Bloat in dogs is extremely serious, dangerous, and life threatening. What exactly is bloat? The technical term is gastric dilatation-vulvulus (GDV), also known as “twisted stomach”, where the stomach is full of gas causing it to rotate and twist. There are no home remedies to treat this situation and it can’t be taken lightly, as bloat can cause death within hours.
This is how it works…
The stomach fills up with air/gas due to the inability to release swallowed air (burping). The expanded stomach applies pressure on other organs and the diaphragm making breathing difficult. The stomach is stretched so tightly that it also compresses the large veins in the stomach preventing blood flow to the heart.
At this point, the air filled stomach can easily rotate on itself (“twisted stomach”) pinching off its own blood supply. The entire blood supply is disrupted and with no blood circulation the stomach begins to die. The air filled twisted stomach has not only stopped blood flow to the heart and interrupted circulation, but there’s no exit for the gas causing conditions to deteriorate rapidly!
Some signs and symptoms to be aware of are abdominal distension (swollen belly), restlessness, pain, and rapid shallow breathing. One of the biggest hints is nonproductive vomiting/retching (trying to vomit with little or nothing coming up). You may see profuse salivation which can be an indicator of pain too. If the stomach has already turned the dog can go into shock. This would cause pale gums, a weak pulse, a rapid heartbeat, and may even cause the dog to collapse.
How does this happen? Well, there’s no pin point reason or activity that causes bloat, it’s more of a combination of events and factors. Bloat is more likely to occur in deep chested breeds such as Great Danes, St Bernards, Weimaraners, etc. Statistics also show that older dogs, male dogs, underweight, or anxious temperament dogs have an increased risk of bloat. Heredity can play a role as well.
There are several controllable factors that can increase the threat of bloat, some of which include feeding a dog from an elevated food bowl and feeding one large meal a day. Rapid eating and playing/running right after eating can also contribute to bloat. Feeding at least twice a day, if not several small meals, will decrease the risk of bloat. There are many more genetic and lifestyle factors that can put a dog at risk.
Make yourself familiar with the factors, signs, and symptoms to help prevent the development of bloat in your dog. If you ever suspect that your dog is exhibiting any symptoms, go to your vet or animal emergency center immediately!
By Adriene Buisch at Charm City Veterinary Hospital