Home Health Vets Need To Warn Dog Owners About Bloat

Vets Need To Warn Dog Owners About Bloat Print E-mail

Every week we are contacted by people whose dogs have come down with bloat. Last week was no exception. Three e-mails came the same day from people whose dogs had come down with the problem. They had been looking online for information about the subject, and had found the article on our website. For two of them, it was too late; their dogs had died. The third person had come home from work to find the dog acting strangely. The dog was swollen and seemed to be trying to vomit but without success. Since her vet was closed, she went online looking for information. After reading the article on bloat she rushed her dog to the emergency clinic, where x-rays showed that the stomach was twisted. Immediate surgery saved the dog’s life. If she had waited until morning to see her regular vet, the dog would have died.

We received lengthy e-mail from each of the three people telling us the circumstances of their cases, and containing the same complaint—none of them had ever heard of bloat until it happened to their dogs. They are not alone. Since then we have spoken to dozens of people with dogs that fit the high risk profile for bloat, and most had never heard of it, or had no real understanding of how serious a threat it is to their dogs. Not one had been counseled about bloat by their vet or any member of the staff at the clinic.

Bloat is a medical condition that often strikes with no warning and frequently kills. It is also a condition that could be prevented to a great extent by awareness and knowledge of the problem on the part of the pet owner before the problem arises. It is unacceptable that most people only learn what bloat is after their dog is dead.

Bloat is a commonly used name for a condition called gastric dilation/volvolus, in which, as the name implies, the abdomen swells due to excessive food and often a buildup of gas in the stomach. In milder cases it can simply cause discomfort, but in more serious cases it can cause breathing problems and damage to organs, including the heart. In the most severe cases the stomach twists or flips on the ligaments that support it, cutting off blood to the heart and causing tissue damage to the stomach. This is an emergency situation, and if the dog is not treated immediately, usually with surgery, it will almost surely die.

What is so frustrating about bloat is that no one is sure exactly what causes it. Although it can happen to any dog, studies have shown that some dogs are more at risk than others. Larger dogs with a deep chest and small waist seem to have a higher incidence of bloat than dogs with other shapes. Dogs that eat one large meal a day, and especially those dogs that gulp the food down quickly are more at risk, as well as dogs that drink a lot of water after eating or play actively after a meal. Changes in these and other areas can greatly reduce a dog’s chances of experiencing bloat.

Owner awareness and preparation is the most important factor in preventing this problem from occurring, and in treating it quickly and properly if it happens. The best place for pet owners to become aware is at the vet clinic that cares for the dog’s health. A number of people have told us that "Bloat: What You Know Can Save Your Dog’s Life" is the best article they have seen as far as explaining the topic in laymans’ terms. We will gladly make this article available to vet clinics at no charge to use as a handout for their clients. Call us at 404-250-4328 or e-mail us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if you would like to use it. Bloat is too important a matter; don’t let people find out about it the hard way.

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