Last year’s study on dog bloat occurrence and survival rates in the UK revealed compelling results. Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), the medical name for the condition, affects about 6 in 1,000 dogs. However, when it does set in, it is fatal for pets that are too ill.
In fact, only 49.7% of them survived and returned home. For dogs that were already fit when they arrived at the veterinarian’s clinic, 80% of them managed to return home alive.
This shows that although dog bloat is quite rare, it is life-threatening for canine pets if not attended to immediately. The key is prevention and also knowing what bloat looks like in a dog.
What Is Dog Bloat?
GDV, also called gastric torsion, happens when the elongated part of the dog’s stomach twists more than 90 degrees.
The oesophagus then gets blocked and the contents in the canine animal’s stomach are trapped. The stomach then expands with the trapped gas, causing much pain to the dog. The stomach is not the only organ that twists. The spleen may also rotate, leading to blocked circulation and critical veins that bring blood to the dog’s heart.
If left untreated by a veterinarian, the affected canine will die within hours. Please be aware that dog bloat due to torsion cannot resolve by itself or through DIY home treatments.
What Are the Signs of Bloat in Dogs?
The following symptoms typically occur rapidly and last for as long as the pooch is left untreated.
- Attempts to vomit but nothing comes out
- Drools more than usual
- Has a bloated stomach that is hard to the touch
- Experiences pain when the belly is touched
- Shows distress—panting, anxiety, pacing, general restlessness
How Is Dog Bloat Treated?
GDV is considered an emergency condition. If you believe your dog is experiencing bloat, bring him right away to a clinic.
How Will the Vet Treat the Dog?
- Do a scan, usually through an X-ray, to get a definite diagnosis.
- Sedate the dog to relieve his pain and keep him still. Antibiotics and other medicines may also be administered to the animal patient.
- Release gas and air build-up in the dog’s stomach using a stomach pump and tube. Sometimes, surgery is done straightaway to relieve the pressure and keep the stomach tissue from dying. The vet may also undo the twisting during surgery, but this decision varies from one case to another. Intravenous fluids are also introduced during this phase.
- Once the dog is in stable condition, surgery may be done to undo the damage to the internal organs. The vet may take out dying tissues due to oxygen deprivation. He may also set the stomach to the dog’s body wall to keep it from twisting once more. Dogs that had GDV have a high possibility of developing the same condition again.
The dog is usually expected to remain in the clinic for 48 hours. The patient needs to be medically supervised as there is a possibility that toxins released by the affected tissues may lead to various fatal complications.
How Can I Prevent Dog Bloat?
Whilst all dog breeds face the possibility of developing bloat, giant breed and the ones with deep chests are more likely to be affected by GDV. Akita, basset hound, boxer, Dobermann pinscher, German shepherd, Great Dane, Gordon setter, Irish setters, Labradors, St Bernard, standard poodle and Weimaraner are some of the breeds that are likely to have GDV.
At the same time, the bloat is treated surgically, some owners have their dogs’ stomachs surgically set to the body wall to prevent reoccurrence in future.
To this day, it is still not clear why canine stomachs twist. As such, the following preventive measures are the best way to avoid this problem, especially for dogs that have already had bloat previously:
- Do not feed your dog straight after exercise; wait for one hour before feeding.
- Do not allow your dog to eat or drink a large amount of water one hour before exercise.
- Your dog should not be allowed to drink a large amount of water in one go especially just after exercise.
- Avoid exercising dogs after their meals. You should wait a minimum of one hour before exercising your dog.
- Feed dogs with food low in carbohydrates and fat.
- Feed your dog frequently with small food portions.
- Provide a slow feeding bowl for dogs who are fast eaters.
- Exercise your dog regularly to manage their weights. Both underweight and overweight hounds are more likely to develop bloat.
Time Is the Culprit
When you see signs of bloat, do not try to treat it yourself; get your dog to the vet immediately to maximise the chances of surviving GDV. According to the study mentioned, time is the real killer, not dog bloat.
You may like to read:
- Dog Vomiting: When to Be Concerned
- Dog Eating Grass: Is This One Reason the Real Answer to the Mystery?
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