Intestinal problems - canine calamities part I

Good working dogs are invaluable farm hands, working tirelessly all day without complaint. They deserve the best care they can get so you can get the most out of them. This is the first in a series of articles on common issues associated with farm dogs.

Obstructions

Problems caused by foreign bodies blocking the intestines are not uncommon. These dogs usually have vomiting and/or diarrhoea and can become very sick very quickly. In those dogs that are taken to surgery, ear tags and bones are commonly found to be the problem. Sometimes, the foreign body can perforate through the intestinal wall causing infection and inflammation of the entire abdomen - this seldom ends well.

If bones are part of the diet, feed only large raw bones. Cooked bones become brittle and break easily, causing gut damage. Make sure you bury any carcasses deeply.

Constipation

Constipation is also relatively common. Prostate problems and fusion of the spine in the lower back can lead to problems passing faeces. Constipation is usually caused by feeding poor-quality food, notably dog roll slabs which contain partially ground up bone. The sooner constipation is treated, the less expensive it is!

GDV (gastric dilation and volvulus)

This is a tricky way of saying twisted stomach. It is more common in deep-chested dogs (e. g. Huntaways), when large meals are fed infrequently or when dogs work soon after feeding.

The twist can occur very quickly - you will see a very crook dog with retching, breathing difficulties, pale gums and a bloated abdomen. This is an emergency - to save the dog surgery must be done immediately.

The take home message is: the earlier you discover the problem, the greater the chance of saving your workmate. If you are worried about the health of your dog, please call Totally Vets sooner rather than later.