Not an older dog (he was 3/4 as I recall); I've posted about the experience before and will see if I can find and link that thread later. The dog was a cryptorchid IW, so needed surgery to find and remove the missing testicle anyway, which made it a perfect opportunity for a gastropexy. (IWs have/had much higher bloat stats than GSDs, but I've not followed that research as carefully in recent years).
Did my homework, constructed my own screening survey to guide my conversations with potential vets (yes, I'm anal
), constructed a list and starting calling folks.
Here are my tips. First, do your homework and figure out which procedure you'd prefer --- there are/were pros and cons to each. There were several when I was facing this and I chose a laparoscopic approach based on the then existing research. Second, and most important thing to consider is how much experience the surgeon has in doing the procedure (e.g., how many dogs, what were the outcomes, etc). Third, you also want to know what their induction protocol is (i.e., what drugs in what amounts will be used for induction and surgical anesthesia --- particularly important in sighthounds). Fourth, you want to know if an anesthetist will be present for the entire procedure, how much experience s/he has, and whether your dog will be on oxygen throughout the procedure (10+ years ago, many weren't). Fifth, you want to know what painkillers will be available, in what amounts, immediately following the surgery and when you bring the dog home. Also ask if the vet will give you a script for the painkillers BEFORE you pick up the dog to bring him home as they're often human grade medications which can be obtained much more cheaply at your local pharmacy (or online) than at the vet office.
Also check the potential side effects of each painkiller carefully. My guy (Manny) was put on rimadyl, as I recall, which has the unfortunate side effect of creating nausea in many dogs. So, although Manny was recovering well from the surgery, three days post surgery he developed aspiration pneumonia (temp zoomed up to 105 degrees in less than 2 hours) necessitating an emergency run to the vets and a week ho$pitalization. Fortunately, I knew what was going on and successfully bullied the ER vets into starting the newly developed IW pneumonia protocol immediately instead of wasting time. (I can be a little pushy when circumstances warrant
). Once we got him over the pneumonia 'hump,' his recovery was smooth and uneventful. Keeping him quiet, for the next few weeks, while limiting his exercise was the hardest thing to manage.
Surgery is always
risky, so the best thing you can do is what you're doing: Ask questions widely, do your homework, and choose the surgeon carefully. Our complication wasn't due to the procedure itself but to the post-op painkillers that were prescribed (known to be bad for Labs, but not for IWs). I know lots of folks who've chosen the laparoscopic procedure over the years and all of the dogs came through just fine. Sometimes you just experience bad luck. So, hold onto good thoughts and prepare accordingly.
If I find the previous posting, I'll come back and link it in.