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Bloat is a very serious health risk for many dogs, yet many dog owners know very little about it. According to the links below, it is the second leading killer of dogs, after cancer. It is frequently reported that deep-chested dogs, such as German Shepherds, Great Danes, and Dobermans are particularly at risk. This page provides links to information on bloat and summarizes some of the key points we found in the sites we researched. Although we have summarized information we found about possible symptoms, causes, methods of prevention, and breeds at risk, we cannot attest to the accuracy. Please consult with your veterinarian for medical information.
If you believe your dog is experiencing bloat, please get your dog to a veterinarian immediately! Bloat can kill in less than an hour, so time is of the essence. Notify your vet to alert them you're on your way with a suspected bloat case. Better to be safe than sorry!
The technical name for bloat is "Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus" ("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, fluid, and/or foam in the stomach ("gastric dilatation"). Stress can be a significant contributing factor also. Bloat can occur with or without "volvulus" (twisting). As the stomach swells, it may rotate 90° to 360°, twisting between its fixed attachments at the esophagus (food tube) and at the duodenum (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 damage to internal organs. The combined effect can quickly kill a dog.
Be prepared! Know in advance what you would do if your dog bloated.
If your regular vet doesn't have 24-hour emergency service, know which nearby vet you would use. Keep the phone number handy.
Always keep a product with simethicone on hand (e.g., Mylanta Gas (not regular Mylanta), Gas-X, etc.) 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.
This information is not intended to replace advice or guidance from veterinarians or other pet care professionals. It is simply being shared as an aid to assist you with your own research on this very serious problem.

 

Symptoms
Typical symptoms often include some (but not necessarily all) of the following, according to the links below. Unfortunately, from the onset of the first symptoms you have very little time (sometimes minutes, sometimes hours) to get immediate medical attention for your dog. Know your dog and know when it's not acting right.

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

Doesn't act like usual self 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" or "roached 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-color gums
Dark red in early stages, white or blue in later stages
Coughing
Unproductive gagging
Heavy salivating or drooling
Foamy mucous around the lips, or vomiting foamy mucous
Unproductive attempts to defecate
Whining
Pacing
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
Drinking excessively
Heavy or rapid panting
Shallow breathing
Cold mouth membranes
Apparent weakness; unable to stand or has a spread-legged stance
Especially in advanced stage
Accelerated heartbeat
Heart rate increases as bloating progresses
Weak pulse
Collapse

 

Causes

According to the links below, it is thought that the following may be the primary contributors to bloat. To calculate a dog's lifetime risk of bloat according to Purdue University's School of Veterinary Medicine, click here.
Stress Dog shows, mating, whelping, boarding, change in routine, new dog in household, etc.
Although purely anecdotal, we've heard of too many cases where a dog bloated after a 3rd dog was brought into the household (perhaps due to stress regarding pack order).
Activities that result in gulping air

Eating habits, especially... Elevated food bowls
Rapid eating
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 Trypsin (a pancreatic enzyme present in meat)
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
Older dogs
Big dogs
Males
Being underweight

Disposition Fearful or anxious temperament
Prone to stress
History of aggression toward other dogs or people

 

Prevention
Some of the advice in the links below for reducing the chances of bloat are:

Avoid highly stressful situations. If you can't avoid them, try to minimize the stress as much as possible. Be extra watchful.
Can be brought on by dog shows, mating, whelping, boarding, new dog in household, change in routine, etc.
Do not use an elevated food bowl
Do not exercise for at least an hour (longer if possible) 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
Feed 2 or 3 meals daily, instead of just one
Do not give water one hour before or after a meal
It dilutes the gastric juices necessary for proper digestion, which leads to gas production.
Always keep a product with simethicone (e.g., Mylanta Gas (not regular Mylanta), Phazyme, Gas-X, etc.) on hand to treat gas symptoms.
Some recommend giving your dog simethicone immediately if your dog burps more than once or shows other signs of gas.
Some report relief of gas symptoms with 1/2 tsp of nutmeg or the homeopathic remedy Nux moschata 30
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
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)
Add an enzyme product to food (e.g., Prozyme)
Include herbs specially mixed for pets that reduce gas (e.g., N.R. Special Blend)
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 yogurt or supplemental acidophilus
Avoids fermentation of carbohydrates, which can cause gas quickly. This is especially a concern when antibiotics are given since they tend to reduce levels of "friendly" bacteria.
Don't permit excessive, rapid drinking
Especially a consideration on hot days
And perhaps most importantly, know your dog well so you'll know when your dog just isn't acting normally.

Breeds At Greatest Risk
Breeds most at risk according to the links below:

Afghan Hound
Airedale Terrier
Akita
Alaskan Malamute
Basset Hound
Bernese Mountain Dog
Borzoi
Bouvier des Flandres
Boxer
Bullmastiff
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Collie
Dachshund
Doberman Pinscher
English Springer Spaniel
Fila Brasileiro
Golden Retriever
Gordon Setter
Great Dane
German Shepherd
German Shorthaired Pointer
Great Pyrenees
Irish Setter
Irish Wolfhound
King Shepherd
Labrador Retriever
Miniature Poodle
Newfoundland
Old English Sheepdog
Pekinese
Rottweiler
Samoyed
Shiloh Shepherd
St. Bernard
Standard Poodle
Weimaraner
Wolfhound
Sighthouds
Bloodhounds

 

Information written by GlobalSpan.net using the references above. Although we have summarized information we found from the links, we cannot attest to the accuracy. Please consult with your veterinarian for medical information.
We have a deep-chested dog who has never experienced bloat. We hope he never will. Feel free to share this link with any who might benefit.
Dogsitter Information: If you would like to have the information we give to our dogsitter when we're away, you're welcome to print the attached. Please consider bookmarking this site in case you ever need to access this information quickly. Copyright © 2001 (GlobalSpan.net). All rights reserved.
17 USC sec. 102(a)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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