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 dog bloat does set in, it often leads to a fatal result.
In fact, only 49.7% of dogs affected with bloat 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 recovered.
This shows that although dog bloat is quite rare, it is life-threatening for canine pets if not attended to immediately. Read on to know the probable causes behind dog bloat, its early signs, and ways to treat it.
What is dog bloat?
Dog bloat, 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. Then the stomach fills with gas and expands, causing much pain to the dog.
The stomach is not the only organ that twists. The spleen may also rotate, leading to the blocked circulation of the veins, which crucial for blood flow to the dog’s heart. This cuts off the blood supply, which can cause systemic shock and blood poisoning.
Will a dog with bloat poop?
No, dogs with bloat will often have a hard time eliminating. Their twisted stomach prevents them from doing so. They may experience diarrhoea, but there will be no hard stools. Belching and farting are also difficult to do for pooches with dog bloat.
How long does bloat take to kill a dog?
If dog bloat is left untreated by a veterinarian, the affected canine will die within hours. Many dog owners may be worried and wonder, “what should I do if my dog is bloated?” or “what relieves bloating fast?”
Dog bloat is dubbed as “the mother of all emergencies.” This condition cannot be resolve by itself or through DIY home treatments. Thus, if your dog shows symptoms of dog bloat, take him to the vet immediately.
What dog breeds are at high risk of bloat?
Whilst all dog breeds face the possibility of developing bloat; studies show that large and giant dog breeds are more likely to be affected by dog bloat.
Large breeds with deep chests and narrow waists also have more likelihood of developing this condition. Listed down are the breeds that are prone to dog bloat:
- Basset Hounds
- Doberman Pinschers
- German Shepherds
- Great Danes
- Great Pyrenees
- Gordon Setters
- Irish Setters
- Irish Wolfhounds
- Saint Bernards
- Standard Poodles
What are the risk factors of dog bloat?
A dog breed’s size and particular physical traits are not the only observed risk factors of dog bloat. According to research, the following also contributes to the development of this life-threatening condition:
- Most cases of dog bloat occur after 6 p.m.
- Dogs that inhale their food are more likely to develop dog bloat. Some believe this is because fast eaters inhale more air whilst eating.
- Dogs eating from elevated dog bowls have high chances of suffering from bloat. Do note that elevated dog bowls were previously seen as preventative. For this reason, it is widely debated if it is beneficial for dogs with bloat or not.
- Dogs that are fed one large meal a day of dry food are at high risk, as a large amount of food weighs down their stomachs.
- Dogs whose food contains oil or fatty ingredients, including animal fat or sunflower oil, have a 2.4-fold increased risk of dog bloat.
- Lean dogs have a higher risk than overweight dogs. Experts theorise that this is because a lean dog’s stomach has more room, making it twist easily.
- Male dogs have a relatively higher risk of getting bloat than female dogs.
- Dogs whose lineage has suffered from bloat are 60% at risk of experiencing dog bloat.
- Senior dogs are susceptible to dog bloat.
- Large breeds’ chances of developing bloat increase by 20% after they reach 5 years of age.
- Giant breeds have an increased risk of 20% after they turn 3 years of age.
- Stress causes dogs to be more susceptible to dog bloat.
- Dogs possessing aggressive, anxious, and fearful personalities tend to be at high risk of dog bloat.
What are the first signs of bloat in a dog?
Now that you know why dog bloat is a very deadly condition in dogs, it is very important to spot its early symptoms.
What does bloat look like in dogs? The following dog bloat 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?
Gastric torsion is considered an emergency condition. If you believe that your dog is experiencing bloat, bring him right away to a vet clinic.
How will the vet treat dog bloat?
- 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, emergency 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 a stable condition, surgery may be done to undo the damage to the internal organs. The vet may take out dying tissues from the stomach wall due to oxygen deprivation. He may also set the stomach to the dog’s body wall to keep it from twisting once more.
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. Heart failure may also occur up to 72 hours after treatment.
Dogs that suffered from bloat and were treated have 70–75% chances of experiencing it again. And dog bloat may reoccur in more than half of the dogs within 3 months.
Some pet owners have their dogs’ stomachs surgically set to the body wall to prevent reoccurrence in the future. This surgical procedure is called a gastropexy. According to studies, only 6% of dogs that have undergone gastropexy experienced another dog bloat episode.
How to prevent bloat in dogs
To this day, it is still not clear why dog bloat occurs. As such, the following preventive measures are the best ways to avoid this problem, especially for dogs that already had bloat:
- Do not feed your dog straight after exercise; wait for one hour before feeding.
- Do not feed your dog large meals, as bloat usually happens after consuming big amounts of food. So split his food into 2–3 small meals.
- 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 1 hour before exercising your dog.
- Feed dogs with food that is low in carbohydrates and fat.
- 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 dog bloat, do not try to treat the bloat 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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