It is surprising how many dog owners are not aware of what bloat is. After cancer, which is the number one killer of dogs we have bloat. Bloat is a life threatening condition that all dogs face but especially the large breed dogs. Large breeds with deeper chests for some reason are more prone than other large breed dogs.
So what is bloat?
Bloat, also known as Gastric Dilation-Volvulus (“GDV”), happens when there is too much gas or fluid in the stomach and it is unable to be expelled. Normally the gas is expelled by belching, vomiting or as flatulence. Bloat can occur with or without the twisting (volvulus) of the stomach. If an animal is diagnosed simply with bloat, sometimes the veterinarian can simply decompress the stomach with a tube or needle and no other treatment is necessary. However if the stomach does twist the condition becomes much more serious.
As the stomach swells, it may turn 90° to 360° twisting between the esophagus and the duodenum which are the fixed attachments of the stomach. The twisted stomach traps air, food and water while the bloating of the stomach obstructs veins in the abdomen, leading to shock, damage to internal organs and low blood pressure. The effect of the bloating and twisting can be fatal to your dog. Not only is it fatal but time is of the essence for treatment. Getting your dog to the vet in time is a matter of life or death.
Signs of Bloat
* A distended, swollen-looking belly, particularly one that
* Unsuccessful attempts to vomit.
* High anxiety and restlessness.
* Appears hunched up or roaching.
* Heavy drooling.
* Whining, pacing, and licking the air.
* Trouble sitting or laying down.
* Gums are pale or off colour.
* Drinking excessively.
* Apparent weakness; trouble standing
* Heavy or rapid panting.
* Accelerated heartbeat(advance stages)
* Weak pulse.
* Not acting their normal self.
* Unsuccessful attempts to defecate.
Knowing your dog and knowing when something is not quite right can be the difference between life and death. At the first signs of possible bloat you may have very little time to save your dog. Bloat can kill a healthy dog in a matter of hours so immediate medical attention is vital.
Causes of Bloat
* Large meals, eaten very quickly. When dogs eat too fast
they suck in a lot of air.
* Drinking large amounts of water after a big meal.
* A lot of exercise, usually within the first few hours after eating.
When your dog shows signs of bloat they need immediate medical attention. Surgery is needed to correct the twisted stomach. Not all dogs survive the surgery unfortunately. When the stomach twists, the blood supply and oxygen is cut off which quickly leads to dead tissue. The bloated stomach will also obstruct the veins, causing damage to internal organs, shock and low blood pressure. The twisted stomach also blocks the esophagus which not only prevents the dog from belching or vomiting but also decreases the blood flow to the liver and spleen, which can cause toxic shock or blood poisoning.
During the surgery any unhealthy or dead tissue is removed and a gastropexy is performed. A gastropexy is when the vet anchors the stomach so it cannot twist in the future. Some people will have this done as a preventative measure when they are having their pet neutered, as it can be done at the same time.
Look for my next article to find out if there is anything, (other than a gastropexy); else we can do to prevent bloat.
Until next time