Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus

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Have you heard of bloat, twisted stomach, or GDV (Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus) in dogs? In its early stage, the stomach fills with gas, also known as “bloat”. A GDV is a progression of the bloat into a volvulus, in which the huge, gas-filled stomach twists upon itself so that both the entrance and exit of the stomach become blocked. This prevents blood flow to vital organs, which can lead to tissue damage and shock. This is a life-threatening emergency that requires surgery to correct.

Shadow, a 10 year old Lab/Shepherd mix, came in for sudden lethargy, drooling, and retching. We performed a physical exam and took x-rays, which revealed a VERY distended stomach filled with gas (see below), and immediately went into emergency surgery.

Torsed stomach full of gas

We were able to decompress his stomach and return the stomach to its normal position. We then performed a gastropexy, a procedure that sutures the stomach wall to the abdominal wall, to prevent the stomach twisting in the future.

We are so happy to say that Shadow did so well following his surgery and is completely back to his normal self!

If you have a large, deep-chested breed dog, some precautions you can take to help prevent bloat include:
• Avoiding strenuous exercise before and after meals
• Feeding frequent small meals instead of one large meal
• Using bowls designed to make dogs eat more slowly
• Restrict water during meal times

The Souvlaki Thief

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Meet Dexter! Dexter came in to see us lethargic, with a fever and abdominal pain. He had stolen a pork souvlaki skewer and ate it whole the week before, but only started to feel sick the day his owners brought him in.

We took X-rays which showed a loss of detail of his abdominal structures which increased our suspicion of peritonitis (when a dog’s abdominal cavity is infected or inflamed and fluid builds up) and went into surgery to search for the cause.

We found that the wooden skewer he ate the week prior had perforated through the duodenum (small intestine) and caused a severe infection (peritonitis) making him extremely sick. Peritonitis is a severe illness that can be fatal if not quickly treated.

To treat Dexter we surgically removed the skewer, closed his perforated intestine and flushed his abdomen profusely with sterile saline to get rid of as much of the infection as possible.  With supportive medication and intensive care Dexter quickly rebounded back to his happy puppy self! Moral of the story: wooden sticks and skewers are very sharp and can cause GI perforation! Please be cautious when your pet is chewing on any wooden objects!

Fractured Tibia in a Cat

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Tulip is a young, female spayed DSH that was picked up by the Oakville Milton Humane Society as a stray cat that had been injured. Upon examination, she was found to have a fractured tibia (shin bone) and multiple small lacerations on her face and body. It was suspected that Tulip had either been hit by a car, or had a fan belt injury, which commonly occurs when a cat climbs up under the hood of a car while it’s parked, then becomes injured by the high speed fan belt once the car is turned on.

In order to fully assess Tulip’s injuries, we took some radiographs of her legs, as well as her chest and abdomen to be sure there was no other damage. Her tibia had been fractured around the midway point.

This is a VD view, with Tulip lying on her back.  Note the fracture mid-way down the right tibia.This is a lateral view with Tulip lying on her side.  Note the fracture, with 2 large, and 1 small fragment.

Surgery was performed in order to repair the fracture.  An epidural was administered pre-operatively.  An epidural is an injection of local anesthetic and/or analgesics (pain medication) into the space that surrounds the spinal cord, in order to provide very targeted pain control.  Although Tulip was under general anesthetic during surgery, and therefore should not feel pain, offering effective pain control both pre- and intra-operatively allows for significantly better pain management in the post-operative period.  It also allows us to use less anesthetic gas and other drugs during surgery, which allows for safer general anesthesia.

During surgery, the fragments of bone are realigned, and a stainless steel plate is placed to hold the fragments together.

Two large fragments and one small fragment need to be re-aligned, then held in place by a plate and screws to facilitate healing
A bone holder keeps the fragments together and steady while the plate is appliedThe plate is attached to the bone fragments with specialized screws

Following surgery, Tulip was weight bearing on the fractured leg very quickly (check out the video HERE!)!  She was kept on cage rest for several days, and is now enjoying (restricted!) activity in a foster home while she heals!  We expect Tulip to make a full recovery, and are anxiously awaiting news about her adoption!