Bloat is considered the “mother of all emergencies” as it kills quickly and rapid emergency treatment is critical to the survival of the dog.
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Okay, so just what is this condition? Bloat or GDV (Gastric- Dilitation and Volvulus), stomach torsion will cause death if do not get your dog to a veterinarian ASAP. Please note: Bloat usually happens in large dog breeds but can rarely occur in small breed dogs such as Yorkies and Chihuahuas, etc.
Bloat is almost exclusively seen in large breed deep-chested dogs such as Great Danes, German Shepherds, Greyhounds and Standard Poodles. The theory is that the stomach more easily twists and flips around in deep chested dogs, but the exact cause is not known.
Something goes awry as the food is being digested. There is a very rapid build up of gas in the stomach. Imagine a balloon blown up to capacity and about ready to pop. Only the stomach does not pop. It twists and turns so that the the entrance to the stomach and the exit (where food passes into the small intestine) of the stomach is cut off thus preventing the gas that has built up from escaping. If the stomach completely twists, blood circulation is cut off and tissue of the stomach loses it’s blood supply and the tissue dies ( becomes necrotic). This is where the critical stage begins. At this point your dog is likely retching (gagging or trying to throw up (vomit) and as the dog attempts to eject food there will be little or no food at all that comes up. This process can begin fairly soon after your dog has eaten. As the dog continues to attempt to vomit, severe pain is now present and the dog might begin groaning, pacing, panting, frothing or drooling from the mouth, licking at the stomach ,unable to lie down or sit and then will finally collapse if you let it go on too long. Your dog might seek a place to lie down somewhere in the recesses of your house, the garage, or a hidden place in your yard. Your pet will not likely come to you since he/she is in such pain. Your dog will be too ill to move. At this point if you can not get your animal up- get immediate help and carry, or roll you animal over on a blanket and drag him or her to your vehicle. Call your veterinarian or the emergency room as soon as you can use a phone and detail the symptoms. Don’t leave out anything-be sure to let the vet know that your dog had eaten and then became sick soon after and is acting as if in severe pain.
The longer you wait to get your dog to a veterinarian the less chance your pet has of a successful recovery. Because there is so much pain involved and blood is not circulting to a crucial body parts, the dog will soon go into to shock (low blood pressure, rapid beating of the heart, and pain) and will die. The heart rate is so fast that it can not sustain the extremely rapid beat for an extended period of time.
The hallmark symptoms of a dog with GDV : often a history of recent exercise, eating food or drinking large volumes of water and then repeatedly trying to vomit but not producing any vomitus.
The treatment requires rapid intervention. IV fluids will be started along with pain killers. The veterinarian might attempt to pass a tube to see if the stomach has completely twisted and to decompress the stomach. Most likely the vet will take an x-ray just to be certain the stomach is in fact twisted (torsed). Immediate surgery is the only thing that will save your pet if the stomach has already twisted. The surgical outcome depends on a competent vet, how much damage there is to the stomach, and the over all condition of your animal. The surgeon will staple or sew the wall of the stomach to the lining of the abdominal cavity, a procedure known as Gastropexy. This surgery will prevent the recurrence of bloat. About 75% of all dogs that bloat will do so again if they do not have Gastropexy perfomed. Only about 6% will bloat again if the dog has the extra surgery.
If you own a high-risk breed, most progressive veterinary hospitals will encourage prophylactic Gastopexy be performed at the age of 6 months (when they are spayed or neutered) to prevent GDV from ever occuring. Bloat is a surgical emergency and treatment and surgery is very expensive (several thousand dollars in some cases) so prevention is cheaper and safer.
There are certain steps you can take to greatly reduce or prevent bloat from ever happening. PREVENTION IS THE KEY.
Do not feed too much food at one time. If your dog bolts or gulps his food you can purchase a bowl called ” BRAKE STOP” that prevents dogs from inhaling all their food at one time.
NEVER take your dog out for vigorous exercise and then feed a large meal or let your pet drink a large amount of water right after exercise. Both of these can cause bloat.
Mix dry food with canned food if you can swing the cost.
Keep water away at feeding time. Do not allow water consumption right before or right after eating. Give the food time to begin the digestive process before letting your dog drink.
Give snacks and biscuits sparingly. These are basically all grain-high carbohydrate. Too much grain is believed to be a contributor to bloat.
The dog food should have at least 3% fiber content.
Dogs with history of bloat (believed to be inherited) Know your breed before getting a large breed dog.
Tempermental and anxious dogs. FEED IN A QUIET PLACE AT ALL TIMES)
Aggressive dogs. Keep this type of dog also in a place that is free of people and other dogs.
Male dogs develop bloat more frequently than females.
Do not feed one hour before heavy exercise and DO NOT let your dog out to run one hour after eating.
Dogs 7 years and older are more likely to bloat.
Do not give Brewer’s yeast, alflfa, or soy bean products. These also contribute to the build up of gas in the stomach.
To further reduce the chance of bloat, give your dog acidophilus. I feed my dogs a crushed acidophilus tablet (my labradors are gluttons) mixed in with their food with a little bit of water. Both labs, if I let them, devour their food in less than 2 minutes. To prevent this, I put one cup of food at a time in the bowl and wait a few minutes between each cup. The female is smaller and she gets 3 cups of Purina One and the male who weighs about 90 pounds gets 4 cups. I also feed the labs in a large wire crate so that confinement is not a problem. Yes, it is a bit of trouble but I don’t want to take chances with them. I feed my dogs once a day. I have 8 dogs, so to feed them twice each day would be lots more work but it could be done if I did not have other animals to feed that takes up my time. Purina One just happpens to be the highest quality food that I can afford to feed all my dogs. There are pricier foods on the market. I mention this brand but it is not meant as an endorsement.
Part II: A list of dogs that are more prone to bloat.
Post Yvonne Daniel