CASE DESCRIPTION 10 large felids at 8 facilities were determined or suspected to have developed gastric dilatation with or without enterotoxemia over a 20-year period. Four felids were found dead with no premonitory signs.
CLINICAL FINDINGS 4 felids (2 male snow leopards [Uncia uncia], 1 male Amur tiger [Panthera tigris altaica], and 1 male Sumatran tiger [Panthera tigris sumatrae]) were found dead or died before they could be evaluated. Six felids had hematemesis (1 male and 1 female African lion [Panthera leo] and 1 male jaguar [Panthera onca]) or abdominal distention and signs of lethargy with or without vomiting (1 male African lion, 1 male Malayan tiger [Panthera tigris jacksoni], and 1 female Sumatran tiger). Gastric dilatation was radiographically and surgically confirmed in the male Malayan and female Sumatran tigers and the jaguar.
TREATMENT AND OUTCOME In 3 felids with an antemortem diagnosis, the gastric dilatation resolved with decompressive laparotomy but then recurred in 1 felid, which subsequently died. Three others died at various points during hospitalization. Although Clostridium perfringens type A was recovered from 3 of the 5 felids for which microbial culture was performed, and 2 felids had a recent increase in the amount fed, no single factor was definitively identified that might have incited or contributed to the gastric dilatation.
CLINICAL RELEVANCE Gastric dilatation was a life-threatening condition in the large felids of this report, causing sudden death or clinical signs of hematemesis, abdominal distention, or vomiting. Even with rapid diagnosis and surgical decompression, the prognosis was poor. Research is needed into the factors that contribute to this emergent condition in large felids so that preventive measures might be taken.