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June 19, 2012
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Animal Health SmartBrief Special Report: Canine Gastrointestinal Issues, Part I
Dogs can have a wide array of tummy trouble, from swallowing their owner's car keys to contracting a virus. Sometimes vomiting is the result of slight gastrointestinal upset, and in other cases, it's a symptom of a serious condition.

Part I of this Animal Health SmartBrief Special Report, below, examines the latest news for veterinarians and owners on preventing, diagnosing and treating acute conditions, including foreign body ingestion, GDV, viral enteritis and more. Part II, to be published Thursday, will offer a look into food allergies -- a common cause of gastrointestinal issues -- as well as other chronic conditions with gastrointestinal implications.

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  Preventing and Diagnosing Acute Conditions 
  • Vomiting and diarrhea can be symptoms of many conditions
    Vomiting and diarrhea are very common symptoms and are also nonspecific, meaning they occur with hundreds of different diseases, both serious and mild, writes veterinarian Jeffrey Vogl. Veterinarians can often diagnose the cause of vomiting and diarrhea from a physical exam and the owner's description of recent events. However, in cases that don't have such an obvious cause and persist despite first-line treatments, further diagnostic tests, including blood work and radiographs, are used to make the diagnosis and develop a treatment plan. WSBT-TV (South Bend, Ind.) (5/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Vomiting can be serious, even if it's not productive: It's possible that dogs and cats occasionally vomit without any underlying disease, writes veterinarian Emily 
, but more often, there is an abnormality that should be identified and treated. Foreign body ingestion and problems with other organs cause vomiting and diarrhea in both dogs and cats, but one condition is unique to dogs: GDV. Gastrodilatation and volvulus is a life-threatening emergency characterized by unproductive retching and a bloated-looking abdomen, adds Dr. Coatney-Smith. Dayton Daily News (Ohio) (6/4) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Preventing gastric dilatation and volvulus saves dogs' lives
    Gastric dilatation and volvulus, an emergency condition in which an air-filled stomach flips and occludes the blood supply, is more common in deep-chested dogs and usually occurs in older dogs, according to veterinarian Kristel Weaver. The condition is an emergency, and if left untreated for even a short time will lead to death. Surgical correction and post-operative therapy are expensive and don't always work, but gastropexy, surgical tacking of the stomach to the body wall, is much less expensive and can prevent the condition, Dr. Weaver writes. (Danville, Calif.) (5/27) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • That tennis ball your dog swallowed could kill him
    Dogs eat the darnedest things: utility knives, jewelry, underwear and tennis balls to name a few, but foreign body ingestion can be a dangerous matter. "[Foreign objects] can get stuck in the stomach, go into the small intestine, cause bunching up of the small intestine and even lead to perforation so those animals can get very, very sick,” said veterinarian Robert Orsher. Surgery, which can be costly, is often needed to remove the objects. KYW-TV (Philadelphia) (5/3) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Gardens hold threats for pets
    Veterinarian Ahna Brutlag of the Pet Poison Helpline explains that many plants and other garden staples can be health threats for pets, causing a myriad of symptoms, such as seizures and even death. "Most plants can cause gastrointestinal upset with vomiting or diarrhea," Dr. Brutlag added. If owners suspect their pet has become ill from plant ingestion, they should seek veterinary care immediately and try to identify the plant. The Signal (Santa Clarita Valley, Calif.) (5/19) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Treating parvovirus is difficult, so prevention is key
    Parvovirus, a viral infection causing severe and often-bloody diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, septicemia and even death, usually strikes younger dogs and is seen with greater frequency during seasons when people and pets pursue more outdoor activities, writes veterinarian Debra Singleton. Treatment is extensive, costly and may not save the pet, so Dr. Singleton emphasizes the importance of an appropriate vaccination schedule as the best way to prevent parvovirus infection. Windsor Beacon (Colo.)/The Tribune (Greeley, Colo.) (5/19) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
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• Prebiotic fiber restores balance of intestinal microflora by supporting growth of beneficial bacteria
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  Treating Acute Conditions 
  • One dog's GDV story
    When Jasper, a 6-year-old Great Dane, began unproductive retching and was restless, uncomfortable and seemed bloated, his owners took him to a veterinarian who diagnosed Jasper with gastric dilatation and volvulus. In emergency surgery, Jasper's veterinarians deflated and untwisted his stomach, tacking it to his body wall to prevent further episodes. After the lifesaving surgery, Jasper was hospitalized for two days for fluid therapy and other supportive care but improved daily. Wells Journal (U.K.) (5/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Pet poisonings require immediate treatment
    When pets ingest a potentially toxic substance, it's important for owners to seek veterinary help immediately, and the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center is a good first call to make. The center employs 30 veterinarians and offers advice on initial treatment, if needed, and prognosis. In conjunction with an emergency veterinarian's assessment and treatment, the Animal Poison Control Center can help protect pets who have been poisoned. Forbes (4/18) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
The ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center received nearly 25,000 calls in 2011 related to pet ingestion of human medications.


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