Bloat in Dogs
Summer brings about all kinds of concerns for dogs. The first thing to remember is not to leave dogs in unshaded yards or in cars, even with the windows open. Another summer hazard is bloat in dogs, which is something you may not have heard of. Please remember it doesn’t happen only in the summer. The medical term is Gastric Dilation and Volvulus or GDV for short. Bloat is when your dog’s stomach twists on itself – it’s like your dog getting a Charley horse in his stomach.
Here’s my unscientific but grossly picturesque description of what happens. The stomach has gasses in it all the time, and they escape in small amounts all the time either by coming up through the mouth or out of the anus. When there’s a buildup of gasses, your dog – to put it bluntly – either burps or farts. But when his stomach is twisted, the gasses cannot be released, and his stomach swells up like a balloon. Bloat in dogs very painful and is fatal without medical intervention.
No one really knows why it happens, but it’s most common with large, barrel-chested dogs with a big tuck-up. The tuck-up is the stomach area between the end of the rib cage and the genitals. The more angled that area is, the more the dog is susceptible to bloat. It generally does not occur with puppies, but it can.
Here’s a list of the breeds that are prone to bloat. But again, any breed and any age may get it.
- Afghan Hound
- Airedale Terrier
- Alaskan Malamute
- Basset Hound
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Bouvier des Flandres
- Chesapeake Bay Retriever
- Doberman Pinscher
- English Springer Spaniel
- Fila Brasileiro
- Golden Retriever
- Gordon Setter
- Great Dane
- German Shepherd
- German Shorthaired Pointer
- Great Pyrenees
- Irish Setter
- Irish Wolfhound
- King Shepherd
- Labrador Retriever
- Miniature Poodle
- Old English Sheepdog
- Shiloh Shepherd
- St. Bernard
- Standard Poodle
What are the symptoms of bloat in dogs?
- Acting like he is in pain (he is!)
- Excessive salivation or drooling
- His stomach blowing up like a balloon
- His stomach feeling hard and stretched like a drum
- Increased heart rate
- Looking back towards his stomach or tail repeatedly
- Pale gums
- Panting excessively
- Trying to throw up with nothing coming out
- If you feel like there’s something just not right.
Here’s a video of a dog in the middle and later stages of bloat. It is very difficult to watch and made me uncomfortable, but it can save your dog’s life. Just to let you know, the dog survived.
If you see the constellation of symptoms that I’ve just described or that you saw in the video, GET HIM TO AN EMERGENCY HOSPITAL OR YOUR VET IMMEDIATELY. Generally speaking, if it happens during the day, people take their dogs to the vet. If it happens after hours, they wait to see how he will be in the morning. By then he will be dead.
If you suspect your dog has bloat, a product called Phazyme may help him on his way to the vet. Some vets say it’s okay; others say no. Talk with your vet now to see how he handles it and what you should do.
What can I do to keep my dog from getting bloat?
Again, no one knows exactly what causes your dog to experience bloat, but here are some ways to avoid it.
- DO NOT give your dog a lot of food and/or water before or after heavy exercise. So if he’s been out for a long walk or run, let him have a little water afterwards, and then wait until he’s cooled off to let him drink.
- Don’t let him drink a large amount of water at one time.
- Exercise him in the early morning or in the evening when it is cooler.
- If you have a giant dog such as a Great Dane or Irish Wolfhound or even a Greyhound, wet the kibble before you feed it to him.
- If your dog is prone to bloat, then don’t feed him grain-based foods, i.e., kibble, because it is harder for him to digest. Here is a link to Amazon that has several dog foods that are grain free. add
- Give him small, raw bones that will help in digestion.
- Don’t feed fruit and meat or poultry at the same time because they digest at different rates.
- Make meals smaller and more frequent, but be sure to space them apart. If you’re feeding him a total of three cups of food twice a day, feed him a total of three cups of food three times a day.
- Don’t feed him in a raised bowl.
- Feed him from dog food dispensing toys or bowls that slow down your dog’s eating.
I’d love to hear what your comments are. Has your dog had bloat? Please share your experiences with your dog or ask a question so we can begin a dialogue to help each other.
Disclaimer: This article is for information only. It does not replace a consultation with a dog trainer, dog behavior consultant, or veterinarian and may not be used to diagnose or treat any conditions in your dog.
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