This is the second (and last) part of our experience with Hank’s bout with bloat and stomach torsion (gastric dilatation volvulus, GDV). If you missed part one, start HERE. Disclaimer: I am not a vet or any type of animal expert. This is merely our experience with canine bloat and GDV.
When I left off, we had brought Hank home from the vet after a 48 hour hospital stay. We were all really happy to have him home and so relieved….
As the days went on Hank regained some strength and started to act more like himself. Having food in his system again helped him have more energy, as well.
I took him to a follow-up vet appointment on Friday afternoon, four days post-surgery. He only weighed in at 113 pounds (he’s usually around 125). The vet was very happy with what she saw, though. She said his incision looked great (he had dissolvable stitches, so no need to get those out, thank goodness!) and his heart sounded good. His temperature was normal and he didn’t have any discomfort when the vet palpated his abdomen.
She instructed me to finish up his round of antibiotics and start to wean him off the pain medication. She also said to stick to leash walking, with no running or jumping, four 14 days total (through July 6). Up to this point, Hank hadn’t had any issues with licking and thus hadn’t needed a cone. Naturally, the day after his vet follow-up, that changed. Ironically, he didn’t mess with his incision at all. No, he was licking his IV site on his arm, to the point of making it raw. First he earned a sock…
That proved effective for about 24 hours and then it wasn’t. So we moved to the cone of shame, or rather the inflatable protective collar of shame. Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but still effective nonetheless.
Funny thing is, he loved the collar. Strange dog, but I’m glad it wasn’t a fight and he seemed fairly comfortable in it. By day 12 post-op (July 4) Hank was completely off his pain medication and no longer needed his protective collar. He seemed like he was pretty much feeling back to his old self. It actually became a challenge at this point to keep him calm and keep him from running around. Finally, after 14 days of rest, he was allowed to run around in the backyard again. He was pretty tickled!
Hank is quick to wear out when he plays in the backyard, so we are limiting how much he gets to run around and making sure he gets enough rest. We are also working on getting him back to his normal weight, since he lost 10 pounds during all of this. But he has been doing really well and continues to act like his old self. I like to think he doesn’t even remember everything that happened.
I knew about the risk of bloat in deep-chested dogs back when I researched the breed and knew we would have to be proactive in preventing it. We have always done so (elevating their food bowls as recommended by the vet, restricting exercise before and after mealtime, etc.). I grilled the vet with a lot of questions about anything we needed to change. She told me we weren’t doing anything to cause this and that sometimes it just happens. There haven’t been any scientific studies done on the causes of bloat, so all of the recommendations to prevent it are merely widely accepted best practices. The only thing we could have done differently would have been to have elective surgery to attach his stomach to his abdominal wall to prevent stomach torsion. I didn’t want to put him through unnecessary surgery to prevent a condition that may or may not happen. Now we have a lot of thinking to do on what we might do for Scout….
This whole experience has been very harrowing. I know that we are really lucky that Hank survived, as he progressed so quickly. Had his condition worsened anymore before he got into surgery (lost blood flow to his heart, lost blood flow to his esophagus, gone into shock, etc.) he would have either died or needed to be euthanized.
I’ve been pretty freaked out since all of this happened and I’ve lost my peace of mind. I think eventually I’ll go back to just being mindful of it, like I used to be. But for now I can’t help watching both dogs like a hawk for signs of bloat, and sometimes even checking on them in the middle of the night if I wake up. I am definitely counting my blessings that Hank is still with us, and that both of our dogs are currently happy and healthy.
They have been getting lots of extra love and attention lately!