This type of life-threatening condition is one of the reasons we believe it is important we post health and hip information about our dogs and their offspring. Our intent is that people will find it helpful and utilize it to the best interest of their dogs and the King Shepherd breed. We believe strongly that breeders who refuse to share this information about their own dogs pass on these health issues into their breed and the other breeds who utilize that pedigree line. Two commentaries on the condition, one from one of our puppy owners who had a previous experience and one from a reader who found our information researching on the Internet:

 

06/08: I was just reading the article [on the AAKS web site] about bloat . . . we had a German Shepherd [named General] who died a little over a year ago. He was 4 yrs old – almost 5...and he died from his intestine twisting ....which as I understand it is similar to bloat but not as easily detected because he did not have the distended stomach. I thought I would share my story with you in the hope that you could share it with others.

 

We got our GSD from an established breeder here in Missouri. He was an extraordinary dog – smart, wonderful with people, kids, loving, etc. From the time he was a puppy though – he never seemed that interested in food. We did “free feeding” with him – I think that is what you called it? He ate enough to be at a healthy weight....but food or treats were never a driver for this guy. Our vet watched him closely as he grew. He seemed to prefer the cat’s food - which the vet said would be like “candy” for the dog – so we tried to make sure that we didn’t let him eat it. He never “gobbled” his food. He had lots of energy – had a beautiful coat, clear eyes – loved to run and play and loved toys. Drank lots of water. As he got older – he got better about eating and seemed to have a more normal approach to food. He started to enjoy treats more – but they still weren’t drivers for him. He was a “tall” lean GSD. I had seen both of his parents and they looked the same – so by the time he was 4 years old – our vet said that he was at a healthy 65 pounds and that he was not concerned with his weight and being lean (as long as he was healthy) was certainly better for his hips than being heavy.

 

One day – I came home from work – and noticed that General was drooling ...which was not common for him. While he normally followed me around – he seemed more clingy than normal. I googled some things on the internet – because he just didn’t seem right to me. He wasn’t choking, he wasn’t whining, but he did seem lethargic. I concluded from what I read – that he had perhaps eaten or gotten into something. Based on what I read – I put him into the car and drove him to the ER (it was about 10pm on a Friday night). The ER did a thorough exam – did X-rays. They said his stomach was a little gassy, but nothing to be concerned about. They did comment that his organs were a little jumbled (genetically). They also said he was a little dehydrated – so they gave him some IV fluids....and after an hour or so – he perked up – seemed completely back to normal. The vet concluded that perhaps he had eaten something that hadn’t agreed with him (we knew he had a sensitive stomach). Our housekeeper had off and on been joking

with me that she was going to feed our dog tacos because he was so skinny, so we decided I would take him home since he seemed to be completely fine after the fluids and I would check with her to see if she actually fed him something spicy/hot – which might have caused all the gastric upset/slobbering. I checked. She did not.

 

I took him to our vet the next day – and again — all signs seemed to point to him possibly eating something (from the yard, garage, etc?). No more slobbering – completely normal. About 3 months later – I came home from work and he acted like he felt a little crummy (like when I picked him up from the kennel and he had kennel cough one time...). It was late in the evening ...other than acting lethargic – no slobbering. We checked his stomach to see if there was pain or bloating and there wasn’t. We decided that if he wasn’t doing better in the morning – we’d take him to the vet, but there were no signs that caused us to take him to the ER. My husband got up and checked on him in the middle of the night...he was actually sitting on the first step of our pool – in the water. When we got up that morning at 6:00 am – he had come back into the house at some point – and passed away. He hadn’t tried to wake us up (we’re very light sleepers). We were devastated. Feeling completely guilty that we somehow missed something obvious.

 

Our vet did an autopsy and concluded that it was not “bloat”. He died from his intestine twisting. He said that it does happen more frequently in larger breeds with larger chests – similar to bloat. He also said that genetics plays a part – and that he had some of that at play as well. He said that if we had felt a bloated stomach and didn’t do anything about it – that would be one thing – but General didn’t have that. He also said that even if we would have taken him to the ER – based on his symptoms – they likely would not have identified it. Even if they would have — and would have done surgery to fix it – the survival rate from the surgery is very, very low – like 1 – 2%. So – he assured us that we had not been negligent in any way....but in being a large breed, big chested dog – he was predisposed to this kind of thing. And – his specific genetics – how he was put together – created some additional challenges.

 

I let our breeder know. No one else had reported anything like this to her. She still had General’s dad – who she had a special attachment to – and he was healthy. General’s mom had died about a year after he was born with some sort of cancer. We loved that dog so much – that while [the breeder] was no longer breeding General’s dad – she was breeding his aunt. We debated for a long time about whether to wait for this breeding. We also were concerned about the “genetics” part – but also remembered the vet had told us (and we had read) that these things (like HD) are just more common risks to these dogs. As we continued to debate this decision – and our desire to find another GSD with great temperament, smart, etc – we found your site and the rest is history.

 

Because of General’s condition – we are very aware of this with Baron. We do free feeding with him - just like we did with General – and he does fine with it. He is a much better eater than General. Even though food is out for him – he tends to eat two meals – once in the morning and once in the evening (he takes his lead from the cat). He loves treats. So – he doesn’t have the same eating issues that General had. The only thing I’ve noticed about Baron – is that he gets hiccups? Other than that – he is a healthy, happy growing boy.

 

. . . I hope that sharing it may help others... ~ Lindsey

 

07/10: We have just gone through a very similar experience with our beloved Golden Retriever, Jack. He passed away Sunday evening. He would have been ten in November. We had him at the vet last Wed. and he was fine. Because of a tornado (very rare) that knocked out power and phone lines, we couldn't reach our vet. So we took him to a large animal hospital. There was no lab technician there so the vet took x-rays (nothing unusual) , gave him some fluids, and gave us vials of urine and blood to take to our vet the next morning. She also gave him a narcotic to keep him comfortable. When we got home we placed him on his bed. At one point he defecated a bit. Otherwise he remained unconscious. Every now and then he would whimper and draw up his abdomen. We got him home around 7:30 and checked on him every half hour or less. At 10:30, when I checked him he was gone. He never had a temp. and his belly wasn't distended until the very end. We didn't have an autopsy so we will never really know for sure, but I discussed it with our vet. today and his educated guess was Jack died from a twisted intestine or cardiac arrest. I've spent the past two days crying and looking online for some explanation. I found your article and it was so familiar I had to respond.

 

There is something so pure about some animals' loving-nature. Jack was one of these. He adored me and I him. We had him since he was six weeks old. It's so very hard to lose someone who has been a part of your life, everyday, for ten years; as anyone who has loved a pet knows, they can break your heart. I hope all is well with [Lindsay's] Baron. Thank you for putting up this info. It really helped me understand what probably happened and begin to accept it. ~ Candace

 

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