“I’ve eaten more and feeling bloated,” have you heard it before? This is how we humans usually describe bloat. It causes discomfort in the stomach and if it’s not severe, symptoms ease up by themselves. But when it comes to dogs, bloat is life-threatening. About 30% of the dogs that develop bloat die. Isn’t this alarming? I hope your dog never develops bloat in his lifetime. But you should know about the condition so that even if it shows up, you can act immediately and save your pooch. Better yet, you can prevent it from happening.
What Is Bloat or Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV) in Dogs?
We will discuss the prevention of dog bloat in a later section but before that, it’s important to understand GDV.
What Causes GDV in Dogs
Some dog breeds are prone to bloat. But if your dog’s breed isn’t included in the list, don’t get a false sense of security because all dogs regardless of size, color, breed, age, and gender can develop the condition.
Dogs with deep and narrow chests are susceptible to the condition, for example:
● Irish Setters
● Great Danes
● Saint Bernards
● Golden Retrievers
● Doberman Pinschers
● German Shepherds
● Irish Wolfhounds
● Standard Poodles
● Old English Sheepdogs
● Basset Hounds
The common causes of bloat are excessive swallowing of air along with food, bad diet, excessive drinking of water, and stress. Also, dogs with families having bloat also are more likely to develop the condition.
Splitting their daily food intake into multiple meals, using slow-feed dog bowls, and changing eating habits can be some of the solutions. More about it later.
What Happens During The Episode of Bloat
When a dog undergoes an episode of GDV, he starts feeling listless. The bloated stomach may also twist blocking the entrance and the exit. This doesn’t allow your dog to pass food or gas the food present in the stomach.
‘Volvulus’ is a Latin term for ‘twisting’. The stomach literally twists inside their bellies, sometimes even at 360 degrees. This causes extreme discomfort. A dog would have failed attempts to vomit as nothing is allowed to go through the esophagus (food pipe). The dog would pace and looks confused. When a stomach twists, it also stops blood flowing back to the heart from the hind legs.
The stomach twist can also drag the pancreas and spleen with it making the condition even more severe. These oxygen-starved pancreas releases toxic hormones and one of which is responsible for stopping the heart from functioning.
Many a time, a dog would just experience gastric dilatation or simply dog bloat without volvulus. Nevertheless, your dog needs medical attention whether the twisting is involved or not.
This all can happen in as much as 20 minutes of time. That being said, immediate actions are required. So if by any chance you feel your dog is experiencing bloating, do not wait for a second and take your pet to a nearby animal hospital.
Once the shock is treated, veterinarians perform surgery to deflate the stomach and place it back into its original position. Sometimes a further surgery, gastropexy, is required to permanently tack the stomach with the abdominal wall the way it doesn’t twist during future GDV episodes.
How to Prevent GDV
There is no confirmed way to tell that if your dog will develop bloat in its lifetime. But certainly, you can take care of a few things that likely cause GDV in dogs.
Ensure Your Dog’s Diet is Healthy
This is one of the most important factors responsible for your dog’s well-being and health in general. The diet should be fresh and include bones, raw meat, and whole foods. If you’re feeding kibbles, try to limit it and introduce raw food and whole foods along with it.
A dog’s digestive system is not made for starchy kibble. It loses its nutrition while being processed and if it’s cheap, it is basically a combination of starch, grains, and unhealthy fats. This can become a cause of bloat in dogs.
Moreover, kibble containing citric acid increases the chances of GDV by 320% if fed moistened. Not feeding kibble is a little tough for some pet parents but try to remove it from your dog’s diet. Alternatively, you can choose freeze-dried kibble and wet dog food.
According to Tiffany Morefield, DVM, and Author & Veterinary Advisor at DogNeedsBest, “One more factor that contributes to the increased risk of bloat is eating too quickly. You can address this problem by avoiding free feeding and introducing scheduled feeding. If your dog gets scheduled meals, then you can try puzzle feeders or slow feed bowls as well.”
Known benefits of bones include better dental health and added nutritional values. But what is not popular is that it can reduce the risk of bloat. Of course, you should feed uncooked bones to your dogs.
When a dog chews on and swallows particles from bones, it works the muscles of the stomach and improves digestion. Recreational bones are fine too.
In addition to that, chewing helps dogs in relieving stress as well. Stress also is a contributing factor in bloat or GDV.
Avoid Using Elevated Dog Bowls
You heard right! Even though experts have advised using elevated feeders to curb the chances of GDV, new studies show that the GDV is associated with raised feeding.
Raised bowls are for dogs with bone and joint problems (mostly senior dogs) who have trouble bending their neck and eat from the ground level. The dogs in wild will only eat from the ground. It’s their natural posture. So, stick to your dog’s normal bowls placed on the ground until more research rolls out associating GDV with elevated bowls.
Time the Exercise Right and Eliminate Stress From Their Life
I was not allowed to swim after eating. An obvious reason for this is that stomach gets the required rest before the body indulges in high physical activity. Don’t go out to exercise with your dog when she just had her meal.
Also, some dogs, depending on their breed and age have different exercise requirements. So, ensure that your dog gets at least the minimum amount of exercise required per day. It is highly required for her health and well-being. A good walk and moderate exercises can also provide the mental stimulation your dog needs and keep the stress away.
Dog bloat is life-threatening and even deadly. That fact alone is enough to be a reason for dog parents to understand what canine bloat or gastric dilatation and volvulus is. However, some giant dog breeds like Great Danes are more prone to bloat than breeds like Basenjis. I hope you have understood the basics of canine bloat and what you can do to prevent it. If you have any questions, let us know about them in the comment section below.
Tiffany Morefield, DVM
Author & Veterinary Advisor
When things come crashing down, Tiffany comes to the rescue! As a veterinary medicine graduate, she is the brain behind the in-depth analysis of the products. As an avid dog lover, she is earnestly driven to find the finest options. Any article on DogNeedsBest that has to do anything with your pet’s health goes under scrutiny before getting published.