The other night Leroy got very sick and I was concerned that he might be bloating.
Before I go any further I will let you know that Leroy did NOT bloat, but we had one very scary night.
So let’s talk about bloat
Bloat is a serious condition that can happen to any dog but it is more commonly seen in large or giant breed dogs that have deep chests, such as the Great Dane, Newfoundland, Boxer, Great Pyrenees, Irish Wolfhound, Irish Setter and several other large deep chested breeds.
The condition is usually seen in adult dogs over the age of 5, and some studies have suggested that male dogs are more at risk than female dogs of getting bloat.
Bloat is actually the combination of 2 conditions-gastric dilatation where the stomach fills with gas and fluid, and volvus, which is where the gas filled stomach twists (GDV). Once the stomach twists, the blood supply to the stomach is cut off and the stomach begins to die which can lead to shock and death of the dog.
Now, a dog can bloat and not have the stomach twist, but it is still a very serious condition because when the stomach fills up with gas and fluid it puts pressure on the surrounding organs and the diaphragm which makes it hard for the dog to breathe and can cause serious damage to the stomach and the surrounding organs.
So what are the signs of bloat?
Signs and symptoms can vary but here are the more common signs that are seen:
- Distention or swollen stomach
- Unproductive vomiting-which means the dog is trying to vomit but only foam or nothing at all is coming up.
- Heavy drooling
- Painful stomach
- Restlessness. The dog can not get comfortable
- Fast, shallow breathing
- Pale mucus membranes (gums)
It’s pretty scary shit and it happiness very fast. So fast that your dog can be fine and then the next minute you notice his stomach is distended, he’s trying to vomit and you grab your keys and head to the emergency clinic and on the way there he dies.
It can happen that fast.
So why does bloat happen?
In my research it seems that no one knows for sure but studies have suggested that dogs who eat one large meal a day, have anxiety, exercise vigorously before and after eating and drink large amounts of water before and after eating are more prone to bloat.
So why did I think Leroy might be bloating the other night?
Leroy had 4 of the above signs of bloat Monday night.
- He had vomited undigested food, then water, then bile several times. (what scared me was the bile vomiting, followed by gagging)
- He was unable to get comfortable. Pacing a lot and unable to lay down for more than a few minutes.
- He had thick drool. Which you’re probably thinking, Newfs drool normally how can you tell if it’s different? Well, for my guys, if they are nauseous, their drool is totally different than normal drool. It’s really thick.
- After awhile he was breathing fast and shallow.
The signs of bloat that Leroy didn’t have were:
- Distended stomach. His stomach was soft and did not feel hard and was not swollen.
- He was not painful in his stomach. He was uncomfortable but not painful, if that makes sense.
- Also, that morning Leroy refused to eat breakfast, which happens with him from time to time because he can be a stubborn ass, and then Monday afternoon he started with diarrhea, not watery diarrhea, just soft and mushy, which kind of suggested to me that something was upsetting his stomach.
So taking all of that into consideration, my differentials at the time were:
- He was having a reaction to the antibiotics he was on for the UTI.
- His stomach had torn from where his previous surgery was. (I know, totally dramatic)
I was about 60% sure he wasn’t bloating but I didn’t want to take any chances so we headed off to the vet.
On the initial exam vet also felt that Leroy wasn’t in the middle of bloat but we took an x-ray just to make sure because he was having some of the signs.
According to the vet, Leroy’s abdominal x-ray was “unremarkable” and there was no gas in his stomach and there was no tear, but he was still pretty sick.
The most likely cause for him being sick was a reaction to the antibiotics which is weird because he was on them a few weeks ago after his surgery, but shit like this happens, so it is what it is and he’s now off the antibiotics and doing better, but I’ll be honest, he’s not back to himself just yet.
I’m relieved that he didn’t bloat and I’m also very relieved that I have taken the time to familiarize myself with the signs of bloat and that is something that I recommend all owners of dogs who are prone to bloat do.
Take the time now to learn about the signs of bloat, it’s a very serious condition that can kill your dog and time is of the essence when you are dealing with it.
So how can you try to prevent canine bloat?
Geesh. That’s a good question and one that doesn’t seem to have a straight answer. There seems to be several studies that contradict each other and I’m not a vet so the best advice I can give is to talk to your vet about bloat and ways that you can try and prevent it.
A few things that I personally do to try and prevent it are:
- I feed twice a day, instead of one big meal once a day.
- I don’t allow the dogs to heavily exercise an hour before and an hour after eating.
- I don’t let them drink a ton of water an hour before and after eating.
- Leroy likes to go outside and roll around after he eats and I try to discourage this even though its never been proven to cause a dog to bloat.
- I know their bodies and I know them. I know what their stomach looks and feels like, so if they did bloat it should be very obvious to me that their stomach was distended.
So how about you? Do you have a breed that is prone to bloat? Do you know the signs? Any tips you can share?