Stephen J. Birchard DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVS

Friday, June 20, 2014

For Dog Owners: Ice cubes or ice water do NOT cause GDV (bloat) in dogs

Gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV) is a disorder of dogs characterized by extreme dilation and mal-position of the stomach. It is primarily seen in large breed dogs and is due to a number of predisposing factors. There is no scientific evidence supporting the claim that ingestion of ice cubes or ice water has any relationship to GDV in dogs, and I have never seen a case in which there was a correlation between the two.

On hot days if a large breed dog becomes overheated they will pant heavily in attempt to cool themselves down. This can lead to aerophagia (swallowing air) that can cause excessive gas in the stomach and lead to GDV if other contributing factors are present. Keep your dog cool by avoiding exercise during the hottest part of the day, avoid leaving them in a hot car in the sun in a parking lot, and give them access to plenty of cool, fresh water and a shady place to rest. Also, do not let your dog drink massive amounts of water all at once. After drinking a reasonable amount, take the bowl away and offer more after 15 to 30 minutes. A cool bath can also be helpful if you think your dog has become mildly overheated. Severe hyperthermia is an emergency situation requiring immediate care by a veterinarian.

For more information on GDV in dogs, search this blog for GDV, or contact your local veterinarian.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Case Outcome on Betty: The pit bull with a vaginal mass

 This is the case outcome on Betty, a 2 year old in tact pit bull that presented with an acute onset of a vaginal mass. 

The appearance and palpation of the mass was characteristic of a vaginal prolapse. Betty was likely in estrus at the time of presentation. She was not having difficulty urinating. Some areas of mucosal necrosis were evident on the prolapsed tissue. (Fig. 1) 
Fig. 1: Vaginal prolapse in the 2 year old pit bull
We advised the owner to have Betty spayed as soon as possible. In the meantime, we recommended that they keep the tissue clean and lubricated, and place an Elizabethan collar on her to prevent self trauma of the area. 

Within a few days of having her spayed, Betty's prolapse was significantly improved. (Fig. 2)
Fig. 2: Appearance of the vaginal prolapse on Betty a few days after
The superficial necrosis had sloughed and completely healed, and Betty was doing well otherwise. Approximately 2 weeks later, the vaginal prolapse had completely resolved. (Fig. 3)
Fig. 3: Complete resolution of vaginal prolapse on Betty after
This case exemplifies the rapid resolution of vaginal prolapse after ovariohysterectomy without the need for resection of the vaginal tissue. A key element of this case is that there were only very focal areas of mucosal necrosis, not severe full thickness vaginal necrosis that would require removal. Resection of vaginal tissue with either hyperplasia or prolapse is rare in my experience. 


Vaginal prolapse usually occurs during estrus due to estrogen stimulation of the tissues. Other causes are exogenous estrogens or prolapse during parturition. 


Vaginal prolapse is suspected when a doughnut shaped mass has protruded from the vagina in an in tact female dog. It can appear similar to vaginal hyperplasia (edema); both usually occur during estrus. Vaginal neoplasia is a differential diagnosis.


Keep the prolapsed tissue clean and well lubricated. On initial presentation, hyperosmotic solutions of dextrose or granulated sugar can be used to reduce swelling and possibly permit reduction of the tissue back into the vagina. If necessary, temporary sutures across the labia can be placed to cover the tissue and keep it moist until the swelling reduces. Recommend ovariohysterectomy to allow prompt reduction of tissue swelling and resolution of the prolapse. In breeding animals, warn owners that recurrence of the prolapse is possible in subsequent estrus cycles.