If you own a large dog then you have heard of or NEED to hear the word BLOAT or Gastic Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV). Bloat is an extremely serious condition that is considered a life threatening emergency.
What is bloat?
Gastric dilatation is when the stomach fills with air, gas, fluid or food and puts pressure on the other organs. Studies suggest that dilatation occurs as the result of swallowing air and not being able to release it, i.e burp. The pressure on the diaphragm makes it difficult for the dog to breathe. Volvulus is when the distended stomach rotates itself and cuts off the blood supply to the heart. Once the rotation has happened the stomach begins to die and your pet can die within 20 mins.
Who is susceptible to bloat?
- Are large breeds with deep, narrow chests
- Are over 7
- Are male
- Are fed once a day
- Eat quickly
- Exercise soon after a meal
- Are nervous, anxious, or fearful
- Have a poor diet
- Have a family history of bloat
- Drink too much water after eating
- Eat yeast
- Have IBD
Signs of bloat
- Abdominal distention (a.k.a a swollen belly)
- Non-productive vomiting (appears to vomit but can not produce) -Trying to vomit every 2-3 minutes
- Abdominal pain
- Huntched over
- Cannot sit or lie down
- Rapid shallow breathing
- Drooling (may indicate severe pain)
- Rapid heart rate
- Gums start dark red then turn white/blue
- Stomach becomes tight and hollow when tapped
- Biting at air
How is it treated?
- Call vet/emergency vet to let them know you are on your way
- Once you arrive at the clinic, breathe and stay out of the way
Your veterinarian will most likely
- Take blood samples
- Give IV fluids
- Possibly give antibiotics and pain relievers
- Release air in stomach by inserting a stomach tube or a large needle into the stomach
- After your dog seems to be stabilized, x-rays will be done to see if rotation is present (Volvulus)
- Surgery is then performed to assess the health of the stomach and surrounding organs. If stomach or spleen have been damaged they need to be removed.
- Stomach is re-positioned properly
- Gastropexy is performed (suture stomach to keep from twisting in future)
- If gastropexy is not performed 75-80% likely to happen again.
Heart rate and rhythm are monitored closely for several days.
Some dogs develop:
- heart abnormalities or arrhythmias-which is a common cause of death
- A bleeding disorder called “Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation” or DIC, in which small clots develop within blood vessels. To prevent and treat “Heparin”, an anticoagulant is given.
- Stomach ulceration or perforation
- Damage to the pancreas/liver
How is bloat prevented?
- If you are adopting a new puppy check the parents’ history
- Know the signs
- Always find a veterinarian and create a relationship with them
- Know the numbers to your veterinary clinic and emergency vet
- Know the fastest route to the Vet and/or emergency vet
- Feed your large dog 2 to 3 times a day versus once a day
- Water should always be available, but limit intake up to an hour after feeding
- Vigorous exercise, excitement or stress needs to be avoided at least one hour before meal time, and up to 2 hours after meals
- If you change your pet’s diet, gradually do it over 3 to 5 days
- Feed your dogs individually and in a quiet place
- Use an elevated food bowl – the closer the food is to the dog the less air he takes in
- Feed high quality natural food – should have 3 core supplements – digestive enzymes, probiotics and omega 3 fatty acids
One minute your dog is fine....the next minute. It's just that fast!!! Know your dog, know the signs, know how to prevent BLOAT!!
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