July 9 we were packing our car and headed towards Stockholm, Sweden for the Swedish Rhodesian Speciality show Friday-Sunday. Ninja was entered in obedience class 1 and the show, and Sheriff was entered in veteran class. I had been looking forward to meeting good friends again, as well as meeting some of Sheriff’s wonderful offsprings and enter breeding class with Sheriff and offsprings from 3 different litters. We arrived in Stockholm in the afternoon on Thursday, and had a great time together with Maggie, Crazy and their wonderful owners.
After giving the dogs food back at the hotel, Sheriff suddenly started to look uncomfortable and was vomiting without anything coming up. I immediately recognized the symptoms – gastric bloat – and less than 1 hour later we were at the veterinary clinic. Gastric bloat was diagnosed with x-ray, and operation was the only solution. Sheriff was given 1 liter intravenous fluids before the operation to improve the blood pressure, as well as heavy pain killers. He was operated between 02.00 and 04.00, and I was so happy when we got the phone call we had been waiting for at 05.30, telling us that the operation went well, and that he was awake and in good shape. He had to stay at the hospital until 16.00 on Friday, but then he was allowed to come home with us. The vet’s would preferably keep him at the hospital for another day, but as they said: “He is acting like a typical ridgeback, and does not want to be here. We think he will be better of coming home and relaxing”. So we drove home the same evening, happy that we still had Sheriff with us, but sad to have missed the obedience trials and the speciality show.
Sheriff has always been a healthy dog and never needed any kind of veterinary care, even if he has been a very active dog, and having an eventful life compared to most dogs. But after he turned 8 years, he has had his portion of bad luck, or perhaps lack of self control… He started of right after his 8 year birthday with removing a broken tooth that had caused a tooth root abscess. Then he fractured one of the phalanges on the back toe in a jump over one of our dog gates to the kitchen, placed there to keep the dogs out…. But he had no signs of pain, so we left it untreated. Then he smashed his tail into the door, dislocating some vertebras, giving him a z-shaped tail if looked from behind. Then we removed two lumps which luckily turned out to be benign, one on the shoulder and one in the middle of the ridge, leaving his ridge funny looking. Then he had to undergo a splenectomy (read more about that event here) which he quickly recovered from. But only 1 month later he had a gas distention, witch could be treated with tubes and emptying the stomach. 6 months after that he broke in to the garbage and ate snuff, and got a nicotine poisoning…
I have asked myself what’s the reason for the first gas distention and the gastric bloat is, and if there was something I could have done differently. When traveling to Stockholm, I had been noticing that Sheriff had been panting heavily in the cage, and was stressed. The last year he has gotten car sick, and from being totally relaxed in the car, he has now gotten stressed in the car. Maybe it’s the age? But stress like this is also said to provoke gastric torsion in dogs.
But when we were at control 1 week after the gastric torsion surgery, the vet told me that the gastric torsion probably was due to the fact that his spleen is removed. I was told that the spleen is placed next to the stomach, and the spleen would normally give the stomach some kind of support because the spleen is attached to the stomach by the gastrosplenic ligament and its blood supply.. Several articles have described gastric torsion after splenectomy in large size dogs, so it’s probably some correlation between loss of support from the spleen, as well as more space in the chest. When looked back, there would probably be a good idea to do a gastropexy (fixing the stomach to the ribs) during the splenectomy. But this is not something that’s being done routinely in Norway. But if I ever have a dog that has to undergo a splenectomy again, I would probably ask for a gastropexy if possible, now that I have experienced this with Sheriff.
Sheriff has now recovered, and he actually recovered extremely fast. I will split his feedings into 3 or 4 portions per day, and be extra careful after feeding, and probably not take him for long trips in the car anymore. He has always been such a big clumsy clown, and I sure hope he will stay with me for some more years.
Thank you to the professional help at Bagarmossen Djursjukhus when we needed help. Sheriff was in the best hands when it happened!