What Is Dog Bloat?
- No blood flow to his heart and stomach lining
- A tear in the wall of his stomach
- A harder time breathing
In some cases, the dog's stomach will rotate or twist, a condition that vets call gastric dilatation volvulus. It traps blood in the stomach and blocks it from returning to the heart and other areas of the body. This can send your dog into shock.
Bloat usually comes on very quickly. At first, your dog may show signs that his stomach hurts. He may:
- Act restless
- Have a swollen stomach
- Look anxious
- Look at his stomach
- Try to vomit, but nothing comes up
- Stretch with his front half down and rear end up
As the condition gets worse, he may:
- Have pale gums
- Have a rapid heartbeat
- Be short of breath
- Feel weak
If you think your pet has bloat, get him to a clinic right away. If dogs don't get treatment in time, the condition can kill them.
Vets aren't sure what causes bloat, but there are some things that raise a dog's risk for it, including:
- Eating from a raised food bowl
- Having one large meal a day
- Eating quickly
- A lot of running or playing after he eats
- Other dogs he's related to have had bloat
- Eating or drinking too much
Any dog can have bloat, but it's much more common in deep-chested, large breeds, like Akitas, Boxers, Basset Hounds, and German Shepherds. Some are at a higher risk than others, including Great Danes, Gordon Setters, Irish Setters, Weimaraners, and St. Bernards.
The treatment a dog gets depends on how severe his condition is.
First, the vet may put a tube into your dog's throat and down to his stomach to release the pressure that has built up. Sometimes, a twisted stomach can keep the tube from passing through. If that's the case, the vet may put a large, hollow needle through his belly into his stomach and release the pressure that way.
If your dog is in shock, the vet will start giving him fluids through an IV immediately, usually with antibiotics.
The vet will take X-rays to see if his stomach is twisted. If it is, your dog will have emergency surgery to untwist it and put it back in its normal position. The vet also will fix the stomach in the right place to keep your dog from getting bloat again. She'll also check to see if the condition damaged other parts of his body.
Bloat can be scary, but there are ways you can keep it from happening to your dog:
- Don't use a raised bowl unless your vet says your dog needs one.
- Don't let him run or play a lot right before or after meals.
- Feed him a few small meals throughout the day instead of one or two large ones.
- Make sure he drinks a normal amount of water.
- For predisposed breeds, your vet will sometimes tack the stomach when your dog gets spayed or neutered