Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dog Health - Gastrointestinal Disorders

Any ‘pit bull’ owner can tell you they are no stranger to their dog’s gastro issues. Barrel chested dogs, like the ‘pit bull’ are more prone to having gastrointestinal problems. Knowing what to look for may help prevent serious issues.

Gastric torsion (bloat)

This gastro disorder is especially serious for ‘pit bulls’. When a stomach becomes distended due to water, gas, or both it increases the chances of swelling and twisting. The esophagus closes off and limits the ability to relieve the distention by either vomiting or belching causing the stomach to be as taunt as a drum creating severe pain.  The distended abdomen is then pushed up into the dog’s lungs causing breathing difficulty. The vena cava (larges transport vessel that carries blood from abdominal area to heart) is pressed restricting blood flow and ultimately causing the heart to fail. Crucial lifesaving surgery is then needed immediately.

It’s important that you don’t panic and contact your vet immediately. By calling ahead they can prepare for your dog’s arrival. Every minute is crucial as even a healthy dog can die within hours. Often the situation is taken care using a tube to decompress the stomach. If this procedure doesn’t work then immediate surgery is needed to correct the twisted stomach. Unhealthy tissue will be removed during the procedure and the stomach is anchored into place to avoid recurrences.

Symptoms that may alert you that your dog is suffering from bloat are obvious swelling and pain in the abdominal area. Your dog may have a dazed or shocky look or perhaps they are panting and drooling excessively and attempted to vomit repeatedly with no success. The skin can become pale and cool to the touch in and around the mouth area.

There are external factors that may cause a dog to get bloat and should be avoided if possible. Avoid strenuous exercise after large amounts of water and or food.  A stomach that is heavy with food can twist due to strenuous activity and large water gulps can cause large amounts of air to be swallowed. Besides eating too fast a dog’s gender or age may also factor into the problem. Avoiding mealtime stress and agitation, eating meals off the ground or floor in elevated dishes can also help. Refrain from feeding your dog only once a day as this may risk causing an engorged stomach to twist due to gulping.

Consult with your veterinarian for tips and products that may help prevent your dog from suffering this painful ordeal.


Sometimes the symptoms for this gastrointestinal disorder are confused for worms, instead it’s a one celled protozoa that matures in the intestine. Typically severe watery diarrhea is the often the only symptom. It’s not life threatening unless the patient is a weakened adult or a puppy.  Diagnosis is done through a microscopic exam of the stool sample or blood test.  The treatment is antibiotics that kill the giardia. Fluid replacement is also administered in cases of severe diarrhea.

Dog Health - Orthopedic Disorders
The ‘pit bull’ is one of the dog types that sometimes experiences skeletal issues. Dogs that suffer with these types of problems often experience a lot of discomfort. Sometimes the issues are so severe dogs have trouble walking or getting into a comfortable position.

Hip dysplasia

Most likely dog owners are most familiar with this debilitating painful congenital disease. Lameness and painful arthritis often become a daily struggle with dogs suffering from this disorder. Due to a combination of genetic factors the hip joint is defected. The femur in a dysplastic hip doesn’t fit well in the too shallow socket. Due to this deformity the bone often slides out of its place causing a tremendous amount of pain. Some affected by this may have only mild stiffness where others suffer from severe crippling.

Usually by the time a dog reaches 18 months old the presence of this disorder will become obvious. Unfortunately for the sufferer there is no real cure. Surgery can sometimes ease the pain and in extreme cases a complete hip replacement much like that of a human can be performed. Although this procedure produces the highest success rate and typically restores mobility and prevents the issue from reoccurring it’s often quite expensive.

Genetic screening in potential breeders and other preventative methods give your dog a chance at beating the odds. You can help prevent issues by making sure you don’t over feed your dog. Keeping your ‘pit bull’ on the lean side until they’re about 2 years old can help develop bones capable of carrying their weight. Avoid over exercising before a young puppy’s bones and muscles have developed completely, especially with active ones as this may risk immature bone structure and the puppies resulting in them possibly not able to stand up to their weight.

Disclaimer – In no way am I claiming to be an expert on these topics. These are only informational articles written to help dog owners. It’s recommended that you always do your own research and consult with your veterinarian for more detailed information. (01-26-13)

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