A Cumbrian dog owner has warned others to get help fast if they see signs of a deadly stomach condition, after his pet almost died.
Metsi the 10-year-old Ridgeback suffered a bloated and twisted stomach after gorging on food. Bloat, or Gastric Dilation Volvulus, can kill dogs in a matter of hours.
Metsi’s owner Matt Simpson said: “The most important thing is for people to be aware of this and if you see the signs, go to the vet very quickly.
“I’d had a long day at work, and it was late in the evening. Mesti looked okay initially, just guilty.
“It would have been easy to ignore it at first. But the reason she survived is because we got to the vet quickly enough.”
While Matt was at work, Metsi had discovered the lid had been accidentally left off the dog food bin and had eaten several kilos.
“She is an opportunist,” said Matt, who is an engineer and lives near Howtown, Ullswater, with his partner Hilary Clarke and their three young children.
“When I realised what she had done, I took her for a little walk to see if she would be sick. She was looking very uncomfortable. She was standing with her head low and her body language and posture was all wrong.
“I measured round her stomach and it was 76cms, and within 20 minutes it was up to 90 cms.”
Matt drove Metsi to Paragon Veterinary Group’s headquarters at Dalston at 11.30pm where he was met on the steps by vet Laura Binnie.
“The vet looked at her and said she might not survive this; she said it’s either a major operation or euthanase her. I was completely side-swiped.”
Metsi was taken in for emergency surgery while Matt waited in the car park.
“We got Metsi when we lived in Botswana for six years, and we brought her home on the day we found out we were pregnant with our first child. She has been a part of the family from the start,” he says.
Metsi survived the operation and was allowed home the next day.
Laura carried out the critical surgery, finishing at 4am.
“If she hadn’t been seen when she was, she would have died,” says Laura. “What happens is the stomach dilates and twists on its axis and that stops the blood supply to the stomach. And it can also involve the spleen.
“It is more common in the large big chested breeds and if they go for a run or play after a big meal, for example, there a risk that the stomach will twist.
“Signs the owner might notice are the dog getting restless, panting, looking anxious and looking round at their abdomen.
“They might stretch out which is a sign of abdominal pain and they drool quite a lot and retch but don’t vomit. And they get a fat tummy.
“If you see any of those signs it is definitely worth giving the vet a call.”
Laura says Paragon Veterinary Group sees around four or five cases a year.
She said: “Metsi had gorged and then had a big drink which made the kibble swell up. Her stomach was so full that, when I was operating, I had to empty food out of it into a bucket before I could untwist it.”
Matt says: “Metsi is now fully recovered and back to her greedy self.
“Sometimes the decision has to be made very quickly to call the vet. At first all I thought I had was a guilty-looking dog that had eaten too much. I am very relieved that she came through.”