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17 Gastric Dilation and Bloat


This article is from the Canine Medical Information FAQ, by Cindy Tittle Moore with numerous contributions by others.

17 Gastric Dilation and Bloat

Other references:
+ http://wwwis2.dal.ca/~dcodding/szbloat.html
+ http://www.vet.purdue.edu/depts/vad/cae/bnaprwb.htm

_Note: Current thinking is that dogs with certain physical features
(large, deep chest and high tuck) are most likely to bloat. The
most recent research has not implicated diet -- although dogs that
have previously bloated seem to benefit from carefully scheduled
feeding._ The following information is several years old now.

A condition more commonly seen in larger breeds. Gas in the
stomach causes it to swell. In some cases, the stomach rotates
on its axis, closing off both ends of it. Digestive processes
continue unabated and the stomach swells up. The cause of bloat
is unknown.

Some forms of bloat are fatal untreated; survival depends on
understanding what is happening and getting the dog to the vet,
the earlier the better.


+ The stomach is full of gas and begins to swell: gastric
+ The stomach partially rotates on its axis: torsion.
+ The stomach rotates 180 or more degrees: volvolus.

Some facts (from Carlson & Giffin):

+ Dogs who bloat are almost always at least 2 years old.
+ Two-thirds are male.
+ Larger, deeper chested breeds are affected.
+ They eat large amounts of dry kibble.
+ They exercise vigorously after eating and tend to drink water
in large amounts after meals.
+ They may have a history of digestive upsets.
+ There may be a familial association with other dogs who

According to Carlson & Giffin, the symptoms are: excessive
salivation and drooling, extreme restlessness, attempts to
vomit and defecate, evidence of abdominal pain and abdominal
distension. Abdominal fullness, whining, pacing, getting up and
lying down, stretching, looking at the abdomen, anxiety.

History is important: in nearly all cases, there is a history
of overeating, eating fermented foods, drinking excessively
after eating, or taking vigorous exercise after a meal (within
two or three hours).

If your dog is able to belch or vomit, it is more likely a
gastric upset. If it cannot, rush it to the vet or emergency
care *now* for emergency surgery.

If your dog is at risk for gastric bloat, you should discuss it
with your vet before a possible episode. Your vet may recommend
(and demonstrate) some things you can try to do as life-saving
measures while getting it to the vet.

Measures thought to reduce the risk of gastric torsion
("bloat") [From the Bloat Panel, sponsored by the Morris Animal
Foundations, published in the August 1992 Irish Setter Club of
America's _Memo To Members_.]

+ Feed two or three times daily. Be sure someone is around to
observe after-feeding behavior for possible symptoms.
+ Water should be available at all times except immediately
after feeding, especially if the dog seems to over-drink. Or
mixing dry kibble and water before eating to prevent later
swelling up in the abdomen.
+ Vigorous exercise, excitement and stress should be avoided
one hour before and two hours after meals. Walking is alright
and may help stimulate normal gastrointestinal function.
+ Any dietary changes should be introduced gradually over
several days.

There is another article about bloat in the Spring '92 issue of
_Today's Breeder_ (published by Purina dog foods) (pp 8,9,15).


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