the latest dish on bloat in dogs

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Dalmatian dog eating out of bowl | the latest dish on bloat in dogs
Posted by Dr. Jules Benson on Mar 12 2010

Table manners aside, your dog’s urgent eating style simply won’t do. Gulping down breakfast is not only a choking risk, but, in some cases, can increase the risk of a life-threatening condition called gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), otherwise known as bloat. This condition is a true pet health emergency, often requiring surgery to correct.

Bloat occurs when a dog’s stomach fills with air and compresses the diaphragm and abdominal veins causing a restriction of blood flow to the heart. The air-filled stomach can easily rotate, cutting off the dog’s blood supply to the stomach. Without emergency treatment, it’s only a matter of time before the stomach tissue dies.

Luckily, by learning to recognize the signs of bloat and responding immediately, you can help prevent the devastating consequences of this condition.

What dog breeds get bloat?

All dogs are susceptible to bloat. However, large breed dogs with deep chests are much more likely than smaller breeds to get bloat.

Male dogs over the age of seven are twice as likely to get bloat than females. In addition, dogs that eat too fast and exercise vigorously soon afterwards, and/or eat just once-a-day are also at an increased risk.

Is it safe to walk my dog after meals?

There have been links made about large-breed or barrel-chested dogs bloating after vigorous exercise shortly after eating. However, the key here is that the exercise is generally vigorous and unchecked (running, jumping, rolling, etc). Gentle walks after a meal can aid your dog’s digestion and alleviate some of his or her ghastly gaseousness. If your dog is a lunatic off the leash, it’s important that these walks be on the leash and that the level of exercise is mild to moderate to avoid any potential problems with bloat.

What are the symptoms of bloat in dogs?

1. Bloated, distended belly
2. Retching
3. Dry heaving
4. Shallow breathing
5. Weak pulse
6. Rapid heart rate

How to prevent bloat in dogs

Many veterinarians recommend that large-breed dogs undergo an additional operation called a gastropexy at the time of spay or neuter. A gastropexy is basically a surgical procedure that attaches a dog’s stomach to their body wall and eliminates the possibility of the stomach rotating. (This procedure is also routinely performed any time a pet has surgical treatment for bloat and prevents further episodes.)

If your big or deep-chested dog hasn’t had a gastropexy and your veterinarian doesn’t feel that a separate procedure is desirable, you can help still protect against it by making sure to feed your dog two to three times each day, and limit water and exercise one hour before and after eating.

In the event that your dog does “bloat,” time is absolutely critical. Being familiar with the signs of bloat noted above and getting your pet to the vet as soon as possible really can make all the difference.

So, you know what to look for, you know what to do, now how do you pay for it? Since many emergency and specialty clinics charge more than $6,000 for critical care, surgery and after-care for bloat, pet parents with dog insurance coverage are always glad they thought ahead.