Kruger is now retired from veterinary practice after more than 40 years as a small animal practitioner.  Here, in his own words, is the story of how Toxic Gut Syndrome was identified and controlled.

As a veterinarian and a breeder of German Shepherd Dogs and Pembroke Welsh Corgis for over 40 years, I have always been concerned with the medical and practical aspects of canine health.  My greatest challenge came, however, when circumstances turned me into a medical researcher.  It all began when I felt personally compelled to discover the cause and means to control a mysterious disease that was ravaging the champion German Shepherd Dog  population.  This disease, which we now know as Toxic Gut Syndrome, or Clostridial enterotoxemia, is an intestinal infection that affects several species of animals.  In the canine world, it primarily affects German Shepherd Dogs.  In 40 years of veterinary practice, I have seen a couple of cases of Toxic Gut Syndrome in other breeds – the Irish Setter and the Irish Wolfhound.  However, a related disorder, Clostridial enteritis, a lesser form of intestinal infection, is seen quite frequently in many breeds of dogs.

While veterinarians had long known of these conditions, around 1980 something unusual began happening with the German Shepherd breed.  Dogs would die suddenly, apparently from mesenteric torsion.  However, post mortem examinations yielded surprising results.  These dogs did not display the telltale twist at the mesenteric root.  After examining several dogs that exhibited this strange pathology, I went to work to discover what this new killer might be.  Library investigation turned up several references to a condition known as Clostridial enterotoxaemia , although very little scientific research was available on the subject.  I began to wonder if perhaps this might be the key to understanding this puzzling new condition.  Meanwhile, a promising solution to the problem presented itself.  In the 1980s, the German Shepherd breed was very heavily line-bred.  Very close breeding of this type is a two-edged sword, bringing out the best and the worst features of a breed.  I cannot say for sure that the breeding practices at that time prompted the frequency of Toxic Gut Syndrome, but we do know that close breeding can suppress proper immune system functioning. There were definite families of German Shepherds with a great propensity to develop Toxic Gut Syndrome.

After the deaths of several well-know champions, I had the sad opportunity to participate in the autopsies.  Again, while it was assumed by the attending veterinarians that there would be a twist at the mesenteric root indicating mesenteric torsion, there was no evidence of the expected lesions.  A team made up of myself, a friend (and laboratory technician) Judith Hale, and German shepherd authority Helen (“Scootie”) Sherlock, cultured the contents of the dead dogs’ intestines.  Judith was able to isolate very large numbers of Clostridium perfryngens bacterium - the very bacterium mentioned in the literature.

Clostridium is a virulent variety of bacteria that is a normal intestinal inhabitant in small numbers. Under certain environmental circumstances, it multiplies rapidly, giving off high levels of toxins that enter the dog’s blood stream, in effect, poisoning the dog and causing death.  According to my library research, Clostridium p. causes deaths in lambs, pigs and human babies in Papua, New Guinea that resembled the deaths I’d seen in German Shepherds.  The human form was given the name “pigbell”. 

Fortunately, an injection was developed that protected these babies, and another was successful in the lambs.  Now that we confirmed that the same bacterium was responsible for the deaths of the German Shepherds, our aim became stopping the infection’s progress in this breed.  At first we hoped the injections that protected the lambs or the human babies would be effective to protect the dogs.  To our disappointment, we found that the human drug was licensed in England and could not be brought to the United States.  We obtained the inoculation used to protect lambs.  We tried it on some dogs, but were disappointed again.  The tissue reaction in the German Shepherds was so severe and painful that it was not realistic to continue its use.  Clearly, we were not going to be able to cure this condition once it was already underway.  We needed to find a method of prevention rather than a remedy to stop this killer disease from ever taking hold.

In regular veterinary practice, cases of bloat/torsion and mesenteric torsion are familiar.  In bloat/torsion, a twisting of the stomach follows a rapid accumulation of stomach gas.  In mesenteric torsion, there is a less significant buildup of gas, followed by a twisting of the entire small intestine at the attachment of the mesentery ligament. It now appeared to me that the three conditions – bloat/torsion, mesenteric torsion, and Toxic Gut Syndrome – have similar symptoms.   However, the diseases differ in their progress.  In bloat/torsion, dogs seem to blow up like a balloon before your eyes.  With mesenteric torsion dogs exhibit a strange, hunched-over posture.

In either case, the intestine loses its blood supply and the dog dies within a few hours due to toxins and shock.  Without surgery, both conditions are usually fatal.  While the cause of bloat/torsion is not clear, it is my opinion, however, an initial overgrowth of harmful, gas-forming bacteria in the digestive track is implicated.  With some research into the unique physiology of the German Shepherd intestine, it became obvious that prevention of Toxic Gut Syndrome required control of bacteria on a daily basis.

In general, the German Shepherd breed exhibits very low pancreatic enzyme production compared to other types of dogs.  As a result, intestinal pathogens responsible for Toxic Gut Syndrome can increase rapidly under certain conditions.  In dogs, pancreatic enzymes serve as a first line of defense, slowing down the progress of bacterial overgrowth.  German Shepherds lack this first line of defense.  Bacterial overgrowth is rapid and by the time the dog exhibits symptoms, the intestine has become paralyzed due to the toxins released from the bacteria.  At this point, the dog is beyond recovering and will die.

Preventing Toxic Gut Syndrome now seemed to depend on two control measures.  The first was limiting the number of pathogens in the intestine.  The second was increasing the number of friendly bacteria and enzymes to keep pathogens in check.    Supplementing the level of pancreatic enzymes, therefore, appeared to be one necessary step in preventing bacterial overgrowth.  The second control measure for pathogens is to increase the presence of good bacteria called Lactobacillus , which normally inhabits the healthy intestine.  Lactobacilli are found to thrive in milk products and are used to culture yogurt.  They also help control the growth of pathogenic bacteria and have a cleansing effect on the intestinal wall.

I then began to develop a supplement that would provide therapeutic amounts of enzymes and live acidophilus bacteria.  At first, I used live-culture yogurt and a commercial enzyme product made for large animals.  This seemed to help control bacterial overgrowth, but I wanted to find an even better supply of Lactobacilli and digestive enzymes.  At this point, I formulated the first stage of what was to become my Ultimate Supplement.  With additional study and experimentation, I decided to add vitamins, minerals (including trace minerals), some essential fatty acids and antioxidants to provide complete nutritional support.

Dogs and cats readily accepted this formulation, and it immediately became clear that it helped stop early death due to Toxic Gut Syndrome and help control even minor bacterial infections that cause diarrhea in puppies and older dogs. In my efforts to find a means to control the fast-acting Toxic Gut Syndrome, I seemed to have found a means to control the bloat/torsion complex as well. In addition, other benefits from the formula were realized.  We saw changes and improvements in skin and coat condition, less flatulence and dog body odor, reduced shedding, smaller, firmer stools and overall better digestion of food.  I have had numerous breeders who use the Ultimate Supplement and have found an increased effective reproduction rates. I was particularly impressed that it also controlled “nervous diarrhea” while transporting dogs.   After 20 years of administering the supplement with no deaths from toxic gut or the bloat/torsion complex in any dog using it, I feel confident in saying that this formulation helps control these diseases.  It is, however, absolutely necessary to give the prescribed amount everyday for the entire life of the dog, in particular while the dog is under stressful situations, such as in training with a handler or on a show circuit.

Experience has shown me that supplementation with a well formulated product provides many other benefits to dogs as far as enhancing their overall health and energy. In my forty years of breeding German Shepherds, I have never seen a dog react adversely to sensible supplementation.  The most dangerous situation is when one feeds excessively high protein content to puppies.  It is for this reason that manufacturer’s make different puppy foods for different size dogs.  The difference is the protein content.  Protein in dog food provides phosphorus; excessive phosphorus may contribute to developmental bone disease, especially in the growth plates.

There is absolutely no reason every dog cannot attain optimal health with the use of my Ultimate Supplement! Forty years of clinical practice has shown me that each dog has unique nutritional requirements.  This is obvious when you feed the same diet to a group of dogs.  Some will thrive while others will not.  My supplement is a “gap-filler” – it fills in the gaps to meet the individual nutritional needs of each dog.  I am certain that the lives of many dogs that were susceptible to these conditions as outlined in this article, have been saved as a result of using the Ultimate Supplement, a fact that I find personally rewarding.

The well-known Great Dane dog breeder, Linda Arndt (also known as “The Great Dane Lady”), authors the following article entitled, “Nutrition - Is It A Factor In Bloat & Torsion?”. Throughout the years, Linda has made some very distinct and important observations in the correlation between the lack of proper nutrients in a dog’s diet and the onset of bloat, the most dreaded of syndromes within a number of breeds, including Great Danes, German Shepherds, and English Setters.  Often bloat, as well as Toxic Gut Syndrome (also known as Clostridial enterotoxemia), are acute, fatal diseases that cannot be reversed or stopped once initial symptoms appear.

Like humans, dogs can experience a range of anxiety-filled situations at any given time, including change in environment, sickness, traveling, breeding or a loss of a companion (either human or another pet).  Often, they become stressed and their bodies react physically, sometimes extremely by developing syndrome-type reactions in the form of bloat or Toxic Gut Syndrome. My Ultimate Supplement is formulated to assist in prevention of these two fatal diseases and to sustain and optimize the overall health of the dog long-term.

Please note that if you are anticipating some type of stress in your dog’s life in the future, it is wise to start the Ultimate Supplement about two weeks prior to the event.  Therapeutic dosages may be needed so please feel free to email me with your dog’s breed and situation and I will recommend how much you should be adding to your dog’s daily ration of food.  Dosage recommendations MUST be followed for proper protection.  It is also recommended that daily long-term use of the Ultimate Supplement be followed for best results.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Linda Arndt for this very informative article and for allowing us to publish it on our website.  I feel this replaces ALL the research that has been done in the past by other veterinarians and scientists.  Please feel free to share this with your veterinarian and with other dog fanciers you know.

Nutrition - Is It A Factor In Bloat &Torsion?

By Linda Arndt

There have been a number of ongoing investigations into nutritionally caused diseases that have led many to question our approach to bloat and torsion. It is important to understand what is about to be discuss in this article is only an opinion, based on my 30 years of experience in breeding, personal nutritional investigation and information on health issues shared by researchers, nutritionists and thousands of other breeders.

There are things we can do nutritionally to narrow our dog's chances of having bloat and torsion. I have found it very interesting to see a significant drop in the number of incidents of bloat and torsion over the past few years in my animals and the animals of my friends and breeders across the country. Understand, I am not guaranteeing if you follow the program I choose to use that you will never have a case of bloat, torsion or spleen torsion. There is no such thing as a guarantee, but I feel this is a healthy step in the right direction.

It has been my experience that the overall number of incidents of bloat/torsion I have heard about has dropped dramatically over the past few years due to better quality, meat based foods and the incorporation of whole foods, probiotics and digestive enzymes into the diet. It is no news that most breeders and research people believe these diseases has multi-factorial

I would like to list some other elements, seldom considered, that need to be addressed as potential factors in the cause of these diseases:

It is in my opinion that bloat/torsion manifests itself when the animal is under stress due to many factors. Sometimes the stress is external and obvious.   Other times it is internal and any signs that may be displayed go unnoticed. Bloat and torsion may appear to be triggered by one event when in reality it is a condition that has been building due to a number of circumstances. I believe the disease is multi-factored and is in response to a chronic deterioration of the total system affected by environmental, dietary, psychological, and physiological factors. These factors, singly or in combination, cause excessive wear on an animal's system, change the pH balance and can encourage pathogenic bacteria growth causing bloat.  This alters the body's electrical and chemical balance, which under the right conditions will cause stomach or spleen torsion.

It is important to look at solving this problem from a holistic viewpoint.  Instead of looking for a single cause for these diseases, like excessive  water intake or the size of the animal's chest, we must understand the total picture. "The parts are not greater than the whole" and, therefore, everything has a tremendous impact on the animal's total well being.

Stress and the Effect on Bloat and Torsion
Stress drastically affects the body chemistry of any living organism and alters the pH balance of the system. I believe this is an important factor in the cause of bloat and torsion. There has been plenty of scientific research done to prove the negative effects stress can do to a living organism.   The results can be detrimental to one's health and well-being. Stress is not a physically present "being", lurking around the corner, waiting to attack. Stress does not physically exist. It is the way in which an organism (you, me, the dogs) respond to certain situations or stimulus.  Some of us (as well as some dogs), due to genetics, body chemistry, nutrition and personality, seem to handle negative stress better than others. However, as humans, we can make a conscious choice as to how we are going to handle and reduce stress from our daily lives (exercise, diet, meditation, crying). For our animals, this is an area seldom considered. Recognizing stress as a problem and altering their situation is determined only by how in tuned we are to their needs.

Stress can affect the pH balance of an animal's system, which in turn can set up an internal environment ideal for the fermentation of food and the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Exercise is important in the elimination of stress for humans as well as animals, and dogs that are kenneled and caged without adequate exercise for muscle/bone development as well as for psychological reasons (boredom and inertia) are primary candidates for these diseases. This is no different than when an individual retires, becomes inactive and succumbs to death far too early in life.

Dogs who are relegated to a boring diet of processed dead foods day in and day out for their entire life seldom have access to a variety of foods in order to compensate for nutrients lacking in a diet. The idea of feeding raw meat, eggs, fruit and vegetables to our animals has been taboo in our country for the past 25 years. In Europe, Australia and other parts of the world, a natural raw diet has been an important part of the feeding program. It is interesting to me that breeders overseas believe there is a direct correlation between the increase of bloat/torsion, growth problems and other diseases when they have incorporated processed foods partially or totally into their feed program.

We remove dogs from their natural environment, bring them into our homes as a family member and alter their life style to fit ours. (Yes, my grandma's dog loves to be covered up with my good down comforter.) These are some of the areas in which animals may respond in a stressful manner because of being subjected to certain conditions that are not really suited for four legged friends: sudden changes in diet after being fed the same thing daily; use and over-use of antibiotics; emotional trauma; psychological stress; ingestion of chemicals in food or water (chlorine, preservatives, nitrites, etc.); pollution; excessive noise; travel; boarding; breeding; showing; shipping; changes in environment; exposure to continual artificial light; disease; excessive inoculations; medications; loss/death or abandonment; and personal changes in their habits such as removal or changes in crates, toys, feeding stations, family upheaval and various other changes too numerous to mention. Some animals are able to handle stressful situations while others are not and I suspect the animal who is hypersensitive and internalizes stress is a primary candidate for bloat and torsion. If our animals are able to "work" or to "function" in a more natural way, and this means exercise and not being caged or kenneled the majority of their lives, this would help expend pent up energy and to manage stress.

When we limit our gene pool to specific kennel names, bloodlines, color families as well as remaining within each specific breed, this prevents us from maintaining hybrid vigor. It maximizes our chances for doubling on negative traits with the increased potential for animals that are more sensitive to stimulus (light, sound, movement) and affect the total physiological system (body functions) and their psychological system (mental/behavioral functions).

Because breeders have bred for that "up" dog with an edge, the current generation of breeders believes this is correct and normal.   Any more we have a great deal of noise, light, movement sensitivity, dog aggressiveness and appetite problems in dogs and this is not correct temperament. I believe it is imperative that we choose only temperamentally sound animals for breeding stock in order to increase our chances of producing generations of animals that are more stable, trainable, reliable, intelligent and above all flexible and able to handle stress. Younger breeders need to look at the whole picture and realize they may have to undo, for the sake of the breed, what breeders of my generation have done for the sake of the show ring.

Dietary Concerns
We have come to use a commercial processed diet in a matter of a few short years, yet our animal's dentition (teeth) and digestive process have not evolved slowly or had ample time to catch up being fed a processed commercial food. Just take a look at those teeth. They are still waiting to tear, chew and saw for survival. It is no wonder doggie dentistry is a fast growing business these past few years. Some companies even have a dog food that removes tartar!

The processed commercial foods are an area I will continue to address as a cause for many of our current health and dental problems. The commercial dog food industry is relatively young and has developed because of a financial need to utilize foods that are substandard for human consumption. While they serve this purpose under the guise of promoting "complete vitamins and minerals" and "nutritionally complete", most are not even close to being at all beneficial. Vitamins used in such commercial foods are synthetic and minerals are in such crude forms the animals cannot use them. Then there is the even greater issue of getting each of these synthetic and mined nutrients from separate sources and mixing them together and thinking they will work together like they do when found in a natural state.

The industry needs to take a closer look at the nutritional requirements, feeding habits and patterns of the dogs/cats in order to help eliminate some of our current food related health problems. I believe there is a direct correlation between the lack of whole, fresh, raw foods in our animals' diet and the problems of bloat, torsion, disease, short life span, fertility and numerous degenerative diseases. There are a handful of commercial dog food companies that are visionary and are working to add back some of these "life supporting" missing components into their products and pride themselves in working with professional breeders in the improvement of these feeds. I believe the following nutrients can be most critical in helping to prevent bloat and torsion and are often disregarded by the majority of nutritionists, veterinarians, physicians and of course dog food manufacturers.

Minerals are what spark our body's electrons and they are absolutely critical in the diet because they affect the electrical impulses and the body chemistry. Did you get that? Minerals are what effect the electrical impulses and the body chemistry. Although minerals were at one time abundant in our soil and transmitted into grains, fruits, grasses and vegetables, modern farming practices have depleted soils of these minerals. Herbicides, pesticides and mechanical leaching and intensive farming have leached minerals from the soil. We must then go to another source for high quality minerals, such as the cereal grasses and marine plants.

When an animal is not part of the food selection process and not allowed to hunt and scavenge, how can special dietary needs and cravings be addressed? The best example is the mineral and micronutrient issue, particularly the micronutrients. There have been no minimum or maximum determined for most of the minerals and micronutrients. Therefore, these components are simply "overlooked" or disregarded as being unimportant in a diet. However, it is these "essential" minerals and micro-minerals that are the nutrients necessary to run the body's electrical and chemical system!

Part of the Solution: Sulfur/Micro-minerals
There may be a possible connection between bloat/torsion and inadequate amounts of sulfur and micronutrients in the processed canine diet. Sulfur is one mineral of such great importance in body electricity and chemistry that I feel it is an important piece to the whole health picture.

Sulfur is normally found in abundantly in raw meat. Yes, you heard me right, raw meat!   This is something we seldom saw fed unless we lived in Europe ,England , and Australia and now many breeders in those countries have switched to processed foods. Sulfur is found in protein rich foods, such as eggs, as well as in green vegetables, cereal grasses (barley, wheat, rye, grasses), alfalfa and fresh grasses (like the ones they tend to graze on in the yard, crab grass and young ragweed leaves, seaweeds and algaes).   These are things missing from most commercial diets.

Consider this:
Is it possible the relationship of grains to meat in a diet or  how they are prepared sets up a condition that may promote bloating?

Why were the cases of bloat more frequent 10-15 years ago, when most of the foods were grain based?

Is this why dogs raised on a more natural diet of raw meats, tripe, innards and less grains, as in European countries, are less apt to bloat?

One of the reasons we see less bloat and torsion these past few years is because dog foods are improving by going to a meat-based food.

Part of the Solution: Probiotics/Digestive Enzymes
Probiotics (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.

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.

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:

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 that 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.

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. You can use a squirt of apple cider vinegar in the daily water which helps maintain the pH balance.

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.   If an animal has bloat, you can use 1/3 cup probiotic powder   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.

Beet Pulp - Does it have a Role in Bloat?
Beet Pulp, the Much Maligned Prebiotic.  Beet pulp is probably one of the most misunderstood and maligned ingredients in manufactured dog foods. Take the time to understand to understand the role of prebiotics and probiotics in the maintenance of the healthy body. If this is done, then one can begin to understand the role of beet pulp in a feeding program.

This article speaks to misinformation that has perpetrated about beet pulp. This is not just theory on my part. The input is from scientists, medical and nutrition people who have studied in the area of prebiotics and probiotics. I will address villae clogging, use of fiber, and saponins. Please note that the positions held in the misinformation have not been proven scientifically. They are theories only.

  1. Statement: Beet Pulp clogs the villae in the intestine.
    False.  Beet pulp does not clog the villae in the intestine. This is a theory by an owner of a dog food company. There are no scientific studies, which support this theory. There are several studies, which show how beet pulp is beneficial in promoting a healthy digestive system.

    What can clog the villae? If villae are blocked, the prime cause is typically insufficient or total lack of a probiotic colony in the gut. (More on that later.) Another cause of villae clogging is bentonite, which is a fine clay that is used in some cheap dog foods.
  1. Statement: Beet pulp is an indigestible fiber.
    While this statement is true, the beet pulp is not in the food for nutritive value to the dog. It is not supposed to be digested by the dog. The beet pulp has two purposes.

    First, the beet pulp provides nutrition for the probiotics. (It is a prebiotic.) Having good food available encourages the colonization of probiotics.

    The second purpose is to provide bulk to the stool, which allows it to move through the digestive tract at a rate which assures maximum digestion and absorption of nutrients.

    Note: The probiotics cling to the wall of the intestine and dine. While they are there, the bad bacteria cannot gain a food hold. Of course, they won't be there if there is not a proper servings at the banquet table on which to feast.
  1. Saponins in the beet pulp might be responsible for bloat.
    False.  In the paper, "Toxic Substances and Crop Plants" by the Royal Society of Chemistry states that "saponins at the levels fed in modern diets are not toxic but in fact exert a variety of health enhancing benefits, (*including providing fermentation for probiotic viability.)

From Dr. K. Kern
Wysong Corporation and Research Facility Jan 27, 1993
"The claims ...... that saponins cause bloat in is not documented by any reference to any scientific literature. It is simply conjecture and assertion and not fact" Saponins are found in over 100 plant families. These foods have been a part of the mammalian and human diet for thousands of years. Saponin-containing foods are also known to be of therapeutic and health enhancing benefits. There is no documented proof that feeding a pet food with micro-amounts of saponins causes gastrointestinal paralysis and vomiting(bloat).

Beet pulp in a diet encourages colonization of those bacteria which best ferment or digest that form of fiber and discourage those organisms which do not effectively ferment fiber. It so happens that many good bacteria that commonly inhabit the large intestines can deal with beet pulp (Lactobacillus acidophilus and Enterococcus faecium are just two) and many pathogenic bacteria are not supported by its presence (Clostridium sp.,Salmonella sp. and E. coli. 1

Because beet pulp is an ideal food source for these good bacteria, they tend to overgrow potentially bad bacteria (pathogens and gas producers) and make the gut much more resistant to these harmful organisms. As a result of this digestive or fermentation process, vital nutrients called short chain fatty acids are produced which provide superior nutrition to the cells lining the large intestine enhancing their ability to function. 3

These short chain fatty acids (SCFA) are the key to a healthy and efficient digestive tract. The cells that line the intestinal track feed voraciously on SCFA. These cells have a high turnover rate and rely on SCFA to provide adequate nutrition. 2

That portion of beet pulp left after the fermentation of bacterial digestive process promotes ideal nutrient digestibility. The volume of stool is not excessive thus allowing the motility of the gut to move the nutrients along at a rate which assures maximum digestion and absorption.

1. Collins MD, Gibson Dr. Nutritional modulation of microbial ecology. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1998

2. Hallman JE, Moxley RA, et al. Cellulose, beet pulp and pectin/gum arabic effects on canine microstructure and histopathology. Veterinary Clinical Nutrition 1995;2:137-141

3. Albert S. Townshend DVM, Wellness for Life, Am Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1999

Part of the Solution: Antioxidants
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:

It is in my opinion that 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.   Overall, it is my feeling the disease is multi-factored in response to a chronic deterioration of the total system affected by environmental, physiological, dietary and psychological factors. These factors, singly or in combination, cause 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.