Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) and Gastric Torsion - Bloat
What is it?
Bloat as many of us know it, is a killer there is no sugar coating or nice way to put it – many of us will have heard of dogs that had bloat and survived either through operations or luck, but many more of us will know of dogs that have been lost to this horrible illness.
Basically bloat is part of the syndrome known as GDV – the stomach fills with gas and fluids and can twist (torsion or volvulus) on itself (very similar to colic in horses) – it goes without saying that if you suspect your dog has bloat don’t hesitate just get it to the vet.
Bloat happens most often in large deep chested breeds and is no respecter of age or sex, it can come on when you are least expecting it but there are some things that you as an owner can do to reduce the risks.
Prevention is better than cure!
So what can we as owners do to reduce the risk? The following are all common sense and although they do not guarantee that your dog will not get bloat or GDV they will at least reduce the risk.
feed your dog immediately before or after strenuous exercise – this is a common
sense one but sadly there are people out there who just don’t get this,
regardless of bloat or torsion risks this is a big no no in humans and animals.
exercise don’t let your dog gulp down huge amounts of water – again this is
well known in the horse world – the gulping can bring down lots of air which
can lead to bloat.
that gulp down their food can be at risk, as they can also be taking in more
air than normal – if you have yourself a little piglet then you need to take
steps to slow down the food/time ratio.
- If you
feed a dry feed, observe your dog after eating to make sure they don’t gulp
down lots of water as this may put them at risk.
rotten meat – you don’t need to be a brain surgeon to know that this is not
good for many reasons, but in relation to bloat, rotten meat can produce toxins
and bacteria that may lead to bloat, not to mention all the other nasty’s that
occur when doggy eats bad things!
can be a factor so take this into account, moving house etc, or big changes in
routine can be very upsetting for some dogs (Others wouldn’t notice if they
moved as long as their toys are still around and the food keeps coming!).
weather = more water being taken in, if it’s particularly hot then some dogs
can be prone to gulping down their water like they have been lost in the desert
for a week. We are (hopefully), all
aware that regardless of the breed we need to keep an eye on our pets in hot
weather and make sure they are kept cool and with lots of access to clean fresh
water – some dogs are equally happy to embarrass their owners by drinking from
a muddy puddle like it was the first water they’ve ever had.
- Feed at
least 2 meals a day – one large meal can put your dog at more risk, so meals of
good quality food should be spread out throughout the day – keep an eye on your
dog, where possible and practical for about 1 hour after feeding.
feed the dog if there is a lot of stress or excitement – wait for a quieter
use a raised bowl – on the ground is natural and is now universally
acknowledged as the best way to feed dogs – raising the bowl can encourage fast
eating and gulping.
So now that you are all nicely panicking about your dogs take a deep breath and relax. Bloat and GDV are rare and you shouldn’t spend every second of every day worrying about what illnesses are accidents could happen. Simple sensible precautions can be carried out and hopefully this will have just been an interesting bit of reading whilst you have your cuppa.
One question we should all ask is ‘is it hereditary?’ The simple answer is we don’t know, there have been stories on the dreaded internet that some family lines do show a significant number of bloat deaths, however we must stress this is not all in newfies and nor is it proven.
As breeders we can only ask that if your dog at any age does get bloat then you inform us so that we can monitor our breeding programmes. We also have to urge caution as many cases of bloat can be traced to them just having eaten and then leapt around like a fool, or it being a hot day and they really gulped down their water.
As with all things, sometimes these things just happen, sometimes we can trace a cause. Regardless of this it is important that you react quickly and take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
So, I hear you mumbling through your bacon sandwich, whilst whooshing down a cup of tea before work (See what I did there!), what are the symptoms??
It is vitally important that you all understand that not every dog will present the same – I’m not revealing any great secret when I say that dogs can’t read so therefore they will not helpfully work through the list of symptoms for any ailment or disease!
First and most important rule, know your dog – you are the one that knows Fido the best, never doubt your gut – a vet or even experienced breeder may know all the sciency stuff but you know if your dog is prone to being a drama queen or is normally hard core. If you think something isn’t right then contact your vet. Saying this there are some dog owners out there (we all know them), who treat their dogs like babies –this is a whole other debate, but the point is you mustn’t attach human emotions to a dog, there is no doubt that they can exhibit love, and affection and some are extremely bright (others not so much), but you as their person are best equipped to see when they are off colour, or in pain etc.
Other symptoms can include but are not limited to:
A bloated looking stomach – this may seem obvious but it is not always evident – you again know what your dog looks like normally, a bloated tummy is exactly that, the dog will look round and uncomfortable.
Showing signs of anxiety, restlessness, pacing, or trying to vomit – may also bring up white foam, salivating and whining are all signs that your dog is in distress and needs to get to the vet ASAP.
Your dog may stand with its legs apart and head hanging down, other signs are that the gums may go a deep red, heart rate will increase and temperature can spike.
Do not wait for all of these symptoms to appear get to the vet.
I may have mentioned that you need to get to your vet if you at all suspect bloat or torsion, we would always advise where possible that you pre-warn your vet that they are coming. This will only work in your favour as most vets will call in back up and normally have an OR waiting. If they are pre-warned then there will be less time waiting and losing crucial minutes when you arrive.
What the vet does
I am not going to go into detail here, as depending on your specific dog’s situation and at what level they are pain wise etc the treatment and reaction from the vet will be different. At times like these you have to trust in your vet’s expertise and hope that all works out. There are many outcomes here, and although death has a high chance of occurring, with modern procedures and quick reactions from you this is greatly reduced.
It may be prudent when visiting your vet to discuss bloat and GDV with them, have they had much experience with large chested dogs and bloat etc. What are surgical options etc (when untwisting the stomach for example vets often tack the stomach in place to reduce the risk of torsion reoccurring).
Again we reiterate that although this is a very serious and potentially deadly problem, do not tie yourself up in knots about it, follow the common sense steps and talk to your vet, there is a lot of useful information on the internet about all sorts of doggy complaints. Just remember to try and stick to facts not conjecture or wild wacky people that live on the side of a hill with goats and some of their unproven and off the wall theories. This is not to say that wacky hill living goat lovers don’t have some proven facts behind their theories – just make sure you check it out first!
As with everything if you have any questions, Inkomo can’t promise all the answers but we will do our best so if you are worried or just want some reassurance, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.