2007 Articles

A Story Of Bloat

A Story of Bloat

Sierra, our 11-year-old girl, has managed to survive an attack of bloat, which hit her while Louise and I were at Priest Lake a week ago with Loki and Shasta, Sierra’s older sister. Since we lost Tramp to bloat last year, you can imagine the anxiety level. Sierra’s symptoms weren’t so pronounced as Tramp’s, and where he had retched, as in dry heaves, she threw up a foamy bile. Like him, however, she threw up no kibble [she’d eaten just an hour before].

After too long a time trying to get medical help in Sandpoint or Newport, we took her to the North Idaho Pet Emergency hospital in Post Falls, where she was tubed to relieve the gas. The vet, Dean Aldrich, did a great job on her and explained the disease and what he was doing. He took X-rays, which showed the gas actually spiraling, and then used an endoscope to photograph the damage done to the stomach, which eliminated the need to open her up surgically to observe the damage. He showed us the tube apparatus he used on Sierra, and explained how to make one and how to use it.

Dr. Aldrich said the damage was limited to bruising, and he didn’t think there was dead stomach tissue.

That morning [Thursday May 10] we returned to Seattle with our patient, who slept the whole way.

Last Friday, on Dr. Aldrich’s recommendation, Sierra underwent a stomach stapling at NW Vet hospital in Seattle, and she is now bouncing back to her old lively self. During the surgery, the vet felt some objects in her stomach and opened her up. Inside were a shoe heel and compacted hair and grass, which he thought was what caused the blockage.

Sierra takes prednisone for a muscle disease, and it makes her constantly hungry. She swallowed a tennis ball years ago, which required surgery, and needs to be on leash or muzzled [often both] to keep her from ingesting bad things. Even these precautions aren’t always enough.

Bloat is a terrible disease, affecting in particular deep-chested dogs, including Samoyeds. The symptoms can be hard to diagnose; in Tramp’s case, there was obvious acute distention of the abdomen, but not in Sierra’s. Nor did she seem as disoriented as he did. The one common thing was that food should have been coming up, but wasn’t.

Fortunately, the outcome this time was different.

George Johnson