Home for Irish Setter Lovers Around the World
My boy Seamus bloated up Tuesday after lunch and thankfully I was home to recognize the symptoms so we rushed him to the emergency vet where they untwisted his stomach and performed a gastropexy. I think we were lucky and caught it very quickly as the stomach was a nice pink color, there was no necrosis and the spleen appeared fine. He came home today and as you can imagine, I'm still in a bit of shock. I've always made sure my two don't eat until an hour after our walks and no play after meals. He'll be on pain meds for 7 days and a stomach coating (sulcrate) for 5.
What can I expect going forward? He'll be 4 in January but the emerg vet tech that he should still live a long life after this.
Has anyone's dog ever experienced GDV a second time after a gastropexy? This to me is my major worry. The surgeon said bloat is still possible but it wouldn't be life threatening because of the gastropexy.
Hi Sue, I slept with Seamus in the living room last night as he's not allowed to climb stairs. He got the sofa and I slept on an air mattress. I think I probably got 2 hrs of sleep at the most as I'd awaken at every little sound thinking he was licking his incision. I only put the cone on when I leave him alone as he HATES it. This morning at 7 I put the cone on him in the kitchen before I took my girl Kelly out for her walk. When we got back the poor boy will still standing in the kitchen. I doubt if he went more than 5 steps.
I wish I knew more about his littermates and dam/sire. I actually got him for free with his CKC registration certificate when his previous owner sold his house and couldn't take him to the new place (or so he says). He's a beautiful but large boy at about 85 lbs.
At the emergency vet hospital, they obviously couldn't quote me a firm cost nor a cap unfortunately, but the emerg vet said if there were complications, it could be a minimum Cdn $5000 and up to $7000. Again, I was lucky to catch the GDV quickly and when I saw the bill was only $3800, I thought I won the lottery ha ha.
This scares the begeezus out of me as one of my boys went through this yrs. ago. The vet spent 3.5 hrs. pumping water down him and it saved him only to have him die a yr. later of bone cancer. I elevate both food and water and also moisten the dry kibble as well as quiet time before and after eating. Still scares me though. Read where some study stated happy dogs are less likely to experience this. Huh? Is there such a thing as an unhappy IS?
Terrible experience for you, Clarence. It is a relief to hear you got to him in time and have had a gastropexy performed.
In 1979 with our very first setter we were not aware of bloat/GDV. Our Copper died at the vet during the night aged just four years.
Since then this is one of my greatest worries and I take extra precautions concerning feeding regime and supervision. Despite theses precautions I always have the nagging fear knowing I can't control all situations.
I'm afraid although GDV is present in various deep chested breeds, Irish Setters are a high risk breed with some lines being more prone to it than others.
Maybe folks can post other suggestions of what they do as a precaution.
Hi Rob, great idea! I've read the same things about elevated bowls and then of course I've read the contrary that it isn't necessary. But the quiet time before and after meals has to be a given. I don't believe there is such a thing as an unhappy IS. I'm reminded of the Far Side cartoon with the 6 moods of the IS.
Hi Susan, this has always been a worry too. What precautions do you take? My two are raw fed twice a day but I have to keep on this Medi-Cal low fat gastro canned food for now. He has always been a fast eater so I'm doing 4 small meals at the moment.
I'll add my two cents, because it was a frightening problem for us, too. Our bitch Star bloated on Easter eve when she was 13. Though her age was a concern, we did do the surgery and gastroplexy based on her otherwise excellent health. Though she was suffering for at least two or three hours by the time she went into surgery (distance to the emergency surgery, time to stabilize her and initial diagnosis), there was no necrosis, and the surgery was quite straight-forward. She came home the day after Easter, quite a bit thinner. She recovered extremely well, and died this past May at age 16 1/2 of, I'd guess its best described as, infirmities of old age.We have absolutely no regrets for doing the surgery.
When she came home after her surgery, we were given a list of suggestions/precautions, though the surgeons also felt that her risk would be greatly reduced after the gastroplexy. According to her surgeons, the jury seems to be thoroughly divided on raised bowls or not, as well as on wetting the kibble or not. There are good arguments for both, both ways. However, the vets strongly emphasized what's already been said here (quiet before and after feeding). They also suggested that if she seemed particularly gassy, to give her an over the counter (human) gas remedy. I did a LOT of research on my own. One theme that kept coming up again and again was gluten intolerance in Irish. So I removed all gluten producing grains from her diet (including biscuits). Star was always a fussy eater, so finding foods for her became a real challenge. She'd be fine for two or three days, then insisted on a different meal.
I have a problem with raw food here in the US because of the way meats, particularly poultry, are processed. I also have a problem with the hormones and antibiotics that some food animals are routinely fed. What I eventually hit upon was a mixture of a grain-free, naturally sourced (ie, bison & venison) kibble combined with a whole food/partially cooked 'meatloaf', if you will. The meat is made by a gentleman local to us who happens to be a French chef, and who has a herd of golden retrievers. His meats (all locally sourced), to which he adds vegetables, fruits and herbs (also locally sourced), are formed into a loaf, then partially cooked, then frozen. It would not be hard to reproduce some of what he does with some experimentation and The Dogs All Love It. Even Miss Star would not turn away a slice of his 'chicken terrine with raspberries and sweet potato'.
Another suggestion from one of the surgeons -- if you are going to spay a bitch, it is not difficult for the vet to do a prophylactic gastroplexy at the same time. This particular surgeon said she did it on all her dogs when she spayed them.
A final food for thought - Star's father died of bloat and was well known to suffer from it. I haven't found any solid Irish-specific research tracing lines and incidences of GDV, but there does seem to be a suggestion of potential congenital risk factors. Since Star's father certainly produced quite a few off-spring, it seems that a good (though probably anonymous due to kennel sensitivities) avenue of research would be to look into the incidence of bloat in well-used sires -- they do tend to appear more frequently in pedigrees than the bitches who may only be used once or twice.
Interesting that your girl Star was a fussy eater! My only bloater is (was) a fussy eater too!! Milo always had a gas problem, but it only happened when he was very stressed(usually at the groomers!) and only a couple of times a year.He always deflated on his own, so I just watched him any time this happened! But this year he did have an episode with much different symptoms than usual(no gas, but a lot of discomfort!!) and I rushed him to the vets with suspected torsion, and my vet operated on him quickly, so thankfully there was no damage and she stapled his stomach to his abdominal wall, so he should have less chance of torsion again!
Since this operation I switched Milo to a raw diet and for the first time in 7 years he has became a good eater and actually gained an extra 3kgs(he was always a bit too thin)And I still continue the rule of no exercise 2 hours before or after eating! I dont elevate dishes and never have, as I dont believe it makes any difference!!
Clarence I'm sure Seamus will be just fine after his surgery!
My current boy, Se, is well known for his burps - he does it at judges, when he just feels like it - kind of, well, like a teenage boy, delighting in the music he can bring forth with a belch. He can also fart to clear a room if he's been into something he shouldn't (like mouse hunting in the garbage). "Better out than in" - but it is a worry, subconsciously, one experience with bloat is more than enough.. He learned to be a persnickety eater from Star, though he will also follow his stomach far more than she ever would.He is not a dog that I worry if his food isn't locked down and (except for the very occasional counter surf) I don't worry too much about food on the counter that he might steal (he generally won't, he deviously waits for the four month human complacency to set in).
He's on the diet she was on for the last three years of her life, and people are actually shocked at how little he eats to maintain weight/coat/condition He's far from a couch potato - he gets a *hard* run for two hours a day. And will be going back to field trials in January, where his caloric needs go through the roof. *I* think it is the whole food component to the meatloaf - which is also a component of a raw diet More bio-available digestible stuff that his body can use, rather than stuff that passes through for me to pick up out of the yard. He's going to stay on that diet when he goes back to field trialing. . .and I can boost the fat content through the same diet.
I just wish more targeted research would go towards bloat - so many of our Irish go into pet homes where the signs aren't recognized early enough, and it does seem to be a problem for them. I hate the "raised bowls or not" kind of argument - we need to have definitive answers so we can establish a good working protocol to *really* prevent it.
Hi Cornelia, can you give details where this study comes from? I'd be interested how many dogs of each breed were included in the study.
Hi Eva, what are you feeding your dogs? Before the bloat, Seamus and Kelly were raw fed. Kelly is still on raw but the surgeon told me to feed Seamus this canned Medi-Cal low fat gastro which as you can imagine is probably just good enough as opposed to being very good for Seamus. It's also $3/can and at his size, he is supposed to get 4 cans a day so it's going to get expensive very quickly. He gets his stomach staples out in 2 weeks where I'll discuss his diet with the surgeon then. I'm not opposed to a high quality grain and citric acid free kibble but ideally he would be back on the raw diet. The surgeon did a gastrostomy (incision) on the stomach
to remove objects from within the stomach, which were observed to be pieces of bone, a heart and other animal organs.
I had to explain to them that that was his lunch. My concern is that because they had to open up his stomach and then sew it back up, the last thing I want to do is feed him something that could get caught in the stomach stitches. I really don't know how fast that incision heals or if indeed it ever heals so I'm going with the canned, formless food for the next few weeks.