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Thread: Bloat--please read! (a.k.a. GDV)

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    Senior Member afdahl's Avatar
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    Default Bloat--please read! (a.k.a. GDV)

    I hope your dog never gets bloat. Just in case he/she does, though, there are a couple of things to know.

    1. Bloat is treatable by surgery. It is fatal if not treated.

    2. Time is of the essence. If you suspect bloat, get your dog to a vet as fast as possible. You won't expect it; it's a surprise. Adjust your thinking quickly.

    3. Suspect bloat if your dog's midsection is distended. DO NOT RELY ON YOUR DOG'S BEHAVIOR to tell you whether he/she is in grave danger. He may not look miserable--he might even act normal and happy.

    4. There is a procedure your vet may not know about. Research and discussion could save your dog's life; see below.

    John and I had our first experience with bloat last month. Unfortunately we did not catch it immediately and our dog's prognosis was grave. As time passes while tissues are compressed by the twisting and the distended stomach, blood supply is compromised resulting in necrosis. This was the case with our dog. Fortunately, as it turned out, this occurred on a Friday evening so he was in the care of the local emergency vet. Our emergency vet, it turns out, is not just open when other vets aren't: they are also specialists in emergency veterinary medicine. Our dog first had the standard surgery and gastropexy. They gave him a very poor prognosis because of the color of part of his stomach tissue (indicating necrosis). The next day his white count plummeted, indicating out-of-control infection. By this time the vets had conferred, and the owner of the practice suggested a procedure the original surgeon didn't know about. They operated a second time. They dealt with some other problems but the main things they did were an "invagination" procedure where they folded the compromised part of the stomach inward, stitching it up so it was inside the stomach and not where it could affect/infect the abdominal cavity, and they left the incision open so it could drain and they could observe.

    This was a miserable time. They told me that recent research showed that good pain management resulted in significantly better survival rates, but the effect was that our dog, already weak, was also so doped up that he was barely conscious. If I stroked his head the muscles around his eyes responded, but he didn't open his eyes. His breathing was ragged, and after the second surgery they told me there was pus on the trach tube when they pulled it out. They had him on strong antibiotics and turned him over at regular intervals to help his breathing.

    Late Sunday night they did a third, minor surgery to close the incision. They were amazed, they told me, that when they pulled the trach tube this time, he immediately stood up and walked into his kennel. At 2 a.m. they called me to say he was *eating* and could go home that morning. I had not expected it--I thought I was going to have to shuttle him back and forth between the regular vet and the emergency vet for a couple more days' hospitalization. They think the fitness of a two-year-old field trial dog made the difference here.

    The vets told me that keys to recognizing bloat are that nothing can go in or out, so your dog won't be able to keep anything down if he even tries to eat, and he may look like he's trying to retch or belch, but is not able to. What surprised me, though, was how normal our dog was acting. He would fetch a dummy off the floor, and when we put him in the truck to go to the vet, we had a hard time getting the door shut because his tail was wagging so hard.

    As I said, I hope you never have to deal with bloat. If you do, though, reacting appropriately (fast!) is the key to giving your dog a shot at survival.

    Amy Dahl

  2. #2
    Senior Member Scott R.'s Avatar
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    Default

    Great info Amy. Thanks for posting. Glad your situation had a positive outcome.

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    Senior Member dogcommand's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing your story Amy and for your advice. Glad it worked out for you.
    "I love the winning, I can take the losing, but most of all I love to play"

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    Senior Member Annette's Avatar
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    Thank ou Amy. Such important info.
    Field trialer. I have an FC Golden Retriever and running trials Casey and a retired FT black lab Lightning.
    Marie Annette Doherty

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    Senior Member Dave Farrar's Avatar
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    Thanks for prompting me to put the emergency vet phone numbers in my phone right now. I hope I never need the numbers, but if I do, I now have them at my finger tips.
    DUCKDAWG'S MAC'S MAGICAL MR. OCTOBER JH -- Reggie

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    Senior Member Ron in Portland's Avatar
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    Amy,

    Thanks very much for the info, that could be very important to know.

    One question for you, is there any surefire way to avoid bloat completely? Seems to me that feeding twice a day, and avoiding exercising the dog heavily for four hours after feeding and at least an hour before feeding is going to reduce the risk greatly, but the fact that it still happens, even with very experienced dog people, suggests that it cannot be completely avoided.

    Can it?

    Thanks,
    Ron
    Ron
    www.portlandlabrador.com
    A Lab has no appreciation for the artistic value of a bonsai tree, but does appreciate their potential as chew toys.

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    Senior Member afdahl's Avatar
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    Ron,

    There are lots of thoughts about what affects the risk of bloat. The vet who operated on our dog said that they should not be fed immediately after work. A few years ago there was a big risk factor study. Risk factors are tricky to interpret. Raising the dog's food dish, for example, is associated with an increased risk of bloat. This could be because raising the food dish has long been thought to *reduce* the risk, and it is common practice among owners of breeds like Great Danes, which have very high risk.

    One recommendation that was distilled from the study was to break up your dog's feedings, i.e. feed twice a day instead of once.

    Dogs with deep chests and tucked-up abdomen, especially if they have excitable personalities, have a higher risk than other dogs. This applies to a lot of working retrievers. I think lean dogs are at higher risk. Our affected dog is a Chesapeake, by the way.

    I hope someone more knowledgeable than I can give a better answer. I suggest also keeping your eyes open when these risk factor studies and new recommendations are published.

    Amy Dahl

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    Senior Member Keith Stroyan's Avatar
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    Thanks for the post. I hope I never have to deal with it. Sounds to me like you were "lucky"...

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    Senior Member Mary Lynn Metras's Avatar
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    Amy that is quite a scary story but I am really glad the outcome is good. The long ordeal you went through is unbelievable. I heard from a friend of mine and this was some time ago about how his Poodle had died of bloat. Horrid story and you are right seconds count. Thank you for sharing!!
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    Senior Member hotel4dogs's Avatar
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    We've encountered bloat 3 times here at the pet hotel in the past 14 years. All 3 dogs lived. All 3 times we attributed it to massive luck. The reason I say that is because all 3 cases happened during the day/evening hours. Had they happened overnight, the outcome would have been much different.
    One thing that was common in all 3 of our experiences, however, was that the dog simply could not get comfortable. They would lie down, get up, pace, lie back down, etc.
    If you have a GPS, have the nearest emergency vet programmed in there. If you need to get there in a hurry, you won't be looking for the address or directions.
    If at all possible, call when you are on the way and let them know you are bringing in a potential bloat victim. They will have surgery ready when you arrive.
    Finally, if you have quite a few dogs (or board them), you should have a bloat kit on hand.
    Most important is the flexible plastic tubing. Basically you just ram it down their throat, until you hear the whooooosh of air that means you have gotten it into their stomach. If you meet resistance, back up and gently try again, as you may be trying to insert it into the windpipe instead. If you still meet resistance, chances are the stomach has completely twisted, and you won't be able to use the tube.
    http://www.examiner.com/article/what...get-to-the-vet
    Last edited by hotel4dogs; 09-23-2013 at 07:05 PM.

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