VET ADVICE FROM DR. KEVIN CRUICKSHANK BVSc, BSc (Hons)
Kevin and his wife Fiona, own and operate Gold Coast Vet Surgery, proudly an independent, family owned and operated veterinary practice. They focus on personalised, high quality care and excellent customer service. Kevin is passionate about helping people do the best they can for their pets and crucial to this is helping people understand what is wrong with their pet and why they need the treatment they need! He focuses his attention on dogs, cats and small pets and has a special interest in cancer patients and geriatric pet care, behavioural problems, as well as skin and ear complaints. When not treating patients, Kevin enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons, as well as their two dogs, a cat and two guinea pigs! Kevin also enjoys road running, bush walking and scuba diving, and he loves life on the Gold Coast. .
Bloat, or Gastric Dilatation Volvulus
We recently had a case of bloat in a Curly Coated Retriever whose life was saved by the quick actions of his owner in recognizing the symptoms and bringing him in to the clinic immediately.
Bloat, or more correctly Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus, or simply GDV, is a severe life threatening emergency. It is more common in larger, deep chested breeds, but can happen in any breed. The specific cause is unknown but there are several risk factors that can be avoided.
GDV starts with air or gas accumulation in the stomach and in simple cases once this trapped gas is released the dog makes a full recovery. But sadly this seldom happens and most times the dog’s stomach twists over on itself and the only way that the trapped gas can be released is through emergency surgery. If this surgery is not performed soon enough then the increasing amount of gas in the stomach puts pressure on the dog’s lungs and heart, causing severe breathing difficulty.
The twisted stomach also gets damaged and cuts off it’s own blood supply. Left too long and the damage is irreversible. So what are the symptoms of a GDV? Typically it starts out as a restless dog that cannot seem to settle and is trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to vomit.
As it worsens, breathing becomes laboured and the air filled stomach causes the abdomen to bloat and become hardened with the skin stretched in a drum like fashion. Over a short space of time the dog can go from being unsettled and walking around to being completely collapsed and semi-comatose.
Typically a GDV occurs in the first 3-4 hours after feeding and is often triggered by a period of hyperactivity. To reduce the risk of GDV, it is important not to exercise your dog immediately after feeding. But also, only feed your dog once they are completely calm and have recovered after exercise, otherwise it is thought that if they swallow a lot of air with eating, it may contribute to the risk of bloat. It can also be useful to raise up the food bowl for larger breeds of dog so that they don’t have to bend down quite so far to eat – a practical way to do this is to place the food bowl on a step or on an up-turned bucket. Poor quality foods with a lot of grain are also thought to contribute to the problem as the grain based diets release gases when they are digested and fermented. A high quality diet such as VIP’s grain free Nature’s Goodness range can help reduce the risk. And if you have a breed at risk, such as a Great Dane, German Shepherd, Boxer, Doberman, Labrador or similar, talk to your vet to consider preventative surgery that can even be done at the same time as desexing.
But the take home message is, if you ever see any of the symptoms listed above, especially being unsettled and unsuccessful vomiting attempts, don’t wait to see if it will pass …. rush your dog to the vet, day or night … these cases frequently occur after hours at night. As I say to my clients, this is a case where you need to run, don’t walk!
TUNE IN NEXT WEEK FOR DR KEVIN’S VET ADVICE