How safe is this procedure, and how successful is it in preventing bloat?
I haven’t seen it recommended as a preventative procedure. It’s usually done once the dog has already bloated. Preferably at the time of the bloat, after decompression and recovery from shock. If the dog bloats once and surgery isn’t done, there’s a very high risk that bloat will happen again.
Are you asking about truly as a preventative measure, or has the dog already bloated? If it already happened, the surgery is preventative in the sense that you’re keeping it from happening again, but really the surgery should immediately follow the decompression procedure. Assessing the damage can’t be done without the surgery, there would be no way to know whether some of the stomach has died and needs to be removed, and sometimes the spleen gets twisted up as well and the dog needs a splenectomy.
As far as cost, the dog’s already fully anesthetized during the decompression, if he goes straight to surgery then there’s only one instance of anesthesia, better for the pocketbook and better for the dog’s health. Less anesthesia is always better when possible.
* A preventative surgery is available for dogs that are in the suspect breed group. This is in essence a form of "insurance" as it has been shown to prevent the problem before it happens. * Calculate your dog’s risk to develop GDV to see if you should have the preventative surgery performed: http://www.vet.purdue.edu/epi/clbr.htm * Our surgeons perform a laparoscopic prophylactic gastropexy, which results in less pain for the patient than traditional open surgery, and allows that patient to go home the same day."
I’d like to have some numbers on the safety/success rate.
As long as it’s a dog that’s considered high-risk, like any known relatives of the dog have bloat histories, the dog is expected to weigh over 100 pounds, is male.
I work in an ER, so preventive surgeries aren’t something I have experience with, my first inclination was that it sounded like an unnecessary surgery, but when I think more about it, and if the risk factors above fit, then maybe it would be worth it. If suggested it be done at the time of spay/neuter, it doesn’t sound completely unreasonable. If the dog’s a female, I’d read up on the risk factors more. As far as the bloats I’ve dealt with at the ER - all of them were male.
There are so many other risk factors that have more to do with eating behaviors, behavior in general, and body score, it’s really almost impossible to say if the dog, as a puppy, is at higher risk if not including genetic history.
It is a life-threatening condition. Maybe preventive surgery in this case is really not such a crazy notion. It could save the dog’s life and you several thousand dollars somewhere in the dog’s middle years.
What I have no idea about at all is whether the preventive surgery would truly last the dog’s lifetime, as I’ve only seen it done for middle-aged and older dogs.
I have a female Lab mix, with an unknown background (so no family history to look at), that the vet thinks will weigh about 80 lbs. So, she doesn’t have most of the factors that you mentioned against her.
Thanks, SeaDragonTattoo. I didn’t realize males were at higher risk. I’ve seen people recommending raising food bowls and leaving them on the floor, and recommending moistening food and leaving it dry as ways to prevent bloat. There’s lots of contradictory stuff out there.
What is body score?
Before anyone mentions it, I do always ask the vet’s opinions on things like this. The more information, the better, though.
Body condition score is a way to have a standard way of eyeballing an animal and deciding whether it is too fat/ideal/too thin, based on how certain body parts look (and feel). For example, what bones can be easily seen, if some areas can be felt easily, if all you see is fat pads in certain zones, etc. There are various standards for different animals (cats, dogs, beef cows, dairy cows, horses).
Here is one that goes from 1 to 9, put out by Purina. Nestle Purina, btw, has done different food trials, and did a long term studying finding that (surprise) animals that were not overweight lived longer and had less medical complications (in general, I know tubby Chihuahuas that live forever and lean Weimeraners that croak early… that’s not what the study was about).
As far as gastropexies, one thing to realize is that there is more than one procedure. The type I learned (incisional gastropexy done by laparotomy) is different than the one mentioned in your webpage.
If you want journal articles and cites, I’m looking them up right now (I think I can at least link you to the abstract). If you have more questions, you can talk it with your veterinarian, maybe she/he can point you to some more information.
BTW, I have a female Lab mix too, about 81 pounds (and she’s 4-5 / 9 going by the scale above)! I haven’t had it done, for two reasons… The first one of course being cost. The second one being that I was not too convinced of the cost vs benefit. Putting my dog under anesthesia for an elective surgery that I was not sure will work… It wasn’t worth the (non existent) money for me.
I usually discuss this with owners of susceptible breed puppies. I have done several (belt loop gastropexy) at the time of spay/castration. I personally have never seen one fail to prevent torsion of the stomach. Simple bloat can still occur, but torsion/volvulus is prevented.
Thanks, **vetbridge **and Karl.
IANAV: I have a german shepherd.
He bloated a few times and the vet recommended it. I got the surgery done and it was tough on him. The sutures opened up one night and the emergency vet actually turned e away and I ended up begging a closing super market to let me in to buy gauze and tape to hold hi together until I could get him to his regular vet in the morning.
After the procedure, he continued to bloat sporadically…then, finally, after months of his discomfort and thousands of dollars later, one doc suggested a blood test to determine if he had a certain kind of bacteria. He did. They prescribed some antibiotics and a week later, he was fine…it was maybe $25 max for the blood test and the antibiotics.
If your dog is showing signs of gastric torsion, I would inquire about the blood test to detect the bacteria that causes the excess gas in the GI tract. Give it a whirl, it will save you and your dog time, heartache and money.
The procedure turned out not to have been 100% either. His stomach til becomes distended from time to time, enough to make him try to make himself throw up, but I have the peace of mind to know his stomach isn’t twisted…
When he does start to do the hunt for things he can eat to make himself puke, I grab a marrow bone or his Kong and fill it with peanut butter. I guess it’s something about the licking and the distraction and concentration that usually makes him feel better.