Bloat in Dogs
Symptoms Causes Prevention Breeds at Risk Links Dogsitter Information
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Bloat is a very serious health risk for many dogs, yet many dog owners know very little about it. According to the links below, it is the second leading killer of dogs, after cancer. It is frequently reported that deep-chested dogs, such as German Shepherds, Great Danes, and Dobermans are particularly at risk. This page provides links to information on bloat and summarizes some of the key points we found in the sites we researched. Although we have summarized information we found about possible symptoms, causes, methods of prevention, and breeds at risk, we cannot attest to the accuracy. Please consult with your veterinarian for medical information.
If you believe your dog is experiencing bloat, please get your dog to a veterinarian immediately! Bloat can kill in less than an hour, so time is of the essence. Call your vet to alert them you're on your way with a suspected bloat case. Better to be safe than sorry!
The technical name for bloat is "Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus" ("GDV"). Bloating of the stomach is often related to swallowed air (although food and fluid can also be present). It usually happens when there's an abnormal accumulation of air, fluid, and/or foam in the stomach ("gastric dilatation"). Stress can be a significant contributing factor also. Bloat can occur with or without "volvulus" (twisting). As the stomach swells, it may rotate 90° to 360°, twisting between its fixed attachments at the esophagus (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.
Be prepared! Know in advance what you would do if your dog bloated.
|If your regular vet doesn't have 24-hour emergency service, know which nearby vet you would use. Keep the phone number handy.|
|Always keep a product with simethicone on hand (e.g., Mylanta Gas (not regular Mylanta), Gas-X, etc.) in case your dog has gas. If you can reduce or slow the gas, you've probably bought yourself a little more time to get to a vet if your dog is bloating.|
This information is not intended to replace advice or guidance from veterinarians or other pet care professionals. It is simply being shared as an aid to assist you with your own research on this very serious problem.
Typical symptoms often include some (but not necessarily all) of the following, according to the links below. Unfortunately, from the onset of the first symptoms you have very little time (sometimes minutes, sometimes hours) to get immediate medical attention for your dog. Know your dog and know when it's not acting right.
|Attempts to vomit (usually unsuccessful); may occur
every 5-30 minutes|
|Doesn't act like usual self|
|Significant anxiety and restlessness|
One of the earliest warning signs and seems fairly typical
|"Hunched up" or "roached up" appearance|
This seems to occur fairly frequently
|Lack of normal gurgling and digestive sounds in the
|Bloated abdomen that may feel tight (like a drum)|
Despite the term "bloat," many times this symptom never occurs or is not apparent
|Pale or off-color gums|
Dark red in early stages; white or blue in later stages
|Heavy salivating or drooling|
|Foamy mucous around the lips, or vomiting foamy mucous|
|Unproductive attempts to defecate|
|Licking the air|
|Seeking a hiding place|
|Looking at their side or other evidence of abdominal pain or discomfort|
|May refuse to lie down or even sit down|
|May stand spread-legged|
|May curl up in a ball or go into a praying or crouched position|
|May attempt to eat small stones and twigs|
|Heavy or rapid panting|
|Cold mouth membranes|
|Apparent weakness; unable to stand or has a
Especially in advanced stage
Heart rate increases as bloating progresses
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According to the links below, it is thought that the following may be the primary contributors to bloat. To calculate a dog's lifetime risk of bloat according to Purdue University's School of Veterinary Medicine, click here.
|Eating habits, especially...|
|Exercise before and especially after eating|
|Build & Physical Characteristics|
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Some of the advice in the links below for reducing the chances of bloat are:
|Avoid highly stressful situations. If you can't
avoid them, try to minimize the stress as much as possible. Be extra
Can be brought on by visits to the vet, dog shows, mating, whelping, boarding, new dog in household, change in routine, etc. Revised
|Do not use an elevated food bowl|
|Do not exercise for at least an hour (longer if
and especially after eating|
Particularly avoid vigorous exercise and don't permit your dog to roll over, which could cause the stomach to twist
|Do not permit rapid eating|
|Feed 2 or 3 meals daily, instead of just one|
|Do not give water one hour before or after a meal|
It dilutes the gastric juices necessary for proper digestion, which leads to gas production.
|Always keep a product with
Mylanta Gas (not regular Mylanta), Phazyme, Gas-X, etc.) on hand to treat gas
Some recommend giving your dog simethicone immediately if your dog burps more than once or shows other signs of gas.
Some report relief of gas symptoms with 1/2 tsp of nutmeg or the homeopathic remedy Nux moschata 30
|Allow access to fresh water at all times, except before and after meals|
|Make meals a peaceful, stress-free time|
|When switching dog food, do so gradually (allow several weeks)|
|Do not feed dry food exclusively|
|Feed a high-protein (>30%) diet, particularly of raw meat|
|If feeding dry food, avoid foods that contain fat as one of the first four ingredients|
|If feeding dry foods, avoid foods that contain citric
If you must use a dry food containing citric acid, do not pre-moisten the food
|If feeding dry food, select one that includes rendered meat meal with bone product among the first four ingredients|
|Reduce carbohydrates as much as possible (e.g., typical in many commercial dog biscuits)|
|Feed a high-quality diet|
Whole, unprocessed foods are especially beneficial
|Feed adequate amount of fiber (for commercial dog food, at least 3.00% crude fiber)|
|Add an enzyme product to food (e.g., Prozyme)|
|Include herbs specially mixed for pets that reduce gas (e.g., N.R. Special Blend)|
|Avoid brewer's yeast, alfalfa, and soybean products|
|Promote an acidic environment in the intestine|
Some recommend 1-2 Tbs of Aloe Vera Gel or 1 Tbs of apple cider vinegar given right after each meal
|Promote "friendly" bacteria in the intestine,
e.g. from "probiotics" such as supplemental acidophilus|
Avoids fermentation of carbohydrates, which can cause gas quickly.
This is especially a concern when antibiotics are given since antibiotics tend to reduce levels of "friendly" bacteria. [Note: Probiotics should be given at least 2-4 hours apart from antibiotics so they won't be destroyed.] New
|Don't permit excessive, rapid drinking|
Especially a consideration on hot days
And perhaps most importantly, know your dog well so you'll know when your dog just isn't acting normally.
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Breeds most at risk according to the links below:
|Bernese Mountain Dog|
|Bouvier des Flandres|
|Chesapeake Bay Retriever|
|English Springer Spaniel|
|German Shorthaired Pointer|
|Old English Sheepdog|
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|Bloat - - the life
threatening canine emergency|
Overall summary emphasizing high-risk factors
Research from Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine
Meteorological influence on the occurrence of gastric-dilation volvulus
Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine study on possible influences of temperature and weather on GDV
Bloat: Strikes in Minutes, Kills in Hours
Excellent pdf trifold to give to people watching your dog or to hand out to the public for educational purposes
Mother of All Emergencies
Interesting statistics and clear medical explanations.
|Great Dane Links
Directory - Bloat |
First-Hand Experiences, Articles, and Links
On My Soapbox |
A commentary on the Purdue studies
Bloat and Torsion: Is Nutrition a Factor?
Explores nutritional factors
Bloat and Allergies:The Relationship to Yeast Overgrowth and/or Pathogenic
Explores possible relationships to yeast overgrowth and pathogenic bacteria
Bloat and Torsion in Dogs|
Maintains avoidance is possible in high-protein diets with raw meat that avoid carbohydrates
Gastric Volvulus and Dilatation (Stomach Bloat) |
Excellent description from a medical perspective. Detailed descriptions, photos, and drawings.
|Understanding Bloat and
Lots of good information and advice
|Bloat First Aid|
Describes the stages and associated symptoms
May help those who are unable to get to a veterinarian
|How to Tube
Same comment as above
Many first-hand descriptions by dog owners of the symptoms they observed
of Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)|
Provides an overview of GDV. Describes causes. Photos.
|Gastric Torsion in Dogs|
|Bloat (Gastric Dilatation & Volvulus)|
|Feeding Regimen and Bloat|
|Bloat - - A Medical Emergency|
|Bloat During Recovery from Anaesthesia|
|GDV - - Animal Health Channel|
|Bloat and Torsion - GDV|
|Gastric Torsion - - Bloat in Dogs|
|Canine Bloat and Temperament|
|GDV (a veterinary surgeon's perspective)|
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written by GlobalSpan.net using the references above.
Although we have summarized information we found from the
links, we cannot attest to the accuracy. Please consult with your
veterinarian for medical information.
We have a deep-chested dog who has never experienced bloat. We hope he never will. Please share this link with any who might benefit.
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Copyright © 2001-2013. All rights reserved.