The B-Word: Bloat in Dogs
Few health issues can take a dog’s life as quickly as bloat can. Despite its serious nature, though, few pet owners really understand what this devastating condition is. Taking just a few minutes to learn about bloat in dogs might just help you to recognize it if you are unlucky enough to encounter this canine emergency. Your knowledge may just save your dog’s life.
Bloat is a condition involving the digestive tract. It occurs when the stomach fills with air, inflating much like a balloon. The emergency happens when bloat turns into what’s called a GDV, or gastric dilatation volvulus. This occurs when that balloon of a stomach turns on itself, trapping the air, food, and fluid in the stomach and strangulating the blood supply to the stomach. Sometimes the spleen, which is a close neighbor to the stomach, also twists in the process.
When a GDV occurs, it is serious. This is due to a few reasons:
- The digestive tract cannot function normally
- The enlarged stomach is painful and can interfere with breathing
- The stomach and/or spleen may begin to die due to decreased blood supply
- Bacteria may leak into the bloodstream, leading to sepsis
- The condition often leads to shock
Recognizing Bloat in Dogs
When a GDV occurs, time is of the essence. Recognizing the first sign of bloat in dogs can literally be the difference between life and death. Other conditions can have similar symptoms, but you should have your dog examined without delay if he or she is:
- Acting like he or she cannot get comfortable
- Breathing shallowly and quickly
- Painful, especially around the abdomen
- Swollen around the abdomen
- Vomiting or retching, especially if not productive
Don’t delay if your dog is displaying any of these symptoms. While it may turn out to be no big deal, we would rather you be safe than sorry.
Some pets are at higher risk of suffering an episode of bloat. These include breeds that have a deeper chest shape such as Weimaraners, Great Danes, Bassets, Shepherds, and Setters. Any breed can bloat, however owners of these breeds should be on extra high alert.
What to Do in a Bloat Emergency
When a dog is suffering from bloat, there isn’t much you can do at home. Minutes can make a difference between a good outcome and a not-so-good one. Do not hesitate if you suspect bloat since your dog’s best chances are in the hands of our trained, expert veterinary staff. Call us right away if you are concerned.
If a pet is suffering from a GDV, it is important for us to treat the shock that often accompanies it. Most often bloat is a condition requiring surgery and intensive postoperative care. Should you find yourself needing to have a pet treated for bloat, know that at Oakland Veterinary Referral Service, you are in the right place.