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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Unread 09-12-2019, 09:56 AM Thread Starter
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"Pexy" surgery

Hey all. It's been a while since I've been here and I'm back with unfortunate news. My big guy, Atlas (you may remember him), passed away on August 25 due to a very sudden stomach twist. He went from not showing any signs of pain to looking bloated in about 5 minutes, to wretching 3 minutes after that, to me calling the emergency vet and having my fiancé carry my poor dog into the truck for the drive. This all happened at 11pm on a Saturday night. The vet took us right in, did x-rays and showed us Atlas' stomach that looked like a pretzel. He was almost 9 years old and surgery would have been a very expensive, very painful procedure with very little success. So we opted to free him from his pain.

I've been lost without a Doberman and a 1.5 year old male has just sort of fallen into my lap. I pick him up tomorrow, but am now paranoid about bloat and stomach twists. The vet told me about something called a "pexy" surgery, where they stitch the stomach to the ribs to prevent a twist. Has anyone done this? What was the recovery like?

For whatever it's worth - Atlas was fed small meals multiple times a day, he didn't gulp water and he wasn't allowed to exercise for at least an hour after meals. The day his stomach twisted, he had eaten dinner at approximately 6pm and hadn't been overly active - unless you count stepping off the couch to go outside and back inside for a nap overly active.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Unread 09-12-2019, 10:07 AM
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JMO, I would not do a gastropexy as a stand alone surgery. I wouldn't do it unless his abdomen is already opened up like he were having an obstruction surgery or a cryptorchid neuter. While a stomach tack is a good way to help prevent torsion as with any surgery there are risks. I know someone who lost their dog in a routine surgery like this. Whatever you decide, be sure you opt to do blood work the morning of any invasive surgery, even for something as "simple" as a neuter.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Unread 09-12-2019, 10:27 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks! The dog is already neutered, so I've probably missed my window for the preventative surgery then. I don't want to put any dog at risk, but I also don't ever want a dog to go through what Atlas did. Even though I know I caught it as quickly as I could and we didn't waste any time getting him to an emergency vet, I still feel guilty that he had to experience it.

Maybe the smartest way is to continue how I've been doing it - small meals, monitored drinking, delayed exercise after meals - and keeping Gas-X or something on hand in case I see signs of bloat.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Unread 09-12-2019, 10:54 AM
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I agree with gk ^^^

Knowing that McCoy's sire died of torsion, I studied up on it quite a bit. I talked to his vet who is very Doberman savvy and a skilled surgeon. His suggestion was to hold off on a gastropexy. Although he would do it if I wanted.

I trust him. He has saved our Dobermans' lives in immediately deadly situations twice. (Sudden Death Syndrome/v-tac and complete bowel obstruction)

His office is 5 minutes from both of us and is totally equipped for major surgery. We also have a 24/7 emergency care clinic 10 minutes away. He is also my DIL's father.

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Unread 09-12-2019, 11:22 AM
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I'm so sorry about Atlas.

The biggest predictor of bloat in dogs is genetics. Like GK said, I wouldn't do a gastropexy on a dog as a stand alone surgery, unless I thought there was an extremely high risk of bloat. Given that you don't have a genetic history on your new dog (unless you do?), I personally wouldn't make that choice.

Here is an EXCELLENT resource for you on bloat. It might be surprising, but most of the recommendations we commonly read are not based in any kind of scientific research. They may not hurt, but they are unlikely to help. The best thing you can do is have a bloat kit ready and easily accessible in your home and car, and know the signs.

https://bigdogmom.com/bloat-in-dogs/


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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Unread 09-12-2019, 11:38 AM
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Courtney, I am so sorry for your loss. We lost one of ours in very similar circumstances 3 months ago and at the same age. It came out of no where. It was torsion and of course and ER vet.
We felt we were up on all the causes and how to prevent torsion or bloat, too. We still go thru every minute of what we could have done different and suffer guilt that maybe we overlooked
something. So much anguish seeing your dog suffer and not able to do anything. My daughter went ahead with the surgery, and plexy and spleen removal as severe torsion usually will
destroy the spleen. He lasted 6 hrs post surgery and the option was made to let him go. I do feel your pain and I am sorry you both and Atlas had to face this. It destroys me all over again
just thinking about it.

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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Unread 09-12-2019, 11:46 AM
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I'm sorry for your loss.

We had Mocha's surgery done while she was being spayed; it entailed a larger incision and a slightly longer recovery time...we talked it over with our vet and after weighing the pros and cons, we decided to get it done.



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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Unread 09-12-2019, 11:59 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeadowCat View Post
I'm so sorry about Atlas.

The biggest predictor of bloat in dogs is genetics. Like GK said, I wouldn't do a gastropexy on a dog as a stand alone surgery, unless I thought there was an extremely high risk of bloat. Given that you don't have a genetic history on your new dog (unless you do?), I personally wouldn't make that choice.

Here is an EXCELLENT resource for you on bloat. It might be surprising, but most of the recommendations we commonly read are not based in any kind of scientific research. They may not hurt, but they are unlikely to help. The best thing you can do is have a bloat kit ready and easily accessible in your home and car, and know the signs.

https://bigdogmom.com/bloat-in-dogs/
Thank you! Unfortunately, I don't know the history of the dog. I know what I'm told, but as far as how true it actually is... your guess is as good as mine. So let's assume I don't know anything about this particular dog's genetics and history.

My question, because Google is sometimes less than helpful - does all bloat turn into a twisted stomach or does the Gas-X and a rapid trip to the vet mitigate that risk? I live about an hour away from the emergency vet (the joys of small town living), but I now keep Gas-X on hand. I actually went out and bought some the morning after Atlas' death, just because we have two other dogs here and while they're not as broad chested... I don't want to take that chance again.

I've never really been a fan of pet insurance, but it may be a good thing to have in this instance. I'd have to look into it further though, to see if it's smarter to have that or a separate bank account that I just plug extra money into for each dog.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Unread 09-12-2019, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CourtneyLynn View Post
Thank you! Unfortunately, I don't know the history of the dog. I know what I'm told, but as far as how true it actually is... your guess is as good as mine. So let's assume I don't know anything about this particular dog's genetics and history.

My question, because Google is sometimes less than helpful - does all bloat turn into a twisted stomach or does the Gas-X and a rapid trip to the vet mitigate that risk? I live about an hour away from the emergency vet (the joys of small town living), but I now keep Gas-X on hand. I actually went out and bought some the morning after Atlas' death, just because we have two other dogs here and while they're not as broad chested... I don't want to take that chance again.

I've never really been a fan of pet insurance, but it may be a good thing to have in this instance. I'd have to look into it further though, to see if it's smarter to have that or a separate bank account that I just plug extra money into for each dog.
Bloat doesn't *always* turn into torsion, but it is always a chance, and I would say you can pretty much count on it as a possibility. Gas-X is something I would shove down my dog's throat as I'm racing to the ER. I've heard from a vet that "you can't give too much Gas-X" in the case of suspected bloat...take that for what you will. Bloat is always, always ALWAYS an emergency. If I were in your shoes and that far from an emergency clinic I would definitely assemble a kit as recommended. The goal with Gas-X is to try and relieve some of the gas to get you more time to get the dog to help. When you get to the ER you'd be running in basically screaming "he's bloating!" and demanding immediate action. They can try to use a tube down the throat to relieve the gas pressure, but often it needs to be an immediate surgery. Sometimes there is simply nothing that can be done, even if you were 10 minutes away. It's a rough, rough thing.

Personally, I LOVE my pet insurance and I will never have another dog without it.


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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Unread 09-12-2019, 12:33 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeadowCat View Post
Bloat doesn't *always* turn into torsion, but it is always a chance, and I would say you can pretty much count on it as a possibility. Gas-X is something I would shove down my dog's throat as I'm racing to the ER. I've heard from a vet that "you can't give too much Gas-X" in the case of suspected bloat...take that for what you will. Bloat is always, always ALWAYS an emergency. If I were in your shoes and that far from an emergency clinic I would definitely assemble a kit as recommended. The goal with Gas-X is to try and relieve some of the gas to get you more time to get the dog to help. When you get to the ER you'd be running in basically screaming "he's bloating!" and demanding immediate action. They can try to use a tube down the throat to relieve the gas pressure, but often it needs to be an immediate surgery. Sometimes there is simply nothing that can be done, even if you were 10 minutes away. It's a rough, rough thing.

Personally, I LOVE my pet insurance and I will never have another dog without it.
Thanks! When we arrived to the vet, Atlas walked in on his own. We didn't even stop at the reception - they were waiting for us at the door and lead us right to an exam room. They took him back immediately for pain medicine and x-rays while a tech did our intake forms in the exam room. They were extremely efficient. They were expecting us because I called as I was driving to let them know we were on the way.

I actually have some photos of him on a gurney in another room, waiting for the vet to come for the euthanasia. That crazy dog was actually smiling and if it wasn't for the IV in his paw, you wouldn't think he was so very ill. But I'll never, ever forget the feeling when I felt his heart stop.

My poor fiancé feels guilty - we had actually just brought a new rescue pup home a few hours before and when I told him Atlas needed to go to the vet immediately, he tried to stay home with the pup. I was insistent he say goodbye to Atlas because I knew, deep down, I was coming home without my boy. He said goodbye, see you soon and then I said, "no. You need to come with me." As soon as we got to the vet and he saw how quickly they reacted, he was like, "I'm so thankful I came... I didn't realize he was so sick."

Does pet insurance tend to cover a lot of these health issues without much hassle? I've heard some real horror stories about it, but also some great stories... so I don't know what to believe.
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Unread 09-12-2019, 12:45 PM
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As MeadowCat already said bloat does not always result in torsion but since it's always a possibility every bloat should be treat as a BIG emergency.

And while one of the big Vet schools has done some very good studies on bloat the causes of bloat still remain fuzzy.

The things that everyone (vets who study it) agrees on as causes are dogs who have close relative who have bloated. Stress and Age. I used to work with a medium sized boarding kennel and in the two years I worked there I saw three cases of bloat (because they got spotted early and rushed off to a big emergency facility fast all of the dogs did survive; all arrived at the Emergency Clinic already torsed)--in each of those cases (all dogs under 6 years and of breeds that were known to have higher than average tendencies to bloat) the Emergency vet thought that stress was the originating cause. And the majority of first time bloat cases tend to be in older dogs--that statistic has been around for a long time now.

I've never had a gastropexy on any of my males and I've never had a case of bloat (knock on wood) But I've never had a male who was opened up for anything that was minor enough that I'd have considered doing a pexy. The dog that had a full blockage wouldn't have been a reasonable candidate--we were already afraid that he might have had major bowel damage because it was a partial blockage that turned into a complete blockage and those often turn into emergencies.

Also (knock on more wood) the lines that most of my recent dogs come from don't have a large number of bloat cases. The sire of 4X4 John's McCoy is behind many of my dogs But I haven't heard of any bloat cases in any of his offspring.

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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Unread 09-12-2019, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CourtneyLynn View Post
Thanks! When we arrived to the vet, Atlas walked in on his own. We didn't even stop at the reception - they were waiting for us at the door and lead us right to an exam room. They took him back immediately for pain medicine and x-rays while a tech did our intake forms in the exam room. They were extremely efficient. They were expecting us because I called as I was driving to let them know we were on the way.

I actually have some photos of him on a gurney in another room, waiting for the vet to come for the euthanasia. That crazy dog was actually smiling and if it wasn't for the IV in his paw, you wouldn't think he was so very ill. But I'll never, ever forget the feeling when I felt his heart stop.

My poor fiancé feels guilty - we had actually just brought a new rescue pup home a few hours before and when I told him Atlas needed to go to the vet immediately, he tried to stay home with the pup. I was insistent he say goodbye to Atlas because I knew, deep down, I was coming home without my boy. He said goodbye, see you soon and then I said, "no. You need to come with me." As soon as we got to the vet and he saw how quickly they reacted, he was like, "I'm so thankful I came... I didn't realize he was so sick."

Does pet insurance tend to cover a lot of these health issues without much hassle? I've heard some real horror stories about it, but also some great stories... so I don't know what to believe.
I think it's hard not to feel guilty when we lose a family member like that, even when you did everything you could do.

I've had really, really good experiences with Embrace - we've been covered for years and I've never had an issue with them.


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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Unread 09-12-2019, 02:34 PM
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I am sorry for the loss of your boy. My 2nd girl torqued in front of me and it is scary. She did survive. I too from that point on have had pet insurance. I have Healthy Paws and have never had any problems.
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Unread 09-14-2019, 08:08 AM
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I'm so sorry you lost Atlas. What a horrible thing to happen. I wanted to comment on the Gas-X, though (or the off-brand equivalent, which is the same simethecone). Zipper's vet wanted her on a prescription food the last year of her life, but not only was it prohibitively expensive, but Zipper wouldn't eat it. It was the only thing in the world I had ever seen her refuse. Go figure. Anyway, her vet then "prescribed" boiled chicken and rice. THAT she would eat, and she loved it. The problem was she ate too fast, and I couldn't hand feed the rice like I did other foods, so every time she ate, she got gas really bad, to the point her belly would swell and she'd be crying from the pain. I've eaten rice too fast, so I know how it feels, and it's not fun. (Sorry, I'm rambling.) So the vet told me to go get some Gas-X and give her one with each meal, and that completely solved the problem. She got two a day, one with her breakfast, and one with dinner, and never had another gas pain.

My point is, the Gas-X is fine to give on a daily basis, and Zipper had two every day for nearly a year. I was terrified one of her gassy episodes was going to escalate into something worse than just a bellyache, and her vet is an hour and a half away, so the anti-gas pills were a huge relief for her and for me.

For future reference. Or anyone else who has a dog who eats too fast.
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Unread 09-14-2019, 09:45 PM
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I've had the gastropexy surgery done twice on bitches I was having a routine spay done on. It is a longer incision with a longer recovery. The first one went fine on a 2/3 year old bitch, but the second bitch was 6 at the time (she had two litters), and she got a very bad infection within a few days of the surgery. She did recover, but I decided I was not doing the gastropexy surgery again as a preventative.
I lost my very first Doberman to bloat at age 11 - opted not to do surgery on an 11 year old dog with lots of tumors. We (the vet and I - as it was after hours I assisted) got her stomach mostly flipped back into place by using a tube down the throat to release gas.... she was only partially torsioned. She unfortunately bloated again 2 weeks later and I had her put down at that time.

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