Warning Signs of Bloating That Could Save Your Dog's Life

Gastric torsion, or dog bloat, is a common condition that is extremely serious and can prove to be fatal for your canine companion. It occurs when your dog’s stomach fills with gas, fluid or food to the point where it expands so much that it puts pressure on the other organs in his body. When this happens it can cause dangerous problems including stopping the flow of blood to the heart and stomach lining, or adding pressure to the lungs making it harder for him to breathe. It can even create a tear in the wall of the stomach or the possibility that your dog’s stomach may twist or rotate. This is known as gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV) and causes blood to become trapped in the stomach, stopping it from returning to his heart.
dog lying down

What causes the bloating?

Unfortunately, the exact cause of GDV is unknown, but there are some things that veterinarians believe may put your dog at increased risk of the condition. These include:

  • Eating too quickly

  • Only eating one large meal per day

  • Eating from a raised food bowl

  • Eating or drinking too much

  • Running or playing directly after eating

  • Stress

While any breed can develop bloating, deep-chested large breeds are more likely to develop the condition, for example: Boxers, German Shepherds and Akitas.

What are the symptoms of dog bloat?

Bloating usually starts very quickly and many owners have said that it comes out of nowhere. The earliest symptoms to look out for include:

  • Drooling

  • A swollen stomach

  • Pacing and other anxious behavior

  • Trying to vomit but not bringing anything up

As the bloat becomes more serious, your dog may:

  • Be unable to catch his breath

  • Have a rapid heartbeat

  • May appear weak and listless

  • Have pale gums

  • Collapse

If you have even the slightest suspicion that your dog may be affected by bloat you should contact your veterinarian immediately as a delay in treatment could be life-threatening.

Treatment for dog bloat

The treatment that your dog receives will vary depending on the severity of his condition, but he will almost certainly receive a stomach x-ray on his arrival at your veterinary surgery, so that this can be assessed.

Your veterinarian will then try and de-bloat your dog’s stomach, using either a tube passed into the stomach which will draw the gas, fluid or food out, or via a catheter that is inserted into the abdominal wall which will immediately depress the stomach.

Once this has happened, if your dog does have a twist or kink in his stomach, your veterinarian may then need to perform surgery on to untwist it. In many cases, the stomach is then fixed to the inner abdominal wall to try and prevent GDV from occurring again in the future.

Once your dog has been stabilized he will probably be hospitalized and monitored for several days. This is because there is a risk of post-operative complications from the toxins that may have been released. As such, your veterinarian will keep a close eye on your dog and only allow him home when he is satisfied that it is safe to do so. For more information about this ailment, call Flamingo Pet Clinic today to learn more about symptoms, treatments and prevention methods.