Bloat, Torsion, Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). Call it what you will, this is a serious, life-threatening condition of large breed dogs. While the diagnosis is simple, the pathological changes in the dog’s body make treatment complicated, expensive, and not always successful.
A typical scenario starts with a large, deep-chested dog, usually fed once daily. Typical breeds affected are Akita, Great Dane, German Shepherd, St. Bernard, Irish Wolfhound, and Irish Setter. Sighthounds, Doberman Pinschers, Weimaraners, Bloodhounds, other similar breeds, and large, deep-chested mixed breeds are also affected.
Factor in the habit of bolting food, gulping air, or drinking large amounts of water immediately after eating to this feeding schedule and body type. Then add vigorous exercise after a full meal, and you have the recipe for bloat.
Of course, the fact that not all bloats happen in just the same way and the thought that some bloodlines are more at risk than others further complicates the issue.
With this affliction, prevention is the best hope. Once you think your dog may have bloat, it could possibly be too late to save your dog’s life. I’ll delve a little into the situation of bloat to explain what goes on in the dog’s stomach, but I mainly want to stress the importance of what you can do to keep bloat from ever occuring, especially if you have a fearful dog to begin with.
Not all dogs are at high risk to develop this condition. It is mainly expected in dogs with deep chests who may be underweight, older, and easily stressed.
Taking these 14 steps seriously can lessen your dog’s likelihood of developing bloat, especially for anxious dogs:
1. Limit water intake to a minimal amount for an hour before or after a meal, but at all other times have fresh water available.
2. Feed small portions of food two or three times a day.
3. Add raw meat to your dry dog food if at all possible.
4. Also if you feed dry food, look for one that has rendered meat meal with bone product as one of the first 4 ingredients.
5. Do not raise the food bowl. This is one I would have never thought of, but it could be that this causes more air intake in dogs that are candidates for developing bloat.
6. Supplement your dog with probiotics such as acidophilus to encourage healthy bacteria in his or her intestinal tract.
7. Avoid subjecting your fearful or anxious dog to highly stressful situations when possible. If this can’t be avoided due to needing to make a trip to the vet,etc, try to make it as uneventful as possible. To help calm your overly anxious dog, try using the Thundershirt or Original Anxiety Wrap during events you know may raise the anxiety level in your dog.
8. Control your dog’s water intake on warm summer days. Dogs don’t know what can happen if they drink too much too fast. Only allow a small amount at a time every few minutes.
9. Control food gulping by placing a medium to large sized rock in with the food making your dog eat around it, but be sure its too large for your dog to eat.
10. When feeding dry food, look for one that does not include fat as one of its first four components and does not contain citric acid. If you can’t avoid the citric acid, feed the kibble dry with no water added.
11. Feed a high quality diet.
12. Stay away from brewer’s yeast, alfalfa, or soybean products.
13. Some people also take the precaution of giving their dog 1Tbs of apple cider vinegar after each meal to aid in digestion.
14. Always keep a product containing simethicone on hand to give to your dog at the first sign of gas such as belching repeatedly. This would be a product like Phazyme, Gas-X or Mylanta Gas (must be for gas, not regular Mylanta).
Remember, we are the stewards of these wonderful animals who love us completely. Preventing bloat in easily stressed dogs is far better than trying to attempt a cure when it may be too late.