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5 Symptoms of Bloat in Dogs

Symptoms of bloat in dogs appear in deep chested, large dogs like German Shepherds and Boxers.Symptoms of bloat in dogs occur in three phases:

Phase One – Serious!

(1) Attempts to vomit but is not producing anything. This happens because the stomach is actually twisted inside and nothing can be expelled.  This is very painful for the dog.

(2) Excessive drooling.  Don’t mistake this for the natural drooling that occurs in some large breeds.  This will be a steady flow.

(3) Stomach begins to swell.

Phase Two – Critical!

(4) Whining, drooling, gums turn dark red.  At this stage, your dog is very distressed.  He/she is trying to communicate that something is seriously wrong.

Phase Three – Dire!

(5) Abdomen is large and hard, gums turn white, high heart rate. Do not wait to get to phase three. Take your dog to an emergency clinic the minute you suspect bloat.

What is Bloat in Dogs?

Bloat in dogs, or Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) is a condition where the dog’s stomach fills with gas and fluid. The dog’s stomach becomes so swollen that it can actually twist on itself.  A twisted stomach pinches both ends and prevents blood from circulating.

What Causes Bloat?

Experts agree that there is no individually specific cause of bloat in dogs. Instead, it appears to occur as a result of factors including genetics, breed, food (dry kibble) ingredients, and feeding routine.

The size of rib-cage/chest in relation to the abdomen, and the dog’s emotional state are also factors that play into the risk.

Dogs with first-line relatives who have suffered from bloat are at risk.

READ This Study Published by The Canadian Veterinary Journal.

Causes of Bloat in Dogs Explained

Genetics/Breed Type

As mentioned above, there are several large breeds that are susceptible to symptoms of bloat in dogs.  These include the German Shepherd, Basset Hound, Doberman Pinscher, Boxers, and many others.

What’s lurking in your dog’s DNA?

The best way to figure out whether your dog might be more susceptible to bloat is to try a Canine DNA testing kit. The best one on the market right now is made by Wisdom Health. It’s quick and easy to do (just a cheek swab) and can identify specific health issues.

Smarter breeding through genetics.™

NOTE: Although large breeds tend to be more at risk, it doesn’t eliminate the possibility of smaller breeds suffering the same condition.

Dry Kibble

Some websites claim this is a myth while others claim its validity.  A report conducted in 2017 suggests the possibility of small particle kibble leaving the dog at higher risk of bloat. However, further studies revealed that kibble had no great effect on the risk.  At this point, there don’t appear to be any hard facts on the topic. 

Click on the link below for more information on the dry kibble study

Get the details of this report HERE (veterinaryevidence.org)

Kennel/Boarding

Many dogs settle into a temporary kennel or boarding situation just fine. Others, however, become very stressed. My dog, for example, wouldn’t eat much while I was away. When I return, she wants to devour an entire bag of food.

She’s so excited for me to be home that she always wants to run and play after a big meal.  I decided not to put her in a kennel when I go on vacation now.  I have someone stay at the house while I’m away. There’s less chance of having to deal with the symptoms of bloat in dogs this way.

How Can I Prevent Symptoms of Bloat in Dogs?

There are a few things you can do to prevent symptoms of bloat in dogs.  First, watch how much food your dog gets at one sitting, and how fast he/she eats.

A. Interactive Bloat Stop Dog Bowl

Eating too quickly and then engaging in strenuous play or exercise can bring on an episode of bloat.  To avoid this, consider purchasing a special bowl for dogs.  These bowls are designed to force the dog to eat slowly.

I’ve actually seen these in action and they make a big difference. Instead of being able to gobble down the food in one gulp, the dog has work for the food.

Outward Hound Kyjen 51002 Fun Feeder Slow Feed Interactive Bloat Stop Dog Bowl, Large, Blue

Great Danes have the highest average like time risk of 42.4%. 

B. Canned Dog Food

In order to properly use the “bloat stop dog bowl” listed above, you need good quality canned dog food. The idea is to smear the food into the grooves. This slows feeding time down.

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Wet Dog Food, Salmon & Vegetable Entrée Canned Dog Food, 12.8 oz, 12 Pack

C . Michigan Ave Animal Hospital suggests this: Feed a dry food containing a calcium-rich meat meal (meat/lamb meal, fish meal, chicken by-product meal, meat meal, or bone meal) listed in the first four ingredients of the food.

Is There Anything I Can Do at Home to Treat Symptoms of Bloat in Dogs?

No. If you suspect your dog has bloat, there are no at-home treatments that will work. It is vital that you get your dog to an emergency clinic ASAP.

Bloat in dogs is more than just an upset stomach.  The dog’s stomach can actually twist and pinch off vital oxygen.  One of the symptoms of bloat in dogs is pale nose and gums.  Inadequate blood flow means there is no oxygenation happening. In other words, your dog suddenly has very poor circulation.

How Long Can a Dog Live with Bloat?

A dog with bloat (specifically with twisted stomach) will not likely make it through the night without medical attention.  The symptoms of bloat in dogs noted above are divided into three phases, but each phase develops quickly.

It’s important to mention that not all dogs end up with Gastric Dilation Volvulus in which the stomach becomes twisted.  A simple case of tummy upset with flatulence is not a medical emergency.

What Breeds Are Prone to Symptoms of Bloat?

Great Danes

Boxers

Doberman Pinschers

German Shepherds

Weimaraner

Irish Setter

Basset Hounds

Akitas

Standard Poodles

St. Bernard

Newfoundland Dogs

According to the American Kennel Club,” Dogs fed one meal a day are twice as likely to bloat as those fed two meals a day. Fast eaters have five times the risk than dogs that are slow eaters.”

Other Things You Can Do To Help Prevent Symptoms of Bloat in Dogs

The steps required to reduce symptoms of bloat in dogs will be different for everybody.  You should consider how many animals you have in the house, where they eat, how often they eat, and whether they all eat together.

Avoid Anxiety Eating

My dog (a Lab) runs to the food bowl whenever she gets excited or nervous. Once I realized that was happening, I made sure to only put a little food at mealtimes and/or to remove the bowl entirely when she wasn’t feeding.

The idea is to get your dog to slow down while eating, and to eat in a calm environment. 

Small Amounts with Breaks in Between

If your dog power eats no matter what, try feeding very small amounts spread out over an hour.

You can do this with dry or wet food.  Allow the dog to eat a small amount, then relax the dog with some grooming or patting for five minutes. Alternate feeding and resting until the meal has been eaten.

How Can a Veterinarian Reverse Symptoms of Bloat in Dogs?

 The danger of bloat is the twisted stomach. Immediate surgery is the only chance the dog has of survival. During surgery, the doctor returns the stomach to its rightful position, allowing gases to escape. In order to prevent bloat from recurring in your dog, the surgeon will perform a gastropexy.

Gastropexy involves stapling the dog’s stomach to the inside lining.  This ensures it will not happen again.

Preventative surgery is sometimes performed at the time the dog is being sterilized. Surgeons are able to perform a laprascopy.  A small incision is made and the stomach is stapled using tools that do not require invasive surgery.

Note: This is an expensive procedure to do when you cannot be sure that your dog is at risk.  Some people, however, prefer the peace of mind.

The Cost of Gastropexy

Symptoms of bloat in dogs indicate a serious and life-threatening condition.  Dog owners don’t usually stop to ask for the cost at this stressful time.

Generally speaking, you could pay anywhere from $400 to thousands of dollars.  Costs will vary depending on a variety of factors.  Individual clinics offer different services.  

The only way to offset these costs is to make sure to purchase pet insurance while the dog is still young and symptom-free.  You will get the best quote on pet insurance before your dog is diagnosed with chronic or critical illness.

Summing it UP

Now that you know which breeds are more susceptible to bloat, you can take steps to prevent it from happening at all.

I want to thank you for taking the time to read this post.  Please feel free to send me a comment (form below) or email me directly at [email protected] 

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