Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus in a 9 week old puppy

By definition from the American College of Veterinary Surgeons .Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) is a rapidly progressive life-threatening condition of dogs. The condition is commonly associated with large meals and causes the stomach to dilate, because of food and gas, and may get to a point where neither may be expelled. As the stomach begins to dilate and expand, the pressure in the stomach begins to increase. The increased pressure and size of the stomach may have several severe consequences, including:

  • prevention of adequate blood return to the heart from the abdomen
  • loss of blood flow to the lining of the stomach
  • rupture of the stomach wall
  • pressure on the diaphragm preventing the lungs from adequately expanding leading to decreased ability to maintain normal breathing

The stomach can become dilated enough to rotate in the abdomen, a condition called volvulus. The rotation can lead to blockage in the blood supply to the spleen and the stomach. Most pets are in shock due to the effects on their entire body. The treatment of this condition involves stabilization of your pet, decompression of the stomach, and surgery to return the stomach to the normal position permanently (gastropexy).

This is a fast-moving, immediately life threatening emergency.  It has been called “the mother of all emergencies”.

This is just one GDV story, but unlike most, this has one very unusual twist… the victim is a 9 week old puppy, and the puppy survived!  

Katie Bell ate her dinner. Went outside and was found eating food left by one of our older dogs who, unknown to us, had not finished her food. She then tried to drink a lot of water.  We stopped her, because she looked extremely full.  We put her up to rest with her sister, and within 30 minutes, heard a sound that can only be described as a very loud exaggerated belch.  It was a sound that made four adults jump.  I went to check on the puppies.  Katie Bell was trying to vomit, trying to get comfortable and crying. She could not vomit. She was in notable distress, and her greatly expanding abdomen was alarming.  We were visiting our daughter, so she called her Vet for an emergency-vet referral and I videotaped Katie Bell, so that the Vet could see the onset symptoms.  We initially thought it might be just “food bloat”, but I strongly sensed she was in a life-threatening situation, and after several attempts we tried to contact any close Emergency Vet (E-Vet).   One was closed because of snow (the vet could not get in).  The second was a known to give sub-par care.  The last was called “Pets R Us“, which terrified me (they REALLY need to consider a name change), but was about 5 minutes away, and this girl needed immediate attention. We left, praying Katie Bell would survive. 

This is the video I took as she called her Vet:

We arrived at the clinic in less than five minutes of leaving the house, and were brought straight back.  He took x-rays and sent them to the radiologist for an “official” reading, and at the same time, prepped Katie Bell for surgery.  I credit Dr. Habeeb for his quick decisions.  He had to wait for the Radiologist report because of clinic policy, but he wasn’t fooling around while he waited. He started a IV catheter and begin shock management which included rapid administration of intravenous fluids, and pain medications. Blood work was done to assess internal status, placed on a cardiac monitor, and antibiotics given.   She was completely prepped and hydrated by the time the result came back. 

Note how her stomach is not in the proper position and is very bloated:

This is the radiologists review:

The Dr. told us to go home, and that he would call us the moment he finished the surgery.  Reluctantly, we left our precious baby in his care, and prayed.  We knew all the risks of this condition, and being a retired ER Nurse, I knew too much, which led me to believe I would never see Katie Bell alive again. 

When the stomach twists, it immediately cuts off all circulation to the stomach and the bowels.  The spleen is often involved in the torsion as well.  Hemorrhage is a real risk when the spleen is damaged, and because the torsion has effects on the whole body, including the heart, the surgery and post-op period are gravely complicated.  The risk of death is absolute in an adult dog (about 50% depending on the amount of time from torsion to surgery), and we were dealing with a baby.  No veterinarian I have spoken to since, has ever seen GDV in a puppy, although literature states it can happen, and none would expect a puppy to survive.  

Katie Bell was in the skilled hands of Dr. Habeeb, and absolutely was in the hands of God.   

The Dr. rotated her stomach back into position (yes, it was in full torsion), and her spleen and stomach were checked for damage. Her stomach was intact (no rupture), and as it re-profused, it looked like the tissue was going to be okay.  Her spleen had a small amount of discoloration at the tip, but showed signs of re-profusion immediately.  A tube was passed down the esophagus and into her stomach, to decompress the stomach, which was full of gas, fluid, and food.  He did not surgically enter the stomach.  A gastropexy was performed whereby the stomach is tacked to the body wall behind the rib cage down low, so that it could not twist again out of position, however, due to the delicate nature of her tissues, he was not confident that the gastropexy would hold.  She did suffer some cardiac dysrhythmia related to decreased coronary perfusion and re-perfusion injury during the surgery.  

A few hours later we got the call that she wasn’t just doing well, she was wagging her tail.  He stated she was fully awake within 15 minutes of the surgery.  Sedated, she would now sleep, and so could we.  The next few days could bring heartache, as complications often happen within days of this surgery.  Sometimes, the necrosis (death of tissue) is not fully realized when the surgery is complete, and death of stomach, bowel, heart, lung and spleen tissues could advance well after the surgery is complete. 

Three days later, Katie Bell was released from the hospital.  A good Veterinarian friend suggested human baby onesies, rather than make this baby wear a cone, as long as she did not fuss with the outfit.  This was a precious tip!  Not only was it effective, it was clean, and we bought several, so that they could be changed frequently, and darn it… they were darling.  

We stayed with our daughter (in California) for a few more days, to be sure she would not suffer any complications, and because Katie Bell was on so many medications (about six), we wanted to make sure our trip home to Idaho was as risk-free as possible. I am very fortunate to have a number of friends who are Veterinarians, and breeder friends who have trusted vets, that we had the names of several who would see her at a moment’s notice, night or day, on our two day trip home. At least we thought it would be a two day trip home. We were wrong. A snow storm hit us when we reached Klamath Falls Oregon, and by the time we got to Bend Oregon, we knew we had to stay put. None of the Veterinarians we had lined up were in Bend. We took her to Central Oregon Animal Hospital and had her rechecked for safety by Dr. Douglas, wanting him to see her stable in the event she suffered any change in condition. What a kind and thoughtful Dr.!! She was in great condition (for a puppy who should have died), and we were much more comfortable knowing she had been rechecked. This was the second Veterinarian we had seen with her that was not familiar to us, which is scary when you have come to trust your pet to the care of well-vetted doctors.

We were snowed in for three days. We had her rechecked by her own vet the day after we got home. Needless to say, like the others, he just shook his head that this puppy was alive, and acting perfectly normal.

Katie is a *very* rapid eater, and immediately after surgery we realized the need for special bowls to slow her down.

 

It had been our intention to keep Katie Bell for showing purposes, but we decided that she’d had enough in her short life. She needed a family of her own, to just be a pet. However, the risk of GDV recurrence is great without a gastropexy, and we weren’t sure if hers would hold. Then our daughter and her family came forward, asking for her. Our daughter is a P.A. in the Army, and fully understood the dangers, risks, and necessary precautions that need to be done, up to and including checking and possibly re-doing the gastropexy at a later date. Dogs who have had GDV and do not have a functioning gastropexy have a 85% chance of re-torsion at a later date. A functioning gastropexy reduces the risk to 4%.

Katie Bell has since had two occurrences that indicate that her gastropexy may have held afterall. She became mildly distressed and bloated, then belched and was fine in a very short period of time. We believe she suffered from mild gastric dilation, and belched up the gas.  Today, Katie Bell is growing up and is a very well-behaved puppy.  She is quite the little rock-star, gaining attention everywhere she goes.  She’s a little walking miracle.  We owe such a debt of gratitude to Dr. Habeeb and his staff, to Dr. Douglas, and of course our own Dr. Mihlfried, but mostly, we are grateful to God for this precious little life.  

How much did her care cost us?  That was the least of our concern, but about $5,000.00 when all was said and done (surgery, meds, rechecks, etc.).  She’s worth every penny!

This is Katie Bell during her recovery, and meeting her new family – our daughter, her husband, and our grandchildren – (click thumbnails for larger image)

 

Whose bright idea was that?

Labradoodle:

If Wally Conron had known what was going to become of the labradoodle, he wouldn’t have bred the dog in the first place. It was 22 years ago and Conron, now 81, was working as the breeding and puppy-walking manager for the Royal Guide Dog Association of Australia when his boss set him a tough task. A blind woman from Hawaii had written asking if it they could provide a guide dog that would not shed hair, because her husband was allergic to it. “I said, ‘Oh yes, this will be a piece of cake. The standard poodle is a working dog, it doesn’t shed hair, it’ll be great.’ I tried 33 in the course of three years and they all failed. They just didn’t make a guide dog. Meanwhile, the woman in Hawaii was getting older and the boss was getting on my back.”

Conron decided there was one possibility left – take his best labrador bitch and mate it with a standard poodle. They created three crossbreed puppies that needed to be boarded out to be trained and socialized, but nobody would take them – everyone wanted a purebred. And that’s when Conron came up with the name labradoodle. “I went to our PR team and said, ‘Go to the press and tell them we’ve invented a new dog, the labradoodle.’ It was a gimmick, and it went worldwide. No one wanted a crossbreed, but the following day we had hundreds of calls from people wanting these master dogs.”

The labradoodle proved to be a brilliant dog for the blind, and the woman in Hawaii was happy. Job done. So what was the problem? Ah, says Conron, it’s how the dog has been used and abused, and sold under false pretenses. “This is what gets up my nose, if you’ll pardon the expression. When the pups were five months old, we sent clippings and saliva over to Hawaii to be tested with this woman’s husband. Of the three pups, he was not allergic to one of them. In the next litter I had there were 10 pups, but only three had non-allergenic coats. Now, people are breeding these dogs and selling them as non-allergenic, and they’re not even testing them.”

READ MORE….

Someone is going to be very happy!

One of my favorite stories goes back to Winnie Limbourne of Wingmaster Labradors.  I was reminded of that today,   Her granddaughter noticed Winnie looking in a microscope.  Now this young girl had been witness to many canine breedings and collections, so she had a reasonable understanding of how reproduction occurred.  She had never, however, actually seen a shipment being prepared for a bitch owner.

A shipment is carefully readied with test tubes, syringes, medical straws, and of course the precious cargo that actually makes the magic, all placed in special thermal packaging.  It’s important to verify life and activity before packing everything up.   Winnie told her to come on over and see for herself.  Young Tasha focused her eyes on the viewer of the microscope, and her grandmother turned the dials until Tasha indicated that she could see clearly.

Winnnie:  “see those swimming things that look like polliwogs?”
Tasha:  Yes.
Winnie:  “Well, each one of those represents a puppy.”.
Tasha’s eyes got large and happy, as she looked up and said…

GRANDMA!  Someone is going to be VERY happy!!

this sample is in 10 day extender, and the focus is bad.  Sorry about that  It was the best I could do with my phone.

Click here for Video

 

 

“Hybrid” Dogs

This makes me furious! We spend endless hours making sure our breed is improved and protected, we spend more money than you want to consider, doing health clearances, so that we minimize or eliminate the chances a puppy will suffer in their lifetime, justifying a cost, and people without care, beyond that of the almighty dollar, bastardizes our established breeds.

Do you have a “hybrid” that you love? Good for you for loving your dog! You are not “the problem”. It’s breeder is!

Hybrid. Because hybrid sounds cool. Because hybrid doesn’t sound like mutt, or mongrel, or… just simply mixed-breed. Hybrids are typically produced through human manipulation to produce something uniquely different, like mules (horse and donkey combo), ligers (lions and tigers), or plant hybrids. True hybrids are often sterile, as they’re from differing species, and lack chromosomes that compliment each other. The animal shelters are filled with mix-breed dogs. Save yourself $2000 and get one, because typically, that’s what the shelters are filled with.

Please, bear with me and get through the following:

The Labrador Retriever has been the #1 popular breed in the U.S. for 26 years running for a reason – they’re smart (but not so smart as to out think you), athletic (without being athletic to the extreme) family and other animal friendly. The Lab is a versatile dog, who is as happy to be a couch potato, as they are working in the field. A Lab is strong (emphasis on strong), athletic and muscular. They’re usually larger boned, and weigh more than they look. Labradors have a coat with two layers to keep him warm, dry and comfortable, but it sheds a lot. They are known for destructive behavior such as chewing furniture and woodwork or digging up the yard. They are a gentleman’s dog. Content to be a pet at night, and hunt in the day. Health issues include canine hip dysplasia (CHD), and osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), which is canine elbow and shoulder dysplasia. They also occasionally suffer from distichiasis, exercise-induced collapse, diabetes, muscular dystrophy, tricuspid valve dysplasia, and entropion. Many of these are discoverable now through DNA testing, and affected dogs are never bred.

Pointers (for this example, the German Shorthaired Pointer) are very active dogs, who belong with an equally athletic owner who will take him running, biking, or hiking. Did I emphasize active enough? A walk around the block is not even a warm-up for a GSP. Some can be aggressive with strange dogs, and some are determined chasers of cats and other fleeing creatures, often with deadly intent. They are tautly-muscled, and *extremely* athletic. They’re finer boned than the Lab, and lithe. They are known for “separation anxiety” (destructiveness and barking) when left alone too much. They are hunting machines, who can be one so fixed on the hunt that no recall can get their attention.

Their known health issues (which are bred against by reputable breeders include gastric torsion, hypothyroidism, canine hip dysplasia (CHD), Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD), von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD), entropion, and pannus, and major issues such as lymphedema, and occasionally cardiomyopathy, ectropion, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Again, their breeders do DNA testing, and affected dogs are never bred.

Imagine if you will, the finer bony structure of a Pointer, with the heavy musculature of a Labrador, causing bone and joint pounding. A bone/muscle mismatch. A dog with a downy undercoat, but the extremely short top coat of a Pointer, setting the dog up for freezing in cold water, and a knotted mess of endlessly shedding fur, on a dog who is very oral and full of anxiety over being left alone for the day, mixed with a dash of heavy-muscled hyperactivity that wants to be friends with other dogs , but has a sudden urge to fight, without the innate caution of a Pointer on the approach of another dog. Confused. Now add all of the breed genetic problem propensities, most doubled up, because no genetic testing is done by these “hybrid” breeders, and then add to that different medical problems known to those distinct breeds, which now combine into one poor dog.

Will all of the breed traits combine in every puppy to create a genetic nightmare from head to toe? No, but I promise that some will, and all will have some piece of it.

I love my breed. Reputable Pointer breeders love theirs. Each of us does the best we can to breed the best our breed has to offer, and know how to work with the more difficult traits each breed has. Specifically, we have the advantage of being able to best select homes for our puppies, so that owner and dog are happy.

Please don’t be duped into thinking that the breeders of these mixed dogs have done their due diligence, and have many years of application (in my case, 38 years).

You get what you pay for, and yes, there is a sucker born every minute!

BTW, the people who took this add out want $1800 for their mix-breed puppies. Go to the pound! There are lots of mix-bred dogs waiting for homes.

 

LEGAL STUFF

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Sincerest Form of Flattery?

I often have people call and ask if they can link to our color inheritance chart. I created that page in 1998, because I wanted an easy chart to reference myself. It became a chart that many referenced, because it is easy to use. The AKC sends people to it!

Many have asked if they could link to it. Of course I don’t mind that! Others have asked if I would mind if they created their own. That’s cool. I don’t own the pundant squares used to determine color inheritance, but I ask that they not copy my chart.

So why would people do just that? A TOTAL copy! I’m not going to pitch a fit. But why would someone reinvent the wheel, unless they are trying to draw people away from the original? When people “borrow” my hard work, intellectual or otherwise, I just call attention to it.

I believe I recall these folks asking if they could use my chart to create their own. I thought they meant the color outcomes, not the entire idea!

Example

Geesh! Why not just *link* to someone’s hard work, rather than exactly copy it?

There are several coat color charts for Labs on the Web. The creators of those pages put some real original work into their pages! Bravo to them for coming up with unique ideas:

http://labbies.com/genetics.htm

http://beulahland.tripod.com/coatcolor.htm

Rose’s TPLO 16 weeks

The snow has melted, and we’re well into spring activities.  Rose is healing well.  She has had it with months of rest.  As a puppy, all she wants to do is play and run.  But, her exercise is quite limited and always monitored for another few weeks.  As you can see, she puts good weight on the knee.  We’re still dealing with a bit of tendonitis in that hock, but it should work out with time and more movement with exercise.

Rose’s TPLO Recovery Week 6

Today is the big day!  Rose had her 6 week checkup.  She had an x-ray, which her surgeon states looks good.  Her healing is normal.  I discussed with him the lateral wobble of her knee, and he believes it may be a little tendonitis.  She may now have three 15 minute walks/day.  As stated previously, she is increasingly difficult to entertain.  She is inventing ways to chew up anything that is stationary in her box.   She wants to play with her sister so very badly.  It will be a very long time until she is allowed to do that.

This is Rose waiting to see her vet.

Rose’s TPLO Recovery week 5

Rose continues to improve.  I am noticing a lateral rotation to her knee when she walks.  I suspect it has to do with muscle atrophy.  She is so tired of the inactivity.   It’s becoming increasingly difficult to entertain her.   Every so often I cheat and put her on the flexi leash to let her move out a bit without running or jumping (which she is not permitted to do).

Rose’s TPLO Recovery Week 4

We’re at the beginning of week four.  This has been the week that marks Rose’s breaking point.  She is so done with inactivity.  We’ve bought chew toys, chew bones, real bones, distraction toys… you name it.  Her attention span is almost nil.  She has decided to take her frustration out on the carpet she is on, chewing the corner nicely.  We take Rose everywhere we go, so as to give her new things to look at, people to see, and so that we can monitor her activities.  She has been increased to one 10 minute slow walk each day, which she loves.  She continues to put more weight on the affected leg.   This was taken on  a trip to set up 6000 Easter eggs stuffed with candy for local children.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Rose’s TPLO Recovery Week 3

As Rose begins her third week of recovery, she continues to improve.  She saw her veterinarian and he was pleased with her recovery.  She may now walk five minutes/day on leash (slow walk).  She still must potty on leash to prevent her from running or jumping. This was her first walk.  Please forgive me holding the camera the wrong way!