Bloat in Dogs

Bloat, or Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV), is an acute condition in dogs resulting from the rapid accumulation of gas in the stomach. GDV has a mortality rate of between 18 and 30 percent and is especially common among large and deep-breasted dog breeds, like Great Danes and Large Setters.

Bloats can occur alone, as just the accumulation of gas in a dog’s stomach. A bloated stomach may also start to turn around a point, eventually cause a volvulus or a portion. Both conditions –bloat and volvulus – can be deadly to canines if not quickly treated.

Here’s a look at some of the potential risk factors, symptoms and treatment of bloat or GDV.

Risk factors of Bloat in Dogs

Although canine bloat has been around for a long while, medical professionals haven’t been able to determine the exact causes of the condition. There are however some risk factors (relating to environment, breed, and care) which increase the likelihood of bloats occurring in dogs.

  • Large and deep-chested dog breeds are more susceptible to bloats. Breeds like the Great Danes and standard Poodles have deeper abdomens than smaller breed dogs. In these large dogs, the stretching of ligaments in the stomach may cause it to come down to almost the same level as the esophagus. This increases the gastroesophageal angle and may cause bloat.
    However, it is important to note that bloat isn’t restricted to large breeds alone. GDV has also been found to occur in smaller dog breeds, like Terriers, Yorkies, and Dachshunds.
  • The likelihood of bloat occurring increases if your dog has a close relative who has the condition. There’s a 63 percent chance of occurrence if a direct relative, such as a parent, sibling, or offspring, has experienced GDV.
  • Diet is also a contributing risk factor. Dogs who eat quickly, and those who are fed one large meal daily, are more susceptible to bloating.
  • Old age is another associated risk factor. Studies have shown that susceptibility to GDV increases as a dog ages. This may be due to the weakening, over time, of gastric ligaments.
  • Stress and personality also seem to matter. Happier dogs have been found to be less likely than other dogs to develop bloats.

Preventing Bloat

If you believe your pet is at risk of bloat, there are some ways you can explore to prevent the condition.

  • Feed your dog several small meals daily
  • Avoid stressing your dog, particularly during mealtimes
  • You may consider preventive surgery(gastropexy) based on the recommendation of your vet.

Because the risk factors of bloat vary concerning breed, care, and environment, it is nearly impossible to prevent the occurrence of the condition. As such, as a dog owner, you are advised to be familiar with the symptoms of bloat, so you can rush your dog to a vet if any of the signs are noticed.

Signs and Symptoms of Bloat

The most obvious sign of GDV or bloat is a swollen or expanded belly. Some other symptoms include:

  • Retching (an effort to vomit brings up foam or nothing at all)
  • Depression
  • Pale mucous membrane
  • Sudden weaknesses
  • Restiveness
  • Salivation
  • Eventual collapse

Be sure to contact your vet doctor immediately any of these signs are noticed. The quicker a bloated dog is treated, the higher the chances of survival.

Treatment of Canine Bloat

A veterinarian doctor first has to determine if your dog has bloat. Physical examination, X-rays, and other specialized tests are conducted to rule out other possible conditions. Once it is determined that your dog has bloat, the vet administers treatment for shock. Afterwards, the swollen stomach is deflated using a large needle or a tube. Other treatments are also administered depending on the severity of the bloat.

If bloat has advanced to GDV, surgery will have to be performed to untwist the stomach. Then, because GDV reoccurs in 9 out of 10 affected dogs, the stomach is sutured to the abdominal wall to prevent a reoccurrence. This procedure is known as a gastropexy.

After surgery, you are required to keep your dog less active to prevent the tearing of survival stitches. You may also need to give your pet antibiotics as prescribed by the doctor. When healing is complete, sutures are removed, and the affected dog gets back to its normal life.