Odie - Surviving Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV)
Let me tell you a story of a little dog named Odie. Along about May 2nd, 2009, I was almost home when I saw this little face looking at me from the corner of a cage. He was in the back of a vehicle parked in front of the Flea Market. Now who would want a dog from the flea market??? Well, I stopped to look at him, held him, and fell in love with him. The man wanted more than I was willing to pay, so I tried to talk him down a little. I succeeded, but told him I would have to think about it some more. I put the baby down ( He was only 15 weeks old) and went home. My son kept asking if we could have him, and I kept saying we already have a dog (Whopper, a Chihuahua/Shih tzu mix, 5 years old). Well, sure enough, I couldn't get that little face out of my mind. I called the man and said I'd be right there. It was getting ready to rain and the first sprinkles were coming while I was writing the check. We barely made it home before the dam broke and the deluge began.
A couple of days later, we took our new pet to the veterinarian to have him checked out. He was a mess. He is a Cocker/Poodle mix. He had ear mites in those long curly ears and diahrea, to boot. Got all the medication and went home to get him settled in and well enough for his puppy shots in another month. We named him Odie.
Fast forward almost a month. Came home from work, to this awful smell in the house. Went right in to let the dogs out of their crates. There was a greenish brown mess in front of Odie's crate that looked like someone had thrown out muddy soup from his door. I let them out andcleaned up the mess. Was puttering around taking care of all the creatures that live with us and smelled that smell again. It wasn't a poopy smell, or a pukey smell, it just didn't smell good. Went to the hallway and saw three more messes. So we loaded Odie up in a smaller crate and went to the vet. I thought it was probably Parvo, so my son kept him outside while I went in to sign in. After about 45 minutes, the vet came out with me and gave him a Parvo test. It was negative. Hallelujah!!! I knew the treatment for Parvo was about $1,500 dollars, so I relaxed a little bit and took him in to wait our turn.
When it was our turn, the vet looked him over, and it was obvious now that he wasn't feeling well. His stomach was very bloated and tight. He had thrown up a couple more times. We decided to xray his stomach to see what was going on. The results were that his stomach was full of something, but we couldn't tell what. I thought maybe it was a toy, but wasn't sure at all. The vet said he needed surgery to see what was going on. They were sending me to an emergency animal hospital for the surgery. I called the hospital before I went and they said it would be a minimum of $1,000 dollars due and payable before the surgery. I had no way to do that, so I went back in to the vet's office in tears and told them I couldn't get it done for financial reasons. I went and got Odie out of the truck and took him in to be put to sleep. My son was hysterical in the truck, and I was devastated at having to make this decision. We went into the exam room again, while the two vets talked it over in the other room. The one came in and we filled out the paperwork to have him put down. She was asking me about cremation and I kept looking at that little face, and I just couldn't do it. I asked if they would work with me on paying for the surgery and they agreed, so we tore up the other papers and they came in and got things started. Reprieve!
About three and 1/2 hours later, I got the call saying, "We have a baby"! I breathed a sigh of relief. She went on to tell me that his stomach was full of food. He had eaten his food and drank a lot of water, and the food swelled and caused his stomach to roll. She said it had rolled and his stomach couldn't empty either way. The spleen was dark when they first opened him up, but pinked up just as soon as the twist was straightened. He was on IV fluids, and antibiotics. They had irrigated and irrigated his abdominal cavity to try and get it as clean as possible to avoid infection. The doctor took him home with her to keep a close watch on him. He pretty much stayed with her for the next four days. It's been a long recovery with baby steps on everything, but he is doing well.
The doctor said that in 27 years of practice she had never seen this happen to a Cocker. "This" is Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus, or GDV. GDV is more likely to happen in dogs with a deep, narrow, chest cavity like the German Shepherd, Great Dane, Labrador, or St. Bernard. Usually the dog is older, although it does occasionally happen in a puppy (like Odie). It can be deadly if not treated right away. Odie would have died had he not had the surgery when he did. My research says that the stomach bloats up with fluid and gas in addition to any food that has been consumed. It gets so bloated that it just rolls over and twists the spleen also. This turning or rotating from the stomach's original position can cut off the blood supply causing the organs to die. Surgery is the only way to relieve this condition. Even with the surgery, there are many complications, such as infection that can occur causing the dog to die.
As I was telling my daughter what had happened to Odie, she informed me that the movie "Marley and Me" was about this very thing. Only, it happened twice and Marley didn't survive the second time. I had not seen the movie, and now I have no interest in seeing it, having had the experience myself. I would probably blubber all the way through it. I had never heard of this condition before it happened to Odie.
Now that this happened and Odie is recovering, I am more vigilant about what, when, and how much he eats. I spread his daily allotment of food out into three smaller meals. I always leave him fresh water, but I never leave him dry food in his bowl. I soak his dry food in water a few minutes before mixing in some canned food. He inhales his food now, so I put him back into his crate after he eats for about an hour to let his food start the digestion process. He can only run around and jump and play as the puppy he is before he is fed, or a couple of hours after. I take him out on his leash to make sure he doesn't eat anything he shouldn't...(the vet found sticks, grass, plastic, etc. in his stomach when she operated). It has made me a more conscientious pet owner.
I know this is long and drawn out, but I wanted to tell exactly what happened and how. My advice to other dog owners is - no matter what breed or how old your dog is, wet down their puppy chow before you feed them and don't overfeed them. Feed them multiple times throughout the day, even when they are older, instead of one large meal. And always watch how much water they consume after they eat. If your dog gets a bloated stomach, take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible, especially if they are vomiting "pea soup" or have the dry heaves along with it.
Odie is surviving and recovering nicely. He will be getting his puppy shots soon, and hopefully be around to love us for many years. I hope that if you've taken the time to read my hub you are more informed about and aware of this condition called GDV. Be sure and look at the pictures of our survivor. Tell me you could resist that face.