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Bloat - A Real Emergency

Bloat - A Real Emergency

Bloat is a serious emergency, and can be life-threatening to your dog. It can often come on suddenly and unexpectedly, and requires immediate veterinary attention.

At the Animal Hospital of North Asheville, we are presented with a vast array of emergencies. Some emergencies are uncomfortable, but not life threatening, such as a fishhook caught in a lip. Other emergencies require the immediate action of trained staff working as a team and the best equipment. Pets are frequently struck by vehicles, fall off of high places such as decks, experience gun shots, poisonings, electric shock from chewing on electric cords, hypothermia, heatstroke and the list goes on. In these instances, seconds matter.

In the photo above, Dr. Duncan is performing Laparoscopic surgery. He and his assistant are looking at a high detail monitor of the interior of the abdomen.

BLOAT is recognized as one of the most dramatic emergencies that we see. Primarily affecting large dogs, this is a condition that can surprise any pet owner. Your dog can be in the safest environment, you can even be with your dog and suddenly the stomach can rotate. Again, this tends to occur in large breed or deep chested dogs where there is more room for this twisting or rotation. The probability is increased if the pet is active immediately after eating or drinking as the weight in the stomach aids in “flipping” the stomach. However, the stomach can flip even when your pet is simply lying down. Some large dogs are shown to have a 20% probability of developing Bloat or GDV (Gastric Dilatation Volvulus).

Here is an x-ray of a Bloat Patient. The darker black area shown is air in the stomach that cannot escape. The air is distending the stomach, placing pressure on all of the organs and blood vessels in the abdomen, actually cutting off circulation to critical organs. This is why quick intervention is critical.

There is a surgery that is a preventative termed prophylactic gastropexy. Simply, if the edge of the stomach is permanently attached to the wall of the abdomen, it can’t flip. Many times this surgery is performed in young pets while they are spayed or neutered, often at 6 months of age.

We often perform this surgery laparoscopically (also termed minimally invasive), which is a kinder surgery for our patients. Rather than traditional surgery with an abdominal incision, which results in more risk and discomfort and a longer healing time, two small holes into the abdomen are utilized and a specialized camera and instruments perform the surgery. The patients are extremely active immediately after the surgery.

Always wanting the latest technology for our patients, we are proud to be the first veterinary hospital in Western North Carolina to make minimally invasive surgery of many types available for our patients, including gastropexy. Our years of experience benefit your pet. Less than 1% of veterinary hospitals have this capability.

An extremely thorough article on Bloat can found at this link.

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