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Died after bloat surgery.

Species: Dog
Breed: Golden Retriever
Age: 2-5 years
My dog became sick early Friday morning (2am) and vomited 3 times between 2am and 6am. She was extremely thirsty and would not eat in the morning (fed twice a day). I noticed her abdoment was enlarged and called her vet, they saw her right away. her vital signs were all normal, she was active and alert, but xrays showed that her stomach was extremely bloated and twisted. She had immediate surgery to untwist and empty the stomach, and we also opted to have her stomach tacked to prevent this from happening in the future. I was called about 1 1/2 hours later and they said the surgery went well and that the stomach and spleen tissue was pink and healthy, indicating this was caught early. I received a second call about 10 minutes later saying that Roxie had gone into cardiac arrest and they were unable to revive her. The explanation was that sometimes when the stomach gasses are released they overwhelm the dog's electrolyte balance resulting in compromised heart function. She was given lidocaine throughout surgery and had some heart arrhythmia early in the sugery, but it had been resolved.

My question is: Is this outcome often seen in young, healthy dogs where stomach bloat is caught and treated early or did she maybe have a pre-existing heart condition that caused this?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, I am so sorry to hear that this happened to Roxie. Bloat is one of my least favorite things to see happen to a dog.

Unfortunately, the most common complication seen in a dog with bloat is an abnormal heart rhythm which can indeed become fatal. Sometimes this abnormal rhythm is detectable before surgery but it can sometime start happening in the 24-48 hours following surgery. Lidocaine often will help to prevent this arrhythmia but it is not always effective.

The other possibility is that there may have been a buildup of toxins in the system. While usually with this we will see that the stomach or the spleen looks congested or purple, we cannot always tell by what these organs look like.

Here is a link that discusses bloat and some of the complications that can happen either during or after surgery. You can cut and paste the link into your browser to see it:

http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=672

I am so sorry this happened. It sounds like you did absolutely everything you could! Please let me know if you have further questions.

Dr. Marie.



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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thanks so much for your reply and kind thoughts. It has been a very painful experience.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're very welcome Maxine. Again, I am so sorry for your loss.

Dr. Marie.



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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.