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Bloat, Torsion, Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV)

Bloat, Torsion, Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV)
Simple gastric distention can occur in any breed or age of dog and is common in young puppies that overeat. This is sometimes referred to as pre-bloat by laymen. Belching of gas or vomiting food usually relieves the problem.

While bloating is uncomfortable for humans, bloating in dogs is life-threatening. When a dog gets bloated, his stomach fills with gas, making his middle swell up like a balloon. If the gassiness persists, his stomach will twist, blocking off blood flow to his stomach.
This in turn makes it impossible for the stomach to be emptied, and leads to more build up of gas, and so on in a nasty cycle. The diagnosis is simple, but the pathological changes in the dog’s body make treatment complicated, expensive, and not always successful.

Dogs with deep and narrow chests that are usually fed once daily are prone to bloating. These dogs include: Doberman Pinschers, Irish Wolfhounds, Borzoi, German Shepherds, Great Danes, Standard Poodles, Rottweilers, Akitas, Bloodhounds, Great Pyrenees, Irish Setters, Old English Sheepdogs, Boxers, Golden and Labrador Retrievers, St. Bernard’s, Newfoundlands, Weimaraners, Gordon Setters, Borzoi, Mastiffs, and Bullmastiffs).

Factor in the habit of bolting / gulping down their food, gulping air, or drinking large amounts of water immediately after eating to this once daily feeding schedule and body type, then add vigorous exercise after a full meal, and you have the recipe for bloat.

When your dog becomes bloated, his belly will be swollen and he may:
– Try to throw up
– Drool
– Have grey or white gums
– Have difficulty breathing
– Pace
– Have gurgling noises coming from his stomach

In addition, if you tap on your dog’s tummy it may sound hollow just like a drum.

GDV is a true emergency. If you know or even suspect your dog has bloat do not attempt home treatment. If treated within a few hours he should recover, but if the problem persists for 6-12 hours, your pet will go into shock, coma, and then die.

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. Well-meaning owners are an impediment to efficient care.

Initial diagnosis may include: x-rays, an ECG, and blood tests. But because bloat is so life-threatening, 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 antiarrythmics may also be started now. 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 dog. Once the dog’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, and many variations exist.

Your veterinarian will do the procedure he feels comfortable with and which has the best success rate

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, drugs to promote gastric emptying, and routine
wound management. Costs may run $500-1000 or more in complicated cases.

If your dog has a tendency toward bloating, give him small amounts of food throughout the day, rather than allowing him to gulp down large meals. It may also help to keep other pets away from him as he eats; some dogs feel they have to eat fast with humans
or other animals are around, because they fear someone else will try to eat their food. So let him eat in a room by himself.

More exercise can also help prevent bloat (and other digestive problems), but exercise right after eating may actually cause bloat. In addition, drinking large amounts of water right after eating may lead to bloating.

As a preventative measure, some vets also suggest feeding your dog yogurt, which contains bacteria that may help him better digest his food. Dogs that are 15 pounds or over may have a teaspoon of live-culture plain yogurt (with no artificial sweeteners)
once a day. Smaller dogs may have � to � a teaspoon each day.

While the genetics of GDV are not completely known, most breeders and veterinarians feel there is some degree of heritability. Therefore, while prophylactic gastroplexy will probably help an individual dog, it makes sense not to breed dogs who are affected
or who are close relatives of those suffering from GDV.

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