“Bloat” is something I CONSTANTLY pay attention to with my puppy because of the extremely severe implications associated with it. I almost worry about it too I would say, but for something labeled the “mother of all emergencies”- I just can’t help but learn more about this. I will try to outline what it is, what to look for, and how to prevent puppy bloat from happening to your puppy or dog because it overshadows most things in rapidness of consequences and effort in emergency treatment.
If you already have a dog, and you have already visited your vet for a checkup or anything else, I am sure you have heard of “bloat” from the vet. It is officially called Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) and is caused when the dog or puppy eats too much food too fast for the stomach to process. All the gas, mucus, and food will then stretch the dog’s stomach to many times its normal size which will cause your dog much pain. For reasons vets still do not understand, the stomach will begin to rotate which cuts off its own blood supply and the only way for the gas to exit. This can even impact the spleen in really bad cases cutting off that blood supply too. The stomach will keep filling up at this point to a size where it will press and cut off the large veins to the heart, which will cause heart attacks and many terrible complications leading to a very very very painful death if drastic and extreme measures are not taken within a couple of hours. In most cases, the dog will need expensive surgery once it’s stable. If the stomach has dead tissue and part must be removed there is still a 30% mortality rate. If the Vet gets in there to retwist the stomach but the tissue damage is great and not all removed the dog will still die. It is recommended you follow up with a procedure to tack the stomach up essentially to learn how to prevent puppy bloat from happening again. People who do not carry through with the stomach tacking after will experience over 70% chance of bloating again at some point. Very scary!
How to prevent puppy bloat can be pretty easy by just paying attention to some easy steps. Depending on the breed of dog (deep-chested and over 100lbs)-you may have your work cut out for you more than others.
Top 3 dog breeds prone to bloat
1. Great Dane
2. St. Bernard
Less is more
The main thing I have learned to prevent this is to feed your dog less food more often. Honestly, for most dogs, this just means more than feeding one BIG meal a day- 2 or more meals a day will lower the chance dramatically. With my pup Lilou the main thing I pay attention to is how fast she is eating-(product pictured above helps a lot) and I try to space out a walk or any activity 30 min before or after she eats. Feeding from an elevated bowl and the age of the dog increases the risk for bloat as well. Basically just spread out the feeding, make them eat slower with puzzle feeders, and limit stress or exercise 30 min before or after feeding times.
Be diligent, Be Calm
Mainly you just need to know what to look for so you can react accordingly and also not freak yourself out and running to the ER for a false alarm (although it doesn’t hurt to be over-cautious with this). When Lilou was 7 weeks old she ate a decent amount because I was free feeding her. Her puppy belly was very large and I called her name to come and she would not stand up. She was almost limp. I was immediately freaking out but had I knew more signs it could have been much calmer. If she did have bloat she would have been distressed and would be almost guarding her stomach because it hurt so much. Depending on the breed the stomach enlargement is VERY noticeable aside from the normal “chubby” belly appearance. The dog will also try to vomit over and over with no success. I hope this will help prevent unwanted stress like I had that night because I did not have a solid understanding of what to look for but knew it was serious. I hope this is helpful in understanding, preventing, and locating this very serious problem for your furry friend and making sure you can react accordingly god forbid you to have this problem. Like with many things in the medical field- early detection is KEY.