Dr Kruger Blog and vlog
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.
Grape and Raisin Toxicity in Dogs
Grape and raisin (dried grapes) toxicity is well documented in dogs. Although the exact substance that causes the toxic reaction is not yet known, it has been shown that even small amounts of grapes or raisins can prove to be fatally toxic for a dog.
Dogs of any age, breed, or gender may be affected. One of the most serious complications of grape/raisin toxicity is acute (sudden) kidney failure with lack of urine production (anuria). However, kidney failure is not seen in all dogs after ingestion of grapes or raisins, and again, the reason why some dogs are affected excessively while others are not is still being studied.
Symptoms and Types
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea – often within a few hours; after 24 hours of ingestion vomit and fecal contents may contain pieces of grapes or raisin
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargy, weakness, unusual quietness
- Abdominal pain
- Oliguria (passing only a small amount of urine)
- Anuria (complete cessation of urine)
- Kidney (renal) failure and death
Grape and/or raisin ingestion – even small amounts can be toxic for some dogs.
This is an emergency needing immediate treatment. If you are positive that your dog ingested grapes or raisins, you will need to induce vomiting as soon as possible, before the toxins in the fruit can be absorbed.
Try to induce vomiting with a simple hydrogen peroxide solution of one teaspoon per five pounds of body weight – with no more than three teaspoons given at once. If vomiting does not take place within ten minutes of the first administration, you may try again, using the same amount. This method should not be given any more than three times, spaced apart at ten minute intervals.
If your dog has not vomited after the third dose, do not use it, or anything further, to try to induce vomiting. Do not use anything stronger than hydrogen peroxide without your veterinarian's assent, and do not induce vomiting unless you are absolutely sure of what your dog has ingested. If your dog has already vomited, do not try to force more vomiting.
Also, do not induce vomiting if your dog is unconscious, is having trouble breathing, or is exhibiting signs of serious distress or shock. Whether your dog vomits or not, after the initial care, you must rush it to a veterinary facility immediately.
Activated charcoal is also useful for preventing absorption of toxin. Call a veterinary doctor immediately upon learning of your dog's ingestion of the grapes or raisins to find out how much activated charcoal to administer to your dog. Keep in mind that you will still need to take your dog in for medical care, as some dogs are more sensitive than others and may need more intensive care, such as a stomach wash/lavage and fluid therapy.
Your will need to provide your veterinarian with as much information as possible so that treatment can begin. If your dog has vomited or had a bout of diarrhea, and you are able to collect a sample of it, this will help your veterinarian to diagnose the severity of the condition and begin treatment that much more quickly.
Routine laboratory tests, including a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. These tests may return results of increased blood calcium, which in severe cases can lead to hypercalcemia, and higher than normal levels of phosphorous and creatinine, both indicators of the kidney's functioning status. Some changes in the urine, like the presence of glucose and/or protein, may be seen.
Ultrasound can also be a useful diagnostic tool for determining the size of the kidney along with finding evidence of abnormal deposition of minerals in the kidneys.
Without explicit evidence of the ingestion (i.e., pieces of the food in the vomit or feces contents), diagnosis is often based on circumstantial evidence along with the usual symptoms that appear after ingestion of grapes and raisins. Often, a toxic substance does not appear on a blood test, as has been the case in previous grape/raisin toxicity cases. The medical research community is continuing work on the discovery of the offending substance.
A stomach wash/lavage and fluid therapy are among the first lines of treatment after vomiting has been successfully induced. Intravenous fluid therapy will be given for at least the first 48 hours, and drugs for encouraging urine output will be administered. If urine is not being produced within a short time, your veterinarian may find it necessary to place your dog on dialysis to support the kidneys while they recover. During this time, your doctor will be monitoring your dog's blood chemicals on a daily basis.
Once the kidney has failed to the point that urine cannot be produced by the body, the entire system soon follows and the affected animal dies. In some cases, even timely treatment will not be enough if the toxin has already been absorbed. Time is of the essence with this situation, but in all cases, prognosis is guarded.
How to Prevent This Condition
Keep raisins and grapes out of reach of your dog, as dogs will ingest almost anything. Make sure that all family members are aware of the toxic capability of this food, as well as other foods that have been found to be toxic to pets, such as chocolate, onions, garlic, etc. If you do discover that your dog has ingested raisin or grapes, acting immediately is the best prevention for avoiding a complicated situation.
Article Source: petMDImage via Shutterstock
Write-up by Rick Dunn - Brand Evangelist - Dr. Kruger's Supplements
August 29, 2014
Calabash, N.C., March 12, 2013 – U.S. pet obesity rates continued to increase in 2012 with the number of overweight cats reaching an all-time high. The sixth annual National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) found 52.5 percent of dogs and 58.3 percent of cats to be overweight or obese by their veterinarian. That equals approximately 80 million U.S. dogs and cats at increased risk for weight-related disorders such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, hypertension and many cancers.
Giving your pet extra treats, extra food, french fries, ice cream etc.. may seem like a good thing to do at the time especially when they look at you with those big eyes that just say "please give me some too". Combine this with dogs that get too little or no exercise and you have a recipe for disaster. Dogs that are overweight tend to add stress on bones and the ligaments and tendons of joints, making them more susceptible to traumatic injury. Fat dogs don’t ambulate as well; they become couch potatoes, resulting in “stuck” joints that cause the dog to want to lie about even more – a cycle that ultimately leads to a painfully immobile animal. These also often develop other unforeseen issues like skin problems, allergies, sensitivities, digestive disorders....
A fit dog should have an indented waist and the waist line should tuck-up slightly behind the ribs. (Remember that some breed standards may vary somewhat from this ideal.)
Dogs tend to put on fat over their shoulders, ribs, and hips and around the tail head. You should be able to feel individual ribs and the space between each rib, and the shoulder blades, hips, and tail head should be readily palpable.
From left: fit, fat, and obese
Most commercial dog foods simply contain too little meat-derived protein, too many grain-based carbohydrates, and too much fat. These foods also do not contain the necessary amounts of minerals and nutrients which will allow the dogs system to absorb what little benefits they do get form these foods.
I am sure you have heard the old saying by Benjamin Franklin "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" this is as true today as it was in 1736. There are 4 easy things you can do help your dog stay fit.
Exercise: 150 minutes per week is considered the minimal time necessary for maintaining body condition. That can be achieved through walking, playing, wrestling, chasing a ball and so on. I would recommend starting with exercising in short time periods to begin with and slowly work your way up to longer play times until you reach that 150 minute a week minimum target. This is not an overnight fix; it is a long term commitment.
- Proper Diet: Good quality dog food will certainly help, maintain a strict diet regiment, give treats in moderation and monitor your dog for any foreign matter or objects they might ingest.
- Do not over feed your dog: Dogs are generally fed based on their body weight or activity level. Stay true to these feeding formulas; having said that if your dog is use to getting a greater amount of food there are things you can do to augment the volume while you slowly reduce the intake to the proper amount their ideal size. Cottage Cheese, Yoghurt, Green Beans and other vegetables are acceptable as they are healthy choices without adding the extra calories that your dog does not need.
- Dr. Kruger's Supplements: when used daily provide the necessary vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, digestive enzymes, microbes and other probiotics for the health of your pet. Made from all natural ingredients, Dr. Kruger's Supplements provide a holistic approach to your pets heath helping your dog or cat absorb more nutrients from their diet. When used in combination with a healthy, organic food, Dr. Kruger's Supplements ensure better health through better digestion... naturally!
Rick Dunn is a former Registered Animal Technician, a former vet tech in a busy urban mixed animal practice and a life long pet lover.
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