Bloat - A Deadly Condition That Usually Strikes Large Breed Dogs!
I am passionate about dog rescue. I volunteer with several rescue groups and spend two weekends a month at dog adoption events trying to find homes for deserving dogs that simply need a second chance. Last weekend, when I arrived at a local rescue event, I immediately looked for Bruce, a large, mixed breed dog that had quickly become one of my favorites due to his sweet disposition and playful manner. Bruce was the perfect dog. Why do I say "WAS" the perfect dog? Well, unfortunately, Bruce developed bloat and passed away. I was heartbroken.
Unfortunately, according to veterinary hospitals around the country, bloat is on the rise. Though bloat is not fully understood, veterinarians believe that this deadly kind of indigestion occurs when a dog gulps too much air when they are eating or overly excited. When too much air is ingested the stomach swells and presses against other organs and blood vessels which in turn, can interfere with the dog's blood flow. The trapped air (which turns into gas) can also twist the dog's stomach…also not a good scenario.
Any dog can develop bloat; however, it is more common in large breeds (such as the Great Dane!). Symptoms of bloat include a painful, distended abdomen, restlessness, vomiting and the intense need to defecate. If you believe that your dog has developed bloat take him or her to the veterinarian…IMMEDIATELY! If your regular veterinarian is not available do not wait until he is….GO DIRECTLY TO THE EMERGENCY ANIMAL HOSPITAL and if possible, call ahead and tell them your situation.
There are several things you can do for your dog if you suspect bloat. If the situation is serious (a twisted stomach) then as I mentioned before, go to the vet as soon as possible as a dog can go into shock very quickly (shock can kill a dog within ten to twenty minutes!). If your dog has a twisted stomach he will also "act" woozy (due to dizziness), suffer from weakness and will have pale gums. It is important that you keep your dog warm…so immediately wrap him in a blanket and turn the heat on in the car while transporting him to the veterinary hospital (do this even if it is a hot summer day!). If possible, put a drop of honey or Karo syrup on your pet's gums as this can help him stay conscious.
Special "slow feeder" bowls can help!
If you suspect bloat but your dog is able to vomit and or belch, then he probably does not have a twisted stomach. While it is still important to take your dog to the vet (better to be safe than sorry) there are a few things you can do at home. When a dog over-eats (and eats too quickly) they can develop gas. The majority of the time, the gas passes on its own and an emergency is diverted. Gentle exercise is a great way to help your dog pass his gas. Take your pup for a SLOW walk around the neighborhood. Do not stop walking until he has either passed a stool or some gas…whichever comes first. If after twenty to thirty minutes your dog has not been able to do either, take him to the vet. The quickest way to relieve a dog's gas pressure is through a stomach tube….however, I do not recommend doing this at home as it can be difficult to do if you don't fully understand the process (not to mention your dog will not be a willing participant which will only make the situation more stressful and difficult). If you own a large breed dog and live more than 45 minutes away from a veterinarian, then you should talk to your vet about this procedure to find out if it is something that you should learn how to do. Thankfully, most of us live within a stone's throw of a veterinarian hospital.
Approximately six percent of dogs that suffer from one episode of bloat will, unfortunately, relapse. In order to prevent this it is very important that you change the way you feed your dog! Only feed your furry friend SMALL portions of food at a time and spread feeding times throughout the entire day. Hopefully, by doing this, your dog will not GORGE himself every time he eats. Dogs that eat with other dogs often inhale their food because they are afraid it will be "taken" if they don't. If you live in a household with more than one dog, feed them separately so they do not feel the need to eat quickly. Also, if you own a large breed dog, do not use an elevated feeder. Though these feeders are wonderful for older dogs and dogs with arthritis and other mobility issues…they are not good when it comes to bloat (studies have shown that elevated feeders considerably increase the risk of developing this condition).
Dogs are WONDERFUL pets! I cannot imagine my world without a dog in it! If you own a large breed dog, take the time to research the breed and find out all you can about how to properly care for your furry, four-legged friend. Obviously, large breed dogs often have different needs than their smaller counter-parts. All dogs deserve love, attention, medical care, and of course, FOREVER, LOVING homes! Woof.
Buying a dish that sits high off the floor can help!