An unenthused bulldog lays on thee legs of his owner

If you are a dog lover, you have probably heard the term “bloat” used at some time or another. Bloat in dogs is scary and life-threatening medical condition and sticks in most of our heads without much prompting. 

Although we’ve all heard of it, many of us may not know what bloat actually is or what to do about it. Thankfully, that is what the pet experts at Springbrook Animal Care Center are here for. Keep reading to learn what you need to know about identifying and preventing bloat in dogs. 

Down to Basics

Bloat is just a layman’s term for a condition in which the stomach fills with air. As you may have experienced yourself, a gas-filled stomach can result in trouble breathing and inability to get comfortable. 

When most of us use the term bloat, we are actually referring to an even more serious form of the condition. In gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), the air-filled stomach twists on itself. This results in the trapping of air and fluid within the stomach. It also cuts off the blood supply to the stomach and sometimes the spleen, which is partially attached to the stomach. 

Bloat in dogs often presents with characteristic symptoms including:

  • A distended abdomen
  • Trying to vomit, usually unproductively
  • Restlessness
  • Pain
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Salivating

Preventing Bloat in Dogs

Preventing bloat in dogs is not always possible because we don’t fully understand what causes the problem to occur. 

Certain breeds are definitely prone to developing bloat. Those dogs with a deep chest that allows room for the stomach to move such as the Great Dane, Weimaraner, German Shepherd Dog, Basset Hound, Dachshund, and Setter breeds experience bloat more than their fair share. It is possible, however, for any breed to have a GDV.

Research shows that besides body shape and breed, a few other factors seem to increase the odds that a pet might develop bloat. These include:

  • Rapid eating
  • Only eating once daily
  • Eating only dry kibble
  • Eating from a raised dish
  • Overindulgence of food or water
  • Exercising immediately after eating
  • Having a nervous temperament
  • Environmental stress

Avoiding these risk factors can help to decrease your dog’s risk for bloat and GDV. 

The Great Gastropexy

Perhaps the most effective way to prevent GDV in dogs is to make it more difficult for the stomach to twist. We are able to accomplish this with a surgical procedure known as a gastropexy. 

A gastropexy results in the tacking of the stomach to the body wall, physically preventing it from twisting on itself. Dogs that have had this procedure performed can still bloat, but the more serious complications of a GDV are often avoided.

If you have an at-risk breed, it may be a good idea to consider having a prophylactic gastropexy performed. This can be done any time, but is often done at the same time as the pet’s spay or neuter surgery.

If you suspect that your pet might be experiencing bloat, it is essential to call us right away. GDV is a true pet emergency that requires aggressive and immediate care. Without treatment, the resultant shock and sepsis often ends in death. 

Preventing bloat in dogs is certainly the best thing to focus on. We are happy to discuss your dog’s risk and whether a gastropexy might be a good option. Don’t hesitate to ask, we are here to help.