Bloat

What is Bloat?
Bloat constitutes a real medical emergency as it is a gastric condition that can be deadly. It is most commonly caused by too much gas or fluid in the stomach. The excess gas can extend the stomach causing gastric dilation,  gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) (if the stomach fully rotates), and gastric torsion/twisted stomach (if the stomach partially rotates).  When these conditions occur, materials are blocked from entering or leaving the stomach; as the digestive process continues, the stomach swells, putting added pressure on blood vessels and decreasing circulation. This can result in death to the tissues in the stomach walls. If left untreated, circulation and breathing problems caused by bloat can cause infections, bleeding disorders, heart failure, and sudden death.

What causes Bloat/GDV in dogs?
The cause is unknown. Certain risk factors include: gulping food, eating one large meal daily, overdrinking, heavy exercise after eating. Also, hyperexcitability during the holidays when pets are given treats and lots of attention may add to excessive eating, drinking, and other activity, which increase the risk of bloat.
 
How Is Bloat and GDV Treated?
Depending on the condition of your dog, an X-ray of the abdomen to assess the stomach’s position may be taken. We also may try to decompress the stomach and relieve gas and fluid pressure. In most cases, if the stomach has rotated, emergency surgery is necessary to correct torsion. 

Are Certain Breeds Prone to Bloat/GDV?
It is possible that any size dog, from Chihuahua to Great Dane to get Bloat/GDV.  However, most large, deep-chested breeds are more prone to Bloat/GDV since this condition most often afflicts those dogs whose chests present a higher depth-to-width ratio. In other words, their chests are long rather than wide. Some of these breeds include Airedales, Saint Bernards, Akitas, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Doberman Pincher, Irish Setters, Boxers, Basset Hounds, Great Danes, Weimaraners and German Shepherds.

What Are the Symptoms of Bloat/GDV in Dogs?
  • Distended or swollen looking belly (particularly one that appears quickly)
  • Unsuccessful attempts to belch or vomit
  • Retching without producing anything
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive salivation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold body temperature
  • Pale gums (If gray – shock may have occurred)
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Collapse and Shock

If your dog presents with any of the above mentioned symptoms, and you suspect your dog may have bloat, seek veterinary care immediately. Bloat is a life threatening condition and requires immediate action!