Winners of 'Public Choice' Award

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Solihull Dog Club - Instructor Training Weekend

You may have seen on Twitter, that as I'm puppy Police Dog less at the moment, I've been getting involved in a few different dog related bits & pieces. A few weekend's ago I went across to help train a few dogs at a local Dog Rescue.

I must apologies that this Blog doesn't have any pictures because . . . . I forgot to take my camera!!

In the 'dog world' you tend to bump into people quite regularly. I've come across the team at Solihull Dog Training a few times having attended a couple of seminars they hosted & I also bumped into them at Crufts this year.

My background is very much in the Police/Armed Forces/Security 'dog world', however I have also been involved in the training of a few of my friend's, family & acquaintances' pet/companion dogs.


Also via our personal connections, the Twitter account & this Blog, we've been in touch with quite a few people over the past year or so, who've we've helped in the training of their own dogs.


Having started to get more involved in the 'pet dog' side of things, I contacted Solihull Dog Club to offer my help & experience, to try to compliment their team of really great dog training instructors. It would also give me some more exposure to the 'everyday dog owner'. Having worked with developing Police Dog puppies for the last 8 years, there's not much I haven't seen on the Police dog puppy side - however I understand that the things pet dog owners go through are slightly different to those of a working Police Dog.


Just as I sent Solihull Dog Club a message, they were in the process of putting on an 'Instructors training weekend' & I was fortunate that they kindly invited me along.


The weekend was to be held at Ray Dedicoat's Hollytrees Animal Rescue Trust, which is based in Birmingham.


The team at Solihull Dog Club are heavily influenced by John Rogerson, it was actually a John Rogerson seminar I'd attended where I first got to know of Solihull Dog Club. I've also read, & would highly recommend reading, John Rogerson's book - Dog Vinci Code. Having read John Rogerson's book & been on his seminars, I knew that Solihull Dog Club's methods were a lot around positive type methods and far removed from a few clubs/trainers I've seen, who are still using some pretty outdated methods.


See my 'Dispelling the Alpha Dog Myth' Blog!!

I've said before, everything we do with our pups is all around fun, our engagement/bond & through positive reinforcement - so having spoken to a few people & done some research on clubs & trainers, I decided to drop a line over to Solihull Dog Club to see if we could hook up & work together.


The weekend which had been organised for Solihull Dog Club's instructors, was centred around building a bond with a dog & teaching him a few basic manners & obedience. All of the dogs were out of the Rescue Centre, so they were a mix of breeds, ages & backgrounds.


It was a really wet, muddy & cold weekend, so as everyone met up in the field next to the rescue centre, it was clear that it was going to be a gruelling day in more ways than one.


All of the instructors were paired with a dog, who would go on to become 'their dog' for the weekend. The aim was to keep the instructors up to date with their training methods & to also put the instructors back into the shoes of their potential clients. This weekend was all about the instructors actually handling & training 'their dog' basic manners & general obedience. All of the dogs were to be assessed against the Good Citizens Bronze Award at the end of the weekend. . . . the challenge was on!


The range of dogs was vast, there was a little 5 month old black collie, a 12 month old Springer all the way up to a 6 year old cocker spaniel. You really do wonder how these dogs end up in a rescue centre. All of them were cracking dogs & would make someone a really great pet! Some of the dogs were a real handful, barking, pulling on the lead & with no real bond with 'their owner' (albeit a temporary 2 day 'owner') - it was a fairly typical situation you may see when owners ask for help with their dogs.


For me, it was also another great chance to work with some 'non Police Dogs'.


The weekend was a huge success, the instructors worked with 7 dogs in total and all 7 of them passed 9/10 of the Bronze Award areas - the only exercise failed was the 1 minute stay. In just 2 days the dogs & instructors all took a great deal of comfort in their results, not to mention the fact that the dogs got a break from the kennels & had some great stimulation for the weekend.


Fortunately a few of the dogs also found new homes off the back of the work the instructors did with them. The Springer Spaniel 'Chance' has even found himself currently residing in the WMP kennels, with a view to assessing him for a specialist search dog role. Maybe this really is his 'chance' . . 

I've now been to Solihull Dog Club a few times & it's great to work with members of the public who have a real desire to become responsible dog owners. You hear all of the bad press about owners & I'm always banging on about irresponsible owners, so when you see large numbers of dogs & owners turning up at the Club, with the sole aim of becoming better owners, it really is great.


It's always great working with & listening to other dog people. I always say that I'm constantly reading material, watching videos & attending seminars about dogs & dog training - even if I don't whole heartily agree with everything they say. It's all about sharing the knowledge & if I can take away just one second of information that helps us make our dogs better, then it's been a worthwhile exercise. I don't think you could go to any seminar, read any book or watch any video & not come away with just a tiny bit of worthwhile information.

Working with the Instructors at Solihull Dog Club has been great. You see & learn about a different side of dogs. . . .  & also the different terminology. Apparently in the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme, you don't use the word 'failed', it's instead described as 'not ready'.

See you learn something new everyday!

There's some really great people at Solihull Dog Club, and if you're local to Birmingham they're well worth a visit.


I'm really grateful to the team at Solihull Dog Club for inviting me along & making me feel so welcomed. It's great to be able to offer some help from my own background, & ultimately if helps makes dog better trained & gives owners a sense of enjoyment - then I'm more than happy to help out. 

Everyone strives for the same thing. Better behaved dog & responsible owners who can enjoy the great outdoors and the wonderful dog & owner bond.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Dispelling the 'Alpha Dog' Myth

It's not very often I manage to actually sit and surf the net, yet when we're away on holiday there's nothing better than sitting in the sun, with a beer, scouring the Internet reading various sites & articles - usually all about dogs!

Everything's always 100 miles an hour when we're home, so anything we read is usually a quick 5 or 10 minutes here & there, jumping onto Twitter to catch up on all of the goings on etc etc.


One thing that struck me whilst we were away was just how many people still seem to think that you need to take on this this bizarre 'alpha dog' theory when you own a dog. This strange ethos that you need to be constantly 'dominating' your dog in order for him to behave.


I'm never one to sit on my high horse & preach that everything we say is the absolute truth or the only 'worthy' dog opinion. I also always say, that our way isn't the right way or only way to do things.


However, when it comes to dispelling the 'alpha dog' myths, there is now substantial evidence & research to back up what we're about to say in this Blog.


I must say that this may be a rather long winded Blog, but stick with it, there's a lot to cover - and it seems like it's an important message that we need to get out!!


Now, before we go on, this isn't an attack on people who have beliefs relating to the old alpha dog wives tales. 


Dog training - or anything in life for that matter - is all about education. Reading the right material & listening to the right people has an enormous affect on how you go about your life. I also understand that many years ago the alpha dog myths were created off the back of the evidence that was available at the time.


As with anything, more research is conducted, things develop and ultimately methods & viewpoints also evolve & change. I dare say in another 10 or so years, some of our current training methods will be completely dismissed as 'old school'. It's just the way of the world.


It's a fairly basic theory - If you don't know where to get the right information, then you are only going to be influenced by the material you've been able to be exposed to. 


I did a number of Google searches on the subject of 'alpha dog' myths & this result has just GOT to be my favourite piece of 'help' when dealing with/training your dog . . . (I won't disclose the source of this material though - I wouldn't want anyone getting any info from there!)

The number one way to communicate to a dog that you are his pack leader is to take him for a walk. Not the type of walk most humans take their dogs on but a pack walk, where the dog is made to heel beside or behind the human who is holding the lead. This is most important for all dogs, as in a dog's mind, the leader always leads the way. A dog must not be allowed to sniff or eliminate anywhere he wishes, but where you allow him

That's right - whilst you walk around the beautiful Lake District with your beloved dog, you mustn't let your him sniff anything nor eliminate anywhere until . . .you say so! REALLY?! 


All you Beagle owners who read our Blog are in for some serious trouble apparently. You must stop your Beagle sniffing things immediately!!


If you do think these wives tales about dogs are in fact true, then this isn't a personal attack on your beliefs. This is more of an education to try to encourage you to go out & start reading some different material. 


I do completely understand that if you have Google'd a training subject (like I did) & ended up on a site like the one above, then I understand that you could have been quite easily influenced & ultimately misguided.


If you go no further in reading this Blog - please just pop onto Amazon & buy these 2 books:-

L.David Mech - Wolves: Behaviour, Ecology & Conservation
Jean Donaldson - The Culture Clash
Barry Eaton - Dominance in Dogs, Fact or Fiction?



Like I say, I do understand that people believe these myths, in fact I can remember my dad once carrying out one of the many things an "alpha human should do to show your dog who's boss!"


My nan had a dog called Pip, who was a little bit snappy. We were at her house for the day, whilst my nan was away somewhere, and Pip started growling & snarling at my dad. What did my dad do? He went over, got Pip out of her bed, moved her away from her bed & then stood in 'her' bed! 


Why? . . . . . "Because he was showing Pip who was boss". 


Haha!! I can still remember this incident to this very day! At the time, to me as a young boy, it seemed like a rather acceptable thing to do - after all it was my dad doing it - & it's very much the way people thought & acted with dogs back then.


Now I sit here typing up this Blog, I'm still laughing to myself that my dad actually thought he was "showing Pip who was boss". What a load of utter codswallop!! 


I'll try & keep these brief - because I could quite literally go on forever about the subject! Hopefully it will give you something to think about . . . 



The Alpha Dog Myths


Dogs Are Like Wolves & therefore we MUST instill a pack mentality


Well, comparing a dog to a wolf is the same as comparing us to a chimpanzee! Honestly, it really is that crazy!

During the time the 'alpha dog' myths were created, it was off the back of some pretty dismal (in comparison to what we have now) research into wolves & dogs. Most of the research into wolves was done based on wolves in captivity, rather than 'real' wolves. The studies were collating evidence in a very unnatural environment.

Even L. David Mech - who completed a lot of studies - recognises that the original data & analysis was in fact, incorrect. This is a great article to read "Why Won't Dominance Die?"

This is a great quote from L.David Mech, taken from Alpha Wolf:
"Finally in the late 1990s, after I had lived with a wild wolf pack on Ellesmere Island near the North Pole for many summers witnessing firsthand the interactions among parent wolves and their offspring, I decided to correct this misinformation. By then, however, both the lay public and most biologists had fully adopted the Rather than viewing a wolf pack as a group of animals organized with a “top dog” that fought its way to the top, or a male-female pair of such aggressive wolves, science has come to understand that most wolf packs are merely family groups formed exactly the same way as human families are formed alpha concept and terminology"

Fortunately there is now plenty of research to conclude that 'wolf behaviour' is nothing like what people originally thought it was.

It's now proven that wolves don't form packs based on dominance. In fact a wolf pack actually works in harmony with each other & operates more as a family. I'm not going to go into the whole background reading & studies, the books & articles I've recommended above can do that, but the evidence now it's pretty conclusive.

Those books are great starting points if you're interested. They're really easy to read & informative books. I've read Culture Clash a good number of times!

Nearly 15,000 years of evolving has brought about the current world of dogs. Dogs now consist of a huge variety of breeds & temperaments, all kinds of sizes, coat styles & colours. You only have to walk around 'Discover Dogs' at Crufts & you'll see all kinds of different looking dogs.

The dog is now far removed from it's ancestor the wolf - just as we are now far removed from our ancestor the ape.

Here's one little tiny snippet of wolf v dog information:-
A Wolf is able to express over 60 different & distinct facial expressions/communications. The German Shepherd - which many say is one of the closely resembling dogs to wolves - can only express 12 facial expressions. A pug can't even muster 12 facial expressions!


One of Bandit's facial expressions

Like I said, there's a MASSIVE amount of material & evidence to support this Blog. 

So let's now look at the most favourite claims & instructions related to the 'alpha dog' myths':-


You Need to Walk Through Every Door or Passage Way BEFORE your dog


"If your dog walks through a door way before you then he is dominating you" - really? Is it really an "alpha dog's privilege to walk through a door first?" And whatever happened to ladies first?

"Make sure you always lead your dog through doorways or narrow areas. You are in charge & therefore you MUST go first"

For starters, does a dog really even know what a doorway is? Does a dog know the significance of a doorway?

What about Police Dogs? They are nearly ALWAYS in front of their handler. Whether they're tracking or going in to search a building or area, they'll be in front of their handler at the end of the lead.

If we are comparing this to wolf pack behaviour - where exactly are the doorways in the Canadian mountains?!

How does this even work in practice with your pet dog? Take the recent awful UK weather - it's hammering down with snow, it's minus 4 degrees & your dog wants to go outside to the toilet.

What do you do?


According to this alpha dog myth, you would have to go through the doorway first, before allowing your dog through in order to go outside to eliminate. Really? 


Just to show your dog "who's boss", you're having to walk through your back doorway to go outside into the freezing cold, wet & snowy garden - just so your dog can go for a wee?! 


And that makes you 'alpha dog'?! I reckon your dog would say it makes you "stupid hooman"

Where exactly do you draw the 'doorway' line? Let's say you're cooking the dinner in the kitchen & your dog walks towards the lounge. Do you have to leave the cooking & rush through the door into the lounge, just so that you've gone through first & shown him "who's boss"? What happens when he wants to walk back into the kitchen?

Never Let Your Dog On The Furniture


This one is a good one & is ALWAYS a hot topic of conversation.

No doubt many of our Twitter followers will know that our dogs don't go upstairs & certainly aren't allowed on the bed. Our Police Dog's aren't allowed on the furniture in the lounge either. There are places in the house the dogs are allowed & places where they are not.

Now, this isn't due to some misplaced idea that by allowing our dogs access to these things, the dogs somehow think they are now more 'dominant' over us. 

The reason we don't allow them onto certain things, is because I don't want dog hair everywhere & I certainly don't want my bed smelling of dog! Similarly I don't want my lounge smelling of dog nor do I want hairs on my clothes every time I sit on the sofa. So for that reason I don't allow them on the furniture.

Also, our sofa isn't big enough for us, Taylor & a big great 40kg German Shepherd lying on it!

Every now & again however, I will let Taylor onto the sofa for a quick cuddle! He is however, only allowed up when he is told he can & when the 'special blanket' is covering the furniture. The dogs are trained & taught that they are only allowed on or in certain places when they have been invited.

Only when he has been invited & the blanket is out is he allowed up. Most importantly, the dogs also learn and understand when they are & aren't allowed up. 


It has also been know for the odd PD to be up on the sofa too - but we'll keep that one quiet!!



Cooper on the sofa with my nephews

To me, there's absolutely nothing wrong with allowing your dog onto the furniture whatsoever - providing he knows when to get on & off, and that he gets off when he is told.

However, according to the misplaced 'alpha dog' myth - a dog being on the sofa/bed etc means that he is elevating himself into a higher status than you. The high ground is reserved only for the pack leader. The alpha dog has the most comfortable area etc etc

Unfortunately, wolves don't even operate like that - so dogs 15,000 years later certainly don't operate or think like that!



Always Eat Before Feeding Your Dog


This wonderful misplaced theory comes from the idea that the alpha dog eats first. 

Actually in wolf packs, if food is scarce - the puppies will eat first! So again, this idea of 'eating first' theory doesn't even existing in wolves, let alone pet dogs.

I'm sorry, I'm picking on the same website again . . .
All humans must eat before the dogs, as the leader always eats first.  When you give your dog its food eat a small snack first while he is watching, lay the snack near the dog’s food so that he thinks you are eating out of his bowl (the leader always eats first).

I feed our puppies 3 times per day. If I had a snack every time I fed them, I'd need double sessions at the gym!! I certainly wouldn't put any of my own food near their bowl either.

At what point do you start eating before the dog
What do these 'alpha dog' myth people think about clicker training with food rewards? How would that work? Would they have to show the dog that they're eating a treat first & then give the dog the food reward - by which time the dog wouldn't even know what he's being rewarded for?!!

How do you manage this in real life? Would the whole family have to be there & involved? How long do you make the dog wait for before giving him his food? What happens when one member of the family is away on holiday?!


NEVER Play Tug-of-war games with your dog


According to the alpha dog myth - this is a game of power and you may lose the game, giving the dog a reinforcement (in the dog's mind) of top dog.

The myth refers to wolves tugging a piece of meat in the wild. According to the myth the 'alpha dog' would always win.

How about if the meat tears in half during this tug of war? Which is the alpha dog then?

Actually, when wolves are tugging a carcass they are all co-operating to dissect the tougher parts of the animal. They'll all work together to tear parts of the animal off or to pull meat/muscle away from the skin.

There's no real 'winners' or 'losers' for the wolves in the pack. Whatever they end up with; they end up with.

Playing tug of war is something I do all of the time with our pups. It's one of their favourite games. Even Taylor loves playing a tug of war game!

Sear playing a bit of tug


Saying you should never play tug of war games is like saying your 10 year old football mad son can't go to the park to play football! 

As with the furniture situation, as long as your dog knows when to stop & leave the toy - playing tug of war is absolutely fine in my eyes. In fact it's one of the most enjoyable games to play with your dog and actually helps create a bond with him!


Conclusion


I hope this Blog has given you a bit of food for thought. There's lots and lots of advice & material out there & I know it's sometimes hard to know where to turn to. 

Like I said, I could go on forever about the various 'alpha dog myths' but hopefully you get the point I'm trying to make.

If you are, or have been reading material which supports the alpha dog myths above, then perhaps take a look at some other material. First stop, get yourselves the books I recommended at the start.

I'm not saying dogs don't need guidance. I place a huge amount of expectation on our pups in order for them to fit into our daily lives. I'm quite demanding of them, but I do this through guidance, consistency and lots of repetition - not through some misplaced idea that I need to dominate them be 'alpha dog'.

We reward the things we want to see more of and ignore the things we want to eradicate. It really does boil down to a very simple way of working together with our pups - which has, so far, worked pretty well for us.

I'm not ever dominating the pups or forcing them into doing something uncomfortable. They are able to act like puppies, enjoy life & fit into being part of our family.

Cuddles with Bandit

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Midlands Media Awards 2013

To vote for us please Tweet your vote & make sure it contains the hashtag #MidlandsMediaAwards

I was just about to post a different Blog to this one, however after today's events I just wanted to say how honoured we are to have entered for 'Blogger of the Year' and to also be standing in the 'Public Choice' category at the Midlands Media Awards 2013 - against some really tough opposition.



Never in my wildest imagination would we have ever thought our Blog would be being seen & recognised by such professional & respected media circles.

When we started our Blog (& Twitter account) we weren't really sure what sort of reception and audience we'd get, and as I sit here 12 or so months later, we've now got the chance to win an award for it!

We started the Blog with the aim of trying to help other dog owners with a whole host of things and to also create a bit of a reference point for other fellow puppy walkers. Having been developing puppies for the Police for around 8 years, there's not a lot we haven't seen when it comes to puppy antics! We wanted to pass on our knowledge to others to help them enjoy their dogs & the wonderful lifestyle having a dog generates.

I wish to thank everyone who has read, shared & commented on our Blog articles either directly or via Twitter. We've had an amazing response to our 'dog ramblings' and are glad that people find them interesting & helpful.

The Blog has gone from strength to strength and it's all thanks to all of you who come & read what we've written and shared so often.

If we could ask you just one a little favour . . . .would you help us try and win such a fantastic award?

There's no phone calls, texts or charges involved in voting. Just a simple 'Like' on Facebook or a quick Tweet on Twitter is enough to cast your vote for us in the 'Public Choice' category.

The winner of this category will be the entrant with the most Retweets and Likes, so every single one will help us.

There's lots of banners & images around the Blog at the moment to remind you to use #MidlandsMediaAwards in your vote or Facebook links will take you straight to the Facebook post you need to LIKE in order to cast your votes.

Thanks so much for coming to read our material, we'll continue to keep rambling on about all things dogs - and hopefully with your help you will soon be reading "an award winning Blog"

Voting for the 'Public Choice' awards closes on 30th April 2013 - so we'll need to have the most LIKES on Facebook &/or the most Tweets containing #MidlandsMediaAwards. So please help share this Blog & help us get some votes.

HERE IS THE LINK TO THE FACEBOOK VOTING PAGES:-
All you need to do is follow the link below, then LIKE the Facebook post. Just click the picture which will take you to the right Facebook page:-





Friday, 1 March 2013

Gastric Torsion in Dogs

Had it not have been for the quick thinking & following actions of 12 year old Joe - this Blog could have had a very different ending!

As is the usual bedtime routine for 12 year old Joe, retired Police Dog Kash was allowed into Joe's bedroom for a couple of hours. However, on this particular night, a fortnight ago, things didn't go quite to the usual routine.




At the time for Joe to go to sleep, he noticed that Kash had started trying to be sick. He said that Kash seemed unconformable & that he was just retching to be sick. Joe's parents thought it may have been a delaying tactic before bed and told him not to be silly, however Joe persisted & said he thought it was bloat.

Since Kash had been diagnosed with E.P.I he's been fed very small meals and had never had any problems like this previously. However, given Joe's strong feelings, Kash's handler started to check him over.

It was at this point it became clear that something wasn't right with Kash. His side & stomach area was getting very hard and Kash was now displaying signs of discomfort. Half an hour & a phone call to the vet later, Kash was receiving emergency life saving treatment with a tube inside his stomach.




Kash had suffered a stomach torsion but thanks to the quick thinking of 12 year Joe, he was able to get treatment fast, which ultimately saved Kash's life. The vet said, had it not have been for the actions of Joe that night, it's likely Kash wouldn't be here today.

What remarkable actions by Joe - we certainly think he deserves real credit for the way he saved Kash's life. There aren't many people who would recognise the danger signs & certainly not many - if any at all - 12 year olds who would identify this as Joe did.




Thankfully Kash has fully recovered & is putting weight back on. After year's of saving people's lives as a working Police Dog, Joe more than returned the favour.

We wish them both all the best!!

Many of our followers probably already follow @Chappers2013, but for those of you who don't, a similar incident occurred with Police Dog Karly over the past day or so. 

PD Karly also suffered a torsion & was rushed into the vets for emergency life saving treatment too. Fortunately it looks as though Karly had a successful operation & is now back at home getting in some well deserved rest & relaxation. 

When the vet inserted the tube to release the build up of gas in Karly's stomach, less than a small bowl of food from her stomach was evident. Karly had been fed over 4 hours previously, so, as with Kash, it shows that this condition can just simply occur at any time & without any particular rhyme or reason. 

At the point of reaching the vet, Karly had collapsed & was in a state of shock - so it really was a matter of life or death.



Our sincere best wishes go to Chappers & Karly, and hope for a speedy & full recovery. We're told Karly is enjoying putting her paws up, getting some bits of food & is fortunately on the mend. She doesn't have long to go until she can retire with her paws up too!

Quite clearly torsion's can happen to anyone and at any time. Sometimes there's no real rhyme or reason for it to happen either. Even professional dogs & handler's experience this awful condition, so it's vitally important to recognise the signs.

We took some information from the 'vethelpdirect.com - interactive online advice from vets' website, the article was written by Jenny Sheriff BVM&S MRCVS on March 16, 2011


Gastric Torsion in Dogs



Also known as Bloat, Twisted Stomach, Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus or GDV, this condition is one of the most serious emergencies in small animal practice, and it can make all the difference to the outcome if it is recognised immediately.

There are two parts to this condition, the bloat and the torsion. Bloat is when the dog’s stomach fills up with gas, fluid, froth or a mixture of all of these, to a far greater size than normal. Torsion (volvulus) is when the whole stomach twists inside the abdomen so that it is closed off at both its entrance and its exit, just like a sausage which is twisted closed at both ends.

The reasons for this condition occurring are not fully understood, but there are some well known and definite risk factors. The condition happens mainly in larger breeds, particularly those with a deep-chested shape like Great Danes, German Shepherds, Setters, Wolfhounds and Boxers, but these are not the only breeds affected. 

It also happens more (but not exclusively) in dogs over 7 years of age, and it is more common in males than in females. 

The risks increase if the stomach is very full, either with food or with water, so a dog which is fed once daily and eats very quickly, or gets access to the food store and gorges itself, would be at higher risk. Exercising after eating or after a big drink also increases the risk. 

Symptoms

The onset of a gastric torsion is usually very rapid. The dog can appear quite normal one minute but once symptoms start they very quickly get worse. The most common symptoms are some or all of:
  • Restlessness, anxiety
  • Discomfort, followed by worsening pain
  • Arched back, reluctance to lie down
  • Drooling saliva or froth
  • Attempts to vomit (retching) with little being brought up
  • Swollen abdomen, often feels hard and if tapped feels like a balloon
  • Rapid breathing
  • Pale coloured gums and tongue
  • Collapse
  • Shock, possible death

It is vital to get veterinary attention as soon as possible if you suspect bloat or torsion. Always phone your surgery or your emergency service first as it will save valuable time if you go to the right place where the staff are prepared for your arrival.

Occasionally, there can be a slower onset. This may mean that the stomach has bloated without twisting, but there is still a high risk of torsion occurring so advice should be sought from your surgery.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosing the condition can be very straightforward if a dog is showing all of the classic symptoms. X-rays may be needed to confirm it. Blood tests will probably be taken to find out how serious the changes in the blood are, because changes in the circulating levels of salts in the blood can be life-threatening. 

These will be treated with intravenous fluids given quickly and at high volumes. A stomach tube may be passed, but this will not be successful if the stomach has twisted because the tube will not be able to get through the obstructed entrance. The vet may decide to decompress the stomach (let some gas out) by inserting a needle into the dog’s side. The order in which these procedures may be carried out will depend on just how ill the dog is.

A surgical operation will be needed to untwist the stomach, to check for damage to the organs and to try to prevent it from happening again. Some will need immediate surgery and others will need to be stabilised first to improve their chances of survival. Some dogs have to have part of the stomach or the spleen removed if the damage has been severe. The surgery is very high risk especially if the dog is already in shock because of the effects on the circulation and breathing.

When successful surgery is carried out, with the stomach and spleen returned to their normal position or repaired if damaged, it is common to perform a procedure to try to stop the condition occurring again, known as a gastropexy. There are different ways of doing this, but the aim is to anchor the stomach to the abdominal wall so that it is unable to twist. It could still bloat, but hopefully the consequences would not be so serious.

The survival rate following this condition varies a lot, but sadly, many dogs die each year from gastric torsion. The survival rate is better in younger dogs and if immediate treatment is given.

Prevention

  • Be aware of the signs to look out for
  • Feed larger dogs two or three smaller meals a day
  • Do not allow your dog to exercise after eating or after a big drink
  • Try to discourage rapid eating by separating competitive dogs at feeding time
  • Try a specially shaped feeding bowl designed to slow eating down

The effects of type of food and feeding from a raised bowl are under constant review and more research will show whether these are significant or not.


As we mentioned earlier, there is no real rhyme or reason for this occurring. It occurs in professional dogs who's handlers are high skilled & experienced. It also occurs in many everyday pet dogs too. Jenny Sheriff who wrote the article above sadly suffered the death of her own pet dog Martha, as a result of the above condition.

If it can happy to a highly skilled dog handler & medically qualified vet's - there's a real chance it could also happen to you.

Please take the time to read about the condition & know what to look for - it could, quite literally, save your dog's life.