Treating and Preventing Bloat

Bloat is a life-threatening condition for dogs, especially large dogs with deep chests. Some of the most affected breeds are Akitas, Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Wolfhounds and other sighthounds, Dobies, German Shepherds, and even deep-chested mixed breeds. When it comes to twisted stomach, it’s the size of the dog — not the breed — that causes problems.

How do you prevent bloat?
Not all bloats happen the same way. But the usual progression starts with a large meal eaten very quickly. Drinking large amounts of water or gulping air can also cause a distended stomach. Exercise immediately after a large meal can result in bloat.

Probably the best thing you can do to prevent bloat is not feed your dog just one large meal per day. Breaking the daily ration into two or more smaller meals can prevent the gastric distention that is the precursor to a potentially deadly bloat.

Don’t let your dog play rough immediately after eating. Ideally, you should keep activity minimal for about two hours after a large meal.

Dogs that have experienced bloating issues before may be prescribed a stomach-emptying drug or have a surgery to help anchor the stomach in place to prevent torsion. Your veterinarian will help you decide what course of action will be best for your dog.

How is bloat treated?
Quick treatment is key if your dog is suffering from a twisted stomach. Call your vet to tell them you’re coming and then hit the road. There is nothing you can do at home to save your dog’s life if his stomach is twisted.

Your dog will get blood tests, x-rays, and possibly an EKG on arrival, but the first and most important thing to treat is the shock. When the stomach is twisted, blood flow becomes restricted and your dog may be in shock.

Once your dog has been stabilized, the vet will use a stomach tube to try and untwist the stomach. If it works, the next step is to wash out the contents of the stomach. In many cases, however, surgery is required to untwist the stomach and anchor the stomach in place so the torsion does not happen again.

Recovery can be long and sometimes expensive.