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What is bloat and how to recognize the symptoms?

Updated on November 29, 2007

Bloat goes under the technical term of Gastric Dilatation Volvulusor GDV. It is most common for breeds that are deep-chested (such as German Shephards, Great Danes, Basset Hounds, Doberman Pinchers etc).

Bloat is actually an intake of gasses that do not get released and it is most commonly caused by quick gulping of water and/ or food and strenuous exercise right after meals. It is important to point out that bloat or GDV is a serious and life threatening condition that in almost all cases requires urgent veterinarian attention and more often then not surgery as well. So if you suspect that your dog has the symptoms of GDV do not delay and go the vet immediately.

What happens is that the gasses in the stomach have nowhere to go and they cause the distention of the stomach (or the bloat) and can sometimes rotate the stomach over completely.

Some of the symptoms include: abdominal fullness that is visible to the naked eye, stretching, looking at or biting the abdomen, restlessness and getting up and down repeatedly, anxiety, slobbering or drooling excessively and/or failed attempts at vomiting. Your dog does not have to have all of these symptoms, if you do suspect bloat go to the vet immediately.

In most cases dog will need an emergency surgery to release the gasses and return the stomach to its normal position, not to mention treatment for shock symptoms. How to minimize the risk of a bloat for your dog? Some or all of these measure will lessen the risks however even if you do follow these measures it does not necessarily mean your dog will not suffer from bloat or GDV as there is no sure cause nor there is a sure prevention.

· Have your dog eat 2 to 3 smaller meals a day rather then one big meal

· Strenuous exercise should be avoided one hour prior to the meal and one hour after the meal

· Invest into elevated food and water bowls or elevate them with a box or any other item that is handy. Elevate the food and water bowl to the chest level.

· Supervise your dog while he is eating and until he is done. It should take about 15 to 20 minutes maximum, if your dog is not done by that time, remove the food and give it to him for his next meal.

· Water should be available for your dog throughout the day, however he should not drink water immediately after the meal

· Bloat can sometimes happen if you switch from one brand of dog food to another. To prevent that from happening gradually switch your dog from one type of food to another (in about 3 to 4 weeks) and keep monitoring how your dog is getting used to the change in the diet.

· If your dog has suffered from bloat previously it would be advisable to establish a good relationship with your vet who can also provide you with a guidelines and measures you can take to prevent it.

Another measure that can be taken and especially for dogs that have had GDV before is to stable the stomach to abdominal muscles to prevent future cases of bloat. However do discuss the procedure with your vet to see if it would work for your dog.

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