Preventing Bloat (or GDV) in Dogs
All dogs can become bloated. However, large, deep-chested breeds are the most likely to get bloated. Also, be aware that older dogs are more prone to bloat. Bloat in dogs can be a life-threatening situation. As many as 25% of dogs who become bloated die. If you think your dog is bloated get him to the vet right away.
Bloat is a condition in which gas builds up in a dog's stomach. The stomach will swell and twist. This makes it impossible for food to get in or out of the stomach. As the gas builds and the stomach continues to twist. Blood flow to the stomach and other internal organs may be cut off. This is a very serious condition and can take as little as 20-minutes to manifest.
Symptoms of Bloat
In this article, we are going to be going over ways to prevent bloat. It is, however, good to be able to recognize the symptoms of bloat, just in case.
If you see your dog displaying these symptoms take him to the vet immediately:
- unproductive vomiting
- sudden weakness
- cool extremities
- swollen belly
- excessive drooling
- arching of the lower back (indicating pain)
First Step To Prevention
Prevention is the best medicine. Even if you don't think your dog will ever suffer from bloat it is a good idea to take precautions.
The first step to prevention starts before you even get your puppy. Ask your breeder if there is any bloat in the family tree. If one of the parents or grandparents is prone to bloat you might want to find another breeder.
Diet Plays a Role
In the wild, a dog would eat real food. What I mean by that is a dog would eat food that is naturally moist, alive with probiotics, and not from a package. Indeed, poor diet has been linked to bloat.
Pay attention to your dog's kibble. If the label has corn or a source of fat in the first four ingredients, get new food. Kibbles containing corn or fat in the first four ingredients have been linked to as much as 170% increased chance of bloat.
Also, be sure that you do not moisten the kibble if it contains citric acid. Kibbles that are moistened and contain citric acid has been shown to increase the risk of bloat by 320%!
So, what kind of diet is best for preventing bloat in dogs? A raw diet is best for most dogs. A raw diet will not only prevent bloat but it is also much closer to the real food a dog would eat in the wild. You don't need to add moisture to it. The diet already has plenty of moisture naturally occurring in the food. Plus, with a raw diet, you can eliminate the fillers, synthetic vitamins and minerals, and unnecessary ingredients from your dog's food.
When feeding a raw diet, a main part of the diet in raw meaty bones. Raw meaty bones are a wonderful way to help add important minerals to your dog's diet. They also help to clean your dog's teeth and strengthen your dog's stomach and digestive tract. The strengthening of the stomach can help your dog eliminate gas faster, preventing it from building up and causing bloat.
It is also important to address why your dog may be having gas. Excessive gas is not a sign of good health in dogs. Perhaps your dog has a food sensitivity or intolerance. Perhaps that is your dog's reaction to stress. Note when your dog has gas and try to figure out what triggered it. Perhaps an elimination diet would prove helpful for your dog to find his triggers.
The Food Bowl
Many people with larger dogs like the get them raised bowls. These raised bowls are supposed to be easier on a dog's back and neck. This may be true, but using a raised bowl can actually increase a dog's risk of bloat by 20%.
A regular bowl is a good idea. If your dog eats super fast you might like to get him a bowl that is made for that. These are bowls with raised areas throughout the bottom of the bowl, they often look like a maze. These are made to help slow your dog's eatting.
It is important for your dog to get plenty of appropriate exercise. But be sure not to work your dog out too hard right after he eats. After your dog eats is a good time for a nap, not a rousing game of tug or fetch. Allowing your dog to exercise right after he eats can result in bloat.
Bloat is a life-threatening condition that can affect any dog. It is most likely to affect large breeds with deep chests and older dogs. Thankfully, you can take many steps to prevent bloat. Feeding your dog a raw diet with raw meaty bones and eliminating trigger foods can be a huge help. Also, be sure to not feed your dog from a raised dish. Keep exercise and excitement to a minimum after feeding. Bloat is dangerous, but it is also preventable.