Causes of Bloat
Canine bloat has many aliases, if you have ever heard the words ‘gastric dilatation-volvulus’ or ‘torsion’ then they were talking about what we more commonly know as bloat. Unfortunately, bloat is worse than it sounds. When we think about bloat or bloating we imagine how it appears on us – usually a full looking stomach after eating a lot, which then goes away within a few hours. It is a similar scenario for dogs, but more serious if left untreated, even life-threatening. It can occur in any dog, but the ones most susceptible are larger breeds such as the Great Dane and the St. Bernard. Treatment of bloat can be complex and cost a lot of money – you should do all you can to prevent it from happening in the first place.
All it takes for bloat to occur is a bad eating habit or habits. There is no doubt about it that dogs love their meal times and when it comes, you only have to turn for one second and it’s been thrown down the hatch – along with a few mouthfuls of air and followed by a bowl full of water. Worse still, after mealtime it’s time to take them out to do their ‘business’ and excited to be outdoors most dogs will not hesitate to get some exercise. If this sound like you and your dog then bloat could be just around the corner or already may be a problem.
Minor cases of bloat might occur with puppies that wolf their food down whilst competing with their siblings. However, they tend to vomit if they have overeaten or belch which can alleviate bloat immediately.
If it takes place more than once or twice then you must seek advice from your veterinarian who can discuss possible treatments.
Bloat and Physiology
To further understand bloat we have to educate dog owners about the physiology – yes it is in part a science topic but not at all that difficult to comprehend.
Gastric distension makes the dog’s stomach twist in an unnatural way and this is called torsion or volvulus. Twisting can go one of two ways:
• Along the Longitudinal Axis (Torsion)
• Along the Mesenteric Axis (Volvulus)
In turn, this twisting motion blocks the esophagus pipe and your dog will not be able to belch or vomit to alleviate the bloating. It can also hinder the spleen and stop blood flow. It gets more complex from here on but it has disastrous effects on the body – there will be a build up of toxins, and organs will cease to work properly, stomach rupturing is also a possibility.
Typical symptoms to look out for include excessive salivating, retching, fatigue and a general weakness.
Treatment and Prevention
If any signs of bloat occur in your dog then don’t hesitate to seek the advice from a certified veterinarian, perhaps warning them of your intended visit so that they can prepare beforehand. Your canine friend will be under shock from GDV and will receive both steroids and IV fluids straight away. Antibiotics may also be given at this stage. Then they will attempt to treat the bloat by decompression and the use of a gastric levage to empty the contents of the stomach.
More often than not, the dog will need gastroplexy surgery to untwist the stomach and anchor the stomach back in place. Long term you will need to change the dog’s eating habits and give special Dog Food and/or medication.
To prevent this occurring you should see that your dog is fed several times a day as opposed to just one meal which could make the eating process a slower and more enjoyable one. Train them not to gulp down food and wait for an hour or two before taking them for a walk.
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