What is Bloat: Your Pups Worst Enemy

What is Bloat: Your Pups Worst Enemy
Did you know that your healthy dog could suffer from a deadly digestive condition called bloat? Or that bloat is the second leading cause of death for dogs? Or that bloat is so dangerous because within 1 to 2 hours your dog can go into shock, and die?

 

If you have never heard of bloat in dogs, you are not alone. Most people are not aware that this is a real thing. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your dog from developing bloat. Let’s take a look at what bloat is, how to prevent it, and what to do if your dog shows any symptoms of bloat.
 
What is Bloat in Dogs?
Bloat, or gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), is a potentially life-threatening condition that can affect dogs. GDV occurs when the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself, cutting off the blood supply. This can cause severe pain and damage to the stomach and other organs.
 
Treat bloat as a medical emergency immediately.
If your dog is showing any signs of bloat, it's important to get them to a veterinarian immediately. While bloat can be treated, it can quickly become fatal if not caught in time. Seek veterinary help if your dog is unconscious or not moving normally. Bloating can quickly become life-threatening. Bloat can occur in dogs of any age and breed.
 
Why Do Dogs Develop Bloat?
If we look at the anatomy of the stomach and intestines, we can see why bloat is so dangerous. The stomach is in the bottom part of the abdomen, right next to the intestines. When we're full, the stomach fills up with acid, water and food. And when the stomach is full, signals are sent to the intestines to stop eating and start moving food through the digestive system. But when bloat occurs, the stomach expands so much that it pushes on the intestines and cuts off the signals that tell it to stop. Although any dog can get bloat, it is more common in deep-chested dogs, like Afghan, Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Bernese Mtn Dog, Bloodhound, Boxer, Doberman, Great Dane, Grand Pyranees, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Irish Setter, Labrador Retriever, Newfoundland, Rottweiler, Standard Poodle, St Bernard and Weimaraner are all known to get bloat. These dogs tend to have a long, narrow GI tract that can be at risk for bloating.
 
Signs of Bloat in Dogs
  1. Abdominal Distention: The abdomen appears swollen or bloated, often becoming visibly larger than usual.

  2. Unproductive Vomiting: Dogs may attempt to vomit but are unable to expel anything. They may retch or gag without producing any vomit.

  3. Restlessness and Discomfort: Dogs with bloat often display signs of restlessness, pacing, and an inability to find a comfortable position. They may show signs of discomfort or anxiety.

  4. Difficulty Breathing: As the stomach expands and puts pressure on the diaphragm, dogs may experience difficulty breathing. Rapid or shallow breathing can be observed.

  5. Excessive Salivation and Drooling: Bloat can cause increased salivation and drooling in dogs. Their mouths may appear excessively wet.

  6. Pale Gums: The gums may become pale or white instead of their normal pink color. This indicates reduced blood flow and potential tissue damage.

  7. Rapid Heart Rate: Bloating can cause an elevated heart rate in dogs. You may notice a racing pulse or an irregular heartbeat.

  8. Weakness and Collapse: In severe cases, dogs may exhibit weakness, lethargy, or even collapse due to the impact of bloat on their overall condition.

It is important to note that bloat is a fatal condition, and if you suspect your dog may be experiencing it, immediate veterinary attention is necessary!

Without treatment, in only an hour or two, your dog will likely go into shock. The heart rate will rise and the pulse will get weaker, leading to death.

 

Prevention 

To help prevent bloat (gastric dilatation-volvulus or GDV) in dogs, here are some strategies that may reduce the risk:

  1. Get a food diary – Record the foods, treats, and times you feed your dog. Healthy food = less gas. Don’t overfeed, watch their eating habits and make sure they are eating a healthy, balanced diet.
  2. Feed Smaller, Frequent Meals: Instead of providing one large meal, divide your dog's daily food portions into several smaller meals throughout the day. This helps prevent overeating and reduces the likelihood of the stomach becoming overly distended.
  3. Use Slow-Feeding Bowls: Slow-feeding bowls or puzzle feeders can slow down a dog's eating pace, promoting better digestion and minimizing the ingestion of excessive air while eating.
  4. Avoid Rapid Eating: Some dogs tend to gulp their food quickly, which can increase the risk of bloat. Use interactive feeders, food-dispensing toys, or divide meals into smaller portions to encourage slower eating.
  5. Limit Water Intake Before and After Meals: Restrict your dog's access to large amounts of water immediately before and after meals. This can help prevent excessive fluid in the stomach, which may contribute to bloat.
  6. Avoid Vigorous Exercise Around Mealtime: Strenuous exercise right before or after eating can potentially trigger bloat. Encourage a calm environment for your dog during mealtime to allow for proper digestion.
  7. Use Elevated Feeding Bowls with Caution: The use of raised feeding bowls remains controversial. While some studies suggest they may increase the risk of bloat in certain breeds, others indicate no significant correlation. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if elevated bowls are appropriate for your dog's specific needs.
  8. Minimize Stress: Dogs experiencing stress or anxiety may be more prone to developing bloat. Provide a calm and comfortable environment for your dog, ensuring they feel secure and relaxed.
  9. Feed your dog when you are home: Make sure you are home for the entire feeding process.
  10. Keep treats out of your dog’s reach.
  11. Keep your dog conditioned and exercised: As your dog gets older, they need more exercise. At least once a day, take your dog for a brisk walk.
  12. Consider Prophylactic Gastropexy: Gastropexy is a surgical procedure that can be performed on at-risk breeds. It involves attaching the stomach to the abdominal wall to prevent its rotation. Discuss the option of prophylactic gastropexy with your veterinarian for high-risk dogs.
  13. Please note that if your dog is severely overweight, it may be harder to prevent bloat. If this is the case, work hard to lose weight slowly and safely. If your dog is severely overweight, don't let them go back to a normal, healthy diet without supervision.

Remember, while these preventive measures may help reduce the risk of bloat, they do not guarantee complete prevention. Monitoring your dog's behavior, providing appropriate care, and seeking veterinary advice are essential for their overall health and well-being.

How to Treat Bloat in Dogs

If your dog shows any of the signs of bloat, get them veterinary help right away. There is no better way to treat bloat than to catch it early before it causes irreversible damage to your dog’s GI tract. During the first 24 hours of treatment, your veterinarian will monitor your dog’s heart rate, oxygen levels in their blood, and rectal temperature. With bloat in dogs, the stomach can fill with gas and expand abnormally. If it ruptures, the contents of the intestine will quickly flood the rest of the abdominal cavity with even more gas. The treatment for bloat seems to be to empty the stomach and re-inflate it to a normal size.
 
Conclusion
If your dog is prone to bloat, there are several surgical options that can help prevent it from happening again. Your veterinarian can discuss these options with you and help you decide what's best for your dog.
 
If you suspect that your dog is suffering from bloat, don't wait. Take your dog to the vet immediately. Fortunately, bloat is preventable. If you follow the guidelines above, your dog will be much less likely to suffer from bloat. If bloat does occur, it's important to follow the guidelines for treating it.

 

Prevent bloat by keeping your dog healthy and happy. Give them a balanced, quality diet and plenty of exercise. Let your vet know immediately if your dog shows any of the signs of bloat. Get prompt treatment, and your baby will hopefully be on the road to recovery.

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