Bloat or Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (the dreaded GDV) is a serious and life threatening emergency in dogs. It mostly affects mature, large, deep-chested breeds, is more common in anxious dogs, and is seen more in males than females.
The condition occurs when the stomach fills with air until it starts to compress other organs and blood vessels in the abdomen. It can then rotate on itself, cutting off its own blood supply. This needs to be corrected very rapidly to safe the dog’s life.
So what are the symptoms? A swollen and painful belly, repeated retching or trying to vomit with nothing coming up, restlessness, rapid shallow breathing and attempts to stretch the abdomen (the sphynx position).
Treating these cases is a real medical and surgical challenge for any vet – it’s one of the emergencies that most vets still dread, so it’s best to focus on prevention.
If you have a susceptible breed, feed them several times a day in small amounts. Avoid vigorous exercise for an hour before and 2 hours after feeding. Avoid sudden diet changes. Feed your dogs separately and in a quiet place.
Reward and encourage calm behaviour at all times, but come to think of it, that last one’s probably pretty good life advice for any dog owner, family member or captain of industry…