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Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus: Everything You Need to Know about Bloat


If you own a giant-breed dog, such as a Great Dane, Mastiff, or Irish Wolfhound, chances are you are already aware of Bloat – a silent killer of dogs.  While Bloat is most common in large dogs with barrel-type chests and tucked waists, this deadly disorder can affect all dog breeds, yet few owners are aware of the condition.  Everything you need to know about Bloat is discussed below.

Image credit: www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com

What is Bloat?

When an excessive amount of air, food, or water enters a dog’s stomach and causes discomfort, Bloat has occurred.  A second stage of Bloat, called Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV), occurs when the stomach flips over on its horizontal axis and cuts off the blood supply to the stomach, rapidly leading to tissue death and organ failure.

What are the Symptoms of Bloat?

Bloat symptoms include a visibly distended stomach that is hard to the touch, as well as obvious pain from your pet.  Your dog may be trying to vomit, with nothing coming up but rope-like saliva.  As Bloat progresses your dog’s gums will become pale, there will be an absence of normal gut sounds, and your pet may act restless and anxious.

What Causes Bloat?

Any activity that causes a dog to consume too much air, food, or water too quickly can result in Bloat.  For instance, feeding a dog immediately after exercise while he or she is still heavily panting can directly cause this disorder.

What should I do if I Suspect Bloat?

If you suspect your dog has Bloat you should take him or her to a veterinarian immediately.  Bloat should always be considered an emergency, because if left untreated it can kill your pet within hours.

How Will a Veterinarian Treat Bloat

The first course of action if Bloat is diagnosed will be an attempt to relieve pressure in the stomach by placing a tube down the dog’s throat.  If the stomach cannot be accessed due to GDV, emergency surgery will be necessary to return the stomach to its proper orientation.

Photo by greatdanegnosis.wordpress.com from a study on Bloat

How Can I Prevent Bloat?

The best way to prevent Bloat is to monitor your dog’s eating and drinking habits.  A dog should not be fed either immediately before or immediately after exercise.  Water consumption should be limited after strenuous activity, and your dog should be given 2 – 3 small meals per day as opposed to one large portion.  If your dog is a breed that is especially prone to bloat, your veterinarian may suggest a preventative surgery which minimizes the chances of GDV occurring.  Dog food bowls that encourage slower eating habits, such as the Slo Bowl, are also recommended.

Which Dog Breeds are Prone to Bloat?

Although any breed can develop Bloat it is most common in dogs such as German Shepherds, Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, German Shorthaired Pointers, Dachshunds, Weimaraners, Boxers, Dobermans, Bloodhounds, and Bernese Mountain Dogs.

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