How Xena had a simple life-saving surgery

Xena, a beautiful 6 month old female German shepherd, was ready to be spayed. Benefits include eliminating the risk of mammary (breast) cancer and preventing a deadly infection of the uterus called pyometra.

Xena, a 6 month old German Shepherd

In addition, Xena’s family vet discussed the benefit of performing a prophylactic gastropexy.

A what?

A gastropexy is a simple surgery performed to prevent twisting of the stomach – sadly sometimes called bloat – or more appropriately Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV), stomach torsion or flipped stomach.

Prophylactic means that it’s an elective or preventive surgery performed before the stomach ever has a chance to twist.

The success rate of this simple surgery is very high. It is critical to understand that the dog can still bloat, ie the stomach fills up with air. This still means that they would need emergency treatment to deflate the stomach. But it’s a much safer place to be in, since the stomach should not twist on itself.

It is a potentially life-saving procedure that should be considered in Great Danes (the #1 breed for this disease), German shepherds, Dobies, Weimies, Labs and several other large dog breeds with a “deep chest.”

A Great Dane

After Xena’s owner had a friend who lost her Great Dane because of a twisted stomach, she wisely chose the added surgery as recommended.

During the gastropexy, the stomach is tacked or stitched to the inside of the belly. This simple procedure prevents the twisting of the stomach.

Then a standard spay was performed.

I’ve performed many of these life-saving surgeries at the time of a spay or neuter. Occasionally, it is done in an older dog who is already spayed or neutered – which is still a great idea.

Xena recovered well after 4 weeks of restricted activity, pain medications and antibiotics.

And now, her family’s mind is at ease, knowing that they did all they could to help Xena live a long, healthy and hopefully GDV-free life.

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified

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Dr. Phil Zeltzman

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a traveling veterinary surgeon in Pennsylvania & New Jersey. An award-winning author, he loves to share his adventures in practice along with information about vet medicine and surgery that can really help your pets. Dr. Zeltzman specializes in orthopedic, neurologic, cancer, and soft tissue surgeries for dogs, cats, and small exotics. By working with local family vets, he offers the best surgical care, safest anesthesia, and utmost pain management to all his patients. Sign up to get an email when he updates his blog, and follow him on Facebook, too!