Canine Bloat (Gastric Dilatation Volvulus), is a life threatening condition for our Dobermans

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Bloat is when the stomach fills with excess fluids and/or gas. Some statics show it is the second killer of dogs after cancer. It is more common in deep chested dogs such as German Shepherds, Great Danes, and Dobermans.

If you think your dog is experience bloat, go to the vet IMMEDIATELY. It can be fatal in less than an hour! Better to be safe than sorry.

Causes of Bloat

Not much is known to say when it will happen or wont happen for sure. Not all cases of bloat happen the same way. It is related to when air is swallowed, possible with food or fluid. This mix causes the stomach to dilate (gastric dilation). It may or may not twist (volvulus). As the stomach swells, it may rotate twisting between where it is fixed at the esophagus and the upper intestine. The stomach content is then trapped. The enlarged stomach can obstruct veins, cause damage to internal organs, cause shock... this can quickly kill.

At first it seems to start off similar to stomach gas. The abdomen becomes enlarged and distends. The dog may show signs of discomfort or even try to throw up, pace, salivate. At this stage give a does of Gas X or any product containing simethicone. It may help break up the air bubbles. This may or may NOT fix it. Your dog may continue to get worse then it is a medical emergency! If the abdomen continues to swell, pressure is put on the surrounding organs! The heart, lungs, and blood flow to other organs can be affected. It can get bad enough to the point the stomach bursts, causing peritonitis. A vet can insert a tube into the stomach to relieve some pressure, you must get your dog the the vet RIGHT AWAY. This is just the enlarging stomach, this does not factor in if the stomach twists (volvulus).

When the stomach rotates partially or completely it is SERIOUS! The esophagus is closed off so they can not vomit, and the duodenum is closed off to the upper intestine. The pressure has no where to go! Veins begin to be pinched off leading to tissue damage. A heart attack is a high risk at this point. The blood flow to it is reduced. Surgery is a must, but it may not save the dog at this advanced stage.

ALWAYS keep simethicone on hand (It is found in Gax-X and others, but read the label). It does not cure it, all it may do is reduce and/or slow the gas down from building up buying you more time to get to the vet.

Also keep a vet's number who you trust that is near by that has a 24 hour emergency service. You need to be prepared.

Symptoms

  • Trying to vomit and nothing comes up (retching or unsuccessful vomiting - may sound like a cough). Mucous at time may come up. May occur every 5 - 30 minutes.
  • Restlessness / Anxiety
  • The may not be able to lay down comfortably, there walking may seem different
  • Could appear hunched up, or roached up in appearance. Their back appears arched in a since.
  • They just don't act like themselves, something is off (example asking to go out in the middle of the night, when it is not normal for them)
  • Attempting to poop, with no output
  • Enlarged abdomen
  • Abdomen normally feels soft and tapered inward when the dog is relaxed. When bloat is present, it feels hard and/or sounds hollow like a drum when you gently tab it with your hand.
  • Abdominal pain
  • Drooling / Salivating
  • Pale or off color gums color (may be dark read in early stages, white or blue in later)
  • Pacing
  • Licking the Air
  • Seeking a spot to hide
  • May refuse to lie down or even sit. Also could stand with their legs spread.
  • Heavy or rapid panting
  • Shallow breathing
  • Accelerated heartbeat. The heart rate increases as bloat progresses
  • Weak pulse
  • Collapse
Don't ever double question it, call the vet! Your dog may have just one symptom above, not all are needed seek medical advice.

Bloat causes serious problems fast! A healthy dog can die within 6 hours or less! Please be prepared!

Treatment

When you see the first signs that something may be wrong give Gas X or a similar product with simethicone. Always have this on hand in your first aid kit. The first signs typically are swelling in the abdomen. Or a look of discomfort. Similar to a human have a large holiday meal.

The simethicone is just a smaller helper for your ride to the vet. The vet needs to determine what is required to return the stomach to its normal position and/or size. If veins and organs are being pinched and pressured, damage is being done by the second. You need to seek treatment IMMEDIATELY. Always have a plan of action in mind if it were to happen.

You must be aware of your dog and be prepared, this helps in preventing bloat from killing your dog.

Precautions / Prevention

The most agreed way to help prevent bloat is to not exercise your dog (not even allowing him to run and jump around and play) and hour before OR after eating. Also, do not feed kibble dry, add a little bit of water, bout 1/2 cup or so for larger breeds. Don't allow them to have large drinks before or after eating.

Feed small meals 2 or 3 times a day, instead of 1 large meal.

Fast eating and/or drinking can cause air gulping, which may lead to allowing the stomach to expand.

Eating habits play a role:
  • Eating dry foods with citric acid may increase the risk (if they are moistened, the risks is even higher)
  • Eating foods where fat is one of the first four ingredients
  • By drinking to much before or after eating the dog's gastric juices are diluted. These are necessary for proper digestion.
  • Insure your dog is getting sufficient pancreatic enzymes. Digestive enzymes play a large role in digestion. Certain ones are found in naturally in foods and meats. There are also over the counter digestive aids. Yogurt helps aid digestion as well.
  • Don't give your dog gassy foods. Soybean products, brewer's yeast and alfalfa are some common found in their food. Gassy human foods should be off limits as well.


Raw diet is another area to look at. The way the dog's digestive system works is much different than when it is fed kibble. This could also play a large roll.

Some Sites for further reading:
http://www.showzymes.com/prevention.htm

http://www.dogguide.net/raw-diet-basics.php

http://www.preciouspets.org/articles/bloat.htm


Stress may be a factor, but it is not known. Anxious or fearful temperament may not make eating pleasant and cause the stomach to be upset easier. Meal time should be as relaxing and stress free has possible.

There has been mention that the most common time dogs bloat is between 2:00 and 6:00am. 7 - 10 hours after eating.

There has been quite a bit of debate on elevating the food dish or not. Some test showing the lowered dish was best, did not take into account many factors. The best advice is to read on your own, and form an opinion you feel comfortable with. Here are some links to start of with.

Linda Arndt, Blackwatch Nutritional Consulting LLC - Soap Box Purdue Bloat Study

Elevated Dog Bowls are Better, Brian S. (article below)
"When an animal needs to reach all the way to the floor to eat they ingest a lot of air with their food. Dogs gulp by nature, and if their bowl is low, they will gulp food and air together. The quick swallowing necessitated by the angle causes them to swallow air and makes them more likely to develop stomach bloat and gas; uncomfortable conditions at best. While there are bowls with fancy shapes and knobs to slow down your dog when eating, it is better from all perspectives to elevate the bowl to the proper height.

For older dogs the elevated dog bowl is of particular use. As dogs age, just like humans, they develop joint problems and arthritis. What was already an uncomfortable position in youth now becomes increasingly painful. Crouching down to eat is difficult, and for a large dog it can become virtually impossible. The pressure on the wrists, forearms and hips make what should be a pleasure, unpleasant.

To measure your dog for an elevated dog bowl check the height of his withers, that is the height of his shoulder when standing up, and subtract six inches. If you have a particularly small dog, then only subtract four inches. That is the ideal height for their dog bowl when eating. Feeders come at all heights, so you won’t have any difficulty finding something suitable. Next you get to consider style."



Canine Gastroplexy (stomach tack)

This surgical procedure attaches the stomach to the right side of the abdominal wall, so it can not twist. It effectively helps prevent changes of death as it does not allow the stomach to twist, the stomach can still expand. This procedure can be done laparoscopically too. Consider it when having your Doberman spayed or neutered, and/or if their is a strong family history.

Bloat Complications (post)

When a dog bloats, local organs such as the spleen and other vital organs can experience change. With bloat, the rapid reduction of blood flow from the heart deprives tissues of oxygen.

Since the course of the disease leads to poor oxygen being delivered to many tissues, cell death in the liver, kidneys, and other vital organs can occur. Cardiac arrhythmias are commonly seen because of this as well.

When the dilation is relieved, toxins may circulate through the body causing additional arrhythmias, acute renal failure, and liver failure.

When the abdominal organs become engorged with blood, it can allow the intestines to be more permeable allowing them to release bacteria and endotoxins into the blood stream.

Preasure on the portal vein decrease the blood flow to the liver, toxins can not be removed as easily and the bacteria is absorbed into the blood streem.

"Water Tanking" - a belly full of water

This has become more common with summer time being around. What happens is, the dog drinks a large amount of water quickly, to the point their stomach looks VERY large. It may be uncomfortable for them to walk even. Most of the time it is noticed after a dog has been swimming and drinking while he swims, or even if a dog is running around a pool "snagging" bites of water.

A stomach full of heavy water is a situation that requires a VERY watchful eye. It needs to be avoided! If it does happen, always call your vet first thing! Typically the vet will recommend confining them to a small room with you. Keep them comfortable and CALM. DO NOT LET THEM RUN AROUND. Takes them out often on leash walks to help encourage them to pee. Do not give them any food or water. Keep the day as stress free as possible! Avoid allowing them to pant heavily, bring them into an air conditioned room, have a fan near by. Giving Gas X is the first helper in bloat in many situations. It would not hurt to give it here as well. The main key is to keep the dog calm, relaxed, and cool. You'll notice on the pee breaks he/she will be peeing for quite a long time. Give them all the time they need to get the water out of their system.

Make sure they rest for the entire day. Even when their stomach has gone back to normal and they are acting normal, they need rest. That much water puts strain on the stomach. For dinner, check with your vet. Many say to fast the dog for the night, giving the system a rest. Some vets advice giving the meal, in small amounts over an extended period of time. You and your vet know your dog best! A possible contributing factor is the gastric juices for digestion have been diluted due to the water consumtion. You want to take all precausions to avoid bloat.

Typically by the next day your dog should be out of the woods. Give small meals with digestive enzymes.

Be very carefully with the amount of water they have access to, and how much they are drinking. When playing in a pool especially, they can become a "water tank" very quickly. Bloat becomes a high risk factor. Do you best to avoid it from happening!

Keep an eye out for all the symptoms listed above for bloat. Have your vet ready incase anything changes! Your vet is always the best to ask. This is just gathered information being recorded from experiences.


With the large intake of water,

Water Intoxication In Dogs

needs to be covered.

More info soon to come.



**** Many of us are not vets or even close to an expert on these topics. Many articles have come from hours spent online reading and talking with others while trying to figure out what is best. If you have any questions, or information to add, feel free to contact me at web@dobermandata.com
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