If You Have a Large Dog - Be Aware!

If you are the proud parent of a large dog (Great Dane, Akita, German Shepherd, greyhounds, Saint Bernards, Labrador Retrievers, Irish Wolfhound or other large breeds) be aware of gastric bloat and torsion.

It is a condition known as gastric dilation-volvulus (GDV) caused by your dog gulping its food, drinking a lot of water right after and then going out for a great run or some hard play. The stomach is inflated by the eating of a large amount of food and drinking the water along with the taking in of a large amount of air. The combination of food, water and air, along with the normal secretion of digestive juices creates a large amount of gas that the dog cannot burp, vomit or relieve itself through defecation. The stomach becomes distended and then torsion occurs. Torsion is the twisting of the stomach inside the dog that demands immediate treatment for the dog. Untreated GDV is the cause of death in an estimated 25 to 40 percent of dogs who do not get emergency treatment within 6 to 10 hours.

What are the symptoms? In general the dog will act nervous, possibly pacing, whimpering, may start to drool, try to vomit, but nothing happens and soon the stomach will start to become swollen and hard. The dog’s breathing will become rapid; the heartbeat will also become rapid. The dog may lie down and will not get up, if you tap the stomach it will sound like a hollow drum. The dog’s gums may also become pale. It is suggest you call your vet or animal clinic at once and advise them you are coming in and what the symptoms are.

If the stomach has twisted the blood supply to the stomach is cut off; this can result in tissue death, allows bacteria to enter the stomach wall and then into the bloodstream and the possible formation of blood clots may put the dog into shock. Treatment is necessary at once.

What is the treatment? First of all your vet will treat the dog for shock with intravenous fluids. Then a hose like tube is gently inserted through the mouth into the stomach to hopefully release the gases that are present. This along with fluids that are added to help release the food inside the stomach usually works.

However, if the stomach has twisted, surgery is necessary to untwist it. Usually if the stomach has twisted your vet will attach the stomach to the abdominal wall during surgery to make certain if gastric bloating occurs again, the stomach will not twist

Recovery time is usually a few days in the animal hospital and after some rest at home a dog can assume normal activity within a few weeks.

This surgery is rather risky and the best way to prevent it from happening is to follow this advice.

Do not feed your large dog one big meal. It is best to feed your dog several small meals a day, do not allow your dog to gulp large amounts of water right after eating and do not allow your dog to do any strenuous exercise for at least two hours after eating.

Interestingly enough, even small dogs can such as dachshunds and basset hounds are prone to this problem due to their elongated stomachs, though it is usually the large dogs that are most affected.

It may be easier on you to feed your large dog once a day, but in light of the cost of veterinary care, an ounce of prevention is worth the price of time it takes to feed your dog several times a day, and monitoring its fluid intake after eating

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