Bloat/Gastric Torsion/Gastric Dilatation Volvulus
Bloat can be a sign of Gastric Dilatation (volvulus), also known as Gastric Torsion. Usually a problem in large dogs with deep chests, such as Irish Setters, Great Danes, Irish Wolf Hounds, Rottweillers etc. The dog has usually recently been fed and is now drooling, repeatedly retching unproductively, restless and has a distended abdomen. It may be found collapsed.
Some dogs are prone to the problem. The condition starts when an excessive amount of gas builds up in the stomach as a result of the normal food breakdown process. The gas builds up and inflates the stomach (sometimes the anatomy of the stomach is slightly abnormal) or the gas build-up can result in the stomach flipping over and twisting. This then means that the gas has no way of being released as the exits are blocked at both ends. The pressure from the very over-inflated stomach presses on the blood vessels, especially the major ones coming out of and going into the chest cavity. It also severely presses on the diaphragm and reduces the size of the chest cavity thus leading to difficult and ineffective breathing.
Without the release of the gas, the condition is quickly fatal and so urgent and immediate veterinary attention is needed.
The vet will want to insert a tube into the mouth and down the animal's oesophagus into the stomach. If the anatomy or twist is not too severe it may be possible to enter the stomach and the gas is released up the tube.
If the tube cannot be inserted into the stomach the vet may need to puncture the stomach from the outside, piercing the abdominal wall with a large bore, long catheter tube, to provide some relief.
If the animal's stomach can be fully deflated with the stomach tube the vet may choose to simply observe the animal and monitor the recovery in case of re-occurrence. However, the condition usually requires surgery, especially when the tube cannot be passed.
The procedure involves decompression of the gas and positioning and fixing the stomach to the abdominal wall at a particular place and angle to reduce the chances of the problem recurring.
Haemorrhagic Enteritis or Haemorrhagic Gastro-Enteritis
Bloody diarrhoea or bloody diarrhoea with vomiting.
This is an emergency for two reasons:
- Haemorrhagic diarrhoea often occurs with severe and fatal infectious disease, such as parvovirus infection
- This condition often leads to severe dehydration
The presence of blood indicates that the degree of internal inflammation is severe.
Veterinary advice should be sought by telephoning your veterinary surgery. They will probably ask you questions such as:
- How long it has been vomiting or having diarrhoea?
- How often vomiting/diarrhoea is happening?
- State of the animal - bright/alert, quiet, depressed
- If the animal is drinking and how much?
- Colour of diarrhoea
- Are the mucus membranes in the mouth warm or cold?
You will normally be asked to go to the surgery for a check-up and to bring a sample of the diarrhoea with you.