Canine Bloat: Treatment & Prevention
Canine bloat, Gastric Dilitation and Volvulus, and GDV are all names for the same condition. It’s a very scary problem that comes on very fast, and requires action just as fast.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Bloat is relatively easy to recognize. If your dog looks like it swallowed a watermelon and is lethargic, he needs to be seen right away. Sometimes the dog will be attempting to vomit without success, have shallow breathing, or he could be completely collapsed.
WHAT IS BLOAT?
Bloat is a condition in which food, air and stomach secretions prevent the stomach from emptying. Gas continues to build up in the stomach and can ultimately flip over on itself. Not all bloat patients turn into a volvulus, but many do. When the somach flips, other organs (like the spleen) can twist with it. The ability for food and gas to pass out of the stomach is eliminated completely. The dilated stomach then obstructs the blood flow to the stomach, gas continues to build up, and ultimately, the stomach will die. If not diagnosed and treated quickly, the patient will die as well.
IS MY DOG AT RISK?
In general, any larger breed dog with a deep chest is at risk. There are breeds that are more susceptible, as body type is the most important factor. Lean, deep chested dogs, and dogs with a family history of bloat are at the highest risk for bloat. Dogs that are more skittish or have intense, nervous personalities, also have an increased risk. There are some studies indicating higher fat diets (especially if fat is listed in the top 4 ingredients on the bag) and feeding your dog from an elevated bowl(they swallow more air), can increase the risk as well. Great Danes, German Shepherds, Irish Setters, and Standard Poodles are at the top of the list, but Rottweilers, Weimaraners, Dobermans, Retrievers (Labrador and Golden) are also on the list. To see if your dog has an increased risk of bloat, use this link to get a risk assessment: click here.
BLOAT CAN BE TREATED, BUT IT NEEDS TO BE CAUGHT EARLY!
The longer your dog is bloated, the more damage to the stomach blood supply, and the greater risk he will die before, during or after surgery. Initial treatment is focused on decompressing the stomach and treating shock symptoms. Most will need emergency surgery to reposition the stomach and to remove portions of the stomach that have died as a result of the torsion. Once the stomach is repositioned and the unhealthy portion removed, the surgeon will then tack the stomach to the body wall to prevent the stomach from flipping in the future.
CAN I PREVENT MY DOG FROM BLOATING?
The only definitive prevention is surgical tacking. It’s possible that feeding your dog canned food, splitting meals into multiple smaller meals through the day, slowing down the rate at which your dog eats, and placing food bowls on the ground may help prevent bloat. However, the best prevention is to anchor the stomach in a correct position inside the abdomen so that it can’t twist. On a healthy dog, the recovery is minimal, and complications are rare. Please discuss this important procedure with us at any time. We recommend dogs at risk have the stomach tacking done at an early age, such as when the pet is spayed or neutered, but it can be done at any time.
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