Saturday, November 10, 2012


I'm very tired today despite going to bed at an almost reasonable hour. The reason I'm tired is sleeping on the chair with her binkie over her waiting for me to finish this blog so we can go for a walk. I won't complain too much about being tired while sitting at my computer in the comfort of my house since it means that I'm not at the vet urging a naughty Leeloo out of anesthetic ... or worse.

Yesterday Leeloo got out while I was at work and made an undoGly mess in the house, ate an entire box of mini Milkbones, an entire bag of Pedigree Marrowbones, almost all of the Pedigree Dentastix (about 25) and possibly a potato. The house was a disaster but she didn't do any damage ... just made a mess inspecting the garbage and recycling and enjoying stolen treats.

Previous history tells us that Leeloo is capable of eating a lot more than that. I can recall at least 4 times that she's done this but those incidents involved her eating dog food only, not very rich dog treats. As my fury at her actions abated and I cleaned up the mess I inspected My Fair Leeloo. She looked like she was pregnant again and it was an all too familiar sight given her greed induced history. She was behaving normally though and was happily passing gas and belching at varying intervals. We sat down for the evening to watch TV and although she asked to go outside a little more than usual, everything was normal. I listened to her tummy with my stethoscope and heard all the normal, albeit extremely active, noises of a dog tummy.

I headed to bed and in the midst of a deep slumber I was awoken by the sound no one wants to hear in the middle of the night: a dog vomiting. It was Leeloo retching and coughing, like she had something stuck in her throat. Initially I woke to see where she'd vomited but she hadn't, she was just retching and trying to vomit. Alarm bells started to go off. Over the course of the next little while Leeloo quit trying to retch, had a drink, and was very restless - getting on and off the bed and was unable to get comfortable. Her tummy was still big but no bigger than it had been a few hours previously. I stumbled out of bed and checked my references for bloat - or gastric torsion.

I ran down the list of symptoms - retching without production, coughing, shallow breath, inability to get comfortable, anxiety, drinking ... and started to get dressed.  It was 2am and I was quite sure Leeloo was bloating. Up to that point I'd been telling myself that this greedy bitch had done this kind of thing before but she had always been able to vomit some of what she'd eaten and she had come through with simple discomfort (and less food for her next couple meals) as a penance for her gluttony.

I tend not to panic in these situations, I'm not sure why. I panic at silly small things that make me angry or are frustrating but when it comes to the brass tax I tend to focus on the job at hand. While I was getting dressed I was talking to Leeloo and asking her how much this was going to cost me and that she was a silly greedy bitch but nothing better happen to her, especially not on the heels of Rifka. As I was preparing to call the vet at this ridiculous hour Leeloo was lying on my bed feeling very sorry for herself - her breathing slightly laboured and shallow (a very concerning sign) - Boy was wandering around the house wondering why I was up and Cora was fast asleep on the bed.

I heard a noise when I was in the bathroom, thought it was Boy walking around and looked up just in time to watch Leeloo vomit the most fluid and food I've ever seen come out of a dog. She looked up at me with a very guilty expression, trotted over to the couch, hopped up and sat looking at me like, "There, that's better." I'm sure it was.

Her stomach had reduced its size by half and she was suddenly and clearly a lot more relaxed. I stood in the livingroom, half dressed, and watched her for a few more minutes while the stench of dog vomit permeated my house. It's an open concept home so no where is safe. She sat and stared back at me and then curled up into a little ball and settled in to sleep. Oh, okay ... that's fine. You nap while I clean up this horrific amount of dog puke in the middle of the night.

And that is how Leeloo dodged the bloat bullet and I learned my lesson about making sure no one can get out while I'm at work. Because of her previous history of coming unscathed through gluttonous events like this I didn't initially worry that much - she once ate stole 11 cups of dog food, vomited up almost half of it and skated through with flying colors. It was the retching without vomiting that was my real tip off.

Raimi's sister Geddie died of bloat and it is a very real concern for Ridgeback owners. Geddie was rushed to the vet and she still didn't survive - bloat has a low survival rate of about 30-40% and its signs are subtle and deadly. Preventing bloat is a contested subject and the advice varies from source to source but what everyone can agree on is that action must be taken quickly in order to increase the chances of survival.  It can strike almost any time and always has to do with the stomach of the dog twisting and filling gas, cutting off circulation to the liver and spleen. Often dogs die of shock while on the surgical table.

The symptoms of bloat include the following and alone are not always signs of bloat; however, a combination of two or more of these symptoms indicates that it may be best to get to the vet, even at 2am.  Better to make the trip and wake everyone rather than have to collect your dogs ashes in a few days. I have highlighted the symptoms Leeloo had that made me start to get dressed and look for my keys. Leeloo was very lucky, as was I, and we - or at least I - have learned my lesson. I will keep an eye on her for rest of the day but she is behaving normally and was happy to steal a few kibbles of Esme's food this morning. Her crate will be double checked before I head to work and I am very lucky, and happy, that she is currently napping on her chair.

Unfortunately, from the onset of the first symptoms you have very little time (sometimes minutes, sometimes hours) to get immediate medical attention for your dog. Know your dog and know when it's not acting right.
bulletAttempts to vomit (usually unsuccessful); may occur every 5-30 minutes
bullet This seems to be one of the most common symptoms & has been referred to as the "hallmark symptom"
bullet "Unsuccessful vomiting" means either nothing comes up or possibly just foam and/or mucous comes up
bullet Some reports say that it can sound like a repeated cough New
bullet Doesn't act like usual self
bullet Perhaps the earliest warning sign and may be the only sign that almost always occurs
bullet We've had several reports that dogs who bloated asked to go outside in the middle of the night. If this is combined with frequent attempts to vomit, and if your dog doesn't typically ask to go outside in the middle of the night, bloat is a very real possibility.
bullet Significant anxiety and restlessness
One of the earliest warning signs and seems fairly typical
bullet "Hunched up" or "roached up" appearance
This seems to occur fairly frequently
bullet Lack of normal gurgling and digestive sounds in the tummy
bullet Many dog owners report this after putting their ear to their dog's tummy.
bullet If your dog shows any bloat symptoms, you may want to try this immediately.
bullet Bloated abdomen that may feel tight (like a drum)
Despite the term "bloat," many times this symptom never occurs or is not apparent
bullet Pale or off-color gums
Dark red in early stages, white or blue in later stages
bullet Coughing
bullet Unproductive gagging
bullet Heavy salivating or drooling
bullet Foamy mucous around the lips, or vomiting foamy mucous
bullet Unproductive attempts to defecate
bullet Whining
bullet Licking the air
bullet Seeking a hiding place
bullet Looking at their side or other evidence of abdominal pain or discomfort
bullet May refuse to lie down or even sit down
bullet May stand spread-legged
bullet May curl up in a ball or go into a praying or crouched position
bullet May attempt to eat small stones and twigs
bullet Drinking excessively
bullet Heavy or rapid panting
bulletShallow breathing
bullet Cold mouth membranes
bullet Apparent weakness; unable to stand or has a spread-legged stance
Especially in advanced stage
bullet Accelerated heartbeat
Heart rate increases as bloating progresses
bullet Weak pulse
bullet Collapse

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