In Memory of Lincoln (with a warning to all dog lovers)
Bloat. The word itself sounds disgusting. The condition is even worse; it's deadly. And last week, it killed this beautiful and beloved dog, whose humans are deeply mourning his "terrific energy, mischievous playfulness, and loving nature."
His name was Lincoln, and he belonged to the relatives of one of my newsroom colleagues. Matt and Erika Bierman of Hollywood, CA, were so heartbroken by his sudden, unexpected, and preventable death, that they want to help educate people about what caused it.
Lincoln had some jaw pain, so to rule out a tumor, the Biermans took him to the vet for an x-ray. He also had his teeth cleaned. They asked whether they should feed him that day, given possible nausea from the anesthesia, and the vet said to go ahead.
Lincoln, in his usual communicative fashion, asked to be fed...Shortly thereafter, he began to throw-up a white, foamy vomit...We decided to wait and see if he would pass whatever he needed to pass. That was a crucial mistake. Unbeknownst to us, Lincoln had bloat and stomach torsion, whereby the stomach twists over on itself, and begins to be denied access to his bloodstream.
By the time we got Lincoln to the vet in the morning, we were told to rush him to the emergency hospital for surgery...but too much dmage had been done to his stomach and spleen, and he never regained blood-pressure. Lincoln died late Saturday
In their grief, they began to research bloat and torsion, discovering that it's the second leading cause of death among large dogs.
Matt warns: If you see symptoms of it, you have between 1-2 hours to get your dog to surgery. The foamy vomit is one of the sure signs. Moreover, many cases of bloat manifest themselves particulalry after tooth-cleanings. The agent used to clean dogs' teeth adds to gas in their stomachs, and can be harmful. This gas should be released before they eat.
Finally, if you have a big dog, make sure that your primary vet is equipped to do the torsion surgery. Many are not, and the moments that you lose by going first to your vet can mean all the difference in your pet's life.
We miss Lincoln terribly and wish our vet had told us about the danger and signs of bloat in general, and the possibility of Lincoln's stomach being more susceptible after surgery. For now, all we can do is grieve the loss of a great and wonderful dog.
To read more about bloat, click here.