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Bloat in Dogs

Although it's name may sound harmless, bloat is a life-threatening emergency for dogs. The condition, formally called gastric dilation-volvulus (GDV), can quickly kill dogs if they don't receive prompt treatment.

What Is Bloat?

Bloat occurs when your pet's stomach fills with air. In many cases, the stomach then twists, cutting off its blood supply. The condition prevents blood from flowing back to the dog's heart and can cause irreversible damage to the spleen, stomach, pancreas, liver, and other organs. Shock can develop soon after the first signs of bloat appear. Breathing problems also occur as the air-filled stomach presses against the diaphragm. Unfortunately, a dog can die of bloat just a few hours after experiencing the first symptoms.

Which Dogs Get Bloat?

Any dog can develop bloat, although it may be more likely to occur in older dogs and males. Great Danes, Saint Bernards, German shepherds, poodles, retrievers and other large breeds with deep, narrow chests are at increased risk of developing bloat. Swallowing air while eating, a problem that can occur in anxious dogs, may also increase the likelihood of bloat, as can eating a large amount during a meal.

A genetic link may be responsible for some cases of bloat. Veterinarians at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University are currently conducting a research study to find the gene responsible for the condition. Although bloat may have a genetic component, environment and diet might increase the likelihood that your dog will actually develop the condition. If a gene is identified, a genetic test could be developed to identify dogs at high risk.

What Are the Symptoms of Bloat?

Symptoms of bloat start suddenly and may include:

  • An enlarged stomach
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Excessive drooling
  • Dry heaving
  • Restlessness
  • Shallow breathing

Symptoms of shock include:

  • Weak pulse
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Pale gums and lips
  • Low body temperature
  • Glazed eyes
  • Dilate pupils
  • Collapse
Your dog must receive veterinary care immediately if you notice any of these symptoms. Waiting until the morning to visit the vet will result in the death of your dog. Minutes count when your furry friend has bloat.

How Is Bloat Treated?

Surgery is used to treat bloat, but it can't be performed until your pet is in stable condition. Before surgery can begin, your pet may receive pain medications, antibiotics and intravenous fluids to treat shock. A tube inserted into esophagus or a large needle placed in the stomach may be used to deflate the stomach and release the trapped air. Bloodwork and other tests may also be performed before surgery.

During surgery, your dog's stomach will be repositioned and sutured to the abdominal wall to prevent it from twisting in the future. Surgery also involves thoroughly examining your pet's stomach and organs for signs of damage due to the blood flow blockage.

Your pet will stay at the animal hospital for several days following surgery. During that time, the veterinary staff will closely monitor him or her for heart problems, infections, pancreas or liver damage, or other conditions associated with bloat.

How can I Reduce My Dog's Risk of Bloat?

Although it's not possible to prevent bloat in every case, there are a few things you can do to reduce your dog's risk, such as:

  • Change Mealtime. Two to three small meals spaced throughout the day are better than one large meal.
  • Limit Water. Wait until an hour after mealtime to offer water.
  • Lower Food and Water Dishes. Swallowing air is less likely to occur when you place food and water dishes on the floor instead of in elevated feeders.
  • Wait to Play Fetch. Don't start a game of fetch, take your dog for a run or allow him or her to participate in any type of exercise for at least an hour after eating.
  • Don't Give in to Begging. Giving your pet samples of the foods you eat can cause gas to build up in the stomach.
  • Discourage Competition. Do your pets wolf down their food in an effort to finish first? The faster they eat, the more likely they are to swallow air. Confining your dogs to different rooms or areas while they eat can help them slow down.

Recognizing the symptoms of bloat and taking steps to reduce your dog's risk can help your pet avoid these devastating condition. Call us today if you're worried that your dog may have bloat or if it's time to schedule your furry friend's next veterinary visit.

Sources:

American Kennel Club: Bloat (or GDV) in Dogs — What It Is and How it’s Treated, 11/3/16

http://www.akc.org/content/health/articles/bloat-in-dogs/

Tufts University: The Genetics of Bloat, Summer 2014

http://sites.tufts.edu/vetmag/summer-2014/the-genetics-of-bloat/

Peteducation.com: Bloat (Gastric Dilation and Volvulus in Dogs)

http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2090&aid=402

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  •           8/29/2017

    I love Balboa Pet Hospital! Balboa Pet Hospital's staff is amazing! The staff is knowledgeable, caring and above all honest! I feel confident that my pets are getting the best possible care there. The staff has always taken time to answer all of my questions and if I think of something after my appointment, I can just email! I know I won’t have to wait too long for response.

    Unfortunately, this year I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. The compassion the staff showed to both my pet and I made these unbearable times tolerable. I am indebted to both Dr. Del Rosso and (the wonderful) Dr. Ravn for their kindness, compassion and dedication.

    If you are new to the area or just looking for a new vet, please give Balboa pet Hospital a call!

  •           6/5/2017

    LOVE everything about this place!!! The people are all super nice & caring. I never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. The vets (especially Dr. Alice Chan) are wonderful, I always fee; comfortable coming here whenever Walle has an issue. They even help me file the insurance claims after each visit! Would highly recommended any pet owners to see them for their fur-baby needs.

  •           6/5/2017

    My dog has been a regular patient since 7 years ago. Once in a while we visit other hospitals due to time conflicts. However, we always go back to Balboa Pet Hospital. My dog has bad allergy and the doctors and assistants always follow up with us after the treatments or visits, help us submit the insurance claims. It’s not a cheapest place to go but their patience and caring are irreplaceable.

  •           4/28/2017

    I’m glad to have found Balboa Pet Hospital near my home. It’s definitely a hidden gem! Dr. Chan saw my dog, Oreo, for her skin problem last week, and my three cats, Pepper, Tofu and Cola, today for annual check-up. She’s very patient (especially with Oreo who’s shy to strangers), knowledgeable and approachable. The front staffs are also very friendly and helpful. They are so prompt to reply my email (within a few hours when I checked back my mailbox). All my pets are about 1-year-old and I’ll definitely bring them here for their health issues/checkup in many years followed.

  •           5/4/2017

    Brought my dog here for a checkup and some minor concerns. Dr. Chan was very professional. She got my dog the treatment he needed and answered all my questions regarding my concerns. The rest of the staff were very friendly and gentle with my dog. You could tell that the staff are genuine animal lovers; definitely something you want when you entrust the health of your pet to someone.

  •           5 of 5

    Been bringing our animals to Balboa for over 25 years and will continue because they provide great advice and care. We love Dr. D and staff are really helpful and friendly. Now if I can find medical care for myself like my animals get at Balboa...

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    I have been a patron of Balboa Pet Hospital for almost 500 years now (wink). I love Everybody there and feel they are have always been a great resource and the BEST support system for everything pertaining to my pets.

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    The staff is very kind and gentle, the doctors are very caring and patient when dealing with my scared cat Lulu. I appreciate the time they took to put her at ease and making this procedure as painless as possible for the both of us. Will definitely be spreading the word. Thank you Balboa Pet Hospital.
     

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    San Francisco, CA

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