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Disease Spotlight: Bloat in Dogs

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When it comes to health conditions that all dog owners need to know about, bloat is high on the list. Bloat, also known as gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), is a rapidly progressive life-threatening condition most often seen in big, deep-chested dogs, although any dog can be affected. The condition is commonly associated with large meals and causes the stomach to dilate, because of food and gas, and may get to a point where neither may be expelled.

What to Know About Bloat

Bloat can be fatal in your canine companion if not treated immediately. This condition is considered an emergency.

As a dog’s stomach fills with air, pressure builds, stopping blood from the hind legs and abdomen from returning to the heart. This causes blood to pool at the back end of the body, reducing the working blood volume and sending the dog into shock.

As this occurs, the stomach twists, most often in a clockwise direction, and drags the spleen and pancreas with it, cutting off blood flow to these vital internal organs. If left untreated, the condition can result in serious harm to the stomach, and ultimately, a dog’s death.

Even though veterinary professionals have a wide range of knowledge about bloat in dogs, there is not a definite answer to why it happens. Many veterinarians believe bloat occurs after drinking or eating a large volume and then being excessively active.

Signs of Bloat in Dogs

Since it’s difficult for pet owners to know what causes bloat, they must know the signs and symptoms that include:

  • Abdominal distension
  • Unproductive retching
  • Increased drooling and panting
  • Pacing and walking
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Weak pulse
  • Pale gums

Diagnosis and Treatment of Bloat

If you believe your dog is experiencing bloat, it is critical to see an emergency veterinarian immediately. This condition can turn fatal within only hours.

After diagnosing the condition with blood work and abdominal x-rays, emergency surgery is required.

During surgery, the stomach must be untwisted and then sutured to the body wall to prevent it from twisting again. If the twisting is too severe, or the spleen is damaged, portions of the stomach and/or spleen may need to be removed.

Following surgery, the patient is closely monitored in the intensive care unit for pain, fluids, blood pressure, and other vital signs.

Westfield Veterinary Group’s Emergency Care Team is Available to Help

If your dog shows signs of bloat, please contact our team immediately. Our Union location is open seven days a week, 365 days a year, from 7 am – 11 pm, to provide emergency veterinary care for pets in need.

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