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 Symptoms of a Twisted Spleen and/or Blockage in the Stomach - NOT Bloat

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The Shire

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PostSubject: Symptoms of a Twisted Spleen and/or Blockage in the Stomach - NOT Bloat   Fri Apr 30, 2010 9:31 am

Hi Folks,

thought I would try and draw something positive out of the last week of one drama or another with my 3 boys, so here goes!

I should first exmplain that these 2 conditions are NOT bloat, but could easily be accompanied by bloat/gastric torsion or you could see them on their own as we have done. We have personally witnessed both these life-threatening conditions in our dogs over the years and in the last few days and we did loose one of our boys as a result, but the symptoms are virtually identical so here's what to look out for:

Vomitting - all dogs sometimes make themselves sick after eating grass or whatever and some do pick up viruses or stomach upsets causing them to be sick but this vomitting is different. It usually includes bringing up large quantities of stomach bile, maybe the last meal they had and often water they have just drunk. If your Saint is sick twice and it's not self-inflicted then don't worry too much but keep an eye on them, more than twice in a few hours then sit up and take notice - whatever you do at this stage if it is late DO NOT GO TO BED thinking it will be OK by morning, chances are you will have a dead Bernard by morning. The inability to keep water down is a dead giveaway usually and if you spot any blood in the vomit then run for the phone immediately. I am always very wary of a deep chested breed who displays stomach issues as they are so prone to torsion, bloat etc. and these are KILLERS. The other disturbing thing is the speed at which a condition can develop, with Burt and Quill we are talking a matter of only 2 hours from the first signs (vomitting 3 or 4 times) to the condition becoming critical.

Hard Mass in the Abdomen - if you're not used to checking your Saint then please do so, even if it is just so you know what is normal and what isn't. In both these conditions you are looking for a hard mass in the abdomen that should not be there. Don't want to patronize anybody, but to make things really simple it safe to say that the front half of the body nearest the head is where the lungs, heart etc. are situated and they are protected by the ribcage, but after the ribcage going back towards the tail end of the dog are the other organs including the stomach, spleen and intestines and these are all "squidgy". This picture should help:

When your vet physically examines a dog for any hard mass in the abdomen they do something called palpating the area and this is a vet's website description of how to do that:
"Using 1 or 2 hands, begin at the spine and move ventrally, allowing the abdominal viscera to
slip through the fingers. Repeat throughout abdomen, noting organ size and location and the
presence of, fluid, gas, fetuses, masses or feces. Note any pain or guarding of the abdomen."

Essentially you hold your hand against one side of the abdomen whilst using the other hand to gently push along the other side of the dog, feeling for anything hard. If you did not hold one hand against the other side then any mass could just move over to the other side of the dog and you would not notice it (makes sense really). You repeat the process swapping your hands over to the other side of the abdomen - bet you feel like Dr Kildare now!

Pale Gums - this is another possible symptom but not as clear as the first two and not that reliable as an indicator. Would you know what colour your Saint's gums are normally anyway? So imagine you're already panicked and you're trying to decide if the dog's gums look pale or not - there is no shade chart for this or Dulux colour chart!

Lethargic Dog - you can always tell when your little furball is "off-colour" or not their usual "bouncy self". I find a lethargic dog very worrying at any time and these cases are no different - if they look not right, then they are not right! My poor Quill actually collapsed on the garden when he had a blockage in his stomach which had ravelled up and he made it through surgery but died a few hours later. This is also one of those symptoms that is really difficult to convince a vet about most of the time, but it is always one of the best personal indicators for a poorly Bernard - stick to your guns when on the phone to the vet about this one.

Panting or Shallow Breathing - again this can just mean they are hot or they have been running about, but also indicates a raised temperature, distress or serious issue.

There are other things to check such as taking the dog's temperature, but I find I'm too panicked at this stage to be shoving a thermometer up the poor creature's bottom and they are not going to be thrilled about that procedure anyway! I know you can now get digital ear thermometers for this so I will be making a purchase soon.

Bottom line - guys don't worry about missing signs and symptons, you will definitely know something is wrong anyway. Downside to these kinds of conditions is that they tend to occur in the evenning (just as with bloat) and you could easily explain most of them away as other insignificant things. Added to this you are probably going to phone your out-of-hours vet who has already been up half the night with other emergencies and who already has you taped as an overreacting, neurotic giant breed owner! Even with poor Burt's twisted spleen this week and having had experience of Quill dying from the same symptoms, I still had quite a job convincing our on-call vet to come out to the surgery with comments such as "well it's up to you really" and "he's only been sick 4 times then". Problem with that attitude is that it makes you doubt yourself and knocks your own confidence (especially in my case as I'm Bipolar), but remember that you are paying that vet for their services, exceptionally well in most cases! Also think how you would feel if you did not call the vet out and your darling Saint died a few hours later - never forgive yourself, would you?

Hope this helps somebody else in the future.

Ali
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PostSubject: Re: Symptoms of a Twisted Spleen and/or Blockage in the Stomach - NOT Bloat   Fri Apr 30, 2010 10:44 am

shame you had a bad time- but what a good post !!!

thankyou for sharing xxxx
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PostSubject: Re: Symptoms of a Twisted Spleen and/or Blockage in the Stomach - NOT Bloat   Sat May 01, 2010 7:54 am

Thankyou so much for sharing this with us I am learning all the time from posts such as this.!!!!
Tony,Bud&Bhindi
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