How to Prevent Bloat in Dogs
Too few pet owners are aware of one of the most dangerous healthcare issues to face dogs, especially large, deep-chested breeds. The medical name for the disease is gastric dilatation and volvulus, or GDV, but most people know it by its much more commonly used name; bloat. In this condition the stomach twists, either rotating along its axis or flipping 180 degrees. Either way, the inflow and outflow of the stomach are closed off, resulting in gasses building up inside the stomach. The reason this is so dangerous for dogs is because it can cause difficulty breathing, as the stomach balloons against the diaphragm. More importantly, pressure against the wall of the stomach can cut off the blood supply and lead to a rupture.
So how do you know if your dog is suffering from this condition? For many dogs, it’s quite apparent. Dogs that bloat most commonly act and look like they swallowed a large beach ball. Their abdomen becomes large and tense, their gums can become pale due to their oxygen and blood supply being limited, they will appear lethargic, and most of the time they will have a hard time laying down comfortably. Bloat is most commonly caused by the dog eating their food too fast, a behavior that many large breed owners are familiar with. The good news is, there are precautions you can take to potentially prevent bloat in dogs. Here are just a few tips.
- Wait at least 30-60 minutes after eating and drinking before allowing exercise. Many Veterinarians cite this as the main factor that can prevent bloat.
- Feed 2-3 meals during the day rather than one large meal. Be sure that you’re taking the measured amount of daily food and dividing it into the meals rather than giving the once daily amount two or three times.
- Don’t allow excessive water drinking immediately before or after a meal. Abnormal amounts of water have the potential to delay breakdown of food and lead to gas production.
- If possible, slow down your dog’s eating by hand-feeding them if they known to “inhale” their food. Another option is to add a small amount of water to their food. The liquid typically limits how much they get in their mouth at once. A third suggestion for slowing down their eating ritual is using a specialized dog bowl that provides obstacles when the dog is eating. These are specifically to prevent bloat.
Another important factor to remember about bloat in dogs is that dogs who have had episodes of GDV are at risk of further occurrences. A surgery can be performed to attach the outside lining of the stomach to the body wall. This surgery is called a gastropexy. Some vets recommend it while others may disagree. If your dog has suffered from bloat before, the best thing to do is ask your veterinarian’s opinion, since every dog is different.
On final issue to keep in mind is that no matter how well behaved your dog typically is, when he or she doesn’t feel well, there is a greater chance of a dog bite occurring. At the Federation of Insured Dog Owners, we understand the precautions you must take as a dog owner. That’s why we now offer the Covered Canine Policy, an exclusive Dog Bite Liability product and benefit for F.I.D.O. members only. Please contact us for more information at (855) 534-6495.