(link at bottom, great site and also to subscribe too)
You’ve probably already heard all about canine influenza. It’s been talked about fairly frequently in the popular press and on dog forums across the internet. So, what’s truth and what fiction? Let’s talk about that.
(link at bottom, great site and also to subscribe too)
What is canine influenza? Canine influenza is caused by the influenza virus designated as H3N8. It is not contagious to people as far as we know but it is very contagious to other dogs and is very easily passed. In fact, in communities where canine influenza is a new infection, virtually all dogs are likely to be susceptible to infection. Without prior exposure, none of the dogs in the community are likely to have any natural immunity to the disease.
Canine influenza should not be confused with other types of influenza, such as the H1N1 influenza that caused the 2009 epidemic. There are many different strains of influenza and, though canine influenza is similar to other strains of influenza, it is a strain of its own.
How serious is canine influenza? In most cases, canine influenza is a self-limiting disease. Some dogs may remain asymptomatic and never show any signs of illness. Others may have a soft, wet cough. In some cases the cough may last as long as 3-4 weeks. Other symptoms sometimes seen are fever, runny nose, fatigue, and loss of appetite. However, less commonly, canine influenza can cause a serious form of pneumonia and can become life-threatening. It is estimated that roughly 8% of infected dogs (less than one in ten) will develop this type of complication. However, it is impossible to predict which dogs will develop pneumonia.
How is the disease diagnosed? Canine influenza produces symptoms very similar to those seen with other forms of upper respiratory infection. It is considered to be one of the factors that can be part of the disease complex known as “kennel cough”. Other factors that can be involved with “kennel cough” includeBordetella, parainfluenza, environmental factors such as smoke and dust, and crowded conditions (such as that seen in a kennel situation.) Blood tests can be done to detect the canine influenza virus but, without blood testing, the virus cannot be differentiated from other forms of “kennel cough”.
How is canine influenza treated? Like most forms of “kennel cough”, canine influenza is treated symptomatically. Because it is a viral disease, there is no specific definitive cure. For some dogs, no treatment is necessary. For others, antibiotics may be indicated. If the cough is severe, cough suppressants may be advised. However, many veterinarians prefer to use cough suppressants only for those dogs that have a cough severe enough that is interfering with their normal daily activities.
How can a dog be protected against canine influenza? Your dog can be vaccinated against canine influenza. However, this vaccine is not considered a core vaccine. This means that the decision to vaccinate should be made based on your dog’s lifestyle and risk of exposure to disease. If your dog is placed in a kennel situation regularly or is around other dogs frequently (boarding, grooming, day care, puppy play classes, obedience training, etc.), your dog may be a candidate for vaccination. Talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s individual risk and whether vaccination is in your dog’s best interest.
For more information on Canine Influenza check out MyPet.com.
Like the human foot, your dog’s paws are designed by nature to function to protect leg bones and joints from the impact of walking, running, and jumping. The specialized calloused tissue of the pads form a protective barrier against hot and cold and help your dog to grip terrain as they explore. We’re fortunate to have a plethora of shoe styles to protect our feet, and the luxury of going for periodic foot pampering sessions and exams to ensure that our feet can do their job effectively. Did you know that there are lots of easy things you can do at home for your pet to keep his paws in prime condition too? Take a look below to learn some simple ways to keep your pet’s peds happy and healthy year round.
First, you should know a little about your pet’s foot anatomy. These hard working appendages are simple to understand, yet complex in their function. If you take a closer look at the bottom of your dog’s foot, you’ll see the prominent metacarpal(C) and smaller digital pads(B) (the “paw print”), the carpal pad (the knobby, rather rigid pad(E) near your dog’s “wrists”), claws(A), and dew claws(D) (the smaller “thumb” toe and claw. Your dog may have had these removed as a puppy).
Now that you know what you’re looking at, let’s talk about how these little works of art should be maintained. Maintenance of your dog’s paws is much easier if they are used to having their feet handled and worked with. Use caution if your pet doesn’t like his paws handled or isn’t used to these maintenance actions to prevent injury to you or your pet.
You probably know that your dog should have his claws (and dew claw) clipped regularly to maintian the proper length. The frequency fo trimmings can vary depending on the terrain your dog walks on most and the growth rate of his claws in general. Dogs that walk on rough surfaces like concrete or street surfaces may naturally wear the nails down, whereas dogs that spend most of their time on carpet or grass may need more frequent trimmings. If your pet’s nails are clicking against the floor or getting snagged on things, it’s probably time for a pedicure. You can have your veterinarian or groomer trim the nails or use nail trimmers to do it at home, just be sure you know how to use them properly. The idea is to trim only the hard keratin tip of each claw, and trimming a claw too short may cause you to knick the “quick”, the area where blood flows into the nail. It is especially hard to judge how far to trim on opaque or black claws, and if you can’t judge where the quick begins it may be safer to allow a professional to the job.
Don’t forget the dew claw. This little claw may be sharper and thinner than other claws or very thick and curved. If it is missed in the trimming regime, it may curve and grow back into the pad over time.
Other attention should be paid to the pads and toes. These parts should be regularly inspected for damage and injuries. Wipe the paws with a damp cloth or cleaning wipe after walking in mud or salty, cindery winter roads to remove any chemicals and sediment. Trim the hair that grows out from between the toes, making it even with the surface of the pad to prevent mats and snags. Check between the toes to be sure there are no pebbles, burrs or other small objects that may irritate the area.
Pamper your pet with a foot pad massage and moisturizing session. A short, simple paw massage will relax your dog and promote better circulation to those tired treads. Use light pressure to massage the pads, rub between the toes, and up their legs. Your friend will love the extra attention. There are moisturizers on the market specifically formulated for doggie paws. These products can help to soothe and heal dry, cracked, overworked pads when used as directed.
Injuries: Symptoms, Treatments, and Prevention
Sometimes despite your best efforts a paw injury can occur. Common injuries include cuts, punctures, burns, abbrasions, blisters, chapping or cracking. We, of course, try hard to prevent any injury to our pet, but in the event that a minor injury occurs you may be able to treat it at home.
There are several indicators that your pet may have an injury or problem with a paw. The most obvious signs are limping, holding the paw off the ground, bleeding, and licking or chewing of the paw. If you notice any of these behaviors, gently and cautiously inspect the paw to see if you can locate the injury or obstruction. Bruising or small wounds to the pad may be difficult to see on rough or dark pads. Be careful while probing the area, as even non-aggressive pets may snap if they are experiencing pain or discomfort.
If you find a minor wound (smaller than half an inch), first stop any bleeding and cleanse the area, preferably with antibacterial wash. Bandage the area lightly and monitor the area, keeping it clean and watching for any signs of infection until it is healed. If you are unable to stop bleeding, or if the area is large enough to require stitches or other treatment, seek veterinary treatment as soon as possible.
Here are some easy things to consider to help avoid injuries:
Avoid walking your pet on sharp, rough gravel or stone or in areas where you see broken glass, bits of metal or other hazards. If you wouldn’t want to walk on it with bare feet, neither does your dog.
In summer, avoid hot pavement, sand and concrete. Painful burns, blisters and sores could result.
In winter, avoid sharp ice and snow, and try to limit walks in extreme cold to prevent chapping. Wash away chemicals and salts that may be on your pet’s feet from treated roadways and sidewalks. You may also try disposable or multi use doggie booties if your dog will walk in them. A coating of vaseline on the paw pads is also a common prevention step to create a barrier against salt and other harsh chemicals.
Paw Parts image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Amos T Fairchild
Dog in the snow image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Dan Bennett
Puppy with paw injury image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Johnny MrNinja
The dogs that can detect cancer: Meet the four-legged 'bio-detectives' who are pioneering a health revolution
This is fantastic! I am trying to find out if there is anything like this in SA for those that are interested and will make a post if I find it. The site is well worth looking at as well if this interest you. For more information, visit www.medicaldetectiondogs.org.uk
BY JENNY STOCKS
UPDATED:12:01 GMT, 16 November 2011
Daisy the labrador is hard at work on a project that could change your life and mine.
In her smart red jacket, she wanders around a metal carousel in a small centre outside Milton Keynes, sniffing at the different scents that are attached to its 12 spokes. Then she stops.
She’s found what she’s looking for and looks expectantly up at her handler — she knows that when she recognises this specific smell, she will soon get an edible reward.
While Daisy enjoys the process (and her dog biscuits) her actions are more than just a game — they have huge implications for all of us.
Because what this seven-year-old dog is sniffing is a selection of samples from a local hospital. And she has just located the only one that came from a cancer patient.
Daisy, quite simply, is being taught to sniff out cancer. She is one of the world’s first bio-detection dogs — trained animals that may one day revolutionise medical diagnosis.
We all know that dogs have far more powerful noses than humans — indeed their sense of smell is up to 100,000 times better than ours.
But, in recent years, a dedicated team of researchers has been developing what is potentially an even greater breakthrough.
Earlier this year, German research discovered that dogs could sniff out lung cancer from breath samples of sufferers.
The four dogs in the study learned to get it right 71 per cent of the time, far too high to be mere coincidence.
Closer to home came the story of British pensioner Maureen Burns, who made headlines when her collie-cross Max started sniffing her breath and nudging her right breast — where it turned out she had a tiny cancerous tumour developing that doctors hadn’t yet picked up.
A dog that can smell cancer before doctors can diagnose it?
If it sounds far-fetched — a case of wishful thinking rather than genuine canine skill — then there is solid scientific theory behind it.
It’s believed that cancers produce volatile chemicals that dogs can be trained to smell, which could have dramatic implications for early diagnosis of the disease.
Does this mean that at some point in the future, every hospital and GP’s surgery could be equipped with a ‘sniffer dog’ to pounce on anyone who has cancer?
No. For now, researchers are simply hoping to prove that if they demonstrate categorically that cancer does have a generic smell, then scientists could work towards creating a machine (known as an ‘electronic nose’) to perform the same function as a dog’s wet nose can: screening breath or urine samples to search for ‘cancer scent’ with even greater ability than specially-trained dogs.
Unlike painful biopsies, this would undoubtedly make the process of diagnosis less invasive and far quicker — and more likely to be picked up earlier.
As Claire Guest, a specialist in human and animal behaviour and the doctor responsible for the British research into cancer sniffer-dogs, says: ‘One of the largest misunderstandings we face is that people think we are trying to say that dogs are better than machines — we’re not.
‘There are already machines which act as ‘electronic noses’ that are designed to identify chemicals such as cocaine, and this is what we are trying to do with cancer.
‘Of course, no dog is going to be 100 per cent — but at the moment there is no machine out there that can do what the dogs are doing. Cancer detection is extremely invasive, so imagine if it could be picked up simply by a urine sample or blowing into a tube?’
Dr Guest has invited me along to spend the day at the headquarters of her trailblazing charity, Medical Detection Dogs, so that I can witness these ‘doctor dogs’ in action.
Not only does the centre train dogs to sniff cancer, it’s also responsible for training ‘medical alert’ dogs which live with people who have health problems.
They have taught 22 dogs to recognise when a diabetic’s blood sugar gets low and alert them to stop hypoglycaemia, aid narcoleptics by working out when an attack of sleep paralysis is about to start — and may soon be able to teach dogs to tell when someone with a severe allergy is about to have an allergic episode.
This all relates to the same idea — that dogs can recognise the minutest changes in smell when certain processes happen in the human body.
‘We are only at the start of working out everything that dogs can detect,’ Dr Guest says. ‘It would seem that almost any medical event has an odour change. The clever thing is that the dogs are able to work out what the norm is, and when it changes.’
While only a small group of people (mostly diabetics) have benefited from the services of the medical alert dogs so far, it is the charity’s cancer research work that could really make a difference to millions, and I’m here to see what the fuss is all about.
On arrival at the centre in Buckinghamshire, I’m greeted by a pack of dogs of all shapes and sizes, scampering around on a patch of grass outside like any other beloved pets out for a walk in the sunshine.
Shouldn’t life-saving dogs behave a little more seriously? Rob Harris, the training co-ordinator, assures me that this ‘down-time’ is essential.
‘This is their time to come out and refresh their noses. It’s a great place for them to run around,’ he says.
The dogs don’t spend every day at the centre, but usually come in two or three times a week. They either live with charity workers or full-time dog walkers — none spends its days kennelled.
At present, there are ten ‘cancer dogs’ in the training programme, but they’re never all here at once.
Today, it is Daisy the labrador that will demonstrate her skills, but hurtling around her at playtime is Ozzie, an 18-month-old border collie (he has even been to Crufts), Kizzy, a three-year-old cocker spaniel, and two new recruits, Alice, a six-month-old golden retriever, and Midas, seven months old, a Hungarian Vizsla (a breed of sleek red hunting dog).
Watching over them is the ‘veteran’ of the centre, nine-year-old brown cocker spaniel Tangle. He was one of the original dogs that took part in the first cancer sniffing research in the world when he was little more than a puppy in 2002.
So how did it all come about? Dr Guest, it turns out, had long suspected that dogs may have cancer-detecting qualities.
Having worked for almost 20 years for Hearing Dogs For The Deaf, she had come across several stories about dogs that had started to display peculiar behaviour when their owners had developed early-stage cancer.
‘There seemed to be lots of anecdotal evidence — even a colleague of mine, Gill, told me about how her pet Dalmatian had started licking and sniffing a mole on her leg when she was in her 20s,’ recounts Dr Guest,
‘She couldn’t even be in the same room as the dog.
‘Eventually, she decided to go to the GP to have it removed — and a biopsy revealed it was malignant melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer.’
Dr Guest teamed up with respected surgeon Dr John Church (whose other research has involved bringing back the use of maggots for cleaning wounds) in 2002 to try to prove this phenomenon was more than just coincidence.
The results of their study, in which the dogs were 56 per cent accurate, sparked interest around the world. Since then, Dr Guest has been improving methods to make the dogs more accurate (using rewards has brought about the biggest change, perhaps not surprisingly).
So far, bladder cancer has been the focal point for testing, but the charity is about to launch a new trial into prostate cancer to broaden their research
Time to see it in action. Daisy’s trainer Rob takes me into a white room with the metal carousel in the centre.
From a cardboard box, he removes 12 plastic pots, each filled with just 0.5ml of urine.
‘The dogs work with a mix of samples donated by local hospitals,’ he says.
‘Some of the patients are healthy, some have other diseases and one has cancer.’
So far, bladder cancer has been the focal point for testing, but the charity is about to launch a new trial into prostate cancer to broaden their research.
Rob knows which sample is the cancerous one — the dogs are simply learning to recognise the scent, rather than diagnosing cancer.
He admits that at this stage, no one really knows what compounds in the samples the dogs are detecting — only that it must be there. ‘It’s difficult because, essentially, we are working backwards — we don’t know yet what it is that they can smell, but finding out they can smell something gets us one step closer to identifying it.’
He attaches one vial to each spoke of the carousel, which can be spun around (to avoid the clever dogs working out where the cancer sample is put each time simply by the position).
With all 12 in place, Daisy enters with Dr Guest. She is fed a treat (donated Royal Canin food) and then Dr Guest calls: ‘Seek!’ Daisy weaves around the carousel, stopping for half a second at each vial to sniff before she carries on. Then she reaches the sixth position.
She stops, sits and stares back at Dr Guest. Only when she hears a ‘click’ from a training device in his hand does she hurry over to her trainer for another reward.
So did she get it right? Of course she did — and another four rounds show she is spot on every time. It is staggering to watch.
‘They transform as soon as their red ‘bio-detection’ coats are on — it’s like a uniform,’ says Rob.
How on earth did Daisy, and the other cancer dogs, learn to do this? The first step, according to Dr Guest, is picking the right dogs.
The dogs need to be very nose-driven — many dogs that live with humans become more reliant on their eyes
‘We look for highly driven dogs that enjoy hunting for the sake of it,’ she explains. ‘Working labradors, spaniels and collies are often well-suited.
'They need to be very nose-driven — many dogs that live with humans become more reliant on their eyes.’
The dogs tend to come from rescue centres or are donated by breeders who support the charity’s work. When they first show up, often as puppies, they are put through obedience training — dogs can’t be sniffer trained until they can follow and obey voice commands.
Next, they start simple scent work and problem-solving — I’m shown a training toy the centre uses which looks like a child’s wooden block game, but different treats can be hidden under the blocks for the puppy to find.
After about 14 to 16 months (although they don’t put a time limit on it), the centre moves on to advanced sniffer training using urine samples and the handheld ‘clicker’ which is pressed if the dog identifies the correct cancer sample.
‘It pinpoints the exact time when the dog is doing something you like, and then you reward them afterwards,’ says Dr Guest. ‘They learn that the behaviour associated with the click leads to the treat.’
To begin with, they are given ‘high reward’ treats like a piece of smelly cheese or tripe — but as they become more used to it, they move on to more simple dog biscuits and food, or even a tennis ball. These are dogs, after all.
Having spent a day at the centre, there’s no disputing the incredible talent of these dogs and their trainers. So will they be the key to identifying cancers earlier than any doctor can?
It’s early days yet. But so far, the signs are that man’s best friend could turn out to be an even greater asset to mankind.
For more information, visit www.medicaldetectiondogs.org.uk
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2062000/The-dogs-detect-cancer-Meet-legged-bio-detectives-pioneering-health-revolution.html#ixzz29cazX9SN
ABC News' Dan Harris and Natasha Singh report:
A Connecticut shelter dog is being credited with saving the life of an infant who had stopped breathing.
The dog, named Duke, alerted the baby's parents that something was amiss by jumping into their bed in the middle of the night. The dog was shaking uncontrollably.
"He's insanely obedient so this was extremely bizarre," Jenna Brousseau, speaking in an interview with WFSB-TV, said of Duke's Oct. 7 behavior.
She and her husband decided to check on their daughter, 9-week-old Harper. They found that she wasn't breathing.
"My husband called 911 and the ambulance came here and it was because of our Dukie dog, who alerted us," Brousseau of Portland, Conn., said, according to WFSB-TV. "If Duke hadn't, you know, been so scared, then we would have just gone to sleep."
Doctors aren't sure what caused Harper to stop breathing, but have said it could possibly have been because of acid reflux.
The Brousseaus adopted Duke from a shelter six years ago.
"He's the perfect dog," Brousseau said. "He was meant to be ours, and meant to be hers."
Harper is apparently doing well now.
(This is a great site to browse through - full of interesting info - see link at bottom)
Whether it’s big, round, and the palest pink or small, pointy and glossy black – you can’t miss it, it’s right there in the middle of your dog’s face: its nose. You’ve probably heard all sorts of stories about the nose, from the amazing feats of scent detection it can perform, to its use as an indicator of general dog health. Here are a few common questions and myths.
Does a dry nose mean a dog is sick?
This is a common misconception. An active, sniffing dog will often have a cool, wet nose, but a dry nose does not necessarily mean the dog is unwell. A feverish, lethargic dog might have a hot, dry, nose, but so might a perfectly healthy dog. A sick dog will usually have other symptoms. For example, a dog with a respiratory illness might have a very wet nose, but it might be runnier than usual, with thick or crusty discharge.
Why do dogs have wet noses?
The moisture on dogs’ noses has two good uses: to help keep the dog cool, and to help the dog smell. Although dogs only sweat through the pads of their feet, they can also shed heat through evaporation from their mouth (panting) and from their nose. The thin, clear moisture produced by a dog’s nose is actually mucus, rather than sweat. The mucus also provides a good surface for dissolving chemicals from the air and absorbing them into the skin, where the cells that detect smell are located. Often, a dog that is actively sniffing and alert will have a wetter nose than one who is relaxed or asleep. Additionally, dogs will lick their nose to sample the chemicals that are stuck there and present them to another olfactory sense organ on the roof of their mouth. Together with the extensive, sensitive folds of tissue within the dog’s long nose (called with nasal turbinae) and an enlarged olfaction area in the brain, these adaptations give dogs the excellent sense of smell for which they are renowned.
Does sneezing mean a dog is sick?
Many breeds sneeze when happy or excited, and this is perfectly normal. Whining can also trigger a sneezing fit, as it seems to tickle the nose. In general, sneezing is a good way to get just about any irritant out of the nose. Dogs will sneeze when they smell something dusty or unpleasant. Excess mucus from a respiratory or sinus infection will causes sneezing, usually with obvious thick or crusty discharge. A dog that sneezes constantly without apparent cause should be taken to the vet in case he has something stuck in his nose – those big nostrils can hide any number of small items, including warts and tumours. Never try to remove something from your dog’s nose without a vet’s help – the skin in the nose is very sensitive and tends to bleed heavily if nicked.
Do dogs get colds?
Dogs do get upper respiratory infections, coughs, sinus infections, runny noses, and all the things we associate with “colds” in people. However, while the common cold in a human doesn’t usually warrant treatment (other than rest and chicken noodle soup), most respiratory infections in dogs are more severe. Distemper is a serious illness in dogs that can cause a runny nose and neurological symptoms, but vaccination prevents infection in most dogs. Kennel cough is a milder and more common disease in dogs in group situations – social or travelling dogs are often vaccinated for this as well. Other respiratory illnesses, such as fungal infections picked up by hunting dogs in the woods, are hard to prevent and can become very serious if left untreated. Any dog with unusual discharge from the nose (anything that is not thin and clear), or with a persistent cough or sneeze, should take a trip to the vet.
Do dogs get sunburn?
Just like people, dogs tend overdo it on the first good day in the spring or summer, and spend a bit more time under the sun than is wise. Any time a dog spends more time in the sun than he’s used to, especially dogs with pink or light-coloured noses, he’s liable to get a sunburn. Some dogs with short or pale hair can get it everywhere! Repeated exposure over the years can also result in skin cancer. Make sure your dog has access to shade if he’s outside all day, and consider keeping him inside in the middle of the day at the beginning of the sunburn season. Sunscreen works just as well for dogs as it does for people, but most dogs will lick it off their noses. The same goes for post-exposure ointments or lotions. If your dog has a very bad burn that blisters or bleeds, you should call your vet for advice.
What makes a dog’s nose change colour?
A variety of things can cause colour change in your dog’s nose. Obviously, the sunburn mentioned above can cause redness in a normally light-coloured nose. Dogs with pale or sensitive noses will often have some minor colour change with the change in the seasons – just as with people who tan. Another common cause of colour change occurs in dogs that eat out of plastic dishes. This is called contact sensitivity, and can be avoided by using glass, ceramic, or stainless steel food and water bowls. These materials are also less likely to harbour bacteria.
If Only They Could Talk...
If your dog could talk, these are some of most important things she would like to tell you...
1 - My life will probably only last 7 to 14 years. It will hurt me more than you know if I have to be away from you for longer than a day or two.
2 - If you have patience with me and give me time to learn what you would like from me, I can promise you, you will never be disappointed.
3 - Trust me with your life and have faith in our future together. If I don't feel that you honestly believe in me, I will suffer great emotional stress. My sense of self-worth is totally dependent upon your confidence in me.
4 - Don't stay mad at me for long or confine me to a cage to punish me. You have your friends, your job, and your recreation. I HAVE ONLY YOU!
5 - Talk to me about anything you want as frequently as possible. Even if I can't comprehend your precise words, I can understand the meaning of what you're telling me by the tone of your voice.
6 - Remember no matter how you treat me, I will NEVER forget it.
7 - When you consider raising your hand to hit me, remember I have teeth that could break the bones in your hand, but I choose not to bite you.
8 - Before you scream at me for failing to respond to your commands as I usually do, take time to think about what might be wrong with me that would cause me to treat you differently. Maybe I haven't been eating right or drinking enough water. Or maybe my age is catching up with me and I just can't do what I used to do.
9 - Take good care of me when I get old. Someday you will be as old as me and you will see how it feels.
10 - Be there for me through good times and bad. Never say you can't handle taking me to the vets for stitches or surgery. Nothing could make me feel worse. Everything in my life is easier for me to deal with when I have you standing by my side. Remember my love for you is unconditional and it will last for your entire life.
by Danielle Hollister - 2000
Dennis A Boyd wrote:
What every dog owner should know - please read & share.
TORSION - an article by Elena Jeffery that every RR owner should read and inwardly digest!
"BLOAT and Other Emergencies - A Delegate’s Eye View
When I attended the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of Great Britain seminar in March entitled Bloat and Other Emergencies I had some idea of what Bloat was as well as an understanding of the word Emergency. However, even having been around animals all my life and owning dogs as an adult for over 25 years (RR’s wouldn’t you guess!) I realised that, fortunately having never experienced Bloat first hand, I was amazingly ignorant. The following is a précis of what I feel to be the practical, salient points taken from the excellent presentation given by Mike Hewitt MA, VetMB, CertVR, MRCVS, Practice Director at Wendover Heights Veterinary Centre.
BLOAT – Gastric Dilation and Volvulus Syndrome is also known as Twisted Stomach, Gastric Torsion and GDV. This can be defined as a sudden and catastrophic Rotation of the Stomach, following AND resulting in gross enlargement of the stomach with gas. If untreated this will normally result in the death of the dog. Bloat is a true emergency where minutes do matter and even with prompt, competent intervention some dogs will be lost.
Although difficult to answer the common question of Why did it happen to my dog? there are a variety of risk factors:
Typically occurs in large chested breeds such as Great Danes, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, Flat coated Retrievers but Bloat can occur in any breed including Rhodesian Ridgebacks, as well as Dachshunds, Labrador Retrievers etc
Other causes are activity in relation to meal times which is why you should feed your dogs at least an hour before exercise and preferably the same on return
Elevated food bowls (May need to change that one!)
Too much water directly before, or after, meals
The list is long! Some studies show a hereditary effect from a first degree relative and stress is also thought to be a factor. Certain medical conditions also increase the risk as well as the X-factor - the unknown or idiopathic.
So what are the symptoms? Again the list is long but the most common and obvious signs to watch out for:
Quiet, unusual behaviour?
Restless and appears uncomfortable
Usually refuses food, not on the agenda for many RR’s I suspect!
Abdomen appears full
May try to retch or vomit, typically unproductively
Shallow panting/rapid breathing
Abdomen becomes grossly enlarged and when tapped is like a drum
Ultimately the dog will collapse, feet and ears will feel cold (shock) and the gums may cease to be a healthy pink
Don’t let it get this far… if you suspect Bloat, call your Vet immediately and be prepared to transport the patient so make sure help is at hand including a heavy blanket or something that can be used as a stretcher if required.
This is where every animal owner should be familiar with their veterinary practice’s arrangements for emergencies, particularly for out of hours cover, although you should await instructions before setting off. In the meantime avoid unnecessary cooling and try to give the patient room to stretch out. If possible take someone to help and remain contactable.
Bloat often occurs within two hours of feeding, more at night than day?, symptoms progress over 1-2 hours and early intervention improves prognosis so as a rule of thumb: veterinary attention within one hour of significant symptoms is suggested.
Once you reach the vet, as time is critical, it is important to assess the situation and plan. Diagnostic tests may be required: X-ray, blood tests and Ultra Sound Scanning.
One of the most important things, as an animal owner, is to choose a Vet that you like, respect and trust. One where you can ask questions (there’s no such thing as a stupid question!!) and strive for a mutually respectful relationship where you can work together in the interests of your beloved pets. (Oh am I a lucky girl here!). This will help you make a decision, sometimes a difficult one, as treatment may not always be the best option but failure to treat or euthanase a true GDV is a serious welfare issue.
Having said this – if dealt with promptly the prognosis for GDV is generally fair to good.
Treatment Objectives should be:
Decompress the Stomach
Correct the Rotation
Identify and remove necrotic (dead) tissue
Fix/staple stomach in correct location (gastropexy) to avoid recurrence
Provide Post-Operative care
The outcome is always uncertain but probabilities can be estimated depending on the duration of the symptoms and the severity of the clinical signs. Blood Lactate levels <6 are better, Blood Lactate levels >6 are worse.
Plasma Lactate concentration as a predictor of gastric necrosis and survival among dogs with gastric dilatation – volvulus: 102 cases (1995-1998)
de Papp E, Drobatz KJ, Hughes D
J AM Vet Med Assoc 1999 July 1;215(1):49-52
From the above study, lactate can give some indication of whether gastric necrosis has occurred and gastric necrosis is a reasonable indicator of outcome. If NO gastric necrosis has occurred dogs had a greater than 90% survival rate. Even WITH some degree of gastric necrosis there was a 66% survival rate.
In broad terms it would usually be appropriate to initiate treatment and make decisions when more information is available. Behind the scenes you would expect:
Fluids – first and fast
Decompress if possible (intubation)
Whether, or not, decompression is successful, often the best course of action is a Laparotomy (investigative abdominal surgery) followed by appropriate action.
All dogs treated surgically for GDV should have a gastropexy
Approximately 40% of dogs require partial or complete splenectomy (spleen removal) this and gastropexy are made easier by stapling (and you thought that was just for paper but please don’t try the domestic variety!)
Approximately 10% of dogs require partial gastrectomy (stomach removal)
Survival rates can be as high as 90% but may be, predictably, much lower. Fortunately Bloat is not all that common – Wendover Heights, with circa 10 small animal vets, state they may have approximately one case per month.
I sincerely hope that few of us will ever have the experience of Bloat but should it occur, or you suspect it at any time, I trust that this synopsis will have been helpful.