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questions re: stomach torsion, and separation anxiety
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questions re: stomach torsion, and separation anxiety

Two weeks ago, our beloved 65 lb, 9 year old standard poodle became very ill, very suddenly - listless, tired, gagging, stomach gurgling.  We did not waste time, and rushed him to the vet on call.  As my husband suspected, our boy had torsion of the stomach, confirmed by x-ray.  Sadly, we lost him; as I understand it, he died after anesthesia was given, in preparation for surgery.  The total time from when he showed signs of illness, to his death, was less than 3 hours.

We are heartbroken and are trying to understand what we could have done to prevent this, as we also have a 45 lb, 8 year old female standard (half-sibling).  We want to do whatever we can to avoid having the same thing happen to her.  I have read up on stomach torsion and have read that administering Gas-X as emergency treatment may help buy some time while getting to the vet.    Is this correct and if so, what would be the correct dosage for a female of this size?  

Something my husband always did with our male was lay on the couch with him.  The dog would lay on its back and stretch right out while he got his belly scratched.  Now my husband wonders if having him lay on his back stretched out like that might have made him more prone to this stomach problem.  Is this possible?

Type of Animal
Age of Animal
Sex of Animal
Breed of Animal
Standard Poodle
Last date your pet was examined by a vet?
December 07, 2009
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I am so sorry about your little guy!  

Since you have been doing research on Canine gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) you have probably taken some steps already to prevent the problem, but I will list them here for others who have questions about this sad and serious problem.  

Simply put GDV is a problem usually of too much food followed too soon by too much water.  It is theorized that there may be a genetic link in some cases, but main ways to prevent the problem are listed below:

1.  Feed 3 or more small meals daily.
3.  If your dog "wolfs" his food, put only a small amount in his bowl at a time and keep adding a small amount of food over 30 to 60 minutes per feeding; or feed the food divided in a muffin pan, (there are specially designed GDV-preventing dog bowls that contain dividers that are available).
4.  Do not leave the food bowl out all day unless you know that your dog is a SLOW grazer.
6.   No rough play for 2 hours after eating.
7.   No flipping on the back for belly rubs for 2 hours after eating.
8.   Add Probiotic and digestive enzyme supplements (Prozyme) to the diet to help decrease gas in the stomach  and help digest more efficiently, especially if your dog is prone to flatulence or burping.
9.  Gas-X and the equivalent can help for bloat if the stomach has not already twisted on itself (2 X a human adult dose for a Standard Poodle).
10.  Feed on the floor at the dog's feet, do not feed from an elevation.

It should not have been a problem when your dog would lay on his back and stretch unless it had occurred directly after eating.

Now I will answer the questions about the anxiety problem...

Clomicalm is a good anti-anxiety drug but one of the side effects is difficulty in urinating.  The bladder is a very elastic organ  and should be able to hold 12 to 14 hours of urine.   The difficulty in urination occurring in your dog may be dose related and lowering the Clomicalm  dose may eliminate the problem.  So attempting to wean your dog off Clomicalm to the lowest effective dose is probably a good idea.  However, since it is working so effectively please be cautious about eliminating it all together.

There are herbal and holistic formulas that may help either in addition to a low dose Clomicalm or on their own.  These include Bach Remedies (available at health food stores), Spirit Essence brand formulas (available online at: www.spiritessence.com), the herbs: Kava Kava, Hops, Passion flower, and valerian are also helpful (available at health food stores), and my favorite: Shen Calmer (available at Jing Tang Herbal Company, {www.tcvmherbal.com/},  by Prescription from your veterinarian) at a dose of one capsule per 10 pounds).  I have used Shen Calmer successful in resistant anxiety cases.  I know it is effective because I literally can’t keep it on the shelves.  Owners are so delighted with the effects that they keep requesting refills.  It does not have urinary side effects but it takes 2 to 3 weeks to become maximally effective.

My personal disclaimer:  I am not affiliated with Dr. Xie’s Jing Tang Herbal Company, but I do love many of their products.
Part 2 to my previous question:
Lastly because our female has displayed severe separation anxiety in the past when left at home alone without her brother, we were worried how she would handle being home alone all day.  We have her on 40mg twice per day of Clomicalm, started about a week ago.  She seems to be doing very well, no pee or poop for me to clean up after work.  We will try weaning her off soon.  If she becomes anxious again, is there a natural remedy we can try rather than have her on this medication?

Also, one odd thing since her brother died is her reluctance to go outside, something she normally loves to do.  We really have to coax her out after meals, she is holding it 12 - 14 hours some days.  Is there a risk that this may damage her bladder if she continues to so such long stretches without urinating?
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