Signs of Bloat or Gastric Dilatation in Canines

dog bloated stomach

Dogs are definitely one of the joys of life, but it can quickly turn into sorrow in the event of bloat. People also use this term to refer to gastric dilatation and vovulus or GDV, the condition wherein the stomach twists which can cause death in a matter of hours. This is a disease wherein the stomach dilates, twists around its short axis. It will then be filled with either food, fluid or air, which then causes the stomach to put pressure on the other organs. A number of sufferers then die from organ failure or difficulty breathing – which is a very dim and morbid prospect. Considering euthanasia may not be a far-off possibility, like what happened to Marley in the movie, Marley & Me.

In order to fully grasp the seriousness of the matter, keep in mind that 25% to 40% of dogs die from it even with immediate treatment. As a responsible pet owner, it is important to keep the signs and symptoms in check, along with the contact details of your local animal veterinarian. So, it’s time to answer some questions and know what you need to know about the disease:

What causes it?

dog bloated stomach

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The scary thing about bloat is it isn’t caused by a bacteria or a virus. Nobody actually knows what causes it, although there are certain factors that contribute to its development, like the following:

  • Rapid eating – when your dog gorges up the contents of the food bowl in less than a minute, then you’re looking at a potential problem.
  • One large meal a day – not only is this irresponsible pet ownership, but it’s also a risk factor for bloat. Dogs should be fed with smaller meals a few times a day, or according to what your veterinarian says.
  • Overeating and overdrinking – this is also a risk factor for obesity.
  • Heavy exercise after eating – visits to the dog park should be done on an empty stomach.

What are the symptoms?

Some of the symptoms of bloat and gastric torsion include the following:

  • Distended or swelling abdomen – once the abdomen is filled with air, the abdomen will enlarge and it will look like a balloon is stuck in your dog’s belly.
  • Repeated and failed attempts to belch or vomit – most dogs will attempt to vomit in the event of bloat.
  • Excessive salivation – although it can be the symptom of other diseases, excessive salivation also signals bloat.
  • Shortness of breath and rapid heartbeat – this is due to the lungs and the heart compressed.
  • Weakness – due to its current state, an afflicted dog will be severely weakened.

Other than the above mentioned symptoms, a dog will also possess pale gums and a cold body temperature. It will collapse or faint if the disease fully manifested itself.

What should you do?

Bloat x-ray

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In the event of a suspected bloat, the best – and the only thing – you can do is to call your local veterinarian, have them prepare and drive there immediately. If it’s a simple bloat, stomach decompression is done through inserting a tube into the esophagus, relieving the pressure caused by fluid and gas. As for GDV, surgery is a necessity, and it’s not a guarantee that your pet will survive either. Intensive post-operative care should be done, and complications like heart damage and shock may occur as well.

The most vulnerable breeds include large, deep chested ones, like the Japanese Akita, Boxers, Basset Hounds, Great Danes and German Shepherds. However, it can also afflict other small dog breeds as well, like Chihuahuas and Dachshunds.

Overall, remember that your pet regardless if it is a dog or a cat, trust you with its life so keep the above mentioned facts in mind if you suspect gastric torsion.

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