David R. Gross's Blog: Docdavesvoice - Posts Tagged "great-danes"

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%.

If your pet is suffering from gastric dilatation, you need to get her/him/it to your veterinarian post haste. If caught early the condition may be relieved by passing a stomach tube and releasing the gas. If this does not do the trick, your veterinarian will have to take radiographs (X-rays), and probably do some laboratory blood tests to establish a definitive diagnosis. It may be necessary to stabilize the patient with intravenous fluids and oxygen therapy prior to doing surgery. Even if there is no gastric volvulus it is usually necessary to do exploratory abdominal surgery to determine if the stomach is twisted or not and untwist it if necessary. If the volvulus persists, it interrupts the blood supply to the stomach and the tissues deprived of blood die. Gangrene of the stomach is not habit forming. While doing the surgery the surgeon will fully explore the abdomen and will ascertain the viability (normality) of the stomach wall, the spleen and other abdominal organs. Before closing the abdomen, the surgeon will fix (suture) the stomach to the body wall to prevent it from twisting in the future. There are at least four different techniques described to fix the stomach to the body wall (gastropexy). Your veterinary surgeon will use the technique that has proven to be most successful in her or his experience.

Your veterinarian might recommend prophylactic (preventive) gastropexy for dogs with relatives that have had the problem, breeds with greater risk, or dogs that have suffered gastric dilation and recovered without surgery. Laparoscopic (use of a fiberoptic device for visualization) and other minimally invasive techniques have been described to accomplish this.
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Published on November 30, 2011 14:47 • 50 views • Tags: gastric-dilatation, gastropexy, gordon-setters, great-danes, irish-setters, laparoscopic, st-bernards, volvulus, weimaraners
This is a condition seen most commonly in tall, long necked horses and large breeds of dogs, particularly Great Danes and Dobermans. The disease is characterized by an abnormal gait in the front and/or the hind legs. The animal seems to “wobble” when walking or exercising. Some animals seem to have a stiff neck, may appear to be weak or lazy, that is reluctant to move, stumble more than normal or seem to misstep. There may be a generalized unsteadiness, hindquarter weakness or knuckling over in the lower leg joints, particularly in the hind limbs.

The term is frequently applied to several different abnormalities resulting in ataxia, defined as a proprioceptive deficit (loss of sense of where the animal places his or her feet). In advanced cases, the animal may fall as it struggles to ambulate. In horses, it includes a specific condition known as Equine wobbles anemia. There is considerable controversy about the potential genetic nature of Equine wobbles anemia. Other specific conditions that can result in the same set of signs include at least three different malformations of the cervical (neck) vertebrae; protrusion of an intervertebral disc, disease of the interspinal ligaments or of the articular facets (the joints) of the vertebrae in the neck. Other names for this condition are; cervical vertebral instability, cervical spondylomyelopathy and cervical vertebral malformation. The condition can also be the result of a brain lesion.

The most common cause in both dogs and horses is spinal cord compression from one of the various cervical vertebral malformations, which, again, may or may not, be inherited. Spinal cord compression can be either dynamic, occurring only when the animal bends or extends its neck, or static, present all the time.

To make a definitive diagnosis your veterinarian will have to do a complete neurological exam and then radiographs (X-rays) of the spinal canal including a contrast study (myelogram). The radiographic studies will have to be conducted with the animal under general anesthetic. While conducting these tests your veterinarian will also rule out the possibility of an infectious agent or a traumatic injury by examining the cerebrospinal fluid.

Some wobblers treated with nutritional and medical management have shown improvement, but the results are not impressive. If the cause is compression of the spinal cord a veterinary surgeon, with the proper training and experience, can decompress the spinal cord and fuse the problem vertebrae, usually by using Titanium baskets and bone marrow transplants. This is similar to the recent surgery done to the professional football quarterback Peyton Manning. It ain’t cheap folks!
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Published on March 14, 2012 15:36 • 35 views • Tags: dobermans, great-danes, veterinary, wobbler-syndrome

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David R.  Gross
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