What to do if My Dog is Bloated?
Bloat in Dogs Information, Emergency Treatment, & Prevention.
By Expert Veterinarian: Dr. Philip Allen with Mission Veterinary Emergency & Specialty
Signs & How to Prevent Bloat in Your Dogs
What to do when you notice bloating in your dog.
Your 6-year-old Great Dane, Luna, just finished dinner and is lying on the couch watching TV with you. She gets up suddenly & begins pacing the kitchen. Despite your best efforts, you can’t get her to settle down. She retches, trying to vomit, but nothing comes out. You become worried because she seems agitated.
You notice her stomach seems bloated. Growing concerned, you bring her to your nearest emergency hospital where she is diagnosed with gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). Luna requires emergency surgery to save her life.
What is Bloat in Dogs?
GDV (gastric dilatation and volvulus) is a common and catastrophic disease that primarily affects large and giant breed dogs.
Great Danes, German Shepherds, and Labradors are particularly at risk, but the disease has been reported in almost every breed. Of the smaller breeds, it is most common in Bassett Hounds.
Dogs having a direct relative with a history of GDV appear to be at increased risk as well. Though not consistently supported by research, additional possible risk factors include eating fewer meals rapidly, aggressive or fearful temperament, or having a history of spleen removal (abdominal organ).
What does Bloating in Dogs Mean?
In this disease process, the stomach twists on itself. Because of the new position, the stomach begins to swell rapidly with gas.
This distension causes a number of severe and life-threatening complications including decreased blood flow back to the heart, dysfunction of the heart, and death of the stomach wall. Because these complications are life-threatening, emergency surgery is required to decompress the stomach. The vet will then rotate the stomach into its normal position. However, emergency surgery is only required in bloated dogs that are found to have GDV.
Signs of Bloating in Dogs:
Signs to watch for at home that could indicate your dog has GDV include:
- Unable to get comfortable or rest
- Retching without production of stomach contents
- A firm, bloated stomach
If any of these are noted, it is necessary to bring your dog to a veterinarian immediately. After a thorough physical examination, the veterinarian will likely recommend radiographs (x-rays), which often have a classic appearance associated with the twisting and gas distension of the stomach.
If GDV is suspected, your veterinarian will recommend immediate stabilization and surgery. Surgery includes an incision into the abdomen, evaluation of all abdominal organs, rotating the stomach back to its normal position, and a ‘gastropexy’.
In order to prevent reoccurrence, gastropexy is used to securely adhere the stomach inside the abdomen to the body wall. Surgery without gastropexy has a recurrence rate as high as 80%, while intervention with gastropexy decreases recurrence to less than 3%.
What to do for Your Bloated Dog?
The great news is there is something we can do to prevent this potentially fatal occurrence.
If you have a large or giant breed dog, you may consider having a prophylactic gastropexy performed. This procedure essentially eliminates the risk of your dog developing GDV in the future.
Traditionally, this is performed through a large incision into the abdomen. Some specialty veterinary hospitals, including Mission Veterinary Emergency and Specialty, offer laparoscopic gastropexy. This procedure allows for a surgeon to perform a gastropexy through a very small incision with the use of cameras and specialized equipment.
This significantly reduces the invasive nature of the procedure and has been proven to be as effective as the more traditional methods of surgery. Your dog can also be simultaneously spayed in a similarly minimally invasive way or neutered routinely. Multiple studies have shown that the strength of a laparoscopic gastropexy is as strong as any of the more traditional and more invasive techniques.
Should I Be Worried for My Dog?
While GDV is a life-threatening disease, it can be managed with a high rate of success if identified quickly. Additionally, prophylactic gastropexy should be considered in breeds that are predisposed, or for owners that want to eliminate risks of developing GDV in the future. Please consult with your primary care veterinarian or the specialists at MVES for more information.
If you see bloat in your dogs or need immediate medical treatment for your pets, Mission Vet Emergency & Specialty have a 24 HOUR Critical Care Line, just for you: (800) 790-7766, call any time!
If you have other questions, be sure to reach out to Philip Allen & the helpful staff at Mission Veterinary Emergency & Specialty.
You can also learn more about Animal Welfare and Humane Societies in Kansas City, or dog bite prevention and what to do if it happens to you.
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