Bloat in Dogs
Bloat is a very serious health risk for many dogs, yet many dog owners know very little about it. Please read the following information.
Bloat is seen most commonly in large deep chested breeds, as well as some of the medium size breeds. There does not appear to be any association with the sex or the age of the animal. It has been reported in young adults as well as fully mature dogs. There is no doubt it can occur suddenly after eating in a previously healthy dog.
What Is it?
The term Bloat is used interchangeably with the more scientific terms “Gastric Dilation Volvulus” (GDV) and “Gastric Torsion”
“Dilation” refers to the abnormal accumulation of air/fluid/foam in the stomach.
“Volvulus” and “Torsion” both mean the twisting of the stomach
Bloat can occur with or without “volvulus” (twisting). As the stomach swells/distends, it may rotate 90° to 360°, twisting between its fixed attachments at the oesophagus (food tube) and at the duodenum (the upper intestine). The twisting stomach traps air, food, and water in the stomach. The bloated stomach obstructs veins in the abdomen, leading to low blood pressure, shock, and damage to internal organs. The combined effect can quickly kill a dog.
The first major life-threatening event that occurs is shock. This occurs because the distended stomach puts pressure on the large veins in the abdomen that carry blood back to the heart. Without proper return of blood, the output of blood from the heart is diminished, and the tissues are deprived of blood and oxygen.
The reduced blood output from the heart and the high pressure within the cavity of the stomach cause the stomach wall to be deprived of adequate circulation. If the blood supply is not restored quickly, the wall of the stomach begins to die; the wall may rupture. If volvulus (twisting) occurs, the spleen’s blood supply will also be impaired. This organ is attached to the stomach wall and shares some large blood vessels. When the stomach twists, the spleen is also rotated to an abnormal position and its vessels are compressed.
When the stomach is distended, digestion stops. This results in the accumulation of toxins that are normally removed from the intestinal tract. These toxins activate several chemicals which cause inflammation, and the toxins are absorbed into circulation. This causes problems with the blood clotting factors so that inappropriate clotting occurs within blood vessels. This is called disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) and is usually fatal.
The most noticeable symptoms are:
- Swollen abdomen
- Extreme restlessness often with pacing
- Excessive salivation and drooling
- Attempts to vomit or defecate without results
- Whining and cries of pain
- Pale or off-colour gums
- (Dark red in early stages, white or blue in later stages)
- Foamy mucous around the lips, or vomiting foamy mucous
- May refuse to lie down or even sit down
- Heavy or rapid panting
Unfortunately owners often don’t recognize the problem until it is too late. For the dog to be saved, the owner must notice the symptoms of GDV/ Bloat early in the onset to have any chance of saving their pet. If the condition is not caught early enough, the dog will usually go into shock, become comatose and then die. Do not waste any time if you think your dog is suffering from bloat take him to the veterinarian immediately! If you can, phone your vet on the way so they can be prepared for your arrival.
It seems there is a high risk of GDV if the dog is given one meal a day, if the dog is allowed to drink excessively and indulge in vigorous exercise after eating. All these factors should be avoided.
- Do not feed your dog one meal a day, spilt this into two. One in the morning one in the evening
- Do not exercise or excite your dog straight after feeding time. Allow at least two hours for him to digest his food.
- Do not put your dog in a stressful situation straight after feeding time. Again as above allow plenty of time for him to digest his food.
- Excessive drinking should also be avoided, especially right before and straight after feeding time.
- Avoid feeding food that are known to cause flatulence (gas), e.g. soy, beans, peas, onions, beet pulp, etc.
- Never allow you dog to eat bread dough or anything that contains un-cooked yeast.
- When switching dog food, do so gradually (allow several weeks).
This page has hopefully made you more aware of bloat, and the symptoms you need to look out for. Always ask your local vet for advice.
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