Bloat – That only happens to other people’s Dogs
Bloat is a very serious and common condition, a health risk for many dogs and yet many dog owners know very little about it.
According to many experts, it is the second leading killer of dogs, after cancer. Bloat can kill in less than an hour, so time is of the essence and it is extremely painful.
It is frequently reported that deep-chested dogs, such as Dogue de Bordeaux, Shepherds, Great Danes, Greyhounds and Dobermans, even the Dachshund are particularly at risk. BUT any dog breed can be at risk given certain factors. The exact causes of bloat are unknown, but there appears to be a variety of recurring factors which are listed below.
What Is Bloat?
The technical name for bloat is "Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus" or "GDV". Bloating of the stomach is often related to swallowed air (although food and fluid can also be present). It usually happens when there's an abnormal accumulation of air/gas, fluid or foam in the stomach ("gastric dilatation"). The stomach swells, it may rotate, twisting between its fixed attachments at the oesophagus and the upper intestine. The twisting stomach traps air, food, and water in the stomach. The bloated stomach obstructs veins in the abdomen, leading to low blood pressure, shock, and damages to internal organs. The combined effect can quickly kill a dog.
It is advised and a good idea to have around a product with simethicone e.g., Mylanta Gas (not regular Mylanta and if you have a doggie first aid kit add it in), in case your dog has gas. If you can reduce or slow the gas, you've probably bought yourself a little more time to get to a vet if your dog is bloating.
Typical symptoms often include some (but not necessarily all) of the following:
Attempts to vomit (usually unsuccessful); may occur every 5-30 minutes
This seems to be one of the most common symptoms & has been referred to as the "hallmark symptom"
"Unsuccessful vomiting" means either nothing comes up or possibly just foam and/or mucous comes up
Some have reported that it can sound like a repeated cough
Not typical self but perhaps the earliest warning sign and may be the only sign that almost always occurs: We've had several reports that dogs who bloated asked to go outside in the middle of the night. If this is combined with frequent attempts to vomit, and if your dog doesn't typically ask to go outside in the middle of the night, bloat is a very real possibility.
Significant anxiety and restlessness: One of the earliest warning signs and seems fairly typical
"Hunched up” appearance: This seems to occur fairly frequently
Lack of normal gurgling and digestive sounds in the tummy: Many dog owners report this after putting their ear to their dog's tummy. If your dog shows any bloat symptoms, you may want to try this immediately
Bloated abdomen that may feel tight (like a drum): Despite the term "bloat," many times this symptom never occurs or is not apparent
Pale or off-colour gums Dark red in early stages; white or blue in later stages
Heavy salivating or drooling
Foamy mucous around the lips, or vomiting foamy mucous
Unproductive attempts to defecate
Licking the air
Seeking a hiding place
Looking at their side or other evidence of abdominal pain or discomfort
May refuse to lie down or even sit down
May stand spread-legged
May curl up in a ball or go into a praying or crouched position
May attempt to eat small stones and twigs
Heavy or rapid panting
Cold mouth membranes
Apparent weakness; unable to stand or has a spread-legged stance Especially in advanced stage
Heart rate increases as bloating progresses
It is thought that the following may be the primary contributors to bloat.
Eating habits, especiall:y
Elevated food bowls studies show 50% of dogs that eat from elevated bowls develop bloat
Rapid eating or ingesting foods that contain Gas such as drinks that are carbonated or even lightly carbonated…foods that produce gas.
Eating dry foods that contain citric acid as a preservative (the risk is even worse if the owner moistens the food)
Eating dry foods that contain fat among the first four ingredients
Insufficient pancreatic enzymes, such as Trypsin (a pancreatic enzyme present in meat) Dogs with untreated Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency and/or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth generally produce more gas and thus are at greater risk
Dilution of gastric juices necessary for complete digestion by drinking too much water before or after eating
Eating gas-producing foods (especially soybean products, brewer's yeast, and alfalfa)
Drinking too much water too quickly (can cause gulping of air)
Exercise before and especially after eating
Heredity: Especially having a first-degree relative who has bloated
Build & Physical Characteristics:
Having a deep and narrow chest compared to other dogs of the same breed
Fearful or anxious temperament
Prone to stress
History of aggression toward other dogs or people
Reducing the chances of bloat are:
Do Not Give carbonated or lightly carbonated Beverages …there is no safe level of carbonation proven by scientific research..e.g. sparkling water, soda water ,carbonated mineral waters and or at present on the market lightly carbonated doggie beverages and increasing the risk by giving food or treats inconjunction.
Do not use an elevated food bowl particularly in prone breeds.
Do not exercise before and especially after eating: Particularly avoid vigorous exercise and don't permit your dog to roll over, which could cause the stomach to twist
Do not permit rapid eating use anti gulping bowls
Feed 2 or 3 meals daily, instead of just one
Reduce fluid intake immediately before or after a meal: It dilutes the gastric juices necessary for proper digestion, which leads to gas production.
½ teaspoon of nutmeg can reduce gas symptoms
Allow access to fresh water at all times, except before and after meals
Make meals a peaceful, stress-free time
When switching dog food, do so gradually (allow several weeks)
Do not feed dry food exclusively as some can produce gases
Feed a high-protein (>30%) diet, particularly of raw meat
If feeding dry food, avoid foods that contain fat as one of the first four ingredients
If feeding dry foods, avoid foods that contain citric acid: If you must use a dry food containing citric acid, do not pre-moisten the food
If feeding dry food, select one that includes rendered meat meal with bone product among the first four ingredients
Reduce carbohydrates as much as possible (e.g., typical in many commercial dog biscuits)
Feed a high-quality diet: Whole, unprocessed foods are especially beneficial
Feed adequate amount of fiber (for commercial dog food, at least 3.00% crude fiber)
Include herbs specially mixed for pets that reduce gas
Avoid brewer's yeast, alfalfa, and soybean products
Promote an acidic environment in the intestine
Some recommend 1-2 Tbs of Aloe Vera Gel or 1 Tbs of apple cider vinegar given right after each meal
Promote "friendly" bacteria in the intestine, e.g. from "probiotics" such as supplemental acidophilus: Avoids fermentation of carbohydrates, which can cause gas quickly. This is especially a concern when antibiotics are given since antibiotics tend to reduce levels of "friendly" bacteria. [Note: Probiotics should be given at least 2-4 hours apart from antibiotics so they won't be destroyed.] New
Don't permit excessive, rapid drinking: Especially a consideration on hot days
Breeds most at risk:
Bernese Mountain Dog
Bouvier des Flandres
Bullmastiff/ Dogue de Bordeaux and any Mastiff Breed
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
English Springer Spaniel
German Shorthaired Pointer
Old English Sheepdog