Treating Bloat in Dogs: 4 Helpful Tips

Bloat in dogs is a serious condition that can cause shock, coma and death. Any type of dog can suffer from bloat, but it is more common in the larger breeds of dogs, including Great Danes, German Shepards, Mastiffs, and Saint Bernards. Some breeds are even genetically predisposed to the condition.

1. Know the Risks

Bloat is the common name for a condition known as Torsion and Gastric Dilation-volvulus or GDV. Bloat manifests as an expansion of gas, food, or fluid in the stomach. Bloat occurs when your dog eats a large amount of food quickly, or drinks a large amount of water quickly, and then engages in excessive exercise.

The torsion in bloat occurs when excessive exercise on a full stomach causes your dog's stomach to flip over, causing an intestinal obstruction. When this happens, your dog can no longer relieve pressure in his stomach by vomiting or belching. Furthermore, the constriction of the blood vessels in the esophagus and intestine causes gangrene in the digestive tract.

When the blood supply is cut off and gangrene occurs, cardiac arrythmia takes place, and your dog goes into shock. Your dog's stomach can rupture, leading to peritonitis.

2. Recognize the Symptoms

Symptoms of bloat manifest quickly, and once they do, immediate, emergency veterinary attention is needed. When left untreated, bloat is always deadly.

Symptoms of bloat in dogs include:

  • abdominal distension
  • excessive salivation
  • dry heaving
  • restlessness
  • increased heart rate

3. Get Help Fast!

If you suspect that your dog is suffering from bloat, get him to the vet immediately! Bloat is an emergency medical condition that requires expert care. Dogs with bloat must receive immediate medical attention, or they will die.

If bloat is caught early enough, your veterinarian may be able to insert a tube down your dog's esophagus to relieve the pressure in his stomach. The other option involves surgery to untwist the stomach. If gangrene has occured in the digestive tract, some tissue may need to be removed. Following surgery your veterinarian will anchor the stomach to the wall of the abdomen to prevent recurrence of bloat.

4. Prevention is the Best Cure

Prevention is the best path of action in treating bloat, especially if your dog is among the breeds with a genetic predisposition to the condition.

Prophylactic gastroplexy surgery may prevent bloat in dogs. A regular feeding schedule comprising two to three small meals, instead of one large one, can prevent bloat in dogs. Always make sure your dog remains inactive for two to three hours after eating to prevent bloat.