Bloat, a Serious Health Issue for Dogs

August 7, 2012

Is your dog a candidate for bloating?  Actually, all dogs could become victims to this dangerous condition, but some breeds are more likely to than others.  When our first Great Dane joined our family, one of the many instructions the breeder gave me was to watch out for bloat.  It’s a concern with any deep-chested dog breed, and it can be a killer.  Bloat sneaks up on you and by the time you realize that there is a serious health problem,  your dog’s life could be in jeopardy.

Bloat, or gastric distortion as it is properly named, is simply gas in the stomach that builds up.  If the stomach twists, it becomes a crisis.  However, bloat can occur even without the stomach twisting.

Symptoms include a distended belly, vomiting or attempting to vomit, excessive drooling, anxiety and restlessness, lack of appetite, pacing and crying, pale gums, panting, and difficulty breathing.  Any one of those symptoms could signal far less serious health issues, so it is important to know your dog and its behaviors.

Possible causes of bloat are eating or drinking too fast, exercising right before or right after eating, and stress.  Deep-chested dogs, such as Great Danes, Mastiffs, German Shepherds, Doberman’s, St. Bernard’s, Newfoundlands and Rottweilers, are most prone to bloat but every dog owner should be aware of it.  Another theory is that some dogs may inherit the tendency.  Male dogs tend to suffer the condition more often than do females.

Pay particular attention to Fido’s eating habits, if he is particularly nervous or easily stressed.  Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety or other fears are more likely to gulp food or take in a lot of air when they eat – and therefore, more likely to bloat

Prevention is easier than a cure.  Don’t overfeed your pet and feed him smaller meals 2-3 times a day instead of one large meal. (We always fed our Great Danes 3 smaller meals a day until they were over a year old. Then it decreased to 2 meals daily.)  Don’t allow your dog to drink large amounts of water right after a meal.  Most importantly, don’t allow your dog to exercise right before or right after eating.

Treating the dog involves inserting a tube into the stomach to release the gas.  If that doesn’t work, surgery is the next step.

If your pet should show signs of distress, take him to the veterinarian’s office or an Emergency Vet Clinic ASAP!  Time is crucial for saving his life.  It makes sense to have an emergency plan in place, especially, if your dog is a breed most prone to bloat.  Ask your own veterinarian about any medication you could – or should – administer to the dog before getting him to medical help, should you suspect bloat.

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