Yes, you read that right. Dogs get bloated too.
There are varying degrees of bloat that can affect your dog. It is essential to keep yourself well informed of these ailments, should the need arise.
Bloat, gastric dilatation (GD), gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) are three terms that are often used interchangeably.
They are not necessarily the same thing; however, they may occur simultaneously.
Simple ‘bloat’ is just when there is too much food/water/air in the dog’s abdomen that is pressing outwards.
GD – gastric dilatation, can also describe bloat. But, in the case of a GD, for reasons unknown, the food from the stomach is unable to pass onto the intestine, which also results in a distended stomach and discomfort for your best friend.
GDV – gastric dilatation and volvulus, is the most worrisome of the lot. This is when the stomach flips itself over, and blocks both entry and exit points for food and gases. This is life threatening and must be attended to immediately.
What Are The Different Types Of Bloat?
Normal bloat involves a stomach that is filled with air or food. This may occur due to the capability of dry kibble or other dry dog food to swell up exponentially if the pet were to drink a lot of water after the dry food consumption.
Preventing your dog from drinking too much water after food is a good habit to adapt.
Gastric Dilatation (GD)
This is when gas or food filled stomach causes swelling of the abdomen and food is unable to pass onto the intestines. The reasons are yet to be found. It often occurs and goes away on its own. However, it does have the unfortunate ability to evolve into GDV, a potentially life-threatening condition.
GD is diagnosed when the vet can pass a tube into the stomach without difficulty and confirms using ultrasounds or x-rays. If it were GDV, the twisted stomach would not allow the tube to pass through.
Gastric Dilatation And Volvulus (GDV)
In a dog with GDV, the stomach possibly filled with air and food, turns over on itself, causing pressure build up, which in turn reduces the blood flow through the stomach walls and obstructs blood supply to major organs. Toxins are produced and blood composition is viable to change.
All of this happens in a matter of few hours and can lead up to your dog going into shock.
GDV frequently occurs in large, deep chested breeds and must be treated at once.
GDV progresses fairly quick and it is crucial to watch out for any early signs as that may be the only thing that saves your dog’s life.
Following are some symptoms to keep an eye out for:
• Anxiousness, restlessness
• Pacing back and forth,
• Swollen stomach
• Feeling low
• Vomiting but not quite
• Drooling more than usual
If your pooch goes into shock, their gums become pale, and pulse deteriorates.
Breeds At Risk/Causes
There is no specific data that would help to accurately determine whether your dog is more likely to develop GDV or not. Generally, however, middle aged and geriatric dogs are more at risk, as are dogs that are large with deep narrow chests – high “height to width ratio”.
But that is not to say smaller dogs like Chihuahuas are immune.
There are certain risk factors that may bring about bloat or GDV and it is important to keep these in mind before the condition ever develops, as part of good routine.
• Do not let your dog gobble food up in 5 seconds.
• Do not let your dog overeat, even if it is their favourite food. Moderation is always key.
• Do not let them drink a lot of water in one go.
• Do not feed them in raised food bowls (contrary to what was once recommended).
• Do not let your dog stress or be in a stress-inducing environment.
• Do not let your dog exercise soon after eating.
• Certain genetic factors
• Risk increases with age.
Although all breeds are at risk, the following breeds are thought to be on an even higher level of risk:
• German Shepherds
• Great Danes
• Chow Chow
• Standard Poodle
• Irish/Gordon Setter
• Basset Hound
• Bull Mastiff
• St. Bernard
• Cocker Spaniel
How To Treat GDV
DO NOT TREAT GDV AT HOME.
Take your furry best friend to your nearest vet as soon as humanly possible. Inform them beforehand if you start to suspect bloat. Keep 24-hour vet clinic numbers handy, ready to go at a moment’s notice. Bloat is NOT treatable at home, regardless of what you may read on the internet.
Your vet may determine the exact course of action after diagnosing your dog. GD without volvulus is a much simpler situation to handle. GDV, on the other hand, requires immediate surgery which would return the stomach back to its position. Any damaged tissue will need to be removed.
Another preventative procedure is also performed during the surgery, a gastropexy. The stomach is sort of stuck to the abdominal wall, to prevent the stomach from flipping over in the future. This helps reduce the chances of GDV by 95%.
Without prompt treatment, GDV will most definitely kill your dog. Majority of the dogs that do receive treatment and care for GDV, survive and live happy, healthy lives.
It goes without saying that pets that may have other conditions will have a different prognosis.
Prevention is certainly better than cure.
It is far easier on the wallet as well as the dog to just try your best to reduce the chances of bloat or GDV ever occurring. Some pointers that may do so are:
• Smaller meals.
• Exercising on a non-full stomach.
• Limit the amount of water intake.
• A gastropexy – preferably at the time of neuter or spay.
These steps are not a definitive solution to the problem of bloat, but they will certainly be helpful to reduce the severity of bloat.