The Scary Truth About Bloat in Dogs

We all have our preferences for dogs. Some prefer a little lap warmer such as a Yorkie or a Maltese, others a sporty model like a Vizla or Weimaraner that can train with them for marathons, and then there are the “small horse” size dogs, such as a Great Dane or Saint Bernard.

These bigger breeds can be easier to train and definitely make intimidating guard dogs, but they do come with their own problems. One such issue is that they tend to experience bloat more often than the smaller breeds.

What is Bloat?

If you have never experienced a dog with bloat, (and we hope you haven’t!), you may wonder just what it is. Bloat occurs when a dog’s stomach twists, trapping gas inside and causing the stomach to distend. Not only is this uncomfortable for the dog, but it can also prove deadly as well. Bloat must be treated immediately, as a dog can die from it within just a few hours. And the only solution is to get your dog to a vet…fast.

If you are going away, it is always vital to let any dog sitters know who your vet is and to provide contact information for the vet. In addition to that, make sure that any sitter is familiar with the symptoms of bloat.

bloat in dogs

Symptoms of Bloat

Don’t waste time trying to figure out what happened. Most vets agree that the reasons behind bloat remain a mystery. But the symptoms don’t. Bloat may appear as a swollen stomach, or your dog may continuously attempt to vomit, but be unable to do so. Some dogs may whimper or howl in pain, others walk around restlessly, panting and drooling.

One presentation that does appear to be common in dogs who come down with bloat is that they have recently eaten a big meal or consumed a large volume of water, and then followed that excess with an excess of activity.

In any case, if your dog is exhibiting these symptoms, you need to take action immediately. Call your vet or an emergency clinic if you are unsure whether or not it is a case of bloat. If they confirm your suspicions, get your dog loaded in the car and on the way to the vet right away. Whatever you do, don’t decide to wait to see if the symptoms abate on their own. Your dog could die a painful and tragic death if you don’t take immediate action.

Treating Bloat in Dogs

When you reach your veterinarian or the emergency clinic, let the vet know what symptoms your dog has presented. Your vet will examine your dog and then take x-rays and bloodwork to confirm a diagnosis of bloat. If it is indeed bloat, unfortunately, the only solution is surgery.

During the operation, not only will the stomach be untwisted, but it will actually be sutured to the body wall to prevent the recurrence of bloat. In fact, it is quite common for large dogs, particularly Great Danes, to undergo this suturing procedure as a preventative measure against bloat.

Bloat does not always involve just the stomach. It can create additional complications, as the extended stomach can put pressure on the diaphragm, causing breathing problems, or the spleen can become affected as well, necessitating its removal.

sick dog with bloat vet surgery

Steps to Prevent Bloat

What can you do to prevent bloat? Providing plenty of water, feeding several smaller meals instead of two bigger ones, and avoiding dry foods all can help. Also, holistic vets generally feel that a raw food diet significantly reduces the risk of bloat.

Bloat is undoubtedly more common among large dogs, but don’t assume that because you own a small dog, you are safe.  All dog owners need to be on the alert for this deadly condition.

Follow these precautions, and although we can’t guarantee a bloat-free life for you and your dogs, you will at least tilt the odds in your favor. Using the most experienced pet care experts helps too. If you are on the Space Coast, our pet care experts are background checked, bonded, insured, and trained in Pet First Aid and CPR, giving you peace of mind while you are away.

Cheers to a happy and healthy pup!



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