Monday, February 14, 2011

Bloat, What It Is And Why You Need To Know About it

X-ray from the underside of a dog with intestinal GDV. The dark area is the build up of gas.
Bloat is a terrible condition that effects, mostly, heavy chested dogs and some working dogs. It happens when the stomach becomes overly extended by too much gas. If the stomach actually twists, it is then called GDV,  gastric dilatation-volvulus  , like in the X-Ray above. The stomach can twist 360 degrees clockwise and about 90 degrees counter clockwise. This twist, prevents gas from escaping and the dog can not belch or vomit.  It can be painful and fatal if not treated right away. Surgery is usually required. Even then the mortality rates are 15% - 33%.
Wikipedia describes it better as: "The stomach twists around the longitudinal axis of the digestive tract".

X-ray of a dog with bloat. Note the classic "double bubble" pattern indicating that the stomach torsion has occurred in this case.

The 5 most susceptible breeds are Great Danes, Weimaraners, St. Bernards, Gordon Setters, and Irish Setters. Standard Poodles, Rottweilers, and Doberman Pinschers are also at risk.  Basset Hounds have the greatest risk for dogs under 50 lbs.

Causes are many, but the one thing they all seem to have in common is a dysfunction  of the sphincter between the esophagus and stomach and an obstruction of outflow through the pylorus, or a clog.  
Other contributing factors include increased age, being one of the breeds mentioned above, having a deep and narrow chest, stress, over eating food that expands in the stomach like kibbles, drinking too much water in a short period of time, and dogs that already have inflammatory bowel disease. Feeding a dog only once a day or feeding them particles smaller than 30mm can increase the risk of bloat. Also if foods that have added oils can also increase the risks.

I am happy to say, we've never had a Gordon that suffered this condition.
Symptoms would include: distension of the abdomen, obvious pain, weakness, depression, difficulty breathing, hyper-salivation and retching without vomiting.

X-ray from the side of a dog with intestinal GDV

Bloat is a terrible condition for a dog to suffer. The key is to know your dog and recognize when something is wrong. 
With surgery, in a timely manner, your dog can completely recover and having the surgery usually can prevent another episode.
If you ever suspect your dog is suffering from bloat, get them to the Vet immediately.  

Waiting is not an option if you want to save your canine buddy. And I'm sure you do.

 All info obtained from Wikipedia.


  1. We've never had a dog with this condition (again, thankfully) but my neighbor just lost a mini-mule to this same type of "twisted gut" ordeal. I can only imagine how painful it would be for any animal.

  2. We have never had this happen, but is nice to know - just in case! Thanks, Karen!

  3. Good post! It is good to think about how & when you should feed & water your dog.

  4. T, I too can only imagine the pain. Sounds awful to me!

    Sharon, your little Jack and Jill probably aren't pron to bloat. Thank goodness!

    Thanks for stopping by Kelly. I like your new profile pic!

  5. I suppose in all our dogs it happened but don't remember it bothering them. I had mostly terriers. My dogs are on an album on FB.

  6. Honest Abe,Welcome! Thanks for stopping by.
    You must have Bloat confused with another condition. If you had ever had a dog with Bloat, you would have HAD to take him for surgery, or he would have died. Bloat is very serious. It is not like have gas. The stomach literally turns inside the body. It will kill an animal if not treated.

  7. So timely--I have been worried Shep may be bloated--he hasn’t felt well lately and he ate a bunch of stuff he should not have, donkey treats. He is doing much better now but I had no idea it could get so bad and even be fatal. Thanks again for a great post!

  8. Thanks Amy. I'm glad to know Shep is okay. They don't always know what is good for them and what is not. Good that you keep an eye on him. I don't imagine the donkey "treats" are very good for him, regardless of his taste for them! ...Or lack of!ha ha