Do You Know About Bloat (or GDV) in Dogs?
Updated: Jul 27
Life Saving Awareness: Truman's Triumph with The Silent Killer.
My dog Truman's health crisis is a story of extremely bad luck. Sometimes you can
My dog Truman's health crisis is a story of extremely bad luck. Sometimes you can go above and beyond, do everything by the book, do far more than what’s expected, and still the outcome can be completely out of your control. When this happened to our dog, we were 2 months away from Truman's elective (preventative) gastropexy surgery: the exact surgery he ended up having in a stressful, scary, emergency scenario when struck by the sudden onset of Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV), a.k.a. "Bloat."
My husband and I had taken the dogs with us on a road trip in the U.S. - the purpose of the trip was for business and I needed to bring one dog, so why not make a family trip of it? At the beginning of our second week we stopped at an Airbnb in the mountains in New York State where we thought our worst enemy would be the tick population. Suddenly, 30-minutes into our arrival, while unpacking and getting settled in our spot for the night, Truman "bloated." Against all odds - or perhaps with the odds working against us as it's estimated 40% of Great Danes will experience bloat in their lifetime - the symptoms began, which for me it was unmistakeable.
Signs & symptoms:
Stopped eating halfway through a meal
Unsuccessful attempts to vomit, spitting up thick, slimy white substance
Sore/tenderness when pressed in the abdomen
Know the signs of Bloat - and if you want more information please reach out to me. If your dog is experiencing Bloat (GDV), their stomach begins to blow up like a balloon, putting immense pressure on the surrounding organs. It can then also twist on itself, cut off circulation in their body and begin killing the dog slowly from the inside out. Death is imminent in a matter of 2-3 hours, and would be excruciatingly painful. There are many breeds known to be affected by GDV. Danes are commonly affected and a non-exhaustive list of breeds known to bloat includes: German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Pointers, Bloodhound, Irish Wolfhound, Saint Bernard, Rottweiler, Weimaraner, Irish Setter, Akita, Chow Chow, Standard Poodle, Labrador Retrievers, and Boxer.... any large mixed breed dog could also be at risk. Bloat is carried genetically so at-risk dogs should have a preventative gastropexy to reduce their chances. You can speak with your veterinarian about whether it is a helpful precaution for your dog - and don't forget to thank them for everything they do.
If you observe symptoms such as a distended abdomen, unproductive retching, restlessness, and difficulty breathing, DON'T WAIT - seek immediate veterinary attention. Prompt action can be a lifesaver and Truman's case exemplifies this. Thanks to quick action and legendary vet staff in Kingston, NY, our boy survived.
Upon recognizing the signs in our dog, we rushed 45 minutes to the closest emergency hospital (side note - always map out emergency vets when you travel so you are not questioning where to go if something happens to your pet!). Truman's X-rays confirmed a GDV diagnosis, and immediate surgery was recommended. During surgery, the veterinary surgical team assessed damage to his organs and performed a procedure called gastropexy, which attaches the stomach to the abdominal wall to prevent future twisting, although it will not prevent future episodes of bloat.
Despite the harrowing experience, we were just so glad that he survived the surgery and we were able to take him home with us. It felt like a miracle, especially as, we had lost a dog previously just before the pandemic in 2020 in a sudden and traumatic way, in which case he suffered an accident and saving him was not an option. We were faced with a potential cost at that time but our dog would have been paralyzed and had no quality of life. It was a no-brainer in that situation for me at the time as well, as I knew my dog would suffer and I made the decision to euthanize. In Truman’s case, I could not have swiped my credit card fast enough, knowing that this would save his life and he would likely be totally fine. We hope that this will mean he experiences a full and healthy life moving forward.
"Dogs don't feel sorry for themselves, they just adapt and figure it out." - Anonymous Veterinary Surgeon, courtesy of Goose Gives Foundation
"Dogs don't feel sorry for themselves, they just adapt and figure it out" - we are trying to do the same. Over the last couple of weeks, we have been humbled by people in our lives who love us reaching out to ask if they can help. After a few weeks of careful reflection, we have come to understand and feel gratitude that there might be a few people out there who are able and happy to contribute to help us rebuild our savings from this financial hit. I know I've done so for people in the past when hearing stories of bad luck and misfortune, and wished I could help in some small way. Most importantly I wanted to create this post in hopes of helping people avoid the same experience or at least to catch it if the worst happens to your dog. My hope is just that you will share this post with all dog lovers in your life and anyone who may be in a position to help recognize the signs.
In the time I spent reflecting, I also designed and published a tribute journal for dog lovers as a way to create something in return for anyone who wants to support and to honour Truman's bravery and fight in this whole episode. Proceeds from Truman's Tribute below will help us recover financially, and once recovered we intend to make ongoing donations to Goose Gives Foundation who help Pet Parents like us in need of funds for costly medical bills
Truman's Tribute - Be the Person Your Dog Thinks You Are
A huge thanks to everyone for their thoughts and well wishes, we are grateful for every one of them, and just happy that our boy is healthy and safe, at home with us now. We hope that sharing Truman's story will help raise awareness and avoid tragic outcomes. If you find this post helpful, please share it with fellow dog lovers and those who may be in a position to recognize the signs and save lives.
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