PDSA warns owners about the risks of bloat after saving a two-year-old Doberman who almost died from a twisted stomach, also known as GDV (Gastric Dilation-Volvulus).

Thanks to the quick thinking of owner, Stella Draycot, as well as the Basildon PDSA Pet Hospital, Winston’s life was saved as vets could identify the symptoms of GDV – which can be fatal within just a few hours.

“He just wasn’t himself and I didn’t know what to do, so I took him to the PDSA Pet Hospital,” said Stella. “After the vet examined him, they discovered he had a twisted stomach and I was told that his chances of surviving were very slim. I was in shock and the thought of losing him left me in floods of tears.”

PDSA Vet, Hannah Johnston, explained, “When Winston arrived at the Pet Hospital he had a tender, swollen tummy and was trying to be sick but nothing was coming up. We were really concerned about these symptoms and took him straight for an x-ray, which showed a massive, gas-filled, ‘C’ shaped stomach. This is a tell-tale sign of GDV, which is a twisted stomach. We knew immediately that we had to act fast, as this can kill a dog within hours if left untreated.”

PDSA Vet Hannah Johnstone shows Winston’s Xray to Stella

Gastric Dilation-Volvulus (GDV), happens when an abnormal amount of gas builds up in the stomach and the stomach twists round on itself. Once the stomach twists, the gas can’t escape and pressure builds up, which can restrict blood flow, affect breathing, lead to shock and, if not treated quickly, the stomach wall can become damaged, causing it to bruise, start to die away, or rupture. The condition is more common in large or deep-chested breeds, including Dobermanns like Winston, but also breeds like Great Danes, Basset Hounds, Saint Bernards and Irish Setters.

Hannah continued, “Winston was immediately prepped for emergency surgery to untwist his stomach, but because of his deteriorating condition the anaesthetic he needed posed a much higher risk. We prepared his owner for the worst but we were determined to do everything we could to save him. The surgery went as well as it could have, and we also placed some internal stitches to secure the stomach to the body wall to try and prevent it from twisting around again.”

Thankfully, Winston, who has just celebrated his second birthday, has made a great recovery and is back to enjoying walks with his friends. Stella has now entered Winston into the PDSA Pet Survivor awards to recognise his survival spirit, and the determination and skill of the vets and nurses who saved his life. The annual competition recognises pets who have survived against all the odds (closing date for the 2019 awards in Sunday 8 September at midnight).

“I’m so glad to have my best friend back home safe and sound,” said Stella. “I feel that Winston is a miracle dog for surviving. The treatment and care he received from PDSA was fantastic, I’m so very grateful that they saved his life.”

How to prevent GDV

PDSA Vet Hannah added, “It’s really important to keep an eye out for any changes in your pet’s behaviour, especially if they are a higher risk breed. Signs to look out for include drooling, retching or trying to vomit without producing anything, anxious behaviour and attempts to stretch or restlessness, and a swollen or hard stomach. Surgery is most successful when the condition is still in the early stages, so Stella’s quick action in bringing Winston straight to PDSA saved his life.”

Ways to reduce the risk of your dog developing bloat may include:

  • Split your dog’s daily food allowance into several small meals during the day, rather than feeding one big meal.
  • Slow down your dog’s eating rate – special food bowls are available to help with this. Puzzle feeders can also help slow down eating.
  • If you own more than one dog, feed them separately to prevent them competing and eating too quickly.
  • Avoid heavy activity immediately before or after your dog eats.
  • Reduce stress for your dog – if they are prone to nervous or fearful behaviour, or get stressed in certain situations, then getting help from a qualified, registered behaviourist is recommended.
  • Feeding your pet on a raised platform can actually increase their risk of GDV, so feed them at floor level as normal.

Images by PDSA


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