Bloat in Dogs
Bloat occurs when a dog’s stomach becomes distended as a result of the build-up of gases. As the stomach expands, it exerts pressure on surrounding vital organs including the diaphragm, making it difficult for the dog to breath. Without prompt medical attention, the stomach can twist on its ends resulting in shock and eventually death of your dog. Thus, bloat should always be perceived as a serious medical emergency and should be brought immediately to a veterinarian for treatment.
What is Bloat?
In veterinary medicine, dog bloat is also called Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV). Aside from the compressive effect it can have on surrounding organs including the spleen and the liver, bloat becomes a serious medical problem when the stomach twists on both its ends—that part near the esophagus and before the small intestines.
As the stomach twists, there is no portal for the accumulated gases to escape. The blood supply to the stomach is also impeded and can totally be stopped if the twisting action continues. With the loss of important blood supply, stomach tissues and cells will die and your dog can go into shock.
Death may eventually follow if the situation is not reversed as soon as possible.
Predisposing Factors of Bloat in Dogs
Dogs weighing a hundred pounds or more are considered as high risks however any dog breed can suffer from bloat. In fact, there have been documented cases of bloat in Chihuahuas and Pugs.
Other significant predisposing factors include:
- Gender – male dogs are more prone than female dogs
- Weight – there is a higher incidence in underweight dogs
- Family history
- Eating habits –gulping down food; eating dry kibbles which have been soaked in water; consuming all the allocated daily ration in one meal; a diet rich in animal fat; eating from a raised feeding bowl
- Age – incidence of bloat is highest between the ages of 7-12 years old.
- Behavior – a dog that has a history of aggression and anxiety
- Limited water intake
One early sign that you should never ignore in dogs with bloat is non-productive retching. As the accumulation of gases continues, your dog’s abdomen becomes distended and your pet soon becomes restless and/or depressed.
Considering the sizes of dogs that commonly suffer from bloat, distension of the stomach may not be as pronounced in many cases.
Aside from the symptoms which are manifested, an x-ray will reveal the buildup of gases in the stomach as shown by a bi-lobed pattern in the results.
The prognosis of bloat cases will depend on how fast veterinary emergency procedures are started. Advanced bloat cases usually need immediate surgical intervention.
Emergency procedures are done to effectively stabilize your dog’s vital signs. This is very important to prevent further progression and to prepare the dog for surgery. These medical procedures include:
- Correcting fluid and electrolyte imbalances in the body by infusion of fluids and electrolytes. Fluid-electrolyte imbalances can lead to dehydration, shock, and possible death.
- If cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) is present, medication is given to stabilize the condition.
Once stabilized, surgery is undertaken to manually untwist the opposite poles of the stomach and evaluate the damage to the stomach tissues. Surgery will also allow removal of stomach contents and resection of any part of the stomach or spleen where necrosis or death of tissues may have occurred as a result of the loss of blood supply.
Recurrent bloat cases can be corrected by a Gastropexy. This is a procedure that permanently attaches the stomach to abdominal wall to lessen the recurrence of bloat.