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The Dangers Of Bloat In Dogs

The Dangers Of Bloat In Dogs

Bloat is one of the most dangerous conditions in dogs. Yet, many people have never heard of this condition. All dog owners need to educate themselves about this condition and prepare if symptoms arise.

What is Bloat?

The technical name for Bloat in dogs is Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV). But it is often referred to as Bloat, Stomach Torsion, or Twisted Stomach. 

This condition is a life-threatening emergency when it occurs.

Gastric dilatation (Bloat) is one part of the condition. The volvulus or torsion (twisted stomach) is the second part. 

In Bloat, the stomach fills with air and puts pressure on the other organs and diaphragm. The pressure on the diaphragm makes it difficult for the dog to breathe. The air-filled stomach also compresses large veins in the abdomen, thus preventing blood from returning to the heart. As a result, the stomach can rotate on itself and pinch off its blood supply, filled with air. Once this rotation occurs and the blood supply cuts off, the stomach begins to die.

Not all dogs with a gas buildup and dilatation develop the more severe and life-threatening volvulus. However, almost all dogs with a volvulus develop it due to dilatation.

What dogs are at risk?

Unfortunately, Bloat is one of the top killers in dogs. Statistics show that as many as 25-33% of dogs with GDV will die even with treatment.

Furthermore, any dog can get Bloat. It does not discriminate for size or breed. But, there seems to be a connection between Bloat and certain large breeds with deep, narrow chests.

The top breeds who are most at risk for developing GDV are:

Other Factors

  • Age: Age plays a role in dogs who develop Bloat. It is more common for a dog over the age of 7 than a younger dog.
  • Gender: Male dogs are twice as likely to develop gastric dilatation and volvulus as female dogs.
  • Eating Habits: Dogs fed once a day are twice as likely to develop GDV as those fed twice a day. In addition, it appears that dogs who eat quickly or exercise soon after a meal may also be at increased risk.
  • Temperament: Dogs that tend to be more nervous, anxious, or fearful appear to be at an increased risk of developing Bloat.

Causes

The cause of Bloat is an anomaly to veterinarians at this point. However, some factors seem to contribute to the risk of developing the condition. 

Some of those contributors are: 

  • Eating to quickly
  • Overeating
  • Only eating one meal per day
  • Drinking too much in a short period
  • Stress
  • Eating from a raised bowl
  • Running or physical activity after eating
  • Genetic factors
  • Increased age

Symptoms of Bloat

The symptoms of Bloat are often sudden. Should your dog show any sign of these symptoms, you should take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Any delay in doing could lead to your dogs’ death.

  • Abdominal distention (swollen belly)
  • Nonproductive vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pacing
  • Hard, taut stomach
  • Panting
  • Drooling
  • Hiding
  • Shallow breathing
  • Weakness
  • Accelerated heartbeat
  • Weak pulse

Treatment for Bloat

Treatment for GDV should be sought out as soon as possible to increase the dog’s chance of survival. The severity of the case determines the treatment recommendation for the affected dog. Dogs that are bloated without volvulus can usually be treated non-surgically.

Surgery is required to untwist the stomach and return it to its appropriate position. The surgery also allows the veterinarian to assess the damage caused by the lack of blood flow due to the twisted stomach. If there is any tissue that is damaged, it will be removed. 

Generally, gastropexy, a procedure in which the stomach is secured to the body wall, is also performed during the surgical procedure. This is designed to keep the stomach in place and prevent twisting of the stomach if Bloat occurs again. The success rate of preventing the recurrence of a GDV is 95%.

“I strongly recommend that all giant breeds and other at-risk breeds have a preventive gastropexy performed,” says Timothy Robinson, DVM, DACVS, board-certified specialist in veterinary surgery. “This procedure can be done at the time of neutering or on its own, and I would much rather see healthy dogs in the operating room for this procedure than see them in critical condition during a GDV surgery.”

Prognosis

Dogs with GDV who do not receive treatment will not survive. However, up to 80% of dogs who receive treatment do survive when treated promptly. 

According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, the risk for complications increases as “disease severity and time increase.” Factors that have been shown to contribute to poor outcomes include patients:

  • with clinical signs for more than 6 hours
  • with cardiac arrhythmias before surgery
  • requiring removal of a portion of the stomach due to loss of blood supply
  • requiring removal of the spleen

Of course, the prognosis can vary for pets with other medical conditions. Dogs (especially those with any of the risk factors above) may also require intensive care after surgery, including the possible need for blood transfusions and other specialized care.

Prevention of Bloat

Despite adopting the recommendations below, a dog may still develop Bloat. Because this condition has a genetic link involved, pet parents should question if there is a history of GDV in the lineage of any puppy they attend to buy or adopt.

The following are recommendations for prevention:

  • Owners of high-risk breeds should be aware of this condition and early signs of Bloat, and should they fear their dog does have Bloat; they should immediately contact their veterinarian.
  • Owners of high-risk breeds should develop a good working relationship with their vet in an emergency.
  • Feed large dogs two to three times a day, rather than once.
  • Limit water immediately after feeding your dog for at least 30 minutes.
  • No Exercise or excitement for at least one hour before and two hours after meals
  • Gradually change diet not to create belly issues, diarrhea, or gas.
  • For dogs susceptible to Bloat, fed at ground level and not in an elevated feeder.
  • Dogs who have suffered Bloat in the past are at significant risk of future episodes.

Do you have questions about Bloat? Let us know.  Contact us to learn more about how we can help your dog recover from bloat!  We are here to help!

Nicole Packin UW-AAB, SAMP, CCWT, CCFT

Nicole founded The Packin Method with the mission to better the mental, emotional, and physical health of dogs by providing Treadmill Workouts, Canine Massage Therapy, and Bodywork. In addition, offering canine fitness education to pet parents and the community to help balance their pets' lives.

Nicole Packin UW-AAB, SAMP, CCWT, CCFT

Nicole founded The Packin Method with the mission to better the mental, emotional, and physical health of dogs by providing Treadmill Workouts, Canine Massage Therapy, and Bodywork. In addition, offering canine fitness education to pet parents and the community to help balance their pets' lives.

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