What is Bloat and what do I need to know about it?
Bloat is a medical emergency that occurs when an animal’s stomach fills with air. The stomach, full of air and distended, can twist and cut off blood supply to major organs. This life-threatening condition is known as Gastric- Dilation Volvulus (GDV) and requires surgery to correct. Dogs which develop bloat and volvulus sicken quickly and require immediate medical assistance. When treating bloat, time is of the essence and understanding the signs and symptoms are crucial when seeking treatment for your furry friend.
While any breed of dog can develop bloat, GDV most commonly occurs in large and giant dog breeds with narrow chests. (The breeds most susceptible to bloat include Great Danes, Saint Bernard’s, Weimaraner, Greyhounds, Labradors and Setter breeds). Smaller dogs are less likely to develop bloat but owners of small breeds should still be aware of the signs and symptoms of bloat and take measures to prevent it.
- Bloat is also more common in dogs which are male and elderly. Elderly dogs are generally considered those which are over the age of 7 years old.
- Activities outside your dog’s normal schedule including travel, boarding, and changes in their routine can increase the likelihood of bloat.
- Dogs which are unusually stressed or have anxiety disorders may be more susceptible to developing bloat and should be monitored during periods of risk.
- Bloat can occur if your dog eats too quickly.
- Exercising rigorously before or just after eating should be discouraged as it increases the risk of bloat.
Symptoms of bloat in dogs include…
- Gagging and retching without actual vomiting
- A swollen, distended stomach
- Panting, pacing or anxious
- Your dog is unable to sit, lie down or stay comfortable
- Extreme salivation
Tips to Avoid Bloat in Dogs
Prevention is best, here are some steps you can take to avoid your dog developing bloat.
- Purchase a “slow bowl” or a snuffle mat for your dog to eat from. Slow bowls are designed to help your dog slow down during their meal, making it more difficult for your pooch to bolt their food. These dog bowls are also interactive and great for dogs which need a little extra mental stimulation. Slow bowls are available in a variety of colors, sizes, and patterns. We recommend these ones.
- Don’t let your dog exercise for an hour after eating. A gentle walk around the yard is fine. However, running, jumping, and fetch should be avoided.
- If your dog is susceptible to bloat, try feeding your dog small meals 2-3 times a day. While your dog should always have access to fresh water, don’t let your dog drink excessive amounts of water at one time since this could contribute to bloat.
- Research shows feeding your dog with their bowl off the ground helps reduce bloat. Consider investing in an elevated feeder for your dog.
- After traveling and boarding, do not feed your dog a large meal. If your pet arrives home from traveling, feed them a snack and give them access to water. Don’t give them a large meal and watch their bathroom and eating habits over the next few days. It might be tempting to give your pet a reunion feast after traveling but eating too much, too quickly can lead to stomach aches and worse, bloat. Save the feast for later and give your pet a small snack of bland food when arriving home.
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