You and Your Dog’s
Battle Against Bloat
Author, Darlene Wagner for Professional Pet Sitting Etc.
Bloat, properly referred to as Gastric Dilation Volvulus, is a life-threatening condition that can affect any dog breed, at any age. Fatal in approximately half of all reported cases, bloat is the second most common cause of death in our canine companions. The condition causes your dog’s stomach to expand and rotate, often causing increased pressure in the abdomen, damage to the cardiovascular system, and decreased nutrient supplies, which can lead to organ death.
While any dog breed can suffer from bloat, there are certain breeds that are at greater risk; particularly deep-chested large and giant breeds, such as Great Danes, Dobermans Pinschers and Golden Retrievers. Underweight dogs, dogs with an anxious temperament, aggressive dogs, and dogs with a family history of bloat are also at risk.
Pay Attention to Your Dog’s Behavior
Most symptoms of bloat are behavioral in the very beginning stages, meaning your dog will begin to act a bit “off.” The most obvious signs include pacing, restlessness, retching and excessive drooling. One of the first, most obvious physical signs is a swollen belly several times its normal size due to extreme gas build-up.
In the late stages of bloat, when shock is a near certainty, symptoms include labored breathing, rapid heart rate, pale gums and weakness or collapse. Bring your precious pooch to the vet immediately if you notice any signs of possible bloat, as it can be deadly with a mortality rate of 33 percent. If you have Gas-X or any OTC gas reliever that contains simethicone on hand, give one to your dog to help reduce gas and relieve some of the abdominal pressure while you make a trip to the vet.
Prevention is Key
The best treatment for bloat is to know the signs and symptoms. While there’s no surefire way to prevent bloat, there are some steps you can take to lessen the odds that it will happen to your pooch:
- Make sure he doesn’t scarf down his food too quickly. If he does, try putting a tennis ball in the center of his food dish, or separate small servings in a muffin pan; both tricks should help Fido put the breaks on his speedy eating.
- Serve Fido two or three small meals per day rather than one large meal.
- Avoid high grain foods as they promote gas.
- If you feed Fido a dry kibble diet, make sure a fat source is not one of the top four ingredients.
Chances are, you’ve heard feeding your large breed dog from a raised dish is beneficial, but that advice has been disputed and reversed. A University veterinary department found raised feeders are actually a danger for at-risk breeds, as dogs were “designed” to eat with their heads down to the ground. The unnatural eating position resulting from a raised dish affects the way the dog swallows, causing the intake of excess air. *Note – this only applies to large breed dogs; don’t hesitate to use a tiny, raised dish for your small breed pup.
If your furry friend suffers from bloat, there are two basic treatments. Your vet may try to insert a tube down his throat to make a passage for the built-up gas to escape. But if the stomach has twisted, the only alternative is surgery, during which your vet will make a small incision in your dog’s stomach to relieve the gas. If surgery is necessary, he may decide to perform gastropexy, where the stomach is stapled in its normal position so it cannot blow up should bloat occur again.
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Dorinne Whynott, is a long time animal professional. She is a successful business owner establishing one of the largest pet sitting companies in New Hampshire since 1990. Click to Read her complete History.
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