My wife, Brenda, and I just finished watching Marley and Me. It was a nice little movie about the most ill-behaved dog ever to exist. In fact, husband “John”, played by Owen Wilson, said that Marley outdid even his own worst behavior the day he pooped in the ocean at the dog beach.
In the end Marley succumbed to a condition known as Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV), in which the stomach of large-breed dogs fills with gas and often flips over inside the abdomen, cutting off blood circulation for the stomach as well as inflow through the esophagus and outflow into the duodenum (small intestine).
Marley had a first episode with GDV in which the veterinarian was able to pass a stomach tube through Marley’s esophagus and remove the gas which was dilating his stomach. Later, he had a second episode that proved fatal.
I have a bone to pick with how this illness was portrayed. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know it’s “just a movie” and to have a heart-wrenching Hollywood plot Marley had to die.
But, in real life Marley didn’t have to die!After the first GDV event, Dr. Platt, well-played by Ann Dowd, made the statement that “this could happen again, and I don’t think he would survive surgery at his age.”
I don’t want viewers of Marley and Me to come away with the idea that old dogs can’t have surgery just because they are old, or that recurrences of GDV cannot be prevented.
In repeated Articles and Daily Posts we have reported on successful anesthetic and surgical events for geriatric pets.
Furthermore, GDV can be prevented in the vast majority of cases by use of a surgical procedure which attaches the stomach to the wall of the abdomen, thus preventing it from moving and causing a recurrence of GDV. It is a complicated surgerywhich does not always require a board-certified surgeon. Many general practitioners perform the surgery.
So, if your pet has experienced Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus in the past, ask your pet’s doctor about surgical options to prevent future episodes.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.