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Monday, 1 October 2012

Off my food


I have a one-year-old German Shepherd male dog.

He is a very fussy eater and sometimes he eats only a little food in a day and on a few occasions he has not eaten anything at all. When he did not eat in the morning he sometimes brought up a couple of mouthfuls of bright yellow, foamy bile. This only happened every two or three weeks and the vet told us not to be alarmed about this as it was quite common for dogs to do this if they did not eat the day before. In the last week he has brought up bile on Saturday, Monday and Thursday mornings. The thing is he is eating his food now so we can't understand why this is happening.

We had him on Wafcol Salmon and Potato (he has digestive problems in common with many other GSDs) but we were having trouble getting him to eat this so we are in course of introducing him on to Burns Duck and Brown Rice. He is in his second week of this and we are giving him 245g of Wafcol and 130g of Burns per day We are reducing the Wafcol by 35g every second day and increasing the Burns by 30g at the same time. He weighs 31.5Kg and we are aiming for him to eventually be on 320g of Burns per day after speaking with a Nutritionist at Burns.

We are quite worried about him doing this so frequently and would appreciate your comments and advice on any action we should take.

Thank you.

John Brannan, by email

NB. Only a qualified vet can provide vet advice, but anecdotal evidence can help to point owners in the right direction.


  1. When my dogs do this occassionally I give them Goats Yoghurt. It always seems to help settle things down and they love it.

  2. If he has a long time between his last meal and bringing up bile, then my guess would be it's still an empty stomach that causing the upset. Try giving him a biscuit or a piece of wholemeal bread with a smear of butter or margarine if needed to tempt him, either late at night or early morning.
    I had the same trouble with my GSD and this cleared up the problem with him.

  3. My last GSD did this quite often first thing in the morning, and we found that it seemed to be related to the length of time he had gone without food. Once we started to feed him twice a day and made sure his evening meal was slightly later, the problem went away.

  4. I have had GSD's all my life, and have worked with dogs daily since 1969 as Dog Behaviourist Trainer, Groomer and Listener.
    As a breed, GSD's, in fact ANY dog doesn't do well at all on commercial foods. The protein levels are all wrong, and rely on the main source of that protein coming from potatoes and rice, both of which contain way too much starch for their digestive tracts to cope with. The meat content tends to be Chicken based, and again whilst chicken used to be a good source of the right type of protein for dogs, this has changed due to Factory farming, and the high corn density they are now fed on, instead of the Vegetation and corn/cereals they were fed on and are fed on when raised organically.
    ALL dogs cannot digest cereals easily, in trying, it puts a strain on the whole digestive system, in particular producing way too much bile from the liver and over working pancreas, causing pancreatitus. When the stomach is empty these juices cause what we would call heartburn, and we "taste" it when regurgitated up. We swallow it back down, causing more inflammation of the throat, Dogs are sensible and throw it right out, thus hopefully causing less damage.
    From experience over the years, none of the commercial "special diets" work to cure this, because they are either "the cause" of the problem and just prolong it, Or they are so nutritionally lacking, that the dog either suddenly puts on weight, because it knows instinctively it needs to store as much as possible for fuel. Or it fails to thrive, becoming thinner with emerging medical issues such as diabetes, or liver failure and extreme pancreatitus and kidney failure.
    The ONLY way to cure this is to have a dog on the diet it was designed to eat. And that is a raw diet, made up of the meats it would have had if it was still in the wild. This would be small prey meats, such as rabbit, turkey, lamb, deer, fish, eggs, etc. Beef would be a rarity, but the bones of these big animals would be available, so plenty of big bones, to chew on once or twice a week, to keep those teeth clean, and jaws exercised. Organ meats once a week mixed into their normal meat, around a half in quantity per meal, and made up of hearts, liver, kidneys. Avoid chicken if you can, unless you know it comes from organically free ranging birds. You can add things like parsley, rosemary, spinach, watercress, (all above ground growing, just watch what your dog eats when they are out, they still know which herbs and plants will aid them) garlic, brewers yeast (marmite gravy) to their diet, can help t prevent flea attacks as the fleas are repelled by a healthy dogs blood. 40 years ago, flea issues were unheard of, and apart from the first lot of vaccinations, unless the dog had an accident, Vet visits were rare. The supplements market was unheard of, because the diet dogs ate, was enough for it, there was no need to supplement. Dog biscuits, made from barley and wholemeal flours were given as rare treats in between meals, not something the dog was expected to live on daily. When was the last time you saw a dogs eyes light up with glee at the sight of a field full of corn or wheat and charge into it and begin eating? We all love our breakfast cereals, and we see they are "fortified with vitamins and minerals" to keep us going, so we know they can't be that good, if they need to add thing too it to make it good? In all honesty if we had to live on breakfast cereals all our lives, just how long would it be before we became ill?


  5. I can only go on what has worked for our family and my clients who went back onto raw diets, because of their dogs failing health, vaccination issues, and flea issues.
    As for your precious lad, stop booster vaccinations, start him on a raw diet, at the start around 2lb (what ever that is in kilo’s etc) per day, I like to feed morning and night, so I split the meal, they prefer it. I feed 4 scrambled eggs and then with a tin of sardines mixed in once a week, Yogurt (remove if you wish Bev, live natural Yeo valley) a couple of tablespoons to keep his digestive tract happy. A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in his water bowl, to help keep everything ticking, and keep the PH of the skin right to ward off invaders of any type unless good bacteria, and a teaspoon of honey, either set or clear, as a treat once a week is a natural antibiotic, and prevents the suffering of hay fever, due to the immune system being exposed to tiny amounts of pollens in the honey and building antibodies against them.
    You will have issues such as loose stools, smelly wind and skin flaking or spots, even ear infections, and weepy eyes, for the first few weeks as the body flushes out the toxins its built up, so don’t be put off, everything normally settles down after 6months. What you will notice after just a couple of weeks is your dog’s countenance, they are happier, they have more energy, and play, and their coats shine and change texture.
    And they do live happier longer lives, As I type, my 17 year old is asleep by my side, and my 5 year old girl, who countless Vets told me I’d not get her past her 1st year and to have her PTS, is helping her Dad clear up the pear peel in the kitchen! Yep they love raw veggies and fruits as treats! All is not lost if you wake up and stop believing everything adverts are designed to do. Dogs lived well and happy, for thousands of years, without our intervention, its only been since then their health has gone down hill like ours.
    I hope that helps Jackie Grimmett – Gosport Dog Grooming - Facebook

  6. Online diagnosis and suggestions of treatment aren't a good idea, as it could be one of many things i.e. mild pancreatitis, intestinal blockage, etc, etc. Ask your vet to do tests, x-ray or better still, to refer you to a specialist.

  7. Inka was bringing up bile occasionally, for him it was a combination of a food intolerance, and stomach ulcers. Changing his food, taking veterinary prescribed medications, and adding some oats to both of his meals (his intolerance is maize, otherwise it would have been cornflakes). Having said that, if he were to begin bringing bile up again, I'd take his straight to the vets as it may be the same thing or it could be something different.

    As for feeding dogs on "the diet they were designed to eat" - well, dogs aren't wild animals, and if your dog wasn't living in your home, he'd be an opportunistic scavenger eating from bins, dumps, and anywhere else he could find food - be it cereals, meat, rancid food, or anything else no caring owner would feed their dog!

  8. My terrier bitch was having similar issues. After numerous blood tests, an ultrasound, and lots of different meds all of which turned up nothing and didn't help, we eventually found out she was intolerant to grains in her food! We had been changing her diets fairly regularly during this period at the vets advice, but all of them included rice. Since switching her to a grain free diet of high quality she's been much, much better. Diet could definitely be a factor into your GSD's issues. I'd perhaps look for a higher meat based diet than Burns or if you're keen to remain on Burns supplement with good quality meat daily too. As others have also pointed out, the length of time between meals can also cause such issues. You could try three smaller meals throughout the day or give him a late night biscuit snack/chew before bed to help line his stomach.


  9. I agree with the anonymous poster above, a repeat discussion with your vet would be very much a good idea at this stage. He could have an underlying medical condition that requires treatment. Just like in human medicine there are Veterinary Internal Medicine Specialists that your Vet may choose to refer you too. As with all issues of this nature your Vet should be your first port of call.

  10. I would avoid anything with rice or cereal. Don't feed one large meal - split it up to 2 or 3. Increase the meat content.