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What is bloat in dogs?

Owners of one of the large, deep-chested breed dogs such as the Great Dane, Boxer, St-Bernard, Bloodhound or Irish Wolfhound should be aware of a gastric condition termed “bloat.” Today, our Timmins vets discuss this possibly terminal condition.

Bloat varies from “simple bloat”, when the stomach fills with air, to “gastric torsion”, where the stomach begins to rotate, closing off the openings to the stomach. In the extreme case, unless surgery to untwist the stomach is performed immediately, the condition is almost always fatal.

What signs should you watch for?

The signs of bloat include an acutely protruding abdomen, retching, dry heaves, increased drooling, and depression.

If you notice any of these signs and suspect your dog may be bloating, contact your veterinarian immediately! Also, withhold all food and water from your pet. Dogs with bloat have a history of eating a big meal, then drinking large amounts of water or going out and exercising or rolling.

The exact cause of bloat is unknown, but it is generally believed that when a high-risk dog eats a large meal followed by vigorous exercise, the stomach can twist. The exercise causes a rapid mixing of food and water in the stomach, causing gas.

Important Note: although large breed dogs appear to be more prone to bloat, other breeds including the Labrador, Golden Retriever, Pointer, German Shepherd, Irish Setter, Dashound, and Corgi can also be victims of bloat.

Follow these suggestions to reduce your pet’s chance of bloat:

  • Feed large dogs two or three times daily rather than one large meal.
  • Schedule feeding when someone will be home to observe the dog’s behaviour after the meal.
  • Be aware of signs of abdominal discomforts, such as whining, pacing, getting up and lying down, stretching, anxiety, and unproductive attempts to vomit. 
  • Water should be available at all times, but should be limited after meals if the dog likes to drink excessive amounts.
  • Try to limit vigorous exercise to one hour before and two hours after meals.
  • Avoid abrupt changes in diet.

Dogs that survive bloat are at an increased risk for future episodes. You and your veterinarian should discuss preventive surgery or other management of the problem.

Is your dog showing symptoms of bloat? Contact our Timmins vets today for treatment!

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