Bloat and Torsion: Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) is a rapidly progressive life-threatening condition that almost took my baby girl's life on Friday, August 3rd.
I feel like we have cheated death, and I seriously do not want anyone else to go through what we did.
If you have a large breed dog, with a deep chest, you are at increased risk of a GDV event.
What can be done?
The gastropexy can be done as a preventative measure. FYI, due to size and some complications, Ziva's emergency surgery cost approx $5500. She has insurance via PetsBest so that makes this event approx. $550 to us. Not bad for a near-death experience...but I am just saying that it might be something to consider as a preventative measure. The laparoscopic procedure is minimally invasive and can be done easily at various different times - during spay/neuter, or I would even think during time of hips/elbow xrays, etc.
Ziva and I were heading out for what I had hoped to be her final qualifying run in Novice Jumpers With Weaves agility. She just didn't seem 'right'. She was moping around head down, a little labored breathing, and other small subtle signs of something just not being all right.
I thought maybe she would get excited once we got to the agility trial (near my home) since she loves agility so much. I figured I could take her to the vet afterwards if she still didn't seem okay.
Then something in my head told me that I should go to the vet immediately. I can't really say why - simply a gut instinct.
I kid you not ... in the next hours my life would go on an emotional roller coaster like no other.
I got to the vet and due to Ziva’s amount of coat it was hard to ultrasound her, so they x-rayed her to see what might be going on. Upon x-ray they knew she had gas and when trying to relieve the gas via a gastric tube they knew she had torsioned because the tube could not go down her throat.
With complete urgency we were told to go to the hospital and the vet would call and say we were on our way. Harry (hubby) met us there and the hospital staff escorted Ziva in on a gurney. Knowing that time was of the essence, Ziva was in surgery in a matter of minutes.
We had a series of ups and downs throughout the weekend, but our baby was finally making the turn for the better and was released on the following Monday.
How did this happen to us?
I do believe that recent events have contributed to the cause of Ziva's GDV.
We are finally having remodeling done to our first floor - repaint, woodwork fixes, etc. Therefore:
The dogs are out in the puppy house building - which is ac'd and quite wonderful - but does give the dogs too much freedom.
They have doggy doors, huge outdoor paddock runs and even huge area inside.
They can eat fast, drink as much water as they want and run around like a bunch of idiots as much as they want.
They are not used to being out there so are also stressed, cause they know we are right inside the house...and why aren't they???
What are we doing now?
Ziva is now only hanging out with me!!! but we have also changed the dogs routine - we shut them in the house for at least 1-2 hrs post feeding. This will allow for digestion and some mellow out time.
One thing about GDV though is that it can just happen - without explanation. Time is of the essence if you notice any signs.
Here is a wonderful video that shows the posturing that occurs and might give some insight to what it looks like. (please note that this dog is fine now)
Here's some more info on stomach tacking - realize these costs are probably for a 'normal sized' dog...not a Leonberger...and of course pricing is relative to your area. I believe my vet said it would be approx $1500 if done laparoscopically. And one of my puppy people has found that it adds approximately 400-600 to a normal spay/neuter. A small price to pay to cheat death.
The vets have assured me that there is no added concern to this event being a hereditary item, other than the fact that these are Leonbergers with the structure of most large breed dogs that automatically predispositions them to a GDV. We also feel that the added stressful events as well as how we handled everything is what allowed this to happen. Although hard not to feel guilty, I will say that it is nice to know that in our case I can say how/why this occurred.
Please feel free to reach out at any time and let me know if you have any questions.