Nurse Michelle's large breed puppies

Followers of Michelle's pups Hudson and Harper on Facebook would have noticed that they are growing like weeds! They are eating Michelle out of house and home, and now when they visit the clinic they take up more and more room every day!

Harper and Hudson

Being “large breed” dogs, Michelle is aware that they are both at risk of developing a condition known as Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV). This is a condition whereby the stomach over inflates (often after a large meal of dry food in particular, followed by a large drink of water). Some examples of large breed deep chested dogs are Dobermans, Great Danes, German Shepherds and even Golden Retrievers. Once dilated the stomach is then prone to rotating – which it can do, especially if the dog exercises after the large meal. Once the dilated stomach rotates the poor dog is in serious trouble. Like a twisted garden hose, the tube into (the oesophagus) the stomach and the tube exiting (the duodenum) the stomach become sealed off. In addition, the blood vessels supplying the stomach and spleen also become sealed off. As you can imagine this represents a dire situation for the dog. Their abdomen will swell up, they will be anxious and painful, and they will try to vomit. Unfortunately without prompt attention they will eventually collapse and die.

So in terms of trying to prevent this stressful disease, a few rules can be followed:

  • Feed your large breed dogs small meals frequently, rather than one large meal once a day.
  • Consider putting a brick or other obstacle in the feed bowl to force your furry mate to slow down while he searches for the food.  A hollow "Kong" might work in some cases.
  • Limit post-meal exercise.

Being an experienced qualified veterinary nurse, Michelle knew there was something else she could offer her big babies - a gastropexy. This is where the stomach is surgically tacked to the abdominal wall to create a permanent attachment. This is an extremely good way to help prevent GDV episodes in the future as the stomach can no longer rotate.

Hudson and Harper are recovering well from their surgery, which was a simple addition to their routine desexing operations.

Please talk to us if you have a GDV-prone dog. This operation could save their life.

Harper the Rottweiler
Hudson the Bernese Mountain Dog