Have you ever heard of Bloat (Gastric Dilatation Volvulus) in dogs?
No? Neither had I until recently, but you should know about it.
It is a very serious condition in dogs which can quickly result in death.
What is it?
When Bloat occurs the dog's stomach fills with air, food or fluid, making it expand. Pressure on other organs builds up, the blood stops from returning to the heart which subsequently sends the dog into shock and can make the heart stop. Additionally to that, the stomach can flip or rotate and toxic hormones build up.
Gastric Dilatation Volvulus develops without a warning, can progress quickly and is always an emergency. Dogs can go into shock very quickly once the Bloat occurs, and every minute without treatment increases the risk of further damage and potentially death.
What are the Causes?
Bloats can occur at any age but is seen more often in middle aged dogs. All breeds are affected but more so large breeds with deep chests.
It is still unknown what triggers it specifically but some risk factors include:
Drinking large quantities of water very quickly
Using a raised food bowl
Stress and Anxiety
Exercise after eating
How can I spot it?
Restlessness and pacing
Swollen or painful abdomen
Look of distress
Retching or unsuccessful attempts to vomit
Panting or rapid breathing
Collapsing or inability to stand
How can it be treated?
As soon as you spot any signs you should seek medical aid as soon as possible as it increases the dog´s chance of survival. Without treatment your dog could go into shock within only 1 or 2 hours. Depending on the severity of the Bloat, surgery might be required. The stomach will be deflated and put into its correct position, damaged tissue removed and if needed the stomach will be sutured to the abdominal wall to keep it in place in the future.
How can it be prevented?
None of the measures guarantee that your dog won’t bloat, but they might decrease the risk and severity:
Feed smaller portions more frequently during the day
No exercise on a full stomach
Do not feed from a raised food bowl
Do not let the dog eat too fast
Do not let the dog drink large amounts of water at once
A gastropexy is possible as an preventive measure
If you notice anything unusual about your dog and spot some of those symptoms don’t hesitate and contact your Vet. It might make the difference between the life or death of your dog.