Parkway Animal Hospital's
PET OWNER'S GUIDE TO
It's true - animals can get bloated too. It's a little different than with people, though, and a lot more dangerous. If your veterinarian says that your dog has bloat, she means that your dog's stomach is full of excess gas, fluid, or foam. Bloat can be caused by a number of things. Most often dogs and cats get bloat because they swallow excess air. It can also occur when the valve at the bottom of the stomach is blocked and the gas and other material produced by the digestive process can't exit the stomach.
Bloat happens very rapidly and can be fatal in 30 minutes, when it's severe. If your pet's abdomen is distended and/or you notice nausea, vomiting, attempts to vomit, sudden weakness, or collapse, contact your veterinarian immediately. Bloat is a life-threatening condition.
Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV)
Often, when the stomach becomes enlarged (or dilated), it then twists somewhere between a quarter and a full turn; the twisting is called volvulus. When an animal has gastric dilation and volvulus the openings at the top and the bottom of the stomach twist, blocking all materials from entering or leaving. As the digestive process continues, the stomach will swell more and more. As the stomach gets larger, it can press against blood vessels and decrease circulation. This can eventually lead to death of the tissue in the stomach walls. It can also take up some of the room the diaphragm needs to expand, which makes it hard for the animal to breathe. If left untreated, the circulation and breathing problems caused by GDV and bloat can cause infections, bleeding disorders, heart failure, and even sudden death. GDV is most often found in larger dogs that have eaten a large or abnormal meal.
The Signs of GDV
The most obvious sign of bloat is a distended, swollen-looking belly, particularly one that appears quickly. Some other noticeable symptoms of bloat occur when an animal tries to empty its stomach. Particularly with GDV, dogs and cats will try to vomit or belch but aren't able to; they will retch and seem restless and nauseated. They may also become short of breath as their abdomens become compressed. Some animals may act depressed or show signs of pain. In severe cases, the pressure the stomach places on blood vessels can cause irregular blood flow, abnormal heart rhythms, and shock, which can cause animals to collapse and can lead to rapid death.
Treatment for GDV
GDV is a true emergency. If you know or even suspect your pet has bloat, call us or the Animal Emergency Clinic of Cary immediately. Do not attempt home treatment.
Do take the time to call ahead; while you are transporting the dog, the hospital staff can prepare for your arrival. Do not insist on accompanying your dog to the treatment area. Someone will be out to answer your questions as soon as possible, but for now, have faith in you veterinarian and wait.
Initial diagnosis may include x-rays, an ECG, and blood tests, but treatment will probably be started before the test results are in.
The first step is to treat shock with IV fluids and steroids. Antibiotics and heart medications may be started immediately. Then the veterinarian will attempt to decompress the stomach by passing a stomach tube. If this is successful, a gastric levage may be instituted to wash out accumulated food, gastric juices, or other stomach contents. In some cases, decompression is accomplished by placing large-bore needles or a trochar through the skin and muscle and directly into the stomach.
In some cases, this medical therapy is sufficient. However, in many cases, surgery is required to save the pet. Once the animal's condition is stabilized, surgery to correct the stomach twist, remove any unhealthy tissue, and anchor the stomach in place is performed. The gastroplexy, or anchoring surgery, is an important procedure to prevent recurrence.
Recovery is prolonged; sometimes requiring hospital stays of a week or more. Post-operative care depends on the severity of the disease and the treatment methods employed and may include a special diet, medications to promote gastric emptying, and routine wound management
Because the causes of bloat aren't entirely clear, there is no known way to prevent it absolutely. Veterinarians do know that large breed dogs with broad, deep barrel chests are more likely to develop bloat than other animals; if you have a breed like this, you can watch carefully for bloat. You can also feed your pet small, regularly spaced meals, which are less likely to stretch his stomach. Presoak the food in water for 30 minutes before feeding your pet. You can prevent him from drinking large volumes of water at one time, too. Limiting exercise after meals can help as well. When animals run with a full stomach, the stomach swings like a pendulum and has a greater chance of flipping over and twisting itself. Eating something out of the garbage or eating anything else they aren't used to can also cause animals to develop gas, which can lead to bloat and GDV.
The best way to protect your pet against bloat is to keep a close eye on him and watch for any strange behavior. If you notice anything about your pet that seems new or unusual, contact your veterinarian immediately.
This information provided by AAHA’s library: http://www.healthypet.com