Bloat and surgery to prevent

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Control_Freak's picture
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Athena is about to get spayed and I had spoke with my vet about a procedure that tacks the stomach to the body cavity so that it can never twist.  I asked him about the complications and he said there weren't any more complications than a normal surgery and since he would already be in there for the spay the risk is already there.  I asked him what would happen if she ever ripped the stitches out of the stomach and he said that he would only go into the muscle of the stomach so it wouldn't cause and serious injuries if it did tear.  I asked him what he would do and he said he was on the fence because he doesn't see a lot of bloat in dobes but he would never tell me know because he possibility is there.  This surgery is somewhat inexpensive and reduces the chance of bloat to pretty much nothing.  How do you all feel about this?  Anyone ever done this to their dogs?  Please give me some insight.

glengate's picture
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Joined: 2009-07-22

First of all, the gastropexy does not decrease the chance of bloat.  It greatly reduces the possibility of the stomach twisting if it does bloat - that's the part that threatens the dog's life, the torsion/twist.  A dog with a gastropexy can still bloat.

It would be good to know the bloat incidence rate in your dog's pedigree to help make this decision.  Have you discussed it with your breeder?

My experience with gastropexy sounds a lot different than what your vet is describing.  First of all, when I discussed it with a vet last year because I was spaying one of my girls and there is a history of it in her pedigree, it was going to increase the price a LOT.  The $200 spay was going to turn into over $1000 for a spay/gastropexy at the same time.  Additionally, depending on how the procedure is done, the dog is often opened up right from the sternum all the way to the genitals so you've got a much larger incision and recovery period.  One of the dogs from my first litter had the surgery after he did bloat.  It was a long, hard recovery. 

As I said, I was really considering it last year when I had Kizzy spayed.  My final decision was no, but that was mainly because when I really questioned the vets at the practice, they had next to no experience doing the surgery.  So while I agree that the surgery is warranted for certain dogs, I'd want someone very experienced performing the surgery and I didn't have that where I was at the time. 

rgreen4's picture
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Joined: 2008-10-26

Control_Freak - Glengate has a good point. It would be helpful to know how much experience your vet has with this procedure. I will say that while my circle of friends and acquaintenances is nowhere near as vast as Glengates, I have had a lot of Dobies over the last 28 years, and have never encountered the twisting in a Doberman, nor have I heard it mentioned in them.

Unless you are in a hurry to spay, you might want to research it a bit more. Princess has just finished her second heat and I am considering spaying her, but am not in a hurry right now.

glengate's picture
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Joined: 2009-07-22

It is amazing to me that someone hasn't heard of this in Dobermans.  It's a major problem, and I've read about it constantly over the years and known many who have lost Dobes to this, including myself.

I did a quick search on bloat as the cause of death entered in Dobequest.  Bloat alone pulls up 46 Dobermans.  Two of them were puppies I produced, one was a dog I owned.  11 of them belonged to people I know.  I'm going to go back and try some other terms like "torsion" or "GDV" and see if it brings up more. 

Control_Freak's picture
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Glengate-  My vet said it would be an extra $150.00 on top of the spay which to me seems quite reasonable.  He also said that he would only be going into the muscle wall of the stomach and not the glandular layer.  I spoke with another vet in the office who is very pro gastroplexy and she told me she had a mastiff that she had the surgery done on him at 5 years but they did what was called a belt loop, where they actually went partially into the glandular layer and through the rib cage.  So maybe thats what your vet planned on doing.  They also told me that when a dog actually gets bloat and needs surgery to fix it the surgery is much more extensive and the recovery long and painful.  Also, they did say that the incision would be about twice as long as normal but the recovery would be just about the same as a normal spay.

My sister-in-law just lost her 3 yr old Dane to Bloat and it was horrible I worry about it all the time.  You know if you ever have to board or leave with family what if they don't follow all the precautions you normally would.  Or you come home to find your dog suffered a terribly painful death.  I just want to make sure I can do everything to make sure she has a long healthy life but I don't want this surgery to put her life in danger now or cause any kind of complications for her in the future.