Bloat in dogs is a condition that is fast becoming one of the leading killers of dogs second only to cancer.
Your dog can come inside to eat his dinner, go out and start to play, and the next thing you know he is gasping for air, going into shock, and before you know what has even happened, he has died.
We are very fortunate in that we identified bloat very early in one of our previous Dalmatians, but even with all the safe guards that we take with our current Dalmatian, he still gets mild forms of bloat.
With this mild form he simply throws up, thank goodness, which prevents it from getting to the serious stage.
So what exactly is bloat in dogs, what are the causes, the symptoms, and what can you do to help prevent this life threatening condition in your canine friend.
Bloat in dogs is the building up of excessive gas, as well as fluid and foam in your dog’s stomach.
It is referred to as dilation when the valve at the bottom of the stomach becomes blocked which prevent gas as well as other materials that our produced by your pets stomach to exit.
It can occur on its own, or it can be the precursor to torsion.
It will typically occur when your dogs has eaten a large meal very rapidly and is generally following by drinking a lot of water.
In most cases of life threatening forms of bloat, this is followed by a lot of activity or exercise in the yard, walking, or running; all within the first few hours after eating.
What happens is that your dog’s stomach may start the process called torsion.
This means that their stomach is basically rotating or flipping over, which causes abnormal twisting of the intestines.
This condition is also referred to as GDV, Gastric Dilatation Volvulus, or twisted stomach.
Once this rotation has started, the blood supply is cut off and the stomach begins to die.
When this occurs, your dog’s entire blood supply is disrupted and conditions in your pet from there on will deteriorate rapidly.
Not all dogs will face this serious of a gas buildup resulting in this chain of events, but in any dog that has volvulus develop, it is the result of dilation within their stomach.
As owners, understanding the signs will be critical to saving their lives because at this stage prompt medical treatment is required.
Large breed dogs and large chest dogs are by far and away the most prone to developing bloat in dogs, as are dogs over 7 years of age.
Male dogs are also at a much higher risk than females.
The temperament of dogs also seems to be a factor especially if they are nervous, anxious, or are frightened easily.
However, the exact cause of the condition is still not fully understood as it seems to be a series of events that happens to these larger breeds.
Most of the theories are that it starts with swallowing air, as all dogs do as well as humans; but normally when this happens, we can usually burp or belch and release the air.
Failure to release air or gas at this point seems to trigger the reactions in your dog.
The symptoms to watch for in bloat in dogs will be an inability to vomit, meaning that your pet is trying but nothing is coming up.
This than leads to the next symptom which is an apparent stress in your pet.
Other symptoms to watch for will be a sudden restlessness, excessive salvation and or drooling, panting, and a sudden pacing by your pet as well kicking or scratching of their abdomen.
It is hurting them, and in some cases, killing them.
If you see these symptoms, check there stomach quickly to see if it is swollen or feels distended in any way at all.
It if is swollen and is very hard, these are all signs that you need to react very quickly to as your dog may be dying right in front of your eyes if severe enough.
But if they can vomit and even belch, than take a breath, as it may not be GDV.
Try to keep your dog from stressful situations as this seems to be a major cause or the starting point especially if your dog is fearful and anxious.
Our Dalmatian gets stressed very easily, and this is something we have learned to watch for.
Contrary to all of the advice about how much better elevated food stands and drinking stands are, they are wrong in this advice.
This actually places your pet at a much greater risk at swallowing air as they are eating.
Do not exercise your dog within an hour after eating, it is just like our mothers used to tell us about swimming after eating, it is the same type of stress for your dog.
Do not permit rapid eating and do not feed them just once or twice. Try to feed them more often if possible.
Always keep some type of digestive aid that helps gas on hand such as Mylanta Gas or some like product for gas.
Fresh water should always be available, but should be limited even if you have to pick it up right before or after meals.
Your dog will naturally want to drink too much water; regulate what they drink to help prevent bloat in dogs.
There are several things you should do with their diet, but nothing will be more important than treating your large dog, especially if male and older, with several preemptive measures.
The first will be with frequent forms of digestive and dietary enzymes. Enzymes are organic catalysts for your dogs.
They either speed up or initiate chemical reactions in their bodies that will help them in all digestive functions as well as tissue repair and energy production.
These enzymes can come from the food you feed them or from a digestive enzyme aid.
A lot of enzymes are lost in the production of foods, so you will need to look specifically for and in most cases supplement the following.
Protease, which helps with breaking proteins into amino acids; Amylase, which helps in reducing carbohydrates; Lipase, which helps in digesting fats; and Cellulose, which breakdowns fiber.
There are also supplements that you should consider giving your big, lovable friend. Vitamins A, C and E are all important antioxidants in several functions for your dog.
However, the minerals selenium and zinc must be considered essential as these minerals help spark your dog’s bodies and electrical impulse actions, both critical functions for digestion.
But there is one other mineral that is very often overlooked and is also critical for preventing bloat in dogs, and that is sulfur.
You can get sulfur MSM or DMSO supplements from your veterinarian of pet supply store, but you must use sulfur with this condition.
Sulfur is found most abundantly in raw meat, but who feeds raw meat to their dog anymore?
Sulfur has the same toxicity as water, is instrumental in electrical impulse and assists in body chemistry and balance.
Dogs lived very normal lives for years on raw meat, and where does your dog turn to first when they have a belly ache?
They eat grass and alfalfa, which has extremely high levels of sulfur.
Most all sulfur has been taken out of commercial food, but if you do any one thing in helping your large breed of dog, give them sulfur to help to prevent bloat in dogs.
We have given our Dalmatian sulfur supplements for over ten years now, and he is a very healthy fifteen year old.
If fact every time we take him to the veterinarian she just shakes her head; as he looks like he is about five to six years old.
Bloat in dogs is a deadly condition, but it can be prevented, as we work to prevent it every day in our big lovable older dog.