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Introduction to How to Prevent Bloat in Your Puppy?
In recent times, we have seen an increase in cases of bloat in puppies.
It is an uncommon but potentially life-threatening condition that can affect any dog, not just puppies.
Bloat can happen in any dog if a number of factors come together in the wrong way.
It is now known to be a problem that is linked to a super-sized stomach and a deformed stomach valve, combined with a large amount of air swallowing.
Therefore, prevention is the best way to deal with the issue.
When we get a new puppy, the last thing we want to worry about is bloat that’s why we always recommend that new puppy owners feed their dogs the same high-quality food that we feed all of our dogs in our store.
Bloat is a life-threatening condition that causes a dog’s stomach to twist.
The stomach then fills up with gas and the dog can’t get enough oxygen this can be fatal if left untreated.
Bloat can occur with or without twisting.
As the stomach swells, it may rotate 90° to 360°, twisting between its fixed attachments at the food tube and at 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 but not all dogs are prone to this disease state.
Breeds that have deep and narrow chests are more susceptible than others, but age, size, and stress contribute to their potential.
Most people may not immediately recognize the severity of the situation until too many symptoms present themselves.
What Are The Signs Of Bloat In Dogs?
Bloating develops without warning and can progress very quickly by recognizing the early signs is essential to increasing the chances your dog will survive.
- Swollen or distended abdomen
- Painful abdomen
- Overall look of distress
- Retching or attempts to vomit with no success
- Excessive drooling
- Panting or rapid breathing
- Collapse/inability to stand
An affected dog will feel pain and might whine if you press on his belly without treatment, in only an hour or two, your dog will likely go into shock.
The heart rate will rise and the pulse will get weaker, leading to death.
Causes Of Bloating
This question has perplexed veterinarians since they first identified the disease.
We know air accumulates in the stomach (dilatation), and the stomach twists (the volvulus part).
We don’t know if the air builds up and causes the twist, or if the stomach twists, and then the air builds up.
Bloat can occur at any age but is most often seen in middle-aged dogs.
Nearly all breeds have been reported to have had gastric dilatation (with or without volvulus), but the condition is seen most commonly in large breed dogs with deep chests.
These dogs are normally much taller than they are wide, creating a high “height to width ratio.”
Great Danes are 5 to 8 times more likely to bloat than a dog with a low height to width ratio.
Despite continuing research, the specific cause of GDV is not known.
Risk factors that are thought to contribute to bloat include:
- Eating very quickly
- Drinking a large quantity of water in a short period of time
- Raised food bowls
- Exercising after eating
- Genetic factors
- Increased age
Symptoms Of Bloat
The pain of the swollen tummy makes affected pups act restless within just a few hours of eating.
They’ll whine and cry, get up and lie down again, and pace in an effort to get comfortable.
The dog may also strain to vomit or defecate but can’t.
You’ll also notice that your puppy’s stomach swells and becomes painful.
Finally, there will be signs of shock pale gums, irregular or shallow breathing, and rapid heartbeat followed by collapse and death.
How Is Bloat Treated?
Veterinarians start by treating the shock.
Once the dog is stable, he’s taken into surgery.
We do two procedures, one is to deflate the stomach and turn it back to its correct position. If the stomach wall is damaged, that piece is removed.
Second, because up to 90 percent of affected dogs will have this condition again, we tack the stomach to the abdominal wall (a procedure called a gastropexy) to prevent it from twisting.
If you suspect that your dog has bloat you should treat it as a medical emergency.
There are no treatments for bloat that you can perform in your own home and your dog needs to be seen by a veterinarian.
If it is after hours you should not wait till morning and take your dog to the nearest emergency facility.
Bloat can be deadly in as little as two hours this is especially true of GDV.
Most emergency facilities will coordinate care with your pet’s primary care doctor for any follow-up needs.
You may want to proactively get a recommendation from your pet’s doctor for where to take them if an emergency need comes up (after hours, holidays, etc.).
The vet will perform an exam including X-rays and blood work to confirm the diagnosis.
The treatment for bloat is a stomach pump to relieve the gas and if the stomach is twisted, surgery to untwist the stomach.
In some cases of bloat, the pancreas and spleen are also affected and additional surgical intervention is required.
When the pancreas is deprived of oxygen it can produce toxic hormones which can also be fatal.
This makes bloat a complicated disease to treat.
If your pet’s stomach has twisted, the surgeon will potentially perform a procedure called gastropexy, where the stomach is sutured to the body wall to prevent it from twisting again.
In some dogs that are prone to bloat, your vet may recommend doing this procedure proactively when your dog is being spayed or neutered.
This will reduce the chance of your pet getting bloat in the first place and since your dog is already going under anesthesia for the spay/neuter surgery it saves them from needing to be put under a second time.
The gastropexy procedure does not 100% eliminate the risk of bloating again, however, after the procedure, the stomach can’t twist which makes the treatment for any bloating that does occur less complex.
As with any surgical procedure you’ll want to follow the vet’s post-operative instructions carefully to minimize the risk of additional complications.
This can include keeping your pet from licking the incision sites, keeping them clean and dry, and keeping your pet from running, jumping, and playing too vigorously.
Your pet will also likely be sent home with some medication including pain medicine and antibiotics to prevent infection.
These medications may need to be taken with food and water.
You might also get instructions about modifying your pet’s diet to prevent further complications this may be short-term as your pet heals or long-term to prevent further issues with your pet’s stomach.
How Will My Vet Treat Bloat?
There are other potential emergencies that present the same symptoms of bloat, so a scan may be done first of all to confirm a diagnosis.
Treatment will then be needed immediately.
Your vet will first release the build-up of gas and air inside the stomach to stop the tissue in the stomach from dying and take pressure off surrounding organs.
This can be done using a tube and stomach pump, but surgery is sometimes needed.
It’s possible to untwist the gut at this point as well, but not always.
At the same time, intravenous fluids will need to be given to reverse the shock and slow down the heart rate to prevent heart failure.
This will often require strong painkillers, antibiotics, and medicine to correct the loss of blood flow to the heart caused by bloat.
If a dog can be made stable after this initial treatment, it will need surgery to repair the damage to the stomach, which will involve removing any tissue that is dying due to the cut-off in blood supply.
There is a high risk that dogs that have suffered from bloat will have further attacks and so usually during the operation vets will try to fix the stomach to the body wall so that it can’t twist again.
How Can Bloat Be Prevented?
While there is no known cause of bloat, there are some things that you can do proactively to minimize your pet’s risk of being impacted by this condition:
1. Feed your pet small meals more than once per day.
If you know your pet needs to eat 2 cups of food per day try to split the food into 3 meals.
If your pet is known to eat too quickly you can also try using a special bowl called a slow feeder or puzzle feeder.
These dishes cause your pet to work for their food and so they have to eat more slowly.
2. Don’t feed your dog before participating in vigorous activity.
If you are planning to take your dog somewhere very exciting like the dog park or swimming, be sure to feed at least one hour before you do so.
Stress and anxiety can also contribute to bloat.
Try to make sure your pet is happy and relaxed at mealtimes.
3. Make sure your pet has had a chance to cool down after extreme excitement or exercise.
Offer small sips of water and let them cool down before eating.
Although ice water has not been proven to cause bloat, drinking too quickly after strenuous exercise can.
- Feed several small meals instead of 1 or 2 large ones daily.
- Avoid exercise before or immediately after mealtime.
- Do not allow your dog to drink large quantities of water quickly, especially at mealtime.
- Avoid allowing your dog to gulp in the air when eating, by encouraging them to eat slowly and giving them a calm environment in which to eat.
If you are particularly concerned because your dog is a fast eater and belongs to one of the at-risk breeds, a commercially available “slow feeding bowl”, or spreading the food out on a cookie sheet may help to keep your dog from quickly bolting the meal.
Also, raised food bowls have been associated with an increased incidence of GDV, and should be avoided if there is a concern.
Importance of Prevention
If you have a dog that may be prone to GDV, taking simple precautions when feeding and maintaining food digestive health may prevent the incidence of GDV resulting in the need for emergency surgical intervention and a possibly fatal outcome.
The risk of losing a dog to this disease, especially one from a susceptible breed, or a dog who has close relatives who have been affected by GDV, warrants feeding precautions and possibly preventative surgical steps, as the incidence of GDV in some dog families can be extremely high.
GDV is traumatic for pet owners, treatment is expensive, and the condition can be fatal for your dog and should be avoided at all costs.
Speak to your vet for their opinion on preventative surgery for your dog.
If you are not prepared to take this serious step, there are other ways to work on prevention.
Studies show that mixing healthy table food or canned food into the dry kibble can reduce the incidence of bloat.
Avoid brewer’s yeast and soy products, and choose a food that has rendered meat meal as one of the first four ingredients, as this type of food is thought to reduce bloat.
GDV from a twisted stomach, resulting in a fatal buildup of gas, is a serious problem in dogs.
Certain breeds are more prone to experiencing this condition than others, although all dogs can develop this life-threatening condition at some point in their lives.
Changing feeding habits and diet can reduce incidence.
Low carbohydrate diets to reduce gas production, slowing down eating, and ensuring your dog does not experience exercise or stress around eating time are all steps that pet owners can take to prevent GDV.
In some cases, surgical prevention of GDV may be warranted.
If you have concerns about this disorder you should discuss your dog’s risk factors and options for preventing GDV with your vet.