Issue Description In dogs, gas accumulation in the stomach may
cause or be caused by a volvulus, or twisting, of the stomach, which
prevents gas from escaping. Deep-chested breeds are especially at
risk. Other Names Bloat, Torsion, Gastric Torsion, GDV
Causes The exact cause of bloat is still unknown.
Generally, it is believed that excessive eating and drinking of water
followed by exercise can cause bloat. It is thought that exercise
causes food or fluid in the stomach to cause a build up of gas. The
severity of the conditions is more serious when the stomach twists
upon itself within the abdomen in a clockwise rotation causing the
inlet and outlet of the stomach as well as blood vessels which supply
the stomach to become constricted at both ends. As a result, the
constriction will cause the stomach tissue to die. In a very short
time, the stomach becomes restricted of nutrients and oxygen. If not
treated, the dog can die.
Types Of Bloat Gastric Dilatation - is simply the expansion of
the stomach due to the buildup of gas or material in the stomach.
Gastric Volvulus (Torsion) - is the condition where the stomach
rotates (flips on its long axis) and thereby twists the esophagus and
small intestine closed so there is no passage of stomach contents or
gas in or out of the stomach.
Breeds Prone To Bloat
Bloat seems to affect deep-chested, large or extra large dogs between
the ages of 4 to 10 years.
Old English Sheepdog
Symptoms There are many injuries and physical disorders
which represent life-threatening emergencies. There is only one
condition so drastic that it over shadows them all in terms of
rapidity of consequences and effort in emergency treatment. This is
the gastric dilatation and volvulus - the "bloat."
Paces around continuously, or, lies down in odd places
Salavating, panting, whining
Acts as if he can't get comfortable
Unproductive vomiting or retching (the dog may produce frothy
foamy vomit in small quanties)
Excessive drooling, usually accompanied by retching noises
Swelling in abdominal area (may or may not be noticeable)
If you see ANY combination of these symptoms, CALL YOUR VET and get
the dog there as fast as possible.
Diagnosis Initial diagnosis may include x-rays, an ECG,
and blood tests, but treatment will probably be started before the
test results are in.
Treatment GDV is a true emergency. If you know or even
suspect your dog has bloat, immediately call your veterinarian or
emergency service. Do not attempt home treatment. While you are
transporting the dog, the hospital staff can prepare for your arrival.
Do not insist on accompanying your dog to the treatment area.
Well-meaning owners are an impediment to efficient care. Someone will
be out to answer your questions as soon as possible, but for now, have
faith in you veterinarian and wait.
The first step is to treat shock with IV fluids and
steroids. Antibiotics and anti-arrythmics may also be started now.
Then the veterinarian will attempt to decompress the stomach by
passing a stomach tube. If this is successful, a gastric levage may be
instituted to wash out accumulated food, gastric juices, or other
stomach contents. In some cases, decompression is accomplished by
placing large-bore needles or a trochar through the skin and muscle
and directly into the stomach.
In some cases, this medical
therapy is sufficient. However, in many cases, surgery is required to
save the dog. Once the dog's condition is stabilized, surgery to
correct the stomach twist, remove any unhealthy tissue, and anchor the
stomach in place is performed. The gastroplexy, or anchoring surgery,
is an important procedure to prevent recurrence, and many variations
exist. Your veterinarian will do the procedure he feels comfortable
with and which has the best success rate.
prolonged, sometimes requiring hospital stays of a week or more.
Post-operative care depends on the severity of the disease and the
treatment methods employed and may include a special diet, drugs to
promote gastric emptying, and routine wound management.
Suggestions For Bloat Prevention
Avoid highly stressful situations. If you
can't avoid them, try to minimize the stress as much as possible. It
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
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
Allow access to fresh water at all times, except before and after
Make meals a peaceful, stress-free time.
When switching dog food, do so gradually (allow several weeks).
Do not feed dry food exclusively.
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
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
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.
Avoid brewer's yeast, alfalfa, and soybean products.
Promote an acidic environment in the intestine.
Promote "friendly" bacteria in the intestine, e.g. from yogurt or
supplemental acidophilus. This 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"
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.