Okay, guys, #RealTalk time. Dog bloat is a super serious illness that can be life-threatening to our pups. It’s wise to familiarize ourselves with what it means, what the causes are, and what do if if our furry friends start showing symptoms. We want our best buddies to be with us for as long as possible, which is why dog bloat, or gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), is so terrifying. The onset can be immediate, and the outcome deadly, so every dog owner should know the signs and factors involved.
We asked our favorite expert on furry friends, and seasoned veterinarian, David Shuman, DVM, what we need to know, look for, and do about dog bloat.
What Is Dog Bloat?
Dog bloat, or gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), is a swelling in the stomach of gas, food, or liquid. It can expand so much that it puts fatal pressure on other vital organs and arteries. In extreme cases, the stomach not only expands, but flips (termed gastric dilatation volvulus) which blocks blood-flow and causes severe cardiovascular shock.
Why Does Bloat Happen?
There are many factors, here, and even the experts aren’t totally sure why this happens. While research is still undergoing, there are a few things that can increase the risk of bloat:
– Eating one large meal a day instead of more, smaller ones.
– Rapid eating – when a dog inhales their food and doesn’t take their time.
– Eating from a raised bowl – it’s best to keep it on the floor.
– Running or playing too hard immediately after eating.
– Being related to a dog who suffered from bloat (sibling, parent).
– Being of a large breed with a deep-chest, which has shown to be more at-risk.
What Should We Look For?
Dog bloat can go from bad to worse very quickly, so it’s important to know the signs, and familiarize yourself with the local vet and emergency veterinary office near you. If your dog is showing signs of bloat, please don’t hesitate to bring them in right away. Here are the common symptoms:
– Acutely painful abdomen.
– Swelling in the stomach.
– Focus on the stomach – if your dog keeps looking at his tummy, it probably hurts.
– Trying to vomit, but not succeeding.
– Acting restless, pacing, looking anxious.
– Weakness, your dog may collapse.
– Shortness of breath, or trouble breathing.
– Increased heart-rate; if your dog is weak and acting tired but his heart is racing, something is wrong.
– Gums will go pale.
If your dog comes and finds you and is acting off, uncomfortable, weak, or abnormal, we suggest contacting or going immediately into your local vet’s office. Normally we like to keep things light here at YaDoggie HQ, but dog bloat is scary, and it can strike quickly. Please pay attention to your dog and their signals, and you might be able to help them before it’s too late.
Is Bloat Treatable?
The brutal truth is that yes, sometimes it is… and no, sometimes it’s too late. Your dog might be in shock, or their stomach might have flipped, so your vet will decide what procedures are required – X-rays, or otherwise. Depending on the stage and severity of bloat, your vet might be able to operate on your pup and solve the issues surgically.
Is Bloat Preventable?
The brutal truth here is that it may not always be preventable but there are things we can do to decrease the risk. If a dog was related to another dog that had bloat, the risks are increased. However, there are things you can do to give your dog the best shot at a bloat-free and happy life:
– Offer them multiple small meals throughout the day, instead of one or two large ones.
– Make sure they get a normal amount of water – no long dry spells followed by guzzling.
– Keep food bowls on the ground, not raised.
– Don’t let your dog run and play hard before or after meals. Encourage them to have some downtime to process the food.
Which Breeds Are Prone To Bloat?
We mentioned that there are certain deep-chested and/or large breeds that are prone to bloat. Dr. Shulman notes the most common breeds are Great Danes, Standard Poodles, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers. In addition, the Whole Dog Journal references a study from Purdue University about breeds and bloat, noting that Akitas, Basset Hounds, Bloodhounds, Borzois, and Boxers are prone to GDV. Read more here.
We wish you and your pup a long and happy life without any bloat! Stay healthy, our friends!