What is Canine Bloat?
Bloat refers to the bloating of the stomach. Essentially it is a build up of gas in the stomach which is unable to be released. Bloat with Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) occurs when the stomach fills with gas and twists 180 to 360 degrees on its axis between the esophagus and duodenum or the entrance and exit parts of the stomach. Bloat is a very serious problem in large breed dogs. When combined with the complications of GDV, bloat is a leading cause of death of dogs, second only to cancer.
The exact cause of bloat is still unknown. Generally, it is believed that excessive eating and drinking of water followed by exercise can cause bloat. It is thought that exercise causes food or fluid in the stomach to cause a build up of gas. The severity of the conditions is more serious when the stomach twists upon itself within the abdomen in a clockwise rotation causing the inlet and outlet of the stomach as well as blood vessels which supply the stomach to become constricted at both ends. As a result, the constriction will cause the stomach tissue to die. In a very short time, the stomach becomes restricted of nutrients and oxygen. If not treated, the dog can die.
What Are the Symptoms of Canine Bloat?
- Anxious, restless
- Distended abdomen
- Attempting to vomit
- Excessive drooling
- Pale gums
- Increase in heart rate
- Difficulty breathing
What Causes Bloat?
The stomach becomes filled with gas and because of several possible factors, the dog is unable to relieve the pressure. Bloat, with GDV, is when the stomach goes into a twist. This closes both the esophagus and pylorus, preventing the dog from relieving the gas pressure which can quickly build up after a large meal. This condition is extremely fatal, causing shock, coma and eventually death. Like many other conditions which affect our dogs, the actual cause of bloat is still unknown. Several factor seem to contribute to a dog's chances of getting bloat:
- Eating or drinking too fast
- Exercise before and immediately after eating
- Having a large deep chest
- Elevated food bowls
Are All Dogs At Risk of Canine Bloat?
Canine bloat and GDV usually only effects large breed dogs, but smaller dogs are still susceptible. It is thought that some lines of breeds are genetically at a higher risk. Though bloat can occur in puppies, it is a condition which usually occurs in adult dogs. Furthermore, male dogs are more likely to suffer from bloat than female dogs. Here is a list of some breeds that have a higher chance of being effected by bloat and GDV.
- German Shepherd
- Great Dane
- Standard Poodle
- Great Pyrenees
- Irish Setter
- Old English Sheepdog
- Golden Retriever
- Irish Wolfhound
- St. Bernard
- Labrador Retriever
What is the Treatment of Dog Bloat?
Canine bloat is a very serious problem. If you suspect your dog of having bloat, contact your vet immediately. Every second counts! If caught and diagnosed quick enough, initial treatment will involve inserting a tube or tochar into the stomach wall to remove the gas. If necessary, the vet will then operate, attempting to untwist the stomach. Secondary treatment will involve treating shock, dehydration, fatigue, and other complications resulting from the distension of the stomach.
Is There Any Way To Prevent Dog Bloat?
Prevention of bloat can be difficult. Because there are so many possible causes for this condition, prevention must be examined on an individual basis. If you have a dog that is at risk there are a couple of things that you can do to decrease the chances of this fatal condition. Since bloat is believed to be connected with genetics and hereditary, these preventive measures can only decrease the chances of bloat.
- Do not overfeed. Feed 2-3 small meals a day.
- Do not use elevated food bowls.
- Do not allow your dog to drink large amounts of water after eating.
- Add an enzyme product to your dogs food.
- Keep emergency veterinary contact information handy.
- Gastropexy surgery.
This article only provides BASIC information about canine bloat. Consulting your veterinarian is always your best source of health information.
By Ron Swerdfiger
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