If you have a dog you may have heard of the relatively common condition known as bloat. Bloat in dogs is a frightening and potentially fatal condition that can strike an apparently healthy dog at any time. The medical term used to describe this condition is gastric dilatation-volvulus syndrome or GDV. What exactly is GDV and what can you do to prevent this illness from striking your dog?
Bloat in dogs or GDV is a condition where the stomach becomes filled with fluid and gas which the dog is unable to pass due to a twisting or rotation of the normal architecture of the stomach. The result is an intestinal obstruction which can be rapidly fatal. A dog stricken with bloat becomes ill quite quickly and may rapidly progress to shock and complete circulatory collapse. This occurs when the stomach becomes so distended with fluid and gas that the blood supply is compromised resulting in circulatory failure. Bloat is a true medical emergency and few dogs will survive without prompt medical or surgical intervention.
Certain dogs tend to be more susceptible to developing GDV or bloat. These include larger dogs with deep chests, male dogs, older dogs, dogs that are nervous and dogs that consume their food quickly. Certain breeds of dogs also appear to be more susceptible. The Great Dane has the highest rate of GDV of any dog species with a rate more than 40 times higher than the standard mixed breed. In fact, many Great Dane owners elect to have prophylactic surgery performed on their dog to prevent this condition. Dogs who are feed a large meal only once per day are also at an increased risk.
Bloat in dogs is not always easy to recognize but recognition and timely intervention is important to save your dog’s life. A dog afflicted with GDV may exhibit retching, excessive panting, nervousness, and the inability to vomit. When these symptoms appear, intervention is imperative to prevent complications including shock. If your dog exhibits these symptoms, particularly after a meal, he should be seen by a veterinarian on an emergency basis.
Can bloat in dogs be prevented? Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce but not eliminate the risk of GDV. These include feeding your dog smaller, more frequent meals, avoiding exercise or exertion after a meal, and feeding your dog in a quite, non-stressful location. If you have a large breed dog, you may want to consult with your veterinarian regarding your dog’s potential risk of developing GVD.
Developing a heightened awareness of the potential for bloat in dogs and recognizing the symptoms may be an important step towards saving your dog’s life.