Jasper is a six-year-old Great Dane whose life took an unforeseen twist – of the stomach variety.
He was unfortunate enough to be the victim of a life-threatening condition known as Gastric-Dilation and Volvulus (GDV), where the stomach dilates and twists. Emergency surgery was the only option available in order to save his life.
Late in the evening on Easter Monday, Jasper wouldn't settle down and started displaying unusual behaviour, seeming very restless and uncomfortable. His owners considered this very odd for him and when Jasper's behaviour intensified, they became more and more worried.
Jasper started drooling and retching uncontrollably whilst appearing very bloated. It was now 11pm - two hours had passed, and Jasper's owners decided to call the emergency vet on duty.
Jasper was deteriorating – and fast. He was becoming unsteady on his back legs and was certainly not himself. The vet examined him, and found that Jasper had pale gums, a fast heart rate, weak pulse and low temperature.
Jasper's vet suspected that the Great Dane may be suffering from a GDV – large breed dogs are particularly at risk from this stomach torsion condition. Jasper was admitted and put on two drips; he was dehydrated and required fluid urgently. Back-up was needed to anaesthetise him and lift him on to a stretcher – another vet and nurse were called in to lend a helping hand and carry the 65kg dog to the X-ray table. X-rays confirmed the vet's suspicions showing a large, dilated and twisted stomach.
With his life hanging in the balance, Jasper was carried into the operating theatre. Surgery involved two vets examining the stomach wall for signs of damage, rotating the stomach in the opposite direction by which it had twisted, and stitching it to the body wall so that the same situation could not happen again. As soon as the stomach was untwisted, the bloat was relieved and Jasper's condition stabilised. By the time surgery was completed, it was 3am and Jasper was ready to recover from his anaesthetic.
The following day, Jasper was making a slow recovery – this was to be expected after going through such demanding surgery. His temperature was very low and he required a lot of dedicated nursing care to warm him up so that he felt more comfortable. By the afternoon, Jasper was able to stand, though he refused to take any food. Jasper was hospitalised overnight again, but the next morning he was a lot brighter and able to come off of his drip. He still hadn't eaten but it was decided to discharge him back home so that he would be more at ease.
Jasper's owners brought him back to the practice the next day, and although he still hadn't taken any food, they were really pleased with his progress. Over the following weekend, Jasper's appetite eventually returned, and a week down the line Jasper was almost back to his normal self.
Jasper and his owners can now look to the future knowing that, after surgery, a repeat of the emergency condition that had almost taken his life was unlikely to happen again. Owners of other large dogs should be aware of the warning signs to look out for – with quick thinking and close attention to detail like that shown by Jasper's owners – hopefully other lives can be saved.
Shepton Mallet Veterinary Group