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Archive for November, 2011

We just rescued a Great Dane from our local shelter and they told us large breeds of dogs get something called gastric dilatation and die. What is it and what causes it?

This condition can afflict any breed of dog but it seems to be most prevalent in Great Danes, St. Bernards, Weimaraners, Irish setters and Gordon setters. Dogs with a deep chest, dogs fed a large meal once daily, older dogs and dogs related to other dogs that have suffered from this condition are at higher risk. A study published in 2006 incriminates dry dog foods that list oil or animal fat as one of the first four label ingredients (high concentrations) as predisposing dogs to a higher risk. Any dog that eats rapidly and is overfed, or gains access to food on its own (gets into the bag of food while nobody is around), can end up with an over distended stomach and lots of gas. When this happens, the gas can accumulate rapidly and this gas itself can prevent both the gas and the food from leaving the stomach. Predictably, gas continues to accumulate and a severe stomachache ensues.

Dogs with a stomachache may look anxiously at their abdomen, stand and stretch, drool, and retch without vomiting. Most of the time, the dog will vomit up the excess food and gas thus relieving the problem but if unable to do so gastric dilatation can occur. When this happens, the abdomen distends as the stomach distends with gas and, as the problem progresses, the dog may start to pant and get progressively weak and even collapse. If not relieved, the distended stomach can put enough pressure on the diaphragm and lungs to result in hypoxia (lack of enough oxygen), prevent the return of blood from the abdomen, stop blood flow to the stomach and this can result in rupture of the stomach wall. Another possible complication is a twisting of the stomach called volvulus. This results in an acute emergency that requires surgical intervention. Mortality from gastric dilatation and volvulus is about 15%. (more…)

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My ten-year old dog is drinking more water and urinating much more than he used to. What’s going on?

It could be diabetes, bladder disease, bladder or kidney stones, or an infection of the urinary system, your veterinarian can check for those and other possibilities. The more usual cause in an older dog is Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). Signs of CKD (sorry veterinarians are using initials for diseases more and more, the same as MDs) include polydipsia (excessive drinking), polyuria (excessive urinating), and nocturnal incontinence (leaking urine when asleep). As the disease progresses, and it usually does, you can expect vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia (loss of appetite), weight loss, depression, pale gums and weakness. Poor kidney function can lead to weakened bones and spontaneous fractures, high blood pressure leading to blindness, puritis (itchy skin) bruising or gastrointestinal bleeding.

The kidneys contain thousands of functional units called nephrons. When our pets, are young and healthy, not all of the nephrons are functioning all the time there are nephrons in reserve, so to speak. As your pet ages, or if the kidneys become damaged from disease or from some sort of toxicity, some nephrons no longer function. When that happens the body recruits the reserve nephrons and everything is hunky dory. If there are no longer any “extra nephrons” available signs of CKD manifest.

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