Bloat or stomach torsion is a very serious condition that can occur in any breed of dog. Without proper attention, it can lead to death. Some breeds are more prone to bloat and also predisposition to bloat can be passed on from the parents to the puppies genetically.
When a dog bloats, the stomach expands many times its normal size and causes tremendous abdominal pain. The cause of the stretching is the stomach filling with gas and food known as gastric dilatation. This leads to the twisting of the stomach and cutting off of blood supply and the exit routes for the gas inside. If not treated immediately, the dog can die within a matter of hours.
Symptoms of bloat may include the following:
- Extreme restlessness
- Excessive salivation and drooling
- Rapid breathing and panting
- Cold and pale mouth membranes
- Trying to vomit or defecate without success
- Abdominal pain
- Enlarged abdomen
Factors that can increase the risk of bloat include the following:
- Raised feeding/food bowls (110% risk increase)
- Fast eater - dogs that eat fast are at greater risk of developing bloat
- Age - older dogs are at greater risk of developing bloat (20% risk increase for each year increase in age)
- Feeding a large amount per meal
- Dry dog food that has fat as the top four ingredients
- Having a first degree relative with bloat (GDV) (e.g. sire, dam, litter mate, offspring) (63% risk increase)
- Breeds with a deep and narrow chest are at higher risk (higher chest depth/width ratio)
These are the top dog breeds with a risk of developing GDV or bloat:
Old English Sheepdog
German Shorthaired Pointe
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
English Springer Spaniel
How to prevent bloat?
Feeding less food per meal is one way to reduce the risk of bloating. Also, buying special bowls designed to slow down quick eaters may help. Feeding a high quality dog food will allow you to feed less per meal and reduce the risk of bloat. Avoid giving your dog food that has too much fat, especially fat in the top four ingredients.
If you suspect that your dog has bloat, take him or her immediately to the veterinarian as they may need to perform surgery to save your dog. The faster you take your dog to the veterinarian, the better the chances that your dog will recover successfully.
Useful links on bloat:
BLOAT: The life threatening canine
BLOAT: THE MOTHER OF ALL EMERGENCIES