Every dog owner wants to ensure their best friend enjoys the longest, healthiest life possible. There are many ways to accomplish this, such as through disease prevention, balanced nutrition, and daily exercise.

However, even the most proactive and engaged owner can’t always prevent accidental injury or illness. For example, canine bloat, a life-threatening pet emergency, is a risk to all dogs.

A Closer Look at Canine Bloat

Canine bloat occurs when the stomach painfully expands with fluid and gas. The stomach can then twist and rotate on itself, blocking blood supply and cutting off any exits for gas that’s built up. This dire condition is also known as gastric dilation volvulus, or GDV, and requires immediate action.

While deep-chested, large breeds may be more susceptible to the condition, dog owners must do whatever they can to mitigate the risk. High risk breeds for bloat include:

  • Great Danes
  • German Shepherds
  • Dobermans
  • Greyhounds
  • Boxers
  • Setters
  • Akitas
  • Basset Hounds
  • St. Bernards

If you are the owner of one of the breeds prone to bloat and torsion, you can have them prophylactically tacked for a nominal fee at the time they are spayed and neutered; which can save heartache and dollars later down the road.

It’s also worth noting that senior dogs are also high-risk for GDV due to weight loss and loss of muscle mass.

Looking for Signs

Canine bloat is characterized by:

  • Distended stomach
  • Excessive salivation
  • Pacing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Obvious pain to the touch
  • Whining
  • Attempting to vomit with no relief (this is really the tell-tale sign!)

These symptoms warrant quick thinking and speedy action. Don’t wait to see if your dog will feel better. If it’s canine bloat, they’ll need emergency care right away.

Treating Canine Bloat

Early detection and rapid treatment of canine bloat increases the odds of survival. We’ll take x-rays of the stomach to verify the condition and closely monitor your pet’s vital signs. Intravenous fluids can help mitigate shock while we attempt to decompress the stomach.

Exploratory and gastropexy surgery may be necessary. Any internal damage will be addressed and dead tissue removed. A gastropexy will remove the possibility of future bloat incidents by attaching the stomach to the body wall so it cannot twist.

Shocking Statistics

Between 67% to 85% of dogs will survive canine bloat – if they receive help. Symptoms can lead to other conditions, such as dehydration, bacterial infection, tissue necrosis, abnormal heart rate, and shock.

While canine bloat can occur in all dogs, deep-chested breeds are more commonly affected. Chances increase if they weigh 100 pounds or more, eat only one large meal a day, or have a family history of bloat. Likewise, the following factors may increase the risk of canine bloat:

  • Eating quickly
  • Excessive water consumption or not enough water before/after meals
  • Underweight
  • Anxious or fearful temperament
  • Exercise directly following a meal

The Good News

Luckily, dog owners can do a great deal to prevent canine bloat:

  • Provide at least 2 small meals throughout the day.
  • Inhibit exercise after eating (wait at least 30 minutes).
  • Use a special bowl that impedes rapid eating.
  • Encourage drinking regularly to avoid over drinking at any time.

Many dogs who are genetically predisposed to canine bloat undergo a preemptive gastropexy.

If you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s risk of canine bloat, please let us know. At Animal Family Veterinary Care Center, our staff is always here for you and your pet!