Saturday, October 30, 2010

Death Becomes Her

Two days ago the world said goodbye to Geddie who suffered a fatal attack of gastric torsion - volvulus. She was rushed to the vet but was unable to be saved and tragically died on the table. More commonly known as bloat, gastric torsion is not a condition to be ignored or delayed, dogs showing symptoms may only have a few hours to live.

Indicators of GTV are restlessness, inability to vomit or belch, whining, excessive drooling, pale or grey gums, panting or laboured breathing, decreased temperature(a result of shock), and increased heart rate.

The following is a description of how gastric torsion affects a dog's internal organs:

The stomach twists around the longitudinal axis of the digestive tract, also known as volvulus. Gas distension may occur prior to or after the stomach twists. The most common direction for rotation is clockwise, viewing the animal from behind. The stomach can rotate up to 360° in this direction and 90° counterclockwise. If the volvulus is greater than 180°, the esophagus is closed off, thereby preventing the animal from relieving the condition by belching or vomiting. The results of this distortion of normal anatomy and gas distension include hypotension (low blood pressure), decreased return of blood to the heart, ischemia (loss of blood supply) of the stomach, and shock. Pressure on the portal vein decreases blood flow to liver and decreases the ability of that organ to remove toxins and absorbed bacteria from the blood. At the other end of the stomach, the spleen may be damaged if the twisting interrupts its blood supply. If not quickly treated, bloat can lead to blood poisoning, peritonitis and death by toxic shock.

It is possible to buy or assemble, bloat kits; however they, like any other tool, must be used properly or they can do more damage than good. The following weblink offers detailed instructions on what to do when you suspect bloat in your dog.

I cannot stress how serious bloat is in dogs. Small breeds are less like to suffer from it, as it is most commonly seen in breeds who have deep chests and high tuck ups or waistlines.  There is no absolute way to prevent bloat but knowing the signs and getting the dog veterinary attention as quickly as possible offers the best outcome.

If the the loss of Geddie's life means one person reading this gets their dog to a vet in time to save it, then at least something will have come of her senseless death. It's small comfort to her family and all the people who loved her who will never again know her warm presence by their side.

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