Bloat-What you don’t know can hurt your dog!

Know the signs and the risk factors
Knowing the signs and symptoms of bloat are a must for any dog owner – especially those owning larger dogs. Also known as Gastric dilation-volvulus, GDV and torsion, it is by any name a death sentence for many dogs when their owners are not aware of what is happening. It can in no uncertain terms be a killer.
What is Bloat/GDV?
The term bloat refers to a gastric distention. This can and sometimes does resolve itself. When it does not is where the real danger lies. What happens next is called torsion. In torsion the stomach itself twists cutting off the esophagus which inhibits the dog’s ability to vomit to relieve the tension and can also compromise the spleen by cutting off its blood supply. This torsion traps all the air, water and food in the dog’s stomach leading to low blood pressure and shock. The damage can be irreparable and it can happen in minutes.
Causes of Bloat and GDV
Bloat/GDV can occur for many different reasons. Stressors such as travel, adding new canine members to the home or a change in routine can precipitate a case of bloat. Kibble fed dogs that eat once per day are twice as likely to get it than dogs fed twice per day. Other factors include dogs that bolt their food, drink large amounts of water prior to or after eating and dogs who exercise within an hour after eating. Dogs who tend to be more nervous, anxious and fearful are also at a higher risk. All these things can contribute whether together or separately.
Treatment
When the gastric distention is caught early, treatment can be as simple as inserting a tube into the stomach to relieve the pressure. This is not always possible though and the alternative is emergency surgery. Where torsion has occurred, emergency surgery is a must. If the dog survives the incident, veterinarians will often opt to perform a prophylactic surgery known as gastropexy to prevent torsion from happening again. This procedure consists of stapling the actual stomach to the abdominal cavity thereby making it nearly impossible for torsion to occur in the future. It has been shown that without this procedure, 75-80% of dogs in whom bloat/GDV has occurred will develop it again. It should be noted that even with treatment as many as 30% of dogs affected will die.
Symptoms
Symptoms of bloat include: distended stomach, inability to vomit, lethargy, unwillingness to lie down, disinterest in food, glances at the stomach area, restlessness in general, salivation, rapid heart rate, depression, hunched position, pacing, whining, generalized anxiety, standing spread legged and pale gums. These symptoms are not all inclusive. If you see your dog exhibiting any of these signs, bloat may indeed be the cause. Please contact a veterinarian without delay. Any delay can and will mean certain death for your dog.
Breeds At High Risk
Typically bloat affects large deep-chested breeds such as German Shepherds, Great Danes, Boxers, Weimaraners, Irish Wolfhounds, Greyhounds, Saint Bernards, Irish Setters, Standard Poodles and Doberman Pinschers to name a few. This should not be taken to mean that mixed breeds, smaller breeds and breeds not fitting the above profile cannot bloat – to believe such would be disastrous. While some breeds/types are less likely to be victims of bloat/GDV, any dog at any time can indeed suffer from this condition. Both the dachshund and the miniature poodle are in the top 25 most likely breeds to bloat making it clear that while large breeds are most affected, all dog owners need be aware of the risks.
Other Risk Factors
Other risk factors can contribute to your dog developing this condition. It is more likely to be seen in dogs 7 years and older. Genetics also plays a role. Certain lines are predisposed and if a close lineal relative has suffered the condition than the odds of a direct descendent also succumbing will increase exponentially. All puppy buyers should question their breeder on past occurrences in their breeding lines. It has also been shown that male dogs are twice as likely to develop the problem as females.

**information for the above article was taken from the following websites**

http://www.canismajor.com/dog/bloat.html

http://www.globalspan.net/bloat.htm

http://www.peteducation.com