Dog Bloat: A Life-Threatening Condition

Dog Bloat or Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV)

Dog bloat, also called Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV), affects large-chested breeds like Bloodhounds, Dobermans, Great Danes, German Shepherds, Irish Setters, Saint Bernards and Wolfhounds. Not every large dog will develop canine bloat in his or her lifetime. Some small dogs can develop this often-fatal condition. However, be assured large dogs with deep chests are far more susceptible and take longer to recover. In essence, gastric distortion or dogs bloat occurs when an animal rushes through a large meal and then becomes active right after the meal. By gulping excessive air with the meal and then running around, the stomach ends up twisting preventing the excessive air from releasing in a burp. Worse, the spleen can become trapped in the twist, reducing blood flow to the stomach. The stomach tissue, starved of oxygen-rich blood, dies and toxins increase leading to blood poisoning. With dog bloat, the stomach can rupture. Other organs become poisoned by the toxic blood supply and shut down. The chain of events quickly leads to death if immediate health care is not given. In the best scenario, a dog overeats and then becomes ill and vomits up the excessive meal, or burps and rids itself of the air. Dogs with large chests have room for organs to move. This is why larger breeds are prone to dog bloating. Dog bloat symptoms are easy to identify, but you need to take immediate action once you see these symptoms. If you feel your dog might be dealing with GDV, seek veterinary care immediately, even if you must pay for after-hour care. Symptoms include: • Excessive drooling • Lethargy • Rapid pulse • Refusal to eat • Restlessness • Retching • Swollen abdomen You can prevent dog bloat by feeding your pet small meals throughout the day. Never give your dog large portions. Your veterinarian confirms GDV through X-rays, ECG and blood testes. Once the vet positively identifies this condition, IV fluids and steroids treat shock. Antibiotics take care of any toxins in the blood stream. A stomach tube is used to pump out food and stomach acids. If the stomach is too twisted for the stomach tube to reach the stomach, a trochar or large-bore needle is inserted through the skin into the stomach. If these steps alleviate the condition, your dog is monitored for several days or weeks. If not, surgery is required. A veterinary surgeon untwists the stomach, removes any stomach contents and surgically removes all dead tissue. The stomach is anchored into place and the animal is placed into a recovery room. Post-operative care takes weeks, so do not expect your animal to return home immediately. Dogs that survive dog bloat receive strict dietary instructions. A prescription for metoclopramide is ordered. This drug helps speed up the digestion process. Remember that the best way to avoid this painful condition is by feeding your dog small meals throughout the day. Provide fresh water for your pet and avoid exercising your dog for a few hours after a meal.