Bloat, or gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), is a medical emergency and is fatal for about 30% of the dogs it affects. Our team at Anasazi Animal Clinic in Gilbert wants to educate you about this dangerous condition because many dog owners have never heard of it. We hope you and your pup never have to go through this scary ordeal, but learning about what GDV is, signs to look for, and the possible causes may help your dog survive. Read on for common questions about bloat in dogs and what you can do to prevent it.
What is bloat in dogs?
GDV is a deadly stomach condition, in which the stomach fills with air, food, or fluid, causing the stomach to flip and cutting off the blood supply to the stomach. As pressure builds in the stomach, blood flow to the heart may also be blocked, sending the dog into shock. GDV develops very quickly, without warning, and is always fatal if left untreated.
What causes bloat?
Vets aren’t sure exactly what causes bloat in dogs, but the following factors can increase a dog’s chances of experiencing it:
- Eating from a raised food bowl
- Having only one meal a day
- Eating quickly
- Heavy running or playing after eating
- Genetic relation to dogs that have had bloat
- Overeating or drinking
- Stress or anxiety
Certain breeds are also at a higher risk of suffering from bloat, especially large, deep-chested breeds like boxers, German shepherds, Great Danes, Gordon setters, Irish setters, Weimaraners, St. Bernards, Doberman pinschers, and standard poodles. Male dogs are also at a higher risk than females.
What are the signs of bloat in dogs?
Initial signs include:
- Acting restless or pacing
- Distended abdomen
- Appearing anxious
- Looking at their stomach
- Retching with nothing coming up
- Abdominal pain
Without treatment, your dog will go into shock quickly (1-2 hours). Signs of shock include collapsing, pale gums, rapid heartbeat, and shortness of breath. If you think your dog might have bloat, get him into a clinic immediately.
How is bloat treated?
Treating bloat in dogs depends on the severity of the condition. If your dog is in shock, he will be stabilized with IV fluids. The vet will deflate your dog’s stomach to release the pressure buildup and take X-rays to determine whether or not the stomach has flipped. If it has, your dog will be taken into emergency surgery to correct the position and to attach the stomach to the abdominal wall to prevent it from happening again.
It is important to note that GDV must be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian right away—do not attempt to treat it at home or wait it out. There is no conservative, “wait-and-see” approach when it comes to bloat because without veterinary treatment, it is always deadly. But the good news is that, with prompt treatment, 70-80% of dogs survive. That is why educating yourself about the signs and symptoms of bloat is so important.
How can you prevent bloat in dogs?
Again, the exact cause is unknown, but the following measures may reduce your dog’s risk of developing bloat or lessen the severity of it:
- Feed your dog smaller meals more frequently throughout the day.
- Avoid strenuous exercise or playing for 1-2 hours after eating a meal.
- Don’t use a raised food bowl unless your vet has recommended it.
- Reduce stress and anxiety for your dog.
- Slow down your dog’s eating.
- Don’t let your dog drink large amounts of water at one time.
- Have a gastropexy performed—this is a preventative surgery that many owners of large breeds opt to have done while their dog is young. It prevents the stomach from twisting in 95% of bloat cases.
Emergency Vet in Gilbert
Our veterinary doctors and staff at Anasazi Animal Clinic are expertly trained and equipped to handle any urgent care needs your pet may have. We are here for emergencies Monday-Saturday. If you suspect that your pet has bloat or needs emergency treatment for any reason, do not hesitate to call or come in immediately. If it is outside of business hours, go to your nearest 24-hour emergency animal clinic right away. Even if you aren’t sure, it’s best to err on the side of caution and bring your dog in for peace of mind. If you are concerned about your dog’s risk of developing bloat, make an appointment to discuss preventative options with us. Your dog’s health and happiness is our number one priority.