GDV

Canine Digestive Tract Disorders in Several Breeds (Part 3)

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Pancreatic Disorders

 

Very close to where the stomach empties its contents into the small intestine, ducts contribute secretions from the gall bladder and pancreas, mostly to aid in the metabolism of fats, which are fairly resistant to action by gastric acid. If either gland does not function properly, this can result in loose stools and inefficient absorption of nutrients, with highly variable severity.

 

The pancreas is a rather long, V-shaped gland located near the stomach, and aids the digestion of food. It has two major types of cells or tissues. One group is endocrine in nature, which means it secretes hormones into the circulatory system, which in turn transports them to other glands and body parts. The endocrine activity of this gland serves to control blood sugar level, and when defective, results in diabetes. The other, exocrine, part empties a group of biochemicals into the digestive tract. It produces enzymes and bicarbonate, and excretes these into the duodenum, which is the first short section of the small intestine. One major enzyme, amylase, breaks down the long starch macromolecules, while others break down fats and proteins. Most GSD people, in America, at least, are concerned more with the digestive function than with diabetes. I have corresponded with fanciers in England who are concerned about pancreatic insufficiency, and since many of their lines are from recent German imports, this is possibly a more widespread problem there than I had earlier suspected. I know I have seen the occurrence in pancreatic insufficiency increase among the German lines in the U.S., but that might be because more and more people are turning away from the American GSD for many other reasons. Continue reading

Canine Digestive Tract Disorders in Several Breeds (Part 2)

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Torsion

 

Commonly called bloat, sometimes described as gastric dilation/volvulus (GDV), this is a terrifying and frequently fatal disorder that German Shepherds and many other deep?chested dogs experience. A twisting of the entrance and exit to the stomach traps the food and gas. As the stomach swells, the twist is more unlikely to be relieved without veterinary help. Great strides in surgical treatment have been made, but the key to reducing the high mortality is still time. Recognize the symptoms and get the dog to a veterinary surgeon, preferably an emergency or trauma-oriented hospital. Simple dilation (swelling due to gas) may not be serious as long as the dog is able to pass food into the duodenum, but it has been estimated that 80 percent of all dogs that experience simple dilation will someday also have torsion.

 

Symptoms of torsion include a swollen, turgid abdomen; the sluggish action of the dog; his white, frothy, unsuccessful attempts at vomiting; and perhaps his scratching in the dirt to make a cool hole in which to lie down. Also, the spleen will feel like a hard lump. The spleen is normally wrapped around some of the stomach and therefore splenic torsion usually accompanies gastric torsion, sometimes occurs without stomach torsion. When either happens, the return of the blood that flows through the spleen is shut off, causing shock, the “immediate” killer. Continue reading