What is Gastrostomy?
A gastrostomy creates an opening into your dog’s stomach through which a feeding tube can be established to provide nutrition to your dog. Gastrostomy is a surgical procedure, performed under general anesthetic by your veterinarian. An opening is made through the abdominal wall and into the dog's stomach and a rubber feeding tube is passed through the incision in the body wall and into the stomach. Specialized liquid or blended food and water can then be administered to your dog through the feeding tube and into the stomach for digestion. This is necessary when your dog will not or cannot eat due to illness or medical condition. They are not usually used in dogs to prolong life in a terminal case, as they often are in humans.
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Gastrostomy Procedure in Dogs
Your pet will probably not be taking food due to their condition, but if they are, they should fast prior to surgery. Your dog will be put under general anesthetic for this procedure. The abdominal area will be shaved of hair and cleaned antiseptically to remove dirt and bacteria.
Percutaneous gastrostomy in your dog may be performed using an endoscope, a tube with camera, to guide the procedure or using a specialized surgical device to place the gastrostomy tube.
Alternatively, gastrostomy may be performed by traditional open surgery methods which involve making an incision to open your dog's abdominal cavity, making another incision to place the tube into the stomach, and then closing the abdominal wall incision, leaving the stent ot the tube on the surface through a small opening maintained for that purpose
After an opening is made in the stomach through one of the various surgical methods mentioned, the feeding tube is inserted through the body wall. At the surface of the skin there is a cross piece called a stent that keeps the tube from slipping into the stomach. Your dog's skin will be marked around the stent. Pet owners need to ensure the stent remains in place by monitoring the stent location in respect to the marking made at the time of surgery. The tube is sutured into place and is closed off with a clamp and a plug which are only opened during feeding when a feeding syringe is attached to the tube. The tube is also held in place by netting or stretchy fabric over the tube to keep it from catching on things in your home and possibly being pulled out.
If the feeding tube is required on a long-term basis a specialized low profile tube with less tube sticking out past the surface of the skin may be used to prevent mishaps and accidental removal of the tube.
Efficacy of Gastrostomy in Dogs
When dogs are critically ill and are being treated long-term, proper nutritional management can be critical to their recovery. If a dog is unable or unwilling to eat, a gastrostomy tube allows you and your veterinarian to control their nutritional intake and prevent weight loss and malnutrition from interfering with recovery. Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tubes are minimally invasive and highly effective method of providing nutrition to your dog and can provide weeks to months of nutritional support as needed.
Gastrostomy Recovery in Dogs
You will need to ensure that the gastrostomy tube does not come loose and that the entrance site does not become irritated or infected. You may need to use an E-collar to prevent your dog licking or chewing at the tube and surgical entrance. Antibiotic ointment will be provided to be administered at the tube entrance site and bandaging at the site will need to be maintained and changed regularly. To prevent the tube from moving or slipping you will need to monitor its position. Marks on your dog's skin made at surgery time will help with this; netting or stretchy fabric to hold the tube in place and prevent catching can be used.
You will need to feed your dog through the feeding tube several times a day with a syringe containing specialized food. Your veterinarian will provide appropriate food or may recommend food that can be blenderized and administered through the tube.
Your veterinarian will provide you detailed instructions on diet, use of feeding tube and care and maintenance of feeding tube. Be sure to follow instructions carefully.
Contact your vet immediately if:
- tube changes positions or falls out (urgent)
- entry site becomes swollen, red, painful, or discharge is present
- tube or attachments become damaged (e.g. cracked)
- your dog is experiencing breathing problems (urgent)
- your dog develops a fever or other signs of illness like vomiting or diarrhea
- the tube becomes blocked or clogged
A follow-up appointment to remove the feeding tube when appropriate will be required and this procedure will be performed by your veterinarian. It may require general anesthetic for removal.
Cost of Gastrostomy in Dogs
The cost of veterinary gastrostomy procedure ranges from $1,000 to $2,000 depending on the method used and your location. Food and materials costs to maintain the feeding tube will vary depending on how long the tube is required for.
Dog Gastrostomy Considerations
The usual surgical risks of anesthesia, hemorrhaging and infection apply to gastrostomy. In addition, specific risks include infection at the site of tube placement, accidental removal of tube or blockage of tube post-surgery. Careful monitoring of the tube’s placement and the site will mitigate these risks.
If gastric disease, ascites, hypoalbuminemia, or depressed immune system is present this may complicate gastrostomy and presence of these conditions and the appropriateness of this procedure should be discussed with your vet.
Gastrostomy Prevention in Dogs
Damage to the oral or alimentary canal can be avoided by ensuring that your dog is secure when outdoors and has less opportunity for getting in an accident or fight that could cause damage requiring feeding be conducted by gastrostomy. To prevent illness that may require this procedure, regular veterinary care to diagnose conditions at an early stage will be helpful in ensuring your dog's health and decreasing medical care required to support severe illness.
Gastrostomy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My dog has had a feeding tube removed today (it went into his stomach) the dressing has come off overnight, how long does there need to b s dressing over the hole
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