Bloat and GDV in Dogs

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Bloat and GDV in Dogs

Brooker Ridge Animal Hospital
Published by Dr. Zak Saleh, PhD, MVSc, DVM in Client Education · 11 June 2021
Tags: BloatorGDV
 GDV in dogs

Understanding Bloat: A Life Threatening Condition for Your Dog
Typically, when we hear the word bloat, we often think of an icky, inconvenience we feel after we eat too much, too quickly. When it comes to our canine companions however, bloat is not a simple, minor inconvenience. Formally known as gastric dilation-volvulus (GDV), bloat in canines is a serious condition that can life threatening if not immediately treated.

What is Bloat?
A canine's stomach will mediate a balanced harmony of gas, mucus and food as it performs its role in the digestive process. However, in a bloated stomach, an imbalanced increase of either gas or food will occur, causing the stomach to stretch beyond its normal size. This will cause significant discomfort and abdominal pain. Although it is not fully understood how, the bloated stomach will twist, and flip over. This rotation of the stomach will cut off its own blood supply, and obstruct the exit route for its contents.  The stomach will continue to swell, eventually compressing the large veins that run along the back, and are responsible for returning the body's blood to the heart. This will result in circulatory shock.

How Serious is Bloat?
The progression of events will happen very quickly, within a matter of hours. If not intervened promptly, GDV will lead to death.
Bloat is the second leading cause of death in dogs behind cancer.
It is likely that owners unable to identify the seriousness of their pet's symptoms leads to lethal consequences. It is important that dog owners understand the symptoms of bloat, and seek emergency veterinary care as soon as possible.

What are the symptoms of bloat?
Symptoms of bloat include:
·         Swollen, firm abdomen
·         Painful abdomen
·         Excessive salivation, drooling
·         Retching, unable to vomit
·         Lethargy, malaise, discomfort, restlessness
The onset of bloat can be sudden and without cause. However, in some cases it may occur after your dog has recently eaten a large meal, and then proceeds to exercise shortly after. It was once thought that eating from a raised food bowl would reduce the chances of bloat, but further studies suggest that a raised bowl may actually increase the risk.
There are other significant risk factors to consider when it comes to bloat including:
·         Increased age
·         Genetic history of bloat
·         Dogs who eat rapidly
·         Dogs who eat exclusively dry food diet with fat or oil listed as one of the first four ingredients
·         Deep-chested dog breeds (i.e.: Great Dane, Greyhound, Saint Bernard, Setter breeds, Doberman pinscher, Mastiff)
·         There are other various risk factors to consider; ask your veterinarian if your dog is at risk for bloat

How is Bloat treated?
Upon identifying that the patient has bloat, the veterinarian will promptly commence procedures to decompress the stomach. This may include using a stomach tube and stomach pump, but sometimes they might proceed with a surgical option to achieve stomach decompression. They will also promptly start the patient on IV fluids to reverse circulatory shock. The patient's heart rhythm will also be assessed, and if necessary treated. Circulatory shock can lead to disruptions in the rhythm of the patient's heartbeat which can be fatal if not properly addressed. Once the patient has been stabilized enough, it is recommended that the dog undergo surgery, to ensure the stomach has successfully untwisted following decompression, and to assess any internal damage that may have occurred. The surgeon will look for any dying tissue, and remove this tissue. They will also assess any damage done to the spleen, which is nestled in adjacent to the stomach. Depending on the condition of the spleen, they may opt to remove it. Once the surgeon has completed this assessment, and removed any nonviable tissue, they will proceed with a gastropexy, which is done to tack the stomach to the abdominal wall to prevent any future twisting. Proceeding with the gastropexy is highly recommended following an occurrence of
bloat as dogs who experience bloat have a 76% chance of re-occurrence.

How Can Bloat be Prevented?
Unfortunately, if your canine companion has a predisposition for bloat, it cannot be guaranteed that bloat can be prevented. However, there are important steps that are worthwhile to take, to try and avoid bloat from occurring. To try and prevent bloat, it is recommended that pet owners:
·         Use slow feeder bowls if your dog tends to be a hasty eater
·         If you have more than one dog, separate them at meals to reduce competition anxiety
·         Keep your dog at an optimal, healthy weight
·         Feed lower fat diets (your veterinarian can recommend suggested diets)
·         Avoid intensive exercise immediately before or after meals
·         Feed multiple, smaller meals throughout the day as opposed to one large meal
·         Gastropexy
o   You may opt to proactively address the chance of bloat for your dog by having a gastropexy done. This may be recommended if your dog has relatives with incidences of bloat, or they are considered a high-risk breed. Typically, Great Danes are excellent candidates for considering this procedure. This is because Great Danes are at the most high-risk breed for bloat, as they have a 42% incidence rate. Discuss with your veterinarian if you should consider having your canine companion undergo a gastropexy.
Bloat is a very serious condition, and unfortunately all too common. It is the second leading cause of death in dogs following cancer. It is important to understand the signs and symptoms, and always err on the side of caution if you are ever unsure if your canine companion is experiencing bloat. Try and incorporate these prevention tips in you and your dog's life, and speak with your veterinarian for more advice on how to prevent and identify bloat - it could save your dog's life.
Looking for a vet clinic in Newmarket area? Give us a call at 905-898-1010 to book an appointment today!

Bloat - The Mother of All Emergencies (Veterinary Partner)
Bloat (or GDV) in Dogs - What It Is and How it's Treated (AKC)

Brooker Ridge Animal Hospital - 905-898-1010

107-525 Brooker Ridge, Newmarket, ON L3X 2M2

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