Dog Bloat (GDV) Prevention and Awareness 101!

Dog Bloat (GDV) Prevention and Awareness 101!

Bloat is a horrible disease that no dog should have to suffer through. With summer around the corner and the temperatures heating up, it is a concern that all dog owners should be aware of. But what is dog bloat? What is it's causes and symptoms? Most importantly, how can it be treated or prevented? This article will explain what dog bloat or GDV is, the causes, symptoms, treatment, and most importantly, prevention. 

What is GDV?

So what is GDV? The medical term is Gastric Dilation and Volvulus, but it is most commonly referred to as bloat or bloating. During bloat, the dog's stomach will distend and twists around itself. In some cases, the stomach only distends but doesn't twist. 

What Does it Look Like?
The most recognizable sign of bloat is the distended, or swollen, belly. There are several causes of this, some of which will be explained in a bit. What happens, however, is when the stomach begins to distended, it is because of air becoming trapped there. As of yet, veterinarians are unsure if air getting trapped is the reason the stomach begins to twist, or if the stomach begins to twist first.

Regardless, the repercussions are very serious. Since in many cases the stomach begins to twist, the blood supply to the stomach and even spleen and other organs will be cut off. This will cause the stomach and affected organs to necrose or die. A distended belly can put pressure on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Without proper blood flow or oxygen, the dog will have trouble breathing and quickly go into shock.  It is important that if you believe your dog is experiencing bloat, to come to your nearest veterinarian. 

What are the Causes of Bloat?

Unfortunately, there are many causes of bloat. However, experts and veterinarians have been able to narrow the list to some specific categories:

Large-breed dogs or dogs with deep chests seem to run a higher risk of GDV than others. Great Danes, German Shepherds, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Weimaraners, Standard Poodles, and Irish and Gordon Setters, for example, all have a deep-set chest. 

Males are twice as likely to bloat than females. Neutering or spaying doesn't have an effect on the chances. If you are breeding and notice a dog or older puppies with digestive issues, this could be a precursor to GDV and the dog should not be part of the breeding program. 

Food and Water

Large intakes of food and/or water can cause bloat as well. Dogs can drink so much water, it makes them sick or bloat. Veterinarians agree that certain lifestyles, such as very active ones, can make certain dogs predisposed to bloat. Especially with summer around the corner, monitoring water intake after they have been running around outside will greatly lessen the chance. 

Overfeeding is a serious issue as well. Free-feeding can cause a dog to bloat due to the amount of food sitting in their stomach. It is agreed that smaller portions broken up multiple times a day is better for a dog's digestion overall than one large meal once or twice a day. 

Certain ingredients, such as soybean meal or fats and oils in the first four ingredients increase the chance of bloat by fourfold. Fast or anxious eaters are also at a high chance of bloat. Getting a bowl designed to slow down fast eaters or feeding an anxious dog in a separate room will greatly decrease the chance of bloat.

What are the Bloat Symptoms in Dogs?

Bloat symptoms in dogs vary from each dog and each case. Some cases are more severe than others, but regardless, each case should be treated seriously. Even though each case can be slightly different, there are several common symptoms. 

Many owners may ask, "What does it look like?" As explained earlier, the most common sign is the distended and tight stomach, due to air becoming trapped in it. Other symptoms can include, but not always be:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Restlessness

  • The affected dog may feel pain when pressing on its belly

  • Salivation

  • Vomiting

Dog Bloat Treatments

Dog bloat treatments vary according to the severity of the case. The first thing that happens in case of bloat is the vet will take blood work, X-rays of the stomach area, and EKG in case of cardiac arrhythmia. Gas in the stomach will show up as black and cover nearly the entire organ. 

When bloat has been diagnosed, the vet will start by stabilizing the dog with IV fluids and oxygen therapy. Gastric decompression will be done by either a tube or catheter being inserted down the throat to release the trapped air and any food that might be in the stomach. The dog may be lavaged - the flushing of water - as well. If bloat doesn't improve, then surgery may be the next step. 

How Long Bloat Lasts

How long bloat lasts depends upon the case. With immediate attention, bloat should only a couple hours or so. However, if symptoms last longer than six hours, then the chances of the dog living go down drastically. Any complications during treatment also will affect the dog's chance of living. 

GDV is extremely serious and in many cases, fatal. Modern veterinary medicine has been able to treat GDV cases with slightly more success. However, chances of the dog living through the ordeal still depend on the owner getting their dog in as fast as they can. For all emergency cases you can save with our $299 Emergency Pet Shield program anytime, just call 954.653.6868 or visit our new patient page for more details!