At 5am my dog went into emergency surgery(21 Posts)
I’ve had the most horrendous night with a 3am vet visit and my darling BigDog going into emergency surgery a couple of hours later. If I’d waited til morning I probably would have come down to find him collapsed and in organ failure or worse. He’s come through surgery well though not out of the woods yet, but I wanted to write down my experience with bloat in case it helps another dog in the future.
As the owner of a large breed I was aware of bloat (GDV), a condition where the stomach twists and gas builds up, causing it to inflate like a balloon. If it twists round far enough it stops blood circulation to the organs, and the increased stomach size puts pressure on the heart, diaphragm and other organs.
Dogs with deep, narrow chests are most at risk. Other factors include feeding one large meal a day, anxiety and stress, raised food bowls and exercising too close to eating.
Yesterday we had a very chilled day. We went to obedience training in the morning, came back for a cup of tea and some lunch, a fairly sedate walk in the woods mid-afternoon then a relaxed evening. He was his normal self, ate his dinner, scored a couple of leftover roasties from mine and we went to bed.
At 1 am I heard a retching noise, and went down expecting to clear up a BigDog-sized puddle of sick. But I couldn’t find any. I took him out in the garden since I was down anyway, where he toileted as normal then trotted back inside. I spent 10 mins downstairs with him, he went back to sleep so I went off to bed. At 2am, I hear the same noise again. Went down, he jumps up, wags his tail at me then settles back down. I’m still not overly concerned, the retching is odd but all the lists of bloat symptoms put anxiety and restlessness at the top and he had neither. He didn’t seem in any distress at all. So back to bed. Half an hour later it’s now 2.45 and he does it again. I go downstairs and he’s more lethargic. Starting to really worry, I stand him up and think that his stomach does now feel slightly distended (but still nowhere like the barrel-shape dogs you see pictures of). I was sufficiently worried to wake the on-call vet up and head into the surgery. On examination she didn’t seem hugely concerned (he dragged me into the surgery and certainly didn’t seem that sick), but X-rays showed a dilated stomach and attempts at clearing it with a tube while he was conscious failed.
They admitted him for anaesthetic and were able to get the tube into his stomach, releasing the gas and improving his vital signs. But without surgery to stitch the stomach in place, the chances of it twisting again are high. Operating on a dog whose organs have been under strain is relatively risky, but we really didn’t have much choice. Surgery found that his stomach had twisted 180degrees.
He’s now awake and on his feet, not out of the woods but doing as well as can be hoped. Having had this once the risk now is that it can come back at any time and the surgery to prevent the stomach from twisting isn’t 100% effective.
I am mostly in shock that my young, healthy dog with no risk factors other than his breed (and he’s not a Great Dane or one of the really high risk breeds) suffered it out of the blue.
I also wanted to highlight that it doesn’t matter if they don’t have all the symptoms (bloating, restlessness, anxiety, drooling, unproductive vomiting, looking at their stomach, shock/collapse in later stages). It really is an emergency, and I am SO grateful to the vet and nurse who got out of bed and came to work in the middle of the night and operated there and then to give him the best chance of surviving this.
Oh gosh, what a tough night for you both. It's a good job you're a light sleeper; a lot of us, myself included, just wouldn't have heard the retching noises in our sleep. I hope he pulls through - do keep us updated.
Well done for acting so quickly. Hope he recovers well.
Would you mind sharing his age/breed?
Bloat scares the hell out of me. I'm not sure I would have gone to the vet at the point you did with those symptoms so thank you.
Fingers crossed for a good recovery. Glad you went to the vets and trusted your instincts.
Wow. Sorry you have had such a crappy time. Wishing him a strong recovery
Thanks all for your good wishes - any healing vibes for him are most appreciated. I’m now mostly hoping that they operated quickly enough to prevent any damage to his organs and that he has no heart complications.
Jaime he’s a 4 year old Newfoundland. So fits the giant breed profile, but apparently Newfies have a similar risk level generally to breeds like German Shepherds or Pointers so although I was always careful to do things to reduce risk, I kind of thought that would be sufficient to mean his risk of actually getting it was negligible.
If anyone wants to read more about bloat, there’s a link here
Newfies are lovely. Please keep us updated on him.
He came home last night - sore and feeling very sorry for himself, but amazingly bright considering. Must have been absolutely exhausted as he crashed out asleep as soon as he got back and barely stirred all night. I set a couple of alarms to go and check on him, but he seemed settled and ok.
He’s having small amounts of wet food, next concern is that he hasn’t had a drink yet. I’m going to give it a while longer as he was on a drip for most of yesterday, but then might have to call the vet for advice as the normal tricks aren’t working.
Back to the vets tomorrow for a check, in the meantime I just have to monitor him, feed every hour during the day and keep him as comfortable as I can. Amazing to have him back though.
That's good news that he's back home with you.
God, that’s terrible! Thanks for posting this; I had no idea that bloat could happen so easily and be so dangerous. Off to educate myself!
I do hope your boy is recovering well.
Wishing him good health. I have a wolfhound. They are scarily prone to this. I never exercise for an hour before or after food. Literally take her out on the lead if she needs a wee so she can't run! I do feed from a raised bowl. The research shows a link between bowls and bloat. But then tiny dogs aren't prone to bloat and would never be fed from a raised bowl. The increase in bloat and raised bowl could just be because those breeds that feed raised are naturally more prone to bloat.
Scary. And sudden.
Good lord Pesky, how terrifying. Glad he’s on the mend. I have a Lab and this is exactly why I feed him three small meals a day and never feed him before a walk. We’d never hear him retching though, he usually sleeps the other end of the house. When he’s not sneaking up on the sofas. Might encourage the sofas.
He’s just had a check up - the vet called him a ‘remarkable dog’ because he’s recovering so well.
I had a chat about the possible triggers, and she said that although relatively little is known about the causes there is evidence showing it primarily affects entire, male, large breed dogs. Sometimes it can be linked to a cause such as exercising on a full stomach, but it’s not strange for it to be completely out of the blue such as we had.
I’d seriously consider preventative gastropexy on any high-risk animals I have in the future, particularly since it can then be done laparoscopically.
Wolfie are you having her spayed? If so I understand that doing the pexy at the same time is often a good call.
Meant to add - thanks for all your good wishes, I’m only just starting to really get my head round what happened was in complete shock at the start of the week.
She's too young to spay at the moment. Will chat to the vet. We're not breeders
Hope he continues to recover well.
Poor big dog hopefully on the mend now. I had a dog die of bloat i just thought she had eaten "something" so was going to wait till morning poor thing died over night
That must have been terrifying- am glad he’s on the mend now
I’m glad he’s recovering well.
My dad has a Newfie, I’m going to share this with him xx
What a shock for you. Glad your boy is ok. Newfies are my breed too and this is always a fear of mine. Lost my old girl recently (cancer ) but I’ll certiabky consider the preventative surgery for my next one.
Hope your boy makes a full and speedy recovery. Well done to you for the quick action too. I doubt the outcome would have been so favourable if you’d left it longer.
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