The Day We Almost Lost Hero

We were all looking forward to spend the weekend at the beach in the east coast, a 4-hour ride from the city. The day started off normally as we made our way out of the city towards the east-coast expressway. It was a beautiful sunny morning and the traffic was clear.

We arrived at the beach resort at around 3pm and immediately went about settling down and unloading the luggage from the car. Hero was sniffing all over the place excitedly whilst marking every tree in sight. I gave hero some water to drink which he gulped down ferociously. We left him alone and went about settling Meimei in the room.

After a while, I came out to find hero yelping in pain outside the chalet. His stomach was bloated as if he had swallowed a ball, with excess salivation from the mouth. When touched, it felt tense. He was retching and attempting to defecate unproductively in a panic stupor. Immediately I knew something was wrong and it’s serious. I vaguely remembered reading on the internet about stomach bloat in dogs and how such condition could be life threatening. Without wasting time, I ran to the resort office and asked for the nearest veterinary clinic. Ruby, the resort owner, said the nearest would be in Kuantan town, about an hour drive from the resort. She quickly made a phone call to the veterinarian whilst I ran back to get hero and the car.

The journey to the clinic took about an hour but it seemed to have lasted forever. While Ruby took the wheel weaving in and out of traffic along the coastal road, I was holding on to hero whom were in great distress as he could not find a comfortable position to sit still or lay down. He kept whining and changing his place and position throughout the entire ride. A sign that he was in great pain.

At the clinic, hero was immediately sedated to have an x-ray taken for further diagnosis. The veterinarian explained that if the stomach was indeed twisted (gastric torsion), cells may die (necrosis) due to the lack of oxygen supply and this could lead to further complications. Ruby and I waited at the clinic as the vet drove hero to the x-ray center, located a distance away.

About close to an hour later, the vet returned with hero, still sedated in the crate. With bated breath, I waited as the vet reversed his truck into the porch. As he alighted, his expression did not tell me it was good news. He promptly confirmed that hero had a condition called gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) and immediate surgery was recommended to avoid further complication to his organs which could result in shock. He further added that the surgery would take about two hours.

The time was 9pm. We were back at the resort having BBQ dinner when the vet called to inform us that the operation went well. We were told to come over at 10.30pm to see hero and if he was well enough, we can take him back, as the clinic would be closed the following day. Cheche and I arrived at the clinic punctually and as we entered the clinic, we could hear the lone cry of a frightened dog from afar at the back, and instinctively we knew it was our boy. Hero was so happy to see us and likewise for us, it was a deep relief to see him responding playfully again without the pain, at least for the moment. But we knew this was not over yet, as post-surgery care could be perilous, where intensive monitoring was needed.

We arrived back at the resort close to midnight. Hero did not sleep, and so did we. Poor hero was in such pain that he just stood still on all four legs throughout the night, wobbling at times due to sleepiness. Each time he tried to lay down, it was too painful even though he was on pain killer. And he would vomit white slimy substance each time he drank any water.

The next day, we thought of leaving for home early, but given the condition hero was in, we were concerned whether he could withstand the long journey in the car. Thus, we decided to stay on for hero to have a proper rest at the resort. However, his condition took a turn for the worst in the afternoon when his stomach started to bloat again. We rushed him to another veterinary clinic as the one where he had his surgery was closed. At the clinic, the vet gave hero a massage on his abdomen and to our relief, the bloat subsided after a couple of hearty burps. Apparently, the bloat was due to the accumulation of gas in his stomach due to post-surgery complication.

We finally made it back home the following day and upon reaching, we noticed that the incision on hero has split open and blood was dripping from the wound. It must have been from the car ride or he had scratched it. We have to clean the wound several times a day to keep infection at bay.

We fed hero several small meals a day at short intervals and limit his water intake during the recuperation period. He would still vomit occasionally after his meal due to the effect of the antibiotic he was taking. And because we controlled his fluid intake, he would licked on wet floor at any given opportunity.

It has been two weeks now since the bloat incident and hero is recovering well. He is still on special diet and since he has finished the course of antibiotics, the vomiting has stopped too. With proper care and good rest, we hope hero will make a full recovery soon.

After what we went through with hero, we do not wish for anyone to go through such horrible experience with their beloved furry friend. Bloating is the second leading cause of canine death, after cancer. I hope the information here would one day be able to help someone out there to act immediately upon recognizing the symptoms of bloat... cause every second does count.