Did you know that Bloat is the number 2 health risk for canines? Even with this staggering statistic, many pet parents are unaware of the issue and serious risks for their dog associated with bloat. Fortunately there are a few simple preventative steps to take and product-solutions available to use that help reduce the risk of bloat in your dog.
The Problem of Bloat
Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), otherwise known as “bloat,” is a very serious and potentially life-threatening illness that is little known to most dog owners. The symptoms of bloat can progress in mere hours and according to the ASPCA, even with immediate treatment, can result in death 25% to 40% of the time. It is important to know and be able to recognize the early signs of bloat to help protect your dog from this painful health condition.
Causes and Risk Factors
Bloat actually refers to two separate conditions that often, but not always, accompany each other. The first condition is gastric dilatation, whereby the stomach fills with gas and fluid. The second is volvulus, in which the inflated stomach twists on its long axis, preventing the gas and fluid from escaping. This serious condition can interfere with blood circulation, producing a number of other problems in a chain reaction that can lead to death.
While the exact cause of bloat is currently unknown, large and giant breed dogs with deep chests such as Great Danes, German Shepherds, Dobermans, Boxers, and Standard Poodles are more susceptible to bloat. Additionally, things like rapid eating, eating one large meal per day, overeating and overdrinking, stress, heavy exercise after eating, and advanced age of the dog can contribute to bloat.
Dogs suffering from bloat may exhibits signs of an inflated abdomen, vomiting and dry heaving, excessive drooling, labored breathing, pale gums, rapid heartbeat, pacing and restlessness, or weakness/collapsing. Should any of these symptoms occur, it is vital to consult with a veterinarian immediately, as every minute is crucial for survival. Serious bloat involving a twisted stomach most commonly requires surgery.
Preventative Measures – Treatment and Solutions
To help decrease the risk of bloat, monitor the pace of your pet’s eating habits. Overzealous gobbling can increase the risk of bloat. If your dog’s breed is susceptible to bloat, talk to your veterinarian about feeding your dog several small meals a day instead of one or two larger meals each day. Small meals can help reduce the urge to devour food due to hunger.
Slow feeding pet accessories, such as GobbleStopper®, easily attaches inside any existing dog bowl via suction cup to help slow the feeding speed and the amount of food consumed with each bite. For some breeds, research shows that raised dog bowls may increase the risk of bloat in dogs but results vary so speak to your veterinarian. Your vet might also recommend adding canned food to your dog’s diet or changing from dry foods that contain fats or citric acid as primary ingredients. It is also advisable to restrict vigorous exercise or too much water immediately following a meal.
While the risk of bloat cannot be completely eliminated, a responsible pet owner can go a long way to protect their beloved pet from this potentially fatal illness. Veterinary medicine has come along way to increase the likelihood of survival, but it is advanced preparation and attention that will ultimately save a dog’s life.