When we hear the word “bloat”, we most likely think about our own discomfort after eating a large meal. When we get bloated, our main concern is whether or not we’ll fit into our favorite jeans. When dogs experience bloat, however, it is a lot more serious.
In fact, dog bloat can be fatal.
What is dog bloat?
In the veterinary world, dog bloat is called Gastric Dilatation Volvulus or GDV. It occurs when a dog’s stomach rapidly expands, filling up with gas and fluid, and then rotates on itself, closing off at both ends. Because the gas and fluids have nowhere to go, they start to ferment. Pressure builds up and blood is cut off from the stomach. As a result, some or all of the stomach may die. Sadly, even after receiving treatment at the emergency vet hospital, half of dogs with a twisted stomach will die.
Symptoms of dog bloat
Bloat develops very suddenly. The five early warning signs include:
- Drooling more than usual
- Trying to vomit but nothing comes up
- Swollen or tight belly
- Fatigued and restless
- Groaning, grunting, whining, and appearing to be in pain
As the condition worsens, the dog will go into shock. His gums and tongue will become white, his heart rate will speed up, he will have a weak pulse, and he will have trouble breathing.
No matter how meticulous you are about pet care, some popular dog breeds are just more prone to bloat than others. Additionally, researchers believe that pure breeds are two to three times more likely to suffer from GDV than mixed breed dogs.
The dog breeds with a high risk of bloat include include:
- Great Danes
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Airedale Terriers
- German Shepherds
- Standard Poodles
- Old English Sheepdogs
- Labrador Retrievers
- Golden Retrievers
- St. Bernards
- Basset Hounds
If your dog is one of the high-risk breeds, you may want to have him undergo preventative surgery. Gastropexy is a surgical procedure in which the side of the stomach is manually attached to the abdominal wall to prevent it from twisting.
Of course, pet care can become quite expensive, even without taking preventative measures like gastropexy. In fact, 21.5% of cat owners and 29.3% of dog owners who did not take their pets to visit the vet said they could not afford it.
If you cannot afford preventative surgery, but still want to provide the best pet care you can, there are non-surgical methods to reduce the risk of dog bloat. Though no method is guaranteed to work perfectly, some things you can do include:
- Feeding your dog several times a day rather than giving him one big meal
- Making sure your dog eats slowly
- Making sure your dog doesn’t drink too much water at once
- Letting your dog rest after eating
You love your dog, which is why you should take all the necessary steps to keep him happy and healthy. The best way you can do that is by educating yourself on all the health risks and best pet care practices that may affect your furry friend.