Angus

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Willunga Vet Services
37 Main Rd
Willunga
SA 5172

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Phone:
8556 2075
Fax:
8556 2654

Aldinga Vet Services
16 Heathersay Ave
Aldinga Beach
SA 5173

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Phone:
8556 5498

Angus is a lovely 7 year old male Bernese Mountain dog. Angus has had a number of vet visits up to date but nothing as serious as his last visit. Angus had been fine all day, he was given his usual dinner and then about an hour after this he seemed to be in pain and discomfort. His abdomen appeared to be bloated and he was trying unsuccessfully to throw up. Luckily Angus's owner was aware of GDV's (Gastric- Dilation - Volvulus) in this breed and knew he needed immediate attention. He was brought straight down to the clinic to be seen by the after hours vet (unfortunately this is generally an out of hours emergency!). On first examination, Angus was very quiet, in obvious pain and had a very distended/bloated abdomen. He was continuously trying to vomit but couldn't bring anything up. An xray was immediately taken which confirmed our suspicion. Unfortunately Angus had a condition we call ‘Gastric Dilation and Volvulus' or put more simply a bloated and twisted stomach.

GDV is a life threatening emergency. The condition primarily affects large and giant breed dogs with ‘deep chests'. It rarely occurs in small dogs or cats but that's not to say it can't happen! The actual cause of the condition is unknown but there are certain factors that may contribute to the condition. It can be dietary related - feeding only once a day, dogs that gulp their food and swallow air whilst eating, stress, exercising too close to meal times and any other changes from the normal routine. Sometimes however, it just happens!

GDV occurs when the stomach dilates excessively with gas or fluid (or both), the stomach then remains in the normal position or it twists making it a life threatening emergency requiring surgery. As the stomach twists it blocks the outflow tract and thus continues to fill with air, this causes all sorts of horrible consequences leading to shock. If the stomach expands to a great extent, major blood vessels are blocked. Another severe complication is that as the stomach twists, the spleen twists also, which cuts off the blood supply to the spleen and in certain circumstances it needs to be surgically removed.

The signs of GDV are usually noticed within a few hours of feeding and include restlessness, increased salivation, trying to vomit but not bringing anything up and generally being miserable. These signs then progress to severe abdominal pain and distension of the abdomen. If any of these symptoms are noticed in your dog it is paramount that you call us, this is a true emergency!

Angus's owner was very diligent and brought him straight down to see us when he was showing these symptoms. She was well aware of this potential problem in this breed and knew what signs to look for. We had a fair idea of the problem when he arrived and an xray confirmed this.

Without delay he was placed on intravenous fluids to counteract his shock and then a large tube was passed into his stomach, this released a lot of gas from the stomach and gave Angus some relief before we went into surgery. As the stomach was twisted Angus needed surgery to correct this.

The surgery consisted of initially ‘untwisting the stomach' via a large incision over his abdomen. The spleen was twisted with the stomach and the blood supply to the spleen had been cut off, causing it to become severely enlarged and ‘congested' (swollen). We needed to first remove the spleen (‘splenectomy') it order to allow us to manipulate and rotate the stomach back into the normal position.

Following this we performed a ‘belt loop' gastropexy in which the stomach was stitched to the abdominal wall. This is to secure the stomach in the correct place in the abdomen to prevent the stomach twisting again. We checked to make sure the rest of the abdomen was fine and then stitched him all up.

Angus recovered well from the surgery however shortly after waking up we noticed his gums were a bit pale. This indicated that he had some internal bleeding. As the surgery had been a success we didn't feel it was necessary to ‘go back in' but instead decided to monitor him closely with serial blood tests. He continued to lose blood, which was getting very serious. In the wee hours of the morning it was decided to give him a blood transfusion. Thanks to Emily's lovely Labrador for being a donor! After the blood transfusion he slowly began to improve. He stayed in the clinic for a few days to be monitored closely and gradually made a full recovery. Unfortunately not all dogs with this condition are quite as lucky as Angus. The condition is very serious and there are risks associated with the surgery.

In conclusion, GDV (gastric dilation- volvulus) is a very serious condition that affects primarily large breed ‘deep chested' dogs. Although there is no known cause for the condition there are certain things that can be done to reduce the risk. It is important to feed large breed dogs at least twice a day, prevent them from gulping their food, don't feed directly before or after exercise and minimise stressors during feeding. There are special bowls that can also be purchased aimed at slowing your dog down when he/she is eating, if you are interested we can give you more information. The most important thing to take away is if you suspect this problem or your dog is showing any of these symptoms - don't delay... CALL US!


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