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Posted on 07-31-2017

We are heading into the home stretch after visiting Glacier National Park last week and Yellowstone National Park this week.  These parks are so beautiful and no words or photographs can convey the way it makes you feel to stand in these places that represent the best of what America has to offer – I 100% agree that they were America’s Best Idea.  If you have not been to a National Park, I highly encourage you to visit one.  Glacier, pictured above, is losing its namesake glaciers and scientists predict all of the glaciers in the park will be completely gone by 2030 so this park might be a great place to start.

One critically important veterinary emergency that I have neglected to talk about thus far is a condition called Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV).  This condition occurs when the stomach suddenly twists and gets stuck in that position, causing gas to build up in the stomach.  As the stomach gets larger, its blood supply becomes cut off and the stomach begins pushing on the aorta and the diaphragm, reducing blood flow back to the heart and restricting breathing.  If the pressure in the stomach is not relieved quickly, the stomach can rupture and/or the dog can go into shock and die.

This condition is usually easy to diagnose with a single x-ray and then treatment for shock is started with decompression (relieving some of the pressure in the stomach with a needle), IV fluids and pain medication.  Once the pet is stabilized, emergency surgery is necessary to flip the stomach back into its normal position and then suture it in place so it does not twist again.  Most dogs that are diagnosed quickly do well with surgery, but time is definitely a factor in these cases.

We still don’t know exactly why this happens in some dogs and not others but deep chested dogs (Great Danes, Weimaraners, St Bernards, etc) who eat one meal a day are at higher risk.  If you have a large breed dog with a deep chest, definitely feed them 2-3 times per day and do not let them gorge themselves on any type of food or water, especially if they are very active.

Signs of GDV are non-productive retching (trying to vomit but nothing comes up), drooling, restlessness (inability to get comfortable), and a swollen abdomen.  If you have any suspicion that this could be happening in your dog, take them to a veterinarian immediately.  I have seen multiple cases of dogs that died at home or in the car on the way to the hospital only hours after they started to show symptoms.

Until next time….

Dr. Jesse Strong – currently in Wyoming

Follow me on Instagram @ramblingstrong for photos/inspiration

Check out my blog for general advice/tips about life on the road, camping, etc. at http://www.ramblingstrong.wordpress.com

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