Don’t Walk the Dog

Blackie- one of the best friends I have had

A hot spring evening in New Delhi, and I had just returned from a long and trying day at work. Traffic seemed to come to a halt on my way home and I got hit in the back of my car by a speeding lunatic. My fridge was empty, I was out of cigarettes and there were no new movies on cable. I thought I’d offer to walk my neighbour’s dog, Blackie, to get some air and also some downtime with the friendly 3-yr-old Labrador. I shouldn’t have.

After a good run around the park amid which we took turns to chase each other, Blackie and I strutted back home. Seemed like a good end to a boring Tuesday. We turned to climb the stairs to her apartment on the third level. She was lagging behind me staring at each step before climbing it as though she were asking permission to place her muddy paws on them. I dropped the leash and walked ahead to ring the doorbell. Five minutes later, she painfully walked through the door, went straight to her water bowl collapsing into it. Her body fell limply to the side and was bulging in the middle as though she had swallowed a football on the way up. As we rushed her to the vet’s she moaned and groaned and then died before we could turn off the ignition.

Here’s what happened. Blackie had eaten her dinner about ten minutes before the walk. While outside, her belly which was full of food, was also slowly filling up with air as I jogged her around the park and tossed twigs at her to catch. The food, water (she had stopped to slurp up from the park fountain) and air slowly started to ferment releasing copious amounts of gas which could not be released fast enough through burping and flatulence. Her stomach, bulging at its seams with air, started to twist at the opening of the intestines and oesophagus. It had distended into an air-tight balloon rather than an open cavity. The blood flow to the abdomen and main arteries were cut off and so was the flow to the heart and other digestive organs. This strained the Labrador’s body into low blood pressure and eventually shock which killed her.

Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) aka ‘bloat’ is a condition which affects most large dogs that have a deep chest cavity. It can occur to them at any age though older canines are more vulnerable. The main risk activities that lead to GDV include exercise an hour before and after eating, swallowing food very quickly, eating only one main meal a day and drinking too much water immediately after food. The only way to avoid it is to watch out for these triggers and stop your dog before it is too late. GDV kills 30% of all dogs who contract it.

It’s a painful way to die.

Click here to watch an animation on the subject.

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