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.
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.
What are the signs of bloat?
Signs and symptoms can vary but these are the most common signs reported:
- 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 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.
Here’s a video of a dog experiencing bloat:
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.
How can you try to prevent canine bloat?
That’s a great 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 ask them about 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 feed from elevated feeder. This is one of those things that studies go back and forth with. Years ago studies suggested that feeding in an elevated feeder could help prevent bloat but recent studies suggest the opposite. I’ve always fed my Newfoundlands from elevated feeders.
So how about you? Do you have a breed that is prone to bloat? Do you know the signs? Any tips you can share?
Articles of Interest:
Institute of Canine Biology-Purdue Bloat Study
**On a side note I’ve discovered that the link to the official Purdue study is broken which is why there is not a direct link to it.