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Bloat and Torsion - an owners story.

Saturday, 1 July 2023 09:27 AM

My Experience with Bloat and Torsion

Many of us are familiar with the deadly condition known as Bloat, where a dog's stomach expands due to gas, food, or fluid. As the stomach expands, it exerts pressure on the surrounding organs and circulatory system, reducing blood flow to the heart and other vital organs, making the condition much more complicated. The stomach can twist or fully rotate, causing a condition called gastric dilation volvulus (GDV), commonly known as torsion, which traps blood in the stomach, preventing it from returning to the heart.

The following symptoms are commonly associated with this condition:

  1. Restlessness
  2. Swollen stomach
  3. Drooling
  4. Wretching
  5. Stretching
  6. Collapse
  7. Pale gums
  8. Rapid heartbeat
  9. Shortness of breath

Here is what happened to me:

I own Briards, a large breed with a moderately deep chest, providing ample lung room. Unfortunately, I have experienced Bloat with two previous Briards, so I am well aware of the signs.

On a particular evening, I was working late and went upstairs around 2:45 am, only to be greeted by my husband informing me that Leroy had just landed on his head! This unusual behavior couldn't be ignored. Leroy seemed reluctant to get up, which further raised concerns. I made him stand and felt his distended tummy, which was significantly swollen on one side. After a shout to my husband to get dressed, we quickly drove to the emergency vet, which was approximately 35 minutes away. Throughout the entire drive, I struggled to maintain calmness while fighting back tears. We diligently followed all the guidelines to prevent Bloat, such as avoiding overfeeding and excessive exercise, dividing meals into smaller portions, allowing rest after meals, and refraining from feeding when panting due to heat. Despite these precautions, I had no idea what had caused the Bloat that evening.

Upon reaching the veterinary clinic, Leroy was continuously wretching, and the vet suggested an X-ray. I wondered why they needed an X-ray when it was quite clear what the problem was. The vet mentioned a couple of conditions with similar symptoms, but I was too overwhelmed to listen attentively; all I wanted was for them to act quickly. After the X-ray confirmed the condition, the vet presented us with options, including euthanasia and other possible outcomes. I felt impatient and just wanted them to proceed. We paid a £2.5k deposit and were instructed to wait at home. The journey back home was filled with noise and panic in my head that refused to subside; I longed for silence to calm myself. Three hours later, we received a call informing us that Leroy's stomach had twisted, resulting in torsion. However, the operation was successful, and they had sutured his stomach in place. Leroy would be hospitalized for a few days and closely monitored, with potential relapses mentioned, such as sepsis, toxins in his blood, and recurring bloating.

Twelve hours later, we received another call stating that Leroy was refusing to eat, and three hours after that, they asked if we could pick him up because he kept escaping whenever they checked on him. This behavior reminded me of my boy. We immediately went to get him, and although he appeared sorrowful, he was happy to see us. The first few days at home involved constant vigilance from my husband and me, setting hourly alarms throughout the night to check on him. After a week, we began to relax a little, and now, two months later, he has fully recovered. However, as I write this in my office late at night, I can hear him panting, and it takes every ounce of willpower not to go check on him.

There were a few things I learned from this experience. First, Bloat can develop over a few days, contrary to what I previously believed. I always thought it was a condition that developed rapidly. Additionally, having the stomach stitched does not guarantee that it won't bloat and twist again. Lastly, feeding from a raised food bowl, which was something we used to do, is now discouraged and considered a possible cause of Bloat.

I am just grateful to still have Leroy with us. However, the fact that it happened once increases the likelihood of it occurring again, and I'm unsure how to navigate that uncertainty. Leroy, as a whole dog, is highly sensitive and can become stressed by seemingly insignificant things, such as a vacuum placed near a doorway, which can keep him confined to a room for hours. Even sitting at the top of the stairs because there is a pile of clean pants at the bottom can prevent him from passing. There's never a dull moment with him.

I love you, Leroy. xx P.S. I did go and check on him.

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